The Fret of Fruition
I enter full freak out mode.
I have been accepted into all six MFA programs that I applied for. I am overjoyed and overwhelmed.
I rule out Naropa. I rule out Goddard. I spend an hour dealing with Pacific, finding out that there is not a penny they can offer me but they have the most rigorous academic program by far. It is my top choice, in hand and in heart, and the real cost will be about $30,000.
I negotiate with Vermont College. They offer a few thousand, but even with the merit scholarship the total cost for the degree will be about $27,000. University of Southern Maine is responsive. They have scholarships. They want to help. They are affordable. They have a residency option in IRELAND. They offer me a recruitment scholarship on the spot and promise a bit more for merit. This brings the cost down to $20-22,000 for the degree, almost a third less than my top choice. I resolve to review their program web site again and see just how strong they are.
But still: Who could beat William Kittredge? David James Duncan? Judy Blunt? Craig Lesley? Peter Fromm? Rick-freaking-Bass? All of whom are on faculty at Pacific and could be my mentors.
I call Pacific again. There is brief mention of a teaching assistantship, not customary for low-res students but still, if I’d move there for a semester there could be a possibility. There is a glimmer of hope. The program Director hears my voice waver and offers to have FamousWriter who lives in Montana call me. “Is that ok,” she asks?
Um. Yes. That is OK. (Is this what they call “being recruited?”)
I call Goucher. No answer, leave a message, send an email. I touch base with Vermont College again – how much can you offer? How about a little more?
As if I have anything to complain about, right? But still, the muscles in my neck grow taught like beef jerky. My pulse quickens. I consider selling my 105 year-old Steinway (for about $2,000). I consider my CD collection (which I can download onto my iPod). I wonder about Dad’s Texaco Airplane Set (including Special Additions), which he bought years ago with the intent to resell for a higher amount. I consider the cost of gas to drive to Maine and the cost of cross-country airfare (about the same). I consider the visits to family in New England or friends in Oregon. Nothing seems settled in my mind.
On the way to BigCity, NC in the car with my parents I start to cry. I am overwhelmed at the prospect of searching for private funds, applying, and waiting again. I wish I had a headhunter for grant money. I wish the Federal Government gave grants to grad school students.
This will happen. I will go to grad school. But I have until April 7th (at the latest) to decide about University of Southern Maine. Deposits will be due. Offices are expecting notices. All of them tell me yes, it’s fine to defer until January but that I still have to decide now, in April, as soon as possible.