2007-05-12: Not Much Studying

Starring:

Octavia_icon.gif Natalie_icon.gif

Natalie and Octavia bump into one another at the NYU Library. They try to study and fail.

12 May 2007

Not Much Studying


NYU Library

Early evening on the NYU campus can be rather busy. Tonight is not one of those exceptional, unhurried city college nights. Mingling amongst the crowds of students, alumni, professors, staff, visitors, and random other persons is a middle aged woman.
She's dressed in a powder blue shirt with a brown-orange leather jacket over it. Oddly, she has on some ridiculously baggy sweat pants on, held up by a thin black web belt with an old school Walkman personal cassette player hooked to it and some ratty old sneakers. Maybe she just came from the gym?
While not entirely out of place in the intermittent crowds, after all there are alumni and people who are returning to college late in life, she seems somehow more at ease amongst the halls of academia than others. She has the air of someone who belongs. Perhaps it's the messenger bag slung over her shoulder with university library books peeking out that does it.

Natalie is heading for the library herself, through the crowds. She looks just a touch old to be an undergrad; possibly a grad student. She's done in the comfy outfit of jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers. She does her best to move through the crowd towards the library, though she's a passive sort, and so her progress is by no means purposeful.

By contrast, Octavia's approach to the library is much more purposeful. She shifts and shimmies through the intermittent clots in the sidewalk arteries before returning to a purposeful, confident stride toward the library from parts unknown (but presumably due north based on her heading).

Natalie finally manages to weave her way through the crowd. By luck or chance, she manages to get there about the same time as Octavia does, and she grabs the door for the other woman, offering a polite smile. "There you go."

At first, Octavia doesn't entirely seem to notice Natalie holding the door for her. Maybe she assumed the door was opening itself for fear she would murder it in a terribly gruesome fashion. Or maybe she just assumed it was some good Samaritan who would gracefully go unthanked.
"Oh. Thank you."
Octavia glances to the side to study Natalie for a few fractions of a second, offering a bright smile. She promptly whisks into the interior of the library. The good doctor holds open the interior door for Natalie, returning the favor quickly.

Natalie heads in herself, with a smile and nod in return. She starts off into the depths of the library, to pick up the books that she's looking for.

With the favor repaid, Octavia moves over to the main desk and returns the books from her messenger bag. With that accomplished, the scientist promptly disappears into the stacks to find more books.

The blonde gets her books, and then moves over to the study area. She commandeers a table, rapidly starting to open several of the books at once. The texts are all on advanced linguistics. She pulls out a notepad and pencil, and begins to take notes.

Minutes later, Octavia arrives at the same table, though on the other side. She sets down a cluster of scientific texts and journals. The sorts of things you can't leave the library with as much due to their value as due to their enormity. A thick, weathered spiral notebook comes out of her messenger bag followed by a black pen and she flips open a chemistry reference text. Octavia promptly sets about furiously scribbling notes in her notebook while she scans the pages of the text.

Natalie can't help but look up in curiosity at the books. Chemistry; not one of Natalie's stronger subjects. She looks curious, though, so she asks "Grad student?" after a moment.

"Sure. Let's go with that," is Octavia's reply. She doesn't look up and doesn't seem to place Natalie's voice right off the bat.
Her hand snakes over to a biology journal and flips it open, skimming through pages until she finds an article about a study on neurotransmitter levels and variable sensory comprehension ability in 'lesser' primates. Scribbling commences, although Octavia spares a glance to take note of the linguistic texts.
"Graduate linguist?"

Natalie nods. "Yeah. Working on an advanced project. You? Thesis?"

"Something like that. Looking to research something related to my thesis that needs double checking."
Octavia smiles thinly at Natalie, continuing to scribble notes. She pauses a moment and pops open another journal, or another book of the same journal judging by the covers of the two. There are a few seconds of flipping through pages before she finds several pictures.
The scientist quickly makes a sketch of some sort in her notebook. It's pretty good, not special, but good enough to get the point of the image across. At least, someone unfamiliar with the MRI and chemical bonding images would assume that Octavia's sketches are good enough to get the point across.

Natalie, so not a scientist. Her own notebooks are filled with linguistic development, syntax, and other such notes. "Sounds like a pain." she offers back.

Octavia shrugs a little bit at the remark. She smiles a bit more warmly and looks up as she finishes her sketch.
"It is something I love. It's no more of a pain than your 'advanced project' over there is for you… I assume."

Natalie laughs. "Oh, my advanced project is a hell of a pain. That's cool, though. Always better when you can enjoy what you're researching."

"Oh. Well then, I wish you luck in finding something that you truly love."
Octavia smiles brightly at the remark about enjoying what you research. She flips through the chemistry text some more, nodding a little as she scribbles several lines of notes from the book.

Natalie chuckles. "Hey, it's not just a job, it's a paycheck." she says. "I'm just grousing. I do like languages, but when you get handed nigh-impossible projects, it makes for annoyance."

"Pfft. That's the problem with the world these days."
Oh no. Old person speech. Octavia doesn't go into the standard old person speech though. Instead she scribbles a few more notes before flipping through pages in the chemistry reference. The older woman looks up at Natalie once she's located her desired page and smiles.
"We've constructed a society around instantaneous gratification and that's simply not a good way to work or live. Nigh-impossible projects should be embraced; they're not just challenges of your skill and ability, but they also show confidence in you on the part of your professors and your bosses.
"It's the nigh-impossible tasks that make the world go around. Not just for business and academia, but also for your interests. They get you out of the routine, day-to-day drudgery and give you something to do for weeks. They're what make jobs worth doing."

Natalie frowns. She puts her pencil down. "It's not the nigh-impossible project, as much as it is the unrealistic deadlines that go with nigh-impossible projects. Corporate management doesn't really understand advanced research well enough to be setting due dates on it."

Octavia smirks and shrugs. She scribbles a note or three in her notebook while she seems to try to come up with a way of explaining herself to the younger woman.
"Corporate management doesn't really understand our sort of advanced research. They understand advanced marketing, production, and cost efficiency research at an almost alarmingly inhuman level of comprehension."
The scientist smiles again, tapping the back end of her pen on her notebook for a few moments. Octavia regards Natalie for several seconds before she adds to her previous statement.
"If you don't know why they're setting these constraints on you, ask them to explain what they've got in mind for using your research. They might well have failed to mention something that would make a big difference to you or your company… Or it could be that they're looking for something less complex than what you think they want."

Natalie hmphs. "I know why they're setting constraints. They want what they want, and they want it yesterday. They don't understand that I can't just whip up a breakthrough overnight."

"And there is no simpler method of producing their desired result? Even a stopgap until you can come up with something more tangible?"

Natalie sighs. "Not so much? I could construct something more simplistic, I guess, but that's not really going to be any improvement over what they already have in place."

The older woman nods a bit and shrugs, leaning back in her chair. She considers this bit of information thoughtfully, twirling her pen artfully about in the air. Perhaps it helps her to concentrate on whatever it is that she's thinking about.

Natalie nods. "Well…" she says, looking at her notes. "I should get going. Good luck with your project, whatever it is you're working on."

"You too. Have a good evening."
Octavia doesn't seem terribly focused on her task at the moment. Maybe she's gotten herself distracted by puzzling over Natalie's apparent problem.

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