Sunday, February 23, 2014

How I Spent My February Vacation

So I took a few days off to hang around my seminary library and put in some serious research hours on a couple of projects. Here are some things that struck me during them:

-- The library itself has some new bells and whistles (there's a new book scanner that will download pages to a .pdf on a zip drive or just e-mail them to you. I would never have finished researching a paper) but is largely the same. Filled with seminarians and a few undergrads who like studying where the old people are because they'll be quieter. You still leave with a handful of 2x2 paper squares covered with lines like: "BT 378 .P8 B24 2005," which is a Library of Congress book number that you will go look up in the stacks, copied down from the card catalog listing.

-- The campus has changed and it hasn't. The east side has a whole lot of new stuff, including a huge art museum. And a strange outdoor sculpture made up of about 60 feet of see-sawing metal bars that undulate in a wave fashion and which pretty much beg undergraduates to play around with. But the interior oval looks almost exactly the same, carefully designed to obscure the fact that you are in the middle of Dallas.

-- Undergraduates are still as cute as puppies, from the young women who wear wildly inappropriate clothing (knee-boots with tights and a T-shirt that allows other people signifcant information about undergarments) to the young men who still haven't learned how to put the bill of their caps in the front. When I was here I was a decrepit 28 years old, so I was never "one of them," always observing undergrad culture from a different perspective. So I can mock them and ignore how we tried to dress like Duran Duran and Pat Benatar. Although when visiting a nearby restaurant popular with the Greek-letter set I will say I saw more Wayfarers than I had since 1984.

-- Study for its own sake can be a whole lot of fun, but I will say I have not bludegoned my brain that hard in a long time and it was out of shape. The library stayed open until 11 (or 6 PM on a couple of nights), but I was usually done by 5. It takes a lot of neurons to herd polysyllables, and mine had punched the clock and gone home.

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