Written from a Humanities Classroom

I am currently perched atop a desk on the second floor of the Humanities building.  A whiteboard, scrawled with my notes, is behind me, shining with promise.  I swing my legs and peer out the window to my right.  Immediately across the way is the Student Center.  I see Isaac working his Higbies shift (it has to be him; no one else is that tall), I see unwatched TVs broadcasting TLC and football, I see scattered students unwrapping their packed dinners atop Turtle Mountain Cafe tables (they don’t bother to close their laptops while they eat).

And I’m in here, and my gentleman caller (is this getting ridiculous?  I still think it’s funny, but you tell me) is in the next room.  I had to leave because sometimes I need to sit atop the teacher’s desk and talk myself to a thesis, as if I were teaching a class:

“Now, you may think that Fortune is a simple entity, but actually, she’s a dichotomy, as evidenced in Greek and Roman texts…”

I worked my Writing Room shift from 3-5, and I was reluctant to go, as I often am on Sundays when schoolwork has piled up and I know that it will be a late night.  As always, however, I had more fun helping students to brainstorm theses and gather evidence and arrange outlines than I have at any other time during the week.  Sometimes I think that I should be a teacher after all; I derive such great joy from helping other people learn and improve.

Anyway, I walked out of the Writing Room, having crafted three theses for peers, and feeling confident that I could now craft my own.

And I did.  I’m currently sitting on a decently solid thesis, and a ten-paragraph outline.  I’m sitting on it because my goodness what a jump there is from outline to paper, from planning to executing.  I’d like to bask in the complete before I move on to the daunting.  At least for a while.  At least until Isaac finishes making one drink, until the girl in TMC finishes her slice of reheated pizza, until I finish my own meagre dinner of apple and Kashi crackers.

It has been a lovely weekend (I think as I bask and creep): The G.C. (is it too, too weird to abbreviate?  You tell me) and I finished watching season two of Game of Thrones.  I think we both just about sobbed at the end, not only because it’s a dramatic finish, but because what will we live for until Spring, when season three premieres? What is our relationship without weekend Game of Thrones watching to ground it?  Winter is coming, my friends, and I suppose we’d best start preparing for it (major GOT reference, don’t worry if you’re confused).

As I mentioned in my last post, Friday night was also the Anne Panning reading on campus.  What I didn’t mention was that Butter sounds just like Minnesota, and that even though I didn’t get home until 2 a.m. on Friday night/Saturday morning, I stayed awake for another hour blazing through 86 pages of that wonderful book.  It’s written from the perspective of pre-teen Iris, so the true intrigue stems from the fact that she can’t figure out what’s going on with the grown-ups, and by extension, neither can we.

Last night, G.C. (maybe I’ll just ask him if I can use his name in here.  Or make up a fake name.  That might be more fun) and I went to see UMM’s production of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.  The play dealt with the murder of Laramie, Wyoming resident Matthew Shepard (a hate crime; Matthew was targeted for being gay), and its effects on the town of Laramie and its citizens.  It was fascinating and inspiring and relevant, but mostly very sad.

After Laramie I attended a birthday party.  Theme?  Drunk authors: guests were asked to dress as their favorite alcoholic writers.  We had a Hunter S. Thompson, two Oscar Wildes, a Bob Dylan, a Sylvia Plath, a Virginia Woolf and Leonard Woolf, a Stephanie Meyer (pretty sure that one was a joke), and a Truman Capote.  I don’t think I need to tell you who I dressed as.  Hint:

And now, I plan to stop procrastinating and to start drafting the darn paper.  At least until 8, when our entire Woolf Lit. class will pile into our professor’s living room to watch the movie version of Orlando.  He’s buying us pizza and cutting up veggies and letting us sprawl on his living room rug and enjoy the hominess that just cannot exist in a college house.  Only at UMM, I tell you.

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Distinguished Alumni

Good evening, everyone. I write to you from the pit of despair that is sitting behind a desk on a Friday night.  It’s not the job, really; it’s the fact that I’ve had a startlingly efficient day, and while that was fine and good while it lasted, I’m at the point where I want to leave campus.  I’ve been here since 9 a.m., and I’m officially ready to ship out.  Ship out to a shrimp and white wine birthday party, that is.  My, but college parties are classy these days.  I’m dressing up and everything.

The distinguished alumni banquet is going on across the hall.  I hear clapping, the clink of the fine silverware that the students don’t get to use, and occasionally, the door will open and a mother, dressed to the nines, will walk out, tugging her cranky child behind her.  They walk around the Student Center, mother pointing to a painting, or a room: “I used to study in there all the time.”  “My friend Tony-wonder where he is now?-broke his wrist trying to scale that wall with a bottle of wine and three packs of Twinkies.”

There was an awkward moment a few minutes ago, when two gentlemen came up to the desk.  “Is KUMM still in the basement?” they asked.  And then, after noticing the fancy to-do in Oyate: “What’s going on in there?”

“It’s an alumni banquet,” I said, purposefully leaving off the ‘distinguished.’

“What kind of alumni?”

Darn.  “Um, distinguished alumni, I think it is.”

They looked at each other and laughed.  “No wonder we weren’t invited!”

Generally, I like having all of these alumni around.  It’s Homecoming this week, so naturally they’ve come in droves, driving minivans plastered with UMM stickers, or shiny sports cars that betray nothing but their present success.

I like to watch them walk the campus, exclaiming about one thing or another, and envying (so I imagine) the students, for whom college isn’t over yet.  It’s a little strange, the divide between us and them.  We all went to UMM, we all adore it, but the generational gap still stands.  They protested the Vietnam War, brought their dates back to the dorms before curfew.  We fight against the Marriage Amendment, play Quidditch on the Mall, check Facebook fifty times a day.  Now, they have to ask us where the bathrooms are, have to follow campus maps and tour guides as if they were incoming freshmen again.

It’s funny to think that in a year, I’ll be among them.

Making Friends at Work

Things That Happened Today:

1.  I got The Birthday Package From Home in the mail.  I retrieved it at noon or so, and because it’s now 11:53 pm and I’m still on campus, it’s safe to say that I’ve been carrying a box roughly the size of a microwave around for twelve hours.  Mom, Dad: I hope you didn’t get me a puppy, because there’s a good chance that he didn’t make it.

2.  I helped a freshman (oh the glorious first few months of classes when it’s cake to spot them in a crowd) unlock her mailbox.  She was almost crying at the Post Office, and I can remember only too well when a letter from home was enough to open the floodgates for the rest of the day.  I thought she might hug me when I finally clicked the lock and wrenched the tiny door open, but instead she shuffled her mail into her eighteen-year-old arms and skipped away.

3.  I worked a Higbies shift during which I a) made a berry white mocha cooler for the first time b) took about ten minutes to make said cooler, as I had never made one before c) finally blended and whipped and drizzled said cooler into perfection, and d) proceeded to drop the entire thing on the floor, where it burst rather spectacularly, drenching my legs and feet in a wave of pink froth.  The orderer, who looked like she wanted to burst out laughing, said no when I told her I’d make her a new one.  “I’ll have a white chocolate cooler instead,” she said.  I emptied the sugary juice from my shoes before making her the drink.

Copy Editing

Last night, although it held on until 2 this morning, was glorious.  There’s so much more to copy editing than quiet and the flick of thumb or pen against paper, even more than the good-natured debate about the merits of the Oxford Comma.

Copy editing, at least in the context of the University Register, of the University of Minnesota, Morris, means piles of musty papers leaning against one another in all corners of the office.  It means the smell of stale popcorn and the occasional crunch of the occasional SweeTart underfoot (leftover from the Activities Fair).  Copy editing means an office like a sauna; it means the main office and the smaller one take the fan in shifts, grudgingly lugging it back after two hours have passed.  It means ordering a pizza at 10 pm because we’re hungry and because all of E-Quality’s extra pizza was eaten before we knew it had been offered.  It means trooping to Higbies for coffee, for smoothies, for fresh air.  It means barely stifling moans of anguish at the appearance of another NASCAR article.  It means AP is God.  It means the combination of people’s surnames, scrawled across a whiteboard to uproarious delight.  It means actually finding an earring that, lacking a back, slipped onto the floor of the Student Center without my knowledge.

Eventually, perhaps, if you care to wait up until the tired paperboy walks the campus, depositing a pile of newspapers at every building, copy editing means a publication we can all read without cringing.

Excuses, Excuses

I’ve been failing with this project lately, and I want to let you know that I am very aware of it.

I’m busy, yes, incredibly so, but I was busy last spring running a campaign, and I managed to post then.

I’ve been having trouble thinking of things to post about, yes, but isn’t that the entire point of this blog?  That by writing even when I have nothing to say I will be forcing myself to move away from the idea of writing as glorious inspiration, and toward the idea of writing as mostly hard work, with spurts of glorious inspiration?

So here’s what I’ve been busying myself with when not blogging:

1. Learning to diagram sentences for my Grammar and Language class.  I always suspected that I’d enjoy this class, and thus far I’ve been happily right.  Learning the finer points of grammar is like math for people like me who are miserable at math.  Grammar has the structure, the right-or-wrong answer, the tidiness, the rules that math does, but without the general headache that seems to stem from crowding numbers together into an equation.  Additionally, as we talked about last week in class, much of grammar (unlike much of math) is instinctive.  We’ve all been using it since we were two.  We know what’s up.  Sure, some of the official names for things (predicate, adverbial, etc.) are unfamiliar, but the arrangement of sentences is innate.

2.  Gathering copy editing minions to do my bidding.  The first edition of the year of the UMM school newspaper (The University Register) comes out Thursday.  As I have been voted Head Copy Editor, tonight I will be huddled in the copy editing dungeon from 8 pm to 2 am using my red pen all over submitted articles.  So far, I have about 30 people willing to join me in this task, which is quite encouraging.

3.  MCSA.  Always and forever.  Besides my secretarial position, I’m currently in charge of planning the Fall Retreat, am serving on the election commission, chair the Student Services committee, and am the head student representative on the larger Student Affairs Committee.  Luckily, I’m passionate about this stuff.

4.  Work: Higbies (coffee counter on campus), Social Science Division Office, library Writing Room.

5.  Socializing.  Of course.  I mean, I haven’t seen most of these people all summer.  Plus, it’s senior year; I plan to leave UMM with as many friends as possible.

6.  Sleep.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes I sit in class and daydream about it.

7.  My birthday is next Saturday!  While I’m trying desperately not to think of the implications of turning twenty-two (aka being old, not having any more significant birthdays until thirty, etc.), I am planning a birthday party for myself.  I don’t think I’ve had a “friends” birthday party since I turned eight.  I remember that party fondly, although I’m thinking my twenty-second won’t feature a scavenger hunt with Lip Smackers for prizes.