School’s Coming! School’s Coming!

posted in: Day In The Life, School 6
The Art Institute of Chicago as it looked in 1908. The lions were there, but compare this picture to the way the city looks almost 110 years ago? Incredible. Image, Wikipedia; annotations, me.
This is the Art Institute of Chicago as it looked in 1908. The lions (aka, “My guys!”) were there, but compare this picture to the way the city looks almost 110 years later and you’d faint. The School’s buildings are across the street, as annotated by the arrow pointing off the frame. Image: Wikipedia; annotations, me.


School’s starting in two weeks and I am so excited I am vibrating.

Yes, I’m halfway through my graduate program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), the school within the world-renowned art museum in the heart of the Chicago Loop. It’s a heavenly place. My first year was a shimmering dream. Now, that shimmering dream just about killed me — I did 17 gigs last year while managing courses and the newspaper — but I loved every minute of the race. I have every intention of loving the second year’s race even more. You’ll see.

Incredible, how I’m halfway done. Didn’t I just tell you I had been accepted? Didn’t I just go into the wrong building on the first day and hike up 14 flights of stairs in a dress and heels so I wouldn’t be late??* The nature of time itself was one of my reasons for entering into a graduate program: I knew that two years would flash by regardless, so why not do what I’ve always wanted to do? Why not scare myself to death? Why not go into painful debt? Exactly! If the time is going to pass anyway, why not have a graduate degree to show for it? Sometimes, I am right about things.

I’m also getting ahead of myself. I have a long way to go and a lot of work ahead of me before I get to twirl down the primrose path with my diploma. Quite the visual, but they say it’s best to stay present in the moment, so… Can I tell you what classes I’m taking?? Well, since you twisted my arm…

Writing: Seminar: Literature of the Senses — Prof. England*
We will look at a wide range of poets and novelists and their explorations of the five senses: Proust on scent; Thomas Mann on music; Lady Murasaki and various poets on color; Colson Whitehead and Arthur Rimbaud on synesthesia. We will also turn to essays in popular science in order to enrich our own vocabularies: Luca Turin on perfume; Oliver Sachs on music. Students will write one critical paper and a variety of creative exercises. 

Writing: Process/Project Workshop — Prof. Nugent
This is a class for students to work on a single, extended writing project… Your project can be made up of many disparate parts, but those parts should be part of a single whole. [This course is] a forum for articulating and discussing ideas and process… While the class will include presentation and discussion of your work, we will approach it from a process-oriented perspective that focuses on open-ended questioning and exploring, rather than intervention and critique. 

Master of Fine Arts: Interdisciplinary Seminar — Prof. Anne Wilson
The purpose of this course is to provide an informal critique situation where students from various disciplines meet once a week to present and discuss their work. The faculty leader facilitates the discussion, which is designed to help students articulate a critique of their own work as well as the work of other students.

I’m so excited about the Literature of the Senses class, I started reading the books this summer. The Process/Project class is writer heaven. And the Interdisciplinary Seminar might sound less sexy than the other two, but I’m over-the-moon about it, maybe more excited about it than anything. Professor Wilson is a fiber art rock star (I had a class with her in this spring) and I would follow her to the end of the world. Wilson’s classes are serious: We will discuss complicated ideas, we will be expected to do a ton of work, we’ll read till we drop, and I, for one, will eat it up. I’m in grad school! Crush me with books! Crack the pedagogical whip! Isn’t that what I’m paying for, for Lord’s sake??

Of course, I’m paying for more than that. I’m paying for two of the best years of my life.


*Course descriptions slightly edited for length.
**And when I petted Butter at the animal therapy day, was it a subliminal push toward Philip??

I’ll Be Back Next Spring: A Graduate School Limerick

I'll be back.
I’ll be back.

There once was a woman named Fons,
Who longed to stroll green, lushy lawns
And seek brain diversity
At some university
(She was desperate for book liaisons!!)

“To grad school!” she said with a grin,
(For she applied and quickly got in
To a fancy-pants school*
Where brainiacs rule)
“I can’t wait!” cried Fons, “Let’s begin!”

A team of the wildest horses
Couldn’t have dragged her from taking those courses;
Her desire was burning
To slurp up the learning,
…But there were brewing unfortunate forces.

Work travel had always excited
The Fons; she was most delighted
To travel in planes
And meet Dicks and Janes
And see all the things that she sighted,

But suitcases don’t mix with classes,
And soon, our hero in glasses
Was forced to admit,
(Though it gave her a fit!)
Work demanded she leave the school’s grasses.

“I’ll be back and studying soon!”
She said, and whistled a tune;
There was no use in crying —
You know I ain’t lying:
E’vry moment spent learning’s a boon.

*University of Chicago, boo-yah