Monday, June 09, 2008

Always already resisting Mother Nature

Like many other places in this great nation, SCTIAHTAMU has recently been experiencing some hellishly hot weather. Although I'm basically pinging between an airconditioned apartment and an airconditioned archive (with the occasional intermediary stop in an airconditioned coffee shop), the two locations are more than a mile apart, so I spend about an hour outside each day, walking between them.

It's a rather pretty walk, straight across campus, and if I leave at 9 a.m. and cut through a few strategically-placed buildings for 90-second blasts of refrigeration, I can often make it the entire way without breaking a sweat. Heading back home at 5 p.m., though, is a whole 'nother story.

What's astonished me in the week I've been here is the number of people who seem neither dressed for nor bothered by the weather. I understand that those with actual jobs may have to wear long pants and button-down shirts, and that plenty of others probably manage to organize their day so that very few minutes are spent in the hot, humid, outdoor reality. I'm not talking about them.

I'm talking about the 20- and 30-somethings I see ambling through campus in 100-degree weather with virtually no exposed skin and in no apparent hurry to get anywhere. I almost fell into a fountain the afternoon I saw a guy strolling down a shade-less path in stiff black jeans, square-toed shoes, and a long-sleeved black shirt--clutching what appeared to be a cup of hot coffee.

But then, I got it: grad students.

Spring, summer, fall, winter--east to west and north to south--some things never change.


life_of_a_fool said...

I still don't get it. Aren't grad students supposed to be wearing shorts and flip flops, like any self respecting person who doesn't need to be in an office?? I marveled at the people in jeans on the train platform today - I was wilted by time I got there, and I think I would have passed out if I were wearing any more clothes than necessary.

life_of_a_fool said...

Oh wait - maybe these are humanities grad students? I was a social science grad student - we'd be in shorts and flip flops.

Flavia said...

Yes, humanities grad students. I'm quite sure some of them WERE grad students, but it's also meant as a bit of a joke: who the hell would be wandering around swathed in black, looking disaffected, in 100-degree weather? Grad students! Can't compromise one's aesthetic just because of some weather, now can one?

Prof. de Breeze said...

I think all grad students secretly want to dress they believe they would in Cambridge (either Cambridge, I suppose). Conceding to the fact that it's 100 degrees in Atlanta means admitting that you're in...well, Atlanta.

And for the record, I propose this theory as a loyal Southerner who currently works about as far away from Cambridge, geographically, culturally, and otherwise, as is possible.

Doctor Cleveland said...

I also think it's a SCTIAHTAMU thing ... you have that special group of [people who abound in SCTIAHTAMU] who are all trying to make it big in [industry of which SCTIAHTAMU is peculiarly enamored].

I'd say more about these black-clad hipsters and what they're doing, but without identifying SCTIAHTAMU it's impossible. So let me just say, Madison is really unbearable when it gets that hot!

Elizabeth said...

just for the historical record that is this blog and its comments, as a recent humanities grad student i can testify that neither i nor anyone i wanted to spend time with had any kind of secret fantasy about being in either cambridge. however, there did seem to be a slightly elevated proportion of grad students (as compared to the population at large) who were painfully self conscious about their bodies. i can leave it to the ages to speculate as to whether it was this self-consciousness that drove them to seek graduate education or vice versa. the point is, although they may write about "materiality," they perhaps are not used to considering their own personal materiality. or else they have skin and/or thyroid conditions.

Flavia said...

Prof dB: yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. And really, I think even grad students in Cambridge are trying to look like they're grad students in Cambridge (which is one among many reasons why I avoid the place).

And E: Hmm. Are you telling me that a certain friend of yours, once nicknamed "English Guy" by grad students in other departments, didn't affect a version of this look? Or that he went around wearing shorts and flip-flops during heatwaves? I kinda think I see him in jeans and beat-up tweed blazers no matter the weather. And orange shirts.

And seriously, y'all: I keep seeing these dudes (they are, almost entirely, dudes). But at least the two or three I saw today had the decency to look tired and hot--with the sleeves of their black button-downs rolled up to the elbow while they and their messenger bags and expensive sneakers waited for the campus shuttle bus.

Anonymous said...

I'm an undergraduate (older than enough to be a grad student) in Hawaii. I wear long sleeves and pants all year round to avoid skin cancer. I've had a few cut off already, you see. And because the library air is freezing cold. I am also entirely a dude.

Pamphilia said...

Hilarious post, F! Def. humanities grad students. Those libraries are COLD. And besides, what other than a black turtleneck is both distinctive (tr: intellectually pretentious) and cheap?

When I got my degree, I took all my black turntlenecks to G-- S-- consignment, then spotted one on a grad student at a conference the following year.