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Archive for the tag “argh”

Assignment Feedback

Abandoned School Classroom
Last week in school I had two papers to turn in, one for each class I’m taking. I got grades back for both of them today.

The first was for my Literary Theory class. We had to use one of the theories we’re learning about to analyze the book Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. I chose to use structuralism, specifically Tzvetan Todorov’s version. I won’t get into what that entails because it’s complicated and confusing. The point is I got my grades today with some comments on the paper. I’ve been waiting for this so I can start writing the full paper which is due June 15.

According the comments, I did a pretty good job. She mentioned some places where I needed to explain my examples better (which doesn’t surprise me because I wrote the main part of the paper then went quote hunting in the book for examples and just threw it all together at like 3am the day it was due). Her comments were somewhat helpful. I got 65/70 on it.

My other paper was for Intro to Sociology. We had to explain how our education affected us sociologically. I just kind of blathered on about what I did in elementary and high school, then went back and added in information explaining concepts from the book. I really didn’t put much effort into it. I got a perfect score on the first paper and had no idea what the heck I was doing.

So I get my grade a few minutes ago and it’s 148/155 (95%). Hmmm, I think, I must have screwed something up. I go to view the comments and this is what I find:

Good work, and thank you for sharing some of your interactions with formal education. The format of your paper was good, and your synthesis strong. I appreciate the resources that you pulled into your narrative, and the impact on your own life that you outline.

Oooookay, but why did I miss seven points? Apparently I did a good job on the paper, but I did something wrong. There’s no freaking explanation. How am I supposed to know what to improve on? ARGH! Now I have to email her for details. Emailing makes my anxiety go crazy and I get sick to my stomach.

But seriously, why not explain where the points were taken from.

These professors this term are driving me nuts. At least the Sociology one participates in the discussion board. My Lit teacher is never around so we’re all just mumbling around, acting like we know what the hell we’re talking about after reading a text that provides very few examples to explain concepts. I’m so glad this term is almost over.

EDITED TO ADD: My sociology teacher just updated our virtual classroom with an announcement about the paper. This part really got me:

 I have attached here the assignment parameters that were available to you in our course information area so that you might be able to decipher where your points were lost (those that were not specifically mentionned in the feedback that I left for each of you.)

Umm… Isn’t that her job? Isn’t she supposed to tell us where we didn’t meet the requirements instead of us “deciphering” it on our own. Also note the spelling and grammar mistakes. WTF?

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Libraries

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When I was a child I remember going to the library. Our branch was small and musty, but I remember getting my first library card and being allowed to choose the books I wanted from the shelves. What a thrill. In high school, the library became a place to study. I enjoyed riding the L downtown to the Harold Washington Library. In college, our library offered lots of little study nooks to find your own quiet space. I always loved the library.

Apparently, though, libraries have changed since I was younger. Today they are apparently places to gather and socialize instead of places to study. The library in my small town is just as small. In fact, it’s not any bigger than my three bedroom house. It might even be smaller than my house. There are three tables to work at, only one of them has an outlet nearby to plug in laptops. There aren’t many books there so usually you have to put things on hold to get from one of the other branches. The biggest drawback is it is very noisy there. With one big open room, half of it being the kids’ section, it’s just loud. And nobody is told to be quiet.

Gone are the days of the librarian shooshing people that got above a soft whisper. Kids are allowed to jump around and yell, the librarians themselves don’t even speak softly. In fact, the main branch of the Vancouver Regional Library System has an entire section for kids that has things to climb on and jump around on. They are on one floor. Unfortunately upstairs is the non-fiction area with some study tables, but the edges are open to the floor below so you can hear all that noise. Kids are being taught the library is a place to play.

Today I went to a different branch. It’s closer to my house than the city center one. It’s a nice size, modern and bright with lots of tables to study at and they all have outlets for laptops. Usually I can get a lot of work done, but today was different. As soon as I sat down in my favorite area I realized there was a problem. A woman sitting in the reading area near the fireplace (where people read the newspapers usually) was on her phone. Just chatting away. She was completely unconcerned with all of us studying or doing our own reading. People were glaring at her, but she was oblivious. After about thirty minutes she finally says, “hey, I have to go, I’m at the library,” and hangs up. Two seconds later the phone rings and she’s chatting again like she’s at the mall or something. She was then quiet for about forty-five minutes then made a call to complain about some charge on a bill or something. She was arguing with the person on the phone and getting upset and loud.

Meanwhile four older people pulled chairs up together about ten feet from where I was trying to study (trying being the operative word here). They began chatting loudly. Apparently they were a book club. By that time I was fed up. I got up and left. Other people had already gone. If I didn’t have my anxiety I would have complained to the librarian. I doubt they would have done anything, but it was ridiculous.

Before I went to the library I went to Shari’s for lunch. I was there for an hour, eating, drinking my iced tea, and doing homework. It was quiet. Even after it started getting busy it was still quieter than that library. There’s something very wrong in the world when a library is noisier than a restaurant at lunch time.

So when did libraries go from being places to study to being places to socialize?

How not to write angst?

summerlist_cover

cover made by me using various digital scrapbooking supplies just for fun

The question mark is correct. This isn’t an article on how not to write an angsty novel. This is a request for tips to get out of the habit. My NaNo novel was intended to be a light-hearted, silly summer read about a boy and a girl that don’t get along who are forced together to do the Summer List to win a prize eventually falling for each other.

I’ve written (and rewritten because the tense/perspective was wrong on the first go-round) the first act and I’m checking my notes for the second act and have realized I’m already firmly into teen drama-angst land. I want there to be a little of that but this has gone way overboard.

I think I’m going to have to slap my hand every time I start to write something melodramatic or overly-angsty. Also, I have a tendency to show the feelings from an early start. In the book the two main characters aren’t supposed to to start liking each other until half way in (their internal thoughts) but they aren’t supposed to notice/now the other likes them back until the end. Already have them flirting (at least in the way they do it) and glancing at each other. Blah.

I have to rethink the entire outline. Which I’m not going to do during NaNo. I really need to learn pacing and tone. And theme. I suck at understanding theme. Luckily I’m going back to school in January and will be majoring in creative writing-fiction so… maybe I’ll figure it out eventually.

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