Tag Archives: academia

an offer

An open letter and an offer to the last six audience rows attending last night’s Wagner concert, and to all enrolled in Music Appreciation/Live classes that may find this applicable.

Dear last six rows:

If I had the money, I’d wager $500 that you were required to be at that concert. I had you pegged the moment I approached the box office. You were a fairly large group. I could tell you weren’t used to this, because it was obvious you had been told what to wear: “Dress nice. Men, button-down and khakis, tie isn’t necessary. Ladies, a blouse and slacks, or a dress. You know, nice.” So every single one of you men, without fail, wore a button-down shirt, no tie, khakis, and loafers without socks. Ladies, God bless you, some of you need to learn what “dress nice” means. Generally speaking, it means I shouldn’t be afraid to look at you for fear of seeing something only intended for your boyfriend or your doctor. Also, if you’re going to wear 5″ heels with a 1″ platform, learn to walk in them. (But I digress).

You all sat together, as far back as possible. You would communicate as friends and comrades, but your eyes carried an undercurrent of “please be my lifeline and tell me we’re in this together because this is really uncomfortable for me.” You’re in an unusual situation, unsure of the unspoken rules of conduct and etiquette, socially out of your depth and wondering why the hell you had to dress up for this. And seriously, it was 8pm on a Saturday! Every single one of you would rather have been drinking some beverages and trying to get laid. This is cutting into your fun time. You didn’t want to be there.

And you know what, I can’t blame you. Classical music, especially Wagner, isn’t for everyone. And this particular program wanted you to think – combine the implied meanings in the music (which is pretty dang difficult if you don’t even know the plots of the operas) with the implied meanings of the film (which was maybe a biopic of Wagner? I’m honestly not sure) and find a third meaning through the combination of them. Even I gave up on that. If I didn’t have the necessary background knowledge, why should you?

So I don’t blame you. However, I’d like to make a deal with you: you can do whatever you want to amuse yourselves while the concert is going on. You can sleep. You can text. You can check Sports Center. You can play Candy Crush. You can do work on your laptop. Whatever you want while you put in your time. In return: shut the hell up.

(Side note: I did notice that the only time you guys were paying attention – and you were dead silent, at that – was when the orchestra was silent. Maybe you thought you’d get caught, or you were missing something important.)

I’m not one of these people who demands absolute silence. I’m not bothered by the intermittent cough or candy wrapper, or even an appropriate comment to a friend. However, I shouldn’t be able to hear you chatting half a hall away. Some of us did actually want to be there, and your chatting and giggling is as annoying as the construction outside your window at 6am.

Seriously. I can’t make you pay attention, and I don’t want to. You signed up for an easy credit and now what the hell is this. Fine! Amuse yourself somehow while you put in your required time. Just don’t force me into it. I actually wanted to be there.

(Congrats to the orchestra on a great performance.)

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academic integrity

I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but at least I’m honest. Observe:

Thursday night I was finishing up a (minimum) 25-page paper. It was an expansion of an earlier 12-pager, so the groundwork was already laid. I had all my new information and an outline for easy integration. I was set. So wouldn’t you know, I ran out of material at 19 pages. I was stuck. And getting pissed.

So, I walked away. I did the dishes. And while I was scrubbing, I came up with a few ways to incorporate some less relevant information. (Side note: I hate having to make irrelevant things relevant. They’re not.) I was padding out my history/context sections, my cultural relevance section, my continuing legacy section. Not exactly the focus of the paper, but I could make it work.

Got back from washing the dishes, thinking, if I can get another 3 pages out of this, I’ll be okay. That’ll only bring me up to 22, and that’s with footnotes, but whatever, I’m pretty over this.

Resigned to take a B on the paper, I did one last quick search for any sources I might be able to use, and wouldn’t you know, I found an entire dissertation on my topic that somehow I had missed before. Which, hallelujah, focused on marketing strategy, the section of my paper which was most sparse. I WAS SAVED.

So I mined that dissertation for all it was worth… and got to the bottom of the 24th page. So close. It was about 3:30am, and I started coming up with ways to add just one more page, when I said, screw it. I’m going to bed. I’ve got all of tomorrow, I’ll come up with another page before I edit.

I woke up in the morning with a pretty good plan for adding just one more page, but decided to just do some layout cleanup before I tackled that. You know, making sure fonts/font sizes were all the same, margins consistent, that. So, as I’m reconciling the fonts in a copy/paste block of text, I see the fonts changing as I mouse over them to get to Garamond. And a little light goes off in my head: they’re all 12pt, but they’re changing sizes. Some of them must take up more space. So just for the hell of it, I switched the paper to Cambria… and gained five pages. Solid 29-pager. The end.

Here’s the thing, though. I grew up with the advent of the word processor. My generation was the one who figured out all the tricks to making text seem like more than it is – font sizes, margins, +1 font size for punctuation. Changing the font should have been my first move. It never occurred to me that Garamond was holding me back.

I’m unsure whether this makes me uprightly honest or just kind of dumb.

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