Monday, August 04, 2003

Back to School

The sultry humid hell of summer lingers with us, and yet there is a touch of Autumn in the air. Whatever could it be? Why, it's the pitter-pattering footsteps of young scholars returning to the venerable halls of learning and knowledge. At the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

In short, it's my first day of school at the USDA
Graduate School.

You might ask, "Why does the USDA have a graduate school, and whatever are you interested in learning there?"

The answers are, respectively "I don't know." and "Russian."

For some reason, the USDA has a pretty extensive offering of courses, including language classes taught at various levels. My old Russian skills have gathered a bit of rust since the heady days of my youth, so I'm off to take an intermediate course that ought to bring back my old mad skillz.

My first postgraduate brush with academic nostalgia came when I sat for the Foreign Service Exam a while ago. Early on a Saturday morn, I sat with perfect posture in my assigned seat in my assigned row, exactly two perfectly sharpened pencils at my side, a nutritious lunch packed below my chair. As the proctor droned the instructions for the test, I felt the giddiness rising. I was getting to take a test. I was going to write an essay! I was very like Lisa Simpson in the "teachers' strike" episode. Remember how she shoved her papers at Marge, begging "Grade me! Evaluate meeee!!"

I am equally excited about this class, despite some obvious differences from my college experience. It won't last for an entire semester. It's only two nights a week. I probably won't sleep through them or skip them for reasons such as: inclement weather, nice weather, hungry, thirsty, lazy, overworked, overslept, didn't do the reading, did the reading and already got it, don't care, don't wanna, there's some funny people on the west mall, ooh look at the turtles.

No, I am the model student. I intend to kiss up furiously and make enemies of my jealous, conniving classmates. I'll do the optional homework. I'll stay after class to talk to the professor about--I dunno--irregular verbs. I'll organize an informal class gathering to meet for drinks and practice our Russian, to which nobody will come because they all resent me (see above).

I've already gone to the bookstore (not as fun when you have to buy your books), bought my texts, and gone over the first lesson. It's a fucking CAKEWALK, I'm going to OWN this school! Watch out Dean's List! Watch out mid-career, slower-mental-processes classmates! Watch out WORLD! I'm in Continuing Education! [cue fanfare]


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