There are a lot of them–and some severe downsides–but the biggest perk, or anyway the one I find myself daydreaming about in class, is the freedom to walk away from the stupid things people say if they aren’t also paying you to listen.
Jewish history there’s this… I don’t know what she is. I mean she’s christian, clearly, but I’m not sure what she’s doing there short of providing exasperating comic relief. A few weeks ago in a discussion about Sephardic mysticism the phrase “godhead” came up.
Her hand shot into the air. “that’s the Trinity, right?”
We all stared at her.
“The father, son, and holy ghost!” she clarified impatiently. The word “duh” was buried just below the surface. My friend Eli was all, someone didn’t do the readings, which is redeemingly hilarious but Come On, we were already like five weeks into class.
So last class we’re now on the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom, I have some familiarity with this from a seminar I took on the shtetl last year. We’re talking about how governance was a little bit messy, the Westernized Catholic-polish noblemen and the vast tracts of land inhabited mostly by peasantry and how Jews moved in as a sort of pre-fab middle class, with some scots and other Protestants picking up the slack–so okay, I didn’t take notes on the entire conversation because I didn’t know she was going to spout another idiocy until her hand shot up. That’s a warning sign right there.
“so the peasants were all Jews too.”
More blank stares.
“if the noblemen were catholic and the Jews were Jewish, and the peasants weren’t catholic, they were Jews too, right?”
I don’t know, I just don’t. Moments like that, where class is derailed for a while while we try to figure out where the long disused rails of her one track mind have ended up and reroute them, they make me think kind of longingly of work and the girl who didn’t know the difference between Israel and Islam and how she had to give me a dollar just for that one interaction of listening to her be ignorant. And then I got to walk away. None of this ten tedious weeks of accruing thousands in debt to listen to someone ramble and derail four hours a week.
Just to end on a bright note, my early modern England seminar has hands down the most excited and interested and funny group of people, who are constantly saying things that make me laugh. One guy, short and brawny and curly haired, with a pointed goatee (I think some people, myself included, take on visual cues of our interests. So he looks like Essex and I tease my hair into an 18th century bouffant) gave a presentation on pirates, beginning solemnly with, “you can count on one hand the number of serious pirate scholars out there, and still have fingers left over.”
1- maybe you think I’m being a pedantic b and are wondering why this isn’t a valid question–the peasants of Poland-Lithuania, like um the majority of people in eastern Europe and Russia, were eastern orthodox. Or just “orthodox”. All of which is a) something she should know anyway at this point, like knowing there’s a lot of Islamic people in the middle east and b) it was in the fucking readings.