Thursday, October 09, 2008

Campus notes

Campus is really at its best this time of year. For the most part, the weather is crisp, bright, and cheerful. The leaves are Crayola-bright and swirl overhead and underfoot in a pleasing way. The crowds of the first couple of weeks have thinned, which is convenient for my rushed walks between the far-flung buildings in which I teach back-to-back classes--but I probably shouldn't be cheering what is essentially the onset of of widespread absenteeism. My own students are still showing up, although more frequently in their 'studying clothes' than in their colourful, new back-to-school outfits of the first weeks. Everything settles into its routine: I learn names, review notes, grade assignments, and reconsider ideas I'd begun to take for granted as I learn something new absolutely every day.

Campus is at its best this time of year.

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I'm such a dork. Today, taking a shortcut through an empty classroom to shave 10 seconds off my commute to the ladies room--it's almost as if I'm a medical doctor, rushing to the ER, so precious are my counted footsteps!--I walked into a door frame. You see, as I breezed through, something on the board from the morning class caught my eye, and I got a little more engrossed in reading than in, ahem, looking where I was going.

Bang.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you know you're in the right career ...

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I gave blood today. I was in the student centre anyway, dropping off my precious, precious MacBook Pro to have its topcase replaced (this is what you need to do when, out of the blue, the keyboard and mouse just don't work anymore). I was absolutely adrift: what the hell to do? I thought I might grade my undergrads' midterms, which are obviously on paper. But the answer key? On the laptop. Edit my recently-accepted article on You've Got Mail? On the laptop. Do the readings for my grad class? On the Internet, linked to from ... my laptop.

So I figured I'd kill the service time giving blood. I mean, I'd already pretty much had a limb amputated when I handed over my Mac. What's another 500ml of blood? Yeesh.

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I gave blood today, surrounded by bored nurses and nervous university students. I've done this a ton of times, except for a five year period where the timing of various piercings and a tattoo rendered me serially ineligible. I used to give blood a lot at York, where I did my undergrad. The clinic was always set up in the Bear Pit in Central Square. To be honest, I was easily induced at that time to participate in any activity that would result in me being fed. Once, as I lay there trying not to look at my arm (leads to fainting, every time), the nurse leaned over me and remarked:

"You look just like Uma Thurman! In that movie!"

She meant Pulp Fiction. You remember--naturally blonde Uma with a short, stark black bob, dark red lips and a white shirt? Check, check, check, and check. You remember of course that she was drug addled and nearly died in the film. So I answered, joking:

"Awww, you're just saying that because I've got a big needle sticking out of me."

She didn't laugh.

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Campus is at its best this time of year. Students begin to buckle down into the real intellectual work of it, as midterms loom, arrive, and then pass. The tone is a little more serious, but not desperate like before finals, not exhausted and snowy and dark like the new semester in January will be.

I'm writing this post in the Student Centre--my laptop has that 'new computer' smell again, and my arm is stained nicotine-yellow from the iodine swab. Students around me are variously discussing 'hot chicks', travel home for Thanksgiving, and what happened in class.

It's all pretty good.

13 comments:

Mamalooper said...

And this post is why I relive my youth by taking an undergrad course at a time even though I have 1 1/2 graduate degrees. That and keeping ye olde mind sharp.

I love love love being on campus.

Omaha Mama said...

I'm picturing it and wish I were there. Campus, for me, is where I would always live if I could. I'll be so jealous when my kids go off. I can hear the wind and swirling leaves right now as I'm picturing it. You've made me all nostalgic.

Kyla said...

I tried studying on paper today for my cat muscles exam and I just could not do it! Then I found a handy little self quizzing website and PROBLEM SOLVED. What did people do before laptops and the Internet anyway?

That joke was genius, by the way.

kittenpie said...

ha, love the comment about Pulp Fiction! Of course, you know, I happen to think Uma is one of the more gorgeous women going, so I do hope you were appropriately flattered!

Patti said...

You were at York? I used to work literally around the corner - walked over there to play squash with a friend from time to time.

No Mother Earth said...

Damn, you are making me want to go to school again (I'm actually considering York for a masters program..)

Mimi said...

Nomo! My brother in law did a BFA in acting at York -- are you thinking of going for more acting? Helluva commute, man, but a good program ...

hoppytoddle@gmail.com said...

Ha! I laughed. Thanks.

metro mama said...

I love campus in the fall.

You're making me nostalgic, even tho' I just swore I was done with school forever!

Jenifer said...

The Bear Pit in Central Square.
Sigh. Remember the poster sales! I have been back to York many times, but nothing beats how it is in my memories. As for door frames, I walked into one this week, in my house and I have a lovely bruise to show for it. I have lived in this house for 11 years and no doors have been moved recently either.

Debbie said...

Oh, I miss school. Our campus was never as pretty as those eastern uni's, but the atmosphere is still so comfortable and welcoming.

Denguy said...

A-a-a-a-ah! Christ-Hell-Fuck I hate needles! Why'd you make me read that?

Janet said...

I dug your Uma Thurman joke. I always return to campus in the fall to walk around. It reminds me of fresh new beginnings.