This week, I returned to my alma mater to give a presentation. I haven't been back in nearly two years.
I found out after I arrived that the presentation had been cancelled. Oh well. Good thing my sister gave me her Septa pass--it was a free ride back to my old life.
|Looking from the west through a filthy train window|
This block always smells like barf from all the berries that fall off the gingko trees. People walk all over them the whole day, and the more you walk on them the worse they smell:
There's a ton of new stuff on campus--it only took them six years to finally build this parking garage. There used to be a big dirt parking lot in its place. I would sit in my 7th floor office (in that tower on the right) and watch people quadruple park other people into their spots. It was bad--from my bird's eye view, I could sometimes see that eight or nine or ten cars would have to move just to let out one car. People would come back to their cars and throw their hands into the air. Some would begin writing their phone number on slips of paper and leave them under the windshield wipers of the cars blocking them. I would always wonder, "Why don't you take the bus to school? or the subway?" Then again, the buses and subway are so freakin scary that maybe I would rather get my car quadruple parked into its spot. It was a total disaster area. Not anymore (I guess):
Five or six Decembers ago, I would've been here frantically digging up stuff for papers. I used to love hunkering down in my undergrad school's library--I always felt like something could be accomplished in there. But, I never got used to this one. The windows are almost non-existent, it's ALWAYS 120 degrees inside, and it smells WAY too strongly of Panic, Bad Ideas, Even Worse Thesis Statements, and Looming Deadlines.
Truth be told, I just wanted to see my dissertation on the shelf. I thought I remembered where the dissertations were kept, but I asked a librarian which floor. This guy, who was seriously annoyed that I was asking him to do his job (he was checking email), gave me this blank look and was like, "Dissertations are online."
"Yeah, I know, but which floor has the bound copies?"
"Uh ... those are all gone now."
"They're gone now--here, this is how you can look them up online."
"Um that's ok, I know how to look up research materials online [duh, because I had to write a dissertation] ... look, I just wanted to see a dissertation on the shelves. That's all."
"Because I wrote one and I just want to see what it looks like sitting on the shelf."
"Well, we stopped shelving them after 2008 so you'll have to look at it online. If it's from 2007 or prior, we can recall it from the archives."
Well, if there's one thing I learned at this school, it is that NOBODY knows what the hell they're talking about. EVER. So I marched my sorry, sweating ass (because it's 120 degrees in there and I had on a dozen layers plus goddamn panty hose for the cancelled presentation) up to the third floor, busted through the three ton double doors and ...
The guy was telling the truth. Oh well.
This place is so freakin ugly in the winter that I don't even know what to say about it.
Even though the presentation was cancelled, I still got to hang out with one of my favorite profs for a half hour. After, I grabbed a "hot pretzel" from my favorite soft pretzel stand (I have NO idea why they call them HOT pretzels), walked to my favorite 7-11 just for the hell of it, watched some pathetic little city birds fight over pizza crust near a trashcan (my heart breaks for those little city birds--I wish I could turn my deck into a heated aviary and take them all home), and then I decided to trek back to the train.
In true grad school style, I arrived two minutes after the train home had left and the next train (of any kind) wasn't arriving for 23 minutes. And, it was really cold and super windy ... even though it had been 70 degrees the two days before. (I just saw on the news that today's high was 59 degrees. They are LIARS. I lost feeling in my fingers TWICE.) The gods knew I was coming today, and they made sure the doors hit me pretty hard on the way out. Thank you, grad school gods. You forget: You already made me so crusty and calloused that your mind games don't even make me flinch anymore.
I took the first train that came along just to get off the platform and rode to city hall.
The train I needed wasn't arriving for fifteen more minutes, so I went above ground to kill time. Philly's Christmas village was set up all around Love Park. Every year I see it on the news, and I still have never been. So today I walked around and purposely missed my 12:45 train and just pushed it back until 1:15.
The market has everything from custom blended nail polish, fancy glass ornaments, and tons of jewelry. And scarves. Lots of scarves.
Then, I remembered: "Oh wait, I actually have to teach another class later today." I made sure I caught the 1:15 train.
It was an easy class--the last one of the semester. You know the routine: course evals, pass back papers, take a final, say bye to people ... marvel that August was NOT two weeks ago. Really? How is that possible? This class started two days before the Blue Moon Baby arrived? Not possible.
I'll miss my Wednesday night people--I always miss my Wednesday night people. You would think that late afternoon/evening classes would attract a bunch of nasty grouches, but they don't.
What I learned today:
1) Grad school really was as bad as I thought it was--not imagining it.
2) I don't care if I ever work or go to school in Philly ever again.
3) Septa parking sucks EVEN WORSE than it did three years ago (didn't think that was possible).
4) 15 weeks feels like 15 minutes.