in which i turn a corner

I've just completed week five of my first term of graduate school, and I feel as if I've turned a corner. I no longer feel like I'm living someone else's life.

* * * *

My debate went really well, much better than I could have anticipated. That had as much to do with my opponents as anything else. They both read from prepared statements, barely looking up or addressing the room. In their concluding remarks, instead of responding to points raised during the class discussion, they read another prepared statement. They were full of citations and academic jargon, but short on real-life application, and wholly without engagement or passion.

But even without that contrast, I felt good. I had a good command of my material, I moved smoothly from point to point, I was able to amend my statement to address new points raised in the discussion.

In the pre-debate poll, the class was split: 15 agreed with the statement "copyright is obsolete", 11 opposed, and five were on the fence. After the debate, 11 people agreed, one person was on the fence and 19 opposed. So I had a modest win in those terms, too.

This "win" was a bit more impressive. There are two open-source activists in the class, who came fully prepared to argue against copyright. What my debate opponents lacked in practical application and passion, these two young women supplied. It was really four against one.

I am thrilled to get this over with! And I actually now see the value in the debate format. It does stimulate valuable discussion that the other class lacks. It connects the theoretical concepts to their practical application in our lives. I still dislike the format, but now I can just relax and participate for the rest of the term. Whew!

* * * *

I also got my first paper back: a B. It's only the first paper of my first term, so it's possible my grades will improve as I go along. However, I've decided that if they don't, if I go through grad school as a B student, that will be fine.

I'm unwilling to - absolutely, firmly, will not - put any more time into classes than I'm doing right now. So if that means getting Bs, Bs it will be. As or Bs, I'll graduate, I'll get my Masters degree, and I'll start a new career.

I was mostly an A student in university, and that was before the days of grade inflation. I worked hard for those As - the first time I had ever worked at school in my life - and I enjoyed it. But that was long ago, a different person with different goals, needs, priorities. If the same amount of reading and writing now yields As, that will be fine. If it yields Bs, I'm fine with it.

* * * *

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, I feel comfortable with my classmates now. I feel a part of things - as much as I want to, anyway. This reminds me that some of my feelings of outsider-ness are my own doing. I have a tendency to move through worlds without being fully part of them. But I'm friendly with a few classmates, I feel comfortable chatting a bit before and after class, and the whole experience is becoming integrated for me.

Next week I'm going to try to attend a Campaign meeting, and see if I can add that back in. I really miss it, but I'm not sure my energy level will permit it.

In the coming weeks, I may be even more absent from wmtc than I have been. I have another paper to write, and when that's done, I want to write an essay, for here and elsewhere. I have a little break between papers and I'd like to see if I can still write.

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