wingedorange: Who doesn't love a llama? (MJ & Louie the Llama)

I think that I’m developing ADHD these days. Seriously, I can’t do something for more than about ten minutes before I’m on to something else. Then I’m bouncing back to the first thing, and then — ooh, look, shiny! I don’t know if it’s a function of teaching kids for whom attention is an issue almost by definition. I don’t know if I just am truly losing the ability to focus. I don’t know if I do it to myself, because I allow it to continue rather than forcing myself to just shut up and, Eddie Izzard would say, “pay a-bloody-tension, all right?” I do it in conversations; I topic-hop like a madwoman. I have a hell of a time finishing knitting and spinning projects because I focus for about ten minutes before I remember something else I need to do or want to look up or have to say to someone. It’s rough. (Seriously, it’s taken me half an hour to write this paragraph because I stopped twice to look for that icon of Louie the Llama over there and then thought I didn’t have it so I went to make one and then I remembered that I did have it but had saved it as something else, and while I was at it, I really should organize my icons on LJ itself, huh?)

…Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah. As you can imagine, this really makes a lot of things a little more difficult than they have been for me in the past. Grad school applications, for one. Because no one in a position of power has realized yet that a good deal of the application process for grad school (regardless of school or program) is the same, there’s no common application. That means that even though I’m only applying to four schools, I need to register for four different online app systems, and fill in my name, address, contact information, residency information, GRE scores, and resume/CV stuff four freaking times. Of course, none of the online app systems have the same requirements for username and password length, so I have four different usernames and passwords I have to keep track of. All four schools have different personal statement requirements and prompts. Everybody has different requirements for letters of recommendation, even!

That’s the piece I started with first. I have time yet to refine my personal statements and answer all the specific little prompts, but the rec letters are out of my control as soon as I pass them off to my letter writers. I’m a control freak, so that makes me nervous, especially because the last time I applied, I had a flaky professor who almost didn’t submit letters for me because she forgot. I don’t think I’ll have that problem this time, because two of my letter writers are my bosses and the third one is my very favorite professor from undergrad who I know is responsible and thorough and who I’ve been in touch with since I graduated and will even be invited to my wedding, whenever that show gets on the road. What worries me is giving everybody enough time to write my letters and fill out the crazy specific forms for each school. So what I’m doing today is printing out all the forms, filling in my portions, addressing envelopes, writing up instructions, and putting it all together. Sounds simple, but it totally is not. One school wants them submitted online. Another one wants them mailed with your application; a third wants it sent directly to the admissions office. Somebody else needs a cover letter included.

(Oh, and did I mention that the official forms for three out of four of my big-name schools contained typos? Not mine, but the administration’s. I’m pretty sure that the only reason the 4th one didn’t have any typos is because it didn’t have a form. That’s right up with UPenn’s “Dear Appliciant” letter, or the UC San Diego debacle, where they sent a congratulations on admission letter to students they rejected. If y’all expect my personal statement and CV to be typo-free, then please get your shit together and spellcheck your own forms. Kthnxbai. Applikayshun cat is irritated.)

I totally don’t have the organizational skills for this anymore. Part of it is that I cannot focus just on the rec letters. Along the way, while I was printing out forms, I also printed scholarship/assistantship applications for two schools, changed my mind about which program to apply to for one school, looked at faculty research, and tried to make decisions I totally am not equipped to make and truthfully don’t need to make right now. I’m kind of convinced this is the reason that I slept for maybe 60 minutes total on Friday night. There’s a reason “2000 Watts” has been looping on my iTunes this weekend:

2000 watts, 8 ohms, 200 volts, real strong / too much of that, fuse blown / be careful what you say, don’t overload

– Michael Jackson, “2000 Watts,” Invincible

Indeed. Fuse blown.

Good thing Rhinebeck is next weekend! I need a weekend away from grad school and paper and applications and forms. I need some hobo-hunting with my Lloyd, driving in the country with the volume up, yarn-buying, and llama petting!

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

Man, I was doing really well with the updates until August, and then The Suck happened. The Suck being that I took my GREs and did…not as well as I’d hoped. I think the GRE practice tests are – pardon my (completely characteristic) uncouth language – a crock of shit. I was scoring well into the 680-700 range on the math section on the computerized practice test ETS sent me, and then I got to the actual test and got a freakin’ 590. For reference, that’s only 40 points higher than I got on the math section when I last took the GREs in October of 2005. Niiiice.

I have opinions on the GRE, and my hatred for it is almost unnatural. It’s deep and it’s real. I think the computer format is awful because you can’t omit questions and you can’t go back to questions later, so everything anyone has ever taught you about how to take a test to maximize your score does not apply. You can’t just not answer questions if you run out of time at the end, because they penalize you for that. You can’t say, “I’ll take a little more time on this questions because the others look easier,” not only because you can’t skip ahead to see the other questions, but also because it’s a “smart” test. To use one of Katie’s new favorite terms, there is a little fuckface elf in there that says, “Oh, boy, you got a question right! Well, good on you that time, but we can’t let that happen again. Here, have a harder one! Muahahaha!” Or, conversely, if you get one wrong, “Well, good, I’m doing my job. Have an easier question because I pity your weak intellect, but just know that I’m taking points off for that error there. Muahahaha!” The worst part is that it totally psychs you out, because you can tell when the questions get easier, so you start going, “Oh, balls, I know how to do these blindfolded; I must be failing!” and that then screws your mindset for the whole rest of the test. It’s cruel and inhuman. Don’t take them if you can avoid it.

The point is, I don’t think a score of 590 will get me anything in terms of funding for grad school. I can get all the acceptances in the world, but if the program won’t fund me, I can’t go, because I refuse to take an additional $200,000 worth of loans. I just won’t do it. I know a lot of programs use cut scores for both admissions and funding, and I’m betting that anything under a 600 or a 650 gets cut. So I registered to take the GREs again on Sept. 28th because my school is off for Yom Kippur and I figured I’m better to take them on a long weekend where I’m not coming off of 5 days teaching hyper children. I’ve been trying to put in at least an hour every night studying and mostly just being able to complete a certain number of problems within a time limit, because that was my biggest problem – I got down to 10 minutes and still had about 13 problems to go. I answered the last question at the 1 second mark, so clearly I have issues with time management. If I can raise my score another 50 or 60 points, I can put myself right in that range. It just irks me that I had to pay ETS a grand total of $300 ($150 per test) to stress myself out and lower my self-esteem.

In between my bouts of studying, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting. I recently finished several things, including a hat for my brother, and a baby hat and shrug for my cousin’s baby girl on the way. Since I’ve been doing so well with finishing things and using up yarn and all that, and since I had to buy a yarny birthday present for Katie anyway, I stalked the shop updated and scored a skein of Green Eyed Monster’s sock yarn in the Dye For Glory-winning Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes colorway. Just as my hatred for the GRE is unnatural, so is my torrid love affair with this colorway. Again – it’s deep and it’s real. So real, in fact, that I only had the yarn for about an hour and a half before I wound it up and cast on a project. I’m making Snowflake Fingerless Gloves with it, which I think will be fabulous eventually. Since the Wizard Wheezes is so busy, I decided to only use one other color -Dale Baby Ull in white. Sadly, there are a few spots in the Wheezes that didn’t get dyed and are consequently white, but I’m hoping it won’t disrupt the pattern too much. Anyway, the original pattern calls for seven colors. So I pulled out my trusty highlighter and a black & white pattern printout, and set about converting the pattern to two colors. Also, I started the knitting (click for bigger):

Winter Wheezes Start

There’s a little less knitting now than there was in that photo, because I’m pretty sure I screwed up the colorwork, so I went back to the plain white row to start the diamond motif again. Aside from my obvious inability to read and follow printed directions (hence the post-its with the arrows in the photo) and the copious need to frog, it’s going really well for my first attempt at Fair Isle. Sadly, I still cannot knit continental, so I’m a dropper when switching colors. It’s slowing me down, but it’s forcing me to pay a little more attention, too, so the Wheezes is always the dominant yarn. Because it’ll be so easy to tell if I made a mistake with this pattern, I foresee much more frogging and tinking. Hopefully I can finish these before Rhinebeck. Of course, if I do, that’s an invitation for it to be 80 degrees and sunny that weekend. ;)

Mirrored from winged orange.

January 2010

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