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Poli Sci Paper and Procrastination

MOROCCO | Monday, 21 July 2014 | Views [2002]

 On the syllabus for poli sci, there was a 8-10 page paper that counted for 20% of our grade. The good news is that by the time the teacher got around to describing it, the paper had dropped down from 8-10 pages to only 5. The bad news is that by the time he verbally introduced it and approved our topics, we had about eight days. And, like good college students, we ignored it for about seven days.

I managed to get a page written over the weekend. I think Nathan did as well. Megan started work on an outline. No one else even touched their papers.

I intended to write another page on Monday. I didn't, and not for any good reason.

On Tuesday we had nothing after class, so we finished lit and more or less went straight home. I ate lunch and decided that I should really work on the paper. So I went back to my room and opened up the document.

 You know, I was in the middle of my chapter in my book. It would be a shame to stay there, I should really finish it. Two chapters and a nap later, I forced myself to realize two things. The first was that I seriously needed to write the paper. The second was that if I stayed in the room I was going to fall asleep again. So I got up, put on my shoes, grabbed my book and notebook, and went out.

I went down Mohammed V, because I knew that they had a decent bookstore. I looked around for a bit. They had a huge selection of cheap paperbacks, but after spending five weeks in Morocco the notion of “cheap paperback” is different. As I'd already observed, you could buy La Peste for half the price at Plume d'Oeil. I looked over at the notebooks to see if any of them were ungridded because my current one is falling apart (it's lost both covers and a fair number of pages inside) and I could use a replacement. No such luck.

Walking there, I'd noticed anohter papeterie, so I stopped in there and spent even longer flipping through notebooks. I found a couple that had lines instead of the modified graph paper filling. But unless I was content just writing on the paper dividers, nothing that was unlined.

I continued walking, following my path to school, only staying on the other side of the street. I wasn't sure what I was heading towards, but I knew that I'd told myself that once I was back home I needed to write my poli sci paper. So I didn't want to go home. I kept walking, stopping in every librarie or papterie I saw.

I was looking at the outside of one of the shops (the outside is often bettter organized and contains more than the inside) when I noticed a collection of pens that proclaimed “.3 mm point.” I needed them. My current pen (the only .3 mm point pen I brought with me) has been acting temperamental lately. That entire brand has, and I've been daydreaming about walking back into Tokyu Hands to buy another three dozen good pens. I don't even care if the salesperson gives me a strange look.

I managed to get through the people who were standing in the doorway and into the store. I looked at the pens that were in the glass counter. About the same place that Chuckie Cheeses keeps the low-point prizes. I saw the same brand, (Staedlater. I know they sell felt-tipped .3 mm because I've bought them in the states.) though a different type (.7 mm. I was amused to note that they described that as being “extra bold.” Most companies would call that “medium,” or maybe “medium-fine.”)

I tried as best I could to ask for a type of pen like those, but not quite. Smaller. To clarify, I handed him the pen I was using and pointed at the size. He looked at it for a bit, then shook his head and handed it back. Given I'd seen them in the window, I knew that meant “I don't know” and not “we don't have them.”

I left the store and resumed walking. I didn't stop at the outside vendors of books, though I did slow down slightly to skim through the titles. One of them was a Linux for Dummies book dating to 2000, which amused me.

I reached another bookstore. This one was more academic, with the upstairs area being dedicated to textbooks. I checked out a few books downstairs, but was mostly just browsing aimlessly. I'd kind of decided that this would be my last store, so I was interested in spending as much time there as possible. It was a bookstore versus a poli sci paper. I could have stayed there until they said “we're hungry, and we want to meet our families for ftour. Can you please just leave?” (Could have, but didn't.)

When the nagging voice in my head asking “are you going to start your poli sci paper now? What about now?” I went to the stationary part of that store. Some of the signs seems more catered to artists, which increased my likelihood of finding blank notebooks and superfine pens. I started opening up the notebooks nearest to me and hoped I would eventually catch the attention of the woman who should be behind the counter but wasn't.

Agenda. Agenda. Address book. Agenda. Grid. Does no one in this country draw? Or do they just get used to drawing with lines. That's how the early xkcd comics were made, so I suppose it works...

“Can I help you?”

“Do you have a pen that is really small? Like this?” I handed mine over.

The two women who had appeared behind the counter handed me back the pen and split up to go search for one. They came back shaking their heads

“Not the same brand,” I clarified, in case that had been the confusion.

“The same color?”
“No. The same size.” I pointed at the tip. They looked at it again, then resumed their search. I could see them testing pens by poking their hands, which is a decent test in my opinion. If it hurts to poke yourself with it, it's the right size for me.

Still no luck. I thanked them and left.

When I passed the store with the .3 mm pens on the outside, I went inside again. And not just because it gave me another five minutes away from my poli sci paper., though that didnt hurt. I tried to explain that outside, there were the pens I wanted. I was passed off to someone who spoek better English, though I still needed to leave the store and physically point to get what I wanted. I paid and went home.

There, I discovered that the pens weren't quite what I was looking for. They still said .3 mm, and possibly they were. You could make a decently thin line if you were holding it at the wrong angle, but then the line would be too light because the ink wasn't coming out properly. If the ink was coming out properly, it would smudge and make my form of tiny handwriting illegible. I gave up, went back to trying to coax life out of my main pen, and thought of who I knew who could use multicolored and slightly strange pens. (The first person was Natasha, who conveniently used up the last of her ink on Wednesday.) My quest for pens continues, along with the hope that there is some country other than Japan where I can find them.

In the mean time, poli sci. Sentence by sentence, my paper crawled along. I found sources and found relevant points and looked up how to say certain words or phrases in French, and I added another sentence. I hoped that it would resolve itself into being about the right length, since I wans't super-confident about my ability to pad sentences in French. I checked the syllabus and realized that the midterm had been worth more than this paper, which made it not that important, but unfortunately still a necessity. At 3.5 pages (total) I decided I'd done enough for the day and stopped.

The next day, I learned that I'd been the only one to work on the paper the day before. I also learned that not only were we presenting our papers to the class tomorrow, we needed to create a powerpoint for that. What I made up for in non-procrastination on the paper was canceled out by the powerpoint. The entirety of that was written on Thursday during class.

During lunch, we discussed paper-padding techniques. We weren't sure if they would be necessary, but they're always good to have on hand. If a language teacher ever wants to make sure higher-level students improve their knowledge of adjectives and adverbs, she doesn't have to find vocab lists or review the grammar. She just needs to assign them an eight page paper and they'll do the rest on their own.

After class, I went home and forced myself through the rest of the paper. Being away from it for a day had made me question everything I'd written, and if that was even what he was looking for. This was probably the only poli sci class I would ever take, so I had no idea how to write those kinds of papers. Compared to that, needing to write in French was an almost minor issue.

On Thursday we discussed ways that we could get out of having to present. This included sabotaging the projector (he wasn't that good with technology. Unplugging it would probably have worked) and having Natasha fake-seize. When he gave us a break between his lecture and our presentations, I not-jokingly suggested that we all leave our papers on the table and leave. (No one else took me up on that.) I also asked twice the questions in class I normally do to try and stall him.

The latter at least worked. The only presentations we had time to get through were Megan and Natasha's. Which just meant that I had to go first on Friday. I was planning on imitating Megan and reading my paper while my slides displayed a condensed version of that. Unfortunately, only the first two pages of my paper printed for my personal copy, so I needed to improvise the rest.

At least after that it was over. We'd also had our last Friday of the program, which meant that although I'd spent the last night reading and writing for that class (for the third night in a row) I was done. I didn't need to give any more presentations for that class ever again!

I  do think they've been improving my French. Needing to listen to lectures, as well as read complex poli sci articles (it's not just the fact that they're written in French. Natasha found an English translation of one of her articles and it was still challenging) summarize them, and present them to the class is bound to improve your French abilities. I think I've gained a lot, but I know that at a minimum I've gotten a lot better at French years. I think I'm past the point where I will try and say that World War II happened in the 1980s. (That happened in high school. It was bad.)

Tags: notebook, papers, pens, presentation, school

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