Intrepid Girl Reporter

Monday, 11/9: the earth looks better from the stars
November 9, 2009, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Good Brown Daughters (GBDs), life progress

Airports are such lonely places – sometimes I can’t fathom how I ever loved flying so much – but I will say this: there is an undeniable thrill about flying down into a city, which, from the dark, looks like a maze of lights, like it could have anything. Robots or magic monkeys or cable cars run entirely by elves. Which is why the runway, and everything after, is such a letdown. Good thing coming home feels so good.

As I continue my graduate school search, I am continually reminded of an exchange from 30 Rock (I certainly am pop-culture happy lately) that seems off-and-on relevant.

Jack: We might not be the best people.

Liz: But we’re not the worst!

Jack and Liz (in unison): Graduate students are the worst.

Today I visited a very good school and had an interview with a really nice, down-to-earth guy, and then I attended a very small info session with another really nice, seemingly very grounded girl. They struck me as intellectually curious, engaged, and eager to make a meaningful contribution to the human race. About the people who attended the information session with me, however, I can generally not be so charitable. Said one girl, who had experience working for a state legislator, “I have experience with public policy on the state level, but I’ve always wanted to work on the international level…Everyone here seems to have a very specific work background. Is (school) okay for people like me, without that sort of background?” The session leader started to explain, “Well, on your application, you are going to want to demonstrate some sort of focus -” after which the girl cut in and said, “Oh, no, I’m not worried about getting in, because I have international experience.” And I was like, I’m glad you’re not worried, have fun being the only one on that island. Another guy was doing research for the Fed in Dallas and booked it halfway through the info session because, as he informed us coolly, “I have another meeting at Harvard.” Bully for you, buddy. I know part of this is reflective of my own inferiority complex re: not having a traditional background or working for someplace well-known. Also, handling more snot and communicable diseases in a week than most people see in a year. Still, however, I find myself deeply annoyed by a lot of these people.

Tuesday, 11/3: at least there’s that
November 3, 2009, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Good Brown Daughters (GBDs), IGR Recommends, the future, weird metaphors

An unintended side effect of applying to graduate school is the affirmation that I am following, unquestionably, the right subject for me. Princeton requires a policy memorandum, which I’ve spent the afternoon researching (having stayed home from work, not feeling well), and it has reminded me of something I’d forgotten: I LOVE international relations. I love it. I’m having fun (!) reading about drug trafficking and the rise of HIV/AIDS in Central Asia. (Sorry, AIDS sufferers. I know it’s not fun for you.) I miss studying, and I miss learning about this stuff, and I’m realizing that I’m still much more interested in international affairs than in domestic ones and in development than in pure political science – as the former allows me to indulge all of my schizophrenic interests. This makes me feel a lot better – even excited – about the prospect of going back to school itself, as opposed to simply using school as a tool to make life progress.

To write, I’ve been using Evernote, which is a very fine program except that I can’t link from one note to another. Otherwise, it is a very nice note-taking application, and its use makes me feel extremely productive. To ameliorate that one flaw (ahem, Evernote), I downloaded a trial of Curio, a mind mapping software that costs more than I can afford. I always thought that mind mappers were sort of bullshit, but it turns out that once again, I was wrong: look! There is my mind! Here are the areas about which I have the most information! This is what I should write about! (Maybe.) I’m a big fan of feeling like I’m getting something done. It’s a good distraction.

As for the rest of it, I’m doing okay; the punched-in-the-stomach feeling subsides a little every day. It occurs to me that part of the reason I’m having a hard time dealing with this, aside from the obvious, can be found in a conversation I had with Rooms right at the beginning, in which I told her that I was reluctant to engage in a relationship for the same reason I don’t have any pets (at least not with me), which is that eventually both are probably going to die before I do. Darling Rooms, who has a master’s degree in counseling for a reason, reminded me that that is not a very good way to go about living your life, and that the value lies in the experience. She told me the same thing when we were seniors in college and I expressed a reluctance to study the cello, as I already knew that it was too late for me to become a prodigy, and she pointed out that people do things because They Are Fun, and not for the purpose of becoming the best in the world. Obviously she is not a Good Brown Daughter. Also obviously, she is right, even if I only know it intellectually.

In conclusion: IGR recommends: Evernote; Curio (but only the free version, unless you make more money than she does); the study of international relations; listening to your friends.