Hello Again

Please listen to the provided Neil Diamond while reading.  It’s the theme song of this post.

The funny thing about this blog is that when I’m not posting, it feels like I’ve been cut off from an old friend who I’m used to chatting with regularly.  And all that’s complicated in my life, or hard, or sad, or unbelievably happy, seems to build up inside of me until I’m running around campus holding my chest as if it’ll burst open if I don’t.

What happened to make me stop calling and texting you were the MCSA (student government) elections.  I’m Election Commissioner this year, which didn’t seem like a very complicated job at the onset, but which escalated until I was spending all day every day policing Facebook and Twitter, planning debates, editing videos, sending reassuring emails to the student body, dealing with illegal spray painting incidents (still can’t believe that happened), and near the end, checking the online polls every ten minutes to see who was ahead.  The worst part was that MCSA doesn’t have detailed rules outlining the powers of the Commissioner, so when “disciplinary” situations came up, I had little guidance, and mostly had to wing it.  As is natural when a leader is “winging it,” there were quite a few shouts of “unfair!” and “dictator!”  It got old really quickly.

The elections ended last night at 11:59, and by 2:00 a.m. this morning, I had sent out emails to all the winners and losers.

The high point was that I got to call the winning Presidential/Vice Presidential team to tell them that they had won.  Hazen, who was running for president, is a dear friend of mine, and asked me beforehand to call her with news, whether bad or good.  When I told her last night that she was the 2013-2014 MCSA President, she didn’t believe me at first.  And then she screamed with excitement, and I could hear her running mate, Andrew, screaming in the background.  It was the best call I’ve ever made.

And how can you be bitter about a job that ended like that?

Besides elections, I’ve been spiraling toward my last month of college.  Lots of paper writing (I have two big ones to finish this weekend), graduation planning (bought my cap and gown and two dresses (one for the awards banquet and one for commencement)), and nostalgia.

You know, as sad as it’ll be to leave this dear place, I’ve been slowly realizing that I’m ready.  I’ve taken in Morris completely, I’ve had wonderful experiences and made wonderful friends and learned how to be a grown-up, analytical thinker.  But there’s not much more for me here, now, and that means it’s time to move on to the next big thing.

What is “the next big thing,” you ask?  I have no idea.  Does anyone want to offer me a job?

Geese

The geese are coming back.  I’ve been hearing them for the last few nights, and the first time I did, I actually stopped what I was doing and listened, trying to figure out what the noise was.  They’re much the same as they were last fall: same v flight formation; same grey-bodies-black-heads; the leader still opens her mouth against the high altitude rush and quacks the same harsh quack; and the rest of the gaggle, eager to chime in, answer her with equal harshness.  It reminds me of field trips, when my kindergarten teacher would ask my class (jokingly, I suspect), if we were all present.  “I’m here!”  We’d shout from our respective bus seats, loudly and unhelpfully.

Truthfully, even as I type, I’m not sure what the geese have to do with the rest of this post.  I suspect, however, that I’ll work them in somehow.

It’s been a hard week.  Actually, one of the hardest weeks of the entire school year.  And surprisingly, not because of papers or exams or presentations.  But because of student government.  I’m going to try to say this vaguely, so bear with me: I’m currently Election Commissioner for the spring student government (MCSA) elections.  What that means is that I organize “get out the vote” events, manage electronic voting, and make sure that all candidates are following the guidelines for legal campaigning.  It sounds pretty straightforward, and usually it is, but this week there were two major incidents that I had to deal with, and both became heated and ugly and personal.

One of the incidents, particularly, led to me taking a rather unpopular stance based on what I felt was fair.  That garnered a few phone calls, a few Facebook messages, and a lot of emails which involved calling me power-hungry and MCSA a “diseased organization.”  And for the first time in my entire life, I had to wake up and go to campus feeling like the entire student body hated my guts.

It all worked out in the end, thankfully.

But I can’t help feeling that this week has been a trial.  I’m not sure if I passed or failed.  I’m just glad it’s over.

As for the geese, well, perhaps they were chased out of the tropics by Spring Breakers.  Perhaps they ran out of Noxema and decided to retreat from the sun for a while.  Perhaps they’re heralds of the Spring, bringing her to Morris just when we were starting to think she would never come.

Perhaps, like other animals, they’re merely following their instincts.  Listening to that tiny twinge near their left ankles that tells them when it’s time to move on.  Perhaps they’re simply doing what they have to do, regardless of personal (animal?) desires.

There!  I told you I would do it.

Let Me Catch You Up

Sorry I’ve been quiet lately.  Truthfully, there hasn’t been much to write about.  I walk to campus in -40 degree windchill (yesterday).  I try to save the world via student government (Monday).  I play intramural volleyball (Tuesday).

(This afternoon) I make a mistake with my checking account and hold up the line at the grocery store for fifteen minutes while I fiddle with my online account via Iphone, transferring money to pay for my cereal and pears and peanut butter.  And then the Chancellor of UMM, in line behind me, offers to pay for my groceries (“I don’t want anyone going hungry,” she says kindly).  I am thankful to go to a school run by such generous people.  But mostly, I am mortified.  I finally get my credit card to work, and then I practically run home, sliding on the ice and torn between laughing and crying.  I decide to laugh, because I am quite possibly the most ridiculous person on the planet.  My mom laughs too when I call her, and I realize that perhaps the reason why I get into such scrapes is so I can tell people about them afterwards.  It’s quite worth a little humiliation to have a good story to share.

And now (I assure you, having read the above, you’re quite caught up), I am sitting at a desk in Imholte Hall.  I am at UMM’s literary magazine’s All Night Write.  It’s a wondrous night in which students are locked in a large classroom with their laptops and various junk foods, and given permission to abandon scholarly pursuits in favor of creative writing.  My gentleman caller is next to me.  He’s given me permission to talk about him.  He’s focused, and being very patient with me (I keep interrupting his work to make jokes, to proclaim my undying love for orange soda, etc.).  I am here for the writing, yes, but let’s be honest: I’m mostly here for the socialization.

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Why I can’t be Pat Sajak

Tonight, I learned that I can never be a game show host.  Not that it was a particular goal of mine anyway, but still.  It’s good to get these things cleared up before it’s too late and I’m awkwardly lip-kissing contestants in front of a flashing board.

Partly because of my role in student government, and partly because I was in the right place at the right time, I was asked to co-host UMM’s first annual Minute to Win It competition.  We were hooked up with lapel microphones, given cue sheets, and shooed onto a feltboard stage.

At first it was a hard to be entertaining and witty and charming because the crowd was small and unenthusiastic.  As the night went on, however (we did this for two hours, which may not seem like much, but which was tiring and thirst-inducing), I became a little more comfortable, and a little less concerned about how I looked or sounded.  This meant, of course, that I said/did some dopey things.

Example: to buy some time while the next activity was being set up, we led the audience in a Simon Says competition.  I was sick of saying the old “Simon says raise your right hand, Simon says raise your left hand,” and instead decided to go with “Simon says wiggle your butt.”  They did it, because there was a cash prize involved, but I got some weird looks.

And then there was the moment when I decided to go backstage briefly to ask the crew if we could have two of the water bottles that had been used for a previous activity.  This wasn’t entirely my fault, because how was I supposed to know that when wearing a microphone, you’re not supposed to walk in front of the speakers?  But I walked in front of the speakers.  And the feedback was deafening.  Perhaps worse was that they wouldn’t give me the water, claiming to need it for something else.

Overall, it was fun, and I’m glad I got to take part, but it’s exhausting to perform for such a long stretch.  I think, in the game show department at least, I’d rather be winning the three-bedroom RV than leading the giveaway events.

In Which I Learn a Lesson

This afternoon, my friend George and I were sitting in the MCSA office, talking about a couple who had just broken up.

“I don’t mean to be nosy (who was I kidding?  I totally wanted the scoop), but what happened between Clara and Marlon?”  I asked.  “They seemed so happy together!”

“Well, I texted Marlon after it happened, saying that I was sorry and that I’m here to talk if he feels like it, and he replied that he was confused.  Apparently, Clara said she loved him and two hours later she broke up with him,” said George.

Shocked, I wondered aloud what had gone wrong.  “Clara doesn’t seem like the type!” I exclaimed finally, “I don’t know her very well, but I don’t think she would hurt him like that without a good reason.”

We speculated back and forth for some time.  Then lunchtime rolled around and we parted ways.

Tonight is University Register night.  It’s the last issue of the semester, so spirits are high and Peace Tea is flowing like wine.  I went upstairs to use the restroom, and while I washed my hands, I heard someone else clomp up the stairs.  Then I heard sobbing.  And Clara talking, presumably on the phone.  “I feel like everyone is talking about us, and Marlon keeps telling me how sad he is, and I know I did the right thing, but it’s hard!  I just want to go home!”

Drying my hands on a half-ply paper towel, I exited slowly, not wanting Clara to know that I had heard.  She was sitting on the top of the stairs, but stood up quickly as I approached, turning her puffy face toward the wall.  I put my hand on her shoulder and smiled what I hope was an understanding smile, and then went back downstairs to the U.R. office, where Joey was wearing his panda hat, and Zak was grinning, and Sam was toasting with his coffee thermos.  It smelled like pizza rolls and Pine Sol (Miles cleaned).

But as I rejoined the copy-editing minions, I reminded myself, for the thousandth time, to think before I speak, and to reserve speculation for the gold fields.

The Madness Begins

Ran 2.5 miles today.  Who am I?

Also nearly fell down an entire flight of stairs.  Oh. That sounds more familiar.

It’s funny that I can write quippy things like this, because the truth is that I have so much on my plate right now that I can barely breathe:

1. 10-15 page senior seminar research paper.

2. 10-12 page Virginia Woolf research paper.

3. 10-12 page Grammar and Language paper.

4. Teach for America interview prep/forms.

5. MCSA student organization representative retreat planning.

6. Student Services Committee project coordination.

7. Research with a professor.

8. 5K training.

9. Writing Room work.

10. Social Science Office work.

11.  Plus two pending final exams, a two page history paper, several books to read, etc.

There’s probably more that I’ve pushed it to the back of my brain with the most acute denial.

The semester is coming to a close, and with it, the usual madness is descending.  I’ve been trying to decide if this semester’s finals week will be worse then last semester’s.

Last semester I had five papers due within two weeks, which meant that I wrote 40 pages in 16 days.  Plus research, final exams, etc.

This semester…well, see above: it’s looking pretty monstrous as well.