The Vine: April 23, 2004
This is probably a long-winded explanation before a fairly simple question, but here goes.
I've been in college for what feels like forever. When I started out, I was convinced I wanted to study engineering, so I went to an all-engineering school, took all the math and science I could…and promptly found out that I hated it and would much rather do art. I transferred to a diffrent school a few hours down the road and started studying graphic design, which (at the time) seemed perfect for me. Several semesters later, I found out that I didn't like that either, but at this point I'd already blown three years on college, and if I was going to change majors again I'd have to change to something compatible with my art-heavy set of credits. That's how I ended up in art history, which it turns out I love. Why this couldn't have been apparent when I first started school, I don't know, but that's life.
The problem is, the school keeps jerking me around. There aren't enough art history classes to go around, since everyone in the art program needs to take them, and if I don't take a specific number of them each semester, I won't be able to graduate in a timely fashion. Timely fashion being, y'know, before I die. Or run out of money, which is a distinct threat right now, what with tuition costs rising and financial aid dwindling.
My question is, should I care anymore? Does having a college degree really mean that much in the real world? I know it can help a person get his foot in the door for some jobs, but honestly, I'm studying art history. It's not that useful a degree to begin with. If I wanted to be a secretary or a freelance illustrator, will anyone care if I don't have a diploma hanging on the wall of my office or studio as long as I can type fast and draw well?
Disgruntled College Student
Well, you should care, but not so much that it wreaks financial havoc — no, your degree doesn't really mean that much, especially in the creative fields, and you can get work without it. But not finishing it at all can indicate a certain flakiness to potential employers; it shouldn't, necessarily, and it won't always, but it can. So, I don't think you have to finish it before you head out into the working world, but I do think you should finish it eventually (read: relatively soon) so that it's not a question mark on your c.v.
I would do what you can full-time now, then leave school and get a job and see if you can't finish up somewhere else with part-time credits — transfer what you've got to a place like the New School that's a little more realistic about students' time/money constraints, and hack through the last of your credits at night.
In an attempt to avoid looking foolish at work, I come to you for grammatical advice. The sentence: "This type of habitat may be maintained by rotational mowing, where areas are left idle for periods of time while others are mowed." "Mowed" sounds wrong. Should I use "mown" instead?
Not the one who has to do the mowing, thank goodness
Wow. You spend a few minutes with the word "mown" and it just keeps looking weirder and weirder.
Aaaaanyway. Webster's lists both, with "mowed" first, so you're at your leisure — if "mowed" sounds clanky to you, go with "mown," but either is correct.
I have a question pertaining to a friend of mine. This friend likes to hook it up with a lot of different guys (which is fine, more power to her) — oral sex, regular sex, et cetera.
The problem is that while she's taking oral contraceptives, she refuses to use condoms. Completely refuses. Won't do it. Won't accept the ones my roommate and I have tried to give her. Won't grab the free ones at the student health center. She says that being on the Pill is enough. We've tried to explain that yes, it WOULD be enough IF she was in a monogamous relationship and they had both been tested, but she isn't, so she's putting herself in a lot of unnecessary danger. She still doesn't get the point. We're all really scared that her irresponsible behavior is going to get her sick (Pill won't cover STDs) or pregnant (she's not great about taking her pills) or both.
Do you have any suggestions for trying to get the point across to her, short of calling and pretending to be from the health center to tell her that an old partner tested positive for something (which we're tempted to do, but we know it's too mean to seriously consider)?
I Think We're Beyond Planned Parenthood Pamphlets
Dear Yeah, Try Getting Her A Helmet,
You've tried getting the point across to her; it's not a point she wants to get at all, obviously, because the phrase "genital warts" is going to get most thinking people on the Trojan bandwagon. She's an adult, technically, I assume, and she can make her own choices, stupid or otherwise.
I have a family conundrum and I could use some outside perspective.
My family is one of those oversharing, overdependent bunches. Two years ago I moved away (about five hours' drive), and things have been problematic since. When I lived near my parents, I handled the banking, did errands for them, took care of the dog for them, et cetera. They're very shy people, not to mention a little odd, but they really love us kids, and helping out was the least I could do. Plus I had the time, so why not?
So now I've moved. Mom calls every day, which is fine and no big deal. They complain a lot about how far I am, and why can't I move home, et cetera. But they will not come visit. In two years, they've been to see me twice, most recently last week. The excuse for not visiting is that the drive is "too much" for my mother, that she can't handle the strain of the traffic, and that she had a crying episode the first time they made the drive. (Bear in mind that I am expected to make the drive frequently.)
Last week's visit was very exciting for me. My boyfriend and I had done a lot of work on our place, and I hadn't seen anyone in so long, I was very much excited about seeing them, showing them our place, and having a visit. The reason for the visit was that they'd gotten tickets to a show they wanted to see in my city. They bought me a ticket and asked me to drive them to the show (they are scared of city driving and the venue is in a transitional neighborhood). The idea was they would stay with us the night after the concert.
The visit went fine till the concert. The doors for the show opened at seven. You know how concerts work, right? The opening act doesn't even hit the stage till nine. The show is in a shady area, so boyfriend and I suggested that we head to a place nearby for dinner (no one had eaten) and it was still early — just after seven.
My mom went ballistic. "You are not going to make me miss this!" "I would rather starve then be late!" And so forth. So we offered to drop her off, pick up something and come back and meet them. She begrudgingly agreed, complete with comments about how it was unsafe for us to separate, and we ran to get fast food. I was driving, no one had eaten, and it was still early.
When we get back (20 minutes later), the whole tenor had changed. She became more and more testy as the night went on. By the end of the night, she's not speaking to me. This is probably related to the food controversy, but she also made some snide remark about us "not looking like we are having fun." Admittedly, my boyfriend was pretty aggravated with her for her dramatic refusal to allow us to get something to eat and subsequent pouting when she didn't get her way, and probably didn't look too enthused. I was tense about World War III which was brewing, so that probably detracted from my enjoyment.
By the next morning, they emerged (mother and father) fully dressed and packed from the guest room after my boyfriend left for work. They said not word one to me, but my dad delayed leaving to whisper goodbye. I can tell he was not mad. They haven't spoken to me since. Even my dad. My dad is kind of bullied by my mom in general, so it's not a big shock that he hasn't called or emailed. For him to do so would cause him lots of heartache at home, so he's probably just saving his own skin.
Sars, am I wrong to be angry that they didn't say goodbye, thank you, or anything? And that they haven't? I just think that when you see your own kid so infrequently you'd be a little nicer. Plus, it's not like we went shopping — we just got burgers! My mom is not used to group dynamics. She's a real "my way or no way" type and she's not good at focusing on the needs of the group. My boyfriend is pretty angry with them both for not speaking to me, for overreacting, and for being selfish. But this silent treatment leaves me wondering: Did I do something wrong? Of course, my friends say I didn't, but I don't know. Should I have gone with the flow and just starved and went early? Should I have jumped around enthusiastically at the show?
Am I the selfish one here?
"She's not good at focusing on the needs of the group." Yeah, that's one way of putting it. Her behavior is childish bullshit, and you can handle it however you see fit — I don't know if you want to apologize to keep the peace or what — but it's not wrong of you to get annoyed, and it's not wrong of you to have refused to give in to her attention-seeking at the time, either.
The silent treatment is the same shit; it's designed to get your attention, which it's done, and to let her avoid confronting you in a mature manner, which, whatever, lady. If this is how she wants to play it, let her play it like that and ignore her right back. It sounds like she's doing you a favor.
I really need some advice but I don't know how to ask my friends or family for it without coming off as either slightly neurotic or more than just a little flighty, and I thought you would be able to help me out.
I was recently introduced to a male friend of one of my co-workers at work. We are both single so my co-worker friend, Jill, invited me out one evening to meet her friend Steve. A night of moderate drinking lead to some moderate kissing and cuddling and an invite from Steve to supper the next night. After getting to know each other better over supper we went back to my place to watch a movie. This probably wasn't the smartest move I ever made and while we did not sleep together that evening, we came very, very close.
Now it's a few days later and I could not be more confused. He has called me a few times this week and is planning to come up and visit this weekend (he lives about an hour away and will stay with friends while he is here) and I don't know what to expect. I think he may expect us to have sex this weekend, and this is where the problem arises. I am pretty sure that I like him but I am trying to sort things out in my head and make sure I am getting into this for the right reasons (it has been awhile since I have been in a relationship and I want to be sure I like him for him, not just because I enjoy having someone to be intimate with).
I also don't know how to tell him I want to take things slow, despite how things appreared last weekend, without coming off as prudish or uninterested (I tend to push people away rather than try to deal with the situation). I am in my mid-twenties and while I do date, I am quite shy and not a particularly good communicator; I usually date guys that I was friends with first so I feel like I am in a bit over my head.
Sars, how do I slow things down with him without ruining what could be the beginning of a good relationship (I embarrass very easily and the thought of trying to tell him that I don't want to jump in the sack with him even though I nearly did last weekend makes me flustered)?
Confused in Canada
Dear Con Can,
Nobody is good at, or likes, these conversations. Nobody. Which is a pity, because these conversations save everyone involved a ton of stress, and I totally understand the horror with which you contemplate bringing the subject up, but you should do it anyway.
You don't have to fling open your front door wearing a giant "YIELD" sign or anything. Just wait for an opportunity, like maybe if you start fooling around, and tell him what you just told me — you don't know how to put it, and you hope it comes out right, and it's not that you don't dig him or that you want to push him away, but you aren't sure what you want quite yet and you'd like to take it slow with no assumptions on either side.
Again, I know it gives you the shudders to think about, and yeah, he might spazz, but the thing is, if he spazzes, he's not the guy for you right now anyway, and also, if you don't have that conversation, you'll spend the whole time all tense, acting sort of "off," flinching away from certain subjects, blushing furiously if he tries to hold your hand…it's just a lot less hellish to say what you mean instead of sending him a barrage of mixed signals and not dealing with it.
It's okay to want to take it slow. Believe that. Believe it's okay to say so, because it is. It's awkward to say what you feel sometimes, but it saves soooo much trouble in the long run, so try to look at it that way.
Tags: boys (and girls) friendships grammar sex the fam