Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Of Graduate Student Welfare: the Tale of the Conflicted Academic (*the UnApologetic Remix)

Graduate Student Welfare (*the UnApologetic Remix)

Many people have identity struggles in life and the one thing about identity whatever your struggle -
sexuality race, class etc - is that it often takes a long time for a person to be self accepting, even when friends and family have long since dealt with that individual's true self. I am becoming fearfully aware that I'm very much that eternal graduate student person though I have never, ever wanted to be nor set out to BE that person. But in truth I have basically lived my entire adult life as some kind of graduate student. I have been the Ph.D candidate but even though everyone around me knew that I hated and despised my program, I could never accept this without feeling like a failure so I just went ahead and had a nervous breakdown. (If you cannot understand the wisdom behind my choice then there is no sense -- literally, no sense in explaining it to you!!) The worst part about not finishing the hateful Ph.D is that I got almost the full way to dissertation stage, rocked my proposal, was poised to do the full deal...then just totally mentally crashed.
But even without being in graduate school one doesn't necessarily stop BEING a graduate student. It takes many forms that I now see clearly with the gift on un-erring hindsight: I see myself on graduate student welfare which is, simply put, what one lives on when one's mentors find one being utterly bereft and incapable of living outside of the atmospheric conditions of non-institutional lifestyle. 

There are infinite forms of graduate student welfare, however the most illustrious - only available to the true rock stars - comes in the form of the full paid student fellowship. I have known this welfare too, and I have felt the rush of all it affords the Lucky -  in reputation, in ease of lifestyle, in glory and in the significant amount of shopping capital for my shopping addiction. 

Ah, yes, I know welfare...how I miss it!

There is a certain poverty mingled with unimaginable richness that one enjoys while attached to the academic life. Yes, it means I have to sometimes hang out with dorks whom I don't like -- but who are like me -- and sometimes those people are boring as fuck, even though everybody swears they are the Shit because they've got an endowed chair or whatever. But often when you are in the top echelon of a supposedly "good" program (read: rich) then you do get to at least meet and see what the competition is made of; one day, whether you like it or not, whether you accept yourself or not, if you continue doing the things that you do for the sake of graduate student welfare, or even if you continue on your poor, broke ass own, you  will probably be one of these people in this room, through one way or another. 
But, hey!! Sometimes gatherings such as these come with free alcohol -- and the more daring types might share their weed if there are no haters in the group. So, you know...that part is kinda okay.
Just fucking accept it and get over yourself. Bottom line: can you do the damn thing? Yes. Then, fine. Now....what was it I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted (by myself).
I see myself - in very much an out of body experience way - actually living and finally understanding the applications of all manner of complicated theory that once caused me violent and endless eruptions that occur when you don't understand what the fuck you're reading and the experience fills you with rage and tears because it is certain that it will be impossible to escape its principles within graduate school, outside it or even with your circles of friendship  - until one day it all clicks!

 I now welcome my old enemies, can't wait to sit and talk with them (in my head/don't judge) - how could I ever have felt unsure in Foucault's presence!! ah, did I ever truly find it difficult reading the Souls of Black Folk? it's passion, the sophistication of its verse! I glory in it!
Most troubling of all I see myself here at all rock bottom in life and realize that there is only one cure for all that ails me: I must return to school. There is a sort of relief in this comprehension, a sort of recognition, with one knowing that this was eventually going to happen without truly understanding HOW or WHY.
No I have no intention at present of completing the Ph.D. That is in the past and it is best left THERE. However I do feel some interest now in the journey of the MFA. It's stupid as fuck to pursue an MFA; why the hell am I trying to impress a professor when I can actually be doing real work without the pressure of my school mates' opinions or grades and similar bullshit. What do I care whether my writing is considered authentic or derivative or...
--wait the health plan included in the MFA program is hot as hell!! Shut UP, they will PAY ME to come to their school and do what I would be doing anyway if I weren't at school and just being me?! Fuck the dumb shit (an MFA is a stupid thing) WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!?!?!?!?

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