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The Darkest Days

It's been about a week since I left New Orleans--long enough for the dark days of finals to turn into a sort of hazy bad dream. My blood pressure has stabilized, my emotional mind set has returned to normal--or at least relatively normal, considering what I was working with before. The problem, I've found, with finals is that it is a time in which imagination dies. Dead dead dead for a solid week. Well now, you might think, that's a little dramatic. To you I say--you don't know me, you don't own me, and yes it's dramatic, but please refer back to where I mention I may not ever be one hundred percent emotionally stable. No, in all honesty, I do think that's one of the most distressing parts of being suddenly asked to produce volumes of high quality work in a short amount of time. I can only speak as a student who generally writes papers instead of takes tests--this semester I had four due four days after classes ended. Riddle me that. I mean really, talk about a time management nightmare. I had a professor ask how we managed to keep our creativity up in one of our last classes, and she was met with eight, glassy-eyed English major stares. I actually laughed a little bit  in a stellar display of social ineptness, but hey, I was under a lot of stress.  Really though, it is a problem--the creativity thing, I mean. I feel bad because I know that what I could write if I had two weeks would be far better than what I handed in. I shouldn't complain too much because I did Ralphie grade my way through this semester, but I find it distressing that I couldn't more fully explore American political identity through the lens of modern literature. I mean who wouldn't? Really just heartbreaking that I had to cut short my arguments on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's failure to  appropriately manage the pain of South African women. A fascinating subject to most, I'm sure.

Instead I sat up late in the library forcing sentence after sentence out of my puny little brain until I was reduced to a sort of half-coherent state where my only productive thoughts were "more" and "words".  I walked around for days with a horribly knotted tangle of thoughts occupying the forefront of my mind--french short stories and political theories and books on apartheid all swirled together until nothing was understandable and all I could think about then was where I was going to get more coffee. Sometimes  I would be left with a wonderfully blank feeling in my head, like when I left the library or when I was standing in line, where I would be thinking nothing, probably due to a lack of sleep. And then I would think, well, these are the glory days, better enjoy them while they last. Cue shudder and a return to the tangle.

There is a funny sort of camaraderie on campus though that I enjoy--you walk around and see hundreds of wan faces much like your own because everyone is tired and cranky and sick of studying and the inside of the library. Actually things can get a little bit cutthroat--don't think about leaving your cubicle on the third floor and expect to get it back. Because it will come to blows. Quickly and without warning.

Anyway, now I'm in a better place. I have learned, over the course of my years at Tulane, that it will all eventually get done. It just becomes a question of how easily it will get done. And then, when it is done and turned it, you have to leave that stress and worry behind. Out of my hands and into God's! It's one of my favorite sayings. Just go on ahead and leave that behind, because guaranteed there is more worry and stress ahead. For example, you might have a terrible tooth that has to be violently removed. But more on that later.

xoxo, Lauren

Hell is Here

I've been thinking about what I want to say in this post for about a week. This is unusual for me--normally I just sit down and type for about an hour and call it good. Don't make the mistake of thinking that my longer than usual musing time means this will be a post full of deep thoughts. In my younger years I went through a brief phase of writing down what I considered philosophical ideas, but happily for all of us, those will stay safely tucked away on my hard drive, only to be pulled out when my ego gets too big and I need reminding of my humble authorial origins. And by humble origins I mean the mildly psychotic drivel I once considered worthwhile. But I digress. The real reason this has taken me so long to write is that my normal peaceful existence was interrupted by the arrival of my parents, jazzfest, the experience I had hoisting Janelle Monae into the air, the departure of my parents, the end of classes, numerous finals and thus an intensification of my never-ending struggle against procrastination, a new puppy, and clouds of flying termites*. Clearly I have been in no state to write! I can't say I'm in a much better state now, but there's really only so long you can put something off before you begin embarrassing yourself with your own lack of will. Anyway, I probably deserve a break--I've spent the last hour eating German chocolate cake and avoiding repainting  the spots on the kitchen wall I destroyed with poster tape. It's been rough. What I've been trying to talk about for the last week and two paragraphs is how *Actually the clouds of flying termites are becoming a bit of a real issue. I guess their mating season came early this year--normally I'm gone by the time the locusts come, but no such luck this May. Anyway all the buildings on campus are being kept hermetically sealed so they don't get in and lay eggs everywhere, but it makes everybody stir crazy. They compensate for it  by jacking up the air conditioner so high you have to bring a change of clothes everywhere you go--shorts and a t-shirt for outside (or a bee keeper suit, depending on how sensitive to bugs you are) and a snow suit. Because the library is actually Antarctica.

If you find the above confusing, that's because it is. Even to me, and I wrote it. It's half of a post I was working on earlier in May, right before my finals got over. Normally I'd just scrap it and start writing about whatever state I'm currently in, but I think it's hilarious that I can't remember what it was I'd been trying to talk about for the last week and two paragraphs. I have no clue. None whatsoever. Possibly a different person wrote that. I've been trying to remember for awhile now, but I got nothing on a name. What kind of idiot leaves a sentence hanging like that? Apparently this one. The endless battle of me against myself continues!

I know that about that time I was thinking about writing about jazzfest a lot because I really felt like talking about live music and how much I love it and how I always felt like crying and laughing when my favorite radio song was suddenly all around me in real time. I was feeling passionate about the subject at the time. Maybe that's the direction this truncated post was heading in but I sort of doubt it. I think maybe not even then did I know what I wanted to say, and that's why I stopped and saved it for another day. I should know by now that that never works, but then again it was finals and my brain and body were being pushed to the very limits of human capability so I wasn't reasoning normally. I mean if I didn't need therapy before, I definitely do now. Finals Week: The anti-gift that never stops terrorizing.

The problem with trying to go back and write on subjects that once captivated my imagination, or how I felt in the past, is that that was then and this is now. Normally when I'm excited about something I want to write about it. When something good or bad happens or even when I just feel strongly, my words are my outlet. I tell stories to express myself and process the world around me. That kids, is how I stay off the ledge. Unfortunately, life often moves faster than I can capture. Sometimes I am too far in the middle of the river to crawl out onto the bank and tell you what I see. Sometimes there are no natural places to dock the boat. And then, before you know it, you're six bends down the river and you barely remember what those first rapids looked like or how the air smelled a few mornings back and new stories and feelings have replaced the old ones.

The long and short of it is that I can't sink back into that place I was in at the beginning of this mess because I don't know how to relate to it anymore. I'm no longer that person. I can't remember. I missed the moment. And part of me says, you're an idiot, Hobs. But part of me says, well done you. Because that means I've been living enough in the present to be able to easily let go of the past. My two week long trip to Italy definitely helped that a long. But still.

xoxo, Lauren

My Friend, the Man

The slump is over, people. However, I'm now spiraling down a different black hole--I feel like my whole life may have been a lie. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, there aren't any paternity tests involved. I just had the rather unsettling experience of being told in class that I was part of a system. Now, this might seem blatantly obvious, but before we start pointing fingers and accusing me of being a dim wit Libertarian, I will acknowledge that I am knowingly a part of the college system, the American governmental system, and the Panhellenic sorority system. Not necessarily in that order. I guess I just never really realized I was also a part of a class system. I'm young and green. So what. Anyway, I was forced to face the facts when my professor pointed a finger around the room and said to us, do you really think you deserve a seat at these tables more than anyone else? Do you really think you earned it? You're a part of a system! 25 white, upper middle-class faces looked around doubtfully. Well. When you put it that way...

I hate it when my intelligence is called into question--almost as much as I hate it when cockroaches crawl on my arm when I'm washing dishes, which is another thing that happened the other day. Of course I handled it with grace and aplomb, and with not a single curse word, but it wasn't the most enjoyable thing I've ever experienced. I had a heart-to-heart with the pest control guy a little later that verged on a nervous breakdown, but that's neither here nor there. So I hate it when I'm told I may not be as smart as I think I am. I'm less concerned with not earning something, because hey, where's the harm in a little easy come? It might not go! But to be told that I wasn't picked to be at Tulane because I was smart, but rather because my parents read to me as a child and I could afford to take the SAT and because I didn't have to fill out a FAFSA? That's hitting a girl where it hurts.

I'm being slightly facetious. I am well aware of the incredible opportunities I've been afforded in my life, due in large part to the magnificent foresight and business savvy of my dear Grandfather, who is currently taking a jealousy inducing tour of Turkey, and to my parents, who somehow managed to hammer some kind of sense into this rather thick skull of mine. However, recognizing that we're all operating in classes that will most likely recreate themselves for generations to come is extraordinarily depressing. Personally, I'm happy to know that my current middle class standing will probably produce middle class children who have lived the kind of life that I have thus far. Actually, there are no guarantees I'll stay middle class. Because that would require, at some point, a well paying job after college, and so far my post-graduation plans consist of a euro-trip and a job as a ranger in Denali National Park. So maybe I'm speaking a little prematurely here. Regardless, I'm forced to ask--why me? Not in a self-pitying way, because I'm really not into that. Self-pity isn't my style. Buck up already is what I generally tell myself when I start feeling sorry for myself, and sometimes I tell other people that too (it doesn't make me many friends). So when I say why me? in this context, I guess what I really mean is, how did I get so lucky?

I don't have an answer to that. Good looks, charm and cunning wit are tough to come by all in one person! That was a joke. I really don't know how I lucked into such a great family and a great school and a great life, and last but not least, a moderately functional brain. I'm questioning something much larger here. I feel like I won't have a good answer anytime soon. Probably ever. I'm too good at critical analysis to ever settle one way or the other--thanks for nothing, college. Thanks for showing me how to see every side of an issue! Not!

I should also put a sidebar in here and say that this is my third late night at the library in a row, and things are not looking up. Have I hit the wall on one too many papers? The answer is undoubtedly yes. I know these are the best days of my life, but at the moment I feel like it might land me in court-ordered therapy.

In other news, my Mother, Father, Aunt and Uncle will be soon be joining me here in the Big Easy. Fun will be had by all.

xoxo, Lauren


I have been in a five-day slump. 21st birthdays have a terrible comedown. Oh, don't take it that way--no, I haven't been hungover for five days straight, because hey! You can't get a hangover if you stay drunk! Just kidding, that's not true at all. Well, it's true, in theory, but I have not yet adopted it as my personal philosophy. In fact, I woke up Monday morning fresh-faced and ready for the day. Because that's what champions do. And I am a champion.

No, mostly I'm in a funk that's akin to the one most people settle into after New Year's, or Christmas. Some people also characterize that feeling as a relief. Tomato, tomatoe. But after all the excitement of Easter and the 7 lb. ham, and then my birthday and my patron Mr. Bill...well, what's a girl to do? I'll tell you what this girl does--she lets a pile of birthday cards, confetti, party favors, a pink and black feathered 21 tiara and a wineglass that says It's 5 o' clock Somewhere! take up permanent residence on the majority of her desk. More birthday presents and wrapping paper have moved onto cozy chair, forming a festive tangle of celebration and sadness. Laundry has been left to pile up, dishes are not done, and books are read at only a third of the normal speed. Work-outs are detested more than usual. Progress on a variety of essays has slowed to a crawl...instead of being productive, I choose to sit in the library and stare sullenly at the wall, eating candy and writing a sentence an hour.

Sidenote: the majority of the gifts I received were centered around candy. What does this say about me? Did I turn 6 or 21? I don't care. I will never stop eating peach rings, gummy sharks, and Reese's Pieces. Because those three things (and beer, thanks Ben Franklin) are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

But really, what's a girl do to? I can tell that I need to get my act together, even though I am shrouded in a post-birthday fog. Letting relics of fun gone by languish in my room while I mope around, wishing I could turn 21 everyday, is no way to live. Or at least I'm pretty sure it isn't. I have not yet found any conclusive evidence on what an appropriate way to conduct oneself is, so the subject is open for interpretation. However, I need a quick-fix solution, and I need it yesterday. Reason one: my parents are coming. I can't let them think I have completely lost all ability to function normally. I've been doing so well! Reason two: finals are coming. You have to start strong going into this hell week, because soon enough your brain will be crying. Reason three: I have to move out, fly home, then go to Italy. I know it sounds really rough, and that's because it is.

So here's my game plan: Clean house. Literally and figuratively. I actually need to whip the funhouse into shape, because one, it's a mess, and two, I tend to feel far worse slacking off in an environment that looks like my sister could be the main resident in. I also need to get my head back in the game--it will involve a lengthy pep talk that will at one point have me begging for mercy from myself. I am ruthless, but effective. Then I will have to take my enormous candy box* and apportion it into many different ziplock bags, so I only take one bag at a time and stop consuming unholy amounts of refined sugar. Finally, I will go the library and sit in an all wood stall, under terrible florescent lighting, and summon every shred of will power I have to finish my three final essays. Why is it necessary to to lock myself in a wooden stall with terrible lighting? Because I am a magnificent procrastinator. It's a gift...just kidding, it's a curse.

I feel certain that after this whirlwind of self-improvement I'll be back to my normal, bucolic self. If I'm not, I'll have to resort to more extreme measures. I'm not sure what those are yet, although the thought makes me involuntarily shudder. I will be making this work.

xoxo, Lauren

*Shout out to my dear friend Lindsay, who knows me so well that she buried the aforementioned wine glass in a clear box of candy, then told me she thought I couldn't eat it all in one day. Challenge accepted.