Notes from upstairs

Melanie Loggins, Academic Adviser

I’m a compulsive Googler. It’s not unusual for me to look up a couple dozen things a day. What is black seed oil? What’s the name of the guy in Massive Attack who’s probably Banksy? How many minutes per pound do you roast a pork loin? How would you say “f*** around and find out” in Latin? Seriously, I look up everything. Because the truth is that I love learning things. It’s one of my favorite things, actually, learning a cool new thing.

It might sound pretentious to say I love to learn, but the truth is that it’s incredibly humbling. Every time I look up something I didn’t know I discover more things I don’t know.

Have you ever gotten stuck in a Wikipedia spiral? You know, where you look up one thing. and then you click on a link to a new entry, and then another new click, and then another, and then, next thing you know, you went from looking up the name of a writer to reading about 15th century candle-making techniques? Surely it’s not just me. But it happens to me all the time. One of the best gifts someone can give me is a cool bit of information I didn’t know.

College was hard for me because I liked most of my classes. I had never learned so much so quickly, and I wanted more. It gave me energy, learning things and making connections to other stuff I’d learned. I’m an extrovert- I mean, obviously- but I was always a voracious reader too. College put both of those into overdrive, and I would read anything anyone recommended to me.

I ended up committing to that and majoring in English, although I later learned that it’s not always a good idea to try to turn the thing you love into a career. (Let’s put a pin in that, shall we? Revisit it later, hmmm?)

Sometimes I find things that blow my mind a little, things that make me see the world differently. These can be small things, like finding out the kind of seeds that make black seed oil were found in King Tut’s tomb. Others are big. I disliked a famous actress for years because someone told me she turned people into Joseph McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities for being Communists. Not longa ago, I found out it was just the opposite, that she refused to turn anyone in and took deliberate advantage of her money and popularity to feel safe in telling them no.

That made me rethink how I felt about her and everything she had touched, which was a lot, and, on a bigger level, made me start to thing about my own internalized misogyny that allowed me to believe it so easily and never thing to question it. Sometimes it works the other way. I’ve learned things about artists or politicians that made it so that I couldn’t in good conscience support them anymore. It can be heart=braking to realize someone you admired is actually a garbage human, but I think it’s far preferable to not knowing. Are you learning things that blow your mind a little? It makes me really sad to think some of you aren’t. What is the point of being young and free and in school if not to learn every little thing you can get your greedy hands on?

You know how people will ask a question on social media like “What time does DQ close?” or “Where can I get some black seed oil?” or “Are there any shoe stores in Wayne?” It makes me crazy! Like, ummmm, whatever device you used to pose that question could also be used to answer that question?? Maybe Google it?

So here’s to learning new things. I hope you’re learning new things every day too, things that change how you see the world, in big and little ways.