Society has interesting names for people who decide they want to do the same thing forever. Some positive, some not. We have “terminal bachelors” (aka George Clooney) and also “old maids” (aka librarians, sadly). We have “eternal optimists” and “eternal pessimists,” “career politicians” and those who will “go down with the ship.”

But what about the eternal student?

There are positive versions of this, of course: my grandfather was a member of a Life-long Learning program, and he had earned more credits in his lifetime than anyone in the history of the University. He had studied in some way at colleges all over, and out of, the country. But he also held regular jobs at the same time, so maybe we can’t exactly put him in this category. But should we?

While browsing around, I came across this interesting article titled “How to become an eternal student,” (source) in which the author poses theories about the different types of students:

“Most often when one refers to an eternal student the automatic assumption is that of the Truly Dedicated Eternal Student. This is often a student who has chosen random and rather bizarre course work. You most often find these students among Classical Studies or History students. The reason is simple. No one cares about those majors except the people in them. Who really needs to major in Sanskrit anymore? It’s a five thousand year old dead language. So students of these types of majors can always find something old to study and claim the need to study that fully before they move into “the real world”.”

And this is where I really started to chuckle:

“These students can always find something else to study because the stuff has been around so darn long. Since no one cares about these studies anymore these students are free to hide is the sunlight-deprived coroners of dusty libraries and remain free from responsibility. The major difficulty in being a truly Dedicated Eternal Student is to lie convincingly enough so that the parents, friends, the university, and financial supporters all believe that the student needs to remain ensconced in their studies.”

And I cannot deny that there is some truth in this. As a medievalist, and a student of Latin, there is a definite scorn from some people out there – the beauty of it being that the scornful ones usually don’t have a clue about such topics, so you can project an atmosphere of learned intelligence that tells them to back the f*&# off.

And then we come to the next type:

“The Multiple Degrees Eternal Student is a nefarious schemer. This student is the only eternal student to ever actually earn a degree. And not only do they earn one degree, but they earn several. The primary goal of this type of student is to have more letters after their name than in their name. They will earn a BA and a BS and an MA, MS, MPH, JD, MBA, MD, PhD, DrPH, and on and on and on. In some ways this Eternal Student is the most talented and most conniving of all Eternal Students.

Not only must they posses the intelligence and talent for earning these many degrees but they must convince others that they actually need these degrees. The danger, however, in being a Multiple Degrees eternal student is that, unlike other eternal students, these individuals have actually completed acceptable levels of education. At some point their financial support will revolt due to the immense financial burden these multiple degrees impose and the student is generally told to go ahead and utilize their degrees. The best counterattack to this type of difficulty is to be educated out of any possible job and so, after a brief interval, return to higher education.”

Hmmm, this is dangerously close to the conversation I’ve been having with myself lately, upon nearing the completion of my current degree. Something along the lines of, “maybe I should go to law school…” And let us not deny that along with the ability to bullshit in prose that comes with an English degree is the ability to bullshit others into thinking  that all the money spend on said degree is well-spent, and that you would be wise to spend more. Nefarious scheming, indeed.

The article closes with this piece of wisdom:

“The privilege of Eternal Student-dom is not to be taken lightly. At no other point in your life is it a) acceptable that you not know what you are doing b) normal for people to give you excessive amounts of money and c) expected that you will do dumb things.”

Now my question is, is this article serious in it’s admiration of students, or is it mocking their very existence? I can’t help but wonder if eternal students were ever respected culturally, or always viewed as some sort of self-fulfilling characacher.

There is a tendency to believe that school is not “the real world.” But what is the alternative; “the imaginary world?” Sound more fun, in my opinion. What does the “real world” offer you? Whatever it is, we need Prozac and Ambien to deal with it.

If I can make a living out of living in the “imaginary world,” you can bet that’s where I’ll be. And it seems to me that most people worth knowing will be there too.


Some interesting quotes from Facebook/Twitter today:

“We live in hard times, NOT END TIMES.” ~ Jon Stewart, 10/30/10

“If you care about things like health care reform, well-funded schools, gay rights, smart financial regulation, actually getting things done in Washington, renewable energy, and/or reforming immigration laws then support the party that’s most likely to move forward on those issues. Please go out and vote for members of the Democratic Party tomorrow because they need your support now. “

“I’m so disappointed in you Hulu for running ad campaigns, and I can’t believe that her people let Meg Whitman utter the words “And I’ll treat you like a grown up, California”. Really like? Grown up? Try treating me AS an ADULT you wench.”

“algore $70 million in dirty energy ads:

That’s right people: it’s almost election time! (Side note: I cannot wait for all those eternally obnoxious ads to get off the TV, though the one with Meg Whitman as Pinocchio did make me chuckle.) And you now have 2 days to read up on the measures.

Please, don’t vote blindly! Vote thoughtfully, get some non-partisan information on the issues. And please don’t buy into the hype – that’s all it is. I shudder to think that people could be persuaded into changing their vote from all those slanderous ads; they’re full of glittering generalities, buzzwords, and nonsense. And this election season has been pretty rank, in terms of mudslinging.

It’s the career politicians vs. the CEOS: frankly, even though the former don’t always make the best choices, I would rather have someone in office who made it their life’s work to be there, rather than a wealthy former CEO who decided to make an appearance and use their own money to propel themselves forward.

Even if I wasn’t a Democrat, I don’t think I could ever trust anyone with that amount of money to understand and work for the issues that face me and my social class – the priories are just different, and that’s how it is. But that’s just me.

This election year I really hope that we Californians can look past the hot-button issues (abortion, religion, party alliance, etc) and look at the ones that are most pressing: our environment, energy, education, health care, the economy. Parties  try to win us by playing to our most basic belief systems, and they are hyper-conscious. If you are a Christian, don’t vote Republican just because of religion (news flash: most politicians are all Christians – there has never been a President who wasn’t a church-going man, regardless of party.) Don’t vote Democrat just because you drive a Prius. Stereotypes don’t help us.

But, if you have read up on the issues and seen the pros and cons of each measure and candidate, feel free to choose who makes sense to you – this is, after all, America, right?!

I remember the first election season after I turned 18 in October 2004. (And Bush won. Sigh.) I waited in line at UC Davis for about an hour, and when I finally got that ballot it was quite a moment. There was a sense, an inkling, that I could now really participate in the debate.

Maybe it’s not like that for everyone, but apathy doesn’t help anyone, except maybe for the people running against those you might have voted for.

I don’t know about you, but these little stickers give me a thrill. Get yours!

I have some tolerance for Facebook friends who do not share my political views. (Though I must admit, I have de-friended a few people who I knew and then found out were raging conservatives, crazies, etc, because with the advent of the News Feed, I just don’t need that in my life.) And when people post comments that are begging to be debated, I have learned to not comment. My trick: typing a long rebuttal and then not posting it. It’s cleansing, sort of.

But logging on to Facebook this morning, this is what I found:

Question: Given that the inevitable cultural trajectory is in this direction, we are going to have more and more people visiting our churches in the years ahead who have been raised by homosexual parents. How do we as Evangelicals balance holding true to our view of Scripture, while at the same time not sending the message that the love these kids experienced from their parents (which in many cases will be genuine; it’s not as if gays are monsters) was somehow invalid, sinful, perverted etc?

Let me say that this was posted by someone I went to high school with and who is now an Evangelical priest.
But my instant reaction was: why would these children of gay parents ever go to such a church where they know that the “Scripture” thinks their family life is perverse? Maybe they would go if they suddently started to believe that gay marriage is wrong, and that their parents are sinners, but how often does this really happen? It usually takes a trauma or some serious persuasion to turn children so harshly against their parents.
This comment doesn’t bother me so much in what it’s asking, because it is in theory trying to be accepting (though notice nothing is said of the parents being in the church), but what it’s implying – society is going to hell in a hand basket, and so on. There are only a few lines in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, and there is so much else that tells Christians to love their neighbor, and not look down on their fellow man. Frankly I just can’t imagine Jesus preaching about God’s love to the masses and making a point to say “oh hey – when I said ‘don’t cast stones’ I really meant to say that you can judge anyone who doesn’t share your system of beliefs or forces you to confront them.” But maybe that’s why I’m an agnostic.
I think we need to follow the threads of our thinking more, because a simple question like this Facebook comment begins decently, but perpetuates an entire system of hierarchical judgment that leads to discrimination, hatred, violence, and, as recent news has sadly shown, suicide. Which, to me, sounds exactly the opposite of what Jesus is supposed to represent.

I think people are forgetting what ‘religious freedom’ actually means.

Simple: It means that everyone is free to believe what they want to believe, and practice accordingly, as long as it does not infringe on anyone else’s rights or break any laws. And yet, here we are, with a proposition on the ballot that is designed to, in short, walk (or something less PC) all over the US Constitution. Now, as an English grad student, I will be the first to tell you that this document can be interpreted in many different ways. However – the phrase where it declares that all men are created equal is not a gray area. Or is it?

It seems that this country is determined to test these words in every way possible. People said that slaves were not men, therefore did not need to be equal. Then blacks were clearly not men, and legally invisible. They also claimed that since women were not men, they also did not need the same rights as others. Stop me if you already know how these debates ended…

And now we are, again, trying to stretch these simple words to suggest that EVEN MEN are not all equal. However, while it was obvious who was black and who was a woman, one can’t always tell who is gay and who is not. Thus this kind of prejudice is somehow less visible, and more acceptable. And even on both sides.  I always hate it when people tell stories about how they know a gay couple who is fantastic and kind and has a great relationship. Or maybe they have a great gay cousin, etc. Why is there a need to rationalize their character because they have a different sexuality?! I know plenty of straight people who are angels and some who are jerks, but they all have rights because they are PEOPLE. Their character is not on trial in order to have equality under the law. Marriage is a concept, not a mathmatical equation. Any two combination of variables can be put together. The success of this union depends on the people themselves. Not what they do on Saturday nights.

Does this country need a group to set aside and discriminate against? Our constitution would say No, but it everything around me begs a Yes.  To put a law into our constitution that fully admits to discrimination sickens me. What will come next? Who will we rationalize into inequality?

When America was founded people sought refuge from a religion-dominated government. Separation of church and state is fundamental. Everyone must be able to carry their own personal beliefs, to not allow the government into their bedrooms to decide what legal rights they get. It’s not about God, or church. It is recognizing that we have injustice all around us and in our blood, and knowing that it does not mean we can’t turn around and try to fix it.

Wouldn’t it be nice, for a change, to decide that American doesn’t need to discriminate any group, whether they be of different race, gender, or orientation? This is not about marriage, or kids, or schools. It’s about common human decency, and our ability to look beyond any personal beliefs in order to make the right choice.

Be a true American, follow our constitution, and Vote NO on Prop 8.

Oh, politics these days. 

Watching Friday’s presidential debate was…interesting. And I kept noticing some things. For some reason, McCain would not look at Obama while Obama was speaking, and he wouldn’t look at the camera during his own responses. Obama was engaged with not only the moderator, but the people at home. I felt like he was more respectful to his opponent, and he looked at McCain thoughtfully. It was like McCain was afraid that looking at his opponent might lower him to the level that he was actually considering what Obama said.

And, I’m sorry, but it seems like McCain only really cares about certain groups of people. When Obama stated how it was terrible that veterans didn’t have enough coverage to get therapy for PTSD, McCain responded by saying that he would take care of the vets because he ‘loves’ them. But when Obama also said that it was deplorable that the average American citizen was unisured, that children and parents were unisured, McCain said nothing. It was as if he only cared about the vets. Liberal or not, the plight of the unisured is inexusable. And it remains that if we elect a Republican their focus will be more on America’s internation affairs and containing terrorism rather than the conditions within this country. And I’m sorry, but while foreign policy and security is very important, a country must be aware of what ails the average good citizen. And with the economy going the way that it is, ailments are on the rise. If nothing here changes, what exactly are we working (and spending) to protect? And we MUST work to end our dependance on foreign oil. People have known for decades that the oil supply would run out eventually, but we put it off, and now it’s our problem, and it has to be be solved sooner than later.

And Sarah Palin. What can I say about her? She offends me on about 27 different levels, which I won’t go into. But mainly she is not qualified to be in the white house, and she is not a proper representetive for the people of the United States. I’m not sure who she represents exactly, but I don’t think she’s the kind who gets invited back to political conferences.

Speaking of American oddities, the Vampire seems to be gaining some kind of revival. I admit, I didn’t really think I would like Twilight, but I loved it, and I wasn’t planning to watch True Blood, the new HBO series, but I did, and I’m kind of hooked. True Blood is like Twilifght grown up, with more nudity and gore – HBO style. It’s an odd show really, but I’m actually looking forwarfd to watching it tonight.

So why has the Vampire come back now? Since Interview with the Vampire, there hasn’t really been a mainstream vampire movement, except in poorly made horror flicks. What is it about our culture that is allowing the trend to resurface? Is it that we feel we are being sucked dry by some mysterious force that has blended in and, on the surface, looks just like everyone else? And vampires are always connected to sexuality, so is that somehow related to the pop-culture sex industry? There’s a clear separation in these kind of societies, where one group has most of the power and lives off the other group. Now, where do I see that….maybe how the rich keep getting richer while the middle class is being drained? And, just like in True Blood, being bitten does not necessarily make you one of them – and certainly being used by the upper hands of this country does not make you better off.

I’m not sure,  but, at this point, I think it might be more fun to be violated by a smoldering vampire than the American economy, or the gas pump. True Blood agrees.

So look out for my Master’s of English dissertation: the relationship between the emergence of Vampire literature and political/economic culture.

Just kidding – though, wouldn’t that be fun?