I used to think history would come easy to me. I mean, I had the tenacious, for want of a better word, capacity to never forget dates and names and places. And so there I went, signed up for a history course with stars in my eyes.
And what followed made me feel like I was on a roller coaster, heading sometimes towards an A, and sometimes reaching for the hair net that would characterize my future job in the fast food industry…
Of what I can recall from that class were the essays. Oh, those essays.
Every two weeks, the slightly manic feeling would set in – I would pick my topic and just stare at it for a while. That choice made my question my intellect, sometimes my existence. So, by picking the Holocaust, was I some sort of power hungry dictator with a badly shaved mustache?
If I chose the Russian Revolution, did that make me a Marxist? Or smelly?
The days spent worrying about those essays flew by – and I’d inevitably find myself sitting up the night before the deadline, cup of coffee clutched like a shield, writing writing writing.
The citations. Never has it been truer: “if your mother says she loves you, check it out…” Every sentence, nearly every thought pulled out of my head needed a citation. Bibliographies (whether annotated or not) and I struck up an uneasy friendship in the class. If I had a thought, it needed to be verified ie as long as someone famous said it sometime, I’d be good to go.
And oh, my love-hate relationship with the research paper. That ten page monstrosity. I had to submit in a research proposal where I was told my thesis was questionable, a first draft in which I wrote too much, and a second draft which made me question life and all its hardships…
But, I handed it in. All of it. So, modern European history. Adieu. It was a pleasure. (Sarcasm also became a good acquaintance)
Don’t listen to what the research paper says…