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November 11, 2011

Quarter-life crisis

7th week brings ramblings about plastic bags and loneliness.

So 7th Week is over—that’s cool, right? Whether 7th Week was just 7th Week or 7th Week was your midterm week or whatever the case may be, it can only be a good thing that it’s over. I assume. It snowed yesterday—that’s kind of cool. So there’s that. I can say, “Congrats on surviving midterms. You deserve a breath of fresh air,” and at least mean half of it honestly. But what kind of way is this to talk to a reader? Ignore the fact that we’re obviously not talking and that I have the clear monological advantage in this relationship (See? I can even make up words). Honestly, this is how I communicate with everyone these days: through disaffected small talk.

Maybe it has something to do with moving off campus. I mean, moving into an apartment is great: I can walk naked to the bathroom in the middle of the night (the neighbors keep their blinds closed); I can enter my building without the shriek of “SOUTH CAMPUS ID!”; I can toss whatever I want out of the windows. Buying groceries is annoying, but I feel more like a “real person” when I unpack a loaf of sourdough bread, enough rice to last a month, and a whole goat’s capacity for cheese production.

The one thing lacking, as I guess I predicted, is the minimum level of semi-frequent social interactions to maintain my connection with the rest of the student body. I feel like I’m starting to forget how to interact with others. I’ll see that random third-year from my old house walking into the bathroom in Harper before me, and despite all my telecommunicated entreaties, he ends up at the urinal next to me, and we’ll stand there peeing next to each other for 18 seconds or so, and then when he finishes before me (because I’m thinking way too much about this sort of thing to actually pee right away) we make eye contact for a moment. And the weird part about it isn’t that we made eye contact with our man-junk exposed. The weird part is that he knew I was trying to avoid acknowledging him. And what’s even weirder: I was.

I’m obviously just having a long day, right? I know these are “first-world” problems that don’t really amount to anything of substance (“My warm, safe apartment and my plentiful food leave me jaded,” etc.). And I have some questions for myself that I’m sure a good weekend’s party lineup and sleep recuperation will go a long way toward answering.

I guess the real question is for you: Why the hell are you still reading this column? I can think of two reasons. First, you’re one of those assholes who are responsible for onlooker traffic delays—you’re drawn in by a sense of morbid curiosity and fascination. The second possibility is that, in addition to the occasional schadenfreudian slip, you actually feel a bit like me. Maybe you have a slightly better grip on yourself, but nonetheless you feel some of my anxiety.

You’re stressed. We all are (I think). You are tired and frustrated with your professor for asking a question about that topic she totally said would not ever in a million years ever be on a midterm. You can’t focus on maintaining friendships because you have to find a job or an internship for the summer or beyond. That girl you had a crush on just “got out of a long-term relationship and isn’t really looking for that sort of thing right now.” That guy you had as your back-up plan because you knew he had a crush on you and would at least make for a good night after the Psi U party—well, you saw him in Reynolds today holding some girl’s hand. Shit sucks.

So what’s the prognosis, Doctor? Well, it’s not so bad. Like I said before, 7th Week is over—that’s cool, right? Hopefully your midterms are over (please don’t mention that six-letter “F” word).

The prescription? Get drunk. Just get really, really (safely) drunk. Or, if you’re feeling a little more American Beauty, you can just pull out an outdated camcorder and shoot a video of a plastic bag dancing in the updraft of the wind outside Kimbark Liquors—but even this possibility might soon fade since Alderman Moreno introduced an ordinance to ban plastic bags. I mean, I guess that’s a good thing. But what the fuck, you know?

Colin Bradley is a second-year in the College majoring in Law, Letters, and Society.

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