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Paper time!

November 8, 2006

Of the many things that are going on with class right now, it’s the paper that I’m most anxious about.  Oh, I know, my mad skillz as a web designer (“of an artist”) are going to be put to the test by the hypertext project, but I figure if I need help, I can ask for it, and really–could I do worse than the girl who’d never heard of HTML before?  No.  Nothing against her, I’m sure she’ll figure it out.  I’m just saying.  I’m not going in with the least amount of knowledge here, so I feel pretty much okay about it all.

The Power Point project?  Well, it’s been a while, but again, something I will be able to pull from the back of my mind where it’s gone unused since Intro to Computers, and I’m okay with that.

But papers…

Papers are the big, scary things.  They have the grammar, and the citations, and the original ideas.  I’m always worried that my idea is dull, or simple, or unoriginal.  And the fact that we’re doing Beckett makes it all the more difficult.  I’ve had some problems getting into him.  I have a vague idea of what interests me–and could probably pull two or three more out of a hat if I needed to–but even if my idea grows from something workable to something good, the idea of all that research, all that work…it’s a little overwhelming.

If it weren’t Beckett, I’d be excited (but still nervous).  I have to write another paper, this one for Philosophy, and I’m very excited about it.  As soon as we started reading Plato, I realized that I had read a fictional book that used The Republic as a starting point.  My first thought was “A book report?” but when I spoke to the teacher about it, she sounded excited too, so I’m all for it.  I reordered it from the library and am looking forward to rereading it…uh, Platonically.  Heh.

The thing about that is, I can just use the two sources, I think (I have to check the syllabus to be sure).  None of that crazy “plagiarism” stuff that looms over the head of every English/Lit/Litt major in every college in the land.  Seriously, it’s terrifying to think that if you forget to quote something, suddenly you’re a thief and not absent-minded, and yet that’s what’s drilled into our heads at the beginning of every semester, if not every time we write anything.  “Your stupidity will not save you!”  Okay, well, I wouldn’t want stupidity to save me, but I’d like to opportunity for my ignorance to be corrected, not worrying if I’ll be tossed out of school because I’m not sure what does and doesn’t constitute paraphrasing.

I’m a good student, and yet this worries me.  I’d like to think that people who don’t do as well worry as much, but I’m sure because they don’t care if they do well, they don’t care if they screw up either.  Back at the CC, there was an English 102 class where we had to write five papers during the semester.  (I think it was five; that may have been another class.  There might have been three, now that I think about it.  But whatever, there were a lot of papers–or else it felt like it.)  There was a kid, and he was one of those kids that didn’t care if he fell asleep when he was tired, but he wasn’t stupid.  When he was awake, he wasn’t afraid to ask the dumb questions that others feared to ask, and sometimes the questions he asked and the comments he made were amazingly insightful.  I wonder now how much of that might have been fueled by SparkNotes, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he was a somewhat smart kid, but maybe a little lazy and definitely didn’t put the effort in.

One of the things he did was ignore the way the papers were supposed to be written.  We were told specifically how they were to be done, but for some reason, he let it go in one ear and out the other.  Specifically, we were not allowed to use the first person.  (This is one of those things that’s throwing me off now in Litt class.  I’ve seen the first person, and I don’t like it because I LEARNED not to like it.)  And yet, when he got his third paper back, there was a big F and the prof hadn’t even read it.  He saw the “I,” stuck the F on it, and that was that.  The kid’s eyes got all big and kinda watery, and I sort of felt bad for him.  But he was there the whole time!  He heard everything we did!  (Except when he napped, which I swear wasn’t as much as I might have made it sound before.)  And yet, he was upset.  He even seemed to think he had a right to it.  But he didn’t.

So that’s my example of kids who don’t care.  Oh, he could say to High Heaven that he cared, but his work–through his inattentiveness–proved that he didn’t.  This is what I fear turning into when it comes to plagiarism.  I’m afraid there’s no room for mistake: there is Correct, and there is Failure.  I want the room for error, I want the “Did you realize that this is a paraphrase?” “No.”  But I know deep down it’s asking for too much.  There were writing labs at the CC; I’m sure Stockton has to have at least one somewhere.  There is email and there is after class to be sure.  But part of me still wants that pass, the way Sleepy Kid wanted that pass.  I don’t know.  It all feels wrong.

Whew.  That got serious.  Um…I watched the pilot for Torchwood.  It had Pilot Issues, but what doesn’t?  (The first episode of Deadwood, actually.)  I had off yesterday from Litt and today because of the Precepting, and yes, I know I don’t reallllly have time to start another show, but we finished Wonderfalls, and um, live TV hiatus will be coming up soon, just in time to finish the end of the semester, I suppose.  As long as I use today constructively, I’ll be fine with watching TV, I think.  I’ve given up Scrubs altogether, which means I’m down to watching Heroes and Gilmore Girls live, and then random episodes here and there of Galactica (with the boyfriend), Animaniacs (with the daughter), Superman: TAS (all three of us together), and now Torchwood.  What was I thinking?  But really, that ends up being about three hours a week.  Can’t I give myself three hours a week, for now?  I guess I can.

Oh, and there’s a new Jennifer Crusie out.  It’s just a novella, but it’s cute and funny.  It’s holding me over until Agnes.

Until next time…

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