Tuesday, June 24, 2014

some new reading

* Lab was rained out (or so I decided when the lecture class met and it was still raining semi-heavily). Of course, minutes after I e-mailed for a rescheduling of the field vans, the sun came out. Oh well. It's not fun working in a forested area after a heavy rain, and anyway, I built a week of rain-out into the lab schedule.

* At first I was "yay, I can go home early" but then I decided to get caught up on the accumulated grading (an exam, two labs for one class, three labs for another - we do two or three labs per week so that's just a week's accumulation of stuff). I did get home "early" compared to the usual finish-time of the lab but I was pretty tired.

* Minutette (Colgate) now has her front legs. That's the one drag about making quadruped creatures: you have to do four nearly-identical appendages. (I guess I should be glad it wasn't My Little Decapods that was the cartoon that captured my imagination.)

* I might have got more crocheting done, but I picked up the copy of "The Sterile Cuckoo" I bought used a year or so ago and started reading it. (And dangit, it has a first-person narrator. Those kinds of narratives I always find harder to put down). I'm not very far yet but am still leery, based on what I remember of the movie - I almost didn't buy the book, thinking, "I'll just find this depressing" but so far I'm more annoyed at Jerry (the protagonist and narrator) for going from an academic-minded loner who was actually kind of interesting to a total fratboy....because, well, everybody on his campus rushed frats. (Sigh.) I'm just to the part where he "finds" Pookie (the girl) again, as part of a drunken road trip to the women's college she is attending.

The setting is actually kind of interesting in a weird, vanished-world sort of way: the small single-sex universities of the 1950s. So far I haven't seen much of what the academics were supposed to be like; most of what you see are Jerry's piggish roommates (one of them is described as living for "getting drunk, fornicating, and hockey, in that order") who do things like play bottle-hockey in their study room with empty beer bottles, leaving a carpet of smashed glass on the floor. (So much for the vaunted "In loco parentis" that I was told existed in college dorms in the era before I attended college; if anything, it seems like the college behavior described in this book is far wilder than anything I ever heard about. Maybe 1980s college kids really were little Alex Keatons...)

Reading that kind of thing always makes me wonder: are those kinds of antics played up for entertainment value, or did I really live far more monastically than the normal person in college? Or are college men really that different from college women? The one year I spent in an (all women) dorm, I don't remember any scenes of wanton destruction. I do remember one spoiled-brat girl throwing away her "fall" wardrobe because she didn't want to carry it back home at the end of the year and "I can always buy new clothes." And I remember a couple girls who discovered S-E-X for the first time and were always "sneaking" their boyfriends in (in such a way that we were ALL AWARE of what was going on, because they wanted us to know). And there was one woman who used to go out to the bars until they closed, and then bring her friends back to her room, where they would put the soundtrack from "Fame" on at the loudest possible volume. (She was a dance major who apparently had aspirations of being the next Madonna; I lived next door to her and really didn't appreciate the occasional rude awakenings by bad 80s pop.)

Now that I think of it, much of the female bad behavior I saw was one form or another of showing off: "Look how much money I have; I can throw away $500 worth of clothing and not bat an eye." "Look, you vestal virgins: I have seduced a MAN!" "I'm gonna be a celebrity and you can all say you knew me when!"

I probably showed off, too, to an extent. (Everyone is insecure at 18). Mine would have taken more the form of exaggerated scholarliness, or a sort of disapproving stare at people being noisy when I tried to study. Or actually, I think I played up my image as a prude to a certain degree, perhaps to contrast with one or two people on the hall. I don't know.

After that year, I "lost" in the dorm lottery, which meant I had three choices: I could go to one of the North Campus dorms, mostly inhabited by engineering types (which in retrospect, probably would not have been so bad) but face a 15 minute bus ride to and from campus (and the rest of town) every day. Or I could go live in, I think it was called South Quad? About which one of my, shall we say, more noise-tolerant classmates remarked, "That place is great! It's like a party all the time! It never quiets down until after 2 am" which made me twitch to think about it. Or I could do what I did, and take out an apartment. (I wound up living in a small studio apartment: it was hellishly expensive, but it was in a secure building and it was close to campus. The other apartments I looked at were mostly old-house type apartments, where your neighbors on the other side of the thin walls (and sometimes sharing a kitchen with you) were luck of the draw and could be nice people or could be loud and rude, and the doors often looked like a well-aimed kick would cave them in: not a nice thought for a woman living alone)

No comments: