Archive for May, 2008

It’s over

Confused individual in front of a computer.No, not the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, although Obama seems to have gotten that one pretty much all sewn up.

I’m talking about my computer science class. I took the final exam today and now I don’t have to spend any more time on algorithms or Boolean logic gates than I want to. And, I’m sad to say, I don’t ever want to study single or multi-core no more.

I’m sad to say because, until I took this course, I styled myself the kind of person who liked to study anything. I figured that if I was determined enough, I would not only become conversant with data clean-up operations but I also would come to love them.

I learned that I can bully my mind into comprehension, but I cannot make myself like something I am somehow not coded to enjoy. I can learn through repetition, or through sheer will, but I cannot change the self that prefers to read literature. This confrontation with my intellectual limitations is a great disappointment to me.

Some of my friends have told me that I can feel proud that I have done well in the course (at least up until the final exam). I would be lying if I said I took no pride in having compelled my English-major brain into coping with math and logic. But after four-and-a-half months of reading Invitation to Computer Science every weekend, and sometimes even on weeknights; after nagging friends to tutor me; after boring family and friends with tales of my misery, I am left with a feeling that I finally have walked out of a nightmare.

I hated studying with kids my son’s age.

I hated having homework — homework! — hang over my head these past few months.

I hated revealing to my researcher-friends that I am a dim bulb when it comes to the subject of classes and objects.

I hated giving my Shabbat away to thoughts of computer science instead of literature or journalism.

I hated foregoing trips to the theater because I was racking my brains over two’s complement. 

I hated having virtually no time to write on my blog.

Most of all, I think I hated having no collegial conversations on the subject I had to study. I didn’t have many collegial conversations about literature when I was in graduate school, either, but my intense motivation to get through a program that interested me assuaged my feelings of loneliness.

Life is short and I just spent way too much time doing something that, I fear, will take me nowhere. 

I fear too that my resentment toward “professional development” indicates some mental weakness, maybe the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m serious. Maybe I have gotten to an age where I simply don’t want to take on a true intellectual challenge. I see this resistance toward new intellectual pursuits afflicting some of my friends. Am I a casualty of middle-aged intellectual stodginess?

The real test is to see if I really can write another novel in my off-work hours. I no longer have an excuse that my computer science class is eating up my free time. Now it’s back to waking up at five in the morning and putting my bleary-eyed face in front of a computer — and thinking about creating characters, not inputting them; cleaning up bad prose, not redundant data; looking for the logic between sentences, not between transistors.

Give me strength!

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