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Another Memory Surfaces
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Jim's previous comment brought to mind a memory I must have repressed all these years, it was so excruciatingly exhausting.

I had written my Master's Thesis--all 50+ pages of it--on a yellow legal tablet and I then had to type it myself, because I could not afford to have it typed professionally. This was a time in my life when I had electricity, but no gas, because I could not afford to have the gas turned on, and handouts from friends (bags of groceries left on the doorstep) kept me from starvation.

The rules for the thesis were rigid: no white out, no erasures, no use of Corrasable Bond, no fingerprint smudges. It had to be typed on 16 pound paper, perfectly typed, no errors or corrections. All 50 pages. Plus bibliography.

The first 20 pages or so went fairly smoothly. Thanks to my mother, I had learned touch typing in high school, and thanks to noisy, exuberant roommates, I had learned a fierce kind of concentration which could be broken only by the Trumpet of Doom.

Then I began to get tired. I made mistakes. I ripped out the page and started again. I put inserts where they didn't belong and had to tear up 3 pages. (Note: my method of writing is to write ideas as they come to me, then use scissors and tape to cut and paste in logical sequence. Transitions and so forth are made up as I go).

I can remember typing along, near the bottom of a page (another one almost done!) and then hitting a wrong key. Oh, damn! Is there another word I can use with that sequence of letters? Is there a separate idea I can throw in at this point that will make logical sense? Or do I have to start All. Over. Again??

If you ever want to inflict cruel and unusual punishment and need to claim that it is in the interests of an education, I recommend that you require someone to type a highly demanding thesis (with footnotes and bibliography), doing the hardest part at 3 a.m. If they survive, they deserve their degree.

I think I'll bury this memory again, back where it came from. Thanks, Jim. http://www.jimsjournal.com/

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