Monday, October 31, 2005

Well, the trip to Chicago wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I've been dreading it all semester, and my anxiety level escalated when I realized I was going to have to ride there in my advisor's vehicle, all by myself. Think about how many opportunities a person can have during a 4.5 hour car ride to misspeak and therefore to tank one's academic career. But, it was mostly okay and I think even if it hadn't worked out alright, it might have been worth it in order to see the buildings we visited. My advisor arranged for our class to tour four private residences (the Frank Thomas House, the Robert Spencer House, the Charles Purcell House and the William Drummond House), and that opportunity will never happen again, so that was nice.

Still, two field trips to Chicago is at least one too many during a semester when I'm driving back and forth to Indiana every other weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Who gets to decide how much "potential" I have in me? My report cards in grammar/junior high/high school were very consistent: nearly every one noted that "Susan is not working up to her potential." (The corollary to that, appearing nearly as often, is "Susan has a bad attitude," but that's another post.) My entire school career was thus characterized by failure. I should be doing better in class, but I'm not. I should be a better citizen, but I'm not.

The point is, in graduate school, I get a lot of feedback about my potential. (Another aside: I had no obvious potential as an undergraduate. Mostly my professors wished I wouldn't sleep so much in class. I'm not making that up.) I understand that professors like students who show up on time for class, do the reading, fill in the awkward silences in seminars, and compose grammatical sentences in their research papers. And I do like getting feedback on my work, and it is nice to know that I don't sound like a complete idiot when I hold forth in class. Still, once someone starts making positive sounds about a student's work, there's always that specter of "failing to live up to one's potential" hovering in the background.

It's so easy to not live up to your potential in graduate school, maybe because so many people have so much invested in your success. If I listed off the number of people who have some sort of aspirations for my academic career, I'd be here all night. Everyone seems to have somehow magically assessed my potential for academic success, and part of me would love to fail just to make people think twice about the assumptions they make about me. If I could figure out a way to do it without losing my student health insurance, I'd probably give it a try.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Saturday, October 01, 2005

So, yesterday I saw a girl get run over and killed by a bus. Or, rather, I didn't see it, even though I was looking right at the bus when it happened. Maybe that's why I'm so upset--it seems like if an 18-year-old girl is going to be killed in front of me, the least I could so is see it. Did I glance away at just the right moment? I can't remember, and what I do remember doesn't seem to match up with what must have happened.

I'm pretty sure I saw the bus come to a stop. I must have, it was turning into the street in front of me. And I think I must have thought, "Oh, it is stopped because a student is crossing even though the bus is trying to turn," or something like that, because I think that a dozen times every time I drive near campus. But I don't really know. I know the bus stopped and eventually I realized it wasn't moving again, but even then, I didn't see. I had a conversation with myself about how it was really a good thing that traffic was stalled because I didn't have much money to put in the meter, so if could spend a few minutes stopped in traffic, that would put me in the parking lot that much closer to five o'clock after which time parking would be free.

I don't know when I really looked at what was in front of me--never, really. It just dawned on me that people weren't moving properly, the people on the sidewalk, I mean. And I remember thinking, "Oh, god, I hope the bus didn't stop because someone jumped off that building and committed suicide." Why would I think that? It doesn't even make sense. Yes, there's a tall building right on that block, but why did I think that (other than the fact that twice people have jumped off buildings right outside my office in the past ten years)? So, I talked to myself about how I hoped no one jumped off the building, and how something bad is obviously going on right here, and if I turned off could I figure out how to get to where I was going? Because I haven't lived here long enough to know how to get anywhere, really.

And by then, of course, I knew it was really bad. I have been trying to figure out exactly how things happened, but it just seems like there were people there, and then there were sirens, and then I was turning off and heading in a different direction. I drove around for a bit, then felt sort of drawn back, so I parked in the library parking lot. I knew it was really bad then, because the police had put up yellow tape to keep traffic out and there was a (second?) ambulance (for the bus driver?). I spent two hours in the library trying not to think about it, but the bus was still there when I came out, waiting for me.

Since I didn't see...it didn't happen. It didn't happen for me until I was walking to school this morning and I saw the flowers on the sidewalk--why didn't I take a different route to school? Why did I stop for coffee before class this morning? I usually don't, and when I don't, I walk up Wright, and then I wouldn't have seen anything this morning.

If I did see anything. I know what I think I saw last night, but I also know it couldn't have happened that way. I know for part of today I remembered the bus facing one way, then for the rest of the day, I remembered it facing the other way, which I think is the right way? It was facing me to the south, right? Well, I know what I didn't see, but I can't figure out how it's possible that someone can be killed right in front of me yet I can't see it. But I didn't see what was right in front of me, and that seems really, really wrong.