February 2, 2010

Hello, Goodbye

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I am writing this column from beyond the grave. That is to say, I have graduated. Not last May, like most students. Not even in December, like 10 percent of the student body. As with most things I have done here at Cornell, I went a slightly different route. I am probably the only person to have ever graduated at three in the morning, drunk in my underwear. All I had to do was send an e-mail with the faithful words “I quit.”

The next day, to simulate the whole Commencement experience, I invited a bunch of my buddies over. We got wasted, then we went online and searched for naked pictures of Nancy Pelosi while simultaneously punching each other in the face. We didn’t walk around the Cornell campus and our parents weren’t there, but I think I got more or less the full experience.

And when I walk into the Arts and Sciences registrar today and ask the student assistant there to hand me my diploma, I will feel both relief and sadness. Relief because I’m outta here, bitches. And sadness because now I’m in a place much like purgatory. No matter how many upper level writing seminars I audit this semester, I can’t pretend that I’m still a student. And no matter how much I pretend to know about Wall Street, I’m still not a working member of society. What am I then, I ask you?

You would think that having absolutely zero obligations would be an incredible experience. I mean, everyday that I wake up the opportunities are endless. I could go the library or a bar. Or anything else, really. Well, thank God I’m doing this time here in Ithaca, where the natural landscape offers so much. I can go snow kayaking, snow mountain-climbing, sit in the snow on the porch for hours. Apathetic? Me? No way. That guy who got kicked out of the S.A. for never showing up knows exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, it’s downright American.

I have been told by absolutely everyone to enjoy the time I have as it is the only period in my life where I am legally allowed to feel good about contributing absolutely nothing to society. I am, essentially, a retiree. From school that is, not work. Now I have some time to pursue quirky hobbies — writing, flask collecting, birding. I have even considered going on one of those trips to Europe to get some culture in me, or whatever it is they do over there.

I guess the point is that I should be enjoying this free time, but there is something about not having to do a single damn thing that prevents me from doing so. I envy people that are able to just not give a damn. To quote someone else who is taking it easy this semester, “I just sit at home and watch videos on Hulu all day. It’s awesome.” Yes, it sure sounds like it. There’s a lot of us around, lurking in the shadows. Having a two-hour lunch at the Temple of Zeus for instance. Exploring the finer intricacies of Mann library, perhaps. We’re not super seniors. At least I pray to God that we’re not. We’re taking the time that is allotted to us as warm-blooded American college students. Some of us watch Hulu. Some of us go try to find ourselves — “Am I here? Am I over there? Where am I, generic college student? Am I in Europe or in a shack in Kenya? Wherever I am, I’m gonna get you! And then I’m going to do all sorts of nasty stuff to you.” Not that there’s anything wrong with either one, and I wouldn’t mind being in a shack in Kenya or Europe right now, for that matter.

Perhaps the greatest enjoyment that I receive is my ability to goad my housemates. They have to do stuff. I don’t. The “you have class tommorow or something?” line never gets old around these parts. Yet, while they go to class and learn stuff, I start to miss having goals and objectives and a general sense of purpose. I think that in this sense Cornell has taught me well. And by that I mean Cornell has taught me to hate myself well.

There’s all that. But then this morning, as I walked out of Wilson Farms with a bottle of bleach in one hand and a carton of milk in the other, I looked around. And as I ogled all you losers going to class, did I feel good? No. I felt victorious.

Yevgeniy Feldman recently graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at yfeldman@cornell­sun.com. That Really Grinds My Gears appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Yevgeniy Feldman