Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ain't it just like the present

Hey guys,

I promise I will get back to "tell me a tale of how it was" series... but as I'm getting ready for my interviews at UMass Amherst this weekend and Rutgers in a few weeks, trying to prove to academia and myself that I have prepared myself enough to continue for a PhD ...

Only "Ain't it just like the present to be showing up like this?" keeps replaying in my head as Bon Iver sings his soul shaking song "Blood Bank". This song has many a meaning for me but what it clearly reminds me of is who I was as a freshmen here at University of New Hampshire. Now I'm a senior graduating and going on with my life... but when I hear that song, specifically that line, I suddenly am in my dorm room in that shithole of a dorm I will always love, Stoke Hall... in my little single after finally getting out of a built up triple, with all my collages on the wall, curled up on my bed working on some art piece for Intro to Drawing. I decided to post something that I had written my freshmen year... I know that spring break is coming up and people are finding out about where they are going and others are just waiting or have no idea. Whenever I read this old essay I see how far I've come (or right back to where I was) and I know a lot of you had felt this way freshmen year and are feeling like I do right now... scared, excited, hopeful, dreading, lost yet found, literally the exact same way we felt the first day we walked onto this campus. I'm sharing this piece of writing from ENGL401 because it's a voice of the past that I have always reread when I'm unsure of where I'm going. Maybe it'll help someone out there like it does for me. If not, I hope you at least get a good laugh out of it.


PS: Got an A+ on this paper ;)

Personal Essay, Fall 2009

I stared down at the labels. “A-Detergent, B-Softener, C-Bleach.” All that was going through my head was “shit…shit…shit…” Classy, I know, since I’m not one to swear much but tonight I think there were at least 15 different obscenities that were running through my head as I stood there like an idiot just staring at the box in front of me. It’s not that I’ve never done laundry. At home I’d help out my mom by doing a couple loads every so often when she asked or if I needed something specific clean. It was the fact that this wasn’t home. This wasn’t my washer. There was no one upstairs to ask something stupid like “hot water or cold?” I was on my own. And that was what scared the hell out of me.

I had been avoiding laundry for about a week and a half here at Stoke Hall. I could have gone longer but my towels were screaming at me every morning to wash them. I’d run out of my room mumbling back to them some excuse like, “I have to get to class,” or, “I’m starving, I’ll come back later.”  Either way this was a completely forced situation where I was down here alone at ten o’clock at night in a dreary laundry room with only abandoned sock balls as my company. I had brought down my English homework thinking if I read maybe it would keep me from staring at the towels and questioning their fate, or rather, my fate. Silly? Oh yes completely, but I felt like this was a test. If I can’t do a simple load of towels how the heck was I going to be able to graduate college? Become a doctor? My head started to spin as another three obscenities slipped under my breath. It’s a load of towels. Get a grip. I sucked in as much air as my lungs would allow, held it, and poured each liquid into the designated compartments. There’s no going back now. For both laundry and college, which only freaked me out more. I kind of laughed at myself and my weird metaphor of my life rumbling in my ears.

The load began and my frantic eyes were glued on those poor towels. I honestly felt for them, helpless in their situation, not knowing if they’ll come out alright in the end. My stomach did its usual flip flop and twisted my innards hard. I groaned and sat down on a chair with the book still on my lap but my eyes on the little window of the washer. I felt like that, helpless that is. It was like staring at my future. It’s not like I could open the door and stop it, or even undo what I’d just done. I had to wait, and I hate waiting. On top of that I felt like I needed guidance for the first time in my life and had no idea where to go for it. Yes, my parents have always been there for me and even my guidance counselor and teachers back in high school. However, their advice had always been on the simplistic side, more of a support than real guidance because I had mapped out my dreams and goals since freshman year. All throughout high school I had been preparing to go to college to then go to medical school and then become a doctor. I had taken seven and a half years worth of science classes within four years, kept my grades in the Honors, and even played sports and was on multiple science teams. But this wasn’t high school, just like how this wasn’t my washer. It’s all new territory. Another twist hits me and I hear myself groan again –more pained then before. What am I going to do? The silent screams in my head rise in volume and I feel like I’m stuck in a trance of pure panic. The light on the washer switches to spin and I jump as the metal monster growls at me. While thankful that it had snapped me out of my downward plummet, unfortunately it also reminded me of my original thoughts over my current uncertainty.

My attention settles on the colors being tumbled and thrown into one another as the suds swish back and forth, mocking my own thoughts bouncing around in the same manner in my head. Do I really have it in me? What if I burn out? What if I flunk out? What if I’m just plain miserable here? What if? What if!? That’s the problem with “what ifs,” is that there’s never a clear answer because it’s not a clear question. The spinning slows down and as if my brain is subconsciously following the washer’s lead, the thoughts begin to die down and all that’s left is a sense of hopelessness.

I think there’s a point, or points in some cases, in everyone’s life where they hit rock bottom and reality checks in. And as cliché as it sounds, the light switched to rinse and my head tilted for a second as I stared at my future “un-sudding”. For some reason or other I calmed down at the sight. Reality plopped down next to me, gave a comforting hug and I took the reassurance thankfully. I’m not the only freshman here trying to get their life together, and I’m not the first, (nor the last), who will have no idea which compartment to put the detergent in never mind how much. And I’m sure that I am not the only human being who’s felt as if time was moving faster when you least expected it to. I took a sigh, unclenching my hands from the damp pages, and stood up to break the mental barriers I had just been building up in the past 25 minutes. I began running a mental check list of how to possibly to get help, to take the baby steps, to regain a sense of control…the buzzer goes off in the middle of my enlightenment.  

I stopped pacing and glared at the washer. The towels beckoned me to deal with the present, maybe even check this off my list if successful. I winced as I opened the door, afraid to stick my hand down and either feel normal wet towels or a slime of judgment casting its disapproval of a horrible job done. 5…4…3…2…1…go. I reached down fast and patted my towels. The smell of clean reached my nose and I smiled to myself. Perfect. Maybe I’ll even do a load of darks tonight. 

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