I said not too long ago that I’m not very good at reading subtext. Let me give you a concrete example. One of my classes has been driving me insane. It’s not that the material is too dense, or that I don’t have time to do the reading, but that I do the reading and spend a long time on the assignments, yet still score very, very poorly on everything. I think the problem is that I get distracted by the words on the page and don’t ask myself what the professor actually wants to hear. One question on a quiz asked, “How might great civilizations contain the seeds of their own destruction?” There are at least a million answers to that question. I could probably bang out an entire essay on it on cue. Yet I received zero points for my answer even though it was, I believe, correct. It just wasn’t the answer the professor was looking for. She wanted me to relate Henry George’s explanation as covered in his book, Progress and Poverty. I’ve read a substantial portion of that book, but I had no idea that my professor would only accept George’s answer. I just answered the question that was on the page.
I have a great many gifts, but one thing that I have never been any good at whatsoever is telling others what they want to hear. In fact, I’m probably just about the worst person you’ll ever meet when it comes to that. A lot of assholes talk about how they tell other people exactly what they think of them, as if that’s a badge of honor. If the other person doesn’t care what you think of them, then you’re just being an asshole. I’m not one to shy away from assholery (there’s an entire category on this blog for “Unrepentant Assholery”), but sometimes, you have to stand your ground. I probably understand the core concepts in this class as well as anyone. Most likely, I’ve done as much of the reading and work just as hard on the homework, if not harder. But in the midst of all of that studying, it never occurred to me that the talent I needed most was the ability to search for whatever portion of the reading the professor wants me to parrot and copy it down. (Quizzes in the class are open book and open note.) It’s a basic skill, but I’m not very good at it. Maybe it’s my English degree, but when I see a question as broad as the one above, I figure that just about any answer will be accepted as long as it makes sense. And what I write on quizzes usually makes sense. It’s just not what the instructor wants.
What drives me insane is that I’m failing at least two classes despite being perfectly capable of grasping the material. I could chalk part of this up to my housing difficulties, but that doesn’t fully explain it. My financial difficulties probably play into it as well. I’ve tried, but haven’t been able to find any way to pay for my education that doesn’t involve taking out a shitload of loans. I’ll look for a work-study position as soon as I find the time, but I have to catch up in class first. That’s difficult, especially with all of my, shall we say, personal issues. I am fully aware that no matter what age you are, you probably still fight with your friends and family, but I suspect that most of the others in my program have reached the point that when they tell their dad they’re having trouble, he doesn’t go behind their back and call their adviser on them. If I were a child, this would be acceptable behavior on his part. But I’m an adult now (and trying really hard to act like one), so my first thought upon hearing about that was that he should stay the fuck out of my academic affairs. That was also my second, third, and five hundredth thought, come to think of it.
Is any of this really that difficult to understand? When I met with my professor earlier today, she told me that everyone else in the class seems to be having no trouble on the quizzes. Gee, thanks. She stressed that she wasn’t trying to make me feel bad, which is fine, since I feel quite bad about the situation already, and wish I had the power to make her feel as upset and frustrated as I do. In case I haven’t made this clear, let me say that I accept no responsibility whatsoever for my current situation. I’m not saying that I don’t have the power to change it, only that it’s not my fault that it happened. My Halloween was pretty dull. I stayed in. Someday, I will find the time and the money to make a proper Patrick Troughton/2nd Doctor costume (complete with wig), but until then, I shall have to content myself with watching his surviving serials.
There’s not much else to say here. The Robot King is in a very bad mood, although this is hardly unusual for him. If he gets any pissier, he will start referring to himself in the third person on a regular basis.
I think this is my favorite Janis Joplin song.