March 5th, 2014 § § permalink
Seattle, home of AWP ’14 and better weather than Chicago
1. Know What to Wear
I arrived at the conference about 90 minutes after getting off my flight. I’m a nervous traveler, so the t-shirt and jeans I was wearing were a bit sweaty and anxiety ridden. My jeans and shoes looked fairly presentable, but my bright blue Hound of the Baskervilles t-shirt visually alerted every one of my newbie status the moment I stepped inside the convention center. There were other people in jeans and t-shirts (and sports jerseys?), but I didn’t want to be lumped with that crowd, if you catch my drift. I wanted to be lumped with the buttoned-down men and business-casually dressed women. The other students from my program were all dressed within these categories, and I’m not at all sure how I missed the memo. When I left the conference to get lunch at Jimmy John’s (all of their sandwiches are .74¢ cheaper in Seattle!) I raided the clearance rack at a nearby Old Navy to buy a $10 button down. I even tucked it in, which is far cry from my typical untucked, half-buttoned flannel getup. I usually avoid tucking in shirts of any kind for fear of looking like a young dad about to play golf, but as I held the shirt over my body in a mirror at Old Navy I thought I looked like a young writer who was not quite professional. Yet.
2. Know If You’ll be Giving a Reading » Read the rest of this entry «
March 3rd, 2014 § § permalink
In case you missed Jessi’s excellent post on AWP on AfterMAPH, MAPH’s Alumni blog, check out some highlights of AWP 2014 below:
“Find the place that scares you most and run to it.” — Eric McMillan (MAPH ‘10) on writing and, well, life
Talking Craft: (from left) Evan Stoner (’14), Hao Guang Tse (’14), Andy Tybout (’14), Chris Robinson (’14), Joel Calahan (’05, current preceptor), Eric McMillan (’10), Hilary Dobel (’09)
Last night, while leading eight current MAPH creative writers on an uphill March from the Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center to Von Trapp’s in Capitol Hill, I was marveling (aloud, perhaps unfortunately for my companions) about what going to the AWP conference can do for an aspiring writer. We were on our way to the second-ever MAPH/UChicago Alumni offsite reading at AWP. Earlier that morning, my colleague A-J Aronstein and I had stopped by a panel featuring the poet and teacher—and reader at last year’s offsite event—Shaindel Beers(MAPH ‘00) entitled the “Art of Difficulty.” Using beautiful language, Shaindel described teaching poetry students in prisons, schools, etc. as finding a way of “giving permission.” To write, one has to believe that they have something worth saying, a voice worth hearing. To Shaindel, it is a writing teacher’s job to nurture that belief, to create a space for it to thrive.
» Read the rest of this entry «
January 27th, 2014 § § permalink
You’ve mastered survival of the polar vortex, you’re well on your way to producing a real live thesis proposal and awkward prom-date-style asking an adviser, and you’ve got a cheering squad of MAPH staff to support you as Winter Quarter kicks in.
That said, Winter Quarter can really SUCK. It’s dark, cold, and you’re being asked to do an INSANE amount of reading/papers/job stuff/general being human type things. While it’s easy to feel like you have time for absolutely nothing besides thesis and school, it is essential this quarter to stay healthy and balanced.
It can be incredibly helpful to talk to someone who is not also immersed in thesising. Looking for a way to get something off your chest, or not sure if it would be useful to talk to someone on a regular basis? Student Counseling offers a Let’s Talk program, which offers walk-in meetings with a counselor. Student Counseling also has resources for academic struggles like procrastination or developing speed-reading skills.
And as always, if you feel like you need to see another human, are looking for someone to complain with, or just want to say hi, come by the MAPH office anytime.
2. Cozy up! (But in a new place)
At this point in the year, leaving Hyde Park (or even leaving the library!) can feel like a mini-vacation. Last year I set myself the goal of getting out of Hyde Park once a week, even if it was just to study in a new place. And while it may sound silly, those trips to distant coffee shops felt INCREDIBLE. It was like I realized that there was a great big world out there that wasn’t all thinking about (and possibly criticizing) my academic work. Also, Chicago is full of awesome places – it’s so worth your time to go check them out.
Some quick recommendations from Keri for coffee (at this point last year, I was consuming on average 6 caffeinated beverages a day, so I was starting to get picky): The Bourgeouis Pig (tip: they have a limit on Wifi, so bring your reading), Filter or The Wormhole (nerdy!) in Wicker Park, and for those who can’t leave Hyde Park, Bridgeport Coffee has a location in the Hyde Park Art Center
3. Sunshine (from the indoors!)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing, although I’m not totally sure if I have it. Regardless, staying inside all the time in the dark makes me sad, but there’s no way I’m getting outside for a jog when it’s -5 out. Luckily, there are ways to get sunshine (and a healthy dose of Mother Nature) while staying indoors:
-Garfield Park Conservatory - conveniently, MAPH is taking a trip to this lush and verdant (and free) place on 2/7
-Lincoln Park Conservatory – this slightly smaller conservatory is right next to the zoo (and is also free)
-and of course, the giant space dome / egg library that is Mansueto – less plants, more work, but very sunny regardless
4. Bring balance to the force (or to your own life)
You may have already discovered this, but it’s pretty much impossible to do all the reading for classes AND work on your thesis AND sleep AND be an actual human AND maintain friendships AND look for a job. And that is OKAY. It is more important to maintain your mental (and physical!) health than to finish all the readings. Do enough of your work to participate well in class, and then TAKE A BREAK.
While you’re at it, put a ban on guilt: set a (reasonable) to-do list, and once it’s done, allow yourself a guilt-free work-free break. Exercise, knit, spend time with friends, meditate, go to Tea & Pipes, watch TV, read a book that is actually not useful in any way toward your academic work, do whatever you need to in order to give your brain time off from school.
You got this.
November 25th, 2013 § § permalink
On Friday, December 6th, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm,
join MAPH students and alumni for ARTBAR, an evening of socializing, drinks, live performance, and art activities at the
The evening will include:
- Hands on art-making in 2 of the following media: clay, screenprinting, and photography,
- An improv, pop-up, interactive comedy club performance put on by artists exhibiting work in the Michelle Grabner-curated “A Study in Midwestern Appropriation,”
- Drinks, snacks, and socializing, in the spirit of MAPH Social Hour,
- An introduction to the Hyde Park Art Center and its programs for MAPH alumni and students by the Art Center’s Marketing & Communications Manager and our very own MAPH alumna Brook Rosini (AM ’05),
- DJ and open mic,
- and time to explore the art galleries!
MAPH has covered all the costs for MAPH students and alumni, but please feel free to make additional donations to the Art Center!
Totally lost on how to get there from campus after precept? The East Shuttle from the library will get you straight there if you’re not up to walking!
September 13th, 2013 § § permalink
So schnazzy. This could be you, socializing away, making conversation, the usual.
In the past, MAPH has put on some legendary gatherings: whether the open mic nights featuring hidden (or not-so-hidden) MAPH talents, prom in the Logan Center penthouse, trips to Second City, Top Chef social hour, or the annual Halloween party, MAPH has been rife with fantastic social events.*
The Logan Center is very tall.
Now it’s up to you, new MAPHs! All of these (and more) social events are planned by our student-run Social Committee. » Read the rest of this entry «
September 9th, 2013 § § permalink
Hullo, MAPH ’14. Welcome to Chicago! We presume that most of you are here or about to be here by now, so we’ve created two Google maps that we hope you will find handy as you settle in. On one of these you will find information about on-campus points of interest like cafes, ATMs, and, significantly, Colloquium/Core event locations. The other highlights » Read the rest of this entry «
May 21st, 2013 § § permalink
This is it—you’re in the final stretch! Your thesis is due on Friday. To some of you I know that still sounds like a death sentence. You don’t feel ready at all to give up working on this thing that has been such a huge part of your life for the past months. It isn’t ready! This past weekend you thought of something that should really be an entire section of your thesis, but at this point you only have time to shoehorn it in the last few sentences, or just ignore it. You can think of about seventeen ways in which it could be so much better. Well guess what. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, because my preceptor said it to me—when it comes to the thesis, done is better than good. Perfect is the enemy of the great. Or, as my mother would tell me, it is time to put your thesis in a lockbox and send it to Jesus. Take your pick, I have lots of folksy advice for you guys. » Read the rest of this entry «
January 24th, 2013 § § permalink
Yes, this is a thing that happened on Lake Shore Drive in 2011. But, much to our amusement, this photo accompanies an article entitled “Abandoned on LSD.”
WHICH SOUNDS TERRIFYING.
Alright, so you’ve heard us all griping about how difficult and harrowing Winter Quarter is. And as we’re sure you know, now that you’re in the midst of it, it sure is. But before you start to feel like this, we wanted to intervene to let you know that there are plenty of things to do to manage Winter Quarter stress. And some ways in which, maybe, you might even learn to enjoy the UChicago quarter that is almost mythically scary.
1) Pace yourself. Plan ahead. Resign yourself to the fact that you won’t be able to read everything for every one of your classes. Prioritize your workload so that things feel manageable. Try to settle on final paper topics by Week 5 so that you are not struggling to pick up the pieces at the last minute. You will really thank yourself by the time the quarter is winding down. Try to find interesting ways to put your classes into conversation with one another (or with your thesis). It will make your work feel more meaningful, creative and comprehensive – and it also might help you narrow down your reading lists when it comes to approaching final papers and projects. » Read the rest of this entry «
December 10th, 2012 § § permalink
MAPH Central has banded together herein to offer you some of our favorite stress management techniques! Heed them well, for they are marked with the psychic scar tissue of those who have endured the Coming Winter.
Get Out of Hyde Park (and off of Facebook) by Chrissy “McKnuckles” McKeon
Chrissy’s Humpty Dumpty Thesis
I cannot stress enough how important this was to my sanity. I made a commitment to myself to venture out of this UChicago infused bubble at least once a week. And if I felt like I didn’t have enough time, I did it anyway. I packed up my school bag and toted my laptop and school books around Wicker Park and Logan Square, settled into coffee shops (and yes, sometimes bars) to do my work. I just found it easier to work in places that were decidedly lacking in the brand of stress that on-campus study spaces were always teeming with. I found that commuting somewhere to do schoolwork actually made me more productive. When I was so far away from home, I was less likely to call it quits before I had gotten something substantial done. See that picture of my thesis draft cut into teeny tiny pieces? Yea, I did that at a little coffee shop called The Wormhole. In public. People must have thought I was nuts. I know it seems strange to say that I destressed by doing work, but finding a way to do productive work – a way that worked for my particular learning style – ensured that I was able to find time to do other things besides schoolwork. Leaving Hyde Park also meant that I made friends outside of MAPH – A.K.A. people who weren’t always talking about class and work, even when we were at The Cove.
Speaking of people who are always talking about class and work, get off of Facebook, for the love of some-non-denominational-higher-being. As I have mentioned, this was important for me. Some people deal with stress by blabbing about it on the Internet, and for me, this was majorly anxiety-producing. My newsfeed became a constant source of stress, especially when people started posting about classes, papers and deadlines (or worse, bragging about the 20 pages of their thesis that they had written. On a Saturday night. Three months before our theses were due). So, I just deactivated my account for awhile. It was unbelievably liberating. You should try it sometime.
Do Something Crafty by Sarah “Ernesto” Smith
Near the end of the quarter when you are spending so much time in your head, you might consider doing something with your hands! I find knitting and crocheting to be especially soothing. The repetitive motion of the clicking needles helps clear my head when it gets too full of The Academy. You might also appreciate the physicalness of textile creation during a time when you are spending mammoth amounts of mental and emotional energy on a (at times terrifyingly insubstantial) electronic document. Creating something with your hands brings you closer to your labor – Marx approved – and also makes lovely, cheap holiday presents.
Read for Pleasure and Take a Walk by Bill “Bobaggins” Hutchison
You don’t have time to read for pleasure, right? Or to take a walk? But I promise that if you set aside some nominal amount of time every day – ten minutes, say – for pleasure reading, you will be so much better for it. There are some crucial rules, however. Don’t read something because it might also be useful for your class/thesis/school related thing. Don’t engage in self-deception by saying, “But reading Zizek is pleasure reading for me!” We’re all nerds, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t love reading this stuff. But you and I both know what true pleasure reading is. It’s snuggle-up-with-a-good-book reading. You know exactly what I mean.
And for the love of all things, go outside and move your body a little! I often need a reminder that my body is more than a transport system for my brain. A walk outside when your brain is overfilled with names, dates, notions, theories, and competing philosophies will do you good. Look! A happy squirrel! And over there, a crow dropping stones on undergraduates! Yes, it’s cold. Yes, there will soon be snow. But as you see your breath puffing out before you and hear your feet crunch-crunch-crunch along the salted sidewalk, you will remember that you are a sensate, embodied being, and that sometimes that feels unbelievably good.
August 23rd, 2012 § § permalink
5. GARGOYLES AND OTHER CARVE-Y THINGS
The squirrel-goyle is always watching.
While the temptation to walk around campus hunched over a book, a smartphone, or an existential crisis is strong, raise your eyes to the walls and parapets! History is chiseled into the walls at UChicago. Many chunks of stone have been transformed into gargoyles, thinkers and scholars of ages past, and a variety of adorable/creepy animals.
» Read the rest of this entry «