A story that may have relevance for others, or then again, maybe not:
When I was in college, about ten or so years ago, I was a history major. I wanted to learn to dance, so I joined a swing dance club on campus. To my surprise, this club had about twice as many men as women (in high school, the last time I’d tried dancing, the ratio had gone the other way–lots of girls, and boys only that you could drag by their ears).
But apparently, there had been some kind of word spread specifically to the STEM guys that dance was a way that they could meet girls.
So anyway. I joined the swing dance club, and met a few guys. And at one point, when socializing with the guys outside of dance class, one of them asked me what my research was on. (I had already established that I was an honors history student doing a thesis, just as he had established that he was an honors… I’m not sure if he was CS or Math, but it was one of those.)
So I gave him the thumbnail sketch of my research. Now, to be clear, an honors senior thesis, while nothing like what a graduate student would do, was still fairly in-depth. I had to translate primary sources from the original late-Classical Latin. (My professor said, basically, that while there were plenty of translations of my source material, that I’d only be able to comfortably trust them if I had at least made a stab at a translation of my own. And he was right.) And there was so much secondary material, often contradictory, that I had been carefully sorting through.
But I was able to sift it into a three-sentence summary of my senior thesis work, you know, as one does.
So I gave him that summary, and then asked–since he was also an undergraduate senior doing an honors thesis–what his research was on.
“Oh,” he said, “you wouldn’t understand it.”
Reader, I went home in a frothing rage. Because I had thought we were playing one game–a game of ‘let’s talk about what we’re passionate about!’– and he had been playing another game, which was, one-upsmanship. I had done my best to give a basically understandable brief of my research–and he had used that against me. As if my research, my painstaking translation, my digging through archives and ILLs of esoteric works, my reading of ten thousand articles in Speculum (yes, the pre-eminent medievalist journal in North America is called Speculum, I’m sorry, it’s hilarious/sad but also true), and then my effort to sum it up for him, was nothing. Because his research into some kind of algorithm or other was just too complex for my tiny brain to conceive of. Because I just couldn’t possibly understand his work.
Now, the important note here is that the person I went home to was my senior year roommate. She was a graduate student–normally undergrads and graduate students couldn’t be roommates, but we’d been friends for years, and the tenured faculty-in-residence used his powers for good and permitted us to be roommates that year. Anyway. My senior year roommate was basically… in retrospect I think possibly an avatar of Athena. She was six feet tall, blonde, attractive in a muscular athletic way, a rock climber and racquetball player, sweet but sharp, extremely socially awkward, exceptionally kind even when it cost her to be kind, and an incredibly brilliant computer science major who spent most of her time working on extremely complicated mathematical algorithms. (Yes, I was a little in love with her, why do you ask? But she was as straight as a length of rope, and is now happily married, and so am I, so it worked out.)
(Still, yes, she is my mental image of Athena, to this day.)
Anyway, I came home in a frothing rage to my roommate, the Athena avatar. And I said, “He made me feel like such an idiot, that I could sum up my research to him but his research was just too smart for stupid little me.”
And she shut her book, and smiled at me, with her dark eyes and her high cheekbones and her bright hair, and said, “If he can’t explain his research to you, then he’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.”
Now I hesitated, because I’d be in college long enough to have sort of bought into the ridiculous idea that if you couldn’t dazzle them with your brilliance, you should baffle them with your bullshit. But she said, “Look, I’ve been doing work on computer science algorithms that have significantly complicated mathematical underpinnings. What do I do?”
And I said, “Genetic algorithms–that is, self-optimizing algorithms–for prioritization, specifically for scheduling.”
“Right,” she said. “You couldn’t code them because you’re not a computer scientist or a mathematician. But you can understand what I do. If someone can’t explain it like that, it isn’t a problem with you as a person. It’s a problem with them. They either don’t understand it as well as they think they do–or they want to make you feel inferior. And neither is a positive thing.”
If you are looking into something and have a question, and someone treats you like an idiot for not understanding right away… here is what I have to say: maybe it isn’t you who is the idiot.
Well, here it is. My senior thesis, finally complete. It’s been a long, hard road. Very hard. But it’s done now, and that’s what matters.
I haven’t updated production in a while, and there’s a reason for that. During the final month I had to be hospitalized for mental health issues; I lost a week of production time as an inpatient, and during outpatient recovery, continued production was excruciatingly difficult. I was almost certain I would have to take an Incomplete for the class. And yet, somehow, the film was completed on time – thanks to the help and support of friends, family, doctors, professors, and animation assistants. The final version is not quite the quality I had originally had in mind, due to hastened production, but I am more than satisfied with how it turned out given the circumstances. Perhaps I will revisit this someday, perhaps not. I do want to continue working with these characters someday, though.
Bitty: Hops? If you could just gimme that laptop. I’m 100% certain this ‘rarefiednight’ is actually ‘senior thesis adviser Alice Atley.’ Hops: Wait…but you do have it figured out, right? Bitty: Pft. Hah, oh my goodness. Hahaha, well! That’s a fine. You’re fined.
Velma Dinkley is a lesbian ensnared in the pernicious tendrils of compulsory heterosexuality. Her empathy for criminals “masking their identity” allows her to understand their motivations and identify the perpetrator, for she also understands (subconsciously or not) how it feels to mask an aspect of her identity. In this essay I will
I’m excited to share the product of my absence! For the past year, my thesis partner and good friend Esteban Bravo and I have been developing a computer animated short film, “In a Heartbeat,” for our senior thesis project at Ringling College of Art + Design. We are launching this Kickstarter to help cover the costs of hiring a professional composer and sound designer for our film!
“In a Heartbeat” follows an insecure middle school boy who has yet to come to terms with his sexuality. When he crosses paths with the most popular boy in school, his heart pops out of his chest to go after the boy of his dreams. Please visit the Kickstarter page for more development, information, and production artwork on the project!
We are currently mid-production, about to wrap on animation and begin lighting, rendering, and compositing the film, but we need YOUR help to make this film the best that it can be! Any contribution helps, be it a donation or simply sharing the video and spreading the word!
THANK YOU SO MUCH! This film has been a true labor of love for us both and I am so excited to share the finished film with you this Spring!
SHIPWRECK CLASS: ROGUE WAVE Risk Assessment Score 3:
Usually nonaggressive, but fairly easy to agitate. May pose a threat due to hazardous conditions in proximity. Avoidance strongly recommended.
Resembling a huge ray, rogue waves are one of the more mysterious and unpredictable species of disaster ghost. They are rarely observed despite their considerable size, as they spend the vast majority of their time floating peacefully at a moderate depth and take little interest in passing ships or any other human presence. However, they are known to turn aggressive without warning, causing rough seas by lashing their long tails and rearing their massive bodies out of the water to come crashing down on small vessels. There is little indication of what provokes this behavior, though some speculate that attacks are more frequent on days with clear weather. It is recommended that all vessels stay up to date with the latest radar technology in order to reliably detect and avoid these not-so-gentle giants.
my entire life right now is thesis, thesis, thesis. I can’t complain that much, but it seems I can never get away. What I’ve learned so far in my senior year is that if you go long enough without consistent sleep, crashing is inevitable.
I honestly can’t believe that I had a full on conversation with my straight male professor about Supergirl yesterday (I do a lot of little comics for my other senior thesis class and I was showing them to him [he ALSO said that my drawings of the nude model looked ‘suspiciously like Miss Luthor’ last week]) and he stopped, looked into the distance for a second and said
“Do you know what the strange phenomenon is about that show? I couldn’t point to one single character and call them exclusively heterosexual. Not a one. They all have the potential to be gay. I wonder if that’s intentional or not.”
Like he fuckin SAID THAT.
I love college I love my professor I dont want to graduate.
STORM CLASS: CLOUD EATER Risk Assessment Score 1:
Nonaggressive, low risk to humans. Avoidance recommended but not strictly necessary.
These colossal creatures make their homes in the upper levels of the atmosphere and bear a passing resemblance to a whale, earning them the colloquial nickname “Monstro.” They continually consume clouds which they energize via the field of lightning in their stomachs to create thunderstorms. The purpose of creating storms is unknown, though it’s theorized that it’s a form of entertainment or play. For the most part, cloud eaters stay well out of reach of anything that might disturb them; on the rare occasion that they’re provoked, they have been observed to vent lightning from their mouths at potential attackers. It is advised to avoid documented cloud eater territories as cloud-eater-generated thunderstorms are significantly more deadly than an average storm, with very high winds, frequent lightning strikes, tornadoes, and other hazardous weather patterns.