Stick A Fork In Me, I’m Done: Ten Things University Gave Me.

This post has two functions:

1. To justify to you (if it’s been a problem – I kind of doubt it. This isn’t John Green’s blog, guys, that’s over here) why I’ve not posted in some six months when my second-last post in that timeframe was about my New Year’s Resolution to blog more (hello, irony).

2. To justify to myself that abstaining was worth it (not like that. Again, John Green’s blog ^^).

So, I finished my university studies last Friday.

I’ve waited 3.5 years to write that sentence. I’ve actually done kind of a lot in that time. I went from working at a restaurant to working at a newspaper to working at an international arts festival to working at a performing arts venue.

But the general point of my existence involved  a large pile of weekly readings and lectures, essays, tutorial presentations, more essays and the occasional exam. So ever since I handed in my last essay (it was titled “Setting As Character: A Sense of Mourning in Rohan Wilson’s The Roving Party”, because somebody other than my English tutor has to appreciate that) I’ve been doing what I always do and thinking about the past, but also the future.

I’d like to start my list with something very university-ish like:

1. A venereal disease.

but again, JOHN GREEN’S BLOG.

It actually goes something like this:

1. Five kilos. Give or take.

2. A refined approach to highlighting that does not involve the entire page.

3. The ability to rationalise “Toasted cheese sandwich at 2am” as “Dinner” (see point 1).

4. The ability to function regularly on three hours of sleep.

5. An admiration for all people who Go Back.

6. This band and this amazing song, because procrastination.

7. “Intoxication, of course, is the sole experience in which we grasp the utterly immediate and the utterly remote, and never one without the other. That means, however, that communicating ecstatically with the cosmos is something man can only do communally. Modern man is in danger of mistakenly dismissing such an experience as trivial, dispensable, and leaving it to the individual – a rush of enthusiasm on fine, starry nights.” – Walter Benjamin.

8. An irrational, intense hatred of Sylvia Plath and everything to do with her that I genuinely cannot explain.

9. A stronger, perhaps stupider, determination to write creatively for the rest of my life, because in all the late nights, in all the sacrificed weekends, in all the moments of self-discipline that drove me to tears and shouting and sometimes a little of both (I’ve long since apologised to all the concerned parties, don’t worry), the fictional people and places and stories I live to create are the things I missed the most.

10. A Bachelor of Arts, with majors in English and History. For what it’s worth.

Here’s to point 9.


What they don’t teach you about essay writing in high school that every poor schmuck needs to know:

You will miss the days when one-and-a-half mildly illogical, not-referenced and NEVER researched pages sufficed to get you that better-than-average grade.

It’s all downhill from there.


Because BAM! The subject gets harder. And you’re left wondering how the frick you’ll ever manage to write 3,000 words on how the Weimar Republic’s tendency to favour the oft-overlooked social outsider (culturally if not economically) set all the outsiders up for a fall once shit hit the fan and the Third Reich rolled into being. Just, you know, as an example.

You’re also likely to realise that it takes a special type of brain to write a decent essay in less than a decade. You might even think, for a whole ten minutes at one point or another, you have that brain. You don’t. It’s called delusion, and every writer experiences it from time to time. Usually, it’s a pretty necessary part of the process. BUT 300 WORDS IN FIVE DAYS IS NOT PROGRESS, KID. So suck it up and stop looking for things to procrastinate with. Your Facebook feed can’t possibly have changed all that much in the past five minutes. You are not hungry. You just peed ten minutes ago. One glass and two plates do not constitute “dishes that need doing”.

And if after all that, you still feel like this guy:

Then congratulations. You’re a university student. And you wouldn’t feel like a cup of coffee unless you’d watched that clip, and we both know it. Don’t you dare get up.