If that no-holds-barred death match otherwise known as the on-campus housing lottery might be termed, as I myself have dubbed it, “the annual equivalent of a full-on rectal examination,” then the class registration process would be analogous to that soul-trembling moment when the metaphorical physician starts doing a little more poking and prodding than you’d think would be necessary, and you black out and somehow end up staggering through town sobbing uncontrollably a la Peter Griffin.
That might be something of an exaggeration – a few lucky devils might just end up decorating the mental ward with unmentionable substances while reciting Crispin Glover’s “Clownly Clown Clown” (YouTube it if you can handle the head trip) at increasingly high volume. Wait, damn, that’s actually worse, isn’t it? Need to work on proportionalizing my hideous scenarios.
Really, though, experiences certainly do vary. Just bringing up the subject with my music major friends puts my own situation in perspective. However severe I might deem my frustrations, they tend to pale in comparison to the insane pressure of juggling eight-odd courses a semester plus hours of practice outside the classroom. Similarly, I’m exceedingly grateful that, unlike those majoring in the sciences, I don’t have to concern myself with labs.
I guess that’s one of the perks of the English major – it’s reasonably easy to take just one or two courses a semester and stay on track to graduate. I unfortunately never received this memo and have been piling on everything at once, much to my hair-pulling dismay. To compound matters, I recently realized that I overlooked a requirement to take one more lit course and so won’t be finishing my major a year early like I thought. As a result I feel like considerably less of a smartypants and sort of wish I hadn’t been too cocky to ever consult with my advisor except for once or twice freshman year.
In the scheme of things, however, this really isn’t a huge deal. In all honesty, I was probably just going to put some random elective in said lit course’s place. While I’d entertained notions of supplementing my Writing minor with Philosophy, I’m really lacking the drive, and dicking around is just so much more appealing. Besides, let’s face it: as fascinating a subject as it is, Philosophy’s not going to make me any more employable. (Cue professorial hate mail.)
Such an ostensibly cynical assertion may cause some to cry foul, and I can sympathize. I’m certainly inclined towards the persuasion that higher education is – or at least should be – primarily about expansion of the mind and enrichment of the soul, as laughably idealistic as that may sound. The truth, however, is that such romantic conceptions are much easier to uphold early in one’s college career, when “the real world” is but a blip on the radar.
This reality hit me fairly hard upon setting out to pick classes for the first semester of my senior year. As I resumed my time-honored practice of judging options based on whether or not they would grant me at least a four-day weekend, it dawned on me for the first time in a while that I still had no clear idea what I wanted to do post-graduation or, for that matter, with the rest of my life. I’d always kind of assumed a viable career path would materialize organically, but this has not as yet occurred. Still waiting on the flock of hummingbirds that craps pixie dust which may then be harvested into a life-sized replica of Tom Waits composed entirely of fusilli pasta (my life’s goal; I don’t [expletive] judge you).
I’ve been debating grad school for a while, and if I can swing some way to minimize the size of the hole it drills in my wallet I might go for it. I’m getting rather exhausted with all things academic at the moment, but I probably just need the summer to recuperate. At any rate, signing a few more years of my life over to the books beats seeking out employment in this economic climate. I may yet end up spending the rest of my days as that sketchy guy who only ever emerges from the dimly-lit squalor of his parents’ basement to go push carts at Wal-Mart or toss away trash bags that clink at an alarmingly high volume, but if I can forestall that fate a little longer, then I may as well. In the meantime, puppies and kittens and happy thoughts!
Justin Levesque can be contacted at