Okay, time to study. Studying is reading, right? I love reading! This is going to be so awesome. The kids are in bed, the house is quiet, I’ve got myself all settled on the couch with a highlighter, now all I have to do is crack up chapter one, sit back, and enjoy the—

Oh, ha ha ha. I seem to have scanned a paragraph without fully understanding it. Silly me! I’ll just reread it again and—

Huh. Boy, there sure isn’t much light in here. Maybe I should change the lightbulb. I wonder if we shouldn’t have painted that wall such a dark color, since it seems to—

NEVERMIND. STUDYING. Study study study. Look at me being all studious and shit! I should totally get some of those arty square-framed glasses that make people look smart. I mean, I don’t technically need glasses, but I could get some with just regular glass in the—or I know, how about a Moleskine notebook, people love those things, I could take notes in it or just . . . I’m pretty good at doodling, like I could use it to draw little robots during—

FOCUS.

Reading! Okay. Reading. La la la, reading reading reading . . . okay, I still didn’t get that paragraph, what the hell. Let’s try the old trick of putting a pen under each sentence and just take it kind of slow. All right. All riiiiight. Here we go. Yeah, this is helping. Right on, pen! Way to work! Epistemological . . . positivism . . . macro . . . methodological . . . WHAT? What the fuck is this book talking about?

“CAN YOU STOP THAT NOISE?”

“Um . . . what noise?”

“THAT OBNOXIOUS DISTRACTING NOISE YOU ARE MAKING WITH YOUR NOSE.”

“You mean . . . breathing?’

“YES. STOP IT. I’M TRYING TO STUDY OVER HERE, GOD.”

Okay. Okay okay okayyyyy. Whoooo. Get ahold of yourself, girl, you’ve got this. Just start over and read that paragraph from top to bottom. Epi . . . epistem . . . stemological. Is that like an episiotomy? Goddamn it, I need a dictionary. I can’t believe I need a dictionary. Good thing everything’s on the internet now, right? I’ll just get my laptop and . . .

Hey, I wonder what’s happening on Twitter?

NO. STOP. DICTIONARY DOT COM. GO THERE. TYPE IN THE WORD.

E. P. I. S—you know what I could really go for right now? A sandwich. Mmmmmmm, sandwich. Okay okay. E. P. I. S. T. E—or a cookie. God damn, I could tear into a cookie. Okay. E. P. I—oh man, I’ve got some dough in the—I’ll just—OKAY, fuck, OKAY. Epistemological.

Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.

Uh . . . huh. Well. Well, of course! It’s the . . . justified . . . the belief about the investigation of the . . . opinions. Totally obvious.

You know what, I’m going to watch The Soup.

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Lo
Lo
12 years ago

You are my hero for posting this. Trying to work from home for the first time in my life, and feeling like a loser crossed with a slacker topped with a teenager. At least we’re in it together…

Jessica
Jessica
12 years ago

1.) You ROCK for going back to school, for chasing your dreams, for not settling.

2.) It’s easiest for me to understand epistemology as the theory of knowledge. Answering the question: How do we know what we know? Like our current epistemology is scientific. We think stuff gets “proven” and unless it’s proven through science, we’re skeptical. Back in the day knowledge was known as something that God willed. So the sun rose each day because God willed it to. Hope that helps.

3.) Focusing is hard.

4.) I’m working on my first year in grad school for Sociology (focusing on crime and deviance (and the family))… and if you ever have any questions, please feel free to email me. I think you’re Awesome and I’d love to help. :D

Stephanie
Stephanie
12 years ago

This is exactly why I will never get my degree.

sas
sas
12 years ago

i am graduating later this month. at 36 i finally finished my masters. and i am not that bright. so you can do this!

be warned: this study lark is all fun and games until a paper is due in.

may the force be with you.

Gigi
12 years ago

Yay you! You’ll get back into that study thing routine pretty soon! The only thing that keeps me from going to school is the math. I took a “pretend” test online to see how I’d do (if I could get in) – failed it miserably!! Even bought a Basic Math for Dummies book – still don’t get it…..

Kristy
12 years ago

Best to establish a study “place” that is not your surfing on the Internet place, taking care of kids place, chore place, etc. etc. I leave the house to study. I study in a specified study place. However, I can read anything anywhere without problem, just can’t do assignments or study.

sooboo
12 years ago

Ugh. That takes me back. Now that I can finally read a book without a dictionary next me, it’s amazing how it goes a lot faster.

Kate @ Life As I Live It

You crack my shit up! I totally LOL’d reading this, because holy hell is it how my mind works/wanders. Too funny!

It takes some RE-training, I have a feeling, to get back into “study mode”. Go you.

Lucy in UK
Lucy in UK
12 years ago

That’s brilliant! Ha ha, it sums up my three years studying! I love the way you put things into words!

Niki P
Niki P
12 years ago

same scene, my house last night- except I actually drooled on my book. Yes, drooled. My 12 yr old son saw it and told the whole house. Book learning sucks.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

Ok, so it’s not just me.

Lesley
Lesley
12 years ago

Nailed it!

(So glad it’s you, not me.)

Courtney
12 years ago

I think the biggest thing I learned in 7 years of under grad and grad school is self-motivation and self-discipline. It sucks. Cookies help.

Katy
Katy
12 years ago

Oh, how I can relate. I had to go to the library during graduate school and sit in one of those walled-desk/cubicle thingies – they are like horse blinders for the easily distracted.

Belle
Belle
12 years ago

Hahahaha…that was great and so very real.

You’ll get the hang of it again…but that was still some seriously funny stuff you posted. :)

Belle
Belle
12 years ago

You’ll get the hang of it again…but that was still some seriously funny stuff you posted. :)

Laura
Laura
12 years ago

In graduate school, my apartment always got cleaned most often during finals or when a paper was due.

Ashleas
Ashleas
12 years ago

You all deserve to slap me for this.

Also: I was an art major, so most of my classes involve me just staying up till 4 painting or sitting infront of a computer making some cool in 3D.

I never study.
Didn’t in High School, Rarely did in college. Graduated with honors. O.o All As and Bs (except that little D in art history 2…)

Good luck Linda! You’ll find what works for you. Sometimes people just can not study and sometimes they don’t need to as long as they’re paying attention. Don’t force yourself too if the professor is just going over the book stuff in class. You might be a better listener (I am. LOVED Lecture Classes. Can not read a textbook without falling asleep) than a reader when it comes to studying.

Jay
Jay
12 years ago

Now just imagine having to read, comment on, and grade 50 papers on epistemology by students who have all had that exact same problem. And we wonder why academics are driven to drink… Okay, no we don’t. Wonder that is, the drinking we do.

Molly
12 years ago

I’m currently slogging through infant dev readings. You’d think it would be all nice and happy and babies but NO. it’s all depressing and there are a bazillion ways to screw up your child before it has even popped out and there are all these neurotransmitters and random brain chemicals and numbers and my brain hurts.

So basically, I feel your pain.

StyckyWycket
12 years ago

Good Lord, can I relate! I think it gets worse when you get older – when I was an undergrad, I could ready/study through the TV, the radio, the roommate… Now, when I sit down in the kitchen, and hear the TV three rooms over, I lose my mind with the noise.

I just started staying late at work and doing work/reading after everyone leaves for the day.

Steph the WonderWorrier

Sounds just like my five years of University. Way to be a student!

Here’s a quote that I find really funny, maybe you will too (and I’m sure it’s not original to you, but maybe it is! LOL).

“Procrastination is like masturbation. It seems like a good idea at the time, but in the end you’re really only fucking yourself.”

…Such true words. Yet still, I procrastinated through EVERY ASSIGNMENT. I was also the worst textbook reader in the history of textbook readers.

Danell
Danell
12 years ago

Multiple studies have shown that people who idly doodle during lectures and such actually retain more than people who just sit and listen…

kakaty
kakaty
12 years ago

This is exactly why I’m never going back to school. I have a BS which is appropriate, since I somehow BSed my way through 4 years of college. Like @Ashleas I never studied because you just described exactly what happened every damn time I tried. I fear if I go back it’s just another chance for someone to call me on it and single me out as the BSer I am.

But, if we know anything about you it’s that you’ll find your grove soon and be rocking the student thing in no time

Cathy
Cathy
12 years ago

So here’s a trade secret: academic prose sucks, and jargon is the worst of it. Feel free to see how it goes if you just supply a blah-blah for the technical term you don’t recognize, and maybe you’ll figure it out as you go along. If not, eh, then go to dictionary.com, and eat a cookie while you’re at it.

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

Yeah.
I was staring at the first question of the second week’s assignment. Deontological systems vs teleological systems. I started to laugh a little. Then I started to cry a little.
The Man is all “Um What?” (which is exactly what I was thinking) and I just pointed. “What does that mean?” and I’m crying and “I don’t KNOW. I don’t know.”

“That’s the point,” he said. “If you already knew you wouldn’t have to take the class.”

Oh right.

caleal
caleal
12 years ago

If you’re doing the reading before class, like a good girl, then it’s okay that you don’t get it. Because the teacher will explain it. And then you will have already paved the way for your brain learning it by reading what you’re reading now. Sometimes, then, it’s helpful to go back and skim the chapter again and pick up on what may not have made sense before. Like… a learning sandwich. That was the lamest thing I’ve ever said.

(If it’s after class, then I sympathize, because I’ve totally been there. Often.)

Sundry
Sundry
12 years ago

Unfortunately class is only once per week (and I’ve only been once so far, tonight’s class was canceled for a teacher training, WTF) so textbook studying is a necessary evil. The upside is the internet. It’s awesome to be able to read up on the same theory/term/whatever from a source other than the (very very dry and jargon-heavy) book, sometimes I just need something explained in a slightly different manner in order to grok it.

Just think, back in the day I would have had to go to the LIBRARY and look at an ENCYCLOPEDIA or something. The future is now!

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

Dude, that post is perfect. And this is precisely why I won’t be going back for any more school. I had to go to the library and sit in one of the study “cages” to lock myself off from all distractions. Otherwise I’d sit at home and think “hm, maybe I need a hair cut; maybe I should go look in the mirror and check out my hair”. “Should I check my email again? I think I should”. *SIGH*. I have no idea how students function today with their smart phones and labptops with them at all times. I’d never get a damn thing done

Mary
Mary
12 years ago

Yep. That’s so how it is. Soon, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get to the part that goes “I’ve read this paragraph 78 times and I was thinking about donuts/the lady in the elevator/American Idol/my hangnail for almost all of them, and I retained nothing. I bet I have ADD. Maybe I should Google ADD. Is there an online test for ADD? I’ll take a little study break just to see what my score is, here. It WOULD make sense after all, and explain why I still hardly get long division and can’t remember the names of — You know what sounds good? A taco. Maybe I should — wait, what’s that shiny thing over there?” etc. etc.

(It does get easier.)

Blabbermouse
12 years ago

Haaaaaaaaaaa! Loove this post.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

Hey,

I’m a lurker who comments rarely, but I wanted to say, GO YOU for going back to school.

Here’s some assvice about studying and reading and understanding from someone who’s supposed to have done a lot more of it than she managed to do in her college and grad school careers and still managed to get through it.

There’s a pattern you discover after awhile. Usually each paragraph contains one major idea. If you get that one main idea, it doesn’t really matter that you didn’t understand all the sentences and the details – at least not right now.

Even if you don’t get the main idea in paragraph one, ESPECIALLY if it’s in some introduction or something, don’t worry. One of the most important skills you can develop (coming from someone who has suffered thru, herself) is to get used to pushing forward until you catch the next small thing you seem to understand. Don’t spend years with the first three sentences. Reread one time, then move on and look for the next thing that looks easy to understand. It’s exactly like listening to a foreign language when you’re still at the beginning of learning it (I taught Russian for several years, having again struggled thru, myself) – the greatest asset to you will be the ability to tolerate the emotional discomfort of not understanding while you keep an open ear for the next thing you DO understand. And to not spend more time than is reasonable on something. You’ll begin to understand more and more with a little experience. Anyway, you have plenty of experience tolerating emotional discomfort and pushing through it. Don’t let this new arena intimidate you too much.

You are just as smart as anyone who wrote any of these books, and you probably write better and more clearly than the large majority of authors you’ll read. So any of their ideas should be accessible to you. It’s just a stupid language barrier right now. Don’t let it stop you from achieving what you want.

Go, Linda!!!

Love to you,
Kim

Hope that wasn’t annoying!

Ris
Ris
12 years ago

I know exactly how you feel. I don’t know when it gets easier but you are not alone in feeling this way!

Leah
12 years ago

You know what would help you clear your head? Going for a nice long run. I hear exercise can really help with this sort of thing. You should try it.

Rachel
12 years ago

When I have an online class I get REALLY good at online solitaire. There’s this one difficult game called Calculation and I can actually correlate the amount of research I’ve been doing at any given time to my win percentage on it.

Wikipedia is another I-should-be-studying time suck. I’d go online to look up a human development concept, and before I knew it I was reminiscing over the discography of that one 80’s singer whose name I FINALLY remembered, with no recollection of how I got from there to here.

squandra
squandra
12 years ago

You got this.

Erin (Snarke)
12 years ago

That? Is how I spend my whole day–except instead of avoiding reading I avoid writing.

Also? Now I really want a sandwich. Thanks a lot!

Carey
Carey
12 years ago

I second all those people who say just keep on keeping on. The trick is to do the reading BEFORE the class. Just read the damn chapter and go to class. The prof will tell you what he/she needs you to know. If you do that, (read before class) you will be ahead of 90% of your classmates–I guarantee it. You will be familiar with the terms and basic concepts of the lecture which will allow you to focus on the important points the prof is trying to get across rather than just blindly transcribing the words coming out of his/her mouth. You are miles ahead of those children who are sitting next to you–in knowledge, discipline and life experience. So don’t dwell…just read and keep going even if you don’t fully understand–especially when it comes to those introductory paragraphs that are just blah blah blah until the author gets to his/her real point. You can do it! You know it, I know it, we all know it. :)

Crys
Crys
12 years ago

That was awesome! You describes my ADHD tendencies that I have at work!! Ah hell..lets face it..I’m like that even when I’m NOT at work!! HEHEHE!

Soleil
12 years ago

Well that just captured my nightly experience perfectly! Just replace with “epistemology” with “replevin” or “sui sponte” or some other Latin legalism that makes me want to make out with the inventor of Wikipedia.

Soleil
12 years ago

Oh and I’m not sure what browser you’re using but in my Firefox I have a dictionary.com search engine added to my little drop down menu of search engines and it’s been enormously useful! :)

trackback

[…] bloggers, Linda, just started going back to school after a long absence and she writes about her experience getting back to the books. It sums up my nightly reading experience perfectly. An excerpt: Oh, ha ha ha. I seem to have […]

lisak
lisak
12 years ago

That sounds exactly like every time I sat down to study in college. I will never get a master’s degree. Hated, hated, hated that struggle.

Kristin
Kristin
12 years ago

Bwahahahaha. I heart you Linda. I took a Marketing Research class last semester that included what I can only assume were calculus equations in the text. Hell if I know, since I never took calc. I actually took a picture of a page and sent it to my boyfriend with the message, “WT Holy F does this even mean?!?!”

I still don’t know. But I got an A in the class, so clearly the professor didn’t either. Breathe! It’ll be ok!

sheilah
12 years ago

I don’t think studying ever gets easier. But I think when you get older you are just so damn stubborn you eventually don’t just give up (although sometimes it takes a little futsing around to get the job done). I know my grades from when I first started college right out of HS were really bad, but when I went back ten years later, they weren’t bad at all.

But I will admit that your post sounds very similar to how I ‘study’.

(mmmm…yeah, a cookie, good idea…)

Mel
Mel
12 years ago

This is greatness – I work from home and have for years but lately I have NO focus. In fact here I am reading your blog post instead of doing some damn report!

Thursday
12 years ago

Apparently, if you put a pen sideways across your mouth (does that make sense?) whilst reading, your brain is better focussed and able to process the words quicker and better. I tried it when studying and it does seem to work but it could also be a complete crock of shit.

MelV
MelV
12 years ago

You just summed up every night of my entire college career. I am the worst studier ever. Go you for doing this!!

victoria
victoria
12 years ago

Dear Linda, What David Foster Wallace was to the footnote, you are to Twitter.

MRW
MRW
12 years ago

I was going to supply some helpful study or concentration tips and then I remembered: I got my law degree and CPA BEFORE I had kids. Now my ability to concentrate is shot to shit and I will be unsuitable to return to school until my 50s. So instead I give you high praise for going back to school with two kids.