Joe Kind, A Guy
Wow, did week nine hit me hard.
I would like to think I saw it coming. In anticipation of the two papers, presentation and exam on my plate this week, I had planned out my weekend well in advance to maximize my productivity. Things were going so smoothly, according to plan, until — of course — Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon rolled around, and the signs of the hurricane began to form. As is always the case with week nine, these precautionary steps were not enough. A last-minute phone interview changed the fundamental dynamics of what was then a tenuous, but progressing group project, and I couldn’t recover. Shout-out to my group project members, though, for eventually overcoming the setbacks we faced. We were deep in the trenches, let me tell you, but we pulled through.
Week nine was honestly as painful as a big yellow school bus. It was just so, so grim. I have not had a full night’s sleep (read: six hours, let’s be honest) yet this week. I also have really let my facial hair hang its freak flag high. I’ve been telling friends that I am participating in No-Shave November because, you know, I am really cool. But no, I just have yet to deal with my face in what is now three weeks. I have more important things to be thinking about.
To be clear, I am a fan of the cultural phenomenon that is No-Shave November. I really am. Last year I grew out my moustache for the holiday’s up-and-coming spin-off project, Movember, and saw much success socially and emotionally (read: over 80 likes on a Facebook profile picture — a new record! — featuring the hideous beauty). There is something so liberating that comes from the break in the shaving routine, especially during that final push through assessments before reading period.
I grew out my beard for over six weeks during my freshman winter, and all I really ended up with was a face and neck that I couldn’t stop scratching. My facial hair grows unevenly along my face, so certain areas are more easily irritated than others. For those of you unable to grow hair on your face, the experience is not especially thrilling. No one’s masculinity is at stake. Some people grow forests while others can barely maintain a tree or two. It’s genetics. It is what it is.
Maybe week nine really is a big yellow bus trying to speak to me. Regina George went on to attend her spring fling. I should be able to make it to my fraternity formal too, right?
The movie doesn’t end there, though. We all know this. And that’s the beauty of week nine — for as awful as we all know it is, we are also very much cognizant that week nine isn’t the end.
For those of you wondering, I plan on shaving my beard as soon as I survive this week. For not only is it strangely refreshing (if not unsanitary) to avoid the razor for so long, but finally submitting to the razor’s power is ceremonial in its own right. Look at me, I think to myself as I painstakingly graze my face, I am a real person again. I have made the commitment to return to a life of decency and discipline.
Week nine is painful. The parents suddenly sound even more eager over the phone, knowing how soon their baby bird flies back home to the nest — and for a casual six weeks or so. That break many on campus refer to as “Winterim” begins to shine more brightly in the back of the mind, brimming with both excitement and a hint of the anticipated boredom from such extreme (read: relative) social isolation. Introverted or extroverted, college students are arguably not meant to be home for so long. To be at home is great, and I would know from my back-to-back off-terms staying at home. I survived. For all I know I may end up at home for quite some time in the near future. ***ughhhh***
With the arrival and survival of week nine comes the realization that eight weeks have passed. Yes, that’s eight, as in the number of tentacles on an octopus. Fall term resembles an octopus, in some ways. The weeks squiggle around and over and through one another, leaving a blob moving unpredictably through the water. That metaphor is not supposed to be grim. This term has been pleasant for me, albeit crazy. The fall always is for me. From the sporadic weather patterns to the usual milestones (read: Homecoming, swim meets, Halloween, etc.), I generally like the fall quarters here.
Week nine seems to hit hard at college campuses across the country, as well. What is it about this time of year? I think it must be coincidence, though I really don’t have any standing knowledge of relevant scientific findings.
Whatever it is, let’s all do our best to emerge safely from the depths.