Wednesday, December 22, 2004


So I'm applying for graduate school.
I know. I'm shocked as well.
I swore to myself ages ago that I would never subject myself to another textbook for as long as I lived. Textbooks are intimidating because they have 'facts' that need to be 'memorized.' Textbooks are bullies with their hard covers, out-of-date photos of people you don't relate to, people your parents most likely knew, and charts and graphs that know nothing about using fluorescent colors tastefully (if there is even such a concept). And studying? An activity almost as attractive as a colonoscopy. The only difference is that some people could potentially enjoy a colonoscopy.

Nevertheless, despite my hesitation, I proceed to fill out applications with their probing questions; what was my GPA in college (like it really makes a difference--I learned more after college that I ever learned in), what is my work experience (the term 'corporate prostitute'- admission board turn on or turn off? Discuss), am I an American citizen (does New Jersey count as a foreign country?). While responding to these questions is a tedious activity, it really only takes minutes to do so. The hardest thing to do is not breaking up, but rather filling out the personal essay. For weeks on end, I stared at a blank Microsoft Word page while the animated paperclip danced around the screen asking me if I needed help. Yes, I needed help but not the sort of help a dancing paperclip with round beady eyes could offer. No offense, Mr. Paperclip. While you bounce about quite buoyantly, do you have a good personal essay for graduate school? I think not. On with your dancing.

Whenever I find myself faced with a challenging writing activity that involves introspection, I start from the beginning with simple concepts, simple questions, from point A. What's my name? Oh, I know this one--Arye Dworken. Where was I born? In Portland, Maine. Where am I applying? I am applying to Graduate School for Social Work. Good. I'm 3-3. Keep the rhythm.
Ok, now why Social Work?
Hmmm. Well....not yet ready for this one. Let's get back to more simple questions. Do you like tuna fish? Yes, I do. As long as it's not smelling up my kitchen.
Ok, once again, why Social Work?
Why Social Work (repeating the question is always a good stalling tactic)? Well, because...first off, if I can get your permission to be a bit serious and personal here, I will get a bit serious and personal. Oh, yes. I will put the 'personal' back into 'personal statement.'

I grew up in a thoroughly nurturing and warm environment where I was always encouraged to be generous and selfless. My father, who was a Rabbi, was available on a regular basis for those who sought council and advice. We had a joke in our family that the phone was a permanent part of Dad's face but in retrospect, I'm quite proud that I lived with a man who was valued outside the house just as much as he was valued inside of it. Dad was a role model in every sense of the word. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to dispense sage advice, share wisdom with others, have meaningful conversations, leave an impression on someone's life. In fact, I always envied his restraining ability to offer his ear first and after much consideration, his words second.

But time went on and after years of being catered to with unadulterated love and wisdom, I abandoned my mission of being as selfless as Dad was. I devoted my life to the pursuit of comic books, music and writing, all introverted activities (especially with headphones on). I reached out less and less, finding myself in a much smaller world, the microscopic world of Arye Dworken’s Interests. Population: 1.

[to be continued]


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