Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Well... there's that, then.

I finished my thesis at 3 AM this morning, but still hadn't found a title for it. By the time I finished reformatting my footnotes I was a zombie, and summing up a year's worth of work in ten words or less was beyond my intellectual capability. So that went on a short list of things to do in the morning. I went home and collapsed.

Five hours later I awoke to the scritch scritch scritch of a rodent doing rodenty things inside the wall next to my bed. I wanted to sleep for another couple of hours, but once my mind seizes on the practical details of the day to come, any attempt to go back to sleep is futile. My first thought upon waking was, "I have to turn in my Plan today."

Once I was up and showered and dressed, I went to the campus computer lab to reprint my final draft. I couldn't resist fiddling with a few last formatting details, changing a few words, deleting a comma, replacing it, then deleting it again. This is what you're reduced to after a year of writing. Finding a title was the very last thing I did. In the end, I settled on a last-minute entry, "A Subversive Art: The New Potential of American Film Culture." Pretty wanky, eh? I took the final product into town, had a few copies made, mailed one to my outside examiner, deposited the rest in my professors' boxes on campus, and now I'm back home, my academic obligation fulfilled.

Yep. All done now.

A year's worth of work, ten years worth of experience -- all tied together in 112 pages of text.

My room's a mess, my life's a mess, I'm a mess; but this one thing, at least, is finished and whole.


I think I'm going to go take a nap now.

PS: Reflecting further on this sheaf of paper on my desk, I recall a traumatic event from my secondary education. In the eighth grade, I had the misfortune of winding up in Mrs. McBroom's honors English class. Everybody in the school seemed to love Mrs. McBroom, but I could tell from the moment I stepped into her classroom that she was, in truth, a hideous fucking witch. I have to point out here that I was always an excellent English student and often a favorite among my teachers, but Mrs. McBroom obviously had it in for me. The rules of engagement were laid out when she made me get up and read aloud in front of the class the afternoon after I got my new retainer -- I could barely stop drooling, much less speak intelligibly. But she made me stand there, garbling my way through the text, too shy to take the damn thing out and humiliated beyond all reason.

Our big school project that semester was a fifteen-page research paper. Mrs. McBroom had some very specific ideas about how she wanted the paper to be done -- index cards, multiple outlines, that incredibly pedantic subject-supporting sentence-conclusion paragraph structure they teach you in school, the whole bit. Even at thirteen I knew my mind didn't work that way, and I knew fifteen pages would be a breeze, so I did things my own way. She nagged me for weeks, but I insisted that everything was fine... and everything was. I turned in my paper along with everyone else. It was a perfectly good paper, on the Dallas Horticultural Society. So I hadn't used the index cards, so I hadn't used the outlines -- so what? A good paper's a good paper, and there's more than one way to get there. But what did Mrs. McBroom do?

She flunked me.

The bitch flunked me! ME! The best English student in three counties! And she didn't just flunk me for that paper, but for the whole class. Not because the paper wasn't good, but because I didn't use her index cards, didn't use her outlines, and wrote my paragraphs in normal English and not stick-up-my-ass 8th-grade research paper English.

Anyway, now I'm sitting here with my 112 pages of well-researched, well-written thesis -- the production of which, not coincidentally, didn't involve the use of a single index card nor even one formal outline. And a quiet little thought, a humble suggestion for old Mrs. McBroom, bubbles up to the surface:

Suck it, bitch.
2:51 PM ::
Amy :: permalink