Scott Hardie | March 8, 2002
I don't like those weeks when you get so tied up with classes that you lose touch with the outside world, but I do like the rush of freedom at the end of them. I spent yesterday afternoon and night asleep, so here's my first waking time of freedom. It feels great.

The first assignment was my senior project. Originally 15-20 pages then shorted to 8, this required us to explain what we had learned in college as an English major, what it is we want to do with our degree, and how our education will help us do what we want to do. We're supposed to attach our resumés and three essays that we wrote in college. So, for Wednesday, I wrote a seven-page draft for a meeting with my staff advisor on the project, listing in paragraph form every English class I'd had and 1-2 skills that I'd gotten from each one. He read two pages and said (nicely) that it was all wrong, that I had to focus on the three essays attached to the paper instead of all the classes I'd had along the way. Show progress from the early papers to the end paper. Too bad the specific requirements of the three papers force me, the transfer student, to draw them all from my last three semesters of college, when very little progress took place. Hmm. I have to have a better draft done to show him on Monday after spring break (which starts now).

The second assignment was my nonfiction essay. The minimum is 20 pages, but I want to write 30 pages and condense it to 20 with font and margins. Most of you readers know about the essay that I wrote two years ago about my father and brother; time has made it the most popular thing I've ever written. This new essay is a companion to that one - this time about my mother and Kelly, how they differ, how I am shaped by both, how I am naturally one but am growing into becoming the other. The first eight pages of it were about my mom, and they went very well - a little short, but otherwise exactly what I wanted to say about her and how I wanted to say it. Then when I got into the second half, my brain started to lose its vivre after so many straight hours of writing. (I started this paper immediately after finishing the senior project.) I got into a long description of how Kelly and I became a couple, which is not only long but also fairly boring, and it contributed nothing to my themes. I finally got out of that and started listing Kelly's traits, but my brain was shot by this point (eighteen straight hours of writing, minus two hour-long meal breaks), so I was reduced to short, flat statements. Two pages devoted to my mom's alcohol consumption, I wrote "Kelly doesn't drink. She had bad experiences and avoids the stuff." The whole last three pages are like this, and the fact that three pages mirror eight for my mom should give you an idea. Anyway, in the 30-page font that I want, my final version (for I never did write the conclusion) came to 23 pages, so I printed it and handed it in. Just the teacher gets it now, and I have four weeks to finish and revise it before the class gets it. This teacher is rather stern on requirements, reminding us almost every day for the past few weeks that we have to have every section of our essay done and handed in on March 7th if we want the grade for that part of the class, but I think she'll let it slide without the conclusion. I look forward to revising this until it all sparkles like the first eight pages do, then I'll put it on my web site like the last essay.

On top of writing this 20-page essay, we also had to critique another student's essay for Thursday. Ugh. Enough work.

Thursday morning started with my sociology mid-term. It shouldn't have been hard, but whoever put the test together made some confusing mistakes. First off, it was a 55-question test using a Scantron form, but there were two questions marked #3, so there were really 56 questions. The teacher was gone to some conference and the teacher's assistant didn't know what to do, so we filled out the form as though there were 56 questions. I was lucky enough to catch my mistakes when I made them along the way in the numbering of answers, but I don't know if anybody else was. Then there were confusing questions. We read an article by Gallagher (that led to the "White Identity" entry here a week or two ago) that argued that white identity was changing in the face of minority prominence. So the question read, "Gallagher claims whiteness is ___ in the face of increased attention paid to minority groups, A) mutating, B) staying the same, C) evolving, D) none of the above" - What the fuck? Here's another question, "Which of the following is a correct image of black youths? A) they're more violent and more prone to drug and alcohol use than white youths, B) they're less ...., C) they're the same ..., D) none of the above" - Huh? By "correct image," does she mean that statistics back up the stereotype and make it correct, or just that one of these stereotypes is held by the public and the rest are not?

Then came my myths midterm. I did all right on some of it, considering that I 2/3 of The Odyssey and I've just started Lonesome Dove (which the class finished and is now halfway through, respectively). The last question got me, though. One aspect of myths is the duality between the physical act and the spiritual act. We could have used a very specific definition of spiritual act provided by Joseph Campbell, or we could have just found a spiritually meaningful act and written about that. Problem was, I thought for a long time and couldn't remember one in either book. I'm sure they were there, but I didn't know any. I was out of time anyway. Boo.

The good class came between the two, nonfiction. The first part, when we discussed Montaigne, was all right. This one woman, who is usually negative, criticized Montaigne and Scott Russell Sanders and that whole style, and I tried to tune her out. Then for the second half we critiqued the student's essay for the day, and again that same woman was very negative, pointing out 4-5 things that were wrong with the essay while not saying anything good about it. I only said one thing and it was negative, but that's because my good comments were said already (and better) by the other students. While handing back papers, the teacher praised my critiquing skills, and I won a dollar for writing the best imitation sentence in the class. (Matt, it's the "fat" sentence.) So that felt good.

Then I came home and slept. Jackie was here to do the dishes and some other chores on Wednesday night and Thursday night, and did a good job, and was well paid. I hope there's not a mountain of dishes in the sink again in a week (or ever, really). And we worked out some issues with the landlords, who are, for now, no longer trying to evict us (again). And I should get the inheritance money on Monday or Tuesday, which is good, because I've got some people to pay, including the landlords.

I'll be online some this weekend, then mired in work again next week. It may be spring break, but I've got a 30-page story to write for my fiction workshop, an 8-page senior project to do over again, and, if I have time left, that 30-page essay about Kelly and my mom to revise. Oh, and 500 pages of Lonesome Dove to read. (sigh)


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