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Call me Nimdok

I just started another semester, with the dreaded literature class, the ones I now have to take because it’s all I have left before I finish the Masters and continue on to demanding to be called Doctor Wimmer (or Doctor Pretty Pretty Princess would also be acceptable). It’s not that I dread literature classes, really. I just dread the fact that the literature classes I want aren’t offered that semester or are offered but are meeting twice a week during the early afternoons and I have a two hundred and fifty mile round trip commute to class and while my employer has generously offered to allow me to rearrange my schedule to take one afternoon off a week, there’s no way that I could take off two afternoons. Plus, I think I don’t think I could work for twelve hours straight the other days and still get my homework done. At some point, there are diminishing returns, and one trip to Milwaukee a week is really just all I can bear. This is why I always end up with one class a semester, even though I could probably do two classes. There just never two perfectly aligned classes on the schedule. Sure there might be another class I could take, one that meets after the one I’m taking, but it’s usually a repeat of one I already took, or one that would cause me to shoot myself in the head because I am so bored. Or it involves modernist poetry.

This semester, there were two really interesting possibilities, so I registered for both of them, because there are a serious lack of lit classes at my school, they fill up quickly and I wanted to have a choice. One was on post-colonial women writers and the other was on the dystopia in science fiction. I signed up for the former because I have a serious lacking in American lit and women writers are always interesting, the latter because I love dystopias and don’t really understand science fiction, so wanted to broaden my horizons a little. One met on a Wednesday and one on a Monday, so clearly, one needed to go for the aforementioned scheduling logistics, but I figured that I’d just attend the first meetings of each one and then after checking out the syllabus, I’d make the killing blow.

The scifi professor was nice enough to send an e-mail with the book list, which contained apparently every science fiction book ever written. And also one by Margaret Atwood. That was a serious check in the plus column for the class, since Peg is probably my favorite female novelist and her dystopia in The Handmaid’s Tale was what first attracted me to her work. And Oryx and Crake is a very enjoyable book that I already own, so no big there.

Steven probably owned a bunch of the other stuff, but I knew that I’d end up pissed off and stomping around if I tried to locate it in Computer Room #1, where he insists on dumping all of his books in piles and dusty heaps, so I just bought the books off Amazon and was done with it. Jesus god, it’s a lot of books. We also had two short stories and two essays to read in prep for the class and meh, my eyes were glazing over in the beginning but then I started getting into it.

One of the interesting tidbits talked about literary snobs and how they have a hard time understanding the concepts of non-normative fiction and it was like yes. YES! That’s me. Right there. And now I don’t feel so bad because apparently all the arty foo foo people are broken in the head.

Except really, that’s not all it. I understand it fine. I can accept and suspend disbelief. I just like words too much and the science fiction stuff, it seems to be all very left-brained and ordered and, you know, robot-y and while I can certainly follow the story, it feels a bit like work. And maybe that’s just it. I don’t want to have to work at it. I want the language to grab my brain and set it into a tailspin until I set the book down feeling a little high (see: Nabokov, V). I need pretty word pictures to keep my interest. I do not want to work at reading about a monopole magnet mining operation in the outer asteroid belt and also robots! So clearly I have some attitude (circuit) enhancements to make. And anyway, this will be good for me. Like eating spinach or exercising or something.

A bit of weirdness: in researching one of the stories, I stumbled across a blog of someone who mentioned their class about dystopias and then the stories that we’re reading and then, scrolling down, there was a reading list of every science fiction book that ever was and also Margaret Atwood. MY reading list, in fact. Further snooping revealed that yup, he goes to my school. I then spent about half an hour trying to get over the novelty, although honestly, I don’t know why this is a shock. Almost everyone I know has a blog. I know of people in Wisconsin who read my page, and according to my stats tracker, people in Green Bay are reading it as well, way more people than I have personally told about the page, so they had to have found out about it somehow. And it’s not like I don’t read local blogs myself, but even they came from knowing someone who knew someone, certainly not from Google serendipity. Some day, I’m going to have to get over the feeling that I’m living in a foreign land stuck in 1974. I rely upon the collective local naivete a little too much.

I’m totally going to have to restrain myself from giggling in class tonight though, because secrets, oh they kill me.