Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chex Mix

I made 3 batches of Chex Mix tonight for our Superbowl party tomorrow: original, spicy/sweet, and Puppy Chow (peanut butter and chocolate with powdered sugar). Actually, they're all half batches, but it's still a lot of Chex Mix; I don't even have a bowl big enough to create a full batch. I'm pretty proud of my Chex Mix making abilities; it's a hidden talent I didn't even know I had until this evening. To be honest, it's pretty hard to mess up Chex Mix, but it's the little details that count. For instance, instead of buying bagel chips, I created my own out of a stale bagel and some garlic salt; that's dedication to the craft. I bought Chocolate Chex for the Puppy Chow because it was on sale, though the recipe is already so chocolately that I don't think it really makes a difference. They key to a good Chex Mix is getting the proper ratio of wheat to corn to rice Chex: wheat Chex is a hearty cereal that is good for the savory mixes but too heavy for the sweet ones. Rice Chex is too light for the savory ones but good for holding chocolate and peanut butter. Corn Chex is a good utility player: crunchy and mild.

Making Chex Mix really took me back to my childhood; I have a vivid memory of my cousin Sig (who is more like my aunt since her oldest daughter is my age) making Puppy Chow in my Grandma's kitchen in rural Michigan. I must have been 8 or 9 years old. My cousin Carl, Sig's husband, was born when my aunt was 16, so Grandma played a significant role in raising him; they were very close. When he grew up and started a family, she let him and his wife put a trailer on her property (she had 80 acres) to raise their two daughters. Because the trailer was cramped, Sig and Carl and the girls spent a lot of time in my Grandma's house. Her house was also very small: just two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, a basement, and an attic, but she and my Grandpa managed to raise 6 kids in it. Grandma was lonely by herself and enjoyed their company. Before Grandma died, she sold her home to Carl, and now he and Sig live in it and their daughter Shawna and her two kids live in the trailer. Shawna will probably live in the house some day.

Anyhow, I ate a lot of Chex Mix growing up and making it made me think about all the relatives that I haven't seen in years. For the most part I'm fine with not being close to my extended family; they're good people but we don't have a lot in common. A lot of them are on Facebook now, so now I can keep tabs, which is pretty cool; it's nice to be able to establish relationships with them on my own. Two of them have friended me in the past week so I've been reminiscing a lot.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Greenpeace makes me want to club a baby seal

I'm pretty environmentally-conscious, but I hate Greenpeace. There shouldn't even be a "but" in there: I'm environmentally-conscious AND I hate Greenpeace. One of their representatives asked me at the bus stop today, "want to help save some trees?" What does it look like I'm doing: I'm riding the freakin' bus instead of driving! Another asked me once, "want to stop global warming?" while I was locking up my bike. Again, what does it look like I am doing? The above image (ok, I added the red part) was on the New York Times' "Day in Pictures" this afternoon; it's Russian police arresting a Greenpeace activist. Angering the government is not the way to make a difference, Greenpeace! Especially not in a country like Russia, where the government still has so much sway. To really change things, you need to convince the people to change, not irritate them. Anger create backlash, which is not productive. This is why I will never give a cent to one of the overly-eager Greenpeace salespeople, who I am pretty sure earn commission by signing you up. The best way to stop global warming is to proactively make a difference in your own life, not donate to an organization who will probably spend your money to bail their activists out of jail.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Unemployment, day 2.5

My internship was pretty exciting this morning. However, I was put in my place at the staffmeeting, where we learned how to use the new copier; one of the staff members was not there, and another said, "oh it's ok, Helen will just do the copying for him," to which another replied, "no, she's not his intern, so he's on his own." However, Melinda, Katie, Pam and I had a meeting after to discuss the Portland show, and I am very excited. It's going to be chaotic but interesting, I hope. After my internship, I went to a new Whole Foods. Since the folks at my old job designed all the Whole Foods stores in the Pacific Northwest, I knew this location existed but didn't realize it was on my way home.

I've only been unemployed for a week and I'm already starting to feel discouraged. It's been a week of official unemployment, but I've been applying for jobs for the past 6 months. I feel like I keep stepping backwards; I went from advising students and planning events to answering phones to now being a lowly intern. My first job gave me a completely undeserved level of responsibility, but it also showed me what I am capable of. I applied for an entry-level job today that sounded like a perfect fit, and the employer got back to me almost instantaneously to tell me I wasn't qualified. It was a part-time entry level bitch-work job! With three years of professional experience, I am still not qualified for entry-level bitch-work jobs. But, that's today's market: it's super competative. Everyone else is feeling it too. And three years isn't all that much experience in the scheme of things. I'm still young, and the first 5 years after college are all pretty much proving yourself no matter how much responsibility you hold. Hopefully this internship will look good on a resume. Still, I find it ridiculous how much experience is required for "entry-level" jobs- many want 2-4 years! Oh well, sorry for the rant. It feels good to vent.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Unemployment, Day 2

Day two of my unemployment was also productive. I:
1) scanned my artwork for my portfolio
2) applied for a couple of jobs and found another to apply for tomorrow
3) fixed my cello: I put it off for 8 months and it took about 10 minutes to fix
4) went to a spin class
5) went to the post office to mail thank-you's to Cait and Len for writing rec's
6) went to the bank: I received a couple of checks covering my last week of work, unused vacation and my 401K and didn't want them just hanging out in my wallet
7) went to Value Village. Bought a nice white button-down shirt.
8) went to my Dreamweaver class

My insurance information came in today; it hadn't arrived yet when I talked to my mom on my way to the gym and we got into a little argument. She told me, "You shouldn't even be going to the gym without insurance!" I promised I would call them when I got back. When I got back, the confirmation letter was in the mailbox, so that saved me from dealing with the bureaucracy. I feel bad that I was fighting with her: she fractured her foot yesterday and is pretty bummed about it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

unemployment, day 1

My first day as an unemployed bum was fun and productive; even though I slept until almost 9, I got a lot more done than I would have if I had been at work, that's for darn sure. I:
1) Did a couple loads of laundry
2) Did a few drying-racks worth of dishes (I shouldn't admit that the sink was piled that high)
3) Went grocery shopping (at Safeway, not QFC). Got a Safeway card.
4) Worked on my portfolio for my SCCC application
5) Applied to a couple of part-time jobs
6) Went to the library
7) Went to the gym and read half of a book: multitasking!

The aforementioned book that I read at the gym is Pet Sitting for Profit. Though outdated ("[a computer] is nice but is not absolutely necessary. If you don't have access to one, or don't type, you can hire a typist..."), it still had a lot of handy information. It's going to be a lot harder to start a pet-sitting business than I had realized; I was seeing as it as a cheap way to be around animals and have some fun with marketing, but if I am to do it legally and profitably I need:
1) Business License
2) Insurance
3) Phone line
4) Website and advertising
5) Pet first-aid certification

There's little additional overhead involved, but this first step may be too much money to justify starting my own legitimate business. I could always advertise on Craigslist and make money under the table, but I want it to be legal. I need to do a bit more research in this area. Once I get it all set up, it might be a good part-time job if I go back to school.

In other news, my Entertainment book has already paid for itself. David and I went to the Science Fiction Museum at the EMP yesterday; it was really interesting. I like some Sci-Fi, though I'm not into the hardcore stuff and I wasn't expecting to enjoy the museum as much as I did. In fact, I didn't realize that many of my favorite books and movies actually are Sci-Fi: it's so much broader than just Star Trek and outerspace. Also, to everyone who has ever made fun of me for studying Russian in college, take this: science fiction in the 1950's developed largely as a response to the Cold War; the fear of communist spies was represented on the page and screen as aliens among us. Fact.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Laura the other intern is moving to an apartment a block away from ours. She suggested that we carpool on Fridays. I am in favor of this idea.

I was really busy all day and it felt wonderful.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jobless in Seattle

So, after 7 months of getting paid not to work, the firm has finally caught on and laid me off. I had it coming, and I'm not sad to be gone. I'm feeling pretty unsure about the future, but I have a lot to work on over the next couple of months. It's difficult to search for a long-term job because of my internship and upcoming travel, so I'm going to look into temping and start doing research into places I want to work so that in late March I will have a focused plan of attack. I need to work on putting together a portfolio for the graphic design program I am applying to, and maybe I'll try to do some pet sitting. I can use what I'm learning in my Dreamweaver class to make a website, and in my spare time become more familiar with Photoshop. My mom is taking all of March off: it's her 60th birthday and she wants to travel a bit to celebrate. Part of this includes visiting us, so I'll have time to spend exploring with her. I'm just thankful I have the internship to keep me occupied and feeling useful. David is going to let me cook for him, and I'm going to try to keep the apartment in better shape. I can knit and paint and make greeting cards and read. I can go to the art museum and the library and the gym. It'll be ok for a month or two, and by then I'll be done with the internship and ready to apply myself to my job search. Like I said, I am a little scared, but feel relieved too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The mood in DC's Capitol Hill was a lot different that Seattle's Capitol Hill this morning, though I don't think anyone here was any less optomistic, just a little less frostbitten. Three things to say about the inauguration:
1) Michelle Obama's outfit did not disappoint. NY Times Style bloggers will have many good things to say in the coming days. Biden and Obama appeared to wear the same ties they wore on election night though: maybe they believe that the ties will bring luck?
2) Invocation and Benediction were inappropriate for a government event and contradictory to the Obama message of Change; it was the same Conservative Christian dogma as always. Saying Jesus' name in several languages does not make Jesus a universal figure. I respect the Obama's desire to pray before the ceremony, but that should have been a private matter: seperation of Church and State. However, I appreciated Obama's inclusion of non-believers in his roll-call of faiths.
3) I'm excited for the future but still cynical: he's inherited a mess.

We watched it in the conference room, mostly: the office don't have cable, so we just projected, which kept freezing up on us. We watched Joe Biden get sworn in, but it froze during the following musical interlude and we switched to radio. A solicitor called the front desk at around 8:45 and I was very curt with them. She was Southern, so my guess is that she weren't thrilled about the outcome on the election. Neither was most of the office for that matter: I think the only people who really cared were Carol, Dave, Ellen and I; even though the other half of the office is younger, they're all fairly conservative. Carol brought in cookies with the Obama family stenciled on them: Barack, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and the mystery dog; I had a bite of Michelle. She was delicious.

Tomorrow I find out if change may be in store for me, whether or not I have a job. Just to be safe, I've secretly taken home all of my personal items over the past few days so that if I am laid off tomorrow all I need to carry home is my radio. I can always bring them back.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I <3 CS4

Pretty basic, but I'm having fun!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I bought an Entertainment book a few weeks ago and I'm really excited to use it. I know that coupons sometimes can make you actually spend more than you would otherwise, but I think that this is a great opportunity for David and me to get out and do things around town. We've been wanting to go to the EMP and Science Fiction Museum. We've been wanting to go to the Zoo. I've been wanting to go to a comedy club. All of these have coupons in the book. There are coupons to restaurants we've already been meaning to try. A lot of them are 2-for-1 deals, which is good for a couple, though if I was a single person I would be vexed that there weren't just solid discounts (ie, 50% off one item). As long as I don't view it as an incentive to spend money, it's a good investment.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Creative Writing

My creative writing class is really bizarre. The instructor is an elderly British man named Peter who wore a button down shirt tucked into sweatpants. Peter reminds me of a Monty Python character. He has a very literary and exaggerated manner of speaking and says "right-o!" a lot. He spend the first 15 minutes of class going around to everyone in class and handing them a course outline and a list of recommended reading. While I appreciate his desire for personal communication, he could have just passed the handouts around. The other students are a mix of oddballs. There are a couple of new-agey middle-aged men with turquoise bracelets, a poetic Vietnam vet, this really enthusiastic woman who looks like Bettie Page, three French women who seem to be friends, a young lawyer with a huge engagement ring who just got back from an "amazing" month in Uganda, a nerdy guy who insisted that the class need an email list and talked about the mood-inducing setting of "Firefly", a hipster girl with greasy hair and a piercing through her nose, and a few others who actually seem normal. I don't know what I'm going to get out of it, but creative writing seems fun so I'm going to stick with it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I ate something green and leafy for the first time in ages tonight. I've been telling myself that it's ok to live off of carbohydrates because they are cheap and supposedly upset my digestive system less. Plus, I take a multivitamin and still eat plenty of fiber, so I convinced myself that this diet was ok. However, on the way home the prospect of eating more starchy brown food didn't appeal to me. What kind of vegetarian doesn't eat vegetables? I bought a bunch of kale. It was delicious.

I emailed Dave yesterday to let him know that I didn't want to be laid off, but if someone from Seattle needs to go I should be first, since I don't have any real future with the firm and everyone else does. I may be screwing myself over but I feel a little better knowing that it's out of my hands now. Logically speaking, the person to go should be the person who wants to be there the least. David's work got hit pretty hard today. Ten percent seems to be the key figure: my firm is laying off 10%, David's company is taking a 10% pay cut. David's work goes the communist route, my work prefers to throw sacrifices into the volcano.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday the 13th

The CEO sent out a memo today announcing that the firm will cut 10% of jobs company-wide by next Thursday. Carol and Dave are hoping that our branch will not be affected, since we've already laid off two employees and lost another 1.5 (Michael and me), but there are no guarantees. I'm not sure how to handle this. I'm wondering if this is my opportunity to quit outright; the past two nights I've come home in tears, and I don't know if it's worth staying even though I need the money. I don't want to be unemployed, but I don't want to deprive someone else of a job that they do like. Plus, I'm going to actively start looking for a new job when my internship ends. Might as well just do quit now. The only thing stopping me is the worry that I will not find something else.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blast from the Past

I had coffee with Lindsey this afternoon, a different Lindsey than the one I've written about before. This Lindsey was my best friend from kindergarten until 2nd grade, when her family moved to Santa Fe. She's been living in Seattle for a couple of years, and found me on Facebook; Courtney, my neighbor across the street, and Lindsey's sister, Jamie, were good friends, and their moms still keep in touch. Kathy (Courtney's mom) told my mom that Lindsey was in Seattle a while ago, and of course my mom mentioned that to me (as in, repeatedly hounded me to Facebook her) but I hadn't followed up.

Anyhow, we got together for coffee. It was weird to see her again after all these years; she looks exactly the same as she did when we were little. There was a fair amount of awkward silence, which always leads me to ask ridiculous questions just to fill it, but I'm glad we got together: I had been wondering for a while what happened to her. After living in Santa Fe for 4 years, her family moved to Santa Barbara. She went to UCSB and moved here after graduation, after spending a few months in Tanzania. She worked at a preschool for a while, and is now a grad student. She lives with her boyfriend, Brian, an electrician who she has been dating for 7 (!) years. She still plays soccer, but is a lot girlier than she was when she was 8. I'm not sure if we will be friends again, though I liked her. I'm thinking of seeing if she and her boyfriend want to get drinks with David and me some time.

It's crazy to think that Facebook made this all possible. The program I just applied to focuses heavily on the impact of social networking sites like Facebook, and I'm really starting to appreciate its role in my life. Along those lines, Len sent me this morning a copy of the recommendation he wrote; he made mountains out of molehills, in a favorable way: my work sounds like actual accomplishments, and I am a little more confident about what I have to bring to the table because of it. I also feel a little guilty, because I didn't do anything he wrote about as well as he said I did it. I'm going to be really nervous until I hear the verdict from the admissons committee, but after fooling around in CS4 all afternoon, I won't be crushed if I don't get in; I'll be perfectly happy doing the graphic design program at Seattle Central.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Application sent!

I sent off my grad school application this afternoon. So, now all I have to do is wait. Actually, I have to double check that they received a couple of things- I think one of the people writing me a rec may have sent it to the wrong place. Still, at least my part is done.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Did I mention that we got TV recently? I missed it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Internship: First Day

My first day at my internship went well, for the most part. There was one major setback to a completely perfect first day, but I will get to the good stuff first. I arrived at 9 and met with Melinda and Katie, the internship coordinators, and Laura, the other intern, for an orientation. They explained our responsibilities to us and showed us around the office, basic first-day stuff. Around 10:30 they set us loose at our workstations to familiarize ourselves with the system and get started. Joanna, who interned last semester and is sticking around until she can find a real job, explained to me another aspect of the position. Basically, while I am there the company will be organizing four golf shows and one wine-tasting event. My responsibility on the first golf show is to help organize a Clearance Center, a place where pro shops can liquidate their extra inventory. So, I made a few calls on that.

Melinda came upstairs (the office is divided into two floors) around noon and assigned me the task of making some follow-up calls to various golf courses; there were maybe 35 courses on the list, and I left voicemail with about half. Almost 2/3 of the way down, my neighbor in the next cubical over (Brent?) says to me, "The phone number you've been giving people is incorrect." Joanna gave me the wrong long-distance number! She was very apologetic, but I have to make 15 calls on Friday to make up for this error. I didn't want to say, "Joanna gave me the wrong number" when I told Melinda, but I also didn't want her to think that I messed up. I just told her that I was working with the wrong phone number and will call everyone back in a couple of days.

Other than that, it went well. I like the office environment and I think I'll get a lot out of it. I even get to travel to some of the events: Portland and Long Beach, maybe Salt Lake City. Joanna is friendly and seems nice, so I hope I can talk with her more. She graduated from UPS in May; I asked her if she knew my brother's best friend, who also graduated in May. She said she did. Laura, the events intern (I'm the marketing intern) is a student at UW Bothell. She insanely tall and thin with bleached blonde hair and seems nice enough, though I think I'm going to need to crack her shell. I have the advantage of being older than both her and Joanna, which isn't actually an advantage but it makes me feel less shy about opening up.

The only negative aspect that I see right now is the commute: it's about an hour in each direction, so I will need to leave the house at 6:50 3 days a week. But, I only work until 4:30 instead of 5. Plus, there is a Value Village right down the street which seems to have a great selection (I went into before my interview to kill time) and I am looking forward to staying later one day and doing some shopping. The bus stops at Northgate, which will be another shopping temptation, but on an intern/part-time receptionist salary, I need to be reasonable.

One thing that is starting to worry me is my neck; I've been getting terrible pains in the right side near where it meets my shoulder for the past week or so when I sit at my desk. I think it's my posture, but it's starting to bother me when I'm not at work too. David was sick this week, and I hope that the pain just means that I am coming down with something too instead of a more serious ailment. I'll have to ask my mom what she recommends, as both a former nurse and someone who's sat behind a desk for years.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lunch Break

I had the brilliant idea to bring my laptop to work with me today. There are two cafes offering free wi-fi right by the new office, and I am taking advantage of this on my lunch break to work on my application.

I also got the schedule for my internship figured out. I'm going to be working Monday, Tuesday, and the second half of Wednesday at my current job, and Wednesday morning, Thursday, and Friday at the internship. Because I got this settled, I signed up for more continuing ed classes at SCCC. I was hesitant to register until my schedule was set, because I didn't want to sign up and then learn that the class was on a Lake City day; I don't think I can make it from the internship to the campus in an hour, and most classes start at 6. I'm taking Intro to Web Design on Tuesdays and Creative Writing on Saturday mornings (11 to 1:30). Very excited.

Grr... lunch break's over, back to work.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Grad School Application

My grad school application is due in 11 days; the program I'm applying to is the Master's of Communication in Digital Media at UW. I've been working on the essay for months now, and am finally almost done. I've posted it below in case anyone has free time on their hands and would like to give me any feedback; I appreciate all the help I can get. The essay needs to state "in 1 to 1.5 single-spaced pages, ... how your background, skills, achievements, and goals make you a good match for this program. The letter also serves as a writing sample, demonstrating your skill in organization, clarity, analysis, and English."


When I went off to college, the Facebook was a section at the back of the school handbook with a black-and-white picture of everyone in the entering class. By the time I graduated, it had become synonymous with online social networking. Today, even my mom is on Facebook and has 21 friends. As technology advances and makes information easier to obtain, the weak economy pushes consumers to free online alternatives, and people grow more aware of the detrimental effects of paper on the environment, printed media grows obsolete. Well-established newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor are stopping the presses as their audience looks to online news sources. In this past election, digital media even shaped how people voted: Barack Obama emailed me personally, and Sarah Silverman's YouTube video may have convinced a few retirees to cast their ballots.

My interest in the MCDM program springs loosely from my undergraduate major: Russian. Most people laugh when I tell them what I studied. Some even say, “what a waste of time!” I’ve found this to be quite the opposite: learning a foreign language heightened my awareness of communication as a whole. When perfecting my Russian grammar, I also turned a critical eye on my English composition. When I lived in Russia for a semester, social networking sites helped me stay in contact with my friends and family 11 time zones away. My elderly host mother still practiced folk remedies and washed her clothes by hand, but used a brand-new cell phone to keep in touch with her granddaughter; in one lifetime, she has gone from Stalin to SMS. It’s Occam’s razor: the most effective way to communicate is often the simplest, even when backed by complex technology.

My professional experiences have also shown me the value of new media. As Coordinator of the Practice Department at the Boston Architectural College, a title that essentially translates to Career Counselor, I managed the school’s first job search website. I was amazed by all of the program’s possibilities: customized searches, automatic notifications, and infinite options for messages and uploads. It allowed employers to log in and post jobs, which the students could then view and apply to. Before we implemented this website, I personally wrote, edited, classified and emailed job descriptions to students, which took time away from advising them face to face. This experience showed me that while technology has the potential to eliminate the need for human interaction, it can also enhance it.

Digital media allows everyone to voice their story. My alter-egos are environmental journalist and food critic, thanks to two blogs I started because of my interest in these areas. Before the internet, if I wanted to write regularly for the public about either topic, I would need to land a coveted job at a newspaper or magazine; I write from the comfort of my couch. Anyone can read my blogs, and I can discuss any issue that I wish. Blogging allows me to combine my love of writing, research and graphic design. I can develop these skills on my own, but want to learn more about how they fit into the greater social context through the MCDM program.

Digital Media is an ever-evolving way to adapt traditional writing and design to the 21st century, and the MCDM curriculum is especially relevant in the current job market, as virtually every industry embraces new communication technology. Social networking, online marketing, and user-generated content can easily be integrated into almost any discipline; my goal is to use them in the non-profit sector. I like that the MCDM program gives its graduates the ability to work for an established company or to run their own business, which will be invaluable down the road when I want to balance my career with a family. Technology is constantly advancing, and I look forward staying on the cutting edge.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

And also thanks to everyone for a great Christmas.

I have a few New Year's resolutions:

1) Get in better shape. I bought a heartrate monitor to enhance my workouts and learned that just running half of a 12-minute mile pushes my heartrate to its maximum range. So, I want to improve my cardiovascular fitness and in the process get a bit more toned for Hawaii in March.

2) Improve my complexion. Any time I pick at a blemish, I will put 10 cents in a bank for David to spend as he wishes. I would give a quarter, but when you've got coin-op laundry, quarters are worth a lot more than just 25 cents. David says that resolutions are more effective when there's money attached, and having that little bank by the mirror will remind me.

3) Clean up more. I'm not a naturally tidy person, but just a little bit more effort on a regular basis should make an huge improvement in our home environment. I've made a couple of rules: wash dishes every time I microwave something and devote a minimum 15 minutes a day just to tidying up.

4) Be more conscious of electricity: always turn off lights and unplug my cell-phone charger when it's not in use.

It's hard to change habits, so I might be overextending myself by trying to break three bad ones, but it's worth a shot. Another thing that is more of a necessity than a resolution is to stick to my budget better, since it's about to be tightened. For the duration of my internship my goal is to eat on $40 a week, which is completely manageable with a bit of planning. It will mean a lot of oatmeal and beans and less pudding and frozen veggie burgers, but if that couple in California can live off of $1 a day, I can easily live off $5. I bought an Entertainment book yesterday which has coupons to restaurants and attractions, so I hope that will encourage us to try new things and have more fun. I'd like to make some new friends, but I think that will happen when I go back to school. Ideally, at this point next year I will be well on my way to a real career.

I think that today is going to be unproductive. David has tomorrow off, but I have to work; shouldn't be too busy though. Tomorrow is Michael's last day, so I am going to make him a card and maybe bake him something. He's allergic to dairy so it's an excuse to use one of my vegan cookbooks. I'm also going to work on my Letter of Intent for grad school- it's due in two weeks.