2. Ate chocolate icing straight out of the container.
I did two out of three of these things today. Guesses?
1. Finally got my Harry Potter authentic prop replica Deluminator in the mail, only to break it five minutes after opening it.
2. Ate chocolate icing straight out of the container.
I did two out of three of these things today. Guesses?
The time has come. After three and a half years of tedium, torture, and tribulations, it's finally time for me to spread my wings and fly away from this hellhole of a university, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of its hopes and dreams.
I am finished with college.
The reality and finality of an ending can have an interesting effect on your perspective. Call it nostalgia, call it selective memory loss, but sometimes the things that once appeared hideous and agonizing are softened by the rosy glow of the setting sun, marking the close of that chapter of your life.
This was not my experience when coming to terms with my departure from college. I briefly contemplated taking the high road, facing my graduation with grace, or the self-actualized tranquility that often accompanies the first pangs of nostalgia. But then I thought my parting words should be more true to my college experience rather than sugar-coated or rose-tinted. So, as I leave my college years behind me, I say: suck it, college.
Try as I might, I just can't bring myself to earnestly feel any regret at leaving this place. Sure, I'll miss the handful of great people I've known here (and the dumplings), but I can't say I feel anything but joy and relief at the prospect of getting out of this place. Maybe I'm a little saddened by the fact that I'm not sad to be leaving, but that's about it.
That joy and relief is tinted with fear as I slowly come to the realization that I will now be forced to enter the Real World. As I face the vast, open prairie land that is my future, I do so with a mix of terror, excitement, and more terror. In contemplating my graduation from college, I can't help but remember a quote from my friend's speech at our high school graduation: "Don't stop believing."
I Have a Twelve-Page Spanish Paper to Write, a Dorm to Pack Up, and in One Week I Will Be a College Graduate... Ready, Set, PANIC!
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse...the computers revolted. Have you ever seen Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? Neither have I, but I'm pretty sure I'd rather take on those evil machines than deal with the demon-possessed Student Information System, AKA "SIS" that basically runs our academic lives here. (The fact that its name sounds remarkably like "Sith" is not a coincidence, I suspect.)
This time it's not the ineptitude of my "advisor" that is the cause of my frustration at the most recent aneurysm-inducing chapter of my perpetual quest to GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE, but rather the SIS and its creators. As you may recall from my last entry, I finally got my hands on the elusive Form that is required for all Spanish majors to fill out before they graduate (win!) but I was not able to make an appointment with my advisor via the advising website to complete the Form because for some reason the site does not acknowledge that I actually have an advisor. (Wherever would it get that idea?) By some miracle I was able to make an appointment with Advisor Number Five without using their fancy advising website. (We used the old-fashioned method of e-mail, which was actually more difficult than you might think.) Of course, this meeting was at an incredibly inconvenient time and place, but hey, I wasn't about to question it. After all, all I needed from him was his signature.
I arrive at Number Five's office to find that he is not about to just sign my Form without checking to see whether I've actually met all my requirements to graduate. He opens up my SIS record on his computer to compare it with the Form I've filled out. Then he makes some noncommittal "hmm"s and "myeh"s (he's British, just to give you some context) before turning to me and saying, "Well, it looks like we have a small problem, but, not to worry, that's why we have these meetings now so we can sort it out before the Spring."...Umm FALSE. I WILL NOT BE HERE IN THE SPRING BECAUSE I AM GRADUATING IN SEVEN WEEKS. AND HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU PEOPLE THAT?!
I do not scream that at him, however, but instead politely remind him that I am graduating this December. To which he replies, "Oh, well in that case, there might be cause to panic... No, no, I'm only teasing you." DO NOT JOKE WITH ME, FUNNY MAN. I WILL SERIOUSLY START CRYING AND THROWING THINGS RIGHT HERE IN YOUR OFFICE.
I do not scream that at him, either, but instead start laughing nervously to keep myself from panting or sobbing. This is pretty much my worst nightmare: That after poring over the list of major requirements and meticulously checking that I had met each and every one, with no help from any "advisors" to reassure me along the way, that after dozens of e-mails and visits to the Spanish Department and the Registrar trying to ensure that I would be able to graduate a semester early, I would still have to come back here for one more semester. And let me tell you, that is NOT happening.
I assure him that I have met all the Spanish requirements, producing a copy of my transcript (from SIS) to prove it. He seems a little perplexed, but mostly just slightly bothered. As if my future and sanity aren't at stake here. He peruses my SIS record again, mumbles, "This is you, isn't it?" which reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Orange County, in which the main character deals with his moronic high school guidance counselor (she sent the wrong college transcript with his application to Stanford). This brief association is just enough to snap me out of my almost-psychotic-break and remind my brain that this situation is actually funny, and that there's no need to have a nervous breakdown, because I know that I fulfilled all my requirements. It's just a matter of convincing the computer of that.
Upon further investigation by Number Five and myself, we determine that the SIS has neglected to count my Spanish Phonetics class under my major, which has caused a chain reaction of badness in which my Grammar and Comp class is listed as fulfilling my Language major requirement instead of my 4000+ major class requirement, which is thereby inadequate. If that sounds like a bunch of random semantic bullshit, that's because it is. Basically, SIS hates me and it put my courses in the wrong order or something stupid like that. I'm pretty baffled by this entire situation. I'm thinking, okay, so the computer system is wrong. What's the big deal? Human beings created that thing, surely we can tell it to fix itself? WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT? (And while we're on the subject, who invented this piece of crap system? Because apparently I'm not the only student having this problem. I thought computers were supposed to make life easier, but that is most definitely not the case right now.)
So Number Five and I take the SIS printout and my transcript over to the secretary of the Spanish Department (you know, the one who I e-mail on a weekly basis and have visited on multiple occasions) to inform her of the situation. She, somehow, still does not recognize my face or my name, which is pretty remarkable. She tells us that there were a lot of students with the same circumstances and that it's an easy problem to fix, but I need to e-mail her (which is what she always says, and then I do, and she never responds) and she'll forward it to the SIS Powers That Be. When they fix it, she'll e-mail me and I can come back with the Form and she'll give it to Number Five to sign. Well thank God this isn't complicated or anything. It only involves about four different parties and the assurance that you actually forward my e-mail instead of ignoring it like you usually do. (Okay, I should give her more credit; she's actually been pretty helpful in the last two or three months, actually answering the occasional question that I've e-mailed to Number Five.) Anyway, I have now done as she requested, and she even responded to my e-mail to confirm it. If I don't hear back that they've fixed my SIS problem by Monday, I am prepared to stage a sit-in in the Spanish office every day until someone of authority tells me with 100% certainty that I will have a diploma in December.
All these shenanigans have exhausted me beyond belief. I'm also battling a strange urge to smash all computers and technological devices in my immediate vicinity. And my habit of talking/ranting to myself has gotten worse. Well, folks, stay tuned for the next installment, Terminator: Salvation!
As you may recall from my last entry, I'm having some difficulties acquiring and completing all the required paperwork to graduate from this hellhole--I mean, esteemed university. When we last left off, I still hadn't heard from the secretary of the Spanish Department, whom I had e-mailed twice and visited once regarding the infamous supplementary "Form" that the online Student Information System (SIS) told me I needed to fill out after I had completed the online graduation application...
Some people (my mother) have brought to my attention the fact that I have yet to share any of my experiences from our amazing trip to Africa this summer. This is mainly due to the fact that our trip was of a level of awesomeness beyond the capacity of human language. And also partially due to the fact of college.
First, I want to clarify that this particular "Episode I" isn't going to be lame like some other famous "Episode I"s you might be familiar with. But since there's no way I can possibly include all of our exciting African adventures in one blog entry, I thought I'd split it up into episodes to be blogged at my leisure.
Honestly, I think I'm too exasperated by the latest chapter in the trials and tribulations of my college existence to even write about it. That's probably why it's taken me a couple weeks to finally do so. Sigh... I can't even feign surprise anymore at the general debaclitude evoked by my continuous attempts to actually graduate. My most recent endeavor started with an e-mail I sent about three weeks ago to the Spanish department asking (with just a hint of desperation) where I might find the mythical form that I was told I need to fill out and submit to my advisor (scoff).
You may recall my last struggle in this saga resulted in the revelation that this is the first year of a new graduation application protocol, wherein it's done through the online course system (AKA the bane of every student's existence). Upon learning of this, I follow the directions, filling out the online application, and when I finish I'm rewarded with the cryptic message, "Be sure to fill out the supplemental form for your major department. Thank you, and get out." (Okay, I took some liberties with that last part.) And that's when I send the aforementioned e-mail to the Spanish department inquiring on this issue, to which I receive no response whatsoever. So I decide to take a more proactive approach and head over to the Spanish department's office, and who should I stumble upon on my way there but my "advisor" in his office. (That would be Number 5, who just returned from a semester on sabbatical, during which I was under the advisement of Number 6.)
I figure, what the hell, I might as well pop in, so if anyone asks I can at least say I tried asking my advisor. I knock, greet him, and he gives me this bewildered look like, "I should know who you are, but I don't." I am neither surprised nor offended. I ask about the mythical form, and he confesses to me that he doesn't really know what the new graduation system involves because (wait for it...) he hasn't done undergraduate advising in two years. I struggle to contain the laughter howling inside of me. I know all too well that he has done nothing remotely close to undergraduate advising for two years, because he has been my assigned "advisor" for the past two years. (At least they had the decency to assign me a substitute--albeit equally inept--"advisor" for one of those years.) I smile politely, my suspicions of his cluelessness confirmed, and continue on my way to the Spanish department, where I am hoping someone actually knows something.
No such luck. I ask the secretary of the department (to whom I sent the initial e-mail) what I have to do to graduate (perhaps giving them one of my own limbs would do the trick, or the blood of some first-borns), and she seems almost more perplexed than I am by the situation. She gives me the whole spiel about the new graduation application process, and tells me I'm in the "guinea pig" group. Fantastic. I resist the urge to flip out and start shouting, "Look, I don't care what forms I do or don't have to fill out, or whether they exist, or that you guys clearly don't have your shit together. But let me put it this way: I am leaving this place in December and if I don't receive a diploma in the mail, I will send my robot T-rex to come collect it." (The robot T-rex thing is just a bluff, I don't actually have one. Yet.)
To top it off, just as I'm about to leave, this woman says, "If you send me an e-mail, I'll check on it and see what I can find out," and she hands me a piece of paper with her e-mail address on it. I don't have the heart to tell her that I ALREADY TRIED THAT with absolutely no success. Instead I do what she says and send her an e-mail almost identical to the last one.
That was two weeks ago. I haven't heard from her since. I have, however, achieved a new level of apathy on the subject, something I didn't think was possible. I have a feeling this is not the last obstacle on my path to becoming a college graduate. And if they think I'm coming back here for the ceremony, they've got another thing coming.
For those of you who know me, you're probably aware that I have a somewhat less-than-well-developed sense of direction. This is something I've dealt with for all of my life, and after twenty-one years I've learned some techniques to help cope with this unfortunate deficit in my brain synapses.
To be fair, about fifty percent of the time I actually know where I am, I've just made one or several slight missteps due to a lack of paying attention. Some might consider this a "wrong turn," but I see it more as a decision to pursue a more circuitous route, or "take the road less traveled," as Robert Frost put it. You may also refer to these as "opporturnities." When I inevitably realize that I am, indeed, heading in a direction that is less direct than I initially intended, do you know what I do? I'll tell you what I don't do: I do NOT make a u-turn. Making a u-turn is accepting defeat. It's essentially admitting you were wrong. But if you keep walking long enough, "wrong" eventually becomes right.
That's right, you heard me. Just keep walking in any direction and I guarantee you will eventually arrive at your destination. You know why? Science. Boo-yah. The earth is round, so if you keep going, someday you'll end up right where you started. So, pop quiz: What happens when you suddenly realize you're walking into the "wrong" building? Answer: Keep walking, maintaining an attitude that says, "Yeah, I meant to do that." Ideally you'll find a water fountain or something at which point you may casually take a drink before returning to the direction from whence you came. This is not a u-turn, but more of a pit stop on the road of life. So there you have it. That's my gem of wisdom for today. Feel free to stitch it on a pillow.
Someday when I'm not up to my ojos in Spanish poetry and other schoolwork, I'll actually write about all our amazing adventures Africa. Until then, look at this pretty picture of a leopard taken by my mother on safari.
This little anecdote is long overdue, but it was such an exciting and occasionally terrifying adventure that it had to be shared...
It started on an innocent Thursday before the Fourth of July, a fact which my friend and I failed to take into account in the planning of our trip to my grandparents' house in Kilmarnock, Virginia. This just in: There is a lot of traffic on the Thursday before the Fourth of July. (Don't these people have jobs? Which they often perform on Fridays as well?) More to the point, my friend Kay was driving us in her mini van, which contained a somewhat ancient GPS navigation device. Now, rather than go on a paragraph-long tangent explaining the various deficiencies in my mental faculties when it comes to directions and/or driving, let's just skip to the end and say that somehow, by some series of fateful accidents or poor judgments, we ended up following the GPS system's directions, rather than the much more correct ones written out with care by my wonderful mother. (I know, I know, that was clearly a mistake. Let's move on.)
Unfortunately, we didn't realize until it was too late that the demon-possessed piece of machinery was taking us on a somewhat indirect route that was not exactly time-efficient. Before we knew it, we were stuck on the major highway we were specifically told to avoid, along with hundreds of SUVs loaded with bikes, rafts, kayaks, dog skis, and every manner of vacation paraphernalia you can imagine. At this point, we had been on the road for about twenty minutes. For clarity's sake, I'll break down the rest of the trip by the hour. Please keep in mind that the average duration of the trip to Kilmarnock is usually just over the three-hour mark...
HOUR ONE: First call to my father, asking to please please tell us how to get off of this godforsaken, traffic-filled Highway of Doom. Dad laughs, then suggests an alternate route, which, while highly effective, is a lot of information for my sad little dyspraxic brain to handle.
HOUR TWO: After exiting the Highway of Doom, we attempt (with mild success, we think) to follow Dad's directions.
HOUR THREE: We stop at a nice Subway for a late lunch. Sadly, they are out of Italian herbs & cheese bread. Nonetheless, we are having a lovely time bumbling towards our destination.
HOUR FOUR: We really, really have to pee, so we desperately pull into a parking lot. Unfortunately, the only building that appears to be open is an urgent care clinic. We burst into the empty waiting room, giving quite a shock to the nice Indian family who appears to be on-duty (four-year-old son included) and ask if we can use their restroom. They kindly direct us to the bathroom, still looking quite surprised and, frankly, a little disappointed that they couldn't help us with any kind of real medical crisis.
HOUR FIVE: "Airplanes" by B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams comes on the stereo for the fifth time, and we sing along like our lives depend on it. Then we start to suspect we may have missed our turn. I call my father for the third time to ask him what we should do. (By this point, we're pretty sure we can hear the GPS system laughing at us.) When Dad asks where we are, I tell him the last sign I saw in front of a church said we were passing through the town of Ladysmith (which I have never heard of). The conversation is as follows:
Dad: Where are you guys?
Me (shouting): Lady. Smith.
(At this point I contemplate referencing the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, but then I figure it would just add more confusion, as Dad has probably never heard of them anyway, so one more time, everybody...)
Dad: Where the hell is Ladysmith?
Me: I asked you first.
As it turns out, we missed our turn miles and miles ago, and are considerably far off course (oops). After conferring with my father regarding our next move, we stop at a Wal-Mart so Kay can buy a bathing suit (which she forgot to pack). Kay also finds an adorable black sweater-hoodie, which I refuse to admit that I secretly want, because it's part of Miley Cyrus' new clothing line, and she disgusts me. I am also disgusted by myself a little bit, because I end up buying some things for ridiculously low prices even though I hate supporting such a heartless corporation like Wal-Mart. We then proceed to the McDonald's drive-through where we grab a greasy late night snack to distract us from the fact that we have been driving for five hours and are still not even close to our destination.
HOUR SIX: It is really, really dark outside now, and there's no one else on this winding country road, surrounded by fields of seven-foot-tall corn on both sides. Kay insists on mentioning every scary movie I've never seen in an attempt to freak both of us out even more than we already are by our circumstances. All of a sudden Kay simultaneously slams on the gas, locks all the doors, and screams, "OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD." I am sufficiently startled, and yell, "WHAT IS IT?" Kay says to me, while still looking very determinedly at the dark road down which she is speeding, "There was a person crouching in the bushes." Now it's my turn to scream "OH MY GOD." We alternate between hysterical laughter and deliriously screeching in fear for the next eight miles or so.
HOUR SEVEN: After a fifth (or was it the sixth?) call to my father to double-check our whereabouts, we finally arrive at the house, after an arduous seven-hour journey (which, you may recall, is usually about a three-hour journey).
Despite the extra four hours, the mediocre Subway bread, the sketchiest McDonald's in Virginia, and the person crouching in the bushes, it was still one of the best road trips ever.