That Moment When Your Academic Advisor Tells You Your Writing Sucks and You Want to Curl Up and Die

Oh, how the great have fallen.

I am currently in the process of writing a thesis. It will end up being around 30-40 pages of writing about a subject in art history. I was not concerned about it really until today, when my advisor told me that she couldn’t follow the logic of my paper. I mean, I did turn in a horribly rough draft of my thesis but I had good ideas. Just because of most of it is in Spanish and Mandarin doesn’t mean it isn’t good. And just because I let a four-year-old come up with most of the ideas in the paper doesn’t mean it’s illogical.

The problem is, I am one of those “creative” people who works in a haphazard, irrational and slightly schizophrenic way. I feel and hear and smell (?) all of these  ideas in my head and get wrapped up in trying to do justice to all of them.

This is how the paper-writing process goes: I write a bit, dance to Beyonce, and then sit down. And write more. And then make coffee. And then sit down on the floor. And then make a poster with a flow chart of key terms in my paper. And then I get up to dance more. And then I eat a brownie. And then I lay on the hardwood floor and slide my body around it pretending to be a human mop. Of course, all of this activity only happens intermittently. Inevitably, there’s a few weeks after the initial buzz of ideas where I stare blankly at a very empty Microsoft Word document. I’m at that point.

I haven’t cried yet over my thesis but I am getting there.

My advisor said she was “concerned” and said in no uncertain terms that I needed a writing tutor. It’s not like I’m too good for a writing tutor – okay, I totally am too good for a writing tutor. OH, THE INJUSTICE.

Perhaps my thesis is taking up so much time and energy because it revolves around Lindsay Lohan. It’s soul-draining work. But somebody has to do it.

Well, not really. Nobody has to do it. Except for me because it’s a major requirement.

- Daughter

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Little Coffee Shop of Horrors

This is a self-portrait of me drinking coffee. Just kidding, it's some guy.

This is a self-portrait of me drinking coffee. Just kidding, it’s some guy.

Sunday was designated as a “homework day” but really, everyday is a homework day. Especially when you have to stand up in front of the department chair and other intimidating faculty and orally defend your thesis at the end of the term… it’s a good motivator to get things done. Fear, anxiety, and stress are the healthiest ways to go from “to do” list to “DONE AND DEAD” list. It is better to be feared than loved, after all. I don’t know how that applies to anything I just said but it felt right. That Machiavelli, what a guy.

But I digress.

I am a huge fan of going to coffee shops to do homework during the weekend because libraries stress me out. It’s hard to focus when there are so many books leering at you, like they own the place. Anyway, getting out of the library means I can explore Philadelphia and do things like rub Benjamin Franklin’s belly for good luck. Or run around pretending to be Paul Revere and screaming, “THE VEGANS ARE COMING!! THE VEGANS ARE COMING!!”

This weekend, my friends and I found a coffee shop that met our standards for homework-doing. It was edgy and cool and I obviously didn’t belong.

Unfortunately, it was also a suffocating 1000-degrees Fahrenheit and crowded. A stormy sea of Apple products, beards, and glasses met our arrival. We were the conquistadors of this coffee-drenched land and scavenged for seats, listened to the stories from the indigenous people, and claimed the end of a long bar-table for the Spanish Empire. It was uncomfortable and awkward but you know what, I was at a cool coffee shop and I had a chair – things were looking good in spite of being forced into an advanced yoga position to get into my chair.

After doing some table-vulturing, (where you stalk people who look as if they are leaving their coveted tables with a wider work-space than the three inches we were given) we landed a table. It was a triumph. Not just for us, but for Spain. My friend enthusiastically slid into her seat, an antique wooden bench, and then started making loud noises indicating discomfort. That vintage bench, it turned out, was not conducive to human butts. It splintered off straight into said-friend’s backside. I had to force her into the bathroom and perform minor surgery by pulling out wood chips embedded in various areas of her body. It was a true bonding experience.

Finally, after all of the tree remnants were removed from my friend’s epidermis, we settled into our work. Of course, this was not the end of our trials and tribulations.

The coffee shop was loud and I was already having trouble concentrating but on top of that pre-existing loudness, a folk band started playing. This was randomly punctuated by the sound of coffee grinding and the existential sighs of so many failed writers and actresses. I enjoy a good folk tune and I’m especially partial to the sound of acoustic guitar so that part was nice. But then, there was an hour-long banjo solo. And the banjo player was really into his music which I can appreciate but not when I’m analyzing literature. Homer, Hesse, and Hemingway don’t go with Hoedown.

You can only get hit by the elbow of an over-enthusiastic, bearded fiddler so many times before you give up and call it a day. And that’s just what we did.

And then we immediately went to another coffee shop across the street decidedly banjo free. Success.

- Daughter

I Got Back into My Lesbian Cult

I have been taking a year off from school because I got really ill at college and became a tumbleweed of misery rolling whichever way the wind blew. The first six months of my year off included exciting activities like sleeping for the majority of the day, watching every season of 30 Rock, and dyeing my hair different colors. The second part of my year off was spent more productively because I got an actual job, two internships, and finally started to take care of myself like a normal person and less like a gremlin.

Because I was on medical leave, I had to re-apply to school and go through a re-admission process that can only be described as a bureaucratic nightmare. Eventually, the forces that be graciously allowed me to return so I can give them more mone- I mean, so I can get an education. Of course, it’s not that easy. Even though it’s my last semester and I’m done with my major, I don’t have enough credits to technically graduate… so this summer I will be taking more courses at home to get that damn degree.

I call my school a lesbian cult because it’s an all-girls private school. It’s tiny with only around 1500 girls (all the better for its cult-like atmosphere). Now, let’s be real, not everyone there is a lesbian… but pretty much, y’all. If you walk around, it’s not uncommon to see people naked save for a gay rights flag wrapped around their flesh.

I am excited to go back but weary of things that have become unfamiliar to me such as:

1) Homework: what is it exactly?

2) Deadlines: wait, things have to be done by a certain time?

3) Time management: wait, things have to be done by a certain time?

4) People my age: where did all these young-ish people come from and why are they all around? I MISS WRINKLES.

5) No pets: how am I going to live without my cat, Rambo? I’m freaking out right MEOW!

Don't leave me!

Don’t leave me!

6) Dining halls: barf.

Me, at the prospect of eating dining hall food. Also, I was an ugly freshman.

7) Snow: nooooooooooo. I feel so cold already.

Ew, snow.

8) Public transportation: I don’t remember how to use any of the trains or buses. Not even joking.

How I feel about using public transportation and giving up my car. Also, me un-ironically wearing a romper!!!

9) Reading: wait, books? Not blogs? WHAT.

Do I look like I read books? Exactly.

10) Professors: I know I will probably call them “Mom” or “Dad” at least once out of habit.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE NOT MY MOM?!!!!

11) Dorms: why are there so many young people here? Is this a cult… oh wait, yes, yes it is.

How I feel about dorm-living.

12) Essays: I have to write about what the professor wants me to write about and not whatever I please? This is the winter of my discontent.

You want me to write about… WHAT?

And, for now, that’s it. Although, there is plenty of time between now and January when I head back to obsessively think about the things I am unprepared for, hurrah!

- Daughter

P.S. How funny would it be if it was actually my dad who posted this one?

P.P.S. Apparently, I really enjoy not wearing make-up for any and all pictures. This is what I look like without make-up, you guys. I’m sooooooo good-looking I can barely stand it.

P.P.P.S. It’s a little disconcerting that this is .0001 percent of the embarrassing photos I have saved on my computer. This is just the tip of the attractive-fail iceberg, baby.

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