Chaos Attraction

Not Quite Van Wilder, But...

2005-04-18, 3:27 p.m.

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By now, you've probably heard of this guy, who's been going to college for 11 years and plans to stay on for a full dozen before he finally bites the bullet and graduates. The guy's taken everything they have to offer, yet still wants to stick around having fun. He's a BMOC, all the girls wanna date him, he's getting to sleep in and have a good time- why end it?

Frankly, I'm surprised they haven't kicked him out- they kick you out here if you go over 220 or something like that. I was terrified as a student about going over the maximum unit limit, to the point where I didn't get credits for a year's worth of internship (16 units) because it would have tipped me over the edge. He's lucky he goes to a liberal school.

I put two quotes from him on the blog, just because they stuck in my head:

"I could have - should have - graduated many years ago, but I keep passing on the real world's invitation."

"I've fallen into some sort of a comfort zone here. I think deep down inside I have a fear of getting into the next phase of my life."

I didn't do what he did- I'm one of the people who graduated from this school in 4 years, and believe me, very few people do that. But in June it'll have been four years since I graduated from college, and yet I'm still on this campus. Of course, that's because nowadays they give me money instead of vice versa, and that's a perfectly viable reason to be here. Lots of people do it. Hell, maybe a third to half of the crowd I ran around with in college was people who'd gone here and gotten employed here as well. (I really should try to look some of these folks up again sometime. Though given the cock-up issues I've had trying to access the hidden chat forum, so far it ain't working.)

But I can't help but feel just a wee bit like Johnny Lechner anyway.

I love a lot of things about working here. Lots of discounts on stuff, tons of educational/cultural opportunities, fat insurance (no raises, but you can't get everything), easy commute, mellow people to work with, access to a kickass gym, and great atmosphere. But another thing I really like about still working at my college is that I can still feel like a student, but without the crippling amounts of homework. I can take all the classes I didn't have the money or time to take. I can spend three hours in the gym without knowing I should be home gluing some project together. Except for the whole 8-5 schedule thing (and truth be told, I was on at least an 8:30-5:30 schedule for most of college due to major requirements), I could go party it up if I wanted to. Occasionally, I still do.

And I'm not very inclined to want to "move on" from that to buying a house (hahahah) or a car (bwahahaha) or having children (shudder) and doing The Adult Things I'm Supposed To Be Doing At Nigh-Twenty-Seven. I still don't think that stuff sounds fun. I'm such an immature git, no wonder I look like a baby.

I still FEEL like a student. I look 18, as everyone knows, I wander around with my college backpack these days (hauling gym clothes and shoes'll do that), I haven't changed much beyond my hair and a bit of weight fluctuation since I got here. And other than having the 8-5 lifestyle, I pretty much live the college life without the work. In short, if Johnny Lechner wants to live the college lifestyle post-degree, he should do what I do. Hah. Beats going to grad school, eh?

I do, however, get annoyed at being "found out," on some level. It's hard to explain what I mean by this, exactly, but I'll give it a shot. Obviously, anyone looking at me is going to assume I'm a student, right? Hell, I think everyone's a student too if they're under 40 around here. So when conversing with random strangers who have struck up a conversation with me, I never mention one way or the other what I am doing here in this town. If they assume I'm a student and I don't have to contradict them, things are easier. Because things get incredibly awkward when they ask me if I'm a student (or worse, what my major is). And then I have to go through the whole awkward explanation. "No, I'm not a student. Yes, I graduated. Yes, I work here. Yes, I'm STILL here." This always leads to, "So, when did you graduate? Last year? Winter quarter?"

"...um...2001."

I can't help but get the vibe at this point that people think this is odd. Maybe it's just what I look like, because I don't recall the friends I had in college who were working here getting this kind of reaction. Then again, they all looked older than 18. It could also be because most people flee town the second they get their degree to move back home to San Diego or the Bay Area, and I'd rather chew off a body part than move back "home" to stay.

But sometimes, I just really wish I was still enrolled in college. Namely, on Picnic Day this weekend, when I went around checking out the design department's offerings. I'd wanted to do a collection of clothing my senior year, but due to my schedule (I was taking pretty much all of the hard/time consuming design classes that year due to circumstances beyond my control, and had a job on top of that), I couldn't manage to sew four outfits with a total lack of spare time. Or shall I say, I HAD spare time, but having to babysit fabric being steamed on an entirely different floor from where the sewing machines are located from 5-11 p.m. every night, and not being allowed to check out two room keys, just didn't make it feasible. My class work just swamped me, and I was pretty miserable senior year. And looking at all of the cool projects people did just made me disappointed in myself for not managing the superhuman.

Another frustrating thing was going through the design museum and seeing listings for classes coming up, reading the descriptions, and going, "Dammit, I WANT TO DO THAT! THAT SOUNDS COOL! AND THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT WHEN I WAS HERE! Waaaaaaaah!" They just got a new textile printer, which is freaking AWESOME, but as an alum, I'll never even get to touch it. Goddammit. I was all, "Why can't I start over again? Why can't we just forget that I already got the degree and let me do the classes some more?" I don't have any "portfolio" work I'm really proud of beyond a few pieces here and there, and I wish I'd been better at what I did. But with the whole "I have to juggle everything at college" thing, I think I crapped out on some level. Maybe I would have done better without a job or boyfriend (circumstances that probably contributed to my crapping out to some degree the last three years), and for that matter, without other things in life to worry about besides producing the art. I do think the stuff I produce is a lot better now when I do it on my own time and without pressure than when I was working for class credit.

(And to anyone who's thinking, "Why don't you go to grad school?" (again, again, again), I would not be admitted to any program in design. My class work really wasn't that good. If I were admissions people, I would not think I was a worthy student for advanced study over others. Sad, but true. Plus I want to cry at the thought of taking the math GRE because I don't know so much as any algebra any more.)

I really find it hard to believe that in less than a week I turn twenty-goddamm-seven, and I still don't feel like an adult yet, or like I WANT to be an adult yet. Doesn't it ever come? Isn't it supposed to be like the biological clock? When do I stop acting like a total immature smeghead and start acting like a Real Adult Woman? When do I stop wanting to go backwards? (I swear, Grant and Naylor had the right idea that our world is a cock-up because it runs in the wrong direction.) Why do I still find the idea of growing up and taking on adult responsibilities and popping out a family to be completely abhorrent? Aren't I supposed to be getting over that?

I know I'm too old to feel as young as I do. People are starting to stare at me funny when they find out my age. Nobody BELIEVES my age, including me. But what way am I supposed to go? Can't go backwards, don't particularly want to go forward in the way I'm supposed to. The real world's invitation looks more and more like a moldy apple.


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