I study history and literature, that most refined, elegant, and humble combination of subjects. But it seems that is not enough for the despotic tyrants of Harvard’s Program in General Education. “You must be well-rounded,” they say. “You must study math to remind yourself of how shitty your math has become, and you must study science to remind yourself of how shitty your science has become, and you must stop reading books—everyone thinks you’re a huge nerd.”
Because of that mindset, I have spent this semester learning about the Science of the Physical Universe, also known as SPU. I have learned about rocks, stars, rock stars, convection cycles, convection ovens, and bangs bigger than my own. I have watched a water bottle bubbling with dry ice erupt like Vesuvius, frothing furiously and shattering plastic and making that girl who sits behind me shriek in an embarrassing way. I have regarded the wonders of the cosmos, coming to terms with humanity’s insignificance by doing a lab that saw me measure and record the most inaccurate of distances and angles between the Science Center and Memorial Church.
I have learned what it means to be a speck on the spectrum of the universe, a small blot on colossal systems that orbit and collide.
I took a quiz, an ode to the days when I learned about density, mass, and volume between spelling practice time and dawning-sexual-awareness time. I took a midterm, which I actually don’t have any complaints about, because it was a pleasant experience. The fun ended there, however.
I took another quiz on Friday, Oct. 31. The first Senior Bar was on Thursday, Oct. 30. That was the day before the quiz that I took on Friday, Oct. 31, and that fact gripped my powerless psyche as I tried to understand what “coarse” and “fine” meant when talking about minerals. Are they asking about the crystals? Or about how touching them feels?
I don’t hate Senior Bar because it painfully reminds me that I don’t have many friends. I don’t mind that I don’t know much of the senior class, or that the people I do know have lost—actively, aggressively, deservedly, lost—my respect by “pushing back” and “piggybacking” and “playing devil’s advocate” during section.
No; I hate Senior Bar because I couldn’t go to the first one because I was studying for a quiz that was as disconnected from my life as the people who thought it would be okay to ask me to pay for my own drinks at Senior Bar. It wouldn’t be too bad if the drinks were free, actually.
Yeah, I’d go then.