Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Departure gate

In one sentence: Final exams are done, no grades yet, I submitted the worst piece on nonsensical drivel ever written for the writing competition at school, and now I am boarding a plane in five hours to go to Las Vegas, Nevada.

I guess there will be some sort of travelogue once I get back. But the great thing is this:

Summer. Has. Begun.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Movie review: "M:I:3"

On Friday we went to go see Tom Cruise's new movie, "Mission: Impossible: III: Die Hard with a: Vengeance." It was fantastic. I left the movie in such a good mood.

Given the events of the last year and a half, I went into the theatre completely braced for an unrelenting barrage of the Tom-Cruisiness of it all. And it was there: the bizarre intensity, the permanently clenched jaw muscle, the robot-like competence that allows him to jump off buildings, perform his own medical operations, sprint down the alleys of China like a freaking cyborg, etc. I never really bought into the fiction of the story, but it was a fun ride, and all the more ludicrous for Tom's real-life antics, the ones that fictional ol' "Ethan Hunt" is not quite equipped to handle (see couch-jumping, placenta-snacking, etc). Yet the context of real life really added to the movie. I would sit there and think, "Wow, Tom Cruise's wife looks like his real-life wife, Katie Holmes, the girl who used to be attractive before Tom cut all her synapses in half," or, "Hey, for a Scientologist, Tom Cruise is pretty handy with a difribillator."

The story of the movie was a pretty solid cat-and-mouse thing, with some good-looking women and exotic locales. Of course the end of the movie was a standard mess of betrayals and double-crossings, and I'm not quite sure who was a bad guy, how bad they were, etc, but I'm not there to diagram the thing, I'm there to binge on popcorn and laugh at the wooden exposition. But, there were some unexpectedly awesome action sequences, and the movie took a few more risks than I was expecting. It was edgy in a cool way, and JJ Abrams knows how to weave an air-tight narrative. And I loved Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a total slouchy badass. Ever since the movie I've been trying to imitate saying his lines: "I'm going to kill her in front of you" (insufferable tight-lipped grin, head tilt, slight nod) "and then I'm going to kill you." Or something. It was like "kill you behind her, and when he comes back, then I'm going to kill him astride them both, and then kill them both, sequentially" or something like that. He was a really bad guy.

Anyways, the movie is awesome. If you've ever been a 12 year-old male, or been involved with one, you'll love it.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Dispatches from finals

1. The night before the day before my first exam, I had another dream about my teeth falling out. This is my standard dream of anxiety and stress. In the dream I realized that a hearty chunk of one of my front teeth was gone, and when I looked at it more closely, I saw there was a gray spot in the enamel of this poor beleaguered tooth. I touched the gray spot with a finger and the tooth broke and fell out of my mouth. It was traumatic and I woke up really, really anxious, and the feeling didn't quite leave me all day. I remember learning from a dream interpretation book - or maybe it was a gypsy, I can't remember - that a lot of people have stress dreams of their teeth falling out, and let me tell you, that dream book or gypsy was right.

2. Two days ago some girl went batshit in the library. You're not supposed to bring food or drink in here (here, the library -- it's 7 pm on friday and I've been here 11 hours, dear reader -- I don't like to work this hard) but this girl walked in carrying an iced coffee. The librarian told her she couldn't have the beverage in here, and she got pretty snappy with him and kept moving. He followed her, and seconds later she was screaming and cussing him out, and then she threw her iced coffee at the librarian. Apparently at that point she sat down and maniacally began typing really loudly. Eventually an entire posse of librarians came and escorted her out, and now she has to meet with the dean after exams are done.

How hysterical is that. Everyone was hoping it was a girl in their section, since hopefully her meltdown would translate to her GPA and it would be good for the curve. Anyway, the story spread like wildfire that day -- I got an email from our third-year mentor about it that afternoon. From my perch in the library I had heard someone either laughing or screaming, I couldn't tell. But no matter how I'm doing, at least I can hopefully assume I'm doing better than her.

3. Step class last night -- and this is ridiculous, I know, but it's true -- was a musical journey. I swear to God, I came out of there feeling spent and exhausted and happy and like I had just lived a thousand lifetimes. I think it's the accumulation of stress and need for physical relief. Now my question is, is there a way to do this competitively? I mean, if you're not a black girl? Let me know. And wish me luck -- next exam is on Monday, then Thursday.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Rules for finals

1. Don't panic.
2. Don't try to divide your study time incrementally per credit hour per day.
3. Don't think about the math at all -- for example, how many less days you studied for your 6-credit course than you did for your 4-credit course -- this is not a productive line of thought.
4. Bring your own lunch.
5. If you know people who are sick, stay away from them. If you see someone who is ill walking towards you along the sidewalk, cross the street. It doesn't matter where you're going.
6. If you happen to eat in the cafeteria, even though you brought your own lunch, don't pay attention to the little table-fulls of students chittering away behind a mess of papers, binders, and laptops. Don't look to see if they take the same classes you do. Don't judge them based on the ugliness of their sweatshirts or even try to guess how long it's been since they've washed their hair. Just keep your head down and eat your sandwich.
7. Maintain a regular schedule. Say, "I'll work eight hours every day, and that will probably be enough," and try to convince yourself that this is true.
8. Recall that to most adults, and nearly everyone you see on the streets, in the subway, or even in your own apartment, your final exams don't really matter.
9. When you hear someone talking about something you don't know, or someone asks a question that you consider confusing and/or dumb, think: "I'm not going to listen to this chickenhead!" and pretend that instead of their words, all you can hear is "BAWK BAWK BAWK."
10. Don't compare study methods with other people. Learning about someone's else color-code post-it system or meticulous transcription of the entire textbook will not help you.
11. Smile even when you don't mean it. If you have to be anyone, be the happy one.
12. Don't panic.