The Deepest Level of Hell

Being an English major means that (as you would expect) I read a lot of books for school. For the most part, I love it. My horizons have been sufficiently broadened since starting my program. Of the things I have learned, I feel one  lesson in particular is one everyone should know. For that reason I am going to share it here.

DO NOT RUIN THE ENDING OF A BOOK FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

The people that do that are the ones that end up in the deepest level of Hades and for good reason. This has happened to me twice this semester and both times it filled me with a rage akin to the feeling I get when I see ignorant political posts by distant family members on Facebook (except even a little bit more mad than that).

The first time this happened was when I was reading Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s a fantastic book and I highly recommend it. During our class discussion one day a girl who had already admitted she had read it before said out loud for all the world to hear, “Well Character X is really Character Y so yada yada…” and then followed it up with, “I mean, that’s just what I think might be going on.” I KNOW YOU ALREADY READ THE BOOK. That changed the way I read the entire thing. Why? Why would you do that? The reason books don’t tell you the ending on the first page is because it’s a book. You are supposed to go on a journey with the characters. You grow with them, learn with them, and in the end can finish the book with them. To know key plot points before you’re supposed to defeats the purpose of reading the book in the first place.

The second time this happened was even worse and it just happened yesterday. I’m in my third semester of French and we’re reading a French children’s chapter book. It actually has a fairly interesting/complex plot so I’m pretty happy with it so far. I was sitting outside our classroom yesterday before class started with a few of my classmates. One girl who shall remain nameless was talking to the kid sitting right next to me about the book. I was playing spider solitaire on my phone at this point. Suddenly she says, “Spoiler alert! The narrator dies in the end.”

At this point I stopped playing spider solitaire, looked up, and shot her this look:

are_you_fucking_kidding_me_clean

The above look was followed by this conversation:

Me: “What the hell? Why would you do that?”

Her: “I didn’t say it!”

Me: “Clearly you did. Otherwise I wouldn’t know the ending all of a sudden, would I?”

Her: “I just whispered it under my breath.”

Me: “Doesn’t matter if I still heard it. Now I get to read the book knowing all along the main character is going to die.”

What in the world makes people think that saying “Spoiler Alert!” immediately before blurting out sensitive information makes it socially acceptable? Spoilers to anything, be it books, movies, tv shows, whatever, should be contained within the confines of spoiler websites. If someone wants to know the ending of a book, by all means go and find it. But you should have to actively look for it. Throwing that information in someone’s face is the highest level of asshole-ery I can think of.

So this is meant to be a lesson and a warning to anyone reading this. DO NOT tell me the end of a book unless I ask for it. I will cut you.

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A Piece of My Mind

Today, boys and girls, I’m going to talk about STEM. No, not the long shaft-y part of a plant. I’m talking about Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. These are the four areas that my state government (Florida) and national government are pushing today’s young people towards. Currently being a part of the public higher education conglomerate and an English major I’m sure you can understand why this is a subject I am most keen to share my feelings on. To make it known from the get-go, I’m not hating on UCF. While there are plenty of related subjects I would love to discuss that involve UCF, this isn’t one of them. The only reason UCF is singled out here is because I obviously go there and so that’s where my experience stems from (pun 100% intended).

Over the past few years the acronym STEM has been soldered into my brain time and time again. And a discussion about STEM wouldn’t be complete unless the name Rick Scott was involved. He’s quite a gem of a governor.

Yeah, he looks like a sweetheart. (linked to source)

Yeah, he looks like a sweetheart.
(linked to source)

He has been very vocal about his feelings towards STEM majors versus Arts and Humanities majors (particularly Anthropology which is hilarious if you know a little back story..look it up). Here’s a quote by Scott from the Central Florida Future back in 2011:

“Do you want to use your tax dollars to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology? I don’t. I want to make sure that we spend our dollars where people can get jobs when they get out.” (Read the whole article here.)

I might understand his view if my higher education were free (heavy on the might). As it stands, my higher education is certainly not free. Even worse, the Arts & Humanities at UCF are put into one of the four oldest, dingiest buildings on campus, our teachers can’t afford to print out tests for us, our classes are offered occasionally at best so most people have to stay longer to graduate, and our professors get paid a minuscule amount compared to professors in STEM areas. I don’t even get a printed Dean’s List certificate because the department can’t afford to print it. The College of Sciences prints Dean’s List certificates on heavy paper and hands it to the student in a plastic sheet protector. I got an email congratulating me.

Now there’s talk of making all non-STEM degrees cost MORE than their STEM counterparts. Before it’s even suggested, the money would not go solely to the Arts & Humanities department which is the only way an idea like that would be valid. To get my English degree from the University of Central Florida I would have to pay MORE than my friend the Biology major. Let’s let that sink in for a moment.

So if you’re poor during your college years (as most of us are) and you don’t have piggy banks for parents you will be forced into what? A STEM major. The choice would no longer be “What do you want to do with your life?” It would be “Can you afford to go to school for what you actually want to do?”

Rick Scott said that he wants funding to go to programs that get jobs. Here are my problems with that statement:

  1. In the Communication class I took last year, I was shown the results of a study that said communication/writing skills are the #1 skills employers are looking for. Knowledge in the field came after that.
  2. People with Arts & Humanities degrees get jobs in countless fields. It’s not all teacher, poets, and actors.
  3. Speaking of teachers, while there are hundreds of jobs you can get with an A&H degree, teaching is one of the most common. Yeah, I’m not going to get into this too much because I would probably never stop, but I will say that the day we realize how VITAL teachers are to our society will be the day that a lot of things change.
  4. Pièce de résistance: I don’t think it actually has anything to do with the jobs we will get after college. Here’s why:

(Note: I’m about to make a lot of generalities. I know generalities aren’t 100% correct but as the term “generalities” suggests, in general they are.)

It all has to do with power. We are supposed to be in control of our own government. You know who’s in charge of our government? Business people. They run the big companies (Haliburton, anyone?) that control mass amounts of revenue and are intricately snared with the government running our “free” society. Business and government are essentially the same thing with different names (we’ll call it bovernment). So who’s interests do you think the government has in mind? All the poor, lowly poets? No. Bovernment has their own interests at heart. That being the case, do you think they may want to spend tax dollars to fund their future progeny? What Statistics major is going to care or even notice when his tuition is less than other majors? I doubt he’d be hard pressed to get to the bottom of that mystery. So he’ll grow up, get educated, get a degree, get a job, and take his place as part-ruler of the country.

The A&H kids (I use kids loosely) are the ones who think. Not numbers and business strategies. We think. We see the world through a different lens. We can’t sit at a desk forever crunching numbers. We are out experiencing life and thinking about it. So why would it surprise anyone that the kids who think deeper and harder about the subjectives in life would be the ones that are being kept quiet, swept under the rug? We are removed from the big, bad government and that’s exactly how they want to keep it. It’s a vicious cycle of mathematical units parading as people being turned over from the big businesses, streamlined into government, and straight into a chair in Washington making decisions on how to direct funds for education.

If you enjoy math like I enjoy words, if you think finding out the exact function of the left side of the brain is the bee’s knees, if you go to sleep at night thinking about soil samples you collected that day then by all means please major in Math, Science, Engineering, or Technology. But don’t for one second think you can ever force me into a mold that fits the societal need. Because I am a lover of the arts. I am a thinker and a writer and a head-clearing-walk lover. I am not a puppet that can be manipulated or confused. And I will never be silent.

What Could Have Been

Many of you know that I go to the University of Central Florida. Further, many of you probably already know what happened to the UCF family yesterday. For those that don’t, I’ll clue you in.

At about 12:30 AM yesterday the fire alarms went off in one of the residence halls on campus. Students are fairly used to fire alarms being pulled. What they aren’t used to is cops coming through the halls with what has been described by multiple people as machine guns. As they were rushing to get outside, a student was in his room killing himself. He was found with a handgun, assault rifle, and IEDs (improvised explosive devices, or bombs basically). When the fire alarm had been pulled, the student’s roommate came out of his room to find the man with the gun and promptly locked himself inside his room and called 911. He easily saved so many people’s lives.

The cops got in and took the roommate out to safety, the building was searched, and the crime scene was investigated. Hundreds of students were left with only the things they thought to grab as they ran out the door until about 5:00 PM that evening. The university was entirely shut down until noon.

Classes were subdued. No one was particularly sad. After all, we didn’t know this boy and there’s a good chance that he was planning on killing as many of us as possible. But even still, a heaviness settled over the campus. The clouds were grey and suffocating. We didn’t seem to really know how to react other than to talk about it, spread rumors we had heard, wonder who the boy had been.

More than that though, the what-ifs were hanging in the air like a disease. What if he had succeeded? What if he had shot his roommate and then any other students in his hall he could find in the mayhem of the fire alarm?  What if he want up one floor and killed  my friend that lives in that building? What if he had come into the office I work in and set off a bomb, killing me and all of my coworkers? Those scenarios could of course all happen at any moment in time but yesterday the possibility was real, touchable, visceral. Every student, faculty, and staff member thought about their mortality yesterday. How could you not?

UCF handled itself extremely well, I think. Accommodations were made for the displaced students. Free food, tooth brushes, and a place to lie down in the Arena should they need it. Yesterday could have been a true tragedy. It wasn’t and for that I am forever grateful. Yesterday was not a tragedy but it was a wake up call.

To all of my UCF brothers and sisters, I’m glad we’re all okay. Let’s stay that way for a while.

Shame

So…yeah I haven’t written a post in a while. That’s my bad. But I’ve created a list of completely legitimate reasons why I haven’t be able to write.

  1. I’m taking 15 credit hours of upper level classes at my university
  2. I have a part time job that keeps me busy
  3. Because of my two literature classes, I should basically always have a book in my hand because there’s probably something I’m behind in reading
  4. I’m a very busy woman and I haven’t got all day (sorry, that’s just a line from The Little Mermaid…and I think I’ve used it on this blog before)
  5. I’M LAZY AND UNMOTIVATED

There. I said it. That’s the real truth. But I’ve been thinking about writing a lot lately. Thinking about my love for it. Thinking about the craft of it. And I want to return. Chances are I won’t post super often (just keeping it real–I have no idea how I posted so much back in the day) but I’m going to put in more of a conscious effort.