Monday, August 11, 2003

studying dead people (and not-so-dead ones, too)

So, because I know y’all are just dying to know, I’m taking two anthropology courses during this summer session: Anthro 1 and Anthro 2. Exciting, no? Half the time, I forget which is which. I go to class thinking we'll be talking about dead people, and the instructor starts lecturing on living ones instead. Highly confusing. For your information, ANT 1 is entitled “Human Evolutionary Biology.” I’m predisposed to hate it, simply because it reminds me too much of the Bio 1B course I took over a year ago, which was all about evolution, animal diversity, and classification. Bio 1B was horrid…I used to speed to make it to the 8 a.m. lecture on time, only to then sit in the back of the lecture hall and sleep for two hours. Come to think of it, I slept through many of the corresponding laboratory sessions too. Fun times, fun times.

Another thing about ANT 1: I have been told the TA is considered to be cute. Based on last week’s lab though, he doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor. That, says the Yaz, is not so cute at all. So there.

ANT 2 is about cultural anthropology. This, now, I can deal with. My professor (a woman) sports a tattoo of a horse on her upper arm, has spiky hair, and wears chunky-soled lace-up sandals that make me wince because they look like they probably cut off blood circulation in her legs. Interesting lady, and extremely articulate.

My ANT 2 TA wouldn’t really be considered a candidate for cuteness, I don’t think. He has a wild head of hair, a shaggy beard, and wears battered sneakers, raggedy jeans, and wool shirts that have obviously seen better days. He looks like a lumberjack, I say. He’s just returned from engaging in “participant observations” in Paraguay, so that may explain his appearance; who knows. Participant observation, as its name implies, is a methodological approach to learning about a culture; you both observe and participate. The TA says it’s informally known as “deep hanging-out,” and has to do with “going someplace where you don’t know anyone or the language, and acting like a complete idiot while basically trying to learn how to not become a complete idiot.”

He has a sense of humor, which is why I can safely categorize him as a cool dude. Not to mention, he’s a Canadian from Montreal. Sadly, he doesn’t say, “Eh?” though. Maybe not all Canadians say, “Eh?” I don’t know. I supposedly have dual citizenship, and I don’t even know jack about Canada. See, that’s just plain sad, yo. I can only pretend to know something or other about Prince Edward Island, and that’s pretty much the extent of my knowledge. Thank you, Anne of Green Gables and L.M. Montgomery.

So, hey, check this out: At the bottom of the syllabus for my ANT 2 course is a stern warning: “Students who fall asleep will be awoken by the student next to them, or by me.”

Great, just great.

It’s going to be a loooong six weeks.