I'm in the middle -- temporally -- of writing my first candidacy exam. Yesterday was day 1 and I got about 1/2 of the first essay written. Today I am finishing the first, which is on poetry, and hopefully the second, which is on fiction. It's like this special, new kind of hell, because I like what I'm writing about but I'm scared of the final results. It's just another hoop to jump through, and it's not a flaming hoop, but a hoop nonetheless, and I always sucked at gymnastics. I could never make it over the bar -- I always ran under it or around it. I guess doing the take-home option rather than the in-class option was a way or running under the bar, but there is no option to go around the bar now -- I'm stuck with sliding under that bar and either making it smoothly onto that big blue mat or skidding, giving my skin a nice burn and landing on a sharp rock sticking out of the mat on the other side. Please god make it a smooth landing.