Random thoughts as I sit cozily in the warm house, sipping hot tea and listening to the rain slashing down madly outside:

I'm halfway through my first semester and so far the doctoral program has been… excitingly scary. Or scarily exciting — one of those. Both. Maybe. ;-j

Anyway, out of four classes so far, I've had one where I had utterly no idea what the professor wanted us to write about for one paper — despite understanding the individual words she used to describe what she wanted; clearly I am not a surrealist. In another the three required texts seemed to have damn little connecting them, while the professor said to write my final paper on "whatever you want!" which about drove me mad trying to figure out what to write! Ordinarily I wouldn't worry, but these classes are not pass/fail, after all. One class is on-line, which is utterly fascinating but a struggle to keep up with due to the amount of reading. Also, when I mentioned my shock at having over 30 books to read for this semester, a fellow student who's been there longer thought about that, then nodded slowly, "Yup… that's about right."

I know, of course, that we're expected as doctoral students to be more proactive regarding our courses of study, but holy cow! Some small amount of direction on what the instructor would like us to write about would be awful nice. Still, on the whole I'm hanging in there and keeping up… mostly. Fortunately almost all the books we're reading are fascinating. The tiny few which aren't are at least dull but informative. There's been one single one which I found appallingly bad — remember what I said about not being a surrealist?

Riding BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to class each Friday is a lovely opportunity for about an hour to an hour and a half's worth of uninterrupted reading. I was fascinated to realize, however, what precisely it was which was causing me to feel uneasy on the short, three-block walk from the BART station to CIIS (California Institute of Integral Studies), my school in San Francisco.

In some ways it's embarrassing — I'm used to living in a diverse-ethnicity neighborhood, so I guess I'd gotten complacent. However, we're all middle class here. Suddenly being exposed to people who are clearly living in poverty made me feel 'off,' like something was wrong and I didn't quite fit in any more. They were louder than folks where I live, they moved differently than I was used to, I didn't know what to expect from them…

Once I figured out I was simply having a classist response and wasn't actually under threat, I was good to go, of course. I rather enjoy the walk now — at least when it's not pouring down rain. Cold and wet = bleah! ;) Still, that tiny bit of self-examination was an interesting window on knee-jerk reactions. I think I understand a bit better now how this current anti-immigration hysteria in Arizona that we're all hearing so much about came to be.

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