(vaguely masturbatory) reflections on the end of the semester
As the editors wrap up the last production of Post- for this semester, we’ve also been writing our respective takes on what these last couple of weeks hold for us – finals, chemically-fueled study sessions, and self-defense or anticipatory procrastination – and what we look forward to – books and movies to catch up on, the drive home, endurance-style viewings of the Food Network, or even graduation. I know I’ve made myself the modest promise that I’ll take a bath for approximately a week once I get home. Good luck to you during finals season, dear readers, and we wish you all the best until we see you next year! –Yidi Wu, Managing Features Editor
Leaving the semester has its pros and cons. Con: the next week and a half will be hell. I will procrastinate until the last possible moment, and then furiously write and pretend that the coffee is working and convince myself that I will find the love of my life in a beautiful meet-cute in the Sci Li lobby at 4 a.m. Pro: Only a week and a half before I can be free to catch up on all the pop culture I have put aside! I’ll be reading Amy Poehler’s “Yes, Please,” and it has been taunting me on my desk, glimmering and beckoning me to ditch my research on Jane Eyre and women’s labor. Self control! I’ll dive into the lives of Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Dunham, in their respective memoirs. I’ll venture into the crazy storylines of CW’s new show, Jane the Virgin. Who will she choose?! Rafael or Josh?! I already know Jane ends up with Rochester. – MV
Finals (noun): The weird two-week limbo period uncomfortably squeezed between Thanksgiving and winter vacation. It is a time when stress is buffered by the doubling of coffee intake and a healthy dose of self-pity. But this is also the time of year when we should be up to our ears in holiday cheer, which is why fall finals is arguably the most poorly timed event of the semester. In desperation, I am forced to sneak holiday spirit into my schedule wherever possible. Christmas music plays on repeat (I recommend the full Nutcracker soundtrack for studying); I exclusively drink tea labeled “Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride;” my socks are all fuzzy and candy-cane striped, and if it comes down to it, watching Elf will take priority over editing my paper. So while you guzzle down caffeine, stare at your computer screen, and prepare to spend hours on end in the Sci Li, don’t forget that December is supposed to be jolly. Grab a candy-cane, put up some twinkling lights, and maybe even enjoy the last couple of weeks of the semester. -KS
As of this moment, seventeen days separate me and the end of my semester. I feel as though there is more surface to each day between now and December 20th, and I am trying to hold each day like I could know it. I was surprised when that number was eighteen, and nineteen, and twenty. I am surprised now. The jolt doesn’t come from the unfamiliar sensation of traction between me and the days, but rather a suspicion that I should have had an inkling of this feeling when that number was seventy-two, ninety.
But as I reflect more on the matter, I find that there’s roughly nothing more or less in my week today than there was a month ago or in September: not more tasks or events, mornings or evenings, responsibilities, or even freedom. And there’s nothing particularly sacred or evocative about fourteen weeks—I would have been the first to admit this to you last night, punished by work, irritated, cold, fingertips greasy with pencil lead, lips dry from the heater. But the physical place and body are dogged and honest. I’ll be taking the train to Philadelphia in less than three weeks. Nothing is new under the sun. And I am glad to be going home. -YW
This year I’m actually excited about finals period. Why? Because I have almost all my exams during reading period (is that even legal?). In fact, finals period maybe be the chillest time of the year for me—if I survive next week, that is. But let’s be delusional for a second and pretend finals didn’t exist; am I excited for the end of the semester? Sure! Christmas is coming, bringing along my favorite time of the year: the time I finally catch up on all of the TV I missed. I will finally feast on my mom’s homemade pizza, while catching up on all of the shows I’ve struggled to find the time to watch. Honestly, the energy I’ve spent trying to avoid spoilers on my newsfeeds probably amounts to the energy I’ll spend convincing myself it‘s okay to spend winter break sitting on the couch and watching TV. – TS
Heavy and habitual snowfall in Providence is usually the signifier that the semester is winding down. The bone-chill weather sets in with finals, and the fire in Cafe Choklad is just another reason to stay indoors. This year something cosmic seems to be resisting the end of fall, so that I do a double take remembering that campus will clear in just a few weeks. I think about the incomparable benefits of being home over the winter holidays—watching Masterchef, buying books, eating pie, and attending to the really important questions: Does Emma Thompson leave Alan Rickman at the end of Love Actually, or doesn’t she? What’s the deal with that new crossguard lightsaber, and wouldn’t a curved one have been cooler (can light bend, anyway)? But until then, I’m waiting on just one white blanket that tells me winter is coming. I’m not sure I’ll believe it otherwise. -CS
My drive out of Providence is a ritual. I drive down Wickenden Street, fill up my tank at the Shell Station, get a cup of Narragansett Blend at Coffee Exchange, dribble some of said coffee on my shirt-front (maybe this isn’t an official part of the ritual, but it happens with enough regularity that it may as well be), and make my way across the Point Street Bridge through the Jewelry District to I-95 South. I put on some pensive music (I recommend “Farewell” by Boris) and watch Providence’s meager yet strangely elegant skyline roll past me. Then the sign for New York passes overhead—roughly 160 miles to Westchester—and I settle in for the voyage.
Each time, right around Mystic, there’s the inevitable moment where Providence begins to fade into the ether of the past, of “one time at college.” The longer I’ve been at Brown, the more I realize how much of a bubble it is. Your whole world can very quickly collapse into eight or so blocks, your priorities can become distorted, and what are really very minor problems can become magnified and seem intractable. Get enough distance from the bubble, and it tends to burst. But with the bursting of the bubble comes a certain sense of unreality: If the tiny world of College Hill is so easily escapable, is anything that happens within its confines of any consequence in the larger world outside?
There’s the grey transitory stretch of highway through the myriad “-tics” of Southern Connecticut (Niantic, Willimantic, etc.). Somewhere between New Haven and Bridgeport, like a migratory bird must know he’s reached Palm Springs, I somehow know I’m back in the New York Zone. I-95 becomes the Merritt Parkway, the Merritt becomes the Hutch, the Hutch dissolves into the manicured lanes of Scarsdale. Then, sugar maples, gray gravel, 205 Old Army Road: home. From one bubble to the next. -AA
One of the things that always excites me most about going home is my sudden ability to watch The Food Network whenever I’m so inclined. The main reason I always look forward to a straight month of Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay, and whatever new competition they’ve come up with in the past few months is that watching people in aprons rush around kitchens to action movie soundtracks and snarky judge commentary, and still produce delicious-looking dishes, makes me feel slightly bad about my own inability to boil water without accidentally burning something and/or setting something on fire. My theory is that if I watch enough cooking shows, I will eventually accumulate enough insecurity that I will teach myself how to cook. It hasn’t happened yet, but my ability to do something to that end gives me a comfortable illusion of agency.
So, watch out, spring semester. Maybe you’ll finally be seeing an off-meal-plan version of me. But no guarantees yet—Extreme Chef is about to start. -MC
It’s been a tough week. Recovering from the trauma of family time, mourning the death of my favorite fictional character, not to mention measuring my own struggles against the greater ones going on in the world—and I haven’t even started my finals yet. The last three weeks of the semester feel endless at the best of times, and these are certainly not those. But there are bright days ahead. The second season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine awaits on Pirate Bay, and my bed at home might not be as secluded as my lovely Grad Center cave, but at least it’s soft and unaccompanied by an alarm clock. Once my 30 pages of research papers are done, I can go back to staring blissfully at the inside of my eyelids, floating in Christmas-land, images of Love Actually-era Andrew Lincoln playing on my mind and jingle bells in the air. And I won’t even need the excuse of procrastination to stay up till four playing Solitaire. So be merry, persevere, and remember that while finals are momentary, gingerbread is forever. That thought, alone, is enough to get me through the next few weeks. -MF
A lot has changed in the nine (yes, nine) semesters I’ve been doing layout at Post- magazine. The Top Ten has taken a turn for the Dadaist (including “Top Ten Tent Tops.” Never forget). We no longer finish the magazine at 4am on a regular basis, because we can now reasonably expect that all the articles will be at least written by 6pm on Wednesday night. I used to go to the local pizza-in-a-cone joint before production night. When I was a freshman, we got most of our images from Google, which was almost certainly illegal. FishCo was still a thing. I more or less stayed on the magazine because I thought an editor-in-chief was dreamy; he didn’t know the layout staff’s names. We once took a photo to run on the cover of the magazine using a cell phone camera. A 2010-quality cell phone camera.
As my predecessors have graduated and new (always-younger-looking) kids have arrived, I feel like I’ve become the keeper of all these stories. I still remember when Sam Knowles was “new guy Sam”, but everyone else who served under him as editor-in-chief is gone. I feel a little bit like The Giver, without the dystopian conformist state thing.
So leaving is bittersweet. I know this magazine is in good hands, and I cannot be prouder of the trajectory I’ve seen in the last 4.5 years at Post-. So, future Post- staff, looking for something juicy to put in the “hot post- time machine”, remember this: We used to run something unofficially called “The Drunk Column.” It’s never too late to bring that back. -CB
Finals are lame. Not lame like we shouldn’t care–please care, definitely care–but we have better things to talk about, right? Absolutely right. The fact that you’re reading this right now means on some level you’d really like to be thinking of something besides papers and exams and that goddamn Pac-Man game that has you wishing the little guy would just eat himself and you could call it a night (why can’t the ghosts just fucking chase like they’re supposed to?!). But we shall emerge victorious. Yes we will. And before long everyone will bus, train, and plane back to their big and small towns around the world, and the campus will be left silent and frozen. Though for now, here we stay. And the truth is, these packed, frantic three weeks of proto-winter are an undervalued thing of beauty. Camaraderie and commiseration are at a semi-annual peak, drugstores are carrying those chocolate advent calendars again and everyone looks 237% sexier in Grandpa’s sweater and Bean Boots. Science says so. Pause for a bit and soak it up. Listen to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole croon Christmas classics, give thanks to the Ratty for their wealth of Roasted Root Vegetables, smile at the pretty sparkling lights in Alumnae Hall, draw faces on steamed windows, put rum in your eggnog (or in anything for that matter) and kiss someone first thing after coming in from the cold. Fuck yeah, holidays. -ET