Old Friends (E-Postcard #4)


Tonight I worked on report cards for three hours and listened to the new A Tribe Called Quest album “We got it from here: Thank U 4 Your Service.”

I was about to putter off to bed, but this week has me so completely overburdened with work that I decided I might as well pluck another assignment off my sagging bookshelf and make a go of it. I hopped on over to JSTOR and logged in to look for some academia to bring to my meeting with my mentor on Monday.

In University, JSTOR was my best friend. I spent hours combing the database while writing my 90-page undergraduate honours thesis in fourth year, which to this day is the most rigorous assignment I’ve ever undertaken. The bibliography alone was some twenty pages long.

That familiar calligraphic logo — the capital J on a burgundy and gold shield — brought me back thirteen years to another time in my life. A time when I had no facial hair, was some thirty pounds lighter and had no life experience. Before I knew it I was plunged four pages into an article that had nothing to do with anything I’m studying but was super-interesting to me.

The article, in case your wondering, was this one:

Degé, Franziska et al. “Music Lessons and Intelligence: A Relation Mediated by Executive Functions.” Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 29, no. 2, 2011, pp. 195–201. www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/mp.2011.29.2.195.

In it, the authors wonder whether music lessons CAUSE students to be more intelligent, or whether their interest in music is caused by a per-existing intelligence.

The article connected with me on a very deep level in that it spoke directly into the experience I have in my music class on a daily basis… especially when playing music for children to listen to.

[At this point, this blog post was interrupted as my baby cried. I'm currently holding her somewhat fussy little body, after defrosting milk and post-midnight-bottle feed, dictating the remainder of this post via voice to text].

Back on topic now, regarding the journal article I mentioned above.

It’s the sort of peer reviewed article but I’ve been missing for quite some time. remembering University when the arguments of Foucault, Marx, Adam Smith, The Roots etc. were first being lit in my young mind.

My notes from class back then would be written by hand in three columns of extremely small blue printing– maybe similar to type size 10, in BIC pen. I’d always wanted to be a cartoonist, so my printing is very neat. Interspersed among the block caps print would be cartoon bubbles and other things to help my visual brain remember.

I can still recall in great detail many of the books I read back then. In fact, on Saturday night I even quoted from memory one of the books I read in those years (it was about medieval dinner party habits, if you’re wondering).

I can’t help in some ways feeling disappointed at the person I’ve become. I’m not sure if I just take in information differently these days, or if I just interact with it differently. Or maybe it’s just that the wisdom of age prevents me from getting quite *so* excited about every silly new idea I hear. It’s just that, where my notes used to burst with academic inquiry and wonder, they now burst with inward reflection and — well, not necessarily negativity but certainly questions.


I mean, my notes from last class resemble more a tattoo than notes from a university course. And perhaps that’s the reason why I’m handing in all my e-postcards at once. Part of me wonders if in a university program it would be more helpful to make students reflect on readings and inquiries rather than just my any random “aha” moment that might pop into our heads. Part of me is bothered by the idea that writing ten postcards (rather than, say, five) is somehow “too difficult” or “too much work” for something that is supposed to be a Graduate program. For goodness’ sake, I’ve written a friggin’ thesis. If I can’t write a haiku for class and choose a picture to go with it, then what good am I to myself as a person of any sort of academic integrity?

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