Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Crunch Time

Today I awoke and got ready as usual, rushing slightly because I knew I had to finish the Marx readings before class. I ate breakfast alone, and headed down to class by eight-fifteen. In the lecture hall I realized that I wasn't alone in feeling unprepared - most of the other students had either not finished the readings or hadn't understood them at all. Professor Kramnick's lecture was mostly about pre-Marx socialism and Marx's criticism of the industrialization of Western economies.We won't look at communism until tomorrow. In section, Vijay helped us discern the four different types of alienation that occur when a person works in a factory, analyzing them through Locke's views of property and labor.

At lunch, I got a mini cheese pizza and unsweetened iced tea. Normally I dislike Trillium's pizza, but the one I had was freshly cooked, so it was passable. I realized today that I've only eaten meat twice on this trip: pork potstickers for lunch at Washington University and salmon the same night. I have enjoyed this almost-vegetarian life.

After lunch we had our final guest speaker. Nelson Roth taught law at Cornell and was also appointed to investigate accusations of perjury and evidence tampering by officers of the New York State Police. His talk was about the latter experience. In thirty-four cases, officers had forged evidence simply because they wanted to convict the accused. One officer had lied about the source of the fingerprint in a murder case, and an innocent woman was jailed for years before Mr. Roth's investigations freed her. The BBC actually did a documentary about it, and we were shown a long portion of it. This was the most exciting case we've learned about, and the most dramatic: At one point in investigations, Mr.Roth's life was threatened by a suspect, so he had to get a gun and a security detail. While he was being fingerprinted, he found the proof he needed against the forging police.

After class, much of our discussion session went to study in the library until Vijay's office hours, which we were required to attend because we had to pick up our essays. The room of the library we picked was the most beautiful place I have seen on campus, with three floors of narrow walkways between stacks of books, leather armchairs and couches, and tilted reading desks. I worked on my essay sitting on a black leather couch, which was placed right in front of a window overlooking a grassy, hilly view. The problem with this beautiful room was that it was far to nice to be a productive place for me. So at three-thirty I went to office hours, got my essay, and headed back to North Balch.

I left for dinner at about six-twenty because I'd looked at the sky and decided to get going before it stormed. I was glad I hadn't waited any longer, because halfway to RPCC I witnessed a huge table umbrella being blown away by the wind and felt the first few drops of rain. Approaching the steps, I was shoved rather rudely by a gust of wind and was glad to get inside. Tonight I ate pasta with Alfredo sauce and a breadstick, then had some chocolate soft-serve. Even the ice cream at RPCC is beginning to get old for me.

We sat in the back of the dining hall with a clear view of the floor-to-ceiling windows, and saw that the weather was getting quite nasty. The thunder and lightning seemed ceaseless, and the rain was coming in sheets. However, by the time we were done with dessert, the sun was poking through a tiny hole in the clouds. I'll be sorry to return to the consistent weather of the Bay Area - the wild unpredictability of what we have here is so exciting.

After dinner I showered, trying not to be intimidated by the two little spiders that sat on the curtain the whole time. I then headed downstairs to study and blog with Jun. This is crunch time. We've had several emails from various Cornell authorities with instructions regarding departure day, my final paper is due the day after tomorrow, and the final exam is Friday. The best part of this course is that you don't have time to forget much of what you've learned in three weeks, and even if you have, there's still no time to panic about your level of preparation - or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

1 comment:

  1. That library is gorgeous! I couldn't have got much done there either. I suspect if one goes to Cornell as a full-time student, one gets use to the atmosphere and can then settle down to work. Good luck getting through all the work! Quiet here without you and Charlie. Love, Mom