Friday, November 26, 2004

I'm Sorry, WHO Are We Sending These To?

So about once every semester I hit a wall. Last semester, it was when I sat up in the middle of the paper I was writing for Aspects of Renaissance Culture (topic: misogyny in the English Renaissance, as shown particularly through the Malleus Maleficarum and some play I don't remember the name of) and realized hey, wait. This paper is boring, sucks, and no matter how much I work on it I won't get higher than a B because I don't care. All of these intuitions were true. (I got a B+ in the class and counted myself lucky.)

I'm at the wall again, but this time it's a different wall. It's built of overconfidence (it's half done and I've got a week to finish it!) instead of desperation (it's only half done and in Spanish and I've only got a week to finish it!). So instead of getting out of class at 9am today and heading straight to the library to finish researching Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and their respective patron-artist relationships, I am blogging. This time, the thought process is more like Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease caaaaaaaaaaaaaan't anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 *sob sob sob beg whine plead sob*

I've promised myself that I'll get up early tomorrow and go to the library. 9am. Saturday. AHAHAHA I am so funny. Then on Sunday I'm going to get up and go to the Prado at 9 because it's free from 9-2 and I really, really need to go back and stare at the Garden of Earthly Delights for a while. AHAHAHAHA again. Yay for self-deception.

ANYway, so I mentioned something in the last post about name-dropping privileges, and it's a pretty funny story if you haven't already heard it. If you have, go grab a sandwich; you're going to be very bored.

It's the first day of my freshman year of college. I could tell you I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and eager to learn, but it would be a lie. I was TIRED and intimidated and scared out of my wits (9:10 classes with evil Spanish quasi-professors will do that to you). The second class of the day was Writing 20 - for you non-Dukies, every freshman has to take a Writing 20 class at some point, though we get to choose the subject (sort of). Mine was a FOCUS class, so the topic was chosen for us: Writing in Science and Biotechnology (or some such grossness - ACES is down so I can't check the real course name.)

The professor walks in and sits down. He reminds me a little bit of David (not Jessie's dad, nor my Uncle Davey, but Lissa and James' Uncle Davey), in a completely irrational and baseless way. He welcomes us to the class, tells us that since we're FOCUS kids we're expected to be at least five notches smarter than the average Duke student, and starts explaining the assignments we'd be doing over the course of the semester.

"Since this is a program that focuses on the sciences, the purpose of my class is to teach you to mine meanings from technical articles and address those meanings in an organized manner."

Ten freshman heads are bobbing enthusiastically, each of us slightly psyched up about Being In College and Doing Smart Things.

"Professional journals are, obviously, an important part of scientific investigation. Equally important is the way you respond to articles in these journals. However, since it's the beginning of the year, we're going to work our way up to (something that can be interpreted as 'obnoxious technical jargon'). We'll start out with a publication geared a little more towards the general public."

He gets up and starts passing out handouts.

"Your homework for tonight is to read these sheets, all of which have to do with pros and cons of the addition of flouride to drinking water. The eventual goal of the assignment is to write a letter to the editor of the Earth Island Journal, the source of many of the articles I'm giving you here, which evaluates the soundness of the argument that flouridated water (something that can be interpreted as 'sucks')."

The wheels in Allison's head start turning. They make an audible clicking noise. Earth Island Journal...the name sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it? Why would I know that...waaaaaait a second.

I raise my hand.

"We're not actually going to send these in to the editor, are we?"


"He's my uncle. I think."

The professor gives me a weird look - my first weird look of college! "Really?"

"Well, he just switched jobs, so I'm not sure if that's the one he started or the one he left, but yeah."

By now the whole class is staring at me with a You Are A Name-Dropping Prostitute type look. Not the last time I've been on the receiving end of that one, either. The professor looks away.

"All right, so read these handouts for tomorrow and write a page about (something that can be interpreted as 'useless')..."

I stop to talk to him quickly after the class was over. "So, we're not sending these in, right? because I would feel really dumb if we did."

He raises his eyebrows at me, basically telling me that he doesn't care how dumb I would feel without even opening his mouth. "No. We're not."

"Thank you," earns me a look that says This Has Nothing To Do With You, So Don't Thank Me.

And that, my friends, is how having relatives in high places garnered me my first elitism point (as well as my first hated by the masses point, which has reproduced at the approximate rate of a bacterium) in college. I hope you enjoyed the story - I did, because telling it filled about half an hour that I should have spent researching. Oh, well.

***completely off-topic edit: now with links!***

If you know me well, you know my no-longer-secret life yearning is to buy a cabin in some completely rural area, create a farm, and spend a couple of years trying to be self-sufficient (by "farm" I mean "very large vegetable garden with chickens", and by "self-sufficient" I mean "in terms of everything except the stuff like flour, sugar, and maxi pads"). I got this idea after reading The Stand, and therefore it has remained an unreasonable possibility...until now. Provided that I live.


Christmas present (link changed). From me to me, since you are all exempt from buying me anything. Thank you again for my compy, because I love it. I will stop cluttering your life with useless things now (except wait, Mom, I thought of more stocking stuffers: guitar pick(s) and/or teach yourself to play you idiot book, hair things with really thick elastic that won't stretch out after I use them twice but are not scrunchies or any such 1980s rejects. Thank you.)


Blogger Chris Clarke said...

It's a good thing you never sent those letters, because I woould have had to respond to say I thought the fluoride articles were a bunch of antiscientific crap. What an embarrassment they were.

11/26/2004 10:16 AM  
Blogger Coral Clarke said...

A cabin with high-speed internet access and cable TV? And a really good coffee shop nearby?

11/27/2004 11:22 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

I won't need the internet once everybody's dead.


11/29/2004 5:39 AM  
Blogger Coral Clarke said...

If everybody's dead, you're gonna have a problem with the "flour, sugar, and maxi pads".....

12/01/2004 8:13 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Obviously, I will scavenge from nearby settlements and/or towns, collecting large amounts of essential products and then storing them in such a manner that the weevils cannot get in.

Do not try to challenge this fantasy - I've been working on it for way too long for you to find a hole.

12/02/2004 11:36 AM  

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