Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lubbock or leave it?

Lubbock was windy, flat, and friendly. From the folks who gave me house hunting advice on the plane to the guy behind them who gave me a ride from the airport to my hotel to the friendly Realtor who drove me around on Thursday for five hours and bought me lunch, to professors and grad students at Tech who answered all my questions and laughed at all my jokes and made me feel very much at home, to the department secretaries who treated me like an old friend, everyone in Lubbock conspired to make the entire town seem like a fantastic place to live, and I think it may have worked.

Of course the decision will be easy if we don't get accepted anywhere else. We've been put on the waiting list here at OU, and at Missouri, and I have a feeling that Utah has done the same (though we haven't heard from them and the rejection letter may well be in the mailbox tomorrow).

Which has me thinking--there are only 17 creative nonfiction Phd programs in the country--most of them east of the Mississippi and most of them very young programs. I have no idea how many applicants applied to the various programs this year, but likely there are just a handful of writers who got accepted all over the place, which means those of us on waiting lists are currently WAITING for those select few writers to make a decision about which school to choose from, and then once they sort themselves out, the pecking order shifts and spots begin to fill. And we all have until April 15th (the national decision day for all grad school applicants) to make a final choice about where to go. So we're all waiting on each other to decide, but if I'm waiting for the folks at Utah and Missouri to decide before I decide about Texas Tech, and a person accepted to Utah is waiting to find out about Missouri and Texas Tech before they make a decision about Utah, then we are all circling around these grad school vacancies like some painful game of musical chairs--once someone makes a move, the rest of us go diving in to fill empty seats at the last second.

I don't think there's necessarily a better way to do it, and I don't really mean to complain, but rather I'm interested in my own inability to wait very patiently for anything. I want my news fast (NPR pledge drives bug me to no end), I want my food fast (sometimes I'd rather make sandwiches for dinner than chop vegetables and heat up a pan), I want my travel fast (I often run up stairs because I can't stand the time it takes to walk up them) and I want my graduate school decisions fast.

It didn't help that I got my acceptance to Texas Tech more than a month ago and I'm still waiting on Utah and Western Michigan. And now we're stuck in this Limbo making huge hypothetical decisions--everything prefaced by giant looming IFs and MAYBEs. Like I said, this isn't meant to be a complaint--we are genuinely excited about Texas Tech and the package they've put together for us--we'd just like to be able to focus on it with all of our energy, but we don't feel like we can really do that until we know all of our options.

And so we're waiting, and that's okay. It's spring in Athens (at least yesterday it was--70 degrees and sunny) and the first green daffodil shoots are breaking through the soil. Joggers and bikers and dog-walkers are out in force, campus has become shirt-sleeve-optional for guys and girls alike, and Mr. Baseball and I have already played catch outside more this month than we did all winter. If we leave this little town, we will miss it dearly. We will miss the roll of the landscape, the way the leafy trees shade everything in the spring and summer and give a serrated edge to the winter horizon. We will miss the winding brick streets and the sprawling green grass and the Georgian enclaves of the University. We will miss the hoards of children at the public library's "reading time," and the crafts and puppets and airborne building blocks that come with it. We will miss the friends and friends and friends we see at the store/church/park/mall/school/gym/theater/library every time we go out because this town is THAT small. We will miss the mix of Appalachian pragmatism and Academic progressiveness that has always seemed to have room for our broad religious and political ideas. We will miss the smell of Court Street at lunch time, the glow of sunset on the Hocking River, and the quiet of Campus during the University breaks.

But enough worrying about that, at least while we're still waiting.

P.S. The hotel wasn't nearly as bad as the reviewers on Trip Advisor suggested, though it may have been luck of the draw. It was hardly the Ritz (it was hardly a Best Western), but it was free, and it was clean, and the kitchen lent me a spoon so I could eat the pint of ice cream I bought at CVS, so all in all a pretty sweet deal.

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