Monday, September 8, 2008

On The Third Week...

Long weekend. Or maybe it just seemed long. Friday night is ART1400, Adobe Photoshop, Illus and InDesign. It's a nearly four hour class, meeting just once a week, with lab time added to the end. I had my books the first day of class, but still only three people in class have the books, so we haven't started doing the major in-class assignments yet. There are thumbnail sketches due this coming Friday for our first ad assignment. Nothing due from in computer yet. Blergh.


Was late to class. Parking is awful. It seems like there is probably a magic moment when lots of spaces clear out between classes, but I haven't figured out when that moment is. If I arrive much earlier to find a space, it doesn't seem to improve the likelihood that there will be one available. I suppose if you looked at it mathematically, it could be proven that the longer you spend in a parking lot, the more likely you are to find a space, but it just feels like the longer you spend in a parking lot, the more likely you are to suffer an anxiety attack.

Geary talks about narrative. She tells a story written by one of her former students. She talks about theme. She says that most of the time when she writes, she discovers the theme along the way. I can't remember ever starting a piece of writing with a theme in mind.

I thought the homework was due today, and so brought it with me. She tells us that it is not due until Wednesday, so I don't have any homework for English for the next two days. That's nice. I should work ahead in all my classes. Ha.

I visit with Geary in her office again after class. It is actually unplanned. I am outside adjusting my backpack and planning my next move when she comes out of the classroom. We walk in the same direction for a while, talking about our weekends. She tells me that she taught (or teaches) lit at PCS and we discuss the creativity, catharsis and perspective of troubled teens. We end up at her office and sit talking literature for quite a while. We discuss themes of human experience played out in the fantasy and comic book genres and different science fiction authors. Robin McKinley is mentioned, for her incredible retellings of the Beauty and the Beast fable TWICE, two tales with completely different outcomes. We lambast flat uninspired books we hate. It's refreshing to talk with someone who has a similar opinion. Geary always has great things to recommend. I tell her about Watchmen. I think, as a writer, she would enjoy it.


The Black Plague. Why are we studying this? Don't get me wrong, I find it fascinating. When I was a child, during summer vacations my father would assign books for me to read and report on. I had to write summaries, critical reviews and book reports for him when I wasn't in school. Nice, huh? Reminds me of Anne Fadiman's family. I think I was nine when I read the book on the plague. It was called, "The Black Death" and had a subtitle something like, "Natural Disaster in Medieval Europe". This was a book I pulled off of his shelf, when he requested that I pick something to write a report on. I read it from cover to cover, horrified and sickened. The book was riveting, complete with drawings, actual accounts and journal entries and all the gory details of the disease in fantastic specificity. I remained somewhat of an expert on the plague among my peers for some time. I admit, I have a natural morbid propensity anyway, and this book did nothing to improve my fixation on death.

We watch a movie in Health on the plague epidemic in London in the 1630s. It talked about the causes of plague (bacteria transmitted by fleas and carried by rodents), the conditions for epidemic (poor sanitation, close quarters) and the disease itself. Actually, it described in great detail the symptoms of the three types of plague: Bubonic (the actual title of the plague I remember from my childhood), pneumonic and septicemic. There is fever and a painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes. Lymph nodes hemorrhage and become necrotic. Other symptoms include: spots on the skin that are red at first and then turn black, heavy breathing, continuous blood vomiting, aching limbs and terrible pain. Yum. Pneumonic form of the plague can be spread by simple coughing or sneezing. Septicemia. Okay, it's just disgusting.

But the most interesting part was listening to the interview with the modern-day park ranger outside of L.A. They show film of him putting up signs at campsites that say, "Plague Warning" and telling campers to beware of wild animals, as there is plague in the area. He tells of what a problem it would be if the fleas from the plague infested squirrels and rodents in the area were to infect rats and rodents in L.A. "We would have a major epidemic on our hands," he says to the camera. Lovely. Fortunately, there are several antibiotics that fight plague these days, but it a bit unsettling to realize that The Black Death is alive and well.

Psych and drawing today. I need a nap.

addendum: The even brief consideration of plague before going to school was unwise. I have trouble as it is with hundreds of people in an enclosed space, add the factor of precipitous, fatal, infectious disease and it makes me not want to go to school. No swelling lymph nodes, no fever, no vomiting blood, no gangrene. Maybe I'll be okay.... ;)

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