Tonight’s Actual Wisdom proves that you don’t have to have any grey hair to be wise. Jason Fitzgerald laments about metrocard prices and celebrates waffles with us. 

Casual wisdom

1. Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer.

I am here to learn, to grow, and to encourage intellectual risk in myself and others. More than that, to quote June Carter Cash, “I’m just trying to matter.”

2. Your claim to fame (what makes you special?):

My neurotic perfectionism, which is often more a curse than a blessing, but I don’t like to take ‘satisfactory’ for an answer. Also I know more about Barbra Streisand than she does.

3. What’s your most valuable or unexpected college experience?

Take courses from some of the top scholars of continental philosophy—people who can talk about thinkers I admire (Foucault, Derrida) because they knew them! The historical memory available in Columbia’s faculty is a remarkable resource, of which I never tire.

4. What’s the craziest student excuse/extension story you’ve heard?

Thankfully, I haven’t too many crazy excuses in my short teaching career. I’ll let you know when a doozy crosses my desk!

5. Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? 

Cheese, obviously, and I’m ignoring the censored version of this question :)

6. Back in my day…

Well I’ve only been here two and a half years, so I fear I don’t have much to say about this one. I guess I will always be the generation of graduate students who remembers the switch from “old” to “new” Courseworks. Whoopee! Also, if the cost of a subway ticket gets any higher I may never be able to leave campus.

7. Three things you learned at Columbia:

1-that waffle carts are awesome
2-that Christmas lights need not be lame (cf. the lights on the trees in the center of campus in winter)
3-that lesson plans are overrated ;)

8. What’s your advice to students/academics/the human race in general?

I feel barely qualified to offer life advice at this moment, but I think that the cliché advice that you should always act from love, not fear, is really onto something. Listen very carefully to your gut when you are making life decisions, even relatively small ones. Choose the option that’s scary but potentially awesome over the one that’s safe but won’t teach you anything. Except when the safe option involves bacon. Then the choice is clear.

Jason Fitzgerald via