A few years back, before I was married, I was preparing to move in with a coworker and his roommate. I was nervous though that it wouldn’t last (it didn’t) and that after I moved out, our work relationship might be forever damaged. I confided this to my work friend who told me not to worry about it, that he was too old to hold grudges.
You’ll all be happy to know that I am not too old for petty, childish grudges and making up awkward situations.
I’m currently getting a master’s degree at the same school where I got a bachelor’s degree. This is a HUGE school. Gigantic. Big, public state university. Why, you could walk around for months without bumping into a single soul you know. Well, you could, if Murphy’s law didn’t exist. Also, though I went to a huge school, my department was very tiny and consisted of three – count ’em three – professors. I took most of my degree-related classes from one single professor, the lesser of the evils. I came to refer to this professor as my arch-nemesis, because like a cartoon superhero, I was forced to deal with him even though we didn’t really see eye to eye.
Well he turned up in a video we watched during my class last week, and he also turned up in the hall after accompanying one of the video’s featured performers to the class. I was very mad. My face flushed, my heart raced and I hoped he wouldn’t see me though I feel I spent an eternity looking at him to make sure it was him. There was no reason for any of this reaction. First of all, I’m sure I was but a tiny blip on his radar, since he is obviously still teaching the same thing at the same school ten years later. Secondly, if he’d stuck around and I’d felt the need to say hi or he did remember me, I was the only person that had the power to make that situation awkward. Although I don’t always let on, I’m kinda happy with the way things have turned out for me. Oh I’m still working on a few things for sure, but I’ve had an interesting post-college career and have nothing to hide about my personal or professional life. I suppose the only thing that would have made that situation awkward was when I proceeded to talk and he proceeded not to care. Which would have happened, because that’s the kind of guy he is.
Okay, I do have to say, when I was in college I used to like to throw a bit of humor into long research papers. David Letterman I’m not, but most professors appreciated my style. Not this guy. Instead of saying something like, I don’t think that tone is appropriate, he would take everything I said literally and make these obnoxious notes in the margins asking for more explanation or saying he did not understand what I meant. To this day I think twice before adding any levity to more scholarly writing, all because of him. Arch-nemesis.
I digress. I left school the first time with a small but growing amount of animosity towards the degree I earned. I liked what I was doing when I was doing it, but there’s a part of me that’s very structured and rule-bound that did not fit with the image of the program. I had to take both regular music classes and anthropological music classes and I found that for me personally there was much greater reward in studying music for music’s sake, rather than studying music for anthropology’s sake. (Incidentally I also liked studying anthropology for anthropology’s sake.) I understand music as part of a participatory culture, but with everything I’d put myself through to become an educated musician, I wasn’t looking to engage with people who were participating. I wanted some of that ever-elusive dedication. I don’t know if this sounds like a horrible thing to you, but I know it would sound horrible to some of the people I knew. That’s probably why I conjure up awkward situations. Because if you were in my head, you’d find it awkward, too.
I don’t want to think of myself as a terrible person, it’s just that some things don’t fit together. I’m hoping and predicting a better (imaginary) relationship with the MCDM. So far, so good. No arch-nemeses. Still have a couple of quarters to go, though.