Several times over the past several years, I have concluded that this blog was dying (in a going out with a whimper way). I'd decided some time ago that keeping it around is, on balance, a bad idea. No doubt I've met many cool people through it and crafted a persona superior to my actual self, but the whole thing is basically an unadmirable exercise in vanity for which I'll probably be held liable eventually. Still, here we are, skipping forward gaily on the path to self-destruction.
I reassure myself of the acceptability of this folly in several ways. There is, for one thing, Google's short memory. You can remove a day or a week or four years of posts in an instant, and it'll take them a couple months to be wiped from Google's cache. Gaffes of the past can be rendered unsearchable. The Internet Archive has of course put up barriers to this guarantee of eventual oblivion, but at least it graciously began tracking my blog after 2005, so all my horrifying high school and early college commentary is safe from use as future blackmail. (Actually, this is not true. As of this posting, much of this content is available through convoluted channels which I have no intention of revealing.)
Moreover, though you can't read my archives (unless you're David and you've been granted special nostalgia access), I still can. And in times like these, when I begin to wonder what to do with this blog, it is instructive to go back through my archives and cringe at myself. My favorite posts are from my first year of college, in which I seem to have attempted to maintain an even, ironic tone while completely freaking out. It's possible that I enjoy them so much because I still remember just how much I was freaking out, so my inept efforts to conceal that are even more comic in context. The whole year's worth of blog posts, despite being regrettably shrill and pathetic, are also probably the most revealing of all my sad bloggy efforts. After that, I started to realize that people might actually be reading, and I became slightly more circumspect. So, since I haven't posted anything here in weeks and probably will continue to avoid blogging for a while, here is an 80-page summary of my first year of college to tide you over:
Summer: Ok, guys. I graduated from high school and am getting ready to go to the U of C, which is a prestigious college, meaning that I am a secret genius! I am SOOOO excited! I tell everyone I know that I am going to the U of C, but most of them think it is the same as UIC. These people are clearly beneath me. Whatever, I am still excited! WOOOO!! Did I mention that I was excited, by the way? Because I am!
In fact, I am so anxious about college that, not only will I spend every waking (and sleeping) moment imagining how AMAZING it's going to be, but I will spend half of each day reading my class message boards to learn about my classmates' sex lives, and to argue with them about political issues that none of us know anything about. I am going to say ridiculous things on these message boards that will haunt me throughout college because I am SO CONSERVATIVE!! Woo! I have opinions! Don't mess with me!
In our arguments, we will try to reference as many long books as we can, and we will try to scare our classmates with our immense intellects before we even meet them. We are well on our way to making friends! But oh no, I am reading these message boards, and I am scared of my classmates. They quote someone named Neet-zeche. I do not know who that is! They use terms like "ontological." I do not know what that means! I will make fun of them on my blog while secretly FREAKING OUT that I am not smart enough for college! I must read more books! Fortunately, I am working at the public library, so I can do this. But not fast enough! Oh no, school is approaching, and I have not read everything ever written yet! I have not even opened a book by Neet-zeche! I am beginning to resent my high school for being so crappy as to neglect to even introduce me to these people. I am so worried! What if I am too stupid and fail out of college? DOOM!
Ok, now I am reading The Closing of the American Mind. It is so exciting! I actually have to write notes in the book (which is, like, illegal) in order to keep track of this argument. He is saying that democracies need certain kinds of citizens, which totally never occurred to me while I was spending all of high school scheming to torture my teachers, and he is quoting all these Greek people I have never heard of, because I thought Greek people were just another clannish ethnic group who went to school with me, and whose parents owned all the grocery stores in the area.
I have a housing assignment and a roommate! I am so thrilled! I will drive down to the campus just to walk around my dorm and admire my exciting future. But what if my roommate is a hippie, whom I, having just read Dinesh D'Souza, will be obliged to hate? I will send her a really mean email, establishing that I am a self-righteous, haughty bitch. This will really help us hit it off! Wow, I am such a social genius!
I am reading the course catalog they sent me like it was the Bible, and planning what classes I will take every quarter for the next four years because I am already that neurotic! School has not even started yet, but my insanity has! I even have ideas for my BA. I have no idea what I'm doing since I've never actually been to college, so none of my plans will transpire, which is good, because I planned to take only history classes for the entire four years. But, I think I need to learn something about these Greek people who don't own grocery stores, so I will take the humanities class about that. Look at me--going out on a limb! I can't wait to learn about all the things I totally didn't understand in The Closing of the American Mind. Woo, I am so ready for college!
Autumn: Ok, I am at college. It is a little bit overwhelming. I don't know anyone here, and it is hard to make friends immediately. I am lonely and homesick. I didn't get the classes I wanted and I don't understand this "pink slip" thing. I am also outraged at how much people drink. And have sex, or say they do. I did not do these things with my high school friends. I cannot decide if this is because I am a loser, or because these people are losers, but because I am such a superior human being, the former is more likely. So I am outraged! I am going home this weekend, and also next weekend, and the weekend after that. I do not like college.
Now I am starting my classes. I really like them! But everyone here is like a genius, and they all went to really amazing high schools where they read Neet-zeche, which is apparently pronounced Nee-che, so I am glad I never had to say it out loud until I heard someone say it correctly. They all sound so smart when they talk, and they talk for so long in class. I do not even have this many thoughts! I also really like how grown up I feel managing my own schedule and being able to skip classes whenever I want, and eat whenever I feel like it, and generally run my life.
Except I never skip classes because I am also COMPLETELY TERRIFIED THAT I AM GOING TO FAIL OUT OF COLLEGE. I have failed my first college paper! What should I do? Try again? Oh no, I have failed my second college paper too! I guess I can't write papers the night before in college, or I will keep failing. In college, people seem to study at the library. I have never done this before since only the cliquey Asian kids studied in libraries in my life, but now I will try it, and I will study all day long because of the aforementioned TERROR OF FAILING. Finally, I meet grade inflation! I get an A on my civ midterm! There is hope! But also terror!
I am still lonely and sad and I still do not like college (although I tell all my high school friends that I do, because they tell me how much they LOVE their schools, and besides, it is a prestigious school, so how can I not like it?). I have decided that this is because it is full of hippies, so I will join College Republicans. College Republicans are intense! They have all these ambitions and connections and they all want to be investment bankers, which is a job I have never heard of but from what I understand, entails making a million dollars a year. Whoa! I do not think we have anything in common, but maybe I should reconsider my plans to move back to Skokie forever after graduation... I get in many arguments with people about politics, and offend them, but I feel ok about this because I have opinions! Yay for opinions, boo for friends!
The guy across the hall from me writes all his papers the night before they're due and gets A's. It takes me days to write papers, and I get B's. He went to Andover. I went to Niles West. Therefore, I renounce public schools! Then I have all these other ridiculous political opinions that I blog about incessantly because I think that six weeks of college have made me profound. They are so badly thought out that they will be painful for my future self to read! I take walks through Hyde Park all day, trying to process the vastness of the future. My roommate takes walks through Hyde Park at night. My suitemate won't get out of bed. College is isolating. Dorm life is not as fun as I'd imagined it would be. I spend more time at the library. I may not be developing friendships, but I am at least developing a work ethic.
I go home for Thanksgiving and hang out with my high school friends. I have missed them SO MUCH! I never imagined that I could have such intense feelings about them! They are so familiar! They are not pretentious or intimidating or incomprehensibly worldly! Why didn't I appreciate them earlier? But now Thanksgiving is over and I have to go back to school. Boo. Maybe I can transfer next year? To Harvard? At least people will recognize its name when I brag about it.
I love Herodotus! I was thinking about him one night, and then I had this epiphany in which I realized the point of the book! This has never happened before! I was so excited that I nearly fell out of bed! Then I went to talk to the TA about my epiphany and we talked for like two hours! She probably thinks I am insane, but who cares? I had a thought! My hum class is so awesome! I love college! But then it is time for finals. Finals are hard. It is cold outside. I am not a genius anymore. In summary: "This autumn has been all 'boo-hoo-hoo, college sucks so much and I hate everyone wah, wah, wah why are people such assholes?'"
Winter: I am wiser and more worldly now. I know the ropes. I have a schedule. I start papers early. I am even going to skip some meetings of my physci class because it is SO EASY. See how confident I am? I have grown so much since last quarter. Also, I understand what is going on in my calculus class! Obviously, I am secretly a genius again!
Listen to me blather endlessly about campus politics. But look! Now I am tempering my tirades with socially acceptable doubt words like "maybe" and "it seems possible that." Maybe it seems possible that now maybe I'll make some friends? I am spending a lot of time still perpetuating an unwise relationship with my ex-boyfriend from high school because he is the only person who understands how miserable I am, and who appreciates my secret genius. I am a pretty terrible person, but I also do not believe in being a good person, so this is not a problem!
I love Tocqueville! This book is the greatest thing I have ever read! I will write every single paper for my civ class this quarter about him, even when that is not the assignment! Unfortunately, I think Allan Bloom ripped off all his ideas. Now I am less impressed with Allan Bloom.
I am really angry that my physci class is so stupid and easy. I have stopped attending. But I am paying money for this nonsense. At least my hum class is still awesome. And I am still secretly a genius. But oh no, I have received a bad grade on my hum paper! The terror has returned! I will never be overconfident again! And I hate Greek drama forever! Also, my blog has been discovered by my classmates. DOOM! But they turn out to be harmless, so I will continue being embarrassingly candid. Error! This will be the first of probably a million subsequent times that this will happen, and it will cause intense embarrassment on my part each time, and I will freak out repeatedly but remarkably never learn from my mistakes. So much for secretly being a genius.
It is the end of the quarter, and I am freaking out! What should I take next quarter? What should I do with my life? Everyone tells me to stop blogging about politics because I am a moron, but this is just because they are not at my advanced intellectual level! Why do I keep alienating everyone? I have no idea! I miss high school.
Spring: I am going on a field trip with my winter quarter civ professor, whom I loved! Woo! But oh no! No one else is going but me! This is so AWKWARD! It will take me weeks to get over how awkward this was! Now I am going to a Passover seder at my high school bio teacher's house. Also, SO AWKWARD! Then I went to one of my professor's office hours, and he talked about how he was going to die soon, and that was EXTREMELY AWKWARD. Why does this keep happening? I think maybe I am a social disaster... I will have my roommate, who is much more proficient in these things than me, draft all my emails to my professors so that I do not accidentally piss them off.
Now I am doing well in school, but I can't find a summer job! NEW SOURCE OF DOOM! But I have an idea--I will apply for an internship with my congresswoman! Brilliant! I go to the U of C, so she will have to take me! But alas, she is a Democrat, and she sees that I am in College Republicans, and so she does not give me the job! I hate Jan Schakowsky, and vow to oust her from her House seat myself someday!
I am reading Plato, and I do not understand him! I also do not understand Aristotle! What is the point? Philosophy is so stupid! I will go around telling people who study it this from now on! Oh boy, will that go over well with them. I am just a charm machine, aren't I? I am reading gurl.com again. Life has clearly hit new lows.
It's warm outside now, so I am happy about life. I am hanging out with my roommates and housemates, and they seem not to be bad people after all. We will have to agree to disagree about politics, and agree to agree about how awesome Mean Girls is. The year is coming to an end, and I have decided to reconcile myself to the U of C. I still have no job because I FAILED my interviews at such illustrious places as the Gap and Old Navy! What is the point of being a sometimes secret genius and getting good grades if even menial labor is out of my grasp? The future spells DOOM. I hatch a new, excellent, completely unethical plan for summer employment whereby I will enter as many essay and scholarship contests as I can, including those I'm not qualified for because of such unchangeable things as race and gender, and I will win thousands of dollars! (Or, not.) I am moving to Shoreland next year mostly against my will but everyone else is going, so what can I do? At least I will enjoy the long walk to class (except when there are four feet of snow, but I have no foresight, so I neglect to consider this possibility).
I have a long final paper due for Hum. I spend many days slaving in the Reg to complete it, and begin to lose my mind and compose poems about Thucydides. I am so proud of this paper! I am done with school for the year, and I come back on the last day of finals to pick up my graded papers and hang out with my roommates. This turns out to be the best day of the year, even the part where it rains torrentially while I'm driving my roommates home from Evanston and I am so terrified that I go 10 mph on Lake Shore Drive. I get excellent grades, we go up north and eat Tapas, get soaked at Northwestern, and then the rain lets up on my drive back from Hyde Park and I am so giddy and love Chicago, and school, and everyone! But man is this unemployed unending summer going to suck.