March 2010


Procrastination – from the Latin “cras,” meaning “tomorrow,” and the prefix “pro,” meaning to put forth. Literally meaning to put something forward to tomorrow. (cited from the dictionary of me being bored in Latin class)

Yesterday, I graded 17 papers. Tonight, I will have graded 17 papers. Somehow that equals me being sick of the (poorly) written word.

Today, a guy in my Latin class (a classicist, and therefore an English/history major hybrid, with a bit more pretention added in) saw my stack of said yet-to-be-graded papers and remarked that he couldn’t wait to be a teacher, so he could have “that sense of authority.”

Chuckle.

I replied with the notion that the more time one spends grading, the less one feels authoritative, and instead mentally abraded.

He then said that I must really “bring the smack down” to seem more authoritative (and perhaps badass?) in my classroom, because I’m normally so nice (and blonde? in the sense of hair-color, not intelligence) and not angry-professor like. At that point the conversation shifted, but I smiled to myself knowing that classroom authority is a complex animal, and that at the end of the day, knowledge is authority.

It’s a thrill really, sitting in a classroom, as either teacher or student, realizing that you actually know something about what’s being talked about, and maybe knowing more than is even being discussed. When a professor mentions some specific moment in a text not being read in the class and you actually know what they mean, it feels like all that learning is starting to pay off (well, not literally – wouldn’t that be nice if it did).

As a slightly-weathered grad student I say that you should not feel pretentious or rude for giving evidence of your knowledge, or showing that you truly know something – such moments are much less common than the ones that make you feel like an undergrad wearing pajamas to a black-tie affair. Don’t be the know-it-all (there’s one in every class, you know who you are) but if you really do know a little, I say own it. Maybe you’ll get a little authority out of it, or at least some respect.

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ZOMG: How awesome is it that this shirt exists in the world? Albeit the fact that it’s slightly dorky…

And if you were thinking that you would like to express your constant  state of mental-overload-by-grading without sacrificing your fashion sense?

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Problem solved.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who believed she was entirely inconsequential to the world that existed around her. But like many beliefs, it was only half-true half of the time. Therefore at the end of every day she was partially wrong, but also partially right, which is in itself a kind of curse, but also a kind of powerful freedom.

Seeing as this blog is called “the art of book collecting,” I thought that it was about time I posted something that was actually book-related. I’m going to try to do this once-a-week or so; consider it my nerdy version of The Soup. (Which means I get to pretend to be the sarcastic wittiness that is Joel McHale, only without the skinny tie…and random people yelling in the background. Unless you’d like to yell a catch phrase or two? Heh?) So here we go…

This week’s randomly selected book-related thoughts (note to self: think up catchy title):

~Please do not all Dante by Dante Alighieri; the Alighieri refers to where he’s from, it’s not his name. (And, by the way DaVinci isn’t really Leonardo’s real last name either)

~ Dante’s Inferno is surprisingly different from what I expected; the poetry is almost soothing in meter, and much more Romantic than I would have thought, you know, since it’s set in Hell and all. And purgatory seems a little silly at times, downright funny at others (flatterers walking around in a river of crap, fortunetellers with their heads on backwards, suicides as trees being pecked by harpies – it reminds me of a Monty Python movie). Maybe  it’s because I’m not a religious person, but perhaps I’m diffusing the situation with humor because the whole concept of this type of belief-system hurts my brain, and tickles it at the same time. The thought of every great lover from literature and every person who existed before the invention of Christianity stuck in Hell just seems wrong. And I’m sorry, but the woman who told her lover that he was “extremely pleasing” does not deserve to be in one of the lowest circles of hell along with tyrants and dictators. All for a little while lie?

~ If you took Dante to the DMV, what would happen….?

~ Medieval Italian is very similar to Latin. Just in case you were wondering.

~ Sorry creators of The Office, but Dante beat you to the punch: there’s a Michael Scot in Inferno. (which is sort of fitting…)

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~ Kids, when y0u’re sitting in English class hating life because you’re in the middle of a Grammar lesson, just remember that your teacher is probably just as miserable. But wait, you say, I thought English teachers lived for that shit? Turns out that not only do teachers hate teaching things their students check out on, grammar is as hard to effectively teach as it is to learn. (I’m speaking from both ends here people.)

~ My boyfriend, who avoids books as fervently as I read them, is finally waist-deep in a book….wait for it….he bought for fun. And it is a real-deal paperback that you can a. not buy at the grocery store b. has nothing to do with football and c. is critically acclaimed non-fiction. So apparently you can change a man, if you date him for 7 years and surround him with hundreds of the items you want him to be interested in.

~ I now have a ridiculously extravagant number of books on my nightstand, because I couldn’t resist stocking up on “fun-reading” despite the fact that I’m trying to read 10+ books for my grad-school oral exam while teaching and TAing at the same time. Just because I don’t have time to read them doesn’t mean they can’t live in my house, right?

Right?

I need to go read.

Sometimes I wish there was a better way to protest things.

Tomorrow, for example, there is a rally on my campus called “Walk out for education!” where everyone is going to leave their classes and congregate on the quad to make a fuss (I will be there, of course, I have to – as a grad student and college teacher I’m meeting both ends of the sharp stick). BUt it seems odd to me, to protest our dwindling education system by missing class-time. Granted, we can’t protest on Fridays, because the campus is technically “closed,” another lovely effect of the budget crisis, so any other day is going to have scheduled classes.

So come on everyone, let’s protest our watered-down classes by cutting down on our own class-time!

But it’s not as if all forms of social protest are nearly counter-productive. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, and people held sit-ins, camping out in all sorts of establishments. These are great examples of non-violent protest that gets the point across effectively. Walking out of class to protest lack of classes is akin to African Americans refusing to ride the bus at all , or visit certain restaurants because they didn’t have equal rights. They wanted to right to be treated equally on buses, so they forced society to do so.

But I suppose we can’t protest budget cuts by holding a sit-in on campus, right?

My generation is, in many ways, in a bit of a tough spot. We don’t have the furvour of the 60s, yet we many of our issues are a great a threat to our future. My mom , a protester of the 60s, is always saying that we need to band together and protest things so that the authorities are forced to listen. But is our situation really solvable in that way? One might suggest that the problem of global warming can’t be solved as easily as stopping the Vietnam war. Can you compare the major issues of time periods, or are they apples and oranges?

I wonder if our generation needs some of that old blood, or to have some threat to our very existence thrown in our face. Will 20-somethings march on Washington if someone threatens their access to TV, iPods, or the blogosphere? Will “going green” become a lifestyle rather than a state of mind? Will California’s economy return the sparkle to the golden state?

I’ll be at the protest tomorrow, but whether it is the correct form of action is still yet to be seen.

 

(p.s. many many bonus point if you can figure out what movie the title comes from)

Today was, well, a mixture of things that I couldn’t seem to put into words.

 

 

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*pictures taken by me

Forgive me, for I sometimes lapse into moments of Romanticism.

On Saturday evening, after the rain had given way to a sun-filled green afternoon, I decided to take a walk in the Sonoma hills. I stood facing west to a setting sun, with a rising moon behind me, surrounded by softly swaying grass and muddy earth. As I was heading home the sky on my right was a bold orange and red sunset, on my left a soft purple fading into blue, with a giant pearl of a full moon. Each side was so lovely, I couldn’t decide which one to focus on as I drove home. Such colors are transient; would they be so stunning if ever-present? It makes me wonder if sunsets more beautiful in human eyes. Do they reflect our own impermanence, our preoccupation with that which cannot last? Would an animal pause to stare at the disappearing horizon?

Sometimes I wonder how some people are so focused on going to heaven when the world around us can be so beautiful.

Unless of course, God is playing one giant trick on everyone, and heaven is actually the world we already live in, where we are “rewarded” with a certain life. (This might help explain those people who can eat countless hamburgers without gaining a pound…Giselle) The reverse of course would still be true – can you not think of countless lives which could be considered hellish? And if you bring the Matrix into it (which I can’t help doing in many arenas, and the first movie, not the less-effective other two) would we really be happy in a world of eternal perfection? Or would we reject our existence and lose it altogether, like the unfortunate folks who were plugged into the first version of the Matrix, where there was no suffering or unhappiness. 1-2 (2)

The more I hang around this life, the more I realize that the best moments are that more beautiful in the wake of difficult ones. And the more literature I absorb, the more I find that the most profound and sublime thought arises from the relationship between hardship and happiness.

[Note that I am writing this on Sunday night, before the start of a new week. Monday will surely be a fitting example of said relationship…]

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