rough notes

Year-end Thoughts, I

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Year-end Thoughts, I

I Saint Mitchell’s University

As of late, my better half has become my own personal herald, or megaphone, depending on which culture you live in. Partly to my chagrin, but also much to my enjoyment, she’s is incredibly proud of my achievements in the past four months. Since September, I have returned to school full-time, made friends with important academics in the department, and kicked ass all over the school. (End of term results: an A+, two As, and A- and a B [French]). Frankly, I don’t think I could have kicked ass without the better half. The fact is (and I think Old School types like Herlan and iWill could attest to this), I’ve always been capable of producing such high results, but have never continuously applied myself, perhaps because I’ve always known myself to be capable. I’m usually modest about this, but every now and again I allow myself to be playfully arrogant and tell you, “I am the smartest man you will ever meet.” I am clearly not the smartest man you will ever meet, but can surely stand with those who might come close. For better or for worse, I never applied myself as much as one should, because of this. But the better half has kept me in line. I think, for the first time ever, I’ve found a motivational tool that actually works. Grades, schmades. I’ve always known what I could do if I put my mind to it. But now, now its great to show show some one else what I can do. Its not really showing off, as much as it is wanting to kick ass, to show my better half that I can damn well kick ass. Its neat. Kind of like Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He’s not saving his band of merry men and the maid marrian not only because he can. He’s saving them because he wants/needs to show them he can. After all, everything he did, he did it for them/her.

But I digress. Back to Saint Mitchell’s.

It seems I have once more created a familiar name for myself, at another new school – the mysterious new student who appeared from no where, speaks little about himself and is rather quiet all-in-all, but in terms of course content, is often spot-on in intepretation and has quickly become one of the “go-to guys” for professors when they are fed up with apathetic classes. These personae usually conclude with the student disappearing as quietly as he appeared, leaving faculty and students alike wondering who he was, where he came from and why he left so suddenly. Like Madonna’s Ray of Light, perhaps. This time around though, I think I won’t fade think I’ll let myself vanish so quick. I think I’ve finally become comfortable wih identifying myself as an “English Student.” I appreciate what I’m studying, how I’m studying, and how it affects not only my life, but the lives of the people around me. I don’t want to be the mysterious student who arrives one day and leaves the next any longer. Now I **want** to stick around, and get to know the faculty better, and help them in their work so they may help me in mine. Its nice.

I do have issues with Saint Mitchell’s. Sometimes, it reminds me, too much of my Catholic elementary schools. Its archecture is a mishmash of St. Joseph’s and St. Anne, it has the ugly brickwork of the Hotel-Dieu,, and the horrible wooden siding of SMC at UofT. Its over-crowded, and predominantly concerned with Commerce. I resent the fact that the English Department does not have a Masters programme, but instead lets half of its faculty hold adjunct positions with Dal’s English MA/PhD programme. The Department does not offer any OE, so I might have to take a course or two on a Letter of Permission. The lack of phsycial space precludes the use of seminars in many courses. But all in all, I have immersed myself in an incredible department with outstanding and vibrant faculty members. I’ll be more than happy to stick around and complete a degree there.

Outside of school, friends and family have slowly noticed how I’ve become a student again. For the most part, I’ve tried to remain quiet and modest about my return to student life. My many disappearing acts through the years are a bit of a regret on my part, and don’t like to bring to light just how far behind everyone else I am, when I have the goods to be so far ahead (really, I do). its a little bit like the boy who cried wolf, I suppose. I think I’ve only been completely “forward” about things with my friend MA Steve, who actually does not know all the sordid details about my academic life. Its a little funny, and mostly sad, that I’ve done this to myself, because for too long in my life I’ve identified most with scholarly life. I’ve always been interested in education for education’s sake, and have always been comfortable in schools. The idea of spending my life working in the spirit of capitalism doesn’t jive at all. Capital success is often secondary to what I might learn/gain/attain intellectualy. I’m not a fan of the romantic “ivory tower” notion of academia, but i do appreciate the notion of spending my life on a campus in pursuit of knowledge, instead of the dollar. So its a little unfortunate that despite this idealistic love affair with a notion, I don’t bother to express it. Nonetheless, those friends and family have seen the outward changes, and remarked on them, for the better. Its nice.

Its a little disconcerting, however, when people ask what the end result of my return to school might be. My enthusiasm for my studies, and my good marks this term (we are only talking about one term here, folks), lead people to believe I would naturally want to pursue graduate school. Rightly so, it would be an incredible pursuit. No longer a twenty year old punk, and now with a partner who works in university admin, and friends who are faculty, graduate life seems like a natural extention. Its just what one will do. Its a proper progression – onward sand upwards through grad school to a faculty posiiton. For the record though – I am outwardly speaking to you, my real life friends who might be reading this – I remain apprehensive to the idea. My track record up to now has been spotty. I have had my stellar moments. I have had many stellar moments, but the transcripts show up to now a thorough lack of committment. The better half is correct in saying that two years of steady progress will change all that, and I could likely enter an MA without a problem. But then there’s a Ph.D to worry about, let alone finding steady tenure-track work. And face it, baby-boomers retiring out not, the numbers are against me. There are too many English Ph.Ds. entering the “work-force” every year for the few faculty positions available. And besdies all that, we’re are looking well into the future on an idea. For now, my intentions are to kick ass and finish the BA, and then consider the MA. I’m not going to get ahead of myself. That’s simply foolish. And besides, since I refuse to consider my life in terms of my (future or present) job/career, its not even the point. For now, I’m perfectly content with big gains made by small steps..


Written by mitchellirons

December 20, 2004 at 12:29 am

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