Editor’s note: This post was postmarked Nov. 9. I blame Newman.
So to take you back to one of my more confusing posts (here) the dinner for my grant-funded history class was Sunday, Nov. 7.
This meant, for the first time since 8th grade, I was going on a field trip!
This meant my classmates and I had to be in Davidson at 5 p.m. Because it’s a three-hour drive, this means we left at 2 p.m. Because the dinner agenda let out after 8, it pretty much meant my entire Sunday was shot.
Sunday..that day when you worry about Monday and relax a little bit and get yourself semi-pysched up to drag yourself through another week…yep mine was gone all for the sake of the rule of law from a historical perspective.
I was afraid I would end up in the professormobile…two of my professors were picking up a third from Duke…but luckily I hopped into the car with my peers.
Understand that this course I’m in is a 2 hour and 45 minute snooze fest every Wednesday and the job I appointed for myself was to keep everyone awake. This is how you end up seeing so many Boy Meets World references in my Tweets…it was such a long class.
But outside of that classroom, I realized the people in the seminar with me were actual real people! Imagine that…a three-hour car ride peppered with references to Disney Channel Original Movies (Cadet Kelly for example) and the recognition that we all were thinking the exact same thing during every second of every too-long class led me to thinking that this was the best waste of a Sunday ever.
But then we got to the dinner, where a lecturer was supposed to give us a special presentation and this is where I learned more about me and my future than any number of advisers and counselors could teach me.
First, the dinner was awesome. I drank more merlot than ever bef…well I drank a lot of merlot, especially considering I was across the table from my professor…though I found he’s also a bit of a wino too.
So I downed some wine to dull my senses before the lecture…it wasn’t hard since I hadn’t had anything all day…and then came the introduction.
This woman was a dynamo. Here’s her biodata from a symposium in 2006:
Leia Castañeda is a doctoral student in the SJD program at Harvard University. After completing her law degree at Ateneo de Manila University, achieving the highest score on the Philippines’ national bar exam, and working for a leading Manila law firm, she completed an LLM at Harvard University, specializing in legal history, before moving on to the SJD doctoral program there. She is the author of “The Origins of Philippine Judicial Review, 1900-1935,” Ateneo Law Journal (2001); “Making Sense of Marbury,” Ateneo Law Journal (2001); “From Merit to Disclosure Regulation: The Shifting Bases of Philippine Securities Law,” Ateneo Law Journal (1998); “Philippine Elections: The Right to Political Participation in an Elite Democracy,” Ateneo Law Journal (1997) and, “From Prerogative to Prohibition: Article 2(4) as Customary International Law in Nicaragua v. United States of America,” Ateneo Law Journal (1994).
But as she stepped up to the podium that she could barely see over, she took a deep breath and began her lecture/talk/discussion/essay that would forever set me apart from overachieving smart people.
She read the entire paper to us. She was lucky someone taught her to take the time to look up from her sheet every now and then to make faux-eye contact with the audience, because otherwise I’m sure everyone would have left.
Well, except for the Davidson people. It quickly became a drinking game for me…I took a sip of wine every time a Davidson person acted like a tool. (Their professor accounted for half of my glass). They laughed at things that weren’t funny, as historians do, and asked questions that were truly lectures with question marks at the end…as in:
I feel like the impact France had in the American Revolution is very much downplayed in more contemporary works, including textbooks at the high school level, as well as in more modern mediums ranging from film to television and this has somehow allowed the American psyche to forget the international relationship we have with the French, allowing an anti-French sentiment to settle in and displacing what could be our most trusted ally in Europe in the forefront of popular opinion in the states…don’t you?
That’s what happens when everyone wants to teach…you can’t have a question and answer session with history majors without getting a lashing from those who have stuck their noses in so many books they feel like they’ve actually been to the Phillippines…
But back to the speaker: she lost us. She had no control over the room and never ever tried to teach us anything…it was one, long sentence with periods thrown in for good measure (and so she could breathe).
So while I sat there taking sips every time my Davidson classmates giggled or spoke, I reminded myself what sets me apart from people like her.
Besides 1.25 grade points, world traveling experience, a few doctorates and a full-time job…I like to create connections with people.
When I tell stories, I’m almost forceful in how I try to make the listener connect with what I’m saying…and maybe, just maybe that will be enough to set me apart in the workforce.
So after the epiphany I immediately began to…you know what I did…I drank more wine and grabbed a couple extra bottles on my way out.
Riding high on our wine buzz, we piled back into the car and my new best friend Andrew plugged his iPod in.
Interspersed between our audio trips down memory lane were “pit stops” that Andrew and I commissioned…mostly so we could buy whatever the cheapest alcoholic beverages were (this…twice…painful, but the best bang for our bucks) and chugging them in the parking lot before continuing the mobile dance party.
And so, to sum up, it’s the little things (cheap alcohol, music from way back) in life that get us through.
This story felt so much like this song, I decided it was my Music Monday choice.
The song was originally two songs, one by Paul (the middle) and one by John (the bookends).
The two were meshed together, and this happy sounding song about day-to-day life was sandwiched between John’s sarcastic, dreary view of day-to-day life. It’s awesome.
One more note, and probably the most fascinating thing about this song: the weird part that separates the middle from the two bookends that sounds like an entire orchestra just doing whatever the hell they feel like is just that.
They marked the beginning and end notes on the music sheet and drew a squiggly line between the two. It was up to each individual musician how he or she arrived at the final note, so long as they hit it on time and on key.
And that, my friends, is how you shatter the world of music.