Saturday, September 29, 2007

Madison (or, There and Back Again)

Madison is just as the awesome as I remembered it. I woke up early on Thursday, took the L out to O'Hare and picked up my rental car, then drove up to Wisconsin. I bloody love Wisconsin--truly, the most beautiful place on earth. And Madison is an amazing city, with an amazing campus. Despite the fact I discovered that my driving skills have deteriorated so much I probably wouldn't pass the test, I made it there in one piece.

The "interview" started off by me attending a class on international children's theatre, and then meeting with three professors in rapid succession. After that, I went out to lunch on State Street with another grad student who's in her fourth year there. Talking to her, I really got a sense of what I was in for as far as a graduate program. It's quite intimidating--the classes are intense, and there's teaching as well as the constant encouragement to publish and be involved in symposia and conferences. Far from being overwhelmed, however, I started to feel like "yeah! bring it on! I love to learn--I want to be challenged! yea!" Then after lunch I met briefly with the dean of the program and another grad student. Everyone was extremely friendly and--while not downplaying the difficulty of the program--very encouraging. So now I'm even more psyched to apply. My only worry is that I don't have enough credentials. I don't have a master's thesis, only a play, and while I've done research and academic writing, certainly not to the extent that some of these people have. So that's my paranoia. But I'm going to apply, because I know I would be a good candidate, and we'll see what happens. One of the profs suggested applying to the MA program and then matriculating into the PhD program, but I can't afford to pay for two years of another degree. Everyone who asked seemed surprised that I was only applying to Madison, but, to quote a far better playwright than myself, "why would I want to apply somewhere I don't really want to go?" Half the reason I want to attend Madison is because it's MADISON.

These are the thoughts currently swirling around in my head. If I don't get in...who knows what will happen. Possibly I'll become even more powerful than anyone ever thought. When I returned home, I had an email from Teach for America, politely informing me that I had not made it to the interview round. After the long drive, I was pretty tired, and this upset me a great deal. My poor journal got it all over--whinge, whinge, whinge--but I went to bed, slept for about eleven hours and then woke up and put out some more applications for jobs. Christmas is coming up, after all, and everyone needs playwrights-come-shopgirls.

The thing I enjoyed most about the trip was the freedom of the car, actually. I forgot how nice it is to go tooling off the highway every now and then. Before I crossed back into Illinois I had to find a bank to get some cash for the tolls, so I turned off the highway in Beloit. I stopped at a gas station, stocked up on petrol, also cookies and a pumpkin-spice cappucino and was politely informed that I couldn't get cash back on my my purchases, but I was free to use the ATM. The ATM cheerfully told me that to get my money out of my bank it was going to cost me $3.50. Being so close to the interstate, I figured this was the new form of highway robbery, so I decided to head into Beloit and see if I could find a bank. (briefly considered buying a bottle of water at Wal-Mart--Sam Walton would let me get cash back, but the thought of having to explain to my children how I once supported a huge money-sucking corporation deterred me.)Beloit is nice. A fairly smallish town, well-hid amongst trees and curvy roads. Not real big on banks. I drove for about fifteen minutes, enjoying the scenery before I found an ATM ($2.00 fee--aargh). Briefly considered winging it back to Chicago off the interstate. Remembered that Illinois also had a deer problem and my driving skills were not up to evasive manouevering. Noted for future reference that Beloit has a road named Nelson Ave., decided it was probably named after some Norwegian immigrant who was unaware of the great sacrifices the admiral had made. And got on I-90 again. The drive home was uneventful, even getting into O'Hare. If I had more money, I'd rent a car again and drive back and spend an afternoon at the local eatery.

But, for now, more of the same. Work, study, read, applications, sleep. Ah, well.

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