Sunday, June 9, 2013

Plan D

Plan A: Graduate from St. Olaf and enroll in grad school in Ft. Collins, CO in our respective fields.
Foiled: Owen was accepted to Iowa, but not Ft. Collins.

Plan B: Owen enters the PhD program in Iowa City, the following year I enter either the writing MFA program or the English PhD, and we buy a house.
Foiled: It turns out that you cannot apply to both the MFA program and the English PhD at the same time, which I only found after having applied to the impossible-to-get-into MFA program, which I didn't get into. Buying a house was more difficult than anticipated... Though we did eventually end up in a townhouse that we love.

Plan C: I work for a year and reapply to the MFA program. Owen's program progresses as usual.
Foiled: I again was not accepted to the MFA program. Owen's program proved entirely more difficult than expected.

Plan D: Go with the flow.

One of my favorite things about Iowa City:
The trees wear sweaters!
At times it feels like we have little to no control over how we spend our lives as financial, academic, emotional, and physical restraints keep us from achieving our plans. Yet, looking back, I am glad that so many of our plans didn't work. Had we both been accepted to Ft. Collins, we would be taking out student loans like crazy trying to pay for both school and rent, but the University of Iowa gives enough financial aid that we are actually paying back some debt. Besides finances, we've also discovered an interesting city full of creativity that we never knew existed. Had we not moved to Iowa, I would probably have never known about tree sweaters.

Also, living in Colorado would mean being much further away from our college friends, who have supported us and helped us through so much of the past two years.

Had we bought a traditional house, we would be in way over our heads by now, but our townhouse has fulfilled everything we wanted in a home without the stress of having to worry about the roof or the yard.

Though not getting into the MFA program was frustrating, I wouldn't trade my time working with the Arc for anything! Spending a year helping people with disabilities has made me a more patient, nurturing, and open person.

As much as we've felt like we didn't have control, we've certainly had to make plenty of choices. Confronted with difficulty, Owen had to choose to work his butt off fulfilling the requirements of his program. Faced with my own stumbling blocks, I've had to choose to keep trying new ways to find fulfillment.  By choosing to go with the flow, we've finally found a plan that can't get foiled.

We haven't entirely stopped making plans, but we don't necessarily think of our plans with the same urgency and anxiety to fulfill them. Now plans are merely a map of how to spend each day until something changes. My current plans of finding a job that allows me to use my bachelor's degree and pay off students loans has me applying to multiple jobs a week, as I simultaneously prepare to take on Arc shifts to pay the bills meanwhile.

I won't say that following Plan D is necessarily easy. The temptation to get this job or afford that item sometimes overwhelms the non-attachment attitude of going with the flow, but ultimately what else can we do? We have to choose to continue to keep moving forward no matter what does or doesn't work out for us. Until I know what I'm doing next, I'm going to keep writing, keep cooking, and maybe start learning some HTML... I don't have any concrete plans for the knowledge gained, but it can't hurt right?

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