This morning I was standing at Luci’s waiting for my tea, chatting with Brian behind the counter, thinking of my somewhat free day, and I got a call from New York. I expected it was NYU – they called earlier this week wondering if I had sent my transcripts from ASU, and I hadn’t yet called them back. Applications for the program were due last Friday, so it never occurred to me that decisions had already been made and they were actually calling to offer me a spot in the program. I did not answer.
On one hand I am sad that I didn’t get to chat with Deborah Landau that minute, but on the other hand I now have a voice mail I can listen to all day. Not that I’m going to do that, I’ve only listened to it three times so far. If she doesn’t call me back soon I may have to listen to it one more time.
I did not expect to get into this program. I had, in fact, talked myself into the fact that even if I did get in I would not go. Paris is far, I would need more time away from work and my family, it is mind-numbingly expensive. And really, can I study in Paris? Won’t I just flit around the city and drink wine? Is that productive? Also I do not adjust to jet lag. At all.
And then Deborah Landau calls and I’m listening to her message and crying in my favorite coffee shop.
It is NYU and it is Paris. Meghan O’Rourke and Matthew Rohrer are on faculty. (So is Nathan Englander for crying out loud, but in fiction obviously.) Allegedly Lydia Davis is a visiting writer as well. You may not know these people, but if you are at all interested in writing you should look them up.
Let’s talk a bit about this, shall we? On one hand, I can go to Pacific University in Oregon, ranked number 4 in low-residency MFA programs by The Atlantic. Great faculty, great community of writers, and the opportunity to study with Dorianne Laux who wrote “The Poet’s Companion”.
On the other hand I can go to Paris twice a year and end up with a Masters Degree from NYU. Everyone I tell seems to think it is an obvious choice. Which I guess on paper it is, but there really is a big impact to my job and family to consider.
This weekend we were at T. Cooks for brunch to celebrate getting in to Pacific and my new job, and I told my parents that I was hoping NYU turned me down so I didn’t have to make this decision. Saying no to this opportunity seems impossible. And saying “I’m going to Paris to study Poetry” just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?