Sunday, March 18, 2007

Walking In Ida B. Wells Barnett's Footsteps

Ida B Wells Barnett- anti-lynching crusader,women's rights advocate,
editor of the Freespeech and Headlight newpaper and journalist.

Disappearing Acts:
Whenever I have had these long breaks between postings I always feel some sort of explanation is due.
I have perhaps 2 maybe 3 friends who look at this blog. They are the one’s that send emails like:
“Where are you Warrior Pen?"
'Why haven’t you been posting?”
“Hey, what’s going with your blog?”
“What’s going on with you?”

At the moment, my life is a delicious slice of chocolate cake. I want to savor it until the last bite! I have been working on two essays for two different anthologies. I have been journaling in my black and white notebook. I am preparing for my first poetry reading in a long time. And the big thing is, I am a candidate for CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism. I have been invited into the second round. I was invited to take the entrance exam and sit for an interview.

Back Tracking:
Just after starting my job with the city, I applied for graduate school (See October 17, 2006 posting). It was after one of those encounters with my supervisors that forced me to really examine my situation. I have loved teaching for a long time but working in an atmosphere in which education takes a back seat to job placement, is not the same. I have also been spoiled; teaching in places where I know I can push students to their fullest. As an Adult Education Instructor in a job placement environment, it is stifling and depressing. I have very little time with the only other two instructors to plan a real solid curriculum and share lesson plans. While I love working with many of my students, I often feel like I am applying band-aids to wounds that need stitches.

I have wanted to talk about applying to graduate school here, but felt it was too weird since my blog was part of my school application. Writing a blog about applying, while knowing the admissions director would view it, seemed a little too narcissistic.

It’s not that seeking a master’s degree has never occurred to me. I had a lot to consider. We have only been in our house for a year. How am I going to help pay the mortgage? My daughter is entering her first year of high school. Thank my lucky stars that she is studious and was awarded scholarships to her two top choices. I still want to be available to her. I worry about balancing the demands of the course work, having a community of support for what I am doing and the needs of my family.

On a typical day I complete much of what I need to do on the way to and from work. I have been writing on the train. That’s how I do everything these days. I fill out permission slips and read the school newsletters while holding onto a pole. I have read 7 books since January all while commuting. If only there were a washer, dryer and folding tables on the subway. Think of the possibilities.

So after that horrible day at work, I went to one of those perspective meetings. I felt nervous. I listened to other students in the room talk about their existing careers in media. A few people were already working for magazines. There was even a couple from Florida had been writing for newspapers in Latin America. It was the kind of scene in which I felt everybody in the room already knew more than I did.

Like Filing Your Own Taxes:
I took the information packet home and began to work on the online application right away. It was a good thing. It seemed like a never-ending process that would surely beat me. There were many evenings of plugging information into a window only to discover that much of it had to be resubmitted because time had run out for the session. Is there a language for this sort of computer-internet aggravation!

I bought a book to study for the GRE. Thirty bucks of nothing but stress. I found that I am horrible at memorizing lots of vocabulary words for the sake of a test. I also did much of this on the train. On other nights I sat at my desk taking those practice test and scoring miserably. Oh and by the way, the CD-Rom
doesn’t work on an Apple PowerBook G4.

I took the GRE Exam a few days after Christmas. It was a circus. Not the exam, but the flurry of activity in my house. It was everything from fixing heating and plumbing, to handling a flurry of mice (a building across the street was being renovated), to family members visiting because they were on vacation. I cursed myself for scheduling the exam during a holiday time but when is a good time to take a test you are afraid of? I needed to have the test taken by the application deadline.

The night before, I sat for three hours practicing writing responses to analytical questions in 30 and 45-minute intervals. I hoped that my ability to prepare others for the General Equivalency Diplomacy test would be to my advantage.

As the January 2 deadline approached, I watched the snail-mail and email waiting for recommendations that I had requested from a number of trusted friends and colleagues. They came from smart, wonderful women that I had worked with in a variety of ways. One of these friends accompanied me to the post office on the day that I submitted the signature page of the online application.

Snow Day:
There are two sections on the exam. They include, news writing drill, news analysis, grammar and currents events. I wished the world would stop spinning and hoped no other last minute scandal would pop up.

At a baby shower for a coworker I hardly know, I tried not to think about the index cards in my bag. I had created my own list of every thing I could think of in recent news. Here’s a sample of my list: D. Klye Sampson, Ban Ki-Moon, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Sudan, Wangari Maathai and General Kevin C. Kiley.

After the baby shower, I went to a family dinner at my son’s school. It was a nice diversion. The school cafeteria was packed. You can’t keep a New Yorker away even in a snow storm. The food was great. A chorus of 1st through 6th graders sang Bill Wither's “A Lovely Day.”

When I got home last night, I received an email stating the Saturday exam would be cancelled and held on Monday instead. It was just like being in the 6th grade. A snow day! It was just what I needed. One more day to figure out how to write news analysis.

1 comment:

Sheela Wolford said...

Anna! I am so excited and proud of you! Your methodology is brilliant. You have - once again - inspired me. Systematically you have manifested your dream. I am so tremendously proud of you! The poetry reading gives me reason to live! Brava to you!