Friday, October 26, 2007

New levels of Sleepless

(and not the Seattle kind)

Dear frustratingly sadistic Instructor of English Grammar that should really have been the practicing Russian Nazi you are and whose class I had the gross misfortune of registering for,

Firstly, welcome to the country. I'm sure someone is glad you're here. However, today, right now, I cannot say that its me.

I understand that you've been dealt a hard deck. Its hard to be 5' 1" anywhere in the 1st world. Its also hard to be a woman in academia. And I cannot even imagine what moved you to get a PhD in English Grammar and Rhetoric when you were a linguistics exchange student from Moscow. Its a challenge I'm sure. I'm also sure that you have a deep love for ridiculous complexities like most of your countrymen do. Its loaned itself to many amazing novels and poetry and ballet dancers. I can't imagine what else would have led you to Grammar. It's its own painfully tedious language. Its a series of ridiculous and ridged guidelines inside a TOTALLY subjective universe. There is no absolute anywhere. Its a horrible conundrum for anybody native speakers included.

I don't know which of the Fates I pissed off enough to have landed you as an instructor at this really sensitive time for me. Probably Clotho. You and your class are the one thing that is standing between me and graduation and grad school. If I don't pass your class I don't graduate. If I don't get an A in your class I don't get into grad school. And you only let us take two tests that are each worth 35% of our grade??!! So if the first is a "learning opportunity" there is NO hope at redemption. None. None at all. How is that effective instruction?

So pretty much the stress of your class ruining my life and making me doubt any and all of my academic potential and value as a person in general. And not in the hyperbolic sense either. I am loosing sleep and emotionally destabilizing because of you class and methodologies. I'm not a stranger to challenges. My life has been a string of them. I have taught myself to read with dyslexia. I have sung in front of 1000's of people on a few minutes notice. I have played tennis matches with torn cartilage in my knee and blisters that went through 5 layers of skin and won. I have done some hard things in my life. I have learned languages within a matter of months (I had a lot of help on that one though)! I have never broken down in tears during an exam for sheer frustration or gone into the exam shaking with nervousness. But I did today and all within 15 minutes of each other. I feel like an overacting character in a bad soap opera but it's the truth. I believe its possible for Grammar to be accessible, to be learnable. People have done it for centuries. But in your class I feel like I'm studying Greek mixed with Klingon.

Your midterm that I took today realized every possible insecurity I've ever had. I feel like I should just apply for that good paying Waste Management job and let you consider your job done.

I have studied more for this class that I have the entirety of the rest of my college career. And I was studying microbiology for a good while, but none of it is making sense. I can't even see why it should be important to me. AND I'M A WRITER! This is why I am loosing sleep and faith in myself.

Do you understand that this isn't a game?

That these are people's lives that you're toying with with?

Do you get that your past perfect progressive adverbial clauses and the derivational morphemes exclusive to attributive adjectives in the Closed Class and all other impossible circumlocutory questions demanding short answer essays, examples, and argumentative evidence are sadistic?

And the next question is basically the same one as before but slightly different so that puts me into a slight panic attack wondering if I didn't understand the first one and makes me doubt everything I just said and will say later?

And 8 other pages of the same to get through?

And only having 50 minutes to do it?

And if I don't finish and finish well then I'm damned?

Do you get that?

Do you even care?

Do you know that answering a questions about jargon with string of other jargon that we don't even have a clue about understanding won't help? We don't stand in awe of your knowledge, we loathe the fact that you are our teacher. When the average class performance is below 40% in an upper division core class at a University that should tell you something. We're not casual students and we're not dumb, but we are lost. Very very very lost and running out of patience and time.

I suppose its too late now. The wheels are in motion. I'll get that Trash Lady or Meter Maid application ready right now.

Thank you for telling me to have a good weekend when I turned in my test though. I believe you truly meant it and perhaps felt a spot of sympathy for me if you saw my reluctantly leaking eyes.

Please disregard the fact that there are tear stains on this letter as well. I couldn't help it reliving the last few hours. I apologise for my lack of composure.

Traumatized and completely discouraged,


Katie said...

Oh, Liz, I totally feel your pain. Did you feel like yelling, "serenity now!" in the middle of your test? Chocolate may not be able to fix it, but it won't hurt to try!

Lex said...

I think it was one of those weeks. I wish I could give you a hug. Grammar horror stories are traumatic. ::::hug:::::

Rachel said...

Argh! Grammar Nightmare! The dark side of the English major.