On Homework, Bloated Writing, and Things No One Should Hear

Today's a day for catching up with reading for school, reading and re-reading some of the assigned chapters and articles two, and sometimes even three, times until I feel confident I understand them. Cataloging is turning out to be a whole lot more complicated than you may think. Assuming you think about cataloging. And, if you do, you are officially a NERD.

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, this is pot. (Laughs honkingly through nose, pushes glasses up.)

While I'm on the subject, I'm going to air some grievances – though it isn't Festivus – about intentionally obscure writing. Nine out of ten academics could stand to spend a summer at the Ernest Hemingway School of Spare Writing. (The price of the conference covers a case of whiskey, a box of cigars, and a pre-ripped shirt with chest hair dickey. Reserve your spot today!)

In my grad school experience, when I've turned in first draft papers written in a spare style column editors love, they often came back covered in complaints, Word style. When I revised them, adding loads of filler that didn't even make sense half the time, they morphed into A papers. Not every time, but enough to drive me into a frustrated tizzy. One time I handed Paul a paper draft for a professor whose name
I won't reveal. His response was, "Huh?" And, guess what? An A paper, just as I told him it would be.

I get it. Formal papers have different rules. Keep the "I" out of them. Make sure your citations are correct. Dot every i and cross every t, maintain balance and lack of bias, prove your thesis and round out the paper with a restatement of thesis and conclusion, for closure. Fine with me, but I argue there is no need to puff out your chest to prove you know more bloated filler phrases than the next person. Take a damn Mydol and get over yourself.

Serious, academic writing would get a wider readership (admittedly, amongst a fairly geeky crowd) if only its writers would put down their pipes, slip off the tweed with suede patches, and write in their underwear. Scratch yourselves now and then, people! Have a beer and let out a belch that echoes off your diplomas! Need an illustration? Call me.

Insert favorite transition here. I'm too lazy busy.

I also need to transcribe the notes from my practicum today, transferring them from Moleskine to digital format. I've started a blog for things practicum-related, so I can access it from anywhere and go wild with it, like a frat boy with a keg. If the endeavor turns into something interesting I'll post the link, in order to give comfort and aid to other graduate students, and any others who are really desperate for reading material.

The final product will require a few revisions, indubitably. Much as I dread the formal paper, I should probably rein in my instinct to use words like "ass" and "bitchin'," striking a balance between my tendency toward TMI and the prose stylings of researchers who sound like they have poles stuck firmly up their loads of advanced degrees, and a yen to prove same. See above, for further clarification.

I doubt the professor (thankfully, the no nonsense type who doesn't espouse bloated prose) will want to hear off-topic ramblings about how elderly I felt walking a college campus, nor how vanity led me to contemplate mini-face lifts, using duct tape and common sewing thread – things everyone has around the house – in order to look less schlumpy. I probably shouldn't mention the hoist and winch required to "perk" me up, following the ravages of giving birth to three children, either.


Before things get more out of hand, this is the library I'm working at, on the Northern Illinois University campus:



This is the affectionate nickname the staff has given me, those crazy kids!.:


And this is where I like to hang out when I'm on break:


I'm going away now, leaving you to contemplate the meaning of life while I try to salvage some dignity. Once again, I have produced yet another example of what it means to be afflicted by the need to share a little more than most people want to know.

Note to Self: bring up issue of borderline Tourette's with doctor. Discuss medication titration.

P.S.: Spell check recommends I replace Tourette with Toilette. Six of one, a half dozen of another.

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