Sunday, July 24, 2005

New Thrash

Today's supposed to be the hottest day of the year. Maybe it already is, but I haven't been outside to check, nor do I plan to. In preparation for this day Girlfriend put in a second air conditioner and so far the house is cool and shady--not a place I plan to leave. Unfortunately, our NYT didn't show up this morning, and so we're waiting to see if it will redeliver. In the meantime, we have four non-paper-reading hours to fill. Exercise? No way. It's too hot to even walk to the car to drive to the gym. But I'm jonesing for a run.

What does it mean that I woke up with Sublime's "New Thrash" running through my head? I like to think that the song in my head at any given moment is an index of subconscious thoughts, but I can't even make out the words to this song, let alone analyze them. And since it's a mosh-pit kind of a thrasher song, and since I'm sitting here feeling anxious and jitery (gotta eat some breakfast, I guess) it seems logical that the sound of the song is as indicative of mood as the lyrics. Okay, wait, I'm listening to it on headphones and I'm on line, duh, so here are the googled lyrics:

I got so much trouble on my mind,
That I feel like I'm always sleeping with the enemy
But I know the real world always gets the last word
And that's why you gotta kick reality.
So don't tease me and try to say I should care.
I might as well go out for mine
'cause everybody's going out for theirs.

Okay, so it's standard malaise. Sleeping with the enemy: Is this about my job? I work for spendy, middle class urban university, educating trixies and frat boys. The last two weeks I've been doing summer advising, which is great, easy money and a good way to figure out exactly what my students' educations look like (anyone else out there who really doesn't understand what their students have to do to graduate because you still see things in terms of your undergrad u's requirements?) It's been eye-opening though, as I see student after student bypass classes in African Black Diaspora Studies, Islamic Studies, Women's Studies, even Art History for god's sake, in favor of Intro. to Philosophy, or Medieval History (sorry New Kid). There are a million ways they can fulfill their liberal arts requirements, but they only want the whitest, safest, most familiar. Unless it's in the English department--they don't want anything that makes them read, no matter how canonical and white it is. In six days of advising I haven't managed to get one student into an English class. They would rather fulfill their religion requirement with Intro. to Catholocism (it's a Catholic U; most of them are Catholic!) or Intro. to the New Testament, than Buddhist Thought, or African-American Religions. Hello! You are wearing a batik shirt and a macrame necklace, and you reek of patchouli: I know that you got all that at Urban Outfitters, but given that you are posing as counter-cultural, don't you think you might want to explore a different culture, even just a baby bit? No wonder the university requires a sophomore-level seminar on multiculturalism.

So maybe the "enemy" I'm sleeping with is my status-quo university. Or myself, given that I offer classes that students fleeing from diversity might take, like the diva class, or my middlebrow lit. class. (NB: my classes are all about diversity, much to the disappointment of some students, and as reflected in comments that complain about my being too "political" in the classroom.)

Or maybe it's my department, which I really like, but don't entirely trust, since my transfer into it last year was met with a bit of resistance. Do they like me yet? Do they still think I'm too humanities-oriented and too American culture to add anything to women's studies? A year later, would they accept me more readily? or would they have more concrete reasons for rejecting me?

Or is the "trouble on my mind" related to girlfriend's job search and quest for a new direction in her life post-tenure?

Or is it the fact that I haven't been out to California to see my family in over a year and a half and they fully expect me out there this summer, but I don't know how to arrange it? I can't really figure out where to start, but that's wrapped up in many other issues--the panicked need to write (to justify my summer grant), girlfriend's job search, not wanting to leave my cats--and too complicated to think about on such a hot day. But the way it makes me feel is exactly what "New Thrash" sounds like.

Is it because we watched Nashville last night and my sleeping thoughts were puncutated by Altman's 30 year-old reading of a jingoistic, cynically-patriotic, empty-minded America that still looks pretty familiar? (And is it weird that I think Barbara Harris is really hot? You probably remember her as Jodie Foster's mom in Freaky Friday.)

Or is the "trouble on my mind" much simpler? Is it that our bedroom set-up just isn't working? I can't figure out a way to make the furniture fit correctly, and it depresses me to look at when I wake up.

Or is it that, because I sprayed leave-on conditioner on my hair by the side of my bed yesterday, (because it was in my gym bag from the day before) the floor next to my bed was impossibly slippery last night, and everytime I got up to go to the bathroom I had to walk very slowly and carefully, so as not to slip?


Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

I can't comment on your deeper sense of malaise - but I know what you mean about the students; I work with a similar type. And yes, Medieval History draws one of the whitest crowds out there. One of the things I liked about teaching World History (which I don't do in my current job) is that you sometimes had something other than a lily-white classroom. In my current job I teach in a required course sequence and my medieval stuff fulfills a specific requirement for the major, so I get a few non-white students in those, but in general, I have a white, white crowd. (Which describes the students at my institution, generally, too...) I try really hard to teach it in a less "white" way, but it's such a "white" class that it's hard even to get students to figure out that that's what I'm doing.

Anyway, hope the malaise lifts!

5:49 PM  
Blogger Margo, darling said...

Oh, the malaise definitely lifted and I've been having a lot of fun with advising lately. I can't get too impatient about the students who want to take medieval history though, as they are often sweet, slightly-geeky, gamer-type boys, the ones who love Tolkein and Dungeons and Dragons. Do you get a lot of this type of student gravitating towards your classes?

11:50 AM  
Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

DEFINITELY. Oh yes. The gamers! (I have to confess to being a Tolkien addict myself, but could never get into D&D myself at all.) Sometimes I have to discourage a student from bringing his mail shirt to class. ;-)

And the medieval history lovers are great - just not usually the most concerned with contemporary culture. ;-)

7:27 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home