Ahhh, Spring Break. The perfect time for mysteriously disappeared bloggers to return to their sacred work (which they have been shamefully neglecting in favor of their other blog). For me, 10 days of total freedom to simply lounge about, stay up all night reading romance novels, nap an outrageous amount, write a 20 page rough draft…. wait. What did I just say?
Ah right. I forgot. Spring Break is most assuredly NOT about breaking. Instead, it is an excuse for your professors to give you as much homework as possible with the justification that you aren’t going to be doing anything else! Oh, silly professors. That’s supposed to be the point.
So thus you find me, contemplating the enormous mountain of my 20 page Senior Seminar rough draft that I must somehow overcome. I have exactly two pages done so far, and a thesis I am struggling to fully, forcefully bring to life. I’ve also just finished a book over Camus’s life (Elements of a Life by Robert Zaretsky, it’s absolutely phenomenal if you have any interest on Camus) that is making it both much more difficult and yet much easier to plan my paper. It’s probably the most difficult paper I will ever write, because the subject has become so important to me. Camus has changed my life this school year, and I’m grateful to him. It’s been a good change, amidst a welter of confusing, frightening, startling changes. Even more startling is the thought that this is the last essay I shall ever have to write. My academic years are drawing to a rapid, terrifying close. When I return from Spring Break, I will have exactly three weeks left of my academic life. This thought is nearly paralyzing; how can I possibly do everything that needs to be done in three weeks? And I don’t mean simply the tests, or even the paper, I am going to be scrambling to master. I mean, how will I possibly cram all the memories I need to cram into those three weeks to last me the rest of my life? I am contemplating not napping during those three weeks. Well, okay, let’s be real, I’m still going to nap, but at least trying to limit it to only one or two a week. I just know there’s so much I should be doing, but even worse than the panic is the feeling that I don’t even know what those things are. Surely there is a list somewhere that ensures that, somewhere down the road, years in the future, I don’t stumble across a glaring lack of things I should have done while in college?
I feel like I’ve accomplished shockingly little. This could be because I’ve been so immersed in Camus lately, an extremely active and outspoken man, prolific with his writings. Camus, naturally, kept a journal. I’ve always had this secret terror that, since I never could be bothered to keep a journal, it meant I was not a real writer. I mean, in middle school, I wanted to be an actress. I came very late to my love of writing; at least, the idea of my own writing. I have always loved reading and the written word; in middle school I finished in the Top Ten in the Reader’s Digest Vocabulary competition of Oklahoma (I was the first ignominious one of the top ten to be out, defeated by two similarly nuanced possible definitions of “augment,” a word I will bitterly never misuse again). I discovered in 6th grade, quite by accident during an assignment, a great love of poetry. But when it came to me actually writing, it somehow just took forever to click.
I remember the exact moment it hit me, in the manner of things that are only glaringly obvious after you realize them. I think it was around 8th grade, and I was reading yet another romance novel. And there, in the back, innocuously tucked away amidst the advertisements for other books I’d already read, was a single page that said something along the lines of “Do you love romance? Have you ever considered writing a novel yourself? Check out so-and-so publishing company’s website to learn more!”
That sounds oddly specific, but that wasn’t what it said. But it was something along those lines. Even now I’m struck by the oddity of it; I had never before seen such a thing and have never seen one since in a romance novel. And I have read many, many romances. I remember thinking, why don’t I just do that? I had been essentially training without realizing it for just such a task. There were few things I knew better than a romance novel, and I have an overwhelming hoard of knowledge specific to England during the Regency period. Oftentimes I had thought before, while reading some horribly written novel, that I could do a better job. But somehow that never set the idea off in my head. I imagine that at some point or another, perhaps soon after, perhaps much farther down the road, but at some point I probably would have finally come to the conclusion. But, call me fanciful, it still seems a little like fate that I saw that ad, as if it’d been tucked away there just for me. This is how I reassure myself when I read about people like Camus faithfully keeping a journal full of important, transcendent, insightful thoughts. Perhaps great writers don’t always start out with the ambition to be so.
But, as writers (good and bad) probably tend to do, I have digressed. I was speaking of college and the lack I’ve felt in myself throughout. I used to prolifically write poetry, but in college I seem to have lost the knack. I’ve started numerous novels but never finished one (I am not counting the very short, very atrocious book I clumsily wrote in 8th grade(?) entitled “My Book,” wherein I simply transferred myself and my best friends and family into Regency England and made us all members of the aristocracy). But I have two novels that I have been finally, actually working towards. One is, naturally, a romance set in 19th century England. The other is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. That’s something else I have an intense interest in. I adore legends, myths, and fairy tales, and some of my favorite books I’ve ever read have been retellings of them. It seemed only natural, after realizing I should write romance novels, that I come to the realization that I could write other things as well. When I was younger I read voraciously of fantasy fiction, and that influenced me greatly as well. I always dreamed of finishing a novel before college, publishing it, and it magically becoming wildly popular a la Harry Potter, and never having to worry about finding a job. I’ve accepted, sadly, that this won’t be the case. I underachieved a little on my dreams.
But this week, I discovered something that I will have when I graduate that I can be very proud of. Each year for the two divisions of the college, teachers nominate a group of seniors. From that initial list, they whittle it down to one person per each division who receives a Distinguished Graduate award. I found out on Wednesday that I was selected as the Distinguished Graduate for the Division of Arts and Humanities. I feel unbelievably honored to receive this award; I won out against some brilliant, dedicated, and involved students. So I’m going to take this honor, this faith in me that all the teachers who argued for me to win this award tacitly bestowed, and I’m going to try and conquer a little of this panic, a little of this fear, this sudden welling of uncertainty about my ability and my purpose and my future, and believe in myself.
So, with that uplifting thought, I am going to tackle that 20 page rough raft. And studying for the three tests I have the week we come back from Spring Break. And trying to figure out what important things I need to pack into those last three desperate, bittersweet weeks.
Well, right after we get back from Louisiana on Wednesday. Leaving tomorrow morning, and I can’t read/write in the car without getting sick. So that means I’ll have hours to nap on the way down there, guilt free. So suck it, Spring Break haterssss! I WILL nap for outrageous amounts of time… at least for one day.
PS I went with Bulgarian today, because I’ve had people from Bulgaria totally looking at my blogs and how cool is that?! One of my favorite soccer players, Dimitar Berbatov, is from Bulgaria. So whenever I see that people from Bulgaria have looked at one of my blogs, I can pretend that maybe, just maybe, in some bewildering, magical world, maybe famous soccer players look at random blogs from 21 year olds in Oklahoma. “Leka nosht” means “good night” in Bulgarian, or at least according to this page. And I will now leave you with a picture of me from Thursday, when I picked up my cap and gown: