Friday, February 13, 2009

my school at a glance

First of all- I’ll just put it out there- there are lots of Jews. I’m ok with that. In fact, I considered enhancing my skirt collection, but then winter rolled around and I just don’t know how the religious girls do it without their Russian moms yelling at them on their way out of the house. Oh, ok. But I’m not so engrossed in my affiliation with the majority to be ignorant of the possible annoyances the non-Jews must bear: Does the Chinese club prefer to serve kosher Chinese food during their Lunar New Year celebration? What if I accidentally use the microwave that’s not reserved for goy-food? And is it ok if I put on a yarmulke for social purposes? Where would I get one of those? I’ve never seen them in Urban Outfitters, but I’d love one with my name on it in Hebrew. Just to double check, it does automatically grant access to your cute Jewish friends (even if I don’t ask it, you’ll keep me in mind), your dad’s network, and Chaim’s outlines since he took the class last year with almost the same professor, did well whatever that means and will tell me whether my strategy should be “do the readings, skip the classes” or vice versa, correct? Thanks, and good Sabb…Shab..…how do you say it again? You know, the reason the school closes at 3 on Fridays and conveniently remains closed through Saturday?

Somehow still in the habit of observing my college library’s custom, I often enter the library flashing my ID card to the librarian. Rather, at her. She responds in a way that a security guard scanning for student IDs, had he been posted in the 7th fl library rather than the lobby, would not. And as part of a lovely new habit, I began scanning male heads for yarmulkes the way guys tend scan girls to check out their… yarmulkes. It is of utterly no consequence to me whether I find one on his head or not, but if there’s a possibility that it’s just a shadow or my imagination (which, evidently, runs wild nowadays and I apologize for its impropriety), I’ll put on my glasses to double check.

Laptops are ubiquitous in classrooms, and while I can appreciate the speedy note-taking, there seem to be few other educational advantages. Professors inevitably relinquish at least part of their students’ attention to Facebook until the word “exam” is uttered, and muting g-chat is more important to class preparation than reviewing your case briefs. An unforeseen consideration develops when choosing a seat on the first day, and sitting too close to the front leaves you feeling exposed, as if the world is looking at your computer screen and judging both your desktop picture and the amount of worthless emails in your inbox. On the other hand, such scanning of your comrades’ computer action is frequently a source of comfort, revealing that the vigorous typing is generating class notes on only a few screens.

They do consider this a serious form of education, so I’ll admit that there are classes in which such shenanigans will leave you stranded mid-lecture, unable to grab on to any familiar fragment of the professor’s lecture, and resigning yourself to transcribing it verbatim. This is accompanied by an unfounded hope these notes will make sense in the future, a deep sense of failure, a painful awareness of your limitations, and a blunt knowledge that today, nobody’s comment can sound stupid to you.

Incidentally, is the reason it was difficult to contain my laughter throughout the criminal law class discussion about the rape and murder of a little girl. Back to class.