June 26, 2007

The cry of credentials

Though every semester at Seton Hill seemed more difficult than the last, when I look back on it all, I find that my first freshman semester rated highest on my stress-o-meter. By the end, I had the know-how and the faith that I could get through it all, but at the beginning, I questioned myself. I'm doing the same thing now, but now I know that I'm doing it.

I guess a lot of my pre-formed stress is from Facebook. What an awful thing that community of credentials and interests and self-indulgence really is!

One of my soon-to-be classmates said on her message board that she is feeling overwhelmed and more than a little inadequate after viewing our class's profiles. I must echo this sentiment. Facebook offers the voyeuristic ability to pore over every piece of work information and background experience that every student has. When looking at that for admittedly ten minutes or so, one feels a sensation akin to looking at pristine models in a fashion magazine: like a blemished average person. Also, the image of one person slips onto another and then another and you forget who was who and then you just lump them all together into some mega journalist image in your mind. Why should they want to go to graduate school? They are awesome and perfect and have nothing to add to their knowledge of the craft...I'm so not ready for this--and so on...

However, I've stopped that lurking and self-pitying. I've reminded myself that I'm accepted. I'm forking out (or will be) a lot of dough for this education. I've got the ability somewhere deep down inside to make it through, just like I did in my undergraduate years at SHU. I'm going to make it because it's just what I do.

It's not been a secret that I've felt displaced in the past few months. Direction is hard to come by when waiting on answers from your future makers at colleges. Time is an ally and an enemy. I read over my application essay that got me in. I remind myself that I have all of the abilities that I said I did. I imagine that my classmates feel something of the same. And I catch myself doing it again--trying to bring everyone down to a human level. We all have families that live in little houses with picket fences or drive cars that sometimes won't start in the morning.

It's so easy to elevate people, including yourself, to something higher or lower than reality. Our minds act like bubble paper, sometimes cushioning and other times obscuring us from what is essential to see things as they are or could be. These mega journalists are going to be my friends and co-workers. I am on their level and they're on mine, and we have a job to do. We depend on every other human being to tell our stories, to pay our salaries (someday). I hope humility and confidence will balance themselves out in their own time.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2007

Just the Family Vacation

I love my family. I love trips. I'm not too sure about the combination of the two.

This week is my family's first trip together since our disastrous one to New York City about four years ago.

That's not to say we haven't traveled at all in the past few years. I've turned into a traveling fiend. Dublin, Philadelphia, New York, etc. My sister and mother love to travel, too. My dad loves to go to Civil War and history-oriented locales, but he hasn't in the past few years, so we're doing locations primarily he likes in central and eastern Pa.

Today we visited Lancaster, Intercourse, Paradise, Bird-in-Hand...You can just imagine some of the retail merchandise...In any case, it's been quite an adventure.

Our family does fight in the loud and obnoxious way that most families do. Today we had our first fight and I was an integral part of it. Nevertheless, we plodded on in our lovely rental that doesn't actually plod--it really flies. In fact, my mother rode the white line at 75 mph until a tractor trailer almost plowed into us with his cow catcher-like bumper.

Tomorrow we travel to York and the Harley-Davidson factory. We are not bikers, nor do I foresee anyone owning a bike, but we are going there to broaden our minds.

Today, we were pretzel twirlers and bud-eaters. I'm not really a tour person because I watched Mr. Rodgers' nearly every day of my childhood, but it was pretty interesting to watch a one-man pickling operation at a cannery. He packed twelve eggs into each can and then a long spout of purple juice slid into the jar, which was finally sealed and a label was slapped on.

It was a compelling spectacle for a few minutes, but I caught myself feeling sorry for the guy. I can't get the book, Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, out of my mind. Ehrenreich is an undercover journalist who "exposes" what her life is like in various six- and seven-dollar occupations through her reflections. She is employed in the book in several vocations, including a maid, a Wal-Mart employee and a waitress, among others. Though I think her voice is a bit persnickety in the book, I find that her stories are nevertheless alarming, and make me think twice about my place on the proverbial totem and why I think her voice is persnickety. Have I accepted my class? Has she been spoiled by hers?

In any case, I think about the people who made up the rooms that I am sleeping in for the night. I think about the people canning the eggs and making my vacation omlets. I wonder how much they are being paid and what their lives are like. I've always done this, and because I do, I never really relax on vacations. I find that this awareness is heightened this trip, especially. Maybe it's because we're still in Pa. Maybe it's because pay raises and finances are a constant news item. Maybe it's just a great combination of all of that.

When people cook and clean up for me on vacation, I want to remember to respect them and to be grateful for this trip. We may fight and say a lot of things we don't mean, but at least we're given one more time to be a family before we scatter--or more appropriately--I move. It's strange that I'm on vacation at 21 years old with my family, but who else gets that chance? They'll be other trips to savor with friends and business trips, but this vacation is something else entirely: it's an affirmation of us, still as a unit, no matter where we go and what we do.

It's just too bad WallyWorld was closed today. The poor moose. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2007

Home Sweet New York

I have a place to live. Repeat: I HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE!

New York University just sent a lovely e-mail stating that I have a home for the next academic year if I respond ASAP. The message was received, of course, at the library (where I can't scream), but I did give my most winning smile to the couple I was helping at the library between my Internet surfs.

The message cannot say where I will reside exactly, but I am assured a place in NYU's housing buildings, all of which are in Manhattan.

I did do a bonafide Irish jig (that I learned from my Irish friends) in the library's back room and hug both of my fellow staff members.

Today was a great day. I ate Godiva ice cream and a Coppula hoagie, I was published, and I have a home--somewhere.

The next step is to envision this new abode and my new roommate(s).

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack