My dear, amazing, wonderful, patient, drop dead gorgeous readers,
I’m so sorry that I have been so negligent with the blog. I broke it and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. That’s why it’s been months since my last post.
How did I break the blog, you ask?
I have no idea.
And it still isn’t fixed.
I’m at school writing this listening to one of the most awkward conversations on simulated male genitalia.
Anyway, for some strange reason, I’ve decided to apply to doctoral programs.
I have no idea why I’m doing this.
Yes, I do.
But at this moment the reasons seem contrived and hard to believe.
In order to apply to doctoral programs and have any hope of being accepted, I had to take the GRE Subject Test in Literature. Do you remember what happened the last time I took the GRE?
If not, read this post and get back to me.
Now that you’ve read that you can probably imagine how absolutely terrified I was to take the subject test. For those of you unfamiliar with the subject test in literature, you should know that the subject test expects you to have a working knowledge of everything that was ever written ever.
You see how incredibly difficult that is.
However, I had a game plan.
My friends, Meg and Gabby.
When faced with an extremely difficult intellectual task, cling to the friends that are smarter than you and ride their coattails into the world of academia.
Thankfully, I have smart friends in abundant supply.
As soon as I said, “I’m gonna take the GRE subject test!” Meg and Gabby, “Awesome, so here’s what we’re gonna go: we made a list of terms, theories, authors, and forms that are likely to appear on the exam. You’re going to take 1/3 of the list and define those terms on convenient note cards. When you’re finished with said note cards we’re going to study together for at least 2-3 hours 2-3 days a week. The weekend before the test we’re going to study for 27 hours and then we’ll study Wednesday from 4-9, Thursday from 3- whenever, and Friday from 4-death. Is that feasible?”
“Um…can I just wing it?”
And so about a month ago I started studying.
At first I was really excited about everything I was learning.
DAY TWO OF NOTE CARDS: “Wow! I had completely forgotten what assonance was! Good thing I’m studying.”
That buoyancy was quickly lost.
DAY TWENTY OF NOTE CARDS: “If I hear the word ‘epigram’ one more time I’m gonna gut someone like a fish.”
When I say that the GRE subject test in literature expects you to have a working knowledge of everything that was ever written ever I’m not kidding. Even the study guide I borrowed from my friend, Monique, said, “The GRE subject test expects you to have a working knowledge of everything that was ever written ever. Obviously this is not possible. Good luck. You’ve got a snowflake’s chance in hell.”
It may not have said it in those exact words, but that sentiment was definitely implied.
Here’s an example of a GRE subject test questions:
A poet’s part-by-part enumeration of his mistress’s beauties draws on a rhetorical structure known as the:
A) Interlace pattern
When you come face to face with the GRE subject test it says, “Oh you have a B.A. in English? That’s cute.”
“You’re working on an M.A.? Aww, how precious.”
“What’s that? You think you know literature? That’s adorable.”
While I was studying for the test I would often drift to sleep with a literary term bouncing around in my head. When I woke up, I would immediately define that term.
12am: “What is catachresis? Did I study that already? I must have. What on earth is catachresis? Catachresis…catachresis…is when you catch a cat…with a crease…(snore).”
6am: “Catachressis is the misapplication of a word or the extension of a word’s meaning in a surprising but strictly illogical metaphor. I’m awesome! (evaluates life) If I keep doing stuff like this I’m totally going to die alone.”
The GRE started to permeate every part of my life.
In my car: (singing Tay Tay Swift) “You were Romeo I was the Scarlet Letter and my daddy said, ‘Stay away from Juliet! – wait a second. Is that catachresis?”
* Yes, I often sing Taylor Swift on my way to school. No, you may not judge my taste in music.
Reading the Bible: (Matthew 19:30) “But many who are first will be last, and may who are last will be first. Is that a chiasmus? I’m pretty sure that’s chiasmus. BOOYAH! Look whose finding literary terms in the word of God! YES! I AM AWESOME!!! (evaluates spirituality) I am the worst Christian on earth.”
My experience studying with Gabby and Meg was surprisingly similar to my experience working on note cards.
Me: Tell me about William Faulkner.
Meg: Southern gothic writer during the 1920s. Wrote The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, As I Lay Dying, and A Rose for Emily. Majority of his stories take place in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County.
Me: Tell me about Gertrude Stein.
Gabby: Expatriate writer, published The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in 1933.
Me: Tell me about William Faulkner.
Meg: F*ck Faulkner.
Me: Ok, we can come back to that one. Tell me about Gertrude Stein.
However, I was not much better.
Meg: What did Oscar Wilde write?
Me: Some stuff…people read it…whatever.
Gabby: Define New Criticism.
Me: It’s new. It’s criticism. Done.
God bless Gabby and Meg. They’re much better at saving their crankiness until the end of the study session. My temper tantrums reared their ugly heads from out the gate.
The madness wasn’t even close to over.
Student A: I think he’s arguing that race isn’t biological. Race is something that changes depending on our environment.
Me: Is this because race has become synonymous with culture?
Student A: Um…I think so.
Me: JUDITH BUTLER!!!! You could totally connect Judith Butler to that and argue that race is a performance!
Student A: Ms. Byng?
Student A: Who the heck is Judith Butler?
Do any of you know who Judith Butler is? I do. That’s because I studied for the GRE.
I’m hoping now that the test is over I can recapture the pieces of my humanity that were lost in the struggle to amass volumes of knowledge in a rather short period of time.
My social skills are in the toilet.
This is not to say that I was the life of the party before, but I’m starting to forget what He-Man and Chi-chi look like.
When I try to imagine my father’s face in my mind’s eye all I see is Amiri Baraka.
And when I think of Chi-chi for some reason I see Emily Dickinson.
That’s not a good sign.
Especially since Chi-chi does have a habit of wandering around the house in white flowing garments.