2010-01-19: FB: The Head Of The Class



Date Set: January 19, 2009


While lecturing for one her sessional gigs at NYU, Sydney meets KeLyssa.

One Year Ago…

"The Head of the Class"

NYU — Lecture Hall

"And as they say so frequently we control our own destinies in a way…" Sydney stands in front of a room packed with students. There's at least several hundred students in the room. Maybe more. She'll be lucky if she gets to know them all. But that's the nature of teaching sessionally while finishing PhD research. "It's like that old psychology joke: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?" Her lips quirk into a toothy grin as she delivers the punchline, "One. But the lightbulb has to want to change."

There are a few idle snickers in the room, but Syd knows she's losing the class. Smoothing her grey blazer and glancing down at her notes, she straightens them on the podium before clearing her throat. "Alright. I know it's early, but I also know you have a paper for me due next week. Go home and get working…"

That said she turns off the power point and collects her stuff as students murmur about the paper, their instructor's lame sense of humour, and the upcoming exam.

Tromping down the stairs from near the top of the classeroom is a blonde girl, backpack packed full of books and arms equally as full. As she reaches the bottom, KeLyssa Gallagher doesn't make her way out of the door immediately. No, she walks up to the teaching. Putting on her brightest, most sincere smile, she says, "I don't know 'bout m'classmates none, but I thought that joke was a hoot'n a half." She says, Southern accent as prevalent as always. "I think it's just the January blues somethin' awful. People jus' wan' it ta be the summer."

Sydney greets the student with a warm smile. "Thank you. I appreciate your saying so!" Her tone is warm, inviting. "I think you may be the only one though. I'm not sure everyone else saw the humour in it." She shrugs a little as she collects her things. "I'm sorry… in a class this big I don't… I don't know your name." It's almost sad to admit, but it's normal for NYU, especially in the classes they let lowly PhD students teach.

"It's true though. There is something about January blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder and all. Or as I like to call it, Seasonal Defective Disorder…" Yes, it's another psych joke, and it's punctuated by a cheeky grin.

KeLyssa offers a tiny shrug. "Well, I hate ta say it ma'am, but sometimes I think some've m'other classmates think they're 'bove everyone else an' 'petty' jokes." The blonde rolls her eyes. "Well, they're jus' missin' out on some good ol' fashioned good times." She says happily. Juggling her books, she reaches out a hand to shake Sydney's. "M'name's KeLyssa. KeLyssa Gallagher. Pleasure ta meetcha officially, ma'am." Is said, just as bubbly. She laughs. "I think yer onta somethin' there, ma'am. Ya should write a paper fer a psychology magazine 'bout it." She laughs. "Season Defective Disorder…" She giggles again. "I tell ya what, Seasonal Affective Disorder got me something vicious when I first got here. I'm used ta the more tempered warmer climate o' Louisiana." She says, not to mention being used to having to constantly cool herself down when she's there, especially in summer. "But as m'grandmama would say, 'There ain't nothin' wrong with a li'l bit o' winter blues, leastways it keeps 'em gators outta the sewers an' back in them marshes like proper, an' that's somethin' ta be thankful fer.'" She frowns. "M'grandmama liked ta use mention o' gators in her examples a lot. Never could figure it out as ta why."

"Sydney Falkland," she introduces herself with the handshake, although presumably KeLyssa already knows her name. "Well you are a delight. I'm glad you're in this class and someone laughs at my jokes." She peers at the younger woman with a broad grin, "So enjoying everything that New York has to offer, or are you not a fan of theatre and the like?" She piles her books in her arms as the pair chat.

KeLyssa grins widely, flicking some hair out of her eyes. "Oh, I'm absolutely in love with the Big Apple!" She says with a happy nod. "I ain't never been somewhere so fantastic! Definitely ain't like m'hometown none, nor like New Orleans." She says thoughfully. "I LOVE the theatre 'round 'bout here, but I ain't been able ta see too much of it. 'Specially now'm workin' at a students wage an' all, ya know?" She shrugs nonchalantly. "Such is life, though, ain't it?" She grins. "It's kinda like somethin' Mr. Carl Jung said once, 'It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.' I could be absolutely despisin' of school fer loss o' income due ta fees, but then…it's still givin' valuable lessons one way or another. Might as well look at the bright side o' things, right?"

"Yes. I understand. Being a student is very draining on the finances," Sydney nods with a grin. Although KeLyssa's optimism is met with a broadening smile. "I'm impressed, most people don't get a dose of perspective until they're basically done and wondering what they're going to do with their lives now that college is over." At this she offers KeLyssa a wink. "That's the real reason people go to graduate school: to put off the inevitable. School's better than working in some ways. At least no one can fire you." At this she shrugs a little. "So are you enjoying school then?"

KeLyssa grins widely and happily, shakes her head. "I love goin' ta school! It's so spectacular and glorious!" Certainly most people would call school spectacular or glorious. "Actually, m'love o' learnin' got m'brother in trouble back in high school. He was always protective o' his 'li'l' sister, tha' if any guy did go 'bout pickin' on me fer my…well, fer bein' a 'geek', he'd go 'bout gettin' in a fight with 'em." The way she says li'l suggests that either she's not really younger (or smaller) than her brother, but specifics would be left to if there's any questions about him. She grins none the less. "M'brother was always o'er protective o' me an' m'learnin'. But I ain't never stopped lovin' it. If anythin', m'love fer it's grown!"

Wow. KeLyssa's a bundle of energy. "Does your brother go to school?" Sydney asks idly, still smiling. "Where's he at? And you're from Louisiana? Sunny out there year round… just like California. That's where I'm from. I miss it in a way." The weather, anyways. Not the company, or the people. But that's another story for another time. "Are you enjoying my class? Getting lots out of it? How's your paper coming?" She makes the effort to connect with her students whenever possible.

A bundle of energy. That's KeLyssa for you. Or…KeLyssa when she's in school, anyway. "Naw, m'brother's more've the fisticuffs kind, ifin ya know what I mean. More've the physical. Not that he ain't smart none at all, but he don't like sittin' around long. Sometimes I think he's got ADD or somethin'." She says happily. "Louisiana's wonderful! I ain't never been ta California none, but I hear it's lovely somethin' wonderful, ma'am!" She says, smiling as brightly as ever. "Oh yeah, I'm enjoying the class lots an' lots an' lots! One've m'favourites! Ta quote Mr. Carl Jung again, 'If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.' What better a way ta understand people than ta learn how they work, their behaviour an' everythin' else?" She says excitedly. "Oh yeah, I'm really enjoyin' writin' the paper! Doin' it on the adverse effects of evolvin' physiology on a person's psychological well bein'."

"Evolving physiology?" Sydney furrows her eyebrows semi-skeptically. "What do you mean evolving physiology?" She frowns. "I have to say that's a very unusual paper topic — I don't think I'm even that familiar with the research. Aside from people in nuclear wastelands…" She shrugs at this though. "You're right about Jung though. We need to try to understand people rather than just making snap judgments about them."

KeLyssa nods a little bit…or, you know, a lot. "Yeah. Evolvin' physiology, biology, the genetics o' what makes people. Their normal functions. An' from there, what if a person's normal biological function ain't exactly what's normal fer others? How'd that effect 'em psychologically? Like…what if a person's able ta see perfectly in pitch black darkness, like there ain't no darkness at all? Like the room is perfectly clean an' shinin' with sunshine. How'd that effect them in their day ta day life? Or…ya know, in other matters of unusual human physiological an' biological evolution."

"That's actually a very interesting topic. It's hard for people to cope with changes in their biology." Sydney agrees. "Any change does that to us though. Not just biological ones. We all experience that emotional damages, effect us. Normally more than any of us would like to admit." She tilts her head at KeLyssa, "So now I'm going to ask you the question I ask everyone. Why that topic?" She smiles warmly. It's not a judgment, she's curious more than anything. "We just tend to choose topics that are relevant to ourselves. What makes it relevant to you?"

Grinning widely, KeLyssa says, "Oh, yes'm. Most changes have some sort've effect on us psychologically. 'Specially major'ns. An' If it's somethin' ta do with yer body, yer biology, something that's ya ain't used to that's outta the norm fer ya that takes some gettin' used ta, it kin really have adverse effects on ya!" She says. Of course, she should know, being an ice princess! And her brother is Fire-Man! "Why'd I choose that topic?" There's a pause as KeLyssa tries to think up a viable and believable answer. "Well…ya see, ma'am, I work in a comic book store typa place, called The Secret Lair, an' I even take ta managing it sometimes when they need me ta. An' ya know, with all the comics 'bout the X-Men an' other people with fanciful abilities…well, it just seemed like a good topic ta me." She grins widely. "Ya don't mind ifin I use comic books as reference materiel, do ya ma'am?" She says with a playful wink.

Sydney smirks at the notion of comic books as reference material. "Examples yes. Actual references… no." She winks, however, fully aware that KeLyssa is kidding. "Well I bet it's fun to work at the comic book store. All of those stories that are pictures. I always had a soft spot for the X-Men in particular. I kind of had a girl crush on Rogue. And by girl crush I mean something akin to admiration to the point of wanting to be her. I always played her in my games growing up." She smiles warmly. "How about you, have a favourite Superhero? Someone you want to emulate?"

KeLyssa giggles softly. "Well, I'll jest make m'references from X-Men issues twenty-nine an' sixty-seven inta th' example column o' m'biography." She says happily. "Yeah, ta be honest I wasn't as inta the comic books an' all like m'brother was 'till I started workin' at this store. But ifin I were ta say there was one superhero I really really like, it's Ice Man. He's the one I'd go 'bout emulatin' somethin' fierce!"

"Ice Man had a lot to offer. And a lot of responsibility in a way." Sydney smiles at her student before the next instructor comes waltzing into the room, looking indignant that the blonde has stalled for so long in her chat with a student. This pulls a mild, very temporary frown to Sydney's lips before she says to KeLyssa, "Unfortunately it looks like we're being ushered out…" And while it's unorthodox her next move isn't entirely unheard of or unethical, "But I would love to go for a cup of coffee after class next week… and then we can talk more about your paper if you like…"

KeLyssa nods a little bit, grinning. "Yeah, an' the guy who plays 'im in the movies is kinda cute too." She says with a sly grin. There's a glance at the newest arrival, nodding to Sydney. "Yeah…I'd be supposin' that it'd be good ta be headin' out 'bout now. Gotta continue writin' that essay fer ya." She says, smiling happily. Her smile widens and she nods. "I'd LOVE ta get coffee after class next week!" She squints her eyes a little bit, looking just above Sydney's eyes, at her forehead. "I bet there's a lot o' amazin' stuff I could learn jus' by squeezin' it outta that teacher's head o' yours jus' by chattin' over a few coffees." She giggles again, winking. "Well, I should probably be gettin' on ta the library. I'll be seein' ya next week, Miss Falkland." She says before skipping off to her next destination, all chipper like.

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