Friday, 19 October 2007

What Are Qualifying Exams Good For? Short Answer: Absolutely nothing. Longer Answer: Abso-fucking-lutely nothing. Actual Answer: You have three lists: one for theory, one for genre, and one for period. (Some substitutions are allowed.) Each should contain thirty works. None ever does. At your list-meeting, the members of your committee decide what belongs on each list. They never reach a decision. They "compromise" by including every work any of them mentioned. You now have nine months to read three lists. Each consists of sixty works. Let me do the math for you: 270 / 180 = FUCKED Because you are. You cannot read a book every 1.5 days and have anything intelligent to say about it. But you must read a book every 1.5 days and have something intelligent to say about it. You must also remember these intelligent things because one day soon the graduate coordinator will escort you into a room in which you will sit with all the books on your lists and write for six hours. On Tuesday you will write about your A List. On Thursday you will write about your B List. Only "write" is not an appropriate word for what you will do. You do not write: You eject words. Your committee wants words, damn it, and you will give them words. You will not give them punctuation because punctuation is for chumps and you will not give them grammar because they wants words not grammar and they cannot has big word because big word not available in time are been allotted and your word cannot do sense because you to be in rooms for six hour and is under pressure and if you does not performs good you and your asses are to be kicked from grad schools to curbs and then you died. Fortunately, the qualifying exams have a purpose: namely, to have you do something you'll never again be asked to do in your professional career, so that you may better appreciate how well-suited you are for it and only it. Because no one does well on their exams. No one "passes" in the conventional sense. Your committee is always disappointed. Everyone on it thought you were going to be the first person in the history of academia to perform exceptionally under extreme duress and on a exam the likes of which you've never taken (nor will ever take again). This disappointment is reasonable. To be expected. You will do equally poorly on your oral examination (covering your C List). Your committee members will lower their eyes and shake their heads. That is what they are there for. They want kabuki from a method actor. You are there to oblige. You dance inappropriately and they try not to laugh. You are tell them sentences with some word and they try not to laughs. Then they are pass you and you can have happy and alcohol. Your life are now for good. You is ABD.
Assailed by the Miraculous Three weeks ago Friday I went to the UCI Cashier's Office to settle two outstanding debts: Overdue Library Fine: $12.50 Fall Student Fees: $2,640.00 I wrote the UC Regents a check, snaked through the Cashier's line and handed the check to the teller. She smiled and chirped: "Have a great weekend!" So you can imagine my surprise when I went to register for the Fall Quarter and learned from the Registrar that I hadn't paid my Student Fees. I walked over to the Cashier's Office. I snaked through the Cashier's line. I questioned the teller about the status of my account. The teller pursed her lips at her monitor and asked me whether I paid my fees on time. I said I had. She asked whether I'd mailed them or handed them to a teller. I said I'd handed them to a teller. She asked whether the check I'd written had been cashed. I said it had. She excused herself for a moment. The teller had excused herself for more than a moment. Much more. I waited. Tapped my fingers. Pulled my ear. Fiddled with buttons. Ten minutes went by. I leaned over the partition. Looked around. Leaned back. Tapped fingers. Ten more minutes passed. I huffed audibly. Crossed my arms. Scowled. That did the trick. The teller returned and said: "Did you pay a library fine the same day?" I said that I had. "How much was it for?" I said how much it was for. "Because the library applied all the funds you deposited that day to the overdue fee." "They did?" "They did." "Why'd they do that?" "They don't know." "Will they undo it?" "They said they'll try." "They said they'll try to refund the $2,640 they applied to a $12.50 overdue fee?" "That's what they said." "Did they indicate whether they thought they'd be successful?" "They didn't say." "Did they say what I should do if they weren't successful?" "They didn't say." "But they did say they'd try to refund the $2,640 they applied to a $12.50 overdue fee?" "That's what they said." "Did they happen to tell say when they'd try to refund the $2,640 they applied to a $12.50 overdue fee?" "They said because they assessed the fine last month the money's already been reallocated—" "Can they allocate it back?" "They said it's not that simple. In the meantime, why don't you pay your student fees now and work out this situation with the library later?" I looked at her as only a man without $2,640 in his wallet looks at a teller who assumes he does. (For reference: a subtle variation of "You Must Be Fucking Kidding Me.") I continued staring until she looked uncomfortable. "If you pay your student fees now you can work out the library situation later." I stared some more. "I'd be happy to help you process your student fees." The staring evolved into glowering around the words "happy" and "help." I was determined to remain mute until she...

Become a Fan

Recent Comments