Reflections on a Difficult Semester

I said earlier that my stress levels have reached heights that I didn’t even think were possible in these past few months. That’s true. Want to hear more? I’ve been dealing with bullshit that has always been around, but never quite addressed. So I guess it’s a good time to get it out of the way. Once or twice in my life, I have felt myself moving towards a point at which things might conceivably start to not suck. With the finish line in sight, I sit back, content in my knowledge that as long as I hold onto what I’ve got, I’ll be just fine. The older and wiser among you are probably shaking your heads at that. Yeah, I know. In both cases, the decision to coast bit me in the ass harder than I even thought was possible. Everything came crashing down in a hurry, and even the people I thought I could count on turned out to be fickle. At times, I felt like I could barely even connect anymore, so removed was I from everyone else’s experience. It was rough, is what I’m trying to say. So I’ve determined that even if I can’t convince Jon Hamm to marry me, I might at least be able to eliminate that last shred of alienation.

Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t pity me. Don’t ask me if there’s anything I want to talk about. My father’s solution to every problem is to offer me money. If I tell him I’m having trouble finding housing, he asks if I need any extra money to cover it. Um, no, not unless you’ve got enough to buy a scenic villa on the Hudson? It was a big step forward to tell me that I didn’t need his money in paying for grad school. Problem is, I have to keep telling him again and again and again. My exact words were “I don’t need your money”, so tell me, what part of that is ambiguous? He backed off momentarily, then told me that I didn’t have to see him as an enemy. If he stopped asking about my finances, I might agree with him.

I should clarify what I meant by that last paragraph. What I meant was that you shouldn’t ask me if there’s anything I’d like to talk about unless I seem to want to talk about it. I know, it’s kinda tricky. But it’s not so hard if you just listen. It had briefly occurred to me after signing my unofficial agreement to rent a room from Robert that he might ask for the room back at any time, and that since there was a clause about offering 30 days’ notice in the “contract”, he would be within his rights to do so as long as he did it far enough in advance. It just didn’t seem likely. I was perfectly happy with the arrangement, and he seemed to be as well. But throughout all of the difficult times that I have endured in the past few months, it has been comforting to sit back and say, “Well, at least I have a roof over my head.” So of course God/the Flying Spaghetti Monster/the cold, indifferent universe had to yank the rug out from under me one last time. It wouldn’t be life any other way, would it? Fuck, I hate philosophizing.

I know it was you. I see the way you're looking at me.

I know it was you. I see the way you’re looking to the left of at me.

I’m not sorry for not turning in all of my assignments this semester. Considering all of the things I had to put up with, I think my teachers should be grateful that I bothered to do any of it at all. And I’m not sorry for failing in some of my group work as well. I still haven’t gotten the hang of leadership positions. There was a time when all I wanted to do was order other people around, but these days, I prefer to offer advice rather than make decisions. Unfortunately, I sometimes get thrust into the captain’s seat, and then I have to improvise. I wrote for a political magazine as an undergrad. After a very difficult year during which we published only one issue thanks to an incompetent editor-in-chief, a friend of mine was given his position. As far as I can tell, that was because he was the only qualified person who was interested. He asked me to be opinion editor. I resisted on the grounds that I had always preferred writing to editing, then, when it became apparent that his next best option was a cardboard cutout of me, accepted. My recruiting skills were pretty weak. It’s not that I couldn’t think of other writers I respected, just that the whole “talking to people and convincing them to do what you want them to do” remains a mystery to me.  Damn, if only there were a book or possibly even an entire fucking industry centered around that. To make a long story short, I asked one of my theater friends, who turned out not only to be a reliable writer, but to develop so many ideas about where to take the magazine over the course of the year that we made him opinion editor when I graduated that spring. The magazine is better than ever. I take a lot of the credit.

I’m, uh, searching for a conclusion here. Wait, I’ve got one. I used to see every movie that I could get my hands on. Old, new, foreign, documentary, avant-garde, cult, mainstream, whatever–it didn’t matter, so long as somebody I respected thought it was worth seeing. These days, I’m much, much pickier. I’ve already seen the two movies that I was itching to see this fall–Cloud Atlas and Skyfall, the former of which will eventually pick up a following if there is justice in the world–and this holiday season, there are only two of the supposed “Oscar bait” films that I’m interested in: The Hobbit (because obviously) and Les Miserables (because that one and Sweeney Todd are the only two musicals I love so much I wish harm upon those who badmouth them.) I’m doubtful that either will be a masterpiece, but I strongly suspect that I’ll be glad I saw them. That’s what it’s all about, right?

I’ll leave you with the only self-help anyone ever needs: honesty.


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