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Anatomy of Finals Week: Writing a paper on reality and television

… and coming nowhere even close to talking about reality television.

5:30 p.m.
I just discovered the coolest thing. I’ve been listening to music in foreign languages for so long that I can now listen to music in English without processing the lyrics as anything more than nonsense. I’m holed up in a lofted undergraduate carrel on the main campus library, and there’s some big amplified folk/alternative concert going on outside… and sadly, the windows are open, so we can hear it… but I’m not as annoyed as I could be, because I genuinely have no idea what the insipid vocalist is saying. My brain refuses to know.

Can I ask why anyone would put on a huge amplified concert at a college two weeks before finals, though? I mean, come on. That sucks so hard. People are trying to work.

And what, exactly, is the appeal of listening to some dude who sounds like a slightly agitated James Taylor?

(yes. yes, I am a killjoy.)

Cognitive dissonance tends to blunt my productivity. I’ve been bumping up against the same contradiction all semester. I want to work in educational children’s media. To work in educational children’s media one ought to engage in experimental developmental psychology, as that is the dominant field of research backing up shows like Sesame Street and Between the Lions. But the more work I do, the more I find experimental developmental psychology to be uninteresting at the least, methodologically bankrupt at the worst. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. Do I just study literacy or linguistics instead and hope that they’ll take me anyway?

Then again, when I started this degree I was pretty sure I was just getting the research background as an in so I could make contacts, then do what I really want with kids’ media — either writing, producing, or software development. Which I’m not sure I’ll ever get to do, whether it’s because I’ve trained myself to be a crashing bore who overanalyzes kids when they sing along with Cookie Monster, or just because everyone wants to do that stuff.

1:10 a.m.
Somehow I don’t mind the bachata and dancehall reggae being played ouside my window at home half as much as the bad James Taylor act. I even mind the same music when the neighbors downstairs play it, making it sound like they have rented a calliope and glued it to the ceiling just to annoy me. (HOOT hoot HOOT hoot HOOT HOOT HOOT hoot…) Probably it’s the tinny speakers from whichever local club is playing the stuff… it sounds more ethereal and picturesque. I imagine dowdy middle-aged women in bright, flouncy dresses dancing to it in the converted synagogue across from the George Washington Bridge bus station.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve got a good mojito and one of those amazing cupcakes from Crumbs in me. Maybe I should drink more often. It seems to take the edge off my neuroses.

Summary of this semester: I was very unhappy because I did not dance enough.

Last semester I was happy because I had a dance teacher I trusted who made me work hard, and a class that happened two days a week. (Granted, I was also basking in a generalized sensation of near-unconditional love and support from my department, but feeling physically well was central.) This semester the teacher was ill and I could only make it one day a week. I must DANCE next semester, and this summer. There’s something about having functional abs and two periods of mandatory stretching at regular times which really changes my outlook on life.


  1. Sarah wrote:

    Mmm. mojitos, nectar of the gods. (and dude, my stomach was still full when I went to bed at 11 pm. holy mother of cupcake!)

    On another note, I can actually tell you of a situation when listening to a slightly agitated James Taylor sound-alike is actually appealing. Every May, my alma mater (Connecticut College, go Camels huuump!) throws a spring weekend party called Floralia. Typical spring weekend, couches on the lawn outside the library, beer, bands (sometimes really good bands), dancing, drunken revelry. While I was an undergrad, and I believe even for some years before that, Floralia would come to an close on Sunday morning with a James Taylor sound-alike playing soothing tunes in the cafeteria while the sleep-deprived, dehydrated, occasionally still-drunk undergraduates ate their waffle breakfast and began the road to recovery. We all loved the James Taylor sound-alike dude.

    Sunday, April 25, 2004 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
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    Thursday, October 5, 2006 at 7:01 pm | Permalink
  3. Jane wrote:

    Good design! |

    Monday, November 13, 2006 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

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