Another personal statement

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Little Wayne
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Another personal statement

Postby Little Wayne » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:30 pm

Hey guys. I've been lurking for a while, but TLS has been invaluable to me so far, and I admire the support you give each other through the application process. Could people please read and critique my PS? Thanks.

The second-oldest performer at the recital, sitting in front of me, turns around. Her braces are purple. “Be careful, the low C is sticking.” I nod to her as I stand up and march to the piano at the front of the room. Six-foot-three, I remove from the bench the pillow the other performers have been using to help them reach the keys. I think of Chopin as I sit.

I have always tried to collect talents like stamps. When I was younger, I taught myself how to pogo stick and juggle and bend my tongue into a clover. I wanted to make computer games, so I taught myself how to program computers. Then I wanted to be a linguist, so I tried to learn a dozen languages. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be cool. Cool people play guitar, but guitars are expensive, so I took up the harmonica instead. I have always collected talents, but not always bravely. Some of my expeditions ended well – I became quite good at the harmonica, for instance. More often, though, my fear of looking foolish defeated me. I gave up on every language I tried to learn. I never made computer games. My dad taught me chess, but he consistently destroyed me. I managed to beat him once, and we have not played since.

The fear of failure that hampered my talent-collecting arose naturally from my sobriety. I saw myself as stout and upright, so I never knowingly broke rules or did silly things. This was not to last, though – the story of my coming of age is the story of my embrace of mischief.

I trace my mischief’s origins to eleventh grade, when I auditioned into my high school’s improvisational comedy team. Improvising, first in high school and then in college, burned away my fear of failure. A certain percentage of any improviser’s scenes are bound to fail, and comedic failure stings. In comedy, the comedian does something he ought not to and through alchemy transforms his transgression into a kind of success. If his alchemy fails though, he is just standing on stage transgressing. I think people keep a special reserve of spite for bad comedians.

The frequent and painful humiliation to which improvising subjected me dulled my sense of shame and, in the process, freed me to do wildly fantastical things. I played a Senator and Tarzan. I played a bitter movie reviewer with huge thumbs and a traffic reporter who had just murdered his wife’s lover. I freestyle rapped in the character of the fairy from Fern Gully. I went onstage wearing only underwear, sandals, dress socks, and a fake mustache. It thrilled me to do without caring things that normal people would never do, even when I failed to make those things funny. The laughter felt like an embrace, but even the crickets felt like a bright cold day.

More of how we turn out as people turns on luck than we would like to admit, and I was lucky. It is a sad truth that a good number of improvisers are jerks. Disinhibition can mutate into social ruthlessness and egocentrism. I often feel that brand of moral nihilism’s temptation, and I sometimes consciously have to fight it off. As I said, though, I am lucky; the temptation is stronger the funnier an improviser is, and I am not all that funny. I often play the fall guy or the straight man; my scene partners tend to get the bulk of the adulation. Since I was never funny enough to get away with being a bad person, I had to channel my mischief more constructively. In particular, I used it to keep pursuing my old passion – collecting talents – only now uninhibited.

And so I came, at age twenty and after eight months of lessons, to play in a piano recital. The act might not sound radical, but it was. I would be playing in a recital whose other performers had been playing for twice as long as I had but were only half my age. I was in real danger of being shown up by elementary schoolers. Something about the idea, though, compelled me.

I play very well. I muscle through my few mistakes, and the music sounds charismatic and full. When I strike and release the last chord of the last piece, the low C key sticks, and the note sustains much longer than it should. Braces was right. As I pull up the stuck key, I flash a smile at the audience – the young professional parents, the misbehaving siblings – and they laugh. I only now realize how ridiculous I must look, a twenty-year-old playing in a children’s piano recital. I might as well be pitching an inning of little league baseball or smearing birthday cake all over my face. I don’t mind, though – I killed.

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Marionberry
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby Marionberry » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:47 pm

I like it.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:06 pm

I loved it.

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ArchRoark
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby ArchRoark » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:18 pm

I like it a lot. Pretty sure this is the only statement I have read that I actually laughed.

My only suggestion would be to include a Why X/Why law statement or the adcomms may just feel that law school is another whimsical choice/talent that you would like to collect.

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Burgstaller04
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby Burgstaller04 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:19 pm

Tiva wrote:I like it a lot. My only suggestion would be to include a Why X/Why law statement or the adcomms may just feel that law school is another whimsical choice/talent that you would like to collect.


helluva PS. I do like this tip though. I hope you can fit it into the flow cause the rest is golden

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ArchRoark
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby ArchRoark » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:21 pm

Burgstaller04 wrote:
Tiva wrote:I like it a lot. My only suggestion would be to include a Why X/Why law statement or the adcomms may just feel that law school is another whimsical choice/talent that you would like to collect.


helluva PS. I do like this tip though. I hope you can fit it into the flow cause the rest is golden


I would suggest to include it as an addendum/optional essay. I am not sure how the OP could include it into the PS without ruining the flow.

Little Wayne
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Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:31 pm

Re: Another personal statement

Postby Little Wayne » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:25 pm

Thanks for the strokes, you guys. That helps.

I was thinking the same thing re talking about why law school. I'm just right up at two pages 11-point font as is. I could find some stuff to cut, probably.

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Burgstaller04
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby Burgstaller04 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:35 pm

Little Wayne wrote:Thanks for the strokes, you guys. That helps.

I was thinking the same thing re talking about why law school. I'm just right up at two pages 11-point font as is. I could find some stuff to cut, probably.


nah, tiva's got a good idea. It would probably feel clunky anywhere you put it in. If you can do it, more power to you. It might be better to just add an addendum if you can't make it perfect.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby philosoraptor » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:47 pm

Out of idle curiosity, what Chopin were you playing after eight months of lessons? (Mad props, by the way. Piano's an incredibly rewarding hobby.)

Little Wayne
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby Little Wayne » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:50 pm

Probably the easiest prelude, #4(?) in E Minor. I'm a music composition major, so I didn't have to learn how to read notes or rhythms or anything. I'm all thumbs, though, so I'm proud of myself for conquering that at least.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby philosoraptor » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:11 pm

Little Wayne wrote:Probably the easiest prelude, #4(?) in E Minor. I'm a music composition major, so I didn't have to learn how to read notes or rhythms or anything. I'm all thumbs, though, so I'm proud of myself for conquering that at least.
As you should be -- that prelude is lovely, and the whole of Op. 28 is Chopin at his most experimental. Must feel even more like a harmonic and melodic treasure trove for one schooled in theory/composition. Keep playing! :)

Spykuh
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby Spykuh » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:18 pm

I LOVE IT!!! and agree with tiva about putting why law somewhere else.

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nematoad
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby nematoad » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:24 pm

you paint yourself as a likable character. i don't know you but i like you.

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ShuckingNotJiving
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby ShuckingNotJiving » Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:46 am

I hate to break up the collective orgasm being had over your essay -- but I'm failing to see what, exactly, your thesis is here. You have multiple talents and, therefore, you would be a good candidate for law school? Not that the thesis needs to be explicitly stated, but you're not implying anything here either. Ok. Fine, maybe you prove that you're intellectually curious. But what good does that do if you're fickle in this curiosity?

It's very well written / structured thematically, and puts a smile on ones face. It's Sedaris-esque, (pre-when you are engulfed in flames Sedaris). I just don't think this, in and of itself, is PS material.

So - you have the beginnings, the foundation --you've hooked people in with your writing skills and likable personality -- what are you going to do with that, to make the reader believe what you want them to? I mean, writing in this sense isn't just about painting a nice portrait, it's also about using that portrait to say something.

Signed,
Resident contrarian

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kazu
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Re: Another personal statement

Postby kazu » Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:52 am

I really like it too......... I'm glad I read it. I also agree that "why law" belongs elsewhere. I think that a personal statement is to make the adcomm feel like they know you personally, instead of just numbers and a resume. And also to show your writing skills. This does both very well.




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