Friday, January 8, 2016

Looking Forward and Around

Over vacation, as the roller coaster tipped slowly to the big, near-vertical drop, I came to the conclusion: I am a control freak.

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In elementary school I was very fond of the book The Grand Escape, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, which describes two indoor cats who escape and fall in with a clique of feral urban cats. To gain acceptance into this clique, each new cat has to solve a riddle or find something out for the other cats. One of the questions posed was: Humans have power over cats. What has power over humans?

The answer given was "the clock." Humans are always aware of the time, and how quickly it passes, and what they have to do next, and how to get the most out of it. Time: we control it, we are bound by it.

I have, that I can think of, five calendars. My planner, my digital calendar, a quarterly calendar taped over my desk, a yearly calendar on which I cross off dates, and my logbook. The first three are rigorously updated and kept consistent, the yearly calendar is too small for any information, and the logbook is updated nightly after I write in my journal.

I don't know if other people are like this, though I suspect that I'm on the more controlling end of the spectrum. Control is the key: feeling as though I am in control of my time makes me feel as though I am in control of my life, because what is life but time and experience?

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We have just finished the first week of Winter Quarter. This is my last quarter of the academic year that I will be on campus, because in the Spring I go to Berlin. I am excited, of course, but also sad to leave my dorm and the people in it. Separation anxiety is real. The notice for termination of housing is due at the beginning of February, but I know about it now so I should get it done of course, and I had it written in for Tuesday night but...but I couldn't do it. I opened the page for the form, looked at it, thought about leaving, and closed the page again.

I have ten weeks left here (nine weeks + finals). That is not a lot of time. That is no time. Yet--that is also a lot of time, and if I think about how soon it will end then will I be here when I'm here?

At one point, probably during senior year, I thought a lot about what advice I would give to freshmen in high school. One point I came up with: everyone tells you that four years is short. It is not. Four years is long. You cannot wait for these four years to pass to begin your life. You cannot waste these four years marking time because you just want to get on with it to bigger and better things.

I haven't forgotten about this, because if it applies for high school, so much the more for college. What am I waiting on? Why am I even waiting? Sometimes waiting makes sense--I'm not applying for grad student programs because I'm not a grad student. I'm not taking a class that could fit into my schedule because...well, actually, I probably could take it, but that might push this quarter from being slightly chill to unmanageable.

Next year is going to be difficult. I'm planning to get almost all my major core classes out of the way, which means lots and lots of technical classes. I am worried that I won't be able to handle it, and I don't have that much give in my schedule. But I want to do it this way because then senior year would be comparatively relaxed and I hope to staff in my current dorm as a senior, when I have enough time and wisdom to do it well.

One of my most important relationships is with future me. I don't want them to be disappointed in or angry with present me. I want them to be competent and successful and prepared, to look at the future and see open doors. I want to enable future me to have a large, positive impact on the world.

Current me still has needs as well, which is why I'm taking a lighter quarter than perhaps I should. I want to finish writing Ubermadchen and not do a hack job of it (an SFD is fine but a BSFD is not). I want to be here for the people I'm living with while I'm still living with them. I want to have conversations with people, and delve deep into my studies, and give things the attention, energy, and time that they deserve.

The present is short and the future is long. But the present still is.

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And then we fall.

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