Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why does it take so long to read for class?

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Sorry for taking so long to write in. I've been soo tempted, but I'm tring to be good this semester, whatever that means, and study harder and longer. I love love love my classes. What a difference from last semester! The procedures classes--civil and criminal-- are perfectly fine, since they are directly concerned with rules of justice; constitutional law is interesting, and my statutory interpretation class is the best class EVER. The name alone says it all: Statutory Interpretation. Sigh. I'm home.

Our topic is Fair Housing. I know--what's not to love, right? But the best part is that the professor is an intellectual. She's a woman, too, which is great, but she has exactly the teaching style that any academic enjoys or would love to have. When I mention to other people in my class how much I heart her, they hesitate, and say, "I don't know . . ." When I press them, they say that she wanders off the topic, or says too much. They say they can't tell what information they're supposed to write down. That they think she is too abstract. What she does, in fact, is raise issues and answer questions by exploring every angle of any comment you make. She paces back and forth and thinks out loud. Think Judy Butler lecturing.

I know, right? Yummy. So when she asks what the factors might be that contribute to the ongoing existence of segregated neighborhoods even after courts refuse to enforce racist housing covenants, and I say something like, "Who wants to live in a hostile environment?" she proceeds to explain how some recent academic work on this topic has addressed the instrumentality of "vibes" and the way they contribute to moving in--or not moving in--to certain areas.

Great, right? This is an intelligent, engaged person who knows a lot and is telling us what she knows. But it's not pure information, and that is bugging a lot of people. Me, I feel like I'm finally back in my own country.

Which maybe gives you a window into how shitty last semester was for me.

So anyway, things are looking up, at least as far as engaging material. I also figured out that the biggest reason for my bad grades last semester is . . .drumroll . . . that I don't type.

I know--how lame is that? We can write or type our exams, so of course idiot me thinks typing is easier to read, so I should type. The problem is, I think I actually type slower than I write, since I am a two-finger typist (three, actually--two on my right hand and one on my left). My contracts exam was six single-spaced, frantically-typed pages. My friend who got an A let me read his exam, and it was . . .13. He claims that two of those were canned answers he had already, but we're still talking twice as much as I wrote.

Do I still think like a professor? I wanted to make it easier on them. Students, on the other hand, think, "Who am I going to be measured against? Who do I have to compete with? How can I show a tired, skeptical grader that I know stuff?"

So to hell with it. I'm a student, and I'm writing my exams from now on. I suspect written exams are graded against each other in a way that is far more favorable than my typed exams will ever be. I'm also going to talk to my teachers from last semester, and I'm going to buy one of those exam writing courses. But seriously, what if it comes down to typing? Ye gods.

So I'm in a coffee house the other night, trying to read for Constitutional law, and I realize for the first time how fidgety I am. I want to go on line. I want to text message GF on my phone. I want to bother the guy next to me. The bench is hard. Con law is dry. I'm bored. I want to go home and drink a beer and watch the Daily Show.

And I am a wicked, wicked procrastinator. Procrastinator. Capitalize it. The solitary vice of OUR times. But instead of the palsied figure of the trembling Masturbator, with his thinning hair and scoliosis, picture a gal with white ipod headphones trickling from her ears, a mouse in one hand, a cell phone in the other, a Neverwinter Nights disk whirring away in her laptop, her eyes shifting around the room. reading the same paragraph over and over from the book in front of her.

I know--I blog, yes? Any of us knows that blogging IS the prima facie evidence of a Procrastinating temperament. But this is somehow news to me. What image of myself have I been carrying around all this time? Mrs. Concentration? Scholarly Lady? The Duchess of Deep Thinking?

I saw myself, and it wasn't pretty. A frenetic shadow on the wall of the cafe booth, looking for a way out of work.

So I am reformed, though as you can see by this post, not so very reformed. I have caught myself, and I will try to stop the urge to disengage before the reading gets done.

Which brings me to my real reason for posting. MySpace. Who the hell invented this thing? I have for so long adamantly refused to join, not from snobbery--ok, actually, yes, from snobbery. But today GF posted me a scary antigay video--the pathetic guy singing "God Hates Fags"--and I watched it in horror on MySpace. Because he's SERIOUS. And he's so, so gay. And his organization is called God'sLove or something like that. And his horrifying song is only about hate. Then I found some people who were commenting on the video, including a cool guy from the UK who was making fun of him. And I wanted to send this cool guy a message, just to say, you know, how cool it is that he's a decent person. But in order to send a comment, I had to join MySpace.

So I joined MySpace. OMG.

MySpace is scaaary! Not only do you get sucked into a profile, but people want to be your friends! Right away! Why? because they are nice, for one. And often interesting, for two. But also? because they are on line, looking for something to distract them. Because they are bored. Because they know they should be doing something serious, but they really just want to party, even if it is only on line. Because they are, when you get right down to it, wicked, wicked Procrastinators.

And I am too.


Hilaire said...

I'm so glad you're loving it way more than last term. Fab. That professor also sounds fab. Oh, to be able to introduce those theoretical perspectives is so wonderful!

And your portrait of yourself as a procrastinator made me laugh out loud. That's me, too.

What Now? said...

Much to say here.

I love this image of procrastination as our current solitary vice! (Clearly a vice I too share, since here I am commenting on your blog at 9:30 a.m. instead of working.)

And yes, that video is horrible. D. showed it to me yesterday, and what I found especially disturbing is the way he was smiling cheerfully while he sang "if you're a fag, God hates you too." There are a lot of people who are convinced that this is clever parody (esp. because of the lyrics about "back door," "a man on his knees," and "Jesus is the only man for me"), but I don't think so; I think it's a clumsy attempt to be clever. When YouTube took it down, he put up a replacement video that says "God Hates Censorship" and directs people to his site, and that strikes me as the move of a missionary rather than satirist. But maybe I'm wrong. It's interesting to think about how one knows or doesn't know satire from "the real thing."

Finally, I'm so, so glad that you're liking your classes better this term! Maybe this is a fresh start, as it were, to law school.

lucyrain said...

I love the energy of this post! The hippity-hoppity pace, the asides that read like interjections, the expressed delight, and the rightful condemnation.

Just sayin'.

And ditto hilaire and what now?