The Art of Graduating in 2 Weeks

It’s at this point in my life—second-semester senior, post-thesis, part-time student, burnt out, uber-queer angst land, etc.—where I think it’s appropriate to reflect and teach others the senior-year lifestyle, or as I like to call it, “so you’re graduating and are no longer able to give a f**k.” So yeah:

1. Attend less class this week than days you consecutively visit bars.
And I’m not talking about just skipping class (I am, partly) but  look at your schedule and notice that the sheer number of classes you have is dwindling and that the nostalgia for meeting up with friends, lovers, mentors, and those who can pay for you is at an all time high. In short, I am now friends with all the bartenders at Savas and I’m more than OK with this.

2. When someone asks you what are you doing after graduation, outline EXACTLY what you will be doing everyday:
“well the day after I plan on having an existential breakdown to be met the next day by getting together for brunch at Sava’s with my friends (Brian, Audrey, etc.), and then I’m planning on starting ‘House of Leaves’ the following day but maybe ‘Paradise Lost?’ And when people get bored and ask you, “NO, what are you doing professionally or educationally,” just reply, “well, it really needs to be contextualized within my daily routine all summer long because in isolation everything is meaningless.” Basically just be really sassy and blunt with everyone you come into contact with. It’s not like you’re going to see any of these people again possible ever again.

3. Invite academics to campus and get excited about preparing questions that “destroy” them, either:
i) call them out for being problematic, or ii) interrogate their methodologies and bash their disciplinary location. “So I see you use ‘LGBT’ as the realm of discourse you’re analyzing on a national level, but the evidence you cite blatantly excludes trans* folks, how does their exclusion and your implicit blame onto a highly marginalized community fit into your argument? Don’t you really just mean ‘gay and lesbian’?”

4. Wear every pattern that you own so that people will know and be visually convinced you are graduating.
Look i) hip, ii) hip not in the hipster way or appropriative way but like in the damn cool and stylish way and so so “out there,” iii) a little bit out of your mind eccentric, iv) not to be tested, v) ready to leave. There’s no use in pretending that I’m not COMPLETELY ready to start a “new chapter” (chapter 22) of my life that is not located in Michigan.

5. Get really frustrated when people don’t want to hear about your term paper on Deleuzoguattarian metaphysics in conversation with Woolf’s “The Waves.”
I’m at the point where my schooling is something I’m both frustrated and in love with, similar to other folks in my life, and so I talk about it all the time because it is my life. Those that don’t get that don’t always deserve to take up all my time.

6. Say ‘no’ to everything you can because this is the last chance, at least in my opinion, where you have the privilege to prioritize self-care to the max.
My job lets me say no, my classes let me say no, my friends let me say no. But come a year from now I’ll be in a different community, a different job (that I have to keep in order to live), and a different location. I know that ‘no’ isn’t always an option, especially in the foreseeable future; so say ‘no’ and love the time you can self-create.

7. Be direct, be open. 
After living life for 21 years, I finally realized that I could be direct with people while not being rude. Saying that you don’t want to be friends isn’t rude, it’s honest on both a time and personal level. Telling someone that you need to talk isn’t a passive aggressive move or a manipulative move, it’s letting someone know you need better communication and that you value both parties to find a time that works for both schedules.

8. Fall in love more often and deeper.
Granted, this is EVERYONE’S advice for growing older but seriously. Tell everyone you love them. (Ask before you can do any of the following:) Hold on to everyone’s hand. Hug everyone for minutes not seconds. Kiss everyone you can on the cheek. Start conversations with strangers. In all of the ups and downs that I’ve been on and through for Ann Arbor I love the space and I love many of the people. And I’m so thankful for my life and the lives of others/places/things. I show my gratitude through my love.

A letter with no audience

I remember walking up to your house from our van (you lived too far away to walk, but close enough to get inside the car and immediately exit) and staring in your windows hoping that you were there. You always took your time, deliberate in your movement because you deserved it, you earned your mobility and earned our wait, so we listened with bated breath to hear you move about your house and approach us.
Your space was many layers deep. Living room connected by dining room connected by kitchen (where I would ask to wash your dishes–something I’ve always enjoyed) connected to door connected to stairs connected to foyer/solarium/entry connected to storm door connected to dead-bolted door (windows?).  The location of your bedroom perplexed me and although I never had a reason to see it, I always wondered where you slept. There are spaces in your house (did you have a basement?) that I never knew. Your full reality escapes me.
Every time you welcomed me into your arms, your home, and your life I felt safe and loved. This was so important to me as my extended family lived on the other side of the country, and only in your arms did I really feel that family could be created. Family is something you chose, you cultivate, and you grow–and it is through my family’s relationship with you that I learned this and continue to practice this.
I never remember a time when you weren’t 70 years older than me, and from when I was a baby, toddler, adolescent, and now, a young adult, there was always a world separating us from each other. A fact only bridged from what was a regular occurrence to now, or what still was, a rare treat, a rare embrace.
My nuclear family would sit around you in your La-Z-boy chair, which advanced technologically with each visit–from rocking to tilting to, ha, projecting you into motion and across the room. I would sit on the floor and look into the blocked patterns of the carpet, the way the plush would sit, fold, mold to my body and look in the natural light and by lamp. I sat accompanied by American Indian figurines and these clusters grew and grew with time. Although problematically collecting these peoples in your living room, I romanticized my memory of you with your ties to age, history, and the past. Your connection to families–your biological one and your created family, your community–always seemed apparent.
I remember a well. I remember chimes. I remember your grandfather clock that kept the tempo to our talk, I was usually silent, and that lured my father to sleep in the chair diagonal from you. I remember names of your bloodline–always slightly confused because my memory forgot them. I remember the choo-choo trains constructed with candy–Rolo’s stick out to me–and every time you would give my sisters and I a treat, sometimes a Tootsie pop.
One day, growing up, I was dropped off at your house. Our first outing alone. We went to Big Boy, confused as grandmother and grandson–I had hot chocolate, maybe chocolate milk?–while my mom and sisters (and dad?) went to the movies (I still haven’t seen Titanic, and I probably never will). I remember times and events but few details. The details are in the space, my voice is left silent and mysterious.
I was at work when my parents went to visit you for what would be the last time. While I was participating in a dialogue, my parents took a picture that would capture one of your last moments and it will be a picture I cherish. Your frail but very much alive frame.
My memories are notorious for fading. I’m infamously known within my friend groups and ex-lovers as someone who needs reminding. This letter will remind me of you. Wacousta will remind me of you. The way in which I create my family and choose my family will remind me of you. The love I feel will remind me of you.