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Max Weber Haus in Heidelberg, Germany

Where it all went down.

Once upon a time, I made the mistake of putting myself on a mailing list.

Not the kind where you type your email address into the computer at the register at DSW and the girl assures you, “ALL we send are coupons, I promise,” or the kind where you get a Hulu Plus account (finally, after “thinking about it” for like a year) and then you get emails that say unnecessary things like “John, Catch the Latest Fall TV This Week.” Not that kind.

I mean the kind where you write your email next to your name on a piece of paper on a clipboard, or taped to a table, or getting passed around the room. Kids, never do this. Ever.
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As a college student, I frequently met the question, “What do you want to do when you graduate?” or, even more generously, “What field do you think you might want to go into?” or, more often in my senior year, “What are your plans?” As a graduate, the Future has dropped off the face of the Present, and the questions have been reduced to the disappointingly broad and immediate, “What are you doing?”

No longer afforded the luxury of plans and the grace of aspirations, the graduate’s future is happening, now. No longer is it a matter of choice and planning, but rather one of presence and stasis. Where are you now, and what are you doing?
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Originally published in the College Voice at Connecticut College.

The saying goes that nothing has truly happened until it’s “Facebook official”—relationships, friendships, and, in the inexorable march of social media into every stage of life, engagements, marriages, and birth announcements. All meet first with veracity beneath the comforting, steel blue banner of Facebook. Everything of apparent social note is set to electronic record through photo albums, event pages and status updates. The entire exercise is tantamount to scrap-booking for the Information Age.

In one of its more recent renaissances, Facebook added a link on everyone’s page that reads “View Friendship.” On the other side of this startling hyperlink, years-long real-life friendships of incalculable emotional depth and history can be reduced to a single page of photos and wall posts, common interests and events attended—you know, in case you’d forgotten.
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Originally published in the College Voice at Connecticut College.

Getting old is tough. In the course of a week, college seniors juggle the daunting adulthood of targeting resumes with the cheek-reddening adolescence of waking up on the floor feeling like a crumpled can of Keystone. The apparent normalcy of making an impassioned philosophical argument at 8 PM and shotgunning beer at 11 is unique to the maturity limbo of college life. Charged with spending well the last of the so-called best years of our lives and preparing for what I suppose is merely the rest (“real life”) leaves us bouncing across a confusing range of behavior.

The inescapable quotation marks bookending “real life” and “the real world” highlight our all-too-acknowledged sense that life on campus somehow isn’t quite real. Surreal. Unreal. Fake. In fake world, “Dylan passed out in the hall” and “I don’t know where Emily went with that guy” are just good stories, and public drunkenness is a prerequisite for most evenings.

At Saturday’s senior event—the primary selling point of which was free beer—I stood by the wall with a few friends, staring grimly at my Busch Light. What am I doing here? Everything from the tired, cop-out “80’s” theme to the attending senior class whimpered, Same old, same old. My sophomoric homunculus confirmed, You’re not drunk enough to enjoy this.
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Originally published in the College Voice at Connecticut College.

Anyone in the broad vicinity of the 50 Days dance two weeks ago can attest to the sloppy clutching to which many of us have been reduced. In the final, boozy months of the school year, weekends are filled with college-sponsored alcohol and music—the administration’s effort to make Spring oh-ten unforgettably forgettable.

My intention is not to impugn clutchers and clutchees, assuming said clutching was consensual, but rather to question what it is that drives us to such messy extremes. Even seniors find someone new and unknown to test-drive, long resigned though they are to the impossibility of truly anonymous sex and the woes of friends-with-benefits-ship. One all-too-driven stretch of highway, and yet we somehow find new bumps in the pavement.
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