“Me fail English? That’s unpossible.” ~Ralph Wiggum
It has been too long since a post has been entered the annals of wcuk. I am working on making posts with a little more meat and a little less linking to others’ work. In the meantime, try to remember that 4 out of 5 dentists prefer my blog over the leading competitor.
I have also been doing that thing I do as a side project to my professional blogging. What’s it called again? Oh yes, school. I believe the name is school.
As of last Friday, my classes are over, (possibly) for the rest of my tenure as a grad student. It feels nice to end the “taking courses” phase of the PhD and get into the rhythm of the research. If nothing else, it means an end to petty exams and unwanted homework. The hours may increase with the pressure to publish or perish, but at least they will be hours on my terms. No more memorizing the steps of phosphorylation in the MAP-kinase cascade, much more making inroads in problems about which I actually care.
I’d like to think that I went out with a bang on my last final. My usual study routine involves a trip to Barnes and Noble, my canary yellow paper pads, ye old iPod (stocked with The Garden State Soundtrack, Vivaldi, medieval chant music, various Windham Hill albums, Chicane, and many more study classics), and a cup of coffee. This time around, I hit up Barnes and Noble, Borders and Starbucks (it’s hard to sit in any place for more than 5 hours without getting antsy). It was a day-long trifecta of studying, a last flurry of finals preparation to cap years of Gregorian servitude at the gates of knowledge.
I confess that I spent much of the snowy day looking out the window and reminiscing about my days on the hill. I thought about dusty smell of old books. I thought about the thousands of times I’d been through Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. I thought about the way that I know every nuance of bookstore furniture, music, lighting and distractions. I thought about the unique time warp that is finals week (When else does one have so much freedom with so focused a goal, yet feel so short on time and lacking in impetus?) I thought about how would try to get to the A.D. White Library during finals week, just to occupy my dad’s old study carrel and soak in the years of academic circumstance which hang in the bookish air.
It looks largely the same now as it did then, except now everything is in color.
It is still too early to get truly nostalgic about exams and the “good ol days” of college. While I will one day long for the freedom to occupy the local coffee shop for a day and learn a subject, I doubt I will miss the MAP-kinase cascade, or any of its finals-related ilk. There is pessimistic truth to the old joke that a degree is a series of hoops and checkpoints one must navigate, as opposed a corpus of knowledge to be mastered. I hope that the end of classes brings a prompt end to my hoop jumping.
Surely I wont have to jump through any hoops for a thesis, right?