Monday, February 05, 2007

Alanis Morissette, voice of the graduate student

Many of my life's milestones have taken place in the desert. My mother took my brother and I to the desert for our first post-divorce vacation. I witnessed my grandmother's burial in the desert. I travelled to the desert to say goodbye to the leave behind the girl who dated that awful jerk, and hello to the woman who would become this graduate student. My most recent trip to the desert was five years ago, to visit my auntie in Las Vegas. I had just bought Alanis Morissette's "Under Rug Swept" album. I listened to it on my portable CD player as I walked the neighborhood streets, in a time that did not yet know the iPod.

Back then, Alanis songs always represented to me some unresolved anger at some stupid boy that had treated me badly. I know all the words to each song assigned to these boys. These days, thanks to having a decent boyfriend who doesn't call me bitch and who does his own dishes, I've not really listened to her albums as regularly. Today, I got out the "Under Rug Swept" album. It's been a bad 10 days, and I needed something for a structured screaming exercise. Upon track 2, I suddenly wondered if Alanis had ever been to graduate school. With all my frustrating faculty issues lately, it didn't seem appropriate anymore to think of old boyfriends when I hear lyrics like these:

The faculty members who won't let me finish my sentences:

Dear narcissus boy I know you've never really apologized for anything
I know you've never really taken responsibility
I know you've never really listened to a woman

Dear me-show boy I know you're not really into conflict resolution
Or seeing both sides of every equation
Or having an uninterrupted conversation

The faculty member who did that not-so-appropriate thing:

We'll fast forward to a few years later
And no one knows except the both of us
And I have honored your request for silence
And you've washed your hands clean of this

The faculty member who turned me away for advising:

Wait a minute man
You mispronounced my name
You didn't wait for all the information
Before you turned me away
Wait a minute sir
You kind of hurt my feelings
You seek me as a sweet back-loaded puppet
And you've got a meal ticket tast.


I got a lot of "grrr" in me right now, in part due to the 12 hours of meetings I had last week. 12!?@#$What the$#@!? I'm trying to keep perspective, but it's tough, as I feel I've hit a local minimum with my research. My advisor is unhappy with my progress and wants to shut down my project. Grrr. Right now, I'm trying to recollect and try a new strategy to get him to listen to me. Without. Interrupting.

Still, I'm learning more and more. I've noticed that there are fewer and fewer things that folks say that sound like alien language, which is great progress for a EE in CS. Even the formal methods boyfriend hasn't stumped me for a while. That's something...right?

* * *

To keep things light-hearted, I'll end with a good boyfriend story.

These past couple of weeks it's been dang cold in GradShitTownVille. I whine about the cold at least three times a day. I thaw myself in the bathtub every night. I take heat-cuts through three buildings on my way to lunch. During one of my whiny moments, the boyfriend said,

"Whaddya mean it's cold? It's 261 Kelvin!"


DC said...

That boyfriend story made me laugh more than any other so-called funny things I've come across this week.

shannon said...

i heart boyfriend.