12 Weeks and Counting

At the beginning of January I received an email confirming the receipt of my complete application. I was given an approximate timeline of 8 weeks to receive a decision, although the possibility of it taking longer was noted. In mid-January my credit card was charged for the application fee. Everything was on track.

At the beginning of March, I marked the passing of the estimated 8 weeks. Each day I anticipated receiving some type of news, mentally preparing myself for a positive or negative outcome. By week 10, my daily anticipation began to turn to agitation. But although it was taking longer than 8 weeks, they did warn me that this may be the case. And two additional weeks was certainly within reason.

At the end of week 10, I sent an email requesting an updated timeline – maybe they had forgotten about me. The response: “unfortunately, the admissions committee hasn’t made a final decision yet. We hope to inform all applicants in April/May.” Hold on a second. In spite of submitting my application early and requesting an expedited review, my application is now in the same pool as the other applicants? And they “hope” to inform all applicants? I’m going to need a bit more certainty than that.

And now, at the beginning of April, we are approaching week 12 of the tortuous timeline. And I’m nowhere near where I should be if job searching becomes necessary. And, in my subjective opinion, well outside of a reasonable 8 week window. If it’s going to be 3 to 4 months, they should say that. Numbers and time frames shouldn’t be thrown around all willy nilly like that.

The Dutch and I are already fighting. This is no way to start a new relationship. That’s for sure.

On a brighter note, it’s a beautiful day today and I don’t have to work. I plan to enjoy some sunshine and put all things related to worry out of my mind for the weekend. The counting of days will resume on Monday.

If I Do

In all fairness, I’d like to give equal time to optimism as I tend to give to worry. So allow me to think through what will happen if I do receive some good news from Amsterdam. Not the really serious, stressful things, like saving money, packing, or finding a place to live. Rather, the more immediate things that are more exciting than they are difficult.

  1. Spread the word. Those of you who know about my plans are beginning to ask more and more if I’ve heard anything yet. “When do you expect to hear from Amsterdam?” I get that question 2 or 3 times a week now. When I actually do hear from them, it will be a priority to let everyone know. And since this will be good news, I expect this communication roll-out plan to be far more expeditious than if it were bad news. Folks on facebook will probably know within the hour.
  2. Give my job a few months notice. As I think I’ve made it pretty clear, I’m pretty much over my job. At this point, I’m only waiting for the right reason to quit. If I’m able to tell them within the next couple of weeks, I’ll be giving them 4 or 5 months notice. That’s plenty of time for them to come up with a replacement for me to train (in an ideal world). So I could make a guiltless exit, hopefully even leaving on good terms – though that possibility remains to be seen as I begin what will likely be a rough week.
  3. Treat myself to something special. I always treat myself to something special when I think I deserve it (and sometimes even when I don’t). I’m not sure what it will be yet – but it will demonstrate a unique combination of special, gratifying, and affordable. Any suggestions here are welcome.
  4. Begin a countdown, making the most of my remaining days in NYC. I don’t think I have wasted the last 2.5 years in NYC. Rather, I think I’ve made the best of it when possible. But there’s still a lot I haven’t seen or done. If I am provided with a clear date for the end of my stay here, I will be much more motivated to get out and see more of it. I’ll approach it like a tourist with a “to do” list, crossing off tours, buildings, and museums on a weekly basis. I won’t have any more time for moping or wallowing. Good news will lead to nothing but action.

And just for the record, this list was much harder to write.

If I Don’t

If I don’t get accepted to the University of Amsterdam, there are a few things that will need to take place. First, let me back up for a minute.

So unfortunately, my Plan C is no longer. The other schools didn’t have programs that were a fit. While school is the perfect excuse to move to another country without having to get a job, I don’t want it to be only an excuse, leaving me with a useless degree – already have one of those from law school. So now I have all of my eggs (and ovaries and kidneys and gall bladder) in one friggin’ basket. Oopsie.

Okay, now if I don’t get in, certain things will need to happen:

  1. Choose a city that can serve as a back-up. There are other places I can go to be happy. I’ll need to investigate a bit further. But recently, returning to the Bay Area has become an option. I go back and forth on whether or not this is the best idea, fearing such a move will be going backwards, personally and professionally. But I enjoyed many things about living out there. I would just need to make a conscious effort to live a different life out there the second time around. But it’s not the only option. I just haven’t quite figured out what the others are.
  2. Find a job or fellowship that can pay the bills. The ultimate goal is to start my nonprofit organization. If I am not working toward a degree that will play a significant role in the development of the program, then I need to at least be working toward it on my own time – while paying the bills.
  3. Avoid the people who will give me the look of pity. If you’re reading this, and you know you will run into me during the 1-month period following the rejection, please start practicing in the mirror how you will look at me. The only thing that makes sadness or disappointment feel worse is when people demonstrate pity. You know the look – a cocked head, pouting mouth, raised eyebrows…don’t do that.
  4. Quit my job. It needs to happen, whether I’m moving to Amsterdam or not. I’ve already reached my boiling point, and in some ways, it’s gotten worse. Another year, or even several months beyond this (fiscal) year won’t be survived. Overly dramatic? Probably so.
  5. Move. Whether I get into school and move to Amsterdam or not, this black girl is definitely going somewhere.

So the bad news will not necessarily be sad news – at least not for long. I’m trying my best to see the opportunity in whatever outcome that may be. But in the meantime, until we know what that outcome will be, please send me some positive energy. I need all the help I can get.

The Waiting Game

The waiting is what’s awful.  Waiting for someone else to make a decision that could potentially drastically change the course of my life.  And I have no control.  I’m just sitting here waiting, pretending like it’s not on my mind.

I’m expecting and hoping to receive a decision from the University of Amsterdam in March.  Judging by how quickly January has gone by, the time may pass in a painless way.  But it feels so far away.  So freakin’ far.  Far enough for me to imagine I may crumble into an anxiety dust ball (whatever that may be) before March arrives.  No, I’m overstating it.  But it is a crappy feeling.  For so long the application was within my control.  I may have procrastinated and wasted tons of time.  But that was my choice.  Now, I have no idea how long it’s going to take or what’s happening over there during this waiting period.

Once I dumped all of it into the mailbox, I turned over my fate.  Nothing I do now can have any impact on the decision.  There’s no interview, no follow-up questions.  It’s similar to the feelings in high school when waiting for the letter in response to my early decision application (I also fell in love with one school in that case) and college when waiting for decisions from law schools.  But there are two big differences this time around: first, I’m not going from school to more school.  It felt like I was entitled to more school the first two times.  But now I’m the old lady in the mix, walking away from a job and trying to re-enter an entirely different world.  Way more anxious this time.  And second, I’m not surrounded by other people in the same situation.  It’s not the only thing being discussed in the cafeteria  or by the campus mailboxes.  I’m going to an office with a bunch of grown folks who aren’t considering anything related to school, at least not publicly.  There aren’t very many people to commiserate with.  And there’s something comforting about commiseration, I think.

Fortunately, I was already a nail-biter.  So I haven’t had to acquire any new bad habits as a result of this.  And honestly, my nails should only begin to pray for a respite once I’m on the plane headed to the Netherlands.

So whether it’s functional, relaxing, or simply a distraction, I’ve been doing regular creative visualizations.  I visualize myself opening my mailbox to find an envelope from the University (surprisingly, it’s not a large envelope).  I feel my heart in my stomach and I’m unable to open it until I get to my apartment.  I take off my coat (I imagine it’s still pretty chilly) and shoes, pour a glass of juice, and sit on the couch with my glass and envelope.  Only a sudden urgency gets me to finally open the envelope.  The letter greets me with a “Dear” and goes right into a “Congratulations.”  I dance around, spill my juice, and call my mom.

Here’s hoping!