grad school schmad school

In May, I had a lovely little thing called FINALS WEEK, where I had papers and projects and presentations due in every class. I retreated into FINALS WEEK SURVIVAL MODE, characterized by a significant shift in priorities.

1. Some things that are usually considered Required Activities become Earned Privileges, to be done only if you have completed whatever schoolwork is due the next day.

See: exercise. walking to work. eight hours of sleep. doing the dishes. reading for fun. reading for class. wearing clean clothes. showers.  keeping the bathroom from growing mold.

2. The purse-strings loosen to accommodate a shifted schedule

See: take-out food when there’s no time to cook, food-on-the-go when there’s no time to pack lunch, coffee when there’s no time to wake up properly

3. Liberal application of pharmaceuticals and stimulants

See: Excedrin and caffeine

4. Foul mood

See: All of the above

So that was last semester. I survived, had a week off, and then, shockingly, found that Summer Semester is really like a long series of Finals Weeks! So I have reading. And papers. And presentations. And 6 hours of class a week. (and a job… and an internship… and a stress problem). Still popping Excedrins daily, having Lance drop me off at Starbucks when he leaves for work at 6:15 every other week or so, and feeling like crap.

That’s all backdrop though, for the torture that is my class.

I walked into my first day of class without a syllabus and without knowing what class I’d signed up for. I knew who my professors would be. I knew it was a joint Library Science and Children’s Lit class. I knew it would probably kick my ass a little. I knew it was called “Special Topics.”

I quickly found out that my class is really designed to make me and my classmates interrogate every assumption we’ve ever made, consciously or unconsciously, about books, publishing, authors, book awards, journals, adults, children, and basically everything about our careers we thought would be kind of exciting and important.

Adults who read childrens’ books are pedophiles. Publishers are money-grubbing exploiters. Parents are ruthless dictators of their children. Authors are arrogant, self-aggrandizing liars.

It’s all true, though, from an academic, highly critical standpoint. All of those things are true. However, it’s not particularly practical to run around believing all that stuff because then you’d have to basically take children’s lit and librarianship and parenthood and children and just walk away.

And that’s what’s so frustrating about this course – there is no right answer. In class, you figure out what your professor wants, what direction is the “right” direction to address the information at hand, and you imitate or at least try to see it their way. Not in this class. Not only do we have two professors from two different disciplines sitting in front of us, pushing and pulling us from either perspective, we can’t even please one of them because they’re admittedly complicit in committing all these “crimes” against childhood.

They’re wrong too. Everyone and everything and every book is problematic, troublesome, and wrong.

So I’m under-slept, over-junkfooded, over-caffeinated, busy-busy-busy, and then throw impossible philosophical questions at me for six hours a week?

God. You’d think they were teaching me how to think or something.

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