Criminal Record

Recently, I received a mysterious e-mail from Stepford Residence Life summoning me to a “hearing” of the “Community Standards Council” to determine if I was responsible for allegedly being “involved in a incident in violation of Stepford’s values and honor code.”   I told my roommates and Amber immediately began channeling all those Law and Order marathons we’ve wasted good sleeping hours on.  We (really, just she) poured over the Student Handbook and discovered that the summons technically violated Values Violations procedure as outlined in the handbook, as it did not inform me of whatever the alleged incident actually was (although it did tell me the date of the incident, from last semester – like I remember what I did last week!).
We didn’t have time to get pencil skirt suits and briefcases, so we marched into the hearing wearing jeans and backpacks instead – Amber playing the role of my legal counsel and Mary Beth just there to be amused.  It took us a while to find the room, as it was in a part of the University Center we never go in.  At first I thought it was the door behind the big statue of a dead white guy that used to be in the room in the Capitol where they have statues from all the states (they replaced him with Helen Keller, she’s more PC), but the door was unmarked, and when we stood in front of the statue and said “Lemon Drop,” nothing happened.  We did find it, though, and we weren’t late, although half the council was – the council being comprised of a staff adviser and seven students, only two of whom actually showed up.  A handful of other equally confused students were present to get their sentences (more politely called “sanctions”).  You parked in the wrong parking lot?  Hang them on the Quad!  Hang them all on the Quad!
They explained how we would each get a chance to tell our side of the story privately to the council before they discussed our sanctions.  They finally presented us with written reports of our “incidents” – thus removing a leg from our defense about “not following procedure.”
The incident?  We have visitation hours in the dorms, when we are allowed to have members of the opposite sex in the dorms (co-ed dorms are for heathens and sexual vagrants), provided we sign our visitors in at the residence life office and fork over a drivers license and a kidney as collateral.  On weekends, visitation is from 2 PM – 12 AM, and usually when we have guys over, it’s the weekend.  However, on weekdays, visitation ends at 10 PM.  The day of the mysterious incident was a weekDAY, not a weekEND, and we were hanging out in the dorm, when at 10:15 PM I received a phone call from Residence Life telling me to come sign out my visitor.  We signed out and I apologized to the (apparently pissed) RA on duty, explaining that I had forgotten visitation ended at 10 and not midnight.  No harm done, right?  Wrong!  Stepford has been VIOLATED and someone must be punished!  The RA on duty, contrary to the forgiving nature of almost every other RA I know, wrote a report on the heinous and malicious breach of protocol and it was this report that caused me to be summoned to the Community Standards Council on a rainy Thursday afternoon.
I told them my side of the story – what I’ve told you here, minus my comments on the RA’s bad mood.  One of the two students on the council said dubiously, “That’s it?” and they sent me on my way with their characteristically Stepford smiles, promising an e-mail the following day that would deliver my sanction, if there was any.
My thoughts afterwards?  That this was a ridiculous, trivial waste of time, and these reasonable people understood the harmless and thoroughly accidental nature of the incident.  Well, I got my sentencing via e-mail today, as promised, and I received two points on my “record,” seven of which will send a person to the “Values Advocate” and likely put them on probation.
You know what else I did today?  I put down a deposit on an off-campus apartment.
I don’t foresee suddenly accumulating 5 more points in the next year, but the absolutely useless nature of the entire process from start to finish has only solidified my firm dislike of the Stepford administration.  I have wonderful professors, I’ve met a few interesting people, and I’ve gotten a good liberal arts education for what is unfortunately a bargain, but I will have no feelings of nostalgia or affection for the institution when I step off its perfectly landscaped campus for the last time.  This one incident is not what has tarnished my view of Stepford, it’s only the cherry on top – a battle scar, if you will, and an enjoyable story to tell.

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Existential Mortality = Joy

We have been reading dead Germans for longer than anyone should ever be forced to.  Whether or not Tuesday’s lecture/discussion/monologue was on the Heidegger reading we were required is beyond me, because I’m still on Nietzsche.  The discussion – which is really just Dr. P talking about what he thinks about the reading and anything possibly related in his life currently, with the occasional lewd joke thrown in – somehow ended up being about death.  According to Heidegger, man’s ultimate possibility is his impossibility.  In English: the only thing certain in life is death.
Philosophy lectures can be long and frustrating, because they are often a lot of jargon to no end.  Philosophers supposedly search for answers, but they seem to delight in coming roundabout 360 degrees.  That, combined with the cheery prospect of death, should have made it a particularly depressing lecture.
On the contrary, it made my day about 100% better.
Dr. P presented a few different reactions to our mortality: we can become nihilists, we can become hedonists, or we can relish each moment of joy with added value because of its scarcity and inevitable end.  Of these three, I agreed with the third.  To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, if not for shadows, we wouldn’t know what light means.  Dr. P continued with the the consequences of our mortality and our general insignificance on earth – in a hundred years, he said, nobody will think of us anymore.  Nobody will remember us, and even if we do something that goes in the history books, we’re still dead, and we’re not coming back.  This was the absolute highlight of my day, because – in two hundred years, when nobody remembers my name,
I WILL BE WITH JESUS
And who even cares about the history books then?

I finally remembered to bring my metronome to work today.  Luke, my 9 year old student, thought it was THE COOLEST thing ever.  He had a hard time playing with it at first, which always made me loathe the thing as a kid, but he still thought it was SO COOL and wanted to know WHERE he could get one for himself.  He also was thrilled to show off his awesome multiplication skills when I wanted to switch from the quarter note getting the beat to the eighth note getting the beat.  When Luke’s lesson is over, he always sends his 7 year old brother Kyle in for his lesson.  Kyle opened the door and gave the room a quick once-over, like he was looking for something really big, and said (loudly),
“Where’s the metronome thingy?  Luke said there was gonna be a metronome thingy!”  I picked it up the small ticker and showed it to him,
“This is it.  Do you want to see how it works?”  Kyle’s face immediately fell.
“Oh.  Luke said I was gonna be really surprised.”  He paused, shook his said wryly and said, “I’m not.”

In other news, I bought an electronic piano today, secondhand from my boss.

The only thing it doesn’t have is weighted keys, which would give it more the feel of a real piano.  Nonetheless, it was a great deal, and after I moved Mary Beth’s bed into the living room it fit perfectly.  Ah, I’m kidding.  I had to move my dresser into my closet, but it’s a sacrifice willingly made.  All that remains to do now is get a good pair of headphones so as not to bother the roomies when pounding out Regina Spektor’s “Apres Moi” or tripping over Clair de Lune.

This semester is a tough one, with 5 classes total, 3 of them upper-level and reading/writing intensive.  I’ve become a bit burned out on writing the opinion column and, obviously, blogging.  I hate that I feel so apathetic toward writing, but I’m too apathetic to overcome that apathy.  Music is becoming more important to me (not that it was ever less important) and I find myself drumming piano fingerings on my desk during particularly long lectures.  I am counting down the weeks until summer (6 1/2!), even though I usually hate summer.  I find if I have low expectations, my expectations will be pleasantly exceeded.  I know, I’m a regular Pollyanna.  We found an apartment we like and will be moving in hopefully in June.  Maybe I will finally have room for all my instruments and 1/4 of my books!