Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Graduate Blues: A Good, Comfortable Place

My wife made the comment yesterday that she thought I seemed comfortable in my new graduate studies surroundings. Classes haven't even begun. I'm still knee deep in the middle of orientation. I say the word orientation because I can't pronounce the colloquium, which is just a fancy word for crash course in teaching Composition 1010. And trust me, I practiced pronouncing colloquium for two whole weeks before Monday came around, and I still can't get it to form in my mouth correctly.

New vocabulary aside, I am comfortable. More comfortable than I was as an undergrad throughout my thirties sitting with students ten, fifteen, twenty years younger that I. I had more in common with my instructors that I did with my fellow undergrad students--things like daycare issues and whether or not my eldest daughter was doing her homework or not.
Monday, we had lunch in Hoyt Hall. During our meal, MFA director Beth Loffreda and MA director Caskey Russell gave presentations. Beth Loffreda stressed the importance of taking time out for ourselves to work on our own personal writing. She gave me, in effect, permission to tell my stories--something that never happened as an undergraduate. School came around, and whatever writing I had been doing through the summer got shelved for the semester. My book Wasteland, not T.S. Elliot's piece of brilliance, took me three summers to write because of the way I prioritized me time, and here Beth Loffreda said to me--to the whole group chowing down on fruit and ham sandwiches--she was saying in effect to take care of the business of spirituality and balance.

And then Caskey Russell comes along and blows me away even more. He said that we weren't just students anymore. He stressed how we had moved from the realm of the student to the realm of professional. That this was the beginning of our careers. And he pushed the idea of a Ph.D., something I already had on my radar, the pursuit of my dream.

How much more comfortable could I be?

Don't get me wrong. I received plenty of encouragement as an undergraduate, but nobody was totally on my page; nobody so completely addressed my fear that I would become so completely engrossed in the educational process that I'd have time for nothing else--my kids, my wife, my writing, myself.

I am positive over the next two years I will have my stressors. Those days when I want to strangle everyone I come into contact with. Those academic papers I want to burn. Concepts I will not be able to form correctly in my head just like the word colloquium doesn't form correctly in my mouth.

But this graduate school thing is going to be a good, comfortable place.



“I thought this book was beautiful. Having just finished it, I feel like I have just woken up from a really disturbing dream” – Rose Actor-engel, Amazon
Christine and Jack sat on the back deck of their cottage and watched the stars fall into the lake. They whispered to each other, "Beautiful." But Jack did not know his life was to forever change. A plague came. Christine died. Aliens landed and they put things in his food and soap. The sidewalks lit up blue to let him know when he was allowed to go to the store. Filled with drugs, sex, and cigarettes, the first of six inter-related short stories that make up the entirety of the Wasteland series all styled after Winesburg, Ohio and As I Lay Dying. Based loosely off T.S. Elliot's poem of the same name, The Wasteland is told from the perspectives of the people living inside Jack's head.
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Steve Bargdill writes “literary stuff” with the occasional foray into speculative fiction. Originally from Ohio, he has lived in Dayton, Columbus, Troy, St. Marys, and New Knoxville as well as West Branch, Iowa; Lincoln, Nebraska; Muncie, Indiana; and currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming. Bargdill is the author of The Wasteland Series available on Amazon. He’s written for several newspapers and is currently a first year English graduate student at the University of Wyoming. You can read his short stories for free on Wattpad. You can also like him on Facebook where he posts a daily poem, Monday evening writing prompts, hump day videos and more nonsense!

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