Monday, October 12, 2009

The Paper Stash

I was sorting papers today, trying to get stuff organized (as though that's ever possible, being me). One box that I came upon contained what must have been every freaking paper I wrote in high school and college (and I was an English major--I wrote a lot of papers).

The first thing I noticed was that many of the things I nag my students about (unfocused introductions and conclusions, repeated phrases, passive voice, excessive adjectives and adverbs, and so on) characterized much of this stuff. I mean, I was told by both high school teachers and college professors that I was some kind of writing prodigy ... but either they were full of crap or the competition wasn't much ;)

I did find my analysis paper on the works of Aristotle, written for the guy who was supposedly the hardest English prof at UNH. It says "A+" on it and, just below that grade Dr. X claimed not to give, the word "Perfect". That was pretty cool to see.

The most entertaining trip down memory lane, though, came from the composer paper file. I cringe to admit this now, but I made an awful lot of money selling papers ... and selling composer papers to members of my high school music department was the start of it.

Even back in high school, my morals were pretty twisted. I would never, EVER plagiarize someone else's work--but I'd happily recycle my own pieces, just changing the name from mine to someone else's and reprinting. If you were my friend, I'd do it for free; otherwise, there was a fee involved.

The scary part is, nobody ever caught on. I tested this theory once using my sister as the guinea pig. Well, there's more to the story, actually. Basically, I was bitching and moaning that the teacher played favorites and, if you were one of her pets, you could turn in a shit paper and get an A+.

This bitch-fest happened to coincide with Mary asking me to write a paper for her. I had a stick up my butt (Mary was one of the teacher's pets, and it really ticked me off) and refused, and of course my mother stepped in and forced me to cheat on my sister's behalf. Yeah, I'm serious.

So I figured I'd test out a theory. I wrote an amazing composer paper ... until the end, where it concluded with, "He was buried in Westminster Abbey--and he smelled like old socks." I put Mary's name on it, and sure enough, she got an A+. After that, no one could say the teacher didn't play favorites (the paper I wrote for myself was far better and didn't desecrate the memory of a deceased composer) ... I had the proof right in front of me.

Wow, the memories that come flooding back ...