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Category: Grad School

Security Pubes

Security Pubes

The summer after I graduated from high school in Costa Rica, I intentionally stopped trimming my pubic hair. Although my boyfriend had broken up with me multiple times months before, we kept magnetically reconnecting throughout my last semester of school. And it was pretty much impossible for us to avoid each other in a school of 150 kids who lived on-campus together. Once we graduated, and I came back to the U.S. without any idea of how I was going to go to college, I wanted to protect myself from a lot of things. Mostly failure and making myself vulnerable to another guy any time soon. Because although it was this intense, emotional connection like I’ve never had before, I was super embarrassed once I allowed myself to stop fucking crying and see that it wasn’t meant to be. So, my protection from doing that again was to not trim my pubes. Unkempt pubes were my security blanket and chastity belt at the same time. No one could get to me through them. And I wouldn’t feel bare without them. I was like Samson from the Bible.

Fuck off, Delilah.

I haven’t written on here in ALMOST TWO YEARS. Sure, I was in grad school and busy with assignments or stressed out about where/if I was going anywhere in life. But, no matter how many times I put this at the top of my to-do list, I could never bring myself to post. I think, like my pube story, it was also to protect myself. No one could criticize my writing if I didn’t write.

But why am I so self conscious of my writing if I just finished a program in journalism?!

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I don’t know, man. The past almost two years have brought so much change to my life.

The positives:

I moved to Chicago, home of Oprah and improv. I started a master’s program at a (supposedly) really good school, and I was actually excited by what I was doing in class. I started dating a really nice guy who didn’t ghost me or give me a letter grade while I was in bed with him. I was excited about the future!

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The negatives:

My grad school program pissed me off a lot of the time. Most of the teachers didn’t teach. They had their favorites (I was never one of them). And I wanted someone to have confidence in me and give me the attention I deserved and took out a bunch of loans for. On top of that, I realized my anxiety had become more depression-like.

I made a decision to go to San Francisco for a quarter, uprooting everything I had in Chicago. (Looking back, I think this was the wrong decision). Once I finished all my classes, I moved back to Chicago and everything’s been a bit messy since then.

Now:

I work at a production company on a TV show. Like, my name will be in the end credits, and I can get an IMDb page. Awesome! The downside: I get paid a daily rate, which is modest to say the least. I have no benefits, and people prefer to send an email or call ON THE PHONE than walk over to my cubicle and talk to me.

My boyfriend and I broke up at the beginning of the year (new year, new you). His perfectly valid reasons were that my sex drive is basically non-existent (thanks, depression!) and I had become an easily irritable blob who just wanted to lay around all day and vent about how lost I felt in life.

So, I feel vulnerable to say the least. I would love to write as a freelancer on the side. In school, I got so excited to find and develop stories ideas. I have all these ideas simmering around my head and in spreadsheets and post-it notes. But, I can’t bring myself to commit and pursue the damn things. I’m tired all the time. I psyche myself out that no one’s going to want to publish the stories I write before I even begin. And, so I’m (metaphorically) growing my pubes out once again to avoid letting myself and the work I produce be vulnerable.

But, this is a step in the right direction! If anyone reads blogs anymore or has an interest in my weird life, I’m back, betches! More to come.

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Gradually Getting into Grad School: A Tribute to Oprah

Gradually Getting into Grad School: A Tribute to Oprah

“Just go right away and get it over with.” My university was trying out a new mentor system and this was the advice about grad school that I got from the alum I had been paired with. Thanks for the advice, “mentor” but I took a hard pass on grad school immediately after undergrad.

I just wanted to work. But, my two jobs in DC weren’t right for me because I didn’t major in spreadsheets and I actually wanted to apply the knowledge and experiences I had taken away from school.

I realized at my first job and through “The Newsroom” that I really wanted to work in communications, the media, something along those lines. Basically, all I wanted to do for work was get paid to write on my blog, sit on my butt, and watch TV. But, seeing as how that wasn’t happening, I figured the media would be more exciting than international development and would put me on the right track to reaching my career goal of being Oprah.

I guess we can’t be friends

A few jobs I had applied to in the past were media-related, but most of them didn’t get back to me. All of them seemed to require a degree in English, journalism, or communications or actual experience doing something relevant. And I had none of that unless you consider writing about boys and HIV scares on my blog relevant.

So, because no one seemed to want to give me the initial experience to get experience, I started looking at grad school programs for journalism. Why? Many people don’t think studying journalism is a wise decision right now with newspapers and magazines disappearing. But, I know someone wrote all those articles posted on Facebook, so I don’t think good journalism is completely dead.

Round One

I began my grad school application process in the fall of 2014. I chose to only apply to UC-Berkeley and Columbia because they didn’t require the GRE (which I hadn’t taken) for their journalism programs. But, they are also arguably two of the best and most selective grad school journalism programs in the country. On top of my limited writing experience, TWO of the three people I had planned to be my grad school references said no. What the fuck?

Me either

Despite this setback, I found new references and applied.

Here are my two application essays to Columbia:

Columbia Application: Essay A

Columbia Application: Essay B

For Columbia, I also had to complete a prompt about a news story that had happened in the past year and discuss the angle I would take in approaching the subject. Honey Boo Boo’s mom, June “Mama June” Shannon, had just gotten into deep trouble because she was allegedly hanging out with her oldest daughter’s molester after he got out of jail. Since I felt that my chances of getting accepted were so minuscule, I wrote about that as a kind of Hail Mary attempt to stand out. And sadly, I knew more about HBB than topics you would think a journalist should write about in early 2015, like the crisis in Ukraine or the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. I thought I approached the topic from a very original angle though. So I stood behind it.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get into Berkeley. When I got my decision email from Columbia, I expected a similar verdict. But, I got waitlisted – at Columbia, an Ivy League school, for a journalism program writing about Honey Boo Boo’s mom? The universe could be really twisted sometimes. My English teachers in high school weren’t a fan of my stuff (see Essay A), but Columbia thought there was a glimmer of journalism potential in me.

Round Two

Columbia eventually rejected me.

Despite half-convincing myself it was a one-off accident, I decided to apply to journalism school again. This time, however, I wanted to do things right and make no excuses about not having enough time, etc. I took the GRE and did pretty well for not paying hundreds of dollars for a prep course or even buying a book.

And then I whittled down my list of schools to apply to. I ended up choosing six based on their reputations, the specializations they offer, location, and where their graduates have found jobs. From the end of November until February, I spent many hours preparing my application essays and other required materials. I spent even more time stressing about how much I had to do and putting it off.

After wrangling my recommenders, waking up early to finish my essays in coffee shops here in Seoul (because I didn’t have internet in my apartment), and paying all of the outrageous application and transcript fees, I could finally relax and let the chips fall where they may.

I was pretty sure that if I had gotten waitlisted at Columbia the previous year, I could at least get into one of these schools. And I had moved to Seoul with the intention of only staying until the fall. But, then I got in my head and started thinking I could get rejected everywhere. That would suck because I’d have wasted a ton of time, money, and energy not to mention that I would have no exit strategy from Korea and no plan for what to do with my life next.

The responses started to come in, and I did get accepted places. Here’s the final tally:

  • Stanford: rejected
  • Columbia: waitlisted (again)
  • Northwestern: accepted
  • NYU: accepted
  • Syracuse: accepted
  • Arizona State: accepted

Not too bad to get accepted to four (and a half) of the six schools I applied to. That was fantastic. All of the schools had their selling points, and I had trouble deciding. The ones that accepted me all offered me scholarship money or interviewed me for specialization programs that come with financial assistance. A couple professors even reached out to me. The head of NYU’s magazine program told me she forwarded one of my essays to her daughter because it might be useful to her. What? That’s bananas.

I ended up choosing Northwestern mostly because you don’t have to specialize right away. My experience so far has been in writing, but what if I want to do something with broadcast or documentary? I know so little about the media field that I think I should wait until I have a firmer understanding before choosing my niche. Chicago will also be a cool new city to explore. It was my dream to move there for undergrad, so now it feels like everything’s come full circle for me.

Guess who else got big in Chicago

Northwestern Personal Statement

I’m nervous for a lot of reasons to start grad school. I have no debt from undergrad thanks to scholarships, cheap Oklahoma living, and a little bit to my parents. So, this will be the first time I’m racking up student loans and journalism’s not known for being the most lucrative career. However, my program’s only a year. And whenever I think about how much I owe and whether this experience is a waste of money, I can think back to sitting at my boring ass jobs in DC. I’ll be happy that I took a risk and did something that will give me real skills and some useful connections. Maybe it’ll give me purpose too.