Friday, September 10, 2004
Grad School: Good Idea? Not so much.
[I think this is going to work. The wireless on this bus is very slow. And “Alex and Emma” and “Chocolat”? Really? C’mon!]
In my life, I have made a goodly amount of bad decisions. For example:
Decision: Leaving the Lower East Side to move to the Upper East Side.
Result: Three months (so far) in a neighborhood devoid of any character or coolness, but with plenty of little dogs, disgustingly happy young couples, and old people.
Lesson: I am an asshole who is easily manipulated by shiny things, like his own bathroom, central air conditioning, and doormen in funny uniforms.
Decision: Not cheating on girlfriend when at Oktoberfest in Munich.
Result: Turned down opportunity to partake in easy, drunken European sex and despite this much to my surprise was dumped basically as I got off the plane, thus wasting a week of sexual debauchery with a slew of Polish, Czech, German, and Italian girls who had no idea what a terrible person and impotent man I actually am.
Lesson: Cheat whenever you have the chance, because you’re probably going to get dumped anyway.
Decision: Shaving chest in 2000.
Result: Having to shave chest every morning since, as chest hair grows one to one and a half inches every night in sleep.
Lesson: Do not shave what is not supposed to be shaved. Seriously. Don’t fuck with this.
I think now we can add another to the list: the decision to go back to school.
I wrote about grad school before, and at the time I was very happy. This is because when I went to the school to pay my bill, I saw that the campus (I use the term “campus” roughly, since it’s in the Upper East Side of Manhattan) was crawling with attractive female undergrads, many of whom seemed impressionable, or at least willing to show a little skin to a moderately-incomed and somewhat successful grad student/internet quasi-celebrity.
I maintained this positive attitude when I went into my first class, “Russia to the 20th Century.” Some of you old school readers know that I am obsessed with Russia, for no apparent reason other than the sexy, sexy accent. I never had taken a class in Russian history before, but since leaving college I’ve read a few books and figured I’d give this one a try.
The good news is that there are some attractive women in the class and the material is interesting.
The bad news is that the professor is about 160 years old and completely bat-shit.
I don’t mind old professors. In fact, I usually like them. I’ve always had a special affinity for that old school, “This is way I’ve been doing it for years, because it works damn it!” style of teaching.
But this guy – wow. He’s an old guy, with a very slow manner, speaking and moving very deliberately. He started the class by handing out the syllabus, which in the lower left corner was dated, “01/27/81”.
Professor Old made this syllabus when I was one and a half. And he’s still using it.
That’s fine, I thought to myself. Sure, it’s pretty funny, but hey – I’m not going to test his knowledge. And it’s ok that the three texts were using for the course each had their last print run in 1961, when my dad was in first grade. That’s ok too. After all, he’s not going to tell me which is the best synonym for beating off, so I’m not going to tell him what texts to use.
But as we got more into the class, well, hilarity ensued. He told us that he didn’t want any eating or drinking in the class, which is understandable. But he went on about this for fifteen minutes, explaining in his slow, monotonous manner that, “The building…like much of…New York City…is infested…with rodents” and “the carpet…is a repository…for dirt…and food particles…which attract vermin…which is why…we also have…a tremendous insect problem…in this building.”
Mmm…nothing like insects and vermin to get you all settled in and ready to learn! We students sat uncomfortably, shooting glances at each other, using our eyes to say, “What the fuck is this guy talking about?” Well, that’s what most were using their eyes to say; I was saying, “I want to take you in the pooper” with my eyes (and crotch).
The highlight came when he went up to the map to show us where Kiev was. That would have been fine, but one problem: he didn’t know where Kiev was. Well, at least not right away:
Professor Old: [standing in front of map] “The center of Kievan Rus was Kiev, which is located…[raising hand to point to Kiev, stumbling] Which is located…[hand still dangling in front of the map, he stops speaking for a good eight seconds, as the students’ eyes widen and a few start having a panic attack] Kiev is located…[hand is in front of map, searching for Kiev, finally finding it after a total of twenty seconds in front of the map] right here.”
[Class breathes a collective sigh of relief]
Then he spent the next two hours droning on: “The Verangeans…sailed from Scandinavia…in the north east…in the ninth century…” as the whole class quickly scribbled down every word.
But I’m going to keep the class, because at least the reading is enjoyable. There’s only a mid-term and a final in the class too. When I heard this, part of me was like, “Awesome! No papers!” Then another part of me was like, “I wonder what it would be like to blow a guy?” Then still another part of me was like, “Isn’t the point of graduate study to refine your researching and writing ability? How can we do so without a research assignment?”
I really shouldn’t complain. But it’s just my nature.
My second class is Intro to Legal History, or should I say, was Legal History. I wasn’t very interested in it, but I wanted to take two classes, and this was only one open.
(How did this post get so long? Jesus.)
This class, unlike the Russian one, had many adults in it. One of them was actually a lawyer. He/she didn’t make him/herself known, but I’m guessing it was the bitch who echoed every thing the professor said under her breath. It was very annoying…she quietly was finishing his sentences and answering the other students questions. It made me want to stab her in the fucking throat with my pen, but instead I thought about boobies and I calmed down.
Our first assignment was about two-hundred of pages of reading, which of course I waited until the night before to start. But as I was reading this terribly boring shit, I had an epiphany. I thought to myself, “What the hell am I doing? I am a grown man! I have a job, a nice apartment, and hours upon hours of the finest free pornography the internet has to offer downloaded on my computer! I don’t have to read this shit unless I want to!” And I didn’t.
So I dropped the class. I learned something very important at a very young age: “If at first you don’t succeed, stop wasting your fucking time, quit, and go do something else.”
The best part was that even though we only had one class, I only get half of my money back. Which is good, because it’s not like I could have used that $400 or anything. On Tuesday night I robbed my local Taco Bell at gun-point for $88, which I spent at the very same store two hours later on the mother of all Taco Bell orders, yet my school just extorted me out of $400. Sweet.
Decision: Going to grad school.
Result: Significant loss of money, limited intellectual stimulation, having to do “school work” for the first time since, well, ever.
Lesson: I really need a fucking hobby. Really badly.
[Have a good weekend.]