duck-shaped pain


07 April 2006
One and a quarter inches means a lot.

So, today I met with the Margins Guy.

Apparently, every university has one of these. My school is unusual in that ours is male (most of the stories I've heard about said species are about some bitterly remembered Margins Lady), but, other than that, he does the same thing as his counterparts around the world. He checks theses and dissertations for correct margins and pagination. He is particularly invested in the little things, such as making sure that your list of figures is included in your table of contents, even though it is only one page away from the latter. Or that each chapter begins with "1" (a number" instead of "One" (the thing spelled out). It makes copy-editing, my old profession, seem wild! and carefree! in comparison.

I got up pretty early this morning to meet with the Margins Guy. There are parts of my thesis which have to be printed in color (my photos, as well as some of the university-mandated title pages), and I don't own a color printer anymore, so I had to go to Kinko's at 6 a.m. to get this part of the job done. There is not much going on at Kinko's here in the ABQ at that hour of the morning, I tell you. There was only one other customer there -- a woman, dressed in yellow, who was trying to send something somewhere via FedEx. She rummaged through every envelope and box they had looking for the one that would fit her item perfectly, and apparently, none of them fit the bill. She asked the employee on duty if it would be okay if she cut up a few of the boxes and taped them back together so that her item would be well-cradled in its custom envelope. The employee didn't really have an answer at the ready.

Then I had to go to my office to print out the rest of the document on our slow and incredibly fussy printer. It does an okay job with plain documents, but PDFs give it a complex -- it will just sit there for hours, forlornly flashing its lone yellow warning light, until someone decides to unplug it and start over.

I was halfway through printing when K., one of my officemates, walked in. I was hoping to avoid her, but wasn't sure if I would be able to, as I don't usually go into the office on Friday mornings, and don't know her usual hovering and fretting schedule. K. is intensely irritating. She's very nervous and anxious, and she expresses this by constantly standing close to whoever else is in the office and asking a never-ending stream of pointless and aft-repeated questions. If some event is taking place on campus, for example, she will ask you about a thousand times whether or not I or any of my other officemates are going. Despite the 999 previous answers to the question, she seems to forget, requiring the 1,000th query. She also worries about a lot of things that don't need to be worried about.

I can understand, up to a point, since I, too, am a worrier. But I am a silent worrier, one who keeps it to myself or to a very select group of family and friends. With K., it's like she's missing a filter that tells her, hey, they don't want to be bothered with that right now. At least there's a good chance that she won't be my office mate next year.

Anyway, the meeting with Margins Guy was very short. He looked at the thing for a few minutes, and then called it good. Now I actually have to make the content good; something which will take quite a bit longer than four minutes. Still, it amuses me how much more attention is being paid to my margins than to, say, my argument, or my evidence, or spelling.

the past + the future

also, see here.

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