n+1 years

Posted Sun 15 May 2011 22:56 under category personal

One year ago tomorrow, I graduated from college. As my younger friends graduated today (thanks for the quasi-livestream, Skye), I actually realized this fact: it's been a year. A year as one of the dead. A year in the real world. It's bloody strange. On some level, it's unbelievable that I've been out for a whole year. Graduation was just a couple of weeks ago, wasn't it? I can still remember lectures good and bad, evenings in the muddhole, nights working in Platt, as though it were all just yesterday. On another level, though, it almost feels like I've been out forever. I have a life, and it fits me sort of like a glove. I sit in my apartment and I feel like I'm home, and I really don't know when that started. I can remember the details of life in college, but it no longer feels like I'm on a particularly protracted vacation.

Looking back with an iota of distance, Mudd was a really transformative place. I can look back on things I wrote a few years ago (hello first post), and it seems really weird. Mudd is a place that tears you down and builds you up in a shape that it finds amusing. Five years ago, about to graduate from high school, I wouldn't've been able to imagine pulling an academic all-nighter. Nor would I be able to understand the camaraderie of a research team, the bond of dorm-mates, or, well, you get the idea. By the time I crossed the stage last year, it would've been strange to me to go to bed on the same day I woke up.

And now? Things certainly have changed in the last year. Some for better, some for worse. I still have a lot of friends, which is nice. Some of them are even people who didn't go to Mudd with me. But gods know that nothing compares to having everybody you know or want to know living within a few hundred yards of you. Now I have roughly as much money as I could reasonably spend, which I suppose is a good thing. No more problem sets, which is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, I still have that dream sometimes where I'm in the exam for a class and I realize that I've never done any of the homework or the reading, and have no idea what the material is about. I know, it's clichéd.

My gods, dear reader, books! Mudd spent four years drilling into my head that books are those dense and mysterious things that you've got to read until you can't read any more just to keep on top of your classes. I've been working hard to get past that — nearly up to 100 books read since graduation, most of which are so light and irrelevant that you couldn't teach a class with them if you tried. That's a pretty wonderful part of the real world.

Looking out from the top of my building

Then, of course, there's the specifics of my situation. Working at Yelp is pretty good. It certainly has its moments of fun. And it provides me with plenty to do, although when I try to work sane hours, everybody says I'm working too much and should go home. Which is not necessarily wrong, but still rankles a bit. Living alone in the city, that's a more nuanced thing. I love my apartment, and my neighborhood is pretty cool, but there's no getting around the fact that it's pretty weird to live by yourself in the real world. You have to remember to vacuum. And no matter how delicious the food you cook is, there's always dishes afterward. And you have to work a bit to keep the antisocial factor from turning you into a caricature of yourself. On the other hand, there are no other people to bother you. Nobody complains if you play bad music, sleep weird hours, or let the windowsills get dusty. My view (right) certainly is a lot different than my view a few years ago.

The last year has had a lot of crazy things happen in it. It's also had a lot of perfectly humdrum things. It's life. Normal, plain, vanilla life. Who'd've thought?

This isn't a blog post that has a conclusion or a point. It isn't a guide or a manual. It's just an expression of how profoundly strange it is to be an adult, one year in.

Good night, reader.