An open letter to those who would belittle studies within the liberal arts

People… people… look, we need to discuss something. It’s, well, comparatively speaking, it’s an incredibly unimportant issue; however, it’s an issue that has been weighing on my mind recently. This issue relates to liberal arts degrees. Specifically, everybody just needs to shut the hell up. No, really shut the hell up. Because, people of the world, I have heard that my degrees are going to be absolutely meaningless. In fact, I can’t seem to go anywhere without hearing how useless they are. I will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER be getting a job. And in this economy? Whew, engineers are having trouble getting jobs. I mean, those are smart people who do real things. What chance does someone like you have against intelligent people with actual skills? Sure, you study English. I’m certain that you will be called upon to explicate poems all the time in the real world. Oh yes, studying history means that you’ll always be welcome on the trivia team. It’s not like you learn any useful skills.

People, I have grown up hearing this. And do you know what’s funny? People still encouraged me to get the degree that I wanted. I was always told to study what makes me happy and to find a job that I enjoy. At the same time, I am currently studying what I enjoy, and, for some reason, I seem to be getting no end of shit for it. And I’m part of the problem. I’ve spent the last five or so years of my life joking about how useless my degrees are going to be. I’ve told everyone how I have no idea what I’m going to do with my future. I’ve made cracks about how easy English and History are compared to real degrees. Well no-fucking-more. From now on, anyone who condescendingly inquires what, exactly, are my plans for the useless piece of paper I am soon to receive? will be told to mind their own goddamned business. I don’t know what made me snap. Maybe I saw one too many of those “Math + Science = Success!” signs that encourage parents to teach their children important subjects. Or maybe it was that blog post I saw. It featured what appeared to be a whiny, privileged, little snot who had graduated from Stanford with an English degree and found himself unable to find a job. He whined about how he had no skills or work experience and how, when he took a year off to “find himself” and “work on his writing,” he wound up sitting on his ass all the time. Oh, he was in a frat back in college too. So, he decided to start a blog in order to do something. Look, if you spend all of college getting wasted and barely scraping by in your classes, I don’t think you can blame your degree when you can’t get a job.

And you know what else? My degrees in English and History ARE useful. Do you know what I can do? I CAN FUCKING WRITE. I can put ideas into words that other people can read and understand, and I CAN DO IT BETTER THAN MOST PEOPLE. Nobody seems to appreciate the importance of writing. And no, I do not want to be an ~author, nor do I consider myself a particularly creative writer. The fact is that, if you have a great idea or a magnificent breakthrough in science, and you cannot write, no one is going to care because POOR WRITING MAKES YOU LOOK STUPID. I’ve had people tell me: “Grammar and style don’t matter for this paper; the teacher doesn’t grade for that. It’s the ideas that matter.” Hell, I’ve had teachers tell me that. EVERYONE WHO SAYS THIS IS WRONG. DEAD. FUCKING. WRONG. Yes, some teachers don’t take off points for grammar or style. That’s true. However, anybody who reads your paper is going to be influenced by your writing. A well-written paper will be more positively received than a poorly-written one simply because it sounds better. A good writer is able to express their ideas more clearly and intelligently. That sort of thing ALWAYS affects the way a paper is graded. English and history also, surprisingly enough, encourage analytical thinking. Now, I’m not a super-smart science major or anything, but I would make the cautious assumption that engaging with texts and attempting to draw conclusions from them in an analytical fashion is probably good for your neurons.

“It’s soooo easy to get an English degree!” You might protest. Yes, it can be. It’s fairly easy to BS things or slam together a last-minute paper. It’s relatively easy to avoid reading things. And yet, I see a lot of people within the English department with poor GPA’s. I see people walk out of my classes clutching C’s. Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t quite as easy as everyone thinks. And what I don’t see are all of the holier-than-thou science majors being told that they have to write a six page paper on a six line poem, which is a shame because I think it would be funny. And no, there really isn’t an English equivalent to O Chem. Hell, a science degree, especially UGA’s, are harder than an English degree. That doesn’t make your degree inherently better than mine. It isn’t a pissing contest. The arts and the sciences are both important in their own ways. I went into the liberal arts because it is what I enjoy doing, and it is where my skills are. If your skills lean towards science and math, great. Just don’t act like you deserve more credit because your degree is somehow more “useful” or “important.”

And for the love of God, stop asking those of us with liberal arts degrees what we intend to do with ourselves–even if you are expressing genuine concern or interest. After hearing it for a while, you all just start to look like assholes.

PS: It goes without saying that this blog post was written in order to avoid working on that aforementioned degree. However, the work currently being avoided is Latin rather than my usual paper. My impending midterm is making me greatly miss the papers of last week.

It’s a Cool Story, Bro!

Do you know what time it is?

That’s right. It’s time for a Cool Story, Bro! Before I begin my Cool Story, Bro, I want to let my reader(s) know that I may or may not do more TV/Movie reviews in the future. I was planning on doing one for every new Supernatural episode, but I was really uninspired by the newest one. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have much that I wanted to talk about in it. The writers totally cockblocked Leviacas’s awesome, and it was bleh. ALSO the Snoogally one and I have started watching Breaking Bad, which I also may or may not start reviewing. It is supposedly one of the best shows on television right now, but it’s left me a little irritated, so we’ll see.

ANYWAY! Today was a great day. I went to work at ungodly in the morning (literally, as I would soon find out) and was assigned to dining room which means that I would not be pelted with large amounts of half-eaten food like I was on Saturday when I worked in the dishroom. As my shift shuffled along, I began to notice small, green bibles littering various tables. It turns out that, once the hour became godly, a whole bunch of old men in suits had migrated to every bus stop and important street crossing in order to spread the word of God to us collegiate sinners. I only passed one set of them on the way home from work, and it pretty much went like this:

AAAANNNDDD upon returning to campus, there was a man standing on the wall of the big-ass stairs on North Campus (For those of you who have not been to UGA, North Campus has some big-ass, marble-y/granite-y looking stairs that pass right between Park and LeConte Hall. He was elevated on a wall-type-thing. That is the moral of this story.) with a MEGAPHONE. AND HE WAS TALKING ABOUT JESUS-UH. HE WHO LOVED_UH US SO MUCH, THAT HE DIED ON THE CROSS-UH FOR OUR SINS-UH. WE MUST ACCEPT HIM INTO OUR HEARTS-UH IN ORDER TO BE-UH SAVED-UH. So, I got to enjoy lots of hilarious attempts at evangelicalism. My classes passed without incident, and I got a new bank account set up. Then, I finally bought something expensive (for me, you wealthy mofos) that I have wanted for ages. CHACOS!

AREN’T THEY BEAUTIFUL? I SHED A SINGLE TEAR. I also got them on sale for 55 dollars, so heck yes. So, I’ve just bought my shiny new Chacos. I debate briefly whether or not to put them on before deciding that I’ll wear my old shoes. So I call my Dad to tell him about my new bank account and shit, and basically to let him know that I am having a happy day where awesome things happen. AND THEN. SOME FUCKING HOW. I GET A VERY SPIKY PIECE OF MULCH. JAMMED BETWEEN THE SOLE OF MY SHOE AND MY VERY SOFT VERY VULNERABLE FOOT. I hobble over to the not-so big-ass stairs of Park Hall and pull off my shoe to assess the damage. While I wince and hate life, all I can think is GODDAMMIT, THIS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED IF I HAD PUT ON MY SHINY NEW SHOES BECAUSE THE THICK SOLE REPELS THOSE CHUNKS OF WOOD WHO LURK AT TOE LEVEL. It looks as if I have two pieces of wood jammed into the bottom of my big toe, right where it bends. The first is small and comes out easily. The second one, well, the second one looks pretty fucking deep. A few tugs only seemed to cause pain, and the wood itself remained imbedded. Now, I must explain why this fucking splinter caused me to unravel. You know that time that you feel really happy. Like, you just feel comfortable. All the problems you thought were big seem small. And then– you hurt yourself or break something important. SOMETHING swoops down and knocks the good mood right out of you, and you get unreasonably upset because you fell from a high point of happiness. Yeah. That would be me.

The other thing is that, well, I have a thing with splinters. They freak me out. I haven’t had a problem with one since I was a little kid, because most of my recent splinters have been either easy to remove or easy to ignore until they become easy to remove. This one involved a relatively thin stick of wood actually hanging out of my foot. And pulling on it does nothing. So, I’m all panicy and feel like throwing up. After calming down, I talk to my Dad again, and then head into Park to try and make calm, rational progress. Neg. It continues to not move. Also, pulling out shit that is embedded in your flesh hurts. Like, I don’t think I’ve had anything close to a puncture wound before, so this was surprisingly painful. ANYWAY, I begin to get all sweaty and fainty because holy shit A TINY PIECE OF WOOD HAS STABBED ME, and I continue to feel this way all the slow, hobbling way to the bus and then to my car. By the time I make it to the apartment, I am shaking like a leaf (and also vaguely entertaining the notion of launching a preemptive strike against small chunks of wood) by the time I get back to the apartment.

I insist to my father that the splinter MUST be deep enough to need a doctor. Really, it looks like it’s a full millimeter below the surface. THAT REQUIRES LOCAL ANESTHESIA, RIGHT? So I call the health center. The poor nurse who has to talk to me recommends that I go to the urgent care center for a 36 dollar fee (because it was after 5pm) if I can’t get it out myself. My Dad also says that I should do this if I’m “too much of a wussy to just yank it out.” He also recommends that I calm the fuck down because I am reaching a point of hysteria. So, literally shaking and crying, I yank at the end a few more times before I have to pick up the Snogally. Thankfully, my glasses can disguise the fact that I am crying. Because if someone saw and asked if I was OK, I would have to admit that I was crying OVER A SPLINTER. Anyway, Snoogally also says to just yank it out and offers to do so himself. HE CLEARLY DOES NOT REALIZE THE INFINITE PAIN THAT I FEEL, so we go to the health center. I tell the lady at the front that I’m not sure if I need a doctor to remove it or not, so she sets me up with a nurse. I show the splinter to the nice nurse who seems rightly concerned about my panic, and, before I can finish explaining, leaves and returns with a pair of tweezers.

“Do you want me to try and get it our for you? It looks pretty close to the surface to me.”
“Erm” Panic, sweat, shake, panic, “No, um, not yet. I mean, it really doesn’t seem to give at all when I pull, and it hurts a lot.” Oh crap. Involuntary hysteria tears!

Nurse comforts me and tells me not to cry. I explain to Nurse that I am not really as upset as I seem. Really, I just have a thing about splinters and poking a needles and the whole day-ruined thing. These aren’t rational tears. Nurse looks even more concerned. Anyway, I wind up getting out my own tweezers and asking if I can try a little more before she does. She says fine, and I babble at her for a while as I yank.

“You’re turning awfully white. You might want to relax for a bit. Deep breaths.”
“Yes. I should, shouldn’t I? I mean, I don’t think that I’m about to faint. Although I did faint the last time I was at the doctor’s office when they tried to take my blood.”
“Please, don’t faint.”
“OK.”

So I decide that I might try and bring it to the surface with a pin.

“That’s a good idea, but all I have is a needle, and you said that you weren’t good with those.”
“Oh, I have a safety pin in my purse!”
“Is it sterile?”
“It was.” The safety pin comes out covered in varying shades of purse lint. “It’s OK. I have a lighter.”
“Why don’t we just use an alcohol pad?”

So, after more poking and pulling and traumatizing Nurse, I am informed that I stop breathing whenever I go to pull out the splinter. So, after a little more digging, I pull, making sure to take deep breaths. I look down, and the splinter is out. Nurse is very polite. I will not be charged a fee because I did not see a doctor, and I used my own tweezers. I thank Nurse profusely (“Really, I couldn’t have done it without you here.” and “I’m so sorry about this.”) before leaving. In other words:

1. Get splinter
2. Panic
3. Cry
4. Shake
5. Go to doctor
6. Allow doctor to watch you remove your own spinter
7. ???????
8. PROFIT!

Both Snoogally and Father laugh at me, but I do not care. For I have CONQUERED the SPLINTER. And now my day is wonderful again. I do not care if I am ridiculous. I am splinter-free. Fuck yeah.

Now, I have eaten a sandwich and written a blog post. Although, now that I look at it, my day seems pretty lousy. I mean, I was happy about my new shoes, but I can’t think of what made me so pleased before I impaled my foot…

Oh.

I have a take-home midterm due tomorrow. I haven’t studied for it or done any reading or, you know, actually taken the test yet either. I had built up my confidence while I was buying shoes until I spent more than two hours wrestling with a splinter. And then another hour or so writing a blog post about said battle.

… Well, it should be easy after the splinter, right? I mean, paper is wood pulp. That’s not even remotely pointy.

PS: That is not a challenge, paper. I would like my fingers unscathed. My last paper cut just healed.