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Date: January 22nd, 2020.

Time of Writing: 10:34 PM.

Weather: A winter cold, but warm in the sun.

Mood: Oxymoronically energized by fatigue.

Day Overview: I woke up early today, showered, brushed my teeth, put on some clothes, went down to get breakfast at the nextdoor dining hall, and moseyed on over to the residential service desk to pick up my package. Inside was the textbook for my film studies class, as well as my new laptop charger. Grimly anticipating my own dismay upon seeing that it had failed, I rode the elevator upstairs and plugged it in, first into the surge protector and then into my computer proper.


Hell yes.




Needless to say, it worked, and I sit before you at my desk ready to recount the activities of my day in full. After sitting at my computer for some time, catching up on the last few days of errant Discord pings and emails that had slipped under my radar due to my inability to operate at full capacity, I soon found myself in the middle of browsing Radiohead's new Public Library project, an official archive of myriad live performances, webcasts, music videos, promotional material, free streaming of each of their albums, and a collection of the prior incarnations of their website and associated newsletter. I browsed through curated materials by the members of the band, ready to surrender an entire day to a comprehensive study of the materials when I saw that time was approaching for me to begin my walk to my first class of the day, Non-Intensive Elementary Japanese.

It was cold out in the morning sun, but not as cold as it had been on my walk the day before. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, my day of classes begins at 11:15 AM. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, that day begins at 10:00 AM. My Japanese class was located in a building I had familiarized myself with yesterday when I tried to find my writing course, but I was not sure where to find my Japanese class mostly because I read the room number as 198 and tried to find the room in the annex for a short while before realizing that I was dead, dead wrong, and that I was in room 119 instead. During my frantic searching for the room, it just so happened that I passed my friend Jess in the hallway and didn't say hello to her. I apologized, and soon found my room. A number of students stood out in the hallway, and a cursory glance compared with my own mental picture of what the class composition would roughly look like, as well as some snippets of Japanese from students exiting the room as the prior section ended, confirmed that I was in the right place. I was nervous, but mostly at the prospect of having to make friends in class. Yesterday's attempts at making friends verged on non-existant. Today, I'd have to make more of an effort. It would be alright if I didn't get things right on the first couple of classes, but any further than that and I was sure to be screwed when time came to find a study partner or to read a dialogue with someone in front of the class.

Nothing could have prepared me for the sheer panic I experienced when I walked into the room, sat down, and heard my professor start the lesson in a long, unbroken sentence of perfect, conversational, impenetrable Japanese, and asked the class a question. I felt a panic attack come on. The last time I had a foreign language class was two years ago, high school third level French. I had been coddled, though unintentionally, by that teacher's preoccupation with grammar, which she was forced to explain in English to the class. I was not prepared for being thrown into the deep end. My heart rate quickened. All of the text on screen was Hiragana. No Romaji at all. Was I in the wrong class? A bead of sweat rolled down my neck, and I thought briefly that I would be less hot with embarrassment if I took off my scarf, but dismissed myself - I needed it to cover my mouth, ajar with awe. The professor coached us, a class of - a quick glance confirmed it and set my mind partially at ease - college students with absolutely no comprehension of the Japanese language, on how to wish someone a Happy New Year in Japanese. Then, we jumped into an activity where we learned how to greet others formally, taking turns listening as the professor introduced herself and then repeating a fill-in-the-blank version of the corresponding student introduction first to her and then to our classmates. We were supposed to introduce ourselves to seven other students; some were brave enough to go before the professor and try their luck; I only managed to introduce myself to four.

I quickly learned three things during this activity.

  1. At least two of my classmates, the girls sitting immediately behind me in the room, had a similar moment of panic and wondering if they were in the right place when the professor started speaking Japanese right off the bat (they also asked me if I watched anime, I shamefully replied yes, one of them answered in kind and I left it there because one's reasons for studying this language are usually of that nature and prying is rude).
  2. On account of my anime habits, my pronunciation skills are better than some, though not nearly all, of my classmates, and eventually I'd come to know that because I'm a goddamn fucking weeaboo, all of the greetings with the exception of welcome home were already drilled into my head.
  3. My anxiety has taken a turn for the really, really bad in the last couple of months
Mercifully, the activity ended with only enough time in class to go over the syllabus before it was time for us to leave. I stood up from my chair, evaded several of my classmates and took off walking (fast!) for my next class halfway across campus that was scheduled to start in the next ten minutes. It took my five minutes to reach the building, our very own Integrated Learning Center, and another three to find the classroom, located behind a stairwell, and take a seat in the back of the room for my first class of History of World Religions. I took a class on world religion in high school and it was a part of my middle school history curriculum, so I zoned out in the beginning of the class and started browsing on my phone, figuring that I was alright because I was sitting far away from the professor and he seemed a little preoccupied with teaching the people who had taken eager seats up in front that I could get away with looking at my phone while he covered the very basics. I hadn't brought my laptop with me to class, instead leaving it to charge back in my room for later use, and I forgot my pen in my room, so it was either sit there and stare blankly at the projected image on the wall, or stare at my phone.

It took less than a minute for the teacher's assistant, who was sitting just two seats to my left, to notice, and reprimand me by tapping me on the elbow with a sharpie to focus.

I was, admittedly, equal parts stressed and zoned out, and in no shape to pay attention, but I tried extra special hard for the TA, who I'd come to know was named James later when he introduced himself to the class and when I had the small group discussion section with him later in the day. He's a pretty alright guy, hailing from Nova Scotia - the professor of the class is from UMichigan, so the two of them are far from home - with more than a passing interest in Black Metal. I fished a used philosophy notebook from my backpack and started writing down stuff in the back on an unused page with a sharpie. It didn't matter if it bled through the page - the rest of my notes for this class would be digital if I could help it. Time flew by rather quickly, and then it was time to go and get some lunch, but first I stopped by the campus center to pick up a grammar textbook for my writing class. In the process, I ran into two of my sectionmates from Marching Band - the first in line also waiting to pick up their textbook, and the second eating lunch with some of his friends nearby. Sahil, former personnel manager of the marching band, seemed happy to see me, and introduced me to his friends as this kid who listens to Death Grips which was pretty funny. I stuck around for a minute or two before it was time to get going.

An hour later, it was time for my Ideas That Change The World honors seminar. With a name like that, I was expecting bullshit, but nothing like what I found. My professor assigned us a boatload of coursework on the first day, a stifling amount of research and papers and presentations to give, the last with a specific dress code for what was and was not appropriate presenting attire. It made my stomach turn just reading the syllabus. Thankfully, the class only meets on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I don't need to think about it again until next week, an opportunity I will gladly take. I'm considering dropping it and taking it next year if I'm still in the Honors program, which I probably won't be given all the extra fees and thesis writing that comes with the territory. Afterwards was my World Religion discussion, which was in a building that shared a name with a residence hall on the tall hill at the other end of campus, but I took a gamble and wound up at the right building just as a coincidence. It was a relatively uneventful discussion, informative in an unintended way; it quickly let me know of the kind of smarmy atheist character that would likely dominate the discussion in the months to come. A character I once played myself. I stare at The Kybalion, Prometheus Rising, and The Middle Pillar on my shelf, among many others. It is safe to say that I am not that person anymore.

This blog post is spiraling out, sprawling too far and too long. I'll summarize the rest of the evening in the span of just this one paragraph. I ate dinner an hour and a half after the end of the discussion with Jess, Spencer, and Dev, in the local dining hall, packed to the brim with people like sardines in a tin box. It took us two loops of the circular building to find a spot to sit and eat. While we were eating, we saw some of our friends from the marching band looking for places to eat, including Tsz, who reads this blog and is probably happy that I'm posting in full again (hi Tsz). It was good eating with them after my arduously long, stressful day. Afterwards, Dev left to go back up the hill to his dorm, and Spencer and I migrated to Jess' dorm to study together, the three of us. It was half the time of us studying and the other nonconsecutive half just us having fun, until there was a power outage that took down the entire cluster of fourteen or so residence halls that makes up my living area. It lasted an hour, and a fun hour it was, Spencer taking out a laser pointer and shining it through the darkened double room, its beam illuminated in the darkness, Jess placing an order for cookies from a local shop, myself reading my film textbook by phone flashlight. Eventually the lights came back on, the cookies arrived, (though Jess didn't see the first barrage of text messages and phone calls from the angered driver and he was left out in the cold for a bit) and the session devolved into us showing each other weird memes, such as the gummy rat candy dissection video, courtesy of yours truly. It was then apparent that the time had come to leave, so Spencer and I departed, and I am left here at the end of my last run-on sentence having caught up to the present moment.

Oh, a few girls in the elevator were talking to each other about doing cocaine later tonight. That was fun.

On My Mind: I am absolutely shit at talking to people. So why should I expect myself to be good at it in a language I don't speak? I've talked before about how I can't work up the nerve to greet people I know in the halls or out and about on campus half the time when I pass by. Recently the feeling of awkwardly forcing myself down other people's throats has come up when I'm talking to other people too. I don't know if the void of no classes after Japanese on my Fridays would be better suited to a part time job or if I should try to get a therapist again instead. It's been almost two years since I stopped therapy, and I can't say that I've been the picture of mental health since then. In fact, I feel like I've been quite the opposite. An array of confidants cannot sustain anyone's emotional state. Not even someone who is otherwise perfectly healthy. And I'm not. My finger is hardly healed, and is flaring up in pain right now as a matter of fact. I don't have any physical activity besides walking around campus to my classes. I had the eye pain scare two nights ago. And to top it all off, I'm depressed and anxious as well. This probably isn't a very good first post to read. I'll shut up now.


Produced: Okay, apart from the generative writing and notes I took for my writing class homework, I haven't made anything, but I swear tomorrow I absolutely will. Absolutely I will. I promise. I'll write a lot tomorrow. I have a lot of time. I definitely, absolutely will write a lot tomorrow.

Other Thoughts: Thank you for weathering that computer drought with me. I might go back and add some details to the last few days but to be honest I think their function as a snapshot of the time I went crazy because I didn't have a laptop charger is more important. Tomorrow night is my first radio show of the semester; catch The Theme Machine at 11:59 PM Thursday to 2:00 AM Friday on WMUA 91.1 FM! Or if you're online, like you probably are, right here.