Monday, December 7, 2009

"Yes, please, as long as the chocolate is not in the egg-bake.".

Dear friends,

I am in grad school. At least I think I am. I still am confused about whether you can actually call divinity school grad school. Let's be serious, I didn't even have to take the GRE.

So I may or may not be in grad school right now, and it is my first [grad school?] finals week. Today I took my first [grad school?] final exam. It included celebration of the Eucharist, a spirit tunnel, free breakfast, and chocolate.

"Sara, I don't understand why your first grad school final sounds like a big party. I would like me a spirit tunnel a whole lot."

"I don't understand either, but I did like me the spirit tunnel a whole lot."

To set the stage, all first-year students at Duke Divinity School take Church History 13. As with most classes, there is a lot of material, but with CH 13, there really very much is a lot of material. Ever since the first day of orientation, we began hearing about the infamous CH 13 final and how terrible it would be. I think the academic dean even told us that we should all drop out now [not true, but reminiscent of the truth].

My personal idol, Lauren Winner, who herself completed a Master's of Divinity at Duke after completing her PhD at Columbia, described the same test I took this morning to be harder than any of her doctoral exams. HooBoy.

Thus, as us first-years rallied for the test this morning, it was as if the whole school was gearing up in support of us.

We arrived [those who love God, anyway] for the optional Eucharist service beforehand at 8:00 AM. For those of you who have not celebrated the Eucharist at a Methodist service, you should know that Methodists do Eucharist really well. By this, I mean that I am a huge pan of dipping a delicious chunk of fluffy white bread into some equally delicious grape juice.

I do love me some good Eucharist now and again.

Having received our grace for the morning [and able to tell you how Ignatius, Augustine, and Aquinas viewed the significance of the Eucharist], we spilled into the hallway to the sound of loud clapping and cheering. That's right. Enter in the spirit tunnel. This spirit tunnel doesn't have anything to do with the debated homoousios of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son; rather, it consisted of second and third-year divinity students perched along our walk to our place of testing. They clapped and cheered, and high-fives abounded as they wished us well.

"Wow Sara, sanctification AND unity of the Christian body all in the span of an hour?"

At the end of the tunnel of well-wishers, we discovered what we all had a hankering for--not just spiritual food [we'd already had that], but REAL food. Coffee, muffins, and egg-bake. Who could ask for anything more?

"Lauren Winner, did you get egg-bake before your CH 13 final?"

At this point, we settled into the normal test routine of feverish writing, interrupted only for brief intervals when we needed to shake our writing hand vigorously, in an attempt to make sure the hand was, in fact, still there and not literally falling off as we had thought.

Our guards [preceptors] sat at the front of the room, making sure we didn't cheat (or more likely give up and make a break for it). After about an hour and a half had passed, a woman came in and handed one of the guards [preceptors] a white lunch bag.

"Are you kidding me? Is he going to sit there like a monster and eat his lunch while we write feverishly for another hour and a half? NOT ACCEPTABLE."

But then he started to hand his lunch out to everyone in the class. And it wasn't his lunch. It was delicious chocolate treats. In the middle of trying to figure out whether to attribute a quotation about pleasing God to Augustine or Aquinas, I was passed a delicious chocolate treat.

"Lord, I don't know who it was that said this, but I thank you for this delicious chocolate treat. You are a real peach."

We then resumed our normal test routine until time was called. Then we all left, still alive.

My first [grad school?] exam, and I got a high-five and a Hershey's chocolate nugget. And hopefully an A.

Moral of the story? Go to grad school. It's much easier than college [thus far]. Don't tell anyone here I said that.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Dear Socially Inept Person:"

[This post goes out to all the socially unaware, yet overly confident douchebags out there.]

Hi there,

I am writing to tell you that you are socially unaware, and you need to work on this part of your personality.

I also need to tell you about something you should already know about. In fact, you would know about it if you weren't so socially inept. If you have been making small talk with me for 15 minutes, but I haven't been replying for 10 of those minutes, it would probably be best for you to stop making small talk, because the fact of the matter is that I have wanted to bash your face for the past 14 minutes. Socially unaware person, I don't understand why you can't pick up on the annoyed cues that I am sending you. You just keep happily talking about your cereal and the weather, and I just find that so unnecessary. I think you would too, socially unaware person, if you listened to yourself.

One more thing socially adept people [unlike yourself] pick up on is unwritten rules. Suffice it to say, unwritten rules are entirely more important than written rules. For instance, most people know that they should not talk to the people in their home when it is morning. This is a simple rule, really. If you see someone that lives in the same house as you, and that person has not left the house for the day yet, you are only allowed to avert your eyes and mumble, "good morning." That is ALL you are allowed to say. This rule still applies even if it is 11 AM. If the other person has not left the house yet, you are not allowed to talk to them unless their social cues indicate that conversation would be welcomed.

I hope to continue to have these lessons with you, socially inept person, because frankly, you are really bad at life.

Nonetheless, I hope you have a good day.


P.S. Next time we will be talking about the noises of affirmation you make while others are speaking. Such noises are completely unnecessary, but alas, another conversation for another day.