Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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The headlines read these are the worst of times.

Oh the week I have had, it was covered in bad.

I am not even sure where I should begin with this one. It's one of those weeks so terrible that it almost defies description...and yet I feel that I must write something about it if only so that the next time I'm having a bad week I can look back and gain some perspective on what a REALLY terrible week is really like.

So let's get started shall we? Feel free to jump ship right only gets LESS interesting.

Monday wasn't particularly bad, it certainly wasn't pleasant but it was survivable despite the incredibly boring discussion of the bible in CC. The bible as a political text is incredibly incoherent and silly...I understand why we discuss it but to do so and not have it degenerate into stupidity you need a skilled and experienced teacher. A non-english speaking grad student doesn't qualify.

After CC I went and saw Akira for my Japanese culture class. It's one of my favorite animated films so there was no issue there, except we saw it dubbed and on video tape. Some greek chick borrowed my DVD version because she couldn't stay for the whole video version...but generally it was okay except for the fact that it cut away at my already profoundly limited amount of work time for all the assignments I had due that week. I also missed an incredible Brett Favre performance in the first half on Monday Night Football...but nobody seems particularly sympathetic when I complain about that.

I collapsed monday night without doing ANY work.

Tuesday began the real hike through hell. There was not all that much in the way of horribleness in the morning but the afternoon made up for it with fun stuff like a fabulously boring discussion section that had me counting the minutes as they rolled by SLOWLY, and then a test review that was both incoherent and, as it turned out, entirely irrelevant.

When I got home I remembered that I had to hand in questions on an article I had signed up for. It's in my comparative politics class, the class where the fumbling old professor is far too lazy to produce a coursereading pack, prefering instead to force his students to waste their printing quotas getting articles from online, so I reluctently jumped through the online hoops to download the article. No dice. Turned out I had to be IN the library to download it. So I put my pants back on, sighed heavily, and tromped off to the library. Once there I had to wait about half an hour to get a computer and it took me about 10 minutes to download the article, seeing as the printers in the library are constantly swarmed with students and don't work that great anyway.

As I was leaving the library I checked the article and realized…to my horror…that it was the wrong one. I wondered whether I could have been so tired that I just printed out the wrong article, but after checking again online I realized that that was not the case…in fact what WAS the case was something far worse. It turned out that the "article" I was looking for was not online at all. It was in fact three chapters of a book that was on reserve at the library. There is not much more inconvenient than Butler reserves but I had no choice at this point so I went back into the library and got the book off reserve. Naturally they only had the last copy, which meant that I couldn't take it home overnight but instead had to photocopy the stuff that I needed. I tried to head out of the library to get some cash for the copy machine (naturally I hadn't brought any money with me because that's the kind of week it was) except that the book set off the alarm so I had to trudge back to reserves to get it demagnitized again. I got my money and went back in to get a copy card…only this time I discovered after about 10 minutes of searching that while ALL the machines accepted $20 bills, they required a $1 bill in order to purchase a copy card. Yes…apparently they are afraid that someone might be convenienced so they make sure that even if you have money that they WILL accept you can't use it unless you have other money. I left the library for the third time, tried to buy a copy of Sports Illustrated but had to settle for Time magazine because they were OUT of Sports Illustrated (have I mentioned that it was that kind of week yet? Cause it was.) I made sure to get a crisp $1 bill and I went back and got a copy card. Naturally after I got the card the first copy machine I tried to use was broken in multiple ways and the second one took literally 10 minutes to warm up while I stood there fuming and some girl using another, functional, copy machine kept glancing over at me to see if I had exploded yet. As it turned out I had to copy 3 chapters from the book, all by different authors, and it took quite awhile. Finally I returned the book and went home…about as interested in reading this material as I was in having Freddy Kreuger give me a hand job.

I was supposed to synthasize the three chapters into one question but I was already late and in no mood to actually think so I just grabbed some relatively simple but interesting questions from the text and spit them out onto the website. The TA liked the questions but that might have just been because she doesn't speak English and is universally approving for that reason (apparently the only departments that require their instructors to speak English at Columbia are the foreign language departments. This seems to be an interesting policy…perhaps proposed by…I don't know…SATAN?) I collapsed after posting the questions and didn't get anything more done on Tuesday even though I had planned on doing a fair amount.

Wednesday might be the worst day I have had in the last...oh...3 or so years. It started out extremely stressfully with me trying to complete two assignments due that day. One was a 6 page paper for CC and one was a shorter paper on Akira. I got some of the CC done during the morning and went to my American Politics class which was, as usual, pretty interesting even though I was extremely distracted.

After that I wrote out my Akira paper and did a straight up awful job on it, rushing through so I could get some work done on my CC paper (since the Akira paper doesn't really count for all that much in terms of my grade). I went to the Japanese class and was distracted again, although I did take part in some of the conversation which was the best it has been all semester.

After the class I raced to the computer lab and finished my car wreck of a CC paper. I think I managed to tighten it up enough that it shouldn't be worse than a B-, which is recoverable if I do well on the mid term and remaining paper and final, but I felt horrible handing it in. Of course it didn't help that the topics for the paper were all horrible, but that's to be expected at this point in this semester. How can you expect a non-english speaker to come up with engaging topics? I don't even know how she's going to read or grade the papers...and I hope that the fact that I seriously disagree with her on several issues doesn't seriously impact the paper. On second thought I don't know if I'll even manage a B- on that one. Oh well.

After that class I raced home to study for my psycholinguistics test. I was incredibly exhausted at this time and I managed only a few glances in the book before I started to drift off. A couple of my fellow students had been emailing me about a study group they were forming so I got off my ass and went to Butler to work with them. I found one of the students in a room upstairs and we went outside to study. He and I ended up getting some coffee and running through our notes in the lounge until about 12:30 AM…I almost fell asleep on at least 3 separate occasions but I managed to slog through with the help of sweet sweet caffeine. Next we went up to the girls who were studying upstairs and they joined us for some review. We preceeded to go through every single class one by one carefully to make sure we understood all the concepts while I horsed around with Dave by threatening to kick his ass and one of the girls puzzlingly kept refering to us as Alpha Males. We reviewed until 4 AM, the review mostly consisting of Dave and I explaining the concepts to the two chicks who didn't seem to have that much of an understanding of the material. At 4 the chicks went to bed and Dave said he was going to go study more somewhere else. I considered sleeping but then decided that I hadn't studied all night yet, an integral part of the college experience, so I might as well head out with Dave and see what it was like. We found an open diner about a mile downtown and set up shop there…reviewing our notes, sipping egg creams, eating salads, and spending a decent amount of time discussing psychology and philosophy despite both being very tired and stressed (eventually I put the discussion on hold for that reason.) We worked until we felt pretty comfortable with the material then headed back up to school to review the slides on the computer, stopping at his ultra-cool apartment first to grab some pencils for the test.

We reviewed the slides, had some breakfast at Toms, and did a little review from the book. Then we went to Starbucks grabbed some coffee and headed into the test, feeling confident that we knew the material and were ready for whatever was thrown at us.

We weren't ready at all.

The problem wasn't that we were too tired from staying up all night (In fact we both had our second winds at that point and felt ready to go…just a bit unfocused) or that we studied ineffectively and didn't learn the material we studied…the problem was that the test was on stuff that we completely didn't expect. For example a good portion of the class and at least ¾ of the review session was based on the physical aspects of speech and speech perception. There were approximately zero questions on the test about this stuff. We studied forments and VOC until we were blue in the face and it never showed up. Meanwhile material that we had been promised wouldn't be on the test DID make an appearance (I got that question right) and the whole focus of the test seemed odd. Finally there were the absolutely horrible essay questions which were open-ended to the point of being silly. I did terribly but I bet everyone else did badly as well. We were expecting something like "Explain the difference between the cascading and serial hypothesis of word production" which would have been much more reasonable.

After leaving the nasty test and hearing the rest of my study-buddies complain about it I went to my next class, comparative politics, and got a copy of my test next Thursday. It's stupid, of course, that whole class is remarkably lame, but I'm not prepared for it. I will have to work hard this week…which sucks…and what's worse I basically missed class on Thursday because I was too exhausted to pay attention.

After that I went home and tried to avoid falling asleep. I failed and woke up just as my next class was starting. I thought that we were getting the take home in THAT class on Thursday too (I was wrong, it's tomorrow) My head was swimming with exhaustion and I wanted nothing so much as to lie the hell down and rest but I literally forced myself to get to my feet and stumble to class…nearly crying with frustration as I did so. In fact I actually DID tear the pocket off my shirt out of sheer anger at being forced to put up with more bullshit in a week that had already been chock full of the smelly sloppy stuff. The class was boring and uninformative and I felt uncomfortable because I hadn't found the time to shower. It sucked.

I'd like to say that my day mercifully ended there but I don't want to lie. I went home and TRIED to do some reading. Actually managed to work through one article, until Elenelle started messaging me about SOMETHING…I don't really remember at this point…and I talked to her because I am a king procrastinator and the articles I was assigned were less interesting than mold. I got to my discussion section on time though, after showering and steeling myself for what to come. Only I wasn't prepared. For some bizzare reason the TA decided to start with my articles even though there were several other students with questions and I had to fend off lots of questions from uninterested students and an IRRITATING non-english speaker for the next 45 minutes. I held up well for about half an hour but finally it was aparent that I wasn't with it. I probably could have managed even WITHOUT having done the reading had I not been working on 1.3 hours of napsleep in the past 40 or so hours…but even though I stated that was the problem the TA didn't care. She just stuck with my articles basically the whole time and then rushed through the rest of the material. I don't know why I was assigned 3 and I don't know why she did that but it sucked and was slightly humiliating as I staggered to respond to her barrages of questions. Nobody else gets screwed like that…even though the majority were not as coherent about stuff they HAD read.

After that class my day was…still not over. I had volunteered to make a speech at Philo and I went. When I got there they had someone else written in to give the speech but they didn't show so I gave mine anyway and it sucked because I hadn't slept for 40 hours, although I did get some laughs with a few preplanned gags (I forgot most of the stuff I had planned to say.) I finally staggered home and passed out around 11:30 PM.

Friday was something of a break. I had to go get my pants from the tailor and get Dolores some medicine from the pharmacist, but other than that I had nothing and basically dozed through.

Saturday was the wedding of my second cousin to some creepy Christian chick. For some bizzare reason I had decided to go to this weeks before so even though I was still tired I put on my suit-like-apparel and we left for Princeton New Jersey. My mother was late getting ready, as per usual, so the trip was rushed and horrible, compounded by the fact that the directions were apparently written by someone who wasn't so much interested in getting people where they were going as they were with sounding like THEY were intimatly connected with the neighborhood and community (Then go to the traffic light where Nicky Gianni punched Paul Johnson's lights out and take the road that leads past the spot where my friends and I used to play stickball on a daily basis). We made it to the church after the musical prelude written by the groom's prominent composer father and got there just in time to see a ceremony so chock full o' god that I had to spend most of it stifling a laugh. I mean I understand that church weddings (and this was in a BEAUTIFUL church) involve a good deal of god bullshit but this was really laying it on, lots of biblical readings and constant references to how God was going to make this wedding just swell and how he was in the room and willing to validate parking etc… Give it a rest Padre…it's not like they haven't already fornicated or like the groom wasn't the half Jewish first cousin twice removed of one of the most famous gangsters ever. There were also bagpipes which did wonders for my headache…and just to make things FULLY uncomfortable I found myself sitting with my dead grandfather's ex-girlfriend who I've avoided for years because of all the negative memories attached to how my grandfather went. She's a perfectly sweet woman but I really didn't need to see her just then. After the priest dude got done droning on and on about how wonderful Jesus was and how he could cure hemmorhoids and hammertoe through his heavenly HMO we all went to the Nasseau club for some incredibly awkward conversation, absolutely delicious h'ors'devours and alcohol (I didn't drink any of the last.) The food was as good as the conversation was bad and at least we were seated with Sylvia so there wasn't a complete lack of people I knew. I also got to hear a painfully bad wedding toast given by a guy who was either a total loser or significantly tipsy.

We got home pretty quickly since it wasn't raining frogs and worms on the way back like it was when we were heading down there (and for anyone who cares where Princeton is…just take the road 10 miles past Podunk towards the middle of fucking nowhere. If you get to Purdy's you've gone too far) Still the day was stressful and generally unpleasant…especially since it started up the "when you get married" crap which is always followed by the "I may only be 20 but I already know that I will never marry" debate which shouldn't even BE a debate since it's my fucking decision.


If all that weren't bad enough there are people staying in MY HOUSE for the fucking Barnard parents meeting and they have been here all weekend keeping me locked in my room. My mother doesn't know them but she apparently thinks that it's a good idea to let just anyone stay in the house as long as it inconveniences and irritates me.

Anyway I've left out a whole lot of minor irritants (such as the Giants losing, or my shoes being crushed) but suffice it to say it was a rather unpleasant week and I'm glad that it's over…only the next couple of weeks are likely going to be equally bad.

Oh well.

At this point I'm emotionally burnt out anyway and just living on force of habit so I don't suppose it much matters what happens to me from here on. Still it's quite amusing that the more I'm told to keep my chin up and the more I try the more the world treats my anus like a four car garage. For 18-wheelers.

When does the good stuff kick in again?

P.S. One thing I AM looking forward to is writing SCATHING teacher evaluations for most of my classes. I am fucking TIRED of teachers assigning books that they themselves don't like and expecting students to read them, or teachers not making course packs because they can't be bothered. I'm done with that crap. You're paid TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars to your damned jobs. Undergrads are not punching bags you assholes. I wonder how many times you can use the terms "morally bankrupt" and "abdication of duty" before they become boring. I'm guessing its a lot.
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