November 15, 2005

U of P, Fight Fight Fight!

Dear Katie [the letter reads],

Every career reaches a turning point. At that juncture, the right actions could propel you through a career full of challenges and accomplishments. Likewise, indecisiveness could leave your career growth stagnant for years.

Look [I say]. I'm in my third year of grad school. I've got like 5 more to go. I've got challenges! I have to read this huge stack of books before tomorrow. I have to figure out what I'm submitting to the conference-that-shall-not-be-named. I need focus! I don't need a turning point now! And besides, don't you mean "conversely," not "likewise?"

See? See? Stagnant for 5 years, you just said it. And then you've got a what in what? What was that again?


I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you.

PhD. Literature. Well, sort of literature. Sort of history too. Well, not really history. Historiography. And, um, metahistorical fiction, or was it metafictional history? Er, and comparative postnational studies or something. Or postcomparative national studies. Er.

Consider the turning point of your career. Do you have a plan?

Try to read? Figure out how to teach forty thoroughly alienated students about postmodernism tomorrow? Drink?

I meant a long-term plan.



Write totally revolutionary and unique Faulkner dissertation? Get job?

More education or an advanced degree is often the deciding factor when opportunity knocks.

Christ, I need more education?

By responding now, we'll give you a no-obligation Personalized Education Plan that details how quickly you could earn your degree.

"By responding now, we'll give you..."? What kind of grammar is that? Don't you mean, If you resp-- Did you say quickly?

You probably already know that University of Phoenix is the leading university for working professionals. And for good reason. By offering flexible schedules and classes with real-world relevance --

Hey! Real-world relevance? Have you looked at what I'm reading? What are you insinuating about Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation? Huh? Or Aesthetics of Superfluity? ...Oh.

-- with real-world relevance, University of Phoenix has helped people just like you earn a degree without putting a career on hold.

Well, this sort of is my career. I mean, not in a getting-paid way, but in a spending-all-my-time-on-it way. So I could get a degree in accounting while I write my dissertation? That would be kind of funny, see, because I used to work in accounting while I was trying to get into grad sch--

Katie, is this your turning point? Respond now for your complimentary Personalized Education Plan.

Personalized Education Plan? Gosh. Really? You'd figure it out for me? I mean, I'm still trying to figure out what classes to take next quarter - Narrative and Historiography, for sure, but what about Nationalisms and Culture? Interrogating Race? Visuality and the Text? Visions of Progress? World Historical Patterns 1500-1750? Aristotle's Physics?

What the fuck do those have to do with literature, Katie? You did say you were studying literature, didn't you?

I...I don't know.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by katie at November 15, 2005 09:36 PM | TrackBack

Bravo, madam. Bravo. But I don't know what they're talking about. Your long-term plan is perfectly tailored to your personal talents and ambitions.

Posted by: Dianna at November 16, 2005 07:27 AM

harsh, dianna. very harsh.

katie i feel your pain, sort of. last night i had to present a paper at a big conference, but when i got there i realized the paper was supposed to be 300 - 500 pages. i had misread the call for papers as "3 to 5 pages." and of course michele's paper was the exact right length. also, this was a dream, but still, pressure can kill, am i right?

Posted by: didofoot at November 16, 2005 08:58 AM

In the words of Bartok the bat, stress is a killer. Isn't that just the kick in the head?

Posted by: Dianna at November 16, 2005 10:17 AM

Harsh indeed, Di, but accurate. I mean, after three years of grad school, I already drink like a champ.

What? 300-500 pages? Wait, that's dissertation length. Were they 2-day panels? 300-500 words? 300-500 syllables? 300-500 column-inches?

What was the conf, anyway? Or dare I ask?

Posted by: katie at November 16, 2005 05:41 PM

i dunno what it was exactly, but my syntax prof was there. and he was mad.

Posted by: didofoot at November 17, 2005 08:09 AM

My dear didofoot, you have suddenly reminded me of one of those classic stress-can-kill dork-dreams I had in college, right before the final for my Classical Chinese Lit In Translation class. I had missed a bunch of classes during the semester, and the night before the final I dreamed that I showed up to the final, opened the exam, and it was all in this crazy calligraphy, because on one of the days I had missed, the prof had taught everyone else classical Chinese. So I sat there in the exam with one semester of modern Japanese under my belt, trying to figure out what the exam questions were based on what the little pictograms looked like to me, in fine Rorschach style: OK, that one looks like a telephone riding a bicycle, what could that mean? While all around me everyone was busting out all their answers in classical script, brushes and ink flying. Not as bad as having your syntax prof furious over your paltry conf paper, but I did go to class a lot more after that. Shudder.

Posted by: katie at November 17, 2005 12:03 PM


This morning I referred to this post in explaining to Jacob what a dangling participle is. It was the first and most convenient example of which I could think.

(In a post about grammar, one cannot make a grammatical mistake and expect to get away with it.)

("Being a post about grammar, I can't make a grammatical mistake and expect to get away with it.")

Posted by: Dianna at November 17, 2005 01:07 PM

Perhaps: "While posting about grammar, one cannot make a grammatical mistake..."?

Anyhoo, I think that you should comfort yourself: U of P has gotten in touch with you. You will note that U of P doesn't want anything to do with me, even though we live in the same house. They could have addressed the letter to both of us (since everyone thinks we're an item anyway) without spending any more presorted-first-class-funds. They don't want me at all. That's because U of P knows I'm right-this-minute writing an abstract on a fake topic (Platonic imagery in Hedwig and the Angry Inch) for a fake conference (which shall go unnamed for obvious reasons) only because the conference is in the same southwestern U.S. city as this guy I really enjoy fucking, and if my "paper" is accepted I'll get a travel grant for 1000 mile away booty-call.
Oh I think you're home now! I'll just go downstairs.

Posted by: Delightful Husband/Housemate at November 17, 2005 06:04 PM

Hey! My first version of that statement was perfectly fine! I need none of your fussy fancy edits, thank you very much.

In other words, don't try to tempt me with your feminine whiles.

Posted by: Dianna at November 17, 2005 06:42 PM

Hey! Next time you need a handy illustration of a dangling participle, try this:

Posted by: Delightful Husband/Housemate at November 17, 2005 06:58 PM