coffee and conversation

minus the coffee, minus the conversation

As we roll into the first few weeks of our semester, the Post- editors have been musing on our goals for this year: hopes, dreams, bucket lists, whatever we’re looking forward to. Good luck to everyone embarking on this journey with us, however focused or aimless you may be! Here’s to a fulfilling, validating, relaxing, self-indulgent, and fun semester.—Monica Chin, Managing Editor of Features

 I read an interesting blog post this week from Wait But Why, an interesting and forthcoming blog by Tim Urban and Andrew Finn. They write about issues ranging from sports economics to procrastination (one of my favorites) and try to explore the topics in honest and clear ways. The particular post was called “Your Life in Weeks.” It visually represented a 90-year-old’s life in weeks using a block for every single week. There aren’t that many squares, and there aren’t that many squares between your life events as you mark them out: first day of elementary school, high school graduation, first job, first home, first grandchild. I would like to live in the present. The point of the post isn’t to stress you out. It is quite sweet and smart: All people whom you admired lived their lives inside those little blocks as well. There is no reason you’re less capable of filling out those boxes—but you do have to fill them out, day by day. I’ve finally grown to have an inkling of an idea of what it means to live mindfully. But I think that to do so fully and well, without guilt and with purpose, one has to keep an eye on the future. —YW


I’m from St. Louis, but I doubt I had given two thoughts to Ferguson until I woke up one morning and discovered the entire suburb was burning. Over the next few months, there would be tear gas in my backyard at 3 a.m., highway shutdowns, and more fires. But I really shouldn’t have been surprised by the explosion. St. Louis is one of the most racially segregated cities in the country—the BBC even came to make a condescending documentary about our issues. St. Louis has always been a tinder box. It was only a matter of time. But what are my dreams for my city? As tempting as it is to hope we will all sing Kumbaya, I think I can hope for something more concrete. I hope that the city and the county in St. Louis will work together. I hope that St. Louisians can learn to accept that others have a different lived experience. And I hope for patience for my city. We need to recognize that the struggle will not end overnight. —LB


I went to two different high schools; each was in walking distance of the other. At the end of senior year, both schools had their own spectacular senior tradition. At the first school, seniors would pay into a large pot of money, break into teams, and compete in a scavenger hunt; the winning team would receive the payout. At the other, students would cap the year off with a school-wide water balloon fight, complete with catapults, spray guns, and, inevitably, the cruelest water balloons of all: those filled with glitter. Fortunately, I got to participate in both, splashing my friends from my second high school with water balloons and helping a team of my friends from my first high school with their tasks. The highlight of the hunt was when a friend tattooed the word “relentless” on his arm–despite the tattoo artist’s skepticism (he even forced my friend to reconfigure the design before he would agree to complete the task.) Other teams did even stupider activities, from ordering drugs at a Taco Bell to stealing street signs to very public nudity. As again I enter my senior year, I’m hoping that my friends and I can have our own “scavenger hunts,” exploring new corners of Providence, trying new activities, meeting new people, and maybe even having a water balloon fight. But I hope that by now, four years after I sat in that tattoo parlor, we’ve all grown up enough not to get into a stranger’s car or try to rearrange the furniture in Christina Paxson’s office. —L(R)S

It’s hard not to think about this prompt in the short term, because I’m a senior and so everything after May 29, 2016, is a complete mystery to me right now. I do have post-college goals—what I want to do, where I want to live, who I want to be. But for the time being I’m trying to focus on the here and now. So here’s what I want for this year: I want to take classes that are interesting and useful and challenging, classes I’ve always wanted to take but now it’s really my last chance. I want to procrastinate less (unlikely, but still). I want to work hard and write a thesis that I’m proud of… although first I need to actually identify a topic (see procrastination problem above). I want to spend a little less time in the SciLi, my home away from home. I want to meet new people in my various classes and activities and to spend plenty of time with my friends. Sometimes I think I might want to fall in love. I want to learn to cook at least three meals that aren’t pasta-based. I want to say yes to opportunities and to try new things and all that other clichéd stuff. Sometimes I feel like senior year might kick my ass—but I remain hopeful that instead it’ll be the other way around. —AA


I hate bucket lists.

It’s not that I’m not a planner—my iPhone notes contain hundreds of to-do lists, and my finals study plans are carefully constructed. But I’m all too aware how even the things that you theoretically need to do go undone or forgotten, anxiety growing as you transfer it from one list to another. How bizarre to impose that system of stress and productivity on things to do for fun.

Besides, isn’t it a little creepy to make a list of stuff that should be spontaneous? I’d rather run into the ocean on a whim or suffer SciLi-induced alcohol poisoning impulsively rather than carefully checking it off and moving on to the next calculated experience.

Actually, what I’m against is the whole industry of senior year nostalgia, this idea of immortalizing the year before it even happens. I’d rather not have a “great senior year,” thanks; I’m looking for a great year, period. Why go to Louis at 5 a.m. when I could go at 10? No huge desire to make out in arbitrary places either, or steal silverware from the Ratty. I think I may have a better year just hanging out with friends and letting things happen.

So I’m not making any lists for senior year beyond the basics: grocery lists, reading lists, playlists. I’m hoping the rest will sort itself out. —L(S)S


For this lifetime? Get enough sleep, learn more words, waste less time on tiny decisions, like nature, and quit looking at my Facebook News Feed. For this week, same thing, and I need to remind myself to visit the mailroom—self, when you see this, visit the mailroom. You have a package. —CY


Normally I am a big bucket list fan, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot more about being present.  Right now, I think my biggest goal is to mindfully take everything one day at a time and enjoy it.  I cannot believe this will be my last year at Brown, and right now I’m doing my best to remember to savor the little things (friends, classes, the beautiful weather while it lasts…).  I guess this would count as a big to-do list for life as well. —CS

At last week’s Rosh Hashanah services, my rabbi said that the Jewish High Holidays always come too early or too late—too early to allow time for real reflection, or too late to remain relevant to the year behind.

 I don’t know whether they’re early or late for me this year—no matter when they fall, they always seem an inconvenience. It lies in the choices: Ditch class to take the two and a half hour trek to my grandma’s? Attend services in Providence? Avoid the issue all together and celebrate Yom Kippur at Flatbread?

Any choice I make, I come out feeling guilty. I’m not a good daughter, I’m not a good student, I’m not a good Jew… although you could argue excessive guilt makes me a very good Jew indeed.

Regardless. This is a very roundabout way to say that my current project is dragging my thoughts away from my thesis to understand what this season means, and how I can use that to change my life for the better.

There’s a recurring thread in service readings about how to make yourself a better person. Be less slothful, more generous, live for others before yourself. Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Make your life extraordinary.

(And certainly don’t waste your time rewatching Dead Poet’s Society. Do not. You’ll hate it just as much every time, no matter how much Robin Williams make you cry)

Most of it feels too dogmatic to me. It goes against the ethos of self-care and self-acceptance that I’ve been struggling to arrive at for a long time. This constant striving, constant betterment—yeah, you might have more fun, might be more fulfilled. It just sounds exhausting.

So at this point? Perpetually sleepy, eternally stressed, worrying about the future and myself and my friendships and whether I’m good enough for any of this—fuck seize the day. I can barely wake up long enough to experience it.

I don’t want to live an extraordinary life. I want to be ordinary. An ordinary daughter, an ordinary student, an ordinary Jew.

That I can arrive right on time. —MF

In a continuation of my ongoing effort to be the biggest parody of myself possible, the first thing that comes to mind as far as hopes/dreams/goals go is getting to New York City to see Hamilton, which I’ve been listening to for more or less the past two days solid. This is a great short-term goal because tickets are pretty much sold out through the end of 2015, so I can comfortably put off the logistics until I have to buy plane tickets back from winter break. Another thing I am comfortably putting off dealing with right now, but which I am sure will edge its way rapidly into the “anxiety” part of my brain as soon as I get on that plane back north in January: Graduation. I’ve been sitting with the idea of the thing since the day I set foot on campus freshman year (missing high school friends desperately, I reminded myself one day I’d be sad to graduate from here), and I’ve been making melancholy half-jokes about it since May, but soon it’s going to be real and looking me in the face. Worrying, my brain’s go-to, isn’t going to do anything here besides make it harder to love this spring and my time here as fully as I can. So my real goal for this school year? Face the fact that it will end, bravely and calmly, and meet it when it comes. —AM

I’m one of those people who fucks things up a lot. It is, to a certain extent, a function of surplus boldness—I am often so confident in my own opinion or plan of action (it’s very easy to slip into a vortex of “I am so absolutely correct and everyone else is so horrendously wrong”) that I swashbuckle into a blunt, potentially offensive statement or righteously idealistic but ultimately futile procedure as a solution to a problem: social, academic, or otherwise. Somewhat ironically, I think insecurity plays an equally prominent role. Fear of inaction, fear of failure, fear of any sort of consequence on both the world and my outward image, often shove me into rash attempts at rectification and aesthetic self-improvement that I later regret.

Impacts? I’m a polarizing character, an acquired taste. As I’m phased into leadership positions with my upperclassman status, the importance of delicacy of behavior, of contemplation, consideration, and cooperation becomes increasingly evident to me. Goals for this year? Think, breathe, love, live, do all of it harder, do all of it better. Be grateful for my friends who, though comparatively few, are the smartest, coolest, and most accommodating people I know. Make change without making a mess. Make time to think. Make space to be happy. Be a better me. Be the best me. —MC