Ever the Planner

January 30, 2013 § 2 Comments

So I started this entry yesterday (was it only yesterday?) when I was feeling much calmer and more positive. Moods and perspectives change, of course, and within 24 I’ve done a complete 180. Now I’m residing in Stress Bomb Town.

The weather is so strange right now. It’s in the 70s and quite humid, though it’s 10 o’clock at night in January. I want the warm weather to stay so much it hurts. I feel like screaming LET IT STAY to the heavens, but I know no matter how much I scream, it won’t change a thing. I have a similar feeling of frustration and helplessness in other areas of my life. When the vet gave me the verdit on Cleo’s condition, I felt like screaming at them to fix it, to change it, to make her better so I wouldn’t have to face the rest of my life without her sweet face seeing me through. Weather changes. Dogs die. Time goes on. Screaming won’t do any good.

Speaking of both Cleo and weather… I need to walk her before the rains come again. Torrential downpours have been occurring off and on for about an hour and a half now with very little warning. Unsurprisingly, I would prefer not to get caught in one of the showers.

A couple of days ago, I started rereading my PhD essays, just out of curiosity since for the most part things seem different when you’re writing them. I was surprised, if not shocked, that I actually thought the essays were pretty good. Again, I have no reference point since I’ve never read anyone else’s essays, but I at least didn’t think “ah, shit. that was bad.” about them. Of course, applications are more than just the statement of purpose, but at least I did what I could do. In less than two months, I’ll likely know if I’m going into a PhD program in the fall or not. That’s a relief as much as a terror. At least after I get the verdicts in, I’ll be able to move on with my life and search out alternatives. Plus I’ll get to make some money for once, assuming I don’t get in anywhere.

The run-down:

Stanford — almost zero chance of getting in. they only take 4 students a year and while I have a 4.0 here at UAB, when I was at GWU I only had a 3.9. Also, my verbal score on the GRE was only in the 83rd percentile, I think, and my writing score was only 93 or 95th. I could look it up, but I don’t feel like it right now. It is bedtime after all. Anyway, my point is that I have a slim chance of being in the top choice because 1. I’m not from an Ivy already and 2. I’m not the tippy tippy top as far as grades + test scores. But the kid’s got heart, so maybe that’ll count for something.

Harvard — same situation.

UPenn — same situation, though they usually accept around 8 students. I’m not convinced UPenn is as selective as Stanford and Harvard, but who knows. Obviously I know very little about the process.

Northwestern — I think I’ve got a decent shot, though they did turn me down when I applied in 2010.

NYU — definitely have a solid shot, but I’m not sure I want to live in a shoe box and drown in cost-of-living expenses.

Boston U — actually not sure if my application is even complete. one of my recommenders has gone a-wol, but I don’t think I can add another recommender to replace him since the application has been submitted. ef. sigh. also they turned me down in 2010 as well.

That’s it. That’s the list. Sure as fuck wished I’d applied to Princeton since that’s the only school where I actually had a positive conversation with the faculty member I wanted to work with. Missed the deadline because it was insanely early. Ah well.

Anyway, pretty sure if I get into any of the above programs, I’ll be packing my bags to start the PhD program. Depends on the financial award though, in the case of the last two on the list. If I get into more than one program… well, that’ll be interesting. That’s not something I’ve really considered. Probably because it’s ridiculous!

If I don’t get into PhD, my priority will be to get a decent, preferably museum-related full-time job ASAP. I’ve got four applications saved, including a job here in Birmingham. I’ll be telling my boss that I’m applying for a job in a different department tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. I applied for a job at the High in Atlanta not too long ago, but haven’t heard anything back of course. There are a couple more jobs I’ve found in addition that could be promising. They’re not in the Southeast.

It’s bedtime and this is a train of thought that needs more time to tease out. I’m going to bed, folks. Hope the tornadoes don’t take me away tomorrow. The girl has plans! Sort of.

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Dead Children

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I don’t make posts because things are going well and I tend to use this blog as a venting place for negative emotions more than anything else. Sometimes I don’t make posts because I don’t know how to verbalize what I’m feeling or thinking in a clear, cohesive way. The past month has been very emotional in a way that has left me somewhat speechless, searching for words that can begin to address the events that have rocked me. I personally have had no harm done to me, but my heart has been broken repeatedly by the atrocities committed against women and children recently. Even as I type now, I can feel my emotions growing and can feel a reaction of “Nope. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go there.” building up inside. Fuck that. We’re going there. Starting with dead children.

I made a new piece a few weeks ago that I’m really happy with. I don’t know how it is for other people, but when I make a piece of art that turns out well, I feel this incredible sense of relief or emotional release. I felt damn near ecstatic the days following the completion of the piece (it took less than a day to make), but that’s worn off now and I’m thinking about making another one.

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I actually documented it in various stages so I could plan for the next one. Encaustics, at least the way that I do them, are somewhat unpredictable so it’s good to document each stage of the process so that if it ends up not looking how you wanted it to, you can trace your steps to find out where it went wrong. That’s the theory, anyway.

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Drawing 1 with about 4 coats of wax.

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Drawing 2 with one coat of wax fused to board with Drawing 1 and layers of wax.

I didn’t document every stage, obviously, but I find this helpful nonetheless. My art doesn’t sell and most people seem more creeped out by it than anything. I feel a little weird giving it away as gifts to people as well, because it feels like I’m saying “Here! Have a dead child.”

That’s not how I see it though. My children aren’t exactly dead, I’m just reminding the viewer that they will die, or that they can die. I always found poetic the saying “We’re all dying from the day we’re born” because it’s true and because I think that’s beautiful. As an atheist, life is incredibly precious and vibrant because it is so temporary and fleeting. There is nothing after this. There is no afterlife, no alternative existence. And that’s okay. That’s why I focus so much on these fleeting moments within an overarching theme of mortality. There is beauty in the tragedy of life.

I think people respond more positively to children as well. Their stories are shorter and their characters are more pure. If I did images of skeletal adults, I worry that people would form narratives about them that would lead to a reason for them dying, like they deserved it or brought it upon themselves. Children aren’t like that. They die by accident. They don’t deserve to die like some adults do. Their deaths are always tragic. I can manipulate the viewer’s emotions more easily and direct them more clearly towards a response to the tragedy of the image. We are always dying. We even die young. Every day is precious. Every moment is already slipping away. These things are important to me to remember, important to me to express.

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