(2/3/11) Incidental Amusements

There comes a point early in each semester after I've checked my syllabi, gotten my first 16,000 homework assignments and sold one or two major but non-vital organs to augment my textbook funds when I begin to ask myself: What the frick am I doing back at college?

No, really, why did I think this was a good idea?

Usually, at any other point in the year (besides finals week, midterm time, any time I have projects due and …) when I start asking myself questions like that, I just remind myself of all I stand to gain from going to college. "There are so many practical, future benefits to getting your bachelor's degree," I say to myself, "So many ‘higher rewards,' like wisdom, which I'm told can result from this experience. Plus, hey, no parents (sorry Mom)." Normally, after a few seconds of pep talk, I'll feel motivated, begin crying little tears of rainbow-colored happiness and shout "long live academia" from my window.

At the onset of a new semester, though, this method of strategic reasoning doesn't work.  That nay-saying voice in my head is feeling vindictive over the idea that I would willingly go from spending three weeks on a leather loveseat to trudging uphill at 8 a.m. It's quite obnoxious, actually.

I can't try mentally discussing the matter either, because it's January in western New York and between the heavy backpack, the sleep deprivation and the frostbite in my eyeballs, my brain has a tough time convincing myself that, no, you're not dying: you're learning.

As you can imagine, without a fully equipped array of psychological facilities keeping me focused and generally optimistic, these first weeks are kind of a hot mess. If I had to describe them, I'd say they're a strange mixture of denial and procrastination: a metaphorical pesto sauce of failure.

For example, instead of doing work I stay up late most nights playing Grand Theft Auto.  This is a terrible thing to do when you're having minor life crises, as it spawns thoughts like "Wow, being a crime lord is a fulfilling occupation: do you need a degree for that?"

(It turns out, you do.)

So why am I telling you this?

One, so you don't waste time trying to become a criminal mastermind without the proper certification. Two, because I'm procrastinating. Mostly, though, I'm just here to say that, to my fellow students experiencing the early semester slump, I feel for you.

And for anyone who's driven and happy to be back … well, that's just weird.