Chapter 18: Forward Progress

on June 24, 2011 in Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Priorities Are Rethought

Professor Stone had technically given us permission to leave as soon as we had enough notes for the assignment, and a lot of students did just that. I hung around for a bit after I’d completed my lists of threes, out of a mixture of wanting more time to fondle the magic items and a desire to not appear like someone who would ditch class at the slightest provocation.

I’d managed to miss a few classes due to various reasons beyond my control in my first year. While some of those had been crazy, once-in-a-lifetime things, they’d taught me that once-in-a-lifetime experiences happened more often than one might expect. Making a good impression on my new teachers now might help them forgive any regrettable absences that happened later.

Past a certain point, though, it became increasingly clear that the class was over. No one who was left in the room was actually working on their assignment. There was still a cluster of mostly guys around the professor, and knots of design students standing around and talking about fashion and other things. I was the only one who was alone, and I felt weirdly exposed.

This wasn’t just random social anxiety… okay, part of it was that. A lot of the G&D students gave off the same vibe that conventionally pretty, well-put-together girls always gave me.

They might have been nice girls. They might have been as insecure as I was. They might even see themselves as nerds. Maybe if I’d sat down with them and talked about something not involving clothing or colors of things or whatever I would see them as fellow nerds.

But they looked like the sorts of girls that registered to me as pretty and popular and petty, and I shrank from their attention even in the absence of any attention, negative or positive.

It was a bit of a disheartening reminder that no matter how much things had changed in the past year… no matter how much I’d changed… I was still basically myself. Okay, put that way, it didn’t sound like a bad thing. I didn’t want to change so much that I was unrecognizable to myself. I just wanted to find a way to be myself without all the awkwardness, the uncertainty, the feeling of being scrutinized or persecuted… the times when I actually was being scrutinized and persecuted.

I did feel good about how things had gone with Twyla. That was more of a positive sign, a reminder of how far I’d come. The conversation had been friendly, in the way of talk between people who aren’t exactly friends… and that was itself a sign of how much I’d changed for the better. I’d made friends over the course of my freshman year, but my interactions with anyone outside my little circle had remained somewhat… stilted.

When Professor Stone excused himself from the conversation that had sprung up around him to start bidding farewell to the students he knew from past classes, I figured that this meant he had things he wanted to be doing and it was time to go. The class was unofficially officially over.

“…and remember to pay your respects to Emily before you leave,” he said, waggling his fingers at a group of girls. “You know she can get a little touchy if she’s feeling ignored.”

“We will!” they answered, in almost perfect chorus.

There was that feeling of cliquishness again. Well, whoever Emily was… a student, or another teacher that they were all on first-name basis with… she probably wasn’t anyone I would care to hang out with. Touchy if she’s ignored? I’d had enough dealings with Queen Bee types already.

Spending the better part of an hour inside the classroom threw off my bearings to the point that I ended up taking the long way around to the front doors, down the weird looping hallway again. By the time I realized I’d headed the wrong way, I decided just to go with it… it wasn’t like I was in any hurry.

As I left the building, I had the feeling of both anticlimax and accomplishment… or maybe a single feeling of anticlimactic accomplishment. The aesthetics of design class was my last new class of the semester, the last unknown quantity to be faced. Now I’d faced it, and it seemed like something that I could do… it didn’t in any way play to my strengths, but stretching myself a little would only help me in the long run.

Professor Stone was the last new professor I’d had to meet, and he seemed to be a pleasant guy… enthusiastic about his subject but laid back on the whole. A year ago I might have taken his obvious familiarity with the returning Glamour and Design students in the class as a sign of impenetrable cliquishness or something but now I just hoped it just meant he was easy to get along with.

Being able to check my last class and teacher off my mental checklist and having the feeling of “yes, I can totally do this” was where I got the sense of accomplishment. I was trying not to feel too cocky on the basis of one session in each of my classes, but I felt like I was on solid footing. In a small but real way, the sense of being a sophomore… or rather, of not being a freshman… had solidified around me. It wasn’t enough for the old year to be over… the new year had to have begun, as well.

The anticlimax came from the fact that while I felt a sense of completion, my day was far from finished. Yeah, I only had one class left and it was only an hour long, but it was Callahan’s. Even if I didn’t exactly dread her classes anymore, I knew that I couldn’t afford to go in there feeling like… well, like everything was cool and I had it all covered, which was kind of how I felt. If I was going to have any hope of meeting Amaranth’s grade requirement I had to go in with my eyes open, ready not just to learn but to act, to fight.

I’d managed to impress Callahan the day before, mostly by not wanting to let someone who didn’t understand the assignment hammer on me for no reason. It was a good start, but I’d basically lucked into it and luck wouldn’t get me the A that I needed. A good start was just that: a start. It wasn’t even that, if there wasn’t anything else coming after it.

I made up my mind to try to catch Callahan before her class. The appearance of eagerness alone might help her opinion of me a little bit, but only a little… and only if she didn’t think I was trying to impress her with appearances. No, I wanted a chance to talk to her. Her grading criteria was simplicity itself: she gave students the grade she thought they deserved. There was no syllabus outlining targets to score a particular letter. No quizzes I could study for. No extra credit projects I could do to pad my GPA. If she thought I deserved an A, I’d get one… if she didn’t, I wouldn’t.

All I could really do was do my best, but I had a feeling that even my best wouldn’t be what she considered to be A-level work. I needed a plan… I needed to have something specific to work towards. There was no guarantee that Callahan would give me that. I could count on her help in learning how to defend myself, but I figured the only way she could care any less about my academic goals was if she happened to be dead.

Still, her grading system being what it was, getting an A would mean doing better at the things she did care about. I just needed to get some pointers as to her priorities.

I became aware of the sound of very heavy footsteps coming up the path behind me… to be more specific, light feet being brought down heavily. There was no mistaking the ka-THUNK of Sooni’s heavy wooden sandals slapping against the pavement. Evidently she had spotted me in the class, or coming out of it, and she had something to say to me… I wasn’t sure there was anything I wanted to hear from her, though, and I almost ignored her and kept walking away, double-speed. But I wasn’t sure I could outpace her without getting my legs all tangled up, so the only real choice was to see what she wanted.

I stopped, being careful to make sure my feet were actually planted before I turned. Encounters with Sooni were rarely great for personal dignity, and I didn’t want to start this one by falling on my face… or my ass.

“Hello, Sooni,” I said. “Can I help you with something?”

“Mackenzie Jo Blaise!” she said, storming up to me as if I hadn’t said a word. “I cannot believe you followed me into the design program… what did you think it would accomplish?”

“Hello, Sooni,” I said again, wearily… I hadn’t spoken to her in months and I already felt tired of her. “Did you look up my middle name just so you could say that?”

“No,” she said. “I heard it on the news.”

“I was on the news?” I said. That was… worrisome.

“Last year,” she said. “I remembered your middle name for just such an emergency as this.”

“What emergency?”

“That you are throwing away your future as an enchanter to follow me into the difficult but glamorous world of design,” she said.

“Sooni, I’m not following you anywhere,” I said. “I’m only here because I need crafting credits for the applied enchantment program. You should know that, since you were in it.”

“And I suppose you would have me believe it is just a coincidence that you ended up in the same class as myself?” she asked.

“I can’t do anything about what you do or don’t believe,” I said. “But yes, it’s a coincidence. I needed crafting credits and this seemed like the easiest option…”

“Design is not easy!” Sooni said, raising her voice and her foot… though she just managed to stop herself from actually stomping, which kind of impressed me. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who had grown over the summer. She lowered her heavy sandal gently to the floor and forced her outraged face into a smile. “It takes a lot of hard work… or a lot of natural talent.”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes at the obvious implications of the second alternative. Sooni had produced some fairly stunning original outfits along with some ridiculous ones that were nevertheless high-quality replicas of things her favorite characters wore. For some reason, it was easier for me to believe she’d lucked into the kind of affinity that made such things come naturally than it was for me to believe that she put in a ton of hard work.

“Sooni, about design not being easy, I’m sure you’re right,” I said. The awkward phrasing was necessary… if I’d started with you’re right, it wouldn’t matter what followed it because she would have heard an admission that everything she’d said was absolutely, perfectly, one-hundred-percent correct. “But I had no idea what classes you took when I signed up for mine, I had no intention of winding up in the same class as you, and I’m certainly not giving up my plans to be an enchanter.”

“Oh,” she said. She wasn’t exactly deflated… it was more like she was a great big inflated balloon that suddenly wasn’t sure which way the wind was blowing, or if there was any wind. Disabusing Sooni of a mistaken notion was never enough. Given sufficient momentum, Sooni could power through any objection reality threw in her path.

“I’ve got to go,” I said, not giving her a chance to build up speed again.

“Okay,” she said. “I will see you next Thursday in the Emily.”

“The… what?”

“The Emily Center,” she said, giving me the look she usually gave me when she couldn’t believe how stupid I was not to know something, which was often. “Where our class is?”

“Oh,” I said. I pretty much used the names of the class buildings when I was finding out where my classes were and then forgot about them. “Emily” didn’t sound familiar… probably it was the first name of the person the building was named after.

Suddenly Stone’s parting words made a little sense. It was some kind of in-joke for the Glamour students. Like they spent so long in the building they were on a first name basis with it, or something.

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess I’ll see you there.”

I had way more than plenty of time to kill before my last class, but I decided to head over to the fitness center anyway. If there wasn’t anything happening in the salle, I could go in, mock up my staff, and start playing with enchantments that might be useful in a fight. It was a sort of compromise between how I would choose to spend my spare time and what was necessary… I could easily while away an hour or more messing around with the staff. Doing it in Coach Callahan’s classroom was not my idea of a good time, but it would give me a chance to keep making a favorable impression and maybe get some one-on-one time to talk to her.

It was only after I’d got there and spent a few minutes trying out different ways of enhancing the staff that I realized there was another positive: I was feeling more at home in the room. I’d spent a good portion of my first semester going there for Mixed Melee, but I’d always felt like I was intruding in a place where I didn’t belong and didn’t really want to be. On my own, with the whole room to myself, I could swing my staff around without feeling self-conscious. I could practice stances, work on planting my feet right without worrying about anyone judging… or knocking me on my ass while I was looking at my feet. I ended up spending more time doing fighting stuff than enchanting stuff.

That was probably why Coach Callahan didn’t say anything about my unexpected presence when she came into the room, but just stood there silently and watched for however long she was there before I noticed her… if I’d been doing something she considered to be “messing around”, she probably would have wanted to know why I was doing it in her salle.

“Well, Frybaby… this is unexpected,” she said, when I finally looked up and saw her standing there. “Here I wasn’t even sure you’d show up at all.”

“I agreed to take your class, didn’t I?”

“Lots of people did, but it’s the second day of a daily class,” she said. “People are going to assume there’s a lot of padding in a five credit hour fighting class. They showed up for the first one, saw that it wasn’t exactly planar topography, and figure they can get away with cutting ever now and then, and what do you know? It happens to be now… now.”

“What, have they never taken a class with you?” I asked.

“I don’t actually grade on attendance,” she said. “I grade on performance.”

“But you can’t perform if you don’t show up,” I said.

She nodded.

“You get it,” she said. “Not everybody does. If I did grade on attendance in any class, it would be this one. There are reasons I made it a five day class. One of them is momentum. Yesterday I didn’t teach a damn thing… it was all about breaking down the barrier that’s going to stop people from being able to react appropriately when they need to put someone down. Some people can get to that point right away. Some people take the better part of an hour. Everybody got there eventually… but how many people are still going to there after two whole days of not swinging anything at anyone?”

“I might need a little refresher at the start of the class,” I said, then immediately regretted it. Asking Coach Callahan for remedial instructions seemed like handing her sadistic streak too big an opening for it to ignore.

“That’s natural,” she said, nodding. “I have it built into the curriculum.”

She seemed to be operating in a very low-key mode. There was no audience to play to, or appreciate her awesomeness… and even if I didn’t have her approval in general, I was doing something she approved of.

In that moment, I could almost understand what Ian saw in her when he spoke about her being tough but fair. I wouldn’t exactly use the word “fair” for her… she could totally be capricious, she would inflict violence for the sheer joy of it when she could, but that wasn’t the only principle that guided her.

“The reason I showed up early was I wanted to talk to you about my grade,” I said.

“Little early for that, isn’t it?” she said. “I don’t even think about them until a few weeks in… even the people who punk out on me this week aren’t setting anything in stone. I’ll judge them by what they learn from the experience and how quickly they learn.”

“This class is going to be a huge chunk of my grade for this semester,” I said. “It’s important for me to do as well as I can.”

“Two unrelated statements,” Callahan said.

“Look, I’m concerned about my future in the sense of wanting to make sure I’m not just helpless and flaily and falling over myself if someone tries to kill me,” I said. “But I’m also concerned about my future in the sense of… my future. So I need to know: what’s it going to take for me to get an A in this class?”

“You,” Callahan said.

“Yeah, me,” I said. “Is that so hard to believe? You’ve always said that your grading ‘system’ is fair even if you make it up as you go, and if that’s true…”

“It wasn’t a question,” she said. “You is the answer. What will it take for you to get an A? It’ll take you. You wanting it, you working for it, you showing up every single fucking day, rain or shine or hell or high water… and because I know you and your life, then on the days you don’t show up it had better be for a reason that will let you keep that kind of momentum we were talking about. If you want an A, you are going to have to fight for it and I mean fight.”

“I can do that,” I said. “I was hoping you could give me something more specific to shoot for.”

“More specific than a single letter?” Callahan said. “Pay attention in class. I’ll tell you what to go for. I give individual attention as it’s needed, but if you need a lot of individual attention you’re probably not going to walk out of here with an A.”

“This class is the biggest chunk of my grade this semester,” I said. I was trying not to sound like I was whining, but there was an undercurrent of that.

“So make it your top priority,” she said. “I know a kid like you understands teachers. You know the ones you can slack off with. You know the classes you can coast to an A or whatever your goal is. You know the ones who will give you make-up exams and extra credit assignment and bonus points for showing up. I’m not one of them, so if you want an A with me then cut corners everywhere else that you can get away with it to give me the statistically impossible 110%. Because 100% of you is still not A material. Not with this subject material. But if you show me… not convince me, because don’t ever think you have it in you to convince me of anything… if you show me that this class is your top priority, then when I don’t think you’re making an A I’ll step in and give you a pointer, or a chance to make up the gap… but don’t think I’m cutting you a break, because it’ll be anything but that, and don’t think I’m making a deal with you because there is no deal, there’s just whatever you’re going to do and what I’m going to do about it. Got it?”

“Got it,” I said. “Thank you… Coach.”

“Good,” she said. “Now clear out, I have a few things I need to set up for today’s class.”

Soon: Only two more chapters in the first book of volume 2. It’s taken a bit longer than I’d expected to lay the groundwork for Mackenzie’s second year, but with all of her classes visited, things will really begin to move.

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53 Responses to “Chapter 18: Forward Progress”

  1. Not quite the chapter I wanted to write, but there comes a time when one must publish or perish.

    Current score: 0
    • Dwight says:

      Glad to have the stories back. They’re a wonderful dalliance… and hopefully it is just a matter of exercising that muscle that lost a little tone while you were away. I suspect so. (And personally, I didn’t notice it being off, but I can certainly respect that drive for being on your “A” game as an artist.)

      Current score: 0
    • Kevin Brown says:

      I am extremely glad to have Tales of MU back, I’ve been so desperate to have some reading that I started re-reading Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. That said, isn’t “Publish or Perish” actually about publishing academic research in order to keep a p.h.d.?

      Current score: 0
      • Ruby says:

        yeah but re-reading Sword of Truth is a joy in of itself, right? <3

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      • Silverai says:

        Oh cool! I’ve just started reading the Sword of Truth series again myself. My reason was I needed a thick book or two to take with me on a holiday, and Terry Goodkind’s books certainly are thick *heh* Currently most of the way through Blood of the Fold 🙂 Love this series.

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        • Malcolm says:

          Yeah, there pretty good until the last two or three books. Then Mr. Goodkind gets up on his soapbox and never gets back down.

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    • Sindyr says:

      Husband and I are happy to see the update. Keep up the excellent work, and take care of you! The chapter was wonderful, as always. 🙂

      Current score: 0
  2. Zathras IX says:

    Experiences happen
    More often than not

    Current score: 0
  3. wg says:

    Actually, getting to see Callahan out of war mode is pretty cool. I think she’s one of my favorite characters, both of herself and for the effect she has on the rest of the class.

    Current score: 1
  4. Smiles says:

    I’m hoping this class being Mackenzie’s top priority will be reflected in the story.

    Current score: 0
  5. Zergonapal says:

    I wonder how that will translate, a natural start would probably be studying books on staff fighting. From there Mack might even ask for some extra curriculum sparring from Steff (who would enjoy spanking that arse 🙂 ).
    I wonder if Mack would go so far as to ask Amaranth to gradually expose her to divine energy in order to build up a tolerance?

    Current score: 1
    • wg says:

      Callahan suggested she do precisely that, as I recall.

      Current score: 1
  6. Anthony says:

    “Two unrelated statements”?!? OK, I was pretty well down with what Callahan was saying, and then she pulls out an utterly brain-dead remark like that? I lost a lot of respect for her with those three words…

    Current score: 1
    • Krey says:

      Why? She’s just reinforcing her belief (read as fact) that Mack needs to do well in her class for reasons other than grades.

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      • spoonybrad says:

        and that knowing mack needs the grade won’t influence her grading

        and this: #
        Gordon says:
        June 24, 2011 at 10:49 pm

        Mack is just thinking about the class in terms of her GPA.

        Callahan is speaking of Mack’s survival. Mack doing the best she can in that class is important not just to her academic future, but whether or not she actually gets to have a future.

        It’s a matter of perspective. To Mack, the two statements are related. To Callahan, they aren’t. After all, a good GPA doesn’t benefit you in any way if you’re dead.

        Callahan keeps beating this idea over Mack’s head in the hope that it will eventually sink in.

        Current score: 0
    • Dwight says:

      I think it is a great, cut through the bullshit, this is Callahan’s world statement. “This class is going to be a huge chunk of my grade for this semester,” I said. “It’s important for me to do as well as I can.”

      It is always important for Mack to do as well as she can, and that isn’t related to grades. It is why Mack is finally paying attention that it matters that she does well, but Mack’s view is still embedded in her own story. Coach is answering her statements with a larger view answer. And really, if Mack is going to live forever, how much will one college grade matter in the greater scheme? Even if she loses scholarship, she can do odd jobs, get in to a low tier jr college, get back on the path to her dream. And she has decades and decades to do it.

      Current score: 0
    • Gordon says:

      Mack is just thinking about the class in terms of her GPA.

      Callahan is speaking of Mack’s survival. Mack doing the best she can in that class is important not just to her academic future, but whether or not she actually gets to have a future.

      It’s a matter of perspective. To Mack, the two statements are related. To Callahan, they aren’t. After all, a good GPA doesn’t benefit you in any way if you’re dead.

      Callahan keeps beating this idea over Mack’s head in the hope that it will eventually sink in.

      Current score: 0
  7. cnic says:

    It was interesting to see them having such an Amyable conversation for a change.

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  8. conchenn says:

    This is perhaps the first or second time I’ve felt compelled to comment. I don’t always like the story, sometimes I want to strangle Mack (though she might like that…) and sometimes I stop reading for months at a time. Sometimes the story feels like it’s gotten too bogged down with unnecessary dialogue or I just get bored with certain parts of it. But I still come back because I know that it’s worth it in the end.

    I really enjoyed with particular chapter. I like the self-awareness Mack has accrued, the ability to look beyond herself and her preconceived notions. I also enjoyed this exchanged between Mack and Callahan. Especially the last part where Callahan nails it right now the head: “I know a kid like you understands teachers. You know the ones you can slack off with. You know the classes you can coast to an A or whatever your goal is. You know the ones who will give you make-up exams and extra credit assignment and bonus points for showing up.” I think I enjoyed that because I was like that in high school and it carries over into college as well. But Callahan isn’t going to let that happen. I love it.

    Thank you for an excellent chapter, Ms. Erin!

    Current score: 0
  9. Brenda says:

    I think Mack managed to make a relatively good impression on Callahan, and didn’t completely destroy it when she opened her mouth…

    Glad to see a new chapter up! Hope you’re feeling better, AE…

    Current score: 0
  10. Shouri says:

    I miss sooni and mack interactions…. cough… interactions.

    Nice to see her around at least :3

    Current score: 0
  11. Vee says:

    I love you, AE. You write the “unreliable narrator” so well.

    I’m surprised I’m the first person to comment on the “Emily” bit. Brilliant, as always. I love figuring things out before Mack does.

    Current score: 0
    • Emmy says:

      I wonder how many times Mack will have to take the long way around before she decides to “pay her respects to Emily”.

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      • Zukira Phaera says:

        Was wondering the same thing.

        Will Sooni try (again?) to clue her in? If Mack realizes Sooni’s trying to inform her of something would it make her more resistant to the realization? Thoughts that have also crossed my mind.

        Current score: 0
  12. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report:

    They showed up for the first one, saw that it wasn’t exactly planar topography, and figure they can get away with cutting ever now and then, and what do you know?

    Missing a “y” on “every”.

    but how many people are still going to * there after two whole days of not swinging anything at anyone?”

    Missing a “be” in front of “there”.

    I liked this chapter. It might not be the single most awesome chapter you’ve ever written but it felt solidly-written to me and did a good job of not only moving the story along but also demonstrating the changes beginning to take place in both Mack and to a lesser degree Sooni. (Not saying that Sooni is making less progress than Mack but rather the chapter didn’t show as much progress from her since she only had a brief appearance in it.) Also very nice to see the kind of person Callahan can be whenever Mack doesn’t give her an excuse to act like a dick.

    Current score: 1
  13. Fae says:

    The Callahan chapters are always some of my favorites! yay. Thank you for continuing to give us such wonderful entertainment, AE

    Current score: 0
  14. P says:

    I feel like the whole conversation about momentum is like the story version of “25 or 6 to 4,” given AE’s blog post about the difficulty of losing momentum.

    Here’s to recovering lost momentum…

    (Speaking of that I tried to quit reading tales of mu- I decided that the BREAKING of momentum by having periodic updates rather than having a whole book thrown at me. Otherwise I can end up just reading constantly and not doing other things that I need to be doing. Like eating.)

    Current score: 0
  15. Ducky says:

    Thank whatever deities Callahan actually likes that Mack finally sees the fairness in her.

    Current score: 0
    • Erianaiel says:

      Callahan likes all deities.
      She likes to kill them.

      Current score: 0
  16. readaholic says:

    Om nom nom. Yummy MU update. Callahan is excellent and Sooni hilarious. Mack’s lack of recognition about who (and what) Emily is, is very funny.

    Current score: 0
  17. Glenn says:

    I’m wondering if Emily will keep making it harder and harder for Mack to get to the classroom, the longer Mack ignores her. So maybe Mack will find herself climbing up and down stairs, and then a week or two later, crawling through tunnels, and then a week or two later, evading traps, until eventually just getting to class on time practically qualifies as D&D training. And Mack won’t be able to figure out why Sooni and Twyla never seem to have any trouble getting to class.

    Current score: 0
    • Brenda says:

      I tell ya, Mack would greatly benefit from being able to read the comments here. I’m apparently very like her in some ways, as I seldom notice things like this until everyone else starts talking about it…

      Current score: 0
  18. “but how many people are still going to there after two whole days of not swinging anything at anyone?””

    “be” missing in that sentence perhaps?

    Also: Callahan! Woot!

    Current score: 0
  19. Helen Rees says:

    I would say ‘get’ would work better than ‘be’ – but maybe that’s just me…

    Current score: 0
  20. Ripster says:

    Great work on the new chapter, loved it – as always. Is the main site having a hiccup? The story did not update at that location – I only knew of your new material from the twitter feed. Just wanted to give you a heads up AE, in case it’s fixable! (I always check the main site first.) 🙂

    Current score: 0
  21. Kalistri says:

    Callahan’s “Two unrelated statements” comment applies to all of education really. In my experience, good grades in a subject don’t necessarily have much to do with really understanding it. A lot of the time, the students who best learn to parrot the teacher’s opinions get the best grades.

    I personally had a lot of trouble in school because my highest priority was always learning things, and so if I felt like I’d learnt a topic well enough or if an assignment didn’t seem to help with the learning process, I’d have trouble giving a crap. I was also often ahead of the class, not in terms of grades, but in terms of reading about something that everyone else would get to in a few weeks or something. So we’d get up to that topic, I’d go ‘Oh finally’, only to have all my clarification questions cleared up in the next ten minutes or so. A week or two later when the assignment came up, I’d be way over the topic to which the assignment was related.

    So yeah… I do agree that getting good at something isn’t the same as getting high grades for that thing in school, and I can see how those things are particularly distinct to Callahan, with what she sees as a very practical class. Mack could become good enough at fighting to fend off anyone who might attack her, but still fail to impress Callahan in class.

    But meanwhile, I think that although for learning I had a better attitude than anyone in school, ultimately the distinction between learning and grades can be carried too far, when it prevents further education later. But that being said, I’ve recently come to believe that there’s the potential, if I’m disciplined enough, for me to use the internet to educate myself better than any educational system ever possibly could, and you know, it would be free. But that remains to be seen.

    Anyway, great chapter AE.

    Current score: 0
    • NatalieF says:

      I was the same at school & university and am still learning in the library and online at 43. Philomath and polymath, I am unable to *not* be learning. I would get so bored that I would sleep 24/7.

      Current score: 0
  22. Jeremy says:

    Hmmm. I read Callahan’s statement as ‘these are not cause and effect’. Both are true, but A doesn’t lead to B.

    Coach C isn’t discounting Mack’s need for good grades – it’s how the deal that put her in this class came about. She’s pointing out that the grade isn’t WHY Mack needs to do well in the class.

    Very ‘Yoda’ of her, reminds me of a Zen Koan, giving Mack the opportunity to question her assumptions…

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  23. Dilly says:

    I know this is not related to the current story, but I am trying to find out where I left off. I have been unable to read Tales of MU for quite a while, and the last thing I remember is everybody (including Pala) hanging out in a hallway. Mack seemed to be having a stint of super hearing or maybe mind reading…can’t quite remember. Then she and Ian went outside, talked a bit, then seemed like they were going upstairs to do the nasty. Any ideas on where I might start reading again to catch up?


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  24. Trihan says:

    I’m clearly missing something with the Emily reference…could someone kindly clue me in?

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    • Kalistri says:

      AE spoke of the building having a bit of a personality… perhaps an inhabiting spirit of some sort?

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      • EOI says:

        Im thinking the building its self could be sentient. Not just possesed by a spirit of another being but have one of its own. Sorta like one huge golem but on a bigger scale.But then again who in their right mind would want a living building….

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        • Brenda says:

          That’s what I’m thinking based on other comments – the building itself is sentient, which is why Mack was having such a hard time finding her way out of it! And why it would be a good idea to pay one’s respects to Emily…

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  25. Dilly says:

    you, moofable, are amazing! I have some reading to do…

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  26. Kytt says:

    Brilliant chapter, love the subtly in the character building. Take care of yourself and hope you feel like your old self soon :). Btw, my boyfriend and I are desperate to learn more about Callahan’s past, is there going to be any OTs about it soon?

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  27. BMeph says:

    To get an “A” here,
    Work your ass off, pick it up,
    Then work it some more.

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  28. HollowGolem says:

    Callahan’s such a big softie. A hard-assed softie, but a softie.

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  29. pedestrian says:

    From my experience, I think an instructor such as Callahan would have put Mackenzie to drudge work setting up for the class.

    As a reward for showing up early. I would suspect that a natural Dom as the Coach would be itching to put a natural sub as Our Mack through her paces. With Amaranths permission of course.

    The smarter Doms I have met are unfailingly courteous and have a rigid sense of propriety. It will be interesting to see if TWO ever decides to explore her inner Dominatrix.

    “Those who would lead, must first learn to serve.”
    Code of Chivalry

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  30. MackSffrs says:

    Spellsing 😀
    “saw that it wasn’t exactly planar topography, and figure they can get away with cutting /ever/ now and then”
    ever -> every

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  31. Anonymoose says:

    Despite being a psychotic, possibly psychopathic centuries old ex-mercenary with a predilection for brutally murdering people, Callahan has an amazingly effective method of teaching.

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  32. Khazidhea says:

    “but how many people are still going to there after two whole days of not swinging anything at anyone”
    Missing the word ‘be’ in ‘going to be there’

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  33. Sher says:

    Second year is great.

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