Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why I love Tolstoy class [part the second]

If you couldn't tell from the post below, I loved my Tolstoy class this semester.

But only part of it was because of the life-changing, soul-searching questions and themes Tolstoy brings up.

A big part of it was because three of my roommates and I were in the class together and that our brilliantly snarky professor loves us. [He calls us the "Fab Four." And we are not opposed to that at all.]

And, since he is a brilliantly snarky Russian literature professor, I collected a slew of quotes from him. There was something great and new every day. Here are some of the quotes from the semester:

P (on the first day of class): This is Eating Disorders 325 . . .

(Someone realizes they're in the wrong class and leaves)
P: I am so glad he's gone.

P: I don't see silence or shyness as a character flaw.

P: I think anger is a great motivator to get me out of bed. But it's kind of a junky energy--doesn't get me anywhere.

Student: It's like if you were given a great sum of money and you decided to hoard it, and you become, like-
P: Happy
S: Like Gollum.

P: We're never too far from our junior high selves.

Student: Maria got on my nerves . . .
P: Because she's a Christian?
S: Um, no . . .

P: I'm not saying pregnant women should be given a pass--but they pretty much should. Especially in Russia in 1805.

P: A lot of nice people are going to say a lot of nice things about you. Don't believe any of them.

P: Pierre emerges from a bastion of nerdery. And there's no room in this world for anyone like that.

P: The real men in Tolstoy know how to hunt. But they also are great dancers and ice skaters.

Student: Is it normal for 30-year-old men to propose to 18-year-old girls?
P: Yes.
S: Was or is?
P: Sure. I mean -- I sure hope not now.

P (about Natasha in War and Peace): Can't a girl have a little fun? It seems not.

P (about Maria in War and Peace): Would you prefer her to be Alma the Younger, intent on destroying the church of God?

P (about any number of characters in Tolstoy): Is this someone who is ready to enter the complex world of adult relationships? It appears not.

P (as someone's cell phone goes off in class): I like to see my life as run by some sort of soundtrack. So thank you for that.

P (about Helene in War and Peace): She's torn between two lovers . . . as we often are.

P (who is a grammar freak): Cover-up is what I saw in the Daily Universe today. "A government cover-up." Think of all the implications of what this means.

P: No, no, I love wasting time. It's the one thing I do well. That and waste your time.

P: I'm still waiting for the sequel to War and Peace: "War, What is it Good For?"

P (impersonating complaining student): "You don't understand, professor, I never get Cs."
Well, you just did. [eye roll] Weird.

P (about Kitty in Anna Karenina): Because when you are experiencing heartbreak, you go away--you go to Germany, because nothing bad ever happens in Germany.

P (about Tolstoy writing Anna Karenina): So, why did he write this. I mean, he could have taken out an ad in the newspaper: "Adultery is bad."

P: Let me tell you, as someone who does absolutely nothing except look extraordinarily beautiful, it's not easy.

P: "Hate ON her?" We can do better than this. We have devolved. 

P (just finding out that Greer had hurt her leg): You didn't play it up. I would have played it up.

P (to student): Just don't quote me anymore.

P (to student): No, no, it's all right. You're great. 

P (impersonating person in a modern art museum): "I could have done that."
Then I say, "Well, you didn't do it."
And then my wife tugs my arm.

P (talking about men saying that their wives are so much better/spiritual than them): That's what men say when they're in trouble. "Oh, my wife is just so much better than I am." Then you know they're atoning for something that week.

P: Buzzed driving is drunk driving. I heard it on the radio.

P: A new child? Great, another person to disappoint.

P (pleased with himself after returning from a trip to Arizona): Sunshine suits me.

P: It's a lot of dazzle. Like jazz hand dazzle.

P: I hope you're never my bishop one day.

P: You didn't know it was "bring a picture to share" day?

P (wearing a hideous sweater and wanting compliments to satisfy his pride): You like my sweater, don't you, Dillon?
D: Yes.
P: See, Emily?

P (being upset/annoyed that we all know the story of feeding the two wolves and he doesn't): All right, you guys know it, I don't. I don't want a wolf.
Clarissa: They're inside you.
P: Really, Clarissa, inside me? You can do better than that.

P (to me after Emily interrupts me): Does she do this a lot?
Greer: Only when we raise hands in our apartment.
P: Hurry, before she interrupts someone else.

P (to student): You just printed it out? Seconds before it's due? Poor you.

P (impersonating Tolstoy talking to historians): If you don't like it, go away. I'll give you a cookie.

P: We are only a step away from the kindergarten class that released us a few years ago.

P: Every once in awhile I'll get a student who comes into my class the day before class ends and asks me, "How can I do well in this course?"
"It's over."

P: You should write a paper on that. It's due Thursday.

P: Once I'm told, I want to defy it because I can.

P (about student evaluations): I used to get "You're a jerk" quite a lot. Last year I got: "You're such a jerk. So that's better.
And then two years I found out about Rate My Professor. Someone said on my evaluation: "Rate My Professor has a chili pepper for you. Some people are so delusional."
I bet Dr. Brown [another Russian professor--they are best friends] has 5 chili peppers.
I tell him sometimes, "Tony, I just want to punch your beautiful face." But he's just so genuine and kind. I can't do it.

P (on the last day/last seconds of class): What can I say? I adore you. Now leave! Be free! Be free!

Basically, I love this professor. And I love that he loves us. (Also, he knows a lot about the Fab Four since we did personal essays about the uncertainties in our lives for our final projects . . . so he knows more about our angst than anyone should.)

But he's got our backs. And it's nice to know that we can count on him to fight for us if we needed him to. He could pulverize anyone with his snark.

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