Oberlin Blogs


December 22, 2009

Joe Dawson ’12

Finals are all over, all praise due to NoDoze. My biggest hurdle was the paper for English I wrote on The Tempest, with a length requirement of 8-9 pages. I had worked a little each day for about three days with about 4 pages to show for it on Monday morning. The paper was due on Tuesday afternoon, so I knew I could get it done, but I had my doubts about the quality of the so-called "paper."

Monday at 9 AM I attended a lovely birthday breakfast for my friend Ginny at the Feve and then went to an anthropology talk about chocolate and cacao at Mayan feasts and funerals, complete with gourmet brownies, then decided it was working time. Upon entering Mudd, I saw that the first floor was unreasonably busy, even in the morning. I stopped where a young woman was resting in a sleeping bag to put her hand in a glass of warm water before heading downstairs. Mike and I buckled down at 11 o'clock in A-level for a real 5-hour paper party. We took breaks, of course, for watching dumb internet videos, creating a Random Disease Generator, eating, and felt, but that afternoon may have held the most productive hours I've had this year. Short distractions are often necessary to break up nonstop studying anyway. At 4:30 I had gone from 4 dubious pages of Shakespearean analysis to 8 pages of Tempest Temptation (that's a good thing).

This paper was completely devoid of humor or pop culture references, something that got me in a little trouble last time I had to write a paper for English. I deftly pointed out in my first paragraph, for instance, that Thomas More took two pages to go through courtship, marriage, adultery, and divorce in Utopia, and that it would have taken John Stamos of Full House fame at least two months to do the same (bladow!). The purple-inked comment next to this sentence in my paper was efficiently concise: "inappropriate." Something told me I had been away from English papers, writing blogs and lab reports for too long.

So the paper was good, see, but not quite ready for that big silver screen. Monday night I had the bright idea to take the spring chick of a paper to the Writing Center in Mudd to see if we could make it grow into a full-grown rooster. The Writing Center is manned (womanned too) by bright and shining students trained to help critique all kinds of writing. When I went to the Writing Center (AKA Club WC), I got a reader for my paper immediately, but five minutes later, there was a line for readers 7 people long. My paper now stretched to 9-ish pages, and I felt kind of bad saddling the English major who helped me out with reading my thing, so I told her just to read through it quickly to see if the arguments made sense and added to my thesis. She started reading and commenting and didn't stop until an hour and fifteen minutes later. She helped me strengthen my argument in every paragraph, and offered to help me rewrite my thesis to make it better. Needless to say, I recommended my reader Nicole and the Writing Center to all of my friends, and I will do the same for you. It's super.

Papers are not my favorite kind of assignment to do. I don't particularly like 'assignments' period, just because I would rather do creative stuff without any kind of reward or punishment. I suppose it makes school a little more like work, where you will most certainly have deadlines and incentives, but in the last few weeks I've spent much more time making videos for YouTube and playing piano than working on what I'm paying thousands of dollars to do at Oberlin. Oh well.

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