Thursday, March 24, 2005
Sorry for not writing lately. And sorry that what I did write was boring swill that actually bored me when I read it over. If I was Gage, this would be the point at which I would start posting cleavage shots of myself. But since I am me, I will be posting pictures of gruesome bruises instead. So stay tuned.
I can tell you exactly why I've been so boring lately. It's because I lead a boring existence. There has been a lot of school, a lot of haggling with profs over various forms of cruel and unusual scholastic punishments, and a lot of weariness about the play being over and having nothing in which to pour whatever sad fruitless devotional impulses I carry around with me all day. I'm starting to think that I don't really have a lot of talent, at anything. What I have is dogged, often pointless persistence. I am the mythological figure whose name I can't even spell dragging a rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down again. Sysiphis? Sisyphis? Sisyphys? Fuck it.
Things weren't supposed to be this way. I showed promise. And promise, when you've managed to live 21 years unaddicted to any controlled substance, relatively unscathed by family problems, unaffected by major tragedies, and with a decent work ethic, is supposed to pan out into something more than disillusionment. It's kind of ridiculous that at the end of the day, I have accomplished nothing -- produced nothing, inspired nothing, done nothing of any real value. I am a decent person. If you're in trouble, I am the one to turn to. I have no problem doing anything in my power to help someone who needs it. But when I need help I always feel everyone slipping away.
This moroseness is the result of a sad conversation with my professor this morning. The circumstances leading up to it were none to pleasant in themselves. I finished that 5,000 word paper, all 26 pages of it, and went to the engineering clubhouse that the Boy hangs out at to print the thing. This was Tuesday at 11:45 am. The paper was due before the end of class, which ended at 12:30. Everything was set to print, but the fucking printer was out of toner. I emailed the prof my essay, to show him it was finished, but in the ten minutes it took to go to the library to print it, I missed the end of class. The prof wants to impose a 5% penalty on my essay, one full letter grade, because of ten minutes. When I went to see him, he was unspeakably insensitive. He doesn't know my name, despite being one of only 40 or so students in his ONLY class ALL year, and referred to my explanation as "a story." He didn't give a shit about my play, the unforeseen circumstances of the printer not working, the fact that I had worked extremely hard to avoid the penalty, the whole ten minutes issue, or any other reason that would identify me as an actual human being and not Student #78038015. He actually told me that the reason why this penalty was in place was so he wouldn't have to deal with students coming to talk to him about their papers. He decided instead to just impose a penalty across the board, whether your mother had died or you'd been hit by a car or whatever.
I sat in the little concrete space outside the big, cold waffle-shaped office building and cried. I fucking cried. How ridiculous.
This is I hope the last in a long series of frustrations with my professors. There was the time one of them wrote me a letter of reference, and I thanked him by bringing him a book of Shakespeare sonnets. He refused my gift, saying it was favouritism and people would think he had given me a good mark because I had bribed him. Oddly enough, the other prof (Prof G) who wrote me a letter accepted his gift gladly, despite the fact that I was still his student and continued to enroll in his classes, where he continued to mark my assignments according to their merit regardless of any "bribery" on my part.
So here I am getting boring again. I'm sure you all think I am a most tedious overachiever who makes a big deal out of nothing. But I think it is a big deal to be treated like a number and not a person. It was something I never encountered in Switzerland. There, I was ME, an exchange student from Canada with a passion for Hemingway and Paradise Lost. I was a person who listened to the Rolling Stones on my breaks, and watched films, and truly cared about people, including my professors.
I have always seen my profs as human beings, with lives and families and feelings. Prof G shows me pictures of his wife and kids, and brought his daughter to my play. I remember his three daughters' names and ages, and that they just bought a house in the suburbs. And that matters to me. It matters to me that he notices I remember. I remember my profs' religious obligations, and I don't expect my Jewish professor to answer emails on Friday night or Saturday. I read their books, and track down their articles. I wish them a happy holiday and a good weekend and a nice break and I thank them for their time. I read their comments carefully and I appreciate their opinions. A little reciprocation would be great. A little reciprocation is what I think I deserve.
I just have to swallow it and bide my time, because in less than a month I will be out of this shithole and on to other, hopefully better things. And when I go back to university it will be to a small school, where people know and care about each other. Because my three years at this godawful institution are an experience I do not care to repeat.
Other than the craptacularities of school, I did Storm the Wall on Monday, which was actually really fun, despite all the bruises. I'm glad I did it before I graduated. That's one good thing I can take away from this. I'll try to post pictures at some point.
I have been trying to find some better cds to listen to, since I'm getting sick of all the albums in my repertoire. I borrowed Radiohead's Hail to the Thief from my brother, who basically told me it was the absolute height of musical genius. I have to say I was more impressed with their earlier albums, but I'll wait a bit and see if it grows on me. The lyrics are hard to hear and some of the songs are really, well, moony. Radiohead clearly fits certain moods only. If you're feeling it, their music sounds like pure gold, if not, it sounds like pure whining. Fair enough. I am a big believer in different music for different moods. I also picked up the Red Hot Chili Peppers One Hot Minute, which my bro "borrowed" (read: stole) from me last year and only recently gave back. I love that album, but I will burn through it quickly. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are always a tasty but quick thrill, not unlike the peppers themselves. I've been waking up to the Divine Comedy, which is not really doing it for me either. They're most appropriate for stoned or contemplative listening, not groggy why-the-fuck-is-my-alarm-going-off-this-early moments.
I'm really into Sarah McLachlan's B-Sides, Rarities, and Other Stuff lately. Her cover of Dear God is really great (I confess I don't know who did the original, but I know she didn't write it), and I enjoy the remixes. I hated remixes as a kid, but now I quite enjoy bopping my head to them for a bit.
Weird question: does anybody know a crazy techno song with a lot of sound effects which has a chorus where the guy repeats the word "Yeah" exactly 14 times and that's it? It doesn't sound like Usher, not a bit. My brother and I heard it on the radio the other day and have had no luck finding out what it is. It was a brilliant song.
Everyone should read a book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon. It has a red cover with a cut-out of an upside-down French poodle on the front, so you can't miss it. Don't ask questions, just read it. It's a super-easy read but it is more profound than anything I've read in a long time.
I should go and see if I can catch the finals of the Iron Woman Storm the Wall challenge right now. This is where one girl does the whole race (swimming, biking, running, and sprinting) and then storms the 12.5-foot wall by herself, with only one spotter for help. It's extremely cool to watch.
Thanks for listening to my rants.