Friday, November 02, 2007
The Blurry Shape of a Future Life

And already, mild frustration sets in. I keep telling myself that it takes longer than a month for a new life in a new city to start taking shape, and that everything will work out if I keep making a daily effort, if I stay patient and open to whatever opportunities arise. But there's so much I want to be doing right now, and for the last couple of weeks I've felt like I've mostly been waiting for other things to happen. Waiting for people to get back to me, waiting for one of my numerous prospective employers to call, that sort of thing. I'm trying to keep myself busy during the down time, but it's tricky. I get a little bored. I try to do at least one (and often more, but at least one) productive thing every day, but it takes time for these things to start bearing fruit.

I just want to get down to work, you know?

Anyway, today I tested for another temp agency, signed up for a few hours of volunteer time at the Hollywood, and filled out an application to work at Borders for the holiday season. It's not much, but it would be fine for a couple of months. I'm trying to take a longer view of things as well, trying to formulate what life it is I came here to try to create so I can start making baby steps in that general direction. And one of the things I thought I could possibly do in Portland is to pursue a Masters degree.

(That plaintive wail you just heard was my mother screaming.)

It's actually funny, because in everything but name I've already completed an MA. My film school in London was absorbed into the University of London during my last year there, and the program was transformed from a simple diploma program into an accredited MA degree -- exactly the same program, which I was just on the cusp of completing. But in order to qualify for the degree under the new partnership, I'd have had to have begun a year later than I did. I guess those are the breaks. But now that I'm in a city with a decent public university or two, going for a Masters -- for real this time -- is a feasible prospect. I could take a casual approach, chipping away at it over three or four years while I lived and worked according to the original plan. It would cost a fraction of what I've spent on education so far, and even most of that expense could probably be allayed if I played it right. So I think it's something I could consider.

The next question, then, is "what should I study?" If I had to do college all over again, I admit that I'd be very tempted to go into science instead of the humanities -- biology, probably. I dig biology. But that doesn't work for a Masters -- I don't have the background, and anyway, as much as I like biology, I'm not really interested in doing research and have no plans to use science in my working life. So that's out. I could probably get into most humanities programs -- sociology or anthropology, that sort of thing -- but I don't really want to. Portland State University does an MA in writing, which might be cool -- I could finally get some real criticism. But then again, writing isn't really something you qualify to do by getting a degree. You can either do it, or you can't. Which isn't to say that education in the subject isn't worthwhile -- I'd love nothing more than to do some writing in a context where I have an actual editor to tell me what I'm doing wrong and help me make my writing what I suspect it could be. But it doesn't have to take place in a formal educational environment.

So I was still looking around, and thinking that what would really serve my interests most at this point, given my long-term objectives and my education background -- would be something in the realm of film and technology and new media and stuff like that. A few years ago I had a friend who went to a private special effects program in LA, and that looked challenging and fun and generally awesome. But that shit was expensive, and cost is unfortunately a very real issue for me. I could theoretically do some of that on a self-teaching basis, but I know that I respond well to a more structured program, and could probably also save myself some time and effort -- this digital stuff is a complicated business, and I welcome any shortcut in learning new skillz.

So I've been looking around but not finding much. Tonight, though, I had a look through the University or Oregon's site, and discovered that in the near future they're going to begin an MA program in digital arts, which will be based here in Portland. There isn't much information available yet -- I think this is a program that's supposed to start at the beginning of the next academic year, so just under a year from now -- but if it is what I think it is, it might be just the thing I'm looking for. Cheap, accredited, applicable, genuinely useful, and something that I think I could do while I live my normal life.

But I don't know -- is this a good idea? It's not like I don't have enough to deal with already, between trying to break into my chosen field in a new city and just getting by this first year. I assume that I could work at the same time, and continue to work towards bigger goals, but I might be fooling myself. I can't take on any more student debt; I can't even really put off repaying the debt I've got. I absolutely can't afford to take any more time away from grown-up life to go back to school. But if I can manage it all at the same time, this might be a helpful thing to do.

What do y'all think?
10:43 PM ::
Amy :: permalink