Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Importance of Lectures

Hey, you. You're looking nice today. I really like your jaw. Also, your knees. You've got great knees. You should wear tutus more often, you know, to better emphasize them.
Speaking of sparkly clothing, I recently encountered a professor that taught our class about Angels in America while dressed in drag. It was a beautiful sequined red dress that I could never pull off, and one of the strangest classroom experiences I've had while in college. However, while it was a great lecture, and while I later got to see Tony Kushner talk about Angels in person, I have to say, this was not my best lecture in college. Don't get me wrong; both Kushner and my sequined professor gain major props. I mean, for one, sparkles. For another, a hauntingly beautiful Pulitzer prize winning play about death, destruction, and abandonment full of dark humor. I'm a fan of all of these things. Basically, it is . . .
I don't know who let me on the internet.
I go to a lot of lectures. Why not? For one, a lot of my classes require them. I took a Humanities course that has nothing to do with my major but everything to do with my attraction to literature, music, and art, and there were weekly lectures about everything from Descartes to Billie Holiday to things such as this:
I met a lot of wonderful professors and also learned that I really hate Descartes. (No, seriously, I really do.)
Back to lectures. They're great. We get a lot of extra talks for free -- and they're free, so why not go? I've dragged my friends to ones about the role of porn in modern society, what it means to be a country constantly at war, and what running a Fortune 500 company is really like. I like all of these things. It's fascinating, and it's great material for a someday story. 
I'm also a fan of journalists. I go to a school that brings in a lot of journalists, and I find that the lectures they give are some of the most inspiring. They are literally putting their lives on the line to chase a story, and I find that all kinds of cool. I've heard from multiple women held captive in various war zones and men that traveled through the South American jungle to follow a lead. Again, these are wonderful lectures. However, my favorite lecture of my freshman year did not come from a journalist, a writer, a CEO, or an entrepreneur. Instead, it came from a crook.

Or, I guess, a reformed crook.
I was cleaning out my desk in the slow attempt to dig out of my dorm room and I found a ticket stub from Frank Abagnale's speech at my college. If you don't know the story, look it up. Or, heck, you could just watch the movie. He said that it's largely accurate.
Abagnale's speech was eloquent, engaging, heart-breaking, thought provoking, and a lot of other adjectives. You may know that I used to do debate; by which I mean, I obsessively talked about my debate involvement for the past four years. I like speeches. On one level, this was my favorite because -- not surprisingly -- the man was just really, really eloquent. 
For another reason, though, I liked the story. It's a real life tale about a heist; he not only stole and lied, but he did it fantastically well. He was severely flawed, escaping from a divorce that his parents dropped from out of the sky. He fell in love; he got caught. He was internationally infamous and he spent a long time in a cold jail cell, eventually remaining there while his father passed away. It is a story that has you hooked. It's a story with a plot, an almost unbelievably brilliant MC, and ultimately, change. 
These are the reasons why lectures are beautiful. Sometimes, you sit and wonder why you aren't watching Merlin or doing your PoliSci homework. Others, though, you sit on the edge of your seat and take notes on your dying cell phone because you desperately want to remember the story. You keep the ticket stub between the pass that let you into the Presidential Inauguration and your program for the Vagina Monologues. 
Life is full of stories. We're living them every day. Sometimes, hearing other people's is the most exciting and invaluable thing you could be doing with your time -- and if you're in college, I know, there are tons and tons of really cool, glittery parties you can go to instead. Sometimes, though, put down the red solo cup and go grab one of those free tickets. 
That's my spiel, and I'm sticking to it. 
Goodbye, reader that probably does not exist! I must continue digging out of my dorm. Until then:

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