Today I realized that I do not know a lot about science fiction. Sure I know that Frankenstein is considered the first sci-fi novel by many and that the genre has gotten a pretty bad rap from high-brow critics, but I never realized just how knowledgeable some people are about the writers and critics within the genre itself.
Thus, I felt a little behind today as I listened to my classmates, some of whom have already been published in this field, discuss so and so's critique versus so and so's. The problem is that I'm not behind in regards to other first-year students, but some people at Hollins seem to never leave.
I've met one student who is hoping to take nine years to get her degree (this is a summer program so that's not as alarming as it would be if we were here all year). I've met another who already has an M.A. from Hollins and is now working on her M.F.A. (Masters in Fine Arts). There was one student in my class (the well versed one on sci-fi criticism) who actually is done with her thesis and has graduated. She just felt like showing up for the class today. I really thought I would take my coursework over three summers, do my thesis in the Fall following my last semester here and be done. I still plan on doing that (don't worry Bryan), but all of these very senior students make the gap between their experience and ours all the more apparent. If I weren't so anal retentive, such a gap would not bother me. I'd be happy to bask in their knowledge and learn from them. But I'm not naturally like that. The competitive side of me makes me want to try to outdo such people even when that is not possible nor beneficial. It took me two years to get over the idea that I could be the "best teacher." I didn't understand at first that having multiple good teachers is far better for the students and the community as a whole. Now I'm trying to get my brain around the idea that I'm new at something again (much like I was when I first matriculated into college) and that I just need to chill. Heaven help me if I make a B.
By the way, I'm not proud of my neurosis about grades and competitions. I consider it to be my biggest fault and I would love for someone to just knock me out some day and hypnotize me to feel differently because it's exhausting to always worry about "my rank." I am going to have to work very hard to not pass on this trait to any future children because we don't need a third person in the household behaving this way.
Tomorrow is the class that I am more comfortable with --the History of Children's Criticism. It is also a class with just first year students, so I will not be encountering more Van Wilders for which I am most grateful.
I forgot to mention yesterday the passing my first cat, Figaro. For the past six years he has been living with my in-laws because Bryan and I couldn't have pets in our first apartment. Once we could have pets, Figaro was around 15 years old and very comfortable with his new home so we got a new cat instead (Quark, who has been terrorizing us for two years now). Figaro was now 17 years old and had developed liver cancer so my mother-in-law had him put to sleep yesterday. It's hard because if he had remained my cat for the past six years this event would have devastated me because he was such a big part of my growing up. However, I had compartmentalized the situation to the point where I saw him more as the Millers' cat than mine these days. Thus, I am sad, and I wish I had a picture of him to look at now that I know he's gone, but I know that she made the right decision.
Figaro was my "alarm clock" when I was younger because around 6 or 7 in the morning, he would start howling for someone to wake up and feed him. Recently we stayed with the Millers and were dismayed at 7AM to find out that he had not lost the habit. Sure enough he started howling when the sun came up and then proceeded to use the litter box (which was in the room we were staying in) just to make his needs especially clear to us. So my last memory of him brought me full circle. I guess that's all the closure I'm going to get.