Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Update from the Midwest

So, it's been a crazy few days. It all began last Thursday, so I'll post my running diary I kept. Internet use was hard to come by in NY (because I was too busy, not because they don't have it...). Enjoy.

I will add pictures later. No time right now.

Cooperstown, NY

[Think of this as a modified journal of my trip. I say modified because y’all don’t need to know every one of my thoughts. But this will give you a feel for my trip hopefully.]

I think Linkin Park says it best: Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple. Sure, I can get in a plane and travel across the country to interview for a graduate program and then go to Kansas and check out the school and town I could be living in…but there is a lot more to it than the mere act of doing it. It is what needs to happen and it is the time for it to happen, but it is very hard to leave the life that I have come to love so much. But, no need to get sentimental quite yet—nothing is ever final until you actually do it, right?

Today, however, I did find myself rolling out of bed at 3:30 am. And then, suddenly, there I was at the Salt Lake airport, undressing to clear security. Okay so I only had to take off my belt and shoes, but still…awkward! Luckily for me, the weather gods are with me today, and all of my flights will be on time! Hurray!! (Kellie, I thought of you when I flew over Chicago!—I had to change plans. No incident. Thank goodness.)

Fast track to me picking my rental car up from the Albany airport. After a somewhat lengthy conversation about getting a GPS system in my rental (I declined), I ended up a little bit lost. Lost in Albany. Somehow I am wary of even GPS being able to help me in this situation. Someway, I found a road that I knew would get me to where I needed to be and followed it on out to Cooperstown. Albany seems like an alright place—except they don’t have turning lanes. It’s Preston, but 500 times worse because it is a bigger city so more opportunities to be stuck behind someone impossibly trying to turn left.

Cooperstown. Well, I was kind of in a hurry and it was dark when I got here, so I can’t say too much about it. But everyone seems nice…young, but nice. I forgot what it was like to be just out of college! Ah, to have never had the stresses of school groups yet. That would be nice. But I’m not kidding when I say I feel old. Most of these kids are pretty young.

I can see how this place would be really beautiful in the fall and summer. There are trees everywhere! And gently rolling hills. One of the other applicants made a comment about how glad they were to see the mountains here, and I just about died inside. They have a calming charm, but no, they are not mountains. I am sure compared to the plains it might seem that way, but still! With the bare trees and snow on the ground, I had visions of getting maple sap from the trees, though. Things are calming and seem to be rural-agriculture based. So, I feel somewhat okay with being here.

The day began with tours of some of the Cooperstown Graduate Program (from now on CGP) museums that they work with: the Farmer’s Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum. We also toured their storage facility. I was envisioning them having a bit more on the more high tech collection storage, but it surprisingly wasn’t. It is a step up from the Heritage Center’s sad collection storage (who can trust anything stored in the “Coke Building”?), but they do at least have it organized. The Farmer’s Museum is a “village” of living history. Closed right now, but they have a lot of buildings. Lucky them. I think the Heritage Center is cooler because it is an actual working farm…but I realized I am pretty biased. And I am apparently the only one on this tour that has been close to a cow. Everyone was pretty excited to pet the cow.

The program seems really amazing. Students are able to really work in these museums because they have such a close relationship with them. The verdict is still out on how I really feel about it…but it is a small, close knit program. After all, Cooperstown only has 2,000 people until the baseball crazies show up in the summer so the people in the program stick together.

And then the interview—the reason I am here. It was okay. If they accept me, then it went great. If they reject me, then clearly I need work on my interviewing skills. Maybe if I wouldn’t have had to walk up 2 flights of stairs before sitting down to interview, it would have been perfect. Perfect because I wouldn’t have been slightly winded for my first questions: Tell me about yourself…the easiest question on the planet! One more interview tomorrow.

So, it’s official. I am addicted to coke. I hadn’t had any soda today, and my head was pounding. So, since I had some time before dinner, I went to find a CVS. Cooperstown is kind of a fun little town. No grid system streets and really fun houses. Also, it is still Christmas in Cooperstown. I stopped counting the number of wreaths, trees, stars, and yes, even Mary and Joseph. But I wandered the streets and even found James Fenimore Cooper’s grave. (Hence, Cooperstown…named after his dad). I got my coke and was able to carry on.

And it is raining. And I am in a stranger’s house. It’s a little awkward, even though I try not to make it so. It is just naturally going to be so. Oh well.

Ah. It is all over. My last interview was this morning and it went better than yesterday. But I don’t know what they think. We will have to see what actually happens. I am finally relaxed, which is really nice. Apparently they are deciding on who gets in tomorrow. So, I should know pretty soon just how good or bad it went.

After our interviews, we went on more tours! Yeah. (Sigh…) We went to the Hall of Fame, which was actually in a crazy frenzy. Apparently they have a Hall of Fame game in the summer (or spring) where two professional teams play an exhibition game. There were a whole lot of baseball fans there. And they seemed a little suspicious of a big group of people getting to the front of the line. But seriously, the line was so long. I guess the steroids scandal hasn’t affected the game. Although during the introductory movie, they kept talking about players stretching to the extreme limit of their physical capabilities…and I kept thinking, yeah with steroids. I got to see the Roberto Clemente stuff, so it was all good.

We had a small driving tour of Cooperstown, where we saw some deer. My favorite line: “There is a herd of deer who live in my backyard.” People are funny about animals around here. It’s like they’ve never been around them. It’s hilarious. Being in a new place, reminds me of how unique my growing up has been. And how much I do love it.

Then it was time for the formal reception. Yikes! I never go to these kinds of things. I don’t mingle well, especially with people who are in charge of things like accepting me to a program. So it was actually really good for me to try a new experience. Weird because I don’t drink, but good too. It has been good to learn new things and skills like mingling. So whatever happens, the trip will have been worth it.

I am sitting in the Albany Airport, having just pulled out my computer to in fact verify that it is mine. The problem with owning a computer that everyone else does is that when you go through security, there is the off chance you could pick up the wrong one. But this is mine, just like the guy said.

After a rough start to the morning (what with the time change and all), it ended up going very smoothly. Once again, they tell me all my flights will be on time. I’m afraid I will be lulled back into security of flying through O’Hare. I began the day driving in the snow, with window wipers that didn’t want to work properly. I drove from Cooperstown to Oneonta to attend church at the local branch. And it was great. Everyone was so friendly, especially a couple of girls who go to a nearby college. They were so welcoming and it was nice to be out of the singles ward for a moment. In fact, it was refreshing the entire weekend to be out of the Utah/Idaho bunker. All the people I met this weekend were really nice and it was kind of nice to be surrounded by so many different people.

My drive back to Albany was much more uneventful than my drive out. No getting lost and it was actually very pleasant. Unfortunately, I was on a time schedule again and I didn’t get many pictures of the surrounding area. There isn’t a lot to see because everything is still dead, but I can see how gorgeous it would be in the summer. But it is actually very calming to drive through the rolling hills. The hills have a very relaxing momentum to them, something I think the grandeur of the mountains (that I LOVE, by the way) in Utah does not afford.

It has been a wonderful experience, and I am really glad I have been able to come out here—no matter what the outcome of the CGP may be.

On to Kansas tomorrow. Driving. Yipee!!

Lawrence, KS

After a day (and part of the night!) of driving, we arrived in Lawrence. I was okay, up until we got to about 4 hours out of Lawrence. Then I started going a bit stir crazy. Not tired (like yawning, running off the road tired, just ready to be done driving). But we made it, and just like I predicted, Lawrence is a lot like Logan, except there are no mountains-clearly. But who would have guessed it? I actually really like it here! The campus is nice. All of the architecture is so varied and random, although it seemed a little cramped compared to USU where we have the nice open quad. I could see myself walking around the campus because it didn't seem so different than what I knew.

Lawrence itself actually seems really fun. After all, I guess it is a college town. They have this great downtown area where they are restaurants, stores, and such--all in walking range. Whereas Logan has a boring mall, Lawrence has this fun place (although probably not so much in the winter...it probably gets pretty cold). The town has some of the fun aspects of a big city...lots going on...without the big city crazy time. I could really see myself here. I never would have guessed that I would actually think that Kansas could be an okay place for me to be.

However, the program seems to be in a bit of transition and in some flux. The program doesn’t seem as strong as I would like and had hoped for. Needless to say, I wasn’t entirely impressed. If this is the only school that accepts me I would definitely make it work to my advantage. This all seems so anticlimactic. But if I get accepted somewhere else, I will be very interested in checking out those programs. Too bad I can't have the wonderful CGP here in Lawrence (and be accepted). Now that would be something to write home about.

I have to say that it was a bit unnerving driving through eastern Colorado and western Kansas (I mostly drove through the rest of Kansas in the dark) without having any mountains to protect and keep me safe. The sun sets right into the fields, and I continually kept checking to see if I could spot any mountains. I never did.


Kellie said...

Thanks for sharing. If I wasn't 9 months pregnant I would have loved to tag along!! I am glad that O'hare didn't cause you any travel problems (our perpetual travelling is still plagued by Ohare's winter problems, even though we live miles away in Texas). Chicago is such a great city so I'm forgiving of all of the travel problems they create. Anyway, I am looking forward to hearing more in the unraveling of Jenette's future plans.

Julie & Jason said...

My favorite line from this entry Is "i don't mingle well" Brings back memories. What a great trip and it sounds like cooperstown has a great program. Maybe if you do go to Kansas you can help shape the program! that would look well on a resume!

Julie & Jason said...

ps i am still holding out for GW