It’s dark in here. If not for the tall column of pre-dusk light bleeding in through the window in the corner, I wouldn’t even be able to see myself write. I’m supposed to be somewhere else. If I get caught, I’m disgraced, but that won’t happen. Even if it was possible, everybody already knows my secret.

Alexandra Jones

I’ve become a deplorable student. During the fall 2004 semester, my academic superego — the voice in my head that convinced me that getting a double degree would be easy, the part of my mind that wrote apologies to my teachers next to the incorrect answers on my worksheets in third grade — quit working. Whatever it is that makes — or made — me complete assignments, turn them in, and show up to classes and meetings on time simply shut off.

I never made a conscious decision to become a fuckup, but it happened: I started showing up to my one pre-noon class bedheaded and half asleep. Stopped doing homework — not because I didn’t want to, but because most of the time, I didn’t realize I had any. I never found the time to even buy most of the novels on my English class reading lists.

And yet, with so many corners cut and classes skipped and assignments disregarded utterly, I still had no time to do shit.

A few anxiety attacks and crying jags at office hours later, I think I’ve realized why: I really hate college. The whole student community aspect of attending college died for me when I figured out that seeing the same people in the same buildings doing the same stuff semester after semester is a really easy way to start hating everyone you come in contact with. Once I detached myself from the student body – elevated myself above it, rather, as I’m wont to do – I came to understand that having a real life is a lot richer than living as a student. I get to have hobbies, think about my career, spend time with the b.f., hang out with people I don’t know just because they’re in one of my classes.

I can’t kid myself that paying absolutely sick sums of money to sit in a classroom and listen for dozens of hours every week is important to me, or even valuable to me, any more – not in a character-building way, or an I-need-a-high-GPA-to-get-into-grad-school way. People can’t do that kind of shit to themselves.

 

***

 

I wrote all that up there around 5 p.m. this evening. I was backstage at Britton Recital Hall in the School of Music, as I was stagehanding for my studio class. I should have been listening to my classmates’ performances, but I was thinking about work.

Right this second, it’s 11:27 p.m. There really hasn’t been a moment in the past four days that I haven’t been doing about four things at once, or at least thinking about how I’m going to have to do four things at once, or eviscerating myself psychoemotionally because I know I won’t be able to do four things at once and everyone’s expecting me to.

I’ve calmed down a bit since this afternoon. Maybe everything’s just getting to me; the rhythm of the second half of the semester – always stuff to do, a few moments of unfilled time and sudden hellish whirlwinds of poorly-executed activity — have a way of eroding my faith in that BA (which I’m still about two years away from achieving).

Or maybe, since this is my last column, I’m delivering a sort of ultimatum to myself. God knows I inflicted all this on myself. Who knew that after kicking ass for two years with 18 credits each semester, 14 credits would totally screw me? I’ve learned my lesson: 12 next semester, half of which will probably be independent study.

But then again, there’s also The Michigan Daily, the glorious high-speed timesucker that’s somehow absorbed my life. It’s sick how much time I’ve spent in the Student Publications Building, how many hastily-considered words I’ve crammed together in pursuit of journalistic adequacy, how badly I want to keep doing it until I graduate (current estimate: 2007).

By the way, it’s 11:59 now, and no, it didn’t take me 32 minutes to write two paragraphs. I’ve just been multitasking.

Okay, so here it is — what all my bitching and screaming and tears and excuses taught me this semester:

I’ve learned to write my column to fit the page, and that dead ads are an editor’s best friend. I’ve learned that the best teachers are the ones who will consider your unexcused absences and begged requests for extra time on assignments with a whole-but-desperate person in mind, not just a nodding, note-taking automaton. I’ve learned that if I’m doomed to suffer, to never have a moment to myself, I’m going to do it for something I love, and that’s why I ran for an editor position in next semester’s Arts section. I might spend the next two summers taking highly-concentrated distribution requirements in Ann Arbor, but there’s no way I would’ve even made it to junior year without quality motivation — something more substantial than credit hours and a framed piece of paper to look forward to.

If leading a normal goddamn adult life — cooking dinner, spending time with my boyfriend, thrift shopping, playing Scrabble, doing, dare I say it, grown-up stuff — means becoming a mediocre student, I’ll take it.

 

Alexandra doesn’t want to hear you complain, but rest assured that she’ll bitch to anyone who comes close enough about how busy she is for hours on end. Tell her to get a grip at almajo@umich.edu.

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