If you don't accept that humans are a product of evolution and still subject to natural selection, then I don't know how you make sense of the fact that teenagers are daring each other to eat laundry detergent. If I'd ever had a shred of faith in humanity, I might be surprised that I'm putting those words in a sentance in that order, but I hadn't and I'm not. Some people see this as a problem. I don't. But in an effort to be more compassionate, I've tried to think of how I would feel if my own teenager died from eating laundry detergent.
Me: *sobs uncontrollably*
Bystander: I know, it's always hard to lose a loved one...
Me: No, I'm crying because my genetic material created something that stupid.
Actually, this is implausible because, like I said. my teenager would most likely be adopted. Anyway, on to the main portion of our program. How good it feels to be returning to school nearly three years after I was supposed to graduate. How good it feels to still see some familiar faces from a year and a half ago or more. The man whom I may have to kill if he turns out to be a better writer than me. The woman who always looks like she's wincing from a terrible pun. The man whom I never spoke with in the previous class we were in together but who now wants to be best friends. The woman who - wait, is that her, or is it a sister or something? She looks slightly different... I can't tell... The man with long, silky, flawless, sexuality-confusing hair. And so on and so forth. Here is an edge-of-your-seat-thrilling rundown of the classes I'm taking this semester. I'm already far busier than any semester before and it looks like homework is going to be my primary hobby six days a week for the next four months. I attracted a few stares in the bookstore as I shuffled to the register with my literally twenty books.
Bookstore Worker: Do you need help finding anything?
Me (out loud): No thank you.
Me (not out loud): I know how the alphabet works, thanks.
And also, every class requires participation as part of the grade.
So I've been proactive in each class at contributing something as soon as I can so I can relax, and most of my comments end up being kind of banal and useless and everyone probably thinks I'm a simpleton.
Me: It reminds me of "Shrek" because he said ogres are like onions and they have layers...
Professor: Ha, so you're saying [intellectual articulate stuff].
That's it, the class is just called "Shakespeare". It's a 4000 level class and about five minutes into it I was thinking, Uh, you do realize I have other classes, right? I had four days to read "The Taming of the Shrew", but I misunderstood and read it in two days, which was fine because I had no shortage of other homework. I'm not sure what to think of it. It's so misogynistic it makes Donald Drumpf look like Gloria Steinem, but it's also a thousand times more intelligently written than his Tweets. Obviously our female professor feels that it has some redeeming value somehow. We discussed at length the various mental gymnastics that can be employed to make Petruchio seem like less of a monster. I don't understand his methodology anyway. Being deprived of sleep doesn't make me more compliant, it makes me more homicidal. That's hyperbole. Mostly. I can't wait to read other, less repugnant Shakespeare plays because I actually quite enjoy him and wish people were still that smart.
Unveiling the Anthropocene
Just another English student in the music building for a science class, that's me. I started out in the sciences. I majored in Wildlife Science for a few years and that's how I took a bunch of biology classes, came out of the closet as an evolutionist and gained the expertise to refute every creationist I've ever argued with on the internet. Even though I ultimately decided that I don't love science and would rather just stare at its butt as it walks by, I have no regrets about spending that time in that area. And I certainly never imagined that I would come back to it so near the end. This class meets some requirement or other. It's not entirely a science class, but wants to equip us to make science accessible to normal people through art, so obviously that's where the connection comes in. I definitely want to use art to convince people to agree with me on science, religion, politics, and which Star Wars movie is the best (but actually we all know what that is already).
We watched an hour and a half National Geographic documentary called "The Story of Earth". I was riveted. I knew many of these facts, of course, and had read a ton about dinosaurs, but to see the whole thing animated from start to finish was a new and enrapturing experience. The British narrator's pronunciations were occasionally a bit jarring, though. In his mouth algea was "AL-gee" and methane was "MEE-thane". I have to wonder, in a class like this, how many students are Mormons and how many of those Mormons are resisting what they're hearing because they don't believe in evolution. And I wonder how many are conservatives and how many of those conservatives are resisting what they're hearing because they don't believe in climate change. I didn't believe in either of those things when I took my first college biology class but I put aside my biases and listened to the material anyway and here I am now.
Survey of American Culture
American culture is obviously difficult to define because, contrary to what the current admistration obviously believes, it's a melting pot that incorporates every other culture in the world. Yet at the same time, it's distinctive enough to be recognized as it in turn forces itself onto every other culture in the world. I've given some thought in the past to how I would define uniquely American culture: spirit of free enterprise, gun fetish, fast food, pornography, rap music, country music, cowboys, getting offended, lawsuits, Hollywood, leg-humping obsession with skin color, polarized mud-slinging politics, creationism, separation of church and state. Looks like I get to find out how close to the mark I was. I'm the least concerned about this class because it's only a 2000 level and the professor's name is Christopher so he's already biased in my favor. One day he showed us three songs and asked us to brainstorm what they say about American culture.
John Mellencamp - Our Country
We seemed to reach a consensus that John Mellencamp had a bit of a White Savior complex and played into stereotypes a little too much, but his heart was in the right place, and this was back in the unenlightened days of 2007 before we'd ever had a black president and so on.
Tracy Chapman - Fast Car
I actually love this song for both the melody and the nostalgia of hanging out with Cece, but I never paid much attention to the lyrics. Even now if you put a gun to my head all I could recite with total confidence is "You've got a fast car". So it turns out the lyrics tell a depressing story about being unable to achieve the American dream.
Kendrick Lamar - FEEL.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.