Wednesday, April 4, 2012

medieval civilizations

I have two stories from college that I hold particularly dear to me.
I'm not really sure why, but for some reason, whenever I think about them, I a.) get really stressed out and b.) laugh to myself.

The first is the titled Medieval Civilizations story.

Medieval Times or Bust

My senior year of college, I realized that I needed another 3 History credits; and because of the upper division requirements, it needed to be an upper division History class.
With Dusty's help, I scrolled through the options, and landed on Medieval Civilizations. It fit in perfectly with my schedule, and was one out of only a few that did. Sounds interesting, right? Learning about ancient Rome maybe, daydreaming about days long gone by.


This class was a nightmare.
And here's why.

The professor was a cheery mix between Robin Williams and a Hobbit. He was short, hairy, and had a huge smile. He was SO EXCITED about medieval times.
(Just go ahead and try speaking in a broad grin for an hour and a half. See how you like it. Better yet, see how your friends like it.)

I could tell immediately that I had made a huge mistake.

I did not understand this class. I should have known how bad it would be, when every single person in the class raised their hand as a History major. He looked at me like I was an alien.
It seriously went so over my head, and the weird thing was, I was really trying to understand. Knowledge has never bested me in such a horrible way.

I took rigorous notes, always brought a soda to class so I wouldn't fall asleep, and always sat in front. He spoke so fast, and so happily, that I just got lost somewhere in all his arm hair. It was hopeless.
(I actually started sitting in the second desk from the front, because the guy in the front picked at his scabs and smelled really bad. Sitting behind him wasn't much of an improvement.)

I got a C+ on my first paper. It was a one page paper. I was baffled. I was an English major, wasn't I? Shouldn't the paper portion be the easiest part? Again, it was a one page paper. 
Dusty and I were married at this point, and I would come back to the apartment just angry and frustrated about this class. I had resigned to failure. It was my last semester of college, and I couldn't do it. I just didn't have the strength.
Through Dusty's encouragement, I worked towards building up my will to pass the class. The next paper was coming up, and it was all about Charlemagne. I was going to ace that paper.

I wrote the entire thing 3 days before it was due. If you know me at all, you should know that procrastination is my best friend, and I have NEVER finished an assignment early before. But this was going to be my turning point.
In the class before the paper was due, my professor started going over the paper's subject matter. Slowly but surely, I came to the horrifying realization that I had done the paper ALL wrong. My face was burning red, as if he could somehow tell that I had written a crappy paper 3 days early. I had gone in the opposite direction, and this was when I knew that I had to take desperate measures. I had to talk to him.

After class, I went up to him, introducing myself as the English major who did terribly on the first paper. He smiled knowingly, explaining to me that English fluff had no place in a History paper, and that it was all about facts and substance. I told him that I was desperate to do fantastically on this next paper, and I told him that I had already written it, but that I honestly thought I had gone in the wrong direction.

This is where it gets good.

Apparently, he doesn't usually get after-class student inquiries. Or something. Regardless of the reasoning, he was ecstatic that I was interested, and wanted to hear more, after spending an hour and a half lecture with him.
He jumped, nay, he hopped, into the air, and sat onto the desk, indian style.
I can't...I can't stress this moment enough. Picture it.
We're alone, I'm standing with my books in my arms, and all of a sudden, before my very eyes...

In one, swift, hobbit-like motion, he glides into the air, sweeping his legs under him into an indian-style plop.
He was SO EXCITED about medieval times.
Lord, if only someone else could have seen this.

I aced that next paper.
When I got that A, I came to the conclusion that when he hopped onto that table, he must have sprinkled some of his magic fairy dust onto me. What a strange, odd little man. But I managed a B in that class, and I owe it all to the hairy acrobatic man who used my desk as a chair.

Dusty posted that paper to the fridge, as proof that I could do anything I set my mind to. It was my key inspiration for finishing out strong, for my last semester of college. He would often point to it, to rejuvenate my spirit.

Artsy Fartsy

The second story has to do with my Art minor. (I was an English major/Art minor).
I have always been a pretty good student, getting good grades and being liked by most (if not all) of my teachers.
(There was one teacher in college that I always feared just a little bit, and I could never tell if he liked me...but he was my Ceramics professor, so maybe all the clay-dust in his lungs was getting to him...or perhaps he didn't like that I always wore heels to class because it was on choir days, and he didn't approve of me sitting at the throwing wheel in a skirt. Or maybe I was just confused about his odd angry-looking stares, and they were really just looks of confusion, admiration and approval from a grumpy-eyebrowed man.)

My favorite Art classes by far were my Art History ones. I would love to just take Art History for the rest of my life. I found it so fascinating, and that's saying something, since I've never had a particular fancy for History in general. (see above story.)
Maybe it was my teacher. Art teachers tend to be good-hearted, albeit spacey, and this one was no exception. She wore a lot of black, with eccentric jewelry, and often commented on a guy in my class, about how he reminded her of the student that brought a gun to class at her other school.

We studied ancient Art, from Rome to Greece to Egypt and was bliss.
Anywho, the time for our final exam came. It was my junior year, and I had faithfully prepared for my exam. It was my favorite class of that semester, and I was ready to totally ace the final. One of the portions required us to memorize the name of the art piece, the time period, and the location. There would be 25 slides that we'd have to name; a lot of memorization, and I had done it all.

I sat down happily, lining up my paper and pencils.
That's when the guy (who reminds my teacher of the almost-teacher-killer from her last school) looked at me and said, "So how do you think you did on the essay?"

I blinked.

The essay? Essay. ESSAY!
The mind works in mysterious, furious ways when you reach the point of perfect panic.
I'm sweating just writing this.
OF COURSE. Every test for this class included an at-home essay, due at the beginning of the exam.
I had arrived a few minutes early, so just as my palms were beginning to sweat and the guy next to me started to think I may have entered a catatonic state, my professor walked in. I thought of a plan.

"Professor? Silly me, I have forgotten the oh-so-important essay which you assigned. I just know it must be sitting on my desk; may I bring it to you after the exam?"

I probably said something much less elegant, but I honestly didn't even know what I was saying at that point. My plan was to write my essay as quickly as I could after I finished the test, and bring it to her before she left for the day.
"Oh, no, absolutely not!" she answered. My heart was falling out of my butt. "I have to turn your grades in as soon as this test is over, and head back to San Diego. The deadline is too tight. How far away do you live?"
My head was spinning. "Across campus," I mumbled.
She looked at her watch. "Well, the exam is set to begin in 3 minutes, so run back and get it and come back. I'll have to still start on time, but hopefully you can catch up before the exam time is over."

I mentally vomited, and then ran faster than I have ever ran. Darn you, back-less shoes!! I developed instantaneous shin-splints, and kept running.
I burst into my apartment, and thank the Lord my roommates were there. 1.) because I'm really glad they got to witness this absolute melt-down, and 2.) because one of my roommates was able to set up her laptop to her printer which saved me time, and about 10 cents.

I kid you not, I blurted out that paper from who-knows-where in 5 minutes. And maybe like 27 seconds. It was just over 1 page long, which was the requirement (1-2 pages). It was a compare/contrast essay on two pieces of art from two different eras.
I printed it out, screamed a bunch of nonsense I'm sure, and slammed the door on my way out.
God bless my roommates.

I arrived back in class 12 1/2 minutes from the time I left. I was less than 10 minutes late, and had only missed the first 2 slides, which she graciously went back to for me while the rest of the class was doing the short answer/multiple choice questions.
I got an A on the final, with full points on the essay.

What. In. The. World.
Proudest moment of my life.

Oh, college.
In love,


  1. Lol, this was wonderfully funny! I took a Roman Civ class and my professor could totally match your's, with the exception of acrobatic agility. I would cringe to watch him try that hop to plop. I love that Dusty encouraged you so much and proudly displayed that A paper. And for your Art Histroy final, all I can say is, you go girl!

  2. I just laughed so hard. I love you.

  3. Cait, your art final is one of my favorite memories of you. You are ridiculously, fantastically gifted, my dear! :)

  4. Caitlin, this had me in stitches. Your description of your hobbit teacher gave me such a mental picture--I laughed out loud. And 3 minutes for an essay--you're my hero. Love you.