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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.

Maggie Brown was the last girl I ever dated. We parted ways probably later than we should have in the summer of 2006, she off to college four hundred miles away and I a rising high school senior with a serious but unacknowledged interest in men. Some things end exactly when they need to.

Fewer than fifty days from now, college will end for the class of 2011—admittedly with more ceremony than my inevitable split with Maggie. The senior class will be coaxed across stage, handed a diploma, and shoved into the world with the flip of a tassel and a photo op. With just six weeks left until that Sunday morning, our college experience—capital C, capital E—is dwindling. And we are starting to freak.
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