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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

grad school again pt 4

Grad School Summer II
Part 4

Wednesday, July 29th

At the start of our workshop this morning, Ruth mentioned how
slow last week seemed to progress, but this week moved faster. I
said this week felt more tiring. Everyone agreed to that. What
surprised me is that several other students admitted they were
skipping some activities. I thought I was the only one who
couldn't do it all.

Last year I didn't have a clue what to expected. I kept going
until I burned out, then had to take time off to recover. I
missed some important things. This year my goal is to attend all
workshops, most craft seminars and a good number of evening
readings. I use the schedule to pick which events would be okay
to miss so I can rest. The readings are the hardest part,
especially with poetry. I do much better reading in braille at my
own pace than "listening" in sign language.

I had to laugh at times when I noticed signs of burnout in my
interpreters. There are six of them alternating two per day, and
they get to change back and forth every 20 minutes. Yet they,
too, showed signs of fatigue and made silly errors. We are all

Another difference from last year is the weather. It was so cold
in 2014. I only brought a few thin, long sleeve shirts and was
freezing all the time. Now I came prepared with four zipper
hoodies (three of which I borrowed from Joseph.) The temperature
has been in the 90's since I got here. It's been sunny but with a
nice breeze. Instead of taking a car to the cafeteria, we have
been walking/riding in the wheelchair. I love it. The sun feels
heavenly on my skin. The wind rustles my hair. I can smell grass,
flowers and diesel from the busses. It reminds me of the days
when I used to walk all over Kent State.

I hit the stage where I am counting down.... two more workshops,
two more lunches... Tonight was the last evening reading, since
tomorrow is graduation celebration. We also had our last craft
seminar. Graduating students will read their work after lunch
tomorrow and Friday. The only bad part is that I keep thinking
today is Thursday and I'm going home tomorrow... not quite, but

Thursday, July 30th

We discussed two of my poems in the workshop today. This is the
best part of the residency. It's so incredible to have other
students giving feedback on your work. They often see things you
missed or have ideas you never thought about. Since my oral
braille reading is slow and choppy, I have a volunteer read for
me. Another student takes notes. Otherwise, I would never
remember all the suggestions and tips that come up during the

I went on a shopping spree at the university bookstore after
lunch. Last year I went easy on the buying and then regretted it.
Since I'll only be at this university three time, I decided I
might as well buy whatever I want, and that's what I did -- pink
and gray zipper hoodie, purple polo shirt, purple drawstring bag
and a "marbled" purple t-shirt for Joseph. (The school colors are
purple and gold.) I also ordered a gray MFA in Creative Writing
t-shirt. It will be ready tomorrow.

At that point, I could no longer lift my arms. I went back to my
apartment to take a nap... and forgot to wake up. I got up at
8:30 PM. I guess my body really needed the rest.

Friday, July 31st

The last day!! It would be a painful one. My arms hurt so bad. I
had to take frequent breaks, even though that meant missing parts
of the discussion or presentation. I had to do what I had to do.

For my last lunch, I had cheese pizza. Of course, t's what I had
almost every day. I wasn't too pleased with the cafeteria. Can
you believe it? They had no cottage cheese today. I tried
something risky and got fruit salad instead.

I vividly remember how I felt last year during the readings by
graduating students. Two years and that will be me... If I didn't
fail, that is. Now it's just one year away, and I know I'm going
to make it.

The last student read his poetry, someone talking about check
out, and it was over... But not for me. Students in Eng 502 had
to stay an extra hour for a "med-program" meeting. I felt kind of
cheated, and my arms were screaming in agony. Still, I did my
best to keep up. I'm nearing my thesis semester, which is a big,
big deal. The meeting finally ended, and it really was the end.

I finished packing and sat to wait for my dad. He arrived at
4:00. We were soon ready to leave but had to wait for someone to
pick up my key and card. It was an amusing half hour as my dad
and two male interpreters talked about sports and other manly
things. Finally, at 5:15, I got into my dad's SUV and we headed
away from Ashland University.

I'm on my way
Just set me free
Home, sweet, home

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