Sunday, August 22, 2010

the most dangerous game

I`ve been strangely obsessed with Dr. Mario lately. I`ve always viewed video games in the way that some people view recreational drugs*; good for a laugh sometimes, but don`t get yourself addicted. But then I moved in with Zack, who is a seasoned video game addict, and I found myself trying them more and more. I find myself saying things like, Just one more try, that`s it, I swear...

Dr. Mario is a game that teaches children that candy-colored pills will destroy the cute virus monsters living in your stomach. The whole point of the game is to stack pills on viruses of the same color. Get four half pills/viruses of the same color in a row and the virus goes away. It`s actually kind of boring, but like house work, it is a strangely fulfilling task. Every time one more nasty virus goes away, you feel a little accomplished.

I`ve gotten up to Level 19 but I just can`t get past it. Level 20 is the final stage. You start with 2 or 3 viruses in Level 1 and by Level 19, there are almost 80 viruses to destroy. It`s pretty intense. I`m tempted to just give up, but I really want to win.

When not playing Dr. Mario, I`ve started the quest for an MFA. Really all I`ve done is figured out when and where I can take the GRE (December in Tokyo). I`ve gleaned a lot of information from a nice writer that I know, Brandi Wells. She is now working on her MFA at the University of Alabama.

I thought that I was figuring this stuff out all right when I had a talk with another ALT this weekend. She knew a surprising amount about Creative Writing MFA programs even though she had never done one. Apparently, getting into a fully-funded Creative Writing program is harder than getting into med school. Awesome.

Maybe the worst part of this MFA business is that my GPA and GRE score won`t count for much. It comes down to your writing sample and a few other factors to get into a fully-funded program. As a person obsessed with grades (I`m pretty proud of my undergrad GPA), I`m a bit disheartened by this news.

One of the things that these insane programs are looking for is how much you are published. As you all know, I`ve only been published once. I`ve been agonizing over my latest short story, worried that it isn`t as good as I want it to be, but I need to just finish it and hand it over.

I don`t know how long it will take for me to get into one of these elusive programs, but I really can`t afford grad school without most or all of it being paid for. (I`ll be paying for my first degree well into my 50s or 60s at the rate I`m going.)

So accomplishing my goal of getting a free MFA is going to be the hardest competition of my life so far. But I`ve always believed in all those cheesy sayings about how you can do anything if you put your mind to it, etc. I will finish my short story, and then I`ll write another, and another, and before you know it, I`ll be complaining about pulling all nighters and bitching about professors like the good old days.

*I don`t do drugs and neither should you!