No Fancy Name
Friday, September 23, 2005
more things I've learned in graduate school
As mentioned previously, last Monday it was my turn to give an oral report in my Theory class. I hate public speaking. Hate it with...the hate of a thousand hates. [thatsalotta hateballs!] Of course, it's the rare graduate seminar that does not have an oral presentation component to it, and I am technically "in training" to stand up in front of the class and babble on about things, so I thought I'd try and have a good attitude about it all.

Two factors played into a non-sucky presentation on Monday:
* I was presenting on a short and straightforward essay
* I was completely and utterly exhausted, in a highly sleep-deprived state

As some of you may know, the last several weeks have been chock full of work (that pesky "real job") and chock full of staying up for days on end to complete said work. Remarkably, I did not fall behind on any of my reading (other things, that's another story). I read the essay several times in the week between receiving the assignment and the due date of the presentation. But you see from Friday morning until essentially Monday at noon we were involved in a very time-consuming rebranding project for a company, consisting of no less than eleven different sites (public, internal, portal, supplementary apps, etc). Sadly, I had no time to write my one-page summary. Hell, we all barely stopped to sleep at all.

So when Monday rolled around (and I could not even begin to explain what Sunday/Sunday night/Monday morning was like) and all I wanted to do was cry and/or sleep and/or never work on the frickin' internet ever every again, we finished things enough so that my boss let me stop in the afternoon and work on my presentation/summary thing. Bless her. I had to leave for class at 3:30, and I started the writing around 3, and left for class at 3:30. I struggled through my Materials & Methods class—not with the discussion of readings but with the fact that I could not keep my eyes open...partially because I was so damn tired, but also because I had been inside in soft light for three days straight and the fluorescent lights were kicking my ass. But I made it through. I went to the copy center and made my copies, grabbed a sandwich and some coffee at the student union, and went to the meeting room for my 7pm Theory class...half an hour early.

At this point, I was so exhauseted that I had no strength left to stress about it. My summary was fine—unlike other people I actually used complete sentences and paragraphs. I wrote out my talking points and went over it in my head a few times. Then I just closed my eyes for five minutes and zoned out. When class time came, I was really hoping I could go second (two people present per week) because the other person doing a presentation was the Caliban/Taliban woman mentioned at the end of this post. I knew I would look good in comparison. But alas it was not to be, as the prof started with me. I took a deep breath, passed out my summary, and just methodically went through my points. It was painless. The prof didn't have a quizzical look at any point during what I was saying, just nodding along. When I was through he just used everything I said to launch into his own additional little chat, and it was all good.

It was much, much different than the people who had gone the previous week: one woman wrote a six page rambling I-don't-even-know-what and read from it, another woman also just read from her summary. Call me crazy, but I went with the actual instructions, which were to chat for 10 minutes and provide a one-page summary from which you do not read. Gah. How hard is that?

The woman who went second? She has to do it again next week because she was so far off the mark in what she did. But that didn't keep her from rambling for half an hour about what she did do. That's a really, really uncomfortable situation. I think the prof is giving everyone one chance to fuck up (I plan not to use mine) and then he'll start cutting people off and take more control of the discussion...or maybe not. Several times already I've played discussion-enforcer, which endears me to my fellow classmates (not).

But it's all kind of fun...

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