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On Seemingly Unresourceful Kids Who Ask You for Answers to the Homework via Your Facebook Wall (and food)

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Background information: You are a college sophomore and there is a grad student in one of your classes. You are on good terms with the grad student, whom you met in another class last semester. You have previously asked said grad student for answers to various homework assignments via his/her Facebook wall, and were told that not only it wasn’t wise to ask this type of question on Facebook, but you’re also never going to get an answer to your questions.

Situation: You have a homework assignment due Monday, and you can’t find the answer to one of the questions (“What does [foreign language phrase] mean?”). Do you:

a) try to translate it yourself to see where it takes you?
b) plug the sentence into some online translator to see where it takes you?
c) search online forums and the web in general to see what you find?
d) go to your grad student classmate’s Facebook profile and write on his/her wall, asking for the answer?

I don’t know what to do with this kid. I’m not sure how many times I have to write him back telling him that I’m not going to give him the answer, and I honestly don’t understand why he thinks that I would even consider helping him. This isn’t me playing the grad student who thinks she’s better than undergrads here; the professor made it clear, both in class and on the syllabus, that this was meant to be individual work. Schools don’t fuck around with academic integrity. I don’t fuck around with academic integrity. And I don’t care that it’s not like cheating on an exam; I don’t care that asking for the answer to a homework assignment is seemingly harmless. The point is that rules are rules, and this is an assignment that we have to hand in. Furthermore, I am a grad student after all, which means that we are NOT on the same level academically. I’m enrolled in a one-year program with which I am less than happy; you think I’m gonna risk my ass to help you with one little question? You must be outside your mind.

Okay, never mind that he was stupid enough to ask me AGAIN on my Facebook wall, AGAIN. Does he think, does he really think that I am stupid?

His message says that he looked up the phrase online and found nothing, which I had trouble believing because it’s a very common French phrase and, chances are, the translation is everywhere to be found. Open a dictionary. Go to wordreference[dot]com. I’m sure you’re not the first one to wonder what the fuck that phrase means.

So, since I didn’t believe that the answer was nowhere to be found online, I went to WR and searched for it. Two words. Didn’t even use quotation marks. Guess what I found.

Precisely ONE thread about what that exact phrase meant. Guess who started the thread.

Him. Nothing told me explicitly that it was he who asked the question, but the poster’s handle happens to be his name in French (coincidence? keep reading). I logged on so I could see said poster’s history, just to take a look at the threads that he started. Interestingly, one of the threads pertained to an expression that showed up on one of our assignments last semester — and guess when that thread was posted? GASP!!!!! LAST SEMESTER!!!!!!!!!!!

And guess what else I just found? Another thread about something else pertaining to this homework assignment! Started a few days ago!

Ok y’all, that’s just too much. There’s no way this is all coincidental. And it’s not like he started that thread because I didn’t give him the answer — no no no. The thread was started last night, someone provided him with the answer last night, and he wrote on my wall about two hours ago.

My conclusion: he asked me because he wants to confirm the answer he got on the forum.

Ain’t gonna happen. And I hate it when people beat around the fucking bush. It’s always, “Hey, how are you? How’s your weekend? OHBYTHEWAYIWANTTHEANSWERTOTHISQUESTION kthxbye.”

?? Don’t be an asshole.

Action to be taken on my part: None, except write about it. I won’t bother tagging his wall and telling him again that I won’t give him the answer blah blah blah. I’m sure he’ll get the point if he doesn’t hear from me, and, if not, he’ll just ask me why I didn’t answer when he sees me on Monday. And then I’ll tell him.

Or maybe I’ll just look at him and ask, “Are you fucking serious?”

Moving on.

I’m happy to announce that my mom is doing just fine. I headed back to Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon to go to the hospital with her on Friday morning. The additional tests that the doctor wanted to perform were another mammogram and an ultrasound. Everything is fine, it was just a scare (and a waste of our time). But a stitch in time saves nine, right? All things considered, it was a good weekend. It was nice to be home and spend time with her, without having work bugging me the entire time (I had cancelled my DSL in Philly and so didn’t take my laptop with me).

The ride from DC to Philly was pretty smooth; the bus left Chinatown around 4:15pm, and, since it was a Thursday, it wasn’t crowded. I managed to hit Union Station after class to pick up some Neuhaus chocolate. Luckily there was a sale, so getting three boxes didn’t ruin me (one for my mom, one for our neighbor Bev, and one for my aunt and uncle).

On my way down to the Metro, I picked up a generous sample of shea butter hand cream, which made my hands quite slippery for a while.

I played Squirrel Mike‘s City of Strangers during the entire ride home.

I watched the sun set and the cotton candy clouds go by. Violet sky. There really isn’t much in this world that can rival the sky — an ever-changing scene, a classic beauty. Calm, serene, light, jolly, dark, lonesome, stormy… Universal, infinite. I love it. When the sun is a glowing orange candy and all you want to do is taste it…

My lotioned hands smelled like cookies. I fell asleep, probably at the same time as the sun, and woke up a bit disoriented.

Kind of like today. It took me a while to remember that today was Saturday. I meant to step outside for just a moment, to breathe some non-apartment air, but it didn’t happen. Instead, I sat here all day doing homework and workwork. At least there’s still food in the fridge.

When I came back from Philly, I saw that the chocolate capuccino spread had been replaced by a jar of crunchy hazelnut chocolate spread. Sounds even tastier than just hazelnut chocolate spread, doesn’t it? Well, it tastes just like a Ferrero Rocher (which used to be called “Ferrero Roche d’Or” in France, by the way).  As of my departure on Thursday the 19th, I had consumed about half of the chocolate capuccino spread, which I bought a mere three days earlier. I’m not sure what happened to it, but I’m glad Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate Spread is here.

On a semi-related note, I bought bananas on Tuesday night — they were being brought out of boxes, nice and green. Today they’re green and yellow, but definitely ripe — too ripe for my taste, actually. I wonder why they’re still green.

Tastes change. I never thought much of tofu until a few months ago, and now I’m crazy about it. Despite what many people say, tofu does have a taste — and don’t ask me what it tastes like, because I’m just gonna tell you that it tastes like tofu. I love the way it absorbs whatever flavor is around it. And it’s so versatile.

I like making a beet-corn-mushroom-tofu salad. Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, some salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar.

Tonight I made angel hair pasta with garlic and basil tomato sauce, sliced mushrooms, and diced tofu. Mmmm…

I noticed that if I eat a lot for dinner, I get really, REALLY painfully hungry the next day. I wonder why.

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On Not Having a Valentine (and not looking “like a grad student,” apparently)

February 14, 2009 2 comments

Tonight, my phone conversation with my mom went something like this:

Mom: So you’re just working tonight? That’s what happens when you have no Valentine on Valentine’s Day.
Me: Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.
Mom: Ah, yes. Well you still don’t have one.

Isn’t she sweet. It’s funny, because “Valentine” in Chinese translates to “lover”. I was just following a thread on Yelp about casual dating and read some pretty interesting posts. I never used to think that dating around was okay; I thought it was so typically American — which, to me, always meant “bullshit”.

Dating around? Really? How A.D.D. are you?

Now that I think back on it (it’s been years since I first decided that it wasn’t an ok-thing to do), I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it. But maybe I should explain my previous point of view: I always thought that people who dated around were only playing a game (the dating game? “back in the game”?) and had no real interest in being committed (by that I mean an exclusive relationship — not “love and marriage”). I used to say that I would never be okay if the guy I was “going out with” was seeing other people, because, well, *I* wouldn’t do that.

When faced with a problem, there usually are more than one way to approach it, right? Do you try all of them at the same time? No, you don’t; you try one, you chuck it if it doesn’t work, and you move on to the next one.

But what the fuck do *I* know? You can’t actually use that model for dating. People come and people go; you can’t acquire several potentially datable (also: dateable) people, and try one out while you shelve the rest. Who’s gonna wait for you to come around? That’s the main “danger” of serial dating (as opposed to multi-dating), I guess: if you date exclusively (but not “seriously”) and it doesn’t work out, it might take a while to find your next date. Sure, freedom is nice, you get to have some single fun, spend some “you” time. And then? How long is that gonna last? How long until you get tired of being free, having single fun, and spending time ALONE?

I’m not saying everyone should go out and collect phone numbers from everything that moves (and has a phone), but if presented with the option to date several different people at one (not literally “at the same time,” people) you should do it. It’s all about maximizing your chances and using time efficiently.

I could talk about dating for hours; what to do, what not to do, blah blah blah… it’s too bad I don’t have anyone on whom to test my theories.

The other thing I’d like to discuss tonight, before I retire myself, is some nonsense I heard about “looking” like a grad student.

Well, “heard”; I had lunch with a very nice sophomore today and she told me that I didn’t “look like a grad student”. Then we took the Metro, going in opposite directions, and I was left wondering what the fuck she meant by that.

That was at 4pm, it’s now 2am — officially the next fucking day — and I’m still wondering. Any ideas?

What she could have meant was that I don’t “act” like a grad student. From my observations of other grad students who have been and currently are in my classes, I can deduce it to mean one of two things — or maybe both: that I am not silent in class, or that I talk and socialize with undergrads. Now, let’s be honest: most grad students probably don’t think much of undergrads, much like undergrads don’t think much of high school kids, and so on and so forth. With that in mind, being “stuck” in a class with 95-99% undergrads is probably not the ideal situation. And so, since undergrads aren’t technically our peers, we see no reason for befriending them. Or talking to them. Or you know, looking at them. I mean, some grad students are TAs, they have shit to do, places to go, people (who are more important than undergrads) to see, etc.

Newsflash: so do undergrads.

I don’t get the whole I’m a grad student attitude. I see it all the time, but I don’t get it. It’s oh-so-serious and important. But, o, venerable grad student: you KNOW damn well that when you’re with your friends you act like a silly little freshman does with his or hers.

This just in: your shit doesn’t smell any better than theirs.

You should see me in class; I’m a fucking ray of fucking sunshine. The undergrads love me — those who aren’t intimidated by my being a grad student, that is.

But what I think she meant was that I don’t look my age — I literally don’t look like a grad student. Some would agree, some wouldn’t. But honestly? I’m 24; there isn’t much of a difference between someone who’s 21-22 — e.g., a senior in college — and someone who’s 24. Maybe it’s my clothes? Am I supposed to change my wardrobe suddenly? Wear dress pants and blouses instead of jeans and t-shirts? Maybe a pair of heels would do it? Some lipstick? Bullfuckingshit. That’s just like the attitude thing and the whole taking-yourself-too-seriously act.

I’m only talking about clothes here because I refuse to think that people could ever come to the conclusion that a particular individual could not be a grad student — no way! — because their FACE looks young. Or because they’re short. Or because their face looks young AND they’re short.

Ahhhhh, but what do they know? They’re undergrads.

Categories: people, Personal Tags: , ,

Disjointed

December 17, 2008 1 comment

That’s how I feel and that’s how I write. Hopefully by the end of this post everything will kinda sorta fall together.

Finals week has come and gone, and I can’t say I’m displeased with how it played out. What I am extremely…annoyed at, however, is the fact that one of my teachers (I refuse to call them “professors”) is completely unprofessional in her way of handling an issue that is her fault.

See, at the beginning of the semester, she sent me an email telling me that, since I was a grad student (and I’m using that term very loosely), I had to do more work; namely, I had to show a movie in class (in her absence, which universally equates to substituting and/or TAing, two tasks for which people usually get paid  — I should add that she expressed her wish for me to “return it to [her], please,” as if I would pocket her goddamn DVD and run away to flippin’ Alaska) and produce a handout for the students, and both of my papers had to be six pages in length rather than four to five.

Fair enough. I showed up at her office one day to get the DVD she wanted me to show, and we go over the email that she sent me. Suddenly realizing that I, as a participant in my program, had to hand in an extra assignment, she changed her mind and told me to stick to just four to five pages for the papers. Of course I’m happy about that, considering that there is nothing I hate more than writing papers about a subject that I hate for a class that I hate and deem useless.

Lo and fucking behold, I get my first paper back with a comment saying, among other things, that it is too short; yet I had written five pages. I let it go, thinking that maybe she meant I should have kept writing to further develop my ideas. My second paper was due the day after Thanksgiving break (thanks a fucking lot), i.e., four days before the end of all classes for the semester. I got the paper back after the final exam, and I looked at it on my way out, after the teacher had disappeared: four and half pages, too short. She explained herself further down: I had to write six pages.

I was fuming. I hurried home to shoot her an email saying, “You said that blah blah blah,” and she almost immediately replied, “No, not at all, blah blah blah either you’re a liar or I’m senile, blah blah blah. I wrote back, “Actually, I think you’re senile, blah blah blah.”

She never replied. Or hasn’t yet replied. I’m hoping it’s the latter, but I honestly think she will never reply, even though it is a pressing matter, even though I am right and she is senile (or at least she’s on her way there), and even though ignoring a student’s email inquiry is completely rude and unprofessional. My advisor claims it’s “generational” and that people of his generation aren’t glued to their computers checking their email like the folks of the younger generation — which, I should say, is utter bullshit. First of all, as teachers, it is their RESPONSIBILITY to be available via email and respond in a timely manner.

Dear teachers, instructors, professors:

Since you are so clearly aware of how dependent on computers and electronic services your students are, you owe it to them to make an effort and get acquainted with computers, the Internet, and the services it offers. Just like you would never tolerate a sluggish — or total lack of — response on our part, we should not have to put up with your technological disinclination. It is a two-way street, and this is an essential part of a good student-teacher rapport. If you fail to understand this concept, perhaps it would be in everyone’s interest if you ceased to give your students your email addresses.

Cordially,
Students who find it unfair that you get to blame mishaps for which you are responsible on technology

Anyway.

I came back to Philadelphia on Saturday morning via Amtrak. Haven’t done much since then, really, other than buy groceries, start a scarf [knitting], and go back to the good old LDC. Holy shit, that place is as dead as ever! They’ve finally fixed up our floor, though, after months of having random elevator parts stocked in our halls. I have to say that the new carpet is UGLY, though. Gives me a headache.

I haven’t had a decent winter break since high school… winter 2000, maybe? One day I’d like to know what it’s like to not have anything to do AT ALL during vacation time.  In the meantime, I’m helping out with some LDC projects, working for my translation gig from my laptop whenever and wherever possible (just turned in my weekly assignment and I have a batch of shtuff to finish by the end of this month), and trying to finish the extra assignment that I mentioned further up (for that god-forsaken class).

I’m tired. My eyes are tired, my brain is tired, my body is tired. Even my laptop is tired; the battery has suffered “irreparable damage” (at least that’s what the computer is telling me) so I have to replace the battery (just ordered it this afternoon). In the meantime, it’s being constantly plugged in. Poor baby. I think the fan’s in poor shape, too.

I should go to sleep now. It’s a quarter to midnight and I have to be up early tomorrow. For work, ya know.

It just got dimmer in here…

November 12, 2008 Leave a comment

My brain’s completely unable to focus on “important” tasks like school work and work-work. There’s a paper due tomorrow for those who want to write it, and I had all the intention of doing it today — but I didn’t. I wrote a paragraph or so on Tuesday, and thought I’d finish it off today. But I can’t. For starters, the topics suck. The book that this paper’s based on is a good piece of work, but it doesn’t strike me as phenomenal or particularly insightful, so I don’t have the mind to make up a topic for the paper. Also, I’m sick to death of this goddamn class.

So instead of writing that paper, I sat here all day trying to complete my translation assignment for my job; but I’m not done yet. It’s taking me an extra long time because everything is a distraction. My mind wanders off way too easily. There’s nothing in the living room but I still feel the need to walk over to that unfurnished area and stand there for a bit. I’m wondering if I should get tested for some kind of attention-deficit disorder, but I don’t think that’s it. I’ve been sleeping horribly this past week and I feel like half of my brain has been shut off.

I know that I should write this paper. We are given the opportunity to write two out of three papers over the course of the semester, but if we write all three, the lowest grade gets dropped. I wrote the first one, which was due on the same day as my presentation (yes, for the same class). This one is due tomorrow, and the last one is due December 1 — the very first day immediately after Thanksgiving break. I thought that if I did well enough on this one, I wouldn’t have to write the last one. Or, that I would write all three and have the lowest grade dropped. It’s too bad my mind’s not up for it.

It’s hard to conjure up concentration and motivation for a class that you never wanted to take in the first place. It’s not only that I didn’t want to take it; it’s that I got STUCK taking it because this program sucks (for lack of a better word) and the course offerings are limited to 3 or 4 each semester. One is translation, and the others are all literature-related. What’s the fuck’s up with that? So evidently I was majorly upset and annoyed before I even moved here. It’s no wonder I don’t want to do shit in this class.

Good thing the weekend’s coming up. We had a short period of warm weather toward the end of last week, and the heat was shut off in the building. Just when my heater started to function properly (i.e. give off consistent heat continuously without blasting hot air randomly); my roommate had to fetch a space heater for her room from her grandmother’s house. I’m not sure why anyone thought shutting off the heat was a good idea; we’re in November, not March. If it gets warm, it’s not likely that it’ll last. So of course, when it got significantly colder, they were slow to turn on the heat and now we’re back to square fucking one.

Lilly just turned on her space heater. It just got dimmer in here…

Categories: Personal Tags: , , ,

Peach jam’s the shit

November 5, 2008 2 comments

and toaster ovens are quite possibly the best kitchen appliance ever. I have yet to haul my ass over to the post office and demand a refund from the incompetent fools who work there. I’ve been sitting at my desk in my room all damn day with the blinds down, working at my weekly translation assignment — the one that I get paid for. The one that’s due in class on Friday, well, I haven’t touched that yet. I fell way behind on my job assignments, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make the deadlines. This school thing, I’m not sure it’s a good situation. I have a paper due on the first of December, which is the Monday immediately after Thanksgiving break. Why so cruel? She probably doesn’t want to be grading papers over Thanksgiving, but couldn’t give two shits about us having our breaks ruined. To think that I asked my mom to take that entire week off because I’ll be home… fuck it. I’ve written papers in one night — actually, that’s how all of my papers were written.

I need to save money. I need to stop spending so much… I think the bulk of my spending has been done, though: external hard drive, new jeans because I wore the old ones wayyyy out, contact lenses, fleece ear warmers, a bluetooth dongle, things for the apartment… From here on, it’s only rent, food, and transportation. Which means I need to stop checking Woot!.

Ah wait. I need to get more socks and underwear so I can put off laundry as long as possible.

Life’s okay aside from the lack of money. It’s lonely in DC, and it’s hard to meet people, but I talk to my friends over IM and email and, well, we’re getting visitors over the next two weekends. Still, I miss college life. I swear it wouldn’t be so bad if I had a physical work location I had to report to… it’s tough being freelance.

Hey, at least McCain’s not our next president, right? Better deliver, Obama…

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

You make me wanna…

October 23, 2008 4 comments

…stick a pair of scissors through my eye sockets and cut up my brain.
…cut my own head off and play basketball with it.
…take a puppy by its tail, swing it over my headless body and launch it from the roof.

You get the idea. With every passing second, I feel like I’m wasting my time and money more and more. Really? A French Civilization class to complete my translation program? Really? I’m gonna have to take the second part of that class because the school sucks too much to have a wider range of French courses available? Really? You created a small, seemingly focused program that is ideally completed in one year but you don’t offer all the relevant classes in the same year? REALLY?

Am I overreacting or does everything here just suck? This is one of the things that I probably would be okay with if I had a lot of money and could afford to half-ass my life until I decided what I wanted to do with it, but that is not my present situation. I took out a private loan for this shit — a private loan on which I’m gonna have to pay a fuckload of interests.

Someone answer this question once and for all: why in the name of FUCKING CHRIST did I decide to come here?

I feel like an asshole for bitching about this every time someone asks me, “So, how’s school?”, but you know what? They fucking asked, and I’m gonna fucking answer.

…FUCK!!!!!!!

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

Illusions

August 27, 2008 1 comment

I’m so deathly afraid of making the wrong decisions that, sometimes, I freeze and end up doing nothing. I’m the type of person who will think something — however little it may be — over and over just to avoid making a mistake. Because mistakes can be costly, and you never really know the full extent of the damages. In my particular case, a wrong decision on my part will cause my mother so much distress that she won’t sleep or eat for days.

The last thing I need at the moment is to worry about my mother, and yet I do — tremendously. There are few things worse for an only child than to be away from her elderly, widowed mother. I won’t lie, it’s difficult; and while I absolutely love and treasure the relationship I have with her, while I really do enjoy caring for the littlest things, I really dislike having such a heavy heart at my age. I dislike having to make so many hit-or-miss decisions when so many of my peers can certainly afford to fuck up a little.

But I do pride myself on having responsibilities that go beyond the scope of my own little life, which includes shit like school, romance (or lack thereof), health, etc. Things that concern me and me only. I do pride myself on having my feet so firmly planted into the ground that I might as well be a tree.

God knows how many social events I’ve blown off to be home with my mom. People don’t understand, though, and that’s okay. What I wish some people would never say again is, “You know, you can’t be with her forever.”

Yes. I know. That’s precisely why I choose to spend time with her now. Idiot.

When most people my age worry about their personnal relationships and how to keep them intact or develop them further, I feel pretty comfortable about where I stand at the moment. I always had this idea of what being a graduate student would be like. Every time I learned that someone was a grad student, I could imagine them in their own apartment, carrying tons of books around, working in some kind of graduate student lounge, or being at a dinner with their peers somewhere.

It’s funny how I don’t see myself doing any of these things.

My program is so tiny, and my department so poorly structured (or so it appears), that I don’t feel like I have any peers. Seriously. Where are all the grad students? Where can I get work done without a swarm of undergrads surrounding me, their voices screeching about how cute they look and how tan they are? My graduate-level classes even meet with undergraduate classes. And guess what? I’m the only grad student in them!

Jesus fucking Christ.

More and more I feel like I’m not a real, legit grad student. That’s what it says on paper, but that’s certainly not what it feels like. Because I think I know what it feels like. I know what it feels like. And it doesn’t feel like this.

Everything’s still up in the air: my loan money hasn’t come through; I haven’t received my insurance cards; I haven’t found an apartment. I haven’t been here a week and I’ve already tried several times to not just sink into depression, every time picking myself up just enough to get going again.

I feel so detached. From everything.

Categories: Personal Tags: ,