finals

 

I have a lot of things on my mind, and I’m kind of too tired to really formulate them into nice, flowing paragraphs. I just need to reflect.

Y’all. Why did I do Honors? Oh yeah, because I thought it would really help me get into grad school to see that I was pushing myself. Yet, as I am realizing, now that I’m in grad school, being in Honors at Swarthmore doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pushing yourself, because I could have taken these Honors courses and not have to take these stupid exams. without being an Honors major I took my first two exams (in Geographic Thought, a course I really enjoyed, although I don’t think I really grasp some of the problems we read about, and Black Cultural Studies, a course I took a year and a half ago) and the test were fine? I don’t think I wrote something good, but I made interesting points and tried to approach a complex topic in a way which drew together multiple authors, which is what I assume is the purpose of these exams. It’s not necessarily how poignantly you can respond to a question (which is inherently vague so as to remove the possibility of a one-answer solution), but how you can draw upon the materials of the course to construct an understanding of its subject material in response or in consideration of a vague, general question. Also the exam was open-notes, open-book, and so are all of my exams, and I have this annoying little voice in my head saying “why bother studying?” and I can’t not listen to it. I took my test today and finished with a lot of extra time, which kind of sent me into a panic because I wasn’t sure if I had just misread the questions. I have 5 more exams; one written, four orals. The next one is Monday. I then have 4 oral exams on the 15th and 16th.

Last weekend was Worthstock. We day-drank, as is the tradition, and got into a bunch of shenanigans. This is the second time I’ve gone to Worthstock, for my brother got married my freshman year and I was in Dakar last year. My sophomore year’s Worthstock was kind of ruined by this fight I had with Michelle, which was quite dramatic although it really didn’t need to be. This year, I got sleepy around 5, and the music wasn’t very good, so I went to dinner and napped. It was underwhelming, but it was nice outside and I enjoyed the sunlight and jovial vibes.

Three days ago was the BCC Senior Sendoff. As you probably can guess, these events fill me with dread. The reason for this is simple: the way I see myself and the way others see me are two realities which are so tightly fused together that I cannot distinguish one from the other. My self-consciousness and my anxieties from one side spill into and color the other, and I cannot tell if I am seen negatively from the outside for real reasons, or for reasons I invent to justify these feelings. This is kind of what happened this summer with the kids from my summer program; I felt like they were talking about me behind my back and excluding me, but I found that I was actually excluding myself… then, they sort of excluded me purposefully, but that’s a story for another time. Yet, I find that my inability to distinguish these two sets of perceptions means that I don’t have a decent grasp of reality? I don’t think people like me all that much and woah! they kinda do? I’m intimidating and hard to approach (which I acknowledge and kind of like) but folk still want to be my friend? I’m knowledgeable? It all makes my head swim, because from my point of view, I’m a coldly introverted guy who makes the occasional funny comment and can talk for hours about hegemony and cultural politics yet can also drift seamlessly between academic discourse and talking about cat videos. Occasionally I write or get something published or win something, but otherwise I am marked not by exceptionalism, but by absence. I try not to draw attention to myself, don’t like being the center of discussion, even if sometimes I pretend I do. Deep down inside, I find that I try to redirect attention away from me, because for some reason I seem to attract it for no reason.

I’ve bought 50+ books this semester. My fellowship gives seniors $1000 to spend on conferences ($600) and senior research ($400). I only ended up going to two conferences this semester, and secured funding from the Dean’s Office to cover the bulk of my airfare and hotel stay, and therefore had a ton of money left over to spend on books. I dream of chugging through 30 books this summer, which may very well be feasible, but reading, like going to the gym, is something I have to start doing, and it’s the starting that’s so hard.  I hope to go to the gym, too, this summer, and rely on video for entertainment as little as possible, although I have a bunch of films to watch, too. Yet, I’m excited to have a huge collection of Black literature from across the globe. Novels from the US, Jamaica, Kenya, Guadeloupe, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Barbados, Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Cameroon… I’m building a collection of texts with whom I’ll likely spend the rest of my scholarly career. I just need to start reading as soon as possible… maybe I should start before I go home….

Maybe I’ll try to do some content about these books as motivation. Try to write some reviews (and learn how to write a review).

Still don’t know about this scholarship. I’m supposed to be taking Latin this summer, to give myself something to do, really. I’m not sure I even want to take the class, but I’m also not sure what I could have done in the interim. For one, I am sort of locked into living in New Haven, which is fine, but I don’t move in until the 15th of June, which means I’ll have about a month of downtime. I have arranged to stay with a current grad student for the first two weeks of my summer courses, but if I choose not to take the class anymore, I’m not sure it’ll be justifiable for me to just squat in her apartment. In a perfect world, I’d get a job at the Library and work there, but I am not eligible to apply for student jobs until June 1st when I am “officially matriculated” and therefore I can’t apply for anything. I will be in New Haven all summer, but I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. You may be thinking “Oh, just relax for a while. You’ll have the summer off.” While this sounds lovely, I don’t have an incredible amount of savings to do that. While my parents are helping me with rent for the first two months until my stipend kicks in in September, I will have to support myself on only my savings, which would be quite hard. I don’t have a lot, because I had to cut my savings in half to pay for my deposit and first month’s rent out of pocket. So I don’t know what I’ll be doing. Best case scenario: I get this scholarship, I move in on the 28th, I stay in New Haven for two weeks and on that weekend come back home and move in, and finish my course, all while working part-time in the afternoons when I’m not in class. Somehow I’m going to the gym and reading everyday, which isn’t impossible, but I imagine having somewhere to be and something to do from 9 to 6 would be pretty exhausting, and I probably wouldn’t want to go to the gym or cook well afterwards.

I want the semester to end. I haven’t been looking forward to senior week for weeks now, because I’m ready for the next part of my life to start. I don’t want to wait for this one to end. I wonder how that reads to people from the outside; while everyone has been looking forward to this moment of freedom, I am just so done with being at Swarthmore that the senior week events are going to seem to drag on.

 

I got a tattoo.  I’ve been joking with my friends that this has opened Pandora’s box. But I don’t really want to get another “spur of the moment” tattoo. I like my tattoo, don’t get me wrong, but I still kind of think that I should only put meaningful things on my body. I am not sure if I’ll get another anytime soon, and if I do, I can’t imagine getting more than two at this point.

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