I Would Be an Excellent Professional Listener

I love going to lectures and conferences. I used to say that if I could be a professional student and get master’s degree after master’s degree that I would be a happy girl. But here’s the problem with being a professional student: you have to write papers and read books and pull all-nighters and actually internalize what you’re hearing.

Which is why I love going to lectures and conferences. It’s all of the fun of being a professional student and very little of the work. If I want to follow up on something and learn more, I can, but no one is going to make me write a thesis about it.

When I was in college and living in a 100+ person co-op house, I would generally spend finals weeks staked out for days on end in the dining room with a stack of books and a little handwritten sign propped in front of me that said, “Fuck off, I’m studying. This means you.”

I could generally be found behind the sign, chatting it up with a friend, or sound asleep and drooling on the table.

I was not a very good student in college.

Which inevitably led to the following moment in grad school: I was in a class with most of my print journalism peers when the teacher asked me in front of the whole class why I didn’t go to j-school where I’d gone to undergrad and I had to admit that it was because they didn’t accept me. Good times.

I was a better student in grad school.

Regardless, I am kick ass at attending lectures and conferences—my two favorite topics are blogging and special needs. I regularly attend free or low cost local workshops and lectures on issues relevant to my kids.

That’s a big part of why I started AutMont, my autism events website. I’ve learned so much from these lectures and think everyone should go to them. I went to such a special education lecture/mini-conference yesterday. It was great. And I even got to meet a couple of very cool Friends of Stimey—or FOSes, which is what I might just start calling my readers. Although it is highly likely that I will forget all about that by the time I finish typing this paragraph. (Mind like a sieve = another reason I shouldn’t be a professional student.)

I find FOS amusing because back when Quinn was briefly hospitalized because the doctors thought he had a tumor in his stomach that turned out to be a giant, hard ball of poop*, the doctors told me after his cat scan that he was FOS—or full of shit. Although the doctor might have used the phrase “full of stool.”

So not only is FOS a lovely reminder of the time many doctors mistook constipation in my infant for cancer, but it is also a lovely reminder that I (and not the FOSes in question) am full of shit.

But I am really, really good at listening to other people talk.

* That kid is going to hate me for a long time for writing about this all the time.

15 thoughts on “I Would Be an Excellent Professional Listener

  1. Ooh! I love being the first commenter!

    You could just have lied to the prof and said you didn’t like the weather at your undergrad U.

    Was it really a house, or more like an apartment building?

  2. Well, I don’t remember your sign per se, but I do seem to recall that there were a few shining examples of academic lethargy that led to my installing the “Official CZ Procrastinometer” sign under the dining room clock. Of course, I might have been one of those examples myself…

    Remember my roommate Dan? He called the CZ dining room a “social vortex” that would suck people in for hours at a time. My new theory is that CZ probably generated a lot of good grad students because none of us were really ready for college right out of high school.

  3. It’s just such a great story that you can’t quit writing about it, and it applies so aptly to so many different situations…limitless!

    Yesterday I was reminded of you while at the pet store where the pet store worker decided to share with my children, in detail, how several of the nursling gerbils were eaten by their own mother.

    The only upside to this is that my children did not ask for a gerbil…I guess a puppy, guinea pig and giant millipede are, finally, enough…

  4. Too funny. I’d also make a great professional listener. Then again, I kinda have a lot of opinions, so that probably wouldn’t work either.

    Love conferences though. Hope to see you at one someday.

  5. Oh yeah. This is why I worry about going back to school. I am an AWESOME note-taker! I can take the most copious notes you’ve ever seen. Then I like to close the notebook and never look at them again. Not pull them out and MEMORIZE them.

    I am FOS Squared. Friend of Stimey and Full of Shit.

  6. Hi there! Visiting from the Momz Share post from Hip As I Wanna Be. Wanted to introduce myself! I live in Maryland, and I have a 5yo son with Autism. I’m glad that I’ve found your blog…I’m going to sit here tonight and read through your posts :)

    Nice to ‘meet’ you!

    ~Shelley

  7. This is a tardy post, but I just wanted to share that I was in the room in grad school when Stimey had to answer why she was “here, not there.” That led to me talking to her after class and saying something like, “Our gain, their loss.” It also led me to make a SUPER COOL friend. If you’ve never met her, you’ll have to trust me that she is even more fab in person than in cyberspace!–Zoomer

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