It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Here’s the traditional background music while we catch up:
Two weeks ago, with as little pomp and circumstance as I could get away with — I didn’t even tell my sister — I retook the GRE. You’ll remember that I wasn’t happy with my scores the first time around, and though some of you were kind enough to share your GRE wisdom, it bothered me that I hadn’t done as well as I knew I could. I worried that if I didn’t get into the graduate school I hoped for, I would regret not having retaken the GRE to give myself the best application possible. So, I spent a few more weeks reviewing, the goal being to merely retain and clarify what I had learned over the past six months of studying; not to make myself crazy trying to learn a million new formulas and strategies. I took two more practice tests. And then I went downtown on a Thursday afternoon and faced the darn test once again.
It went much better, I’m glad to report. My scores are now where I want them to be, which I credit entirely to my being more focused, more confident, more relaxed than last time. Telling fewer people, and not shouting over social media about what I was doing meant that I didn’t have the added — and entirely self-inflicted! — pressure of trying to make half the internet proud.
The GRE is over forever (I fervently hope), and I’m currently knee-deep in graduate school applications. It’s stressful, of course; there are dozens of moving parts (transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation) to corral and polish. But it’s also exiting to finally get to think and talk and write about history once again.
Currently reading: Mornings on Horseback, by David McCullough. I’ve been coveting this book for years, and I finally, finally found it at Capitol Hill Books. David McCullough is truly my favorite history writer; his biographies are always written with narrative skill, with sensitivity for the humanness of his subjects, and with wit. Best line so far (regarding James Alfred Roosevelt): “Of his private, domestic enthusiasms, it is recorded that he was inordinately fond of waffles.” Me too, James. Me too.
Looking forward to: Going home for Thanksgiving. I will be in Minnesota for an entire, glorious week. We’ll see if I can face the cold having been spoiled by DC’s temperate falls.
Betterment: I have a complicated relationship with journaling; I want to be the kind of person who writes down everything, both for therapy and later nostalgia, and I go through phases where I am, but most of the time, journaling the story of my day is a daunting task when I’m tired and would rather just plunk down and read. Lately, I’ve been writing a few lines in my journal every night. They don’t have to be beautiful or polished, but they do have to say something about my day and state of mind. I can commit to that.
Other things I haven’t told you:Let’s catch up some more once this application madness dies down!