Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sophomore Year - Part 1, Back to Cayuga

Sophomore year was life changing for me. But we will get to that later. Anyhow, I was really excited to meet my new roommates and see Colleen again. The twin towers dorms were really new and posh and I was in tower B on the 10th floor. I took the elevator up to that floor with my green duffle bag and everyone was already there. It was a four person suite, with the common room in the middle, a bedroom off to the left, which Colleen and I would share, and one off to the right, which her friends from New York City would share. We had our own bathroom in the front of the suite. Between the NYC gals, we had a fridge and television and it was just like living in a small apartment with all the comforts of home. The gals from NYC were Jan and Amy and they were very pretty and worked at keeping up their appearances as far as how they dressed and that they wore make up. But they were really down to earth and likable.

I gave Colleen a huge hug and told her how much I missed her last term. We were all so happy as we left together to go eat at the dining hall. I couldn’t wait to begin my new classes.

The class I remember the most from that term was organic chemistry. I sat in the middle of the huge stadium seating classroom as the professor, Dr. Silver, announced that the class would be independent study. All of the students groaned. I thought, what is wrong with that? I can work at my own pace, not be slowed down by others, and if I need more explanation or time, I can get it. But it was a bit daunting to think of learning such a difficult subject all by myself. But I thought I would give it the old college try. After all, there were tutors made available to us. We were given Morrison and Boyd as our text and the curriculum was broken into chapters of the text. The first segment was the first chapter of the book. To complete a segment you had to take a quiz and get at least 80% correct on it. Completion of all the segments assured you a B in the course, then you could better that mark by taking the final.

So, that was my mission. Finish the first segment over the weekend at Cornell, and take the quiz on Monday. I felt bad leaving my roomies on the first weekend back at school, but Tom was free and he was going to be very busy this fall with regattas so I couldn’t be too choosy.

So Saturday morning at Cornell, I went to the Myron Taylor Law Library to study.

I am reading Morrison and Boyd and it makes sense to me. It is logical. This is the first time in my life that chemistry makes sense to me. There I sat in this beautiful wood paneled law library with high ceilings and chandeliers and it is extremely quiet and I am having an epiphany. Chemistry makes sense to me. Organic chemistry makes sense to me. I quickly flip forward through the upcoming chapters of the book. Alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, all of it make sense now. It all makes sense. I can learn this. I can do this. I can know this. I kind of feel like know this already because it is so logical. All you have to understand is that carbon can hold 4 covalent bonds and take it from there. That is the key to all of organic chemistry. Everything clicks into place. I finish quickly and head back to the fraternity. I am ready for the quiz. I feel high.

Tom shows up late and we go upstairs. We undress and he makes love to me in an uninspired fashion. He just hops on and pumps away until he is done. It is good for me, because I am easily satisfied, but it is not quite what it was. Something is missing. I decide not to mention it to him. Sunday, I return to Cayuga.

Monday comes and I take the quiz and get 100%. Guess I was right. I did know it. I take the next 3 quizzes in quick succession and two more 90%’s and a 100%. During the third quiz, Dr. Silver comes and sits in front of me and sings, “Mares eat oats and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy, kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you?” It was a bit unnerving. When I finished, he graded it himself and handed it back to me.

“You know, you could really do something in this class if you applied yourself.” he said.

I just kind of looked at him. I wasn’t sure what he expected of me.

He continued. “You are smarter than most of the kids in here and have a real talent for organic chemistry. Don’t be afraid to show it.” The he nodded, got up and left.

I was puzzled. This was the first time a college professor had given me positive feedback and I didn't know what to make of it or what do with it. It helped my self esteem a bit though.


Doug said...

What an odd method for encouraging his students this prof had.

Sue said...

Yeah. Some kids loved him, and a minority hated him. He was a unique individual that is for sure. As far as I know, he only sang to me. But it would probably be egotistical to assume that I was the only one. :)