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May 20, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Fixing Your Life (Because Ours are Written Off)

I have an essay due tomorrow that I haven’t started. What do I do?

*manic sigh*,

Everyone.

 

Janet:

Oh, mates,

I know how you feel: I have a column due today that I haven’t started, either. Let’s crack on. I hate to make it all about methodology, but this one’s for all the Tipping J* fans out there.

ONE. Consider handing it in late: this works if the extra quality would outweigh any grade deductions. Then again, perhaps you don’t feel like that is an option. Maybe it is better to stay up late writing something average and miss enough class the next day to ensure that you’re behind in everything else too.

TWO. Vow to be better next time. This is an important step before starting any assignment. It sets the tone as one of a broken spirit (which you have) and confirms a resigned attitude of your own mediocrity (which abounds).

THREE. Go on Facebook to see what everyone else is doing. Start a conversation with a friend that you haven’t talked to in a few months. Comment on some threads expressing your disgust at the National Government or at someone’s mother’s Consumer Guarantees Act issue. Find and destroy Kony (or at least, someone with Kony as their Bejewelled Blitz username).

FOUR. Offer to cook dinner for your flatmates. Insist upon it. Really wring that tea towel of procrastination. Tell them about your essay. They’ll sympathise by saying things like “I study stuff that I love, but it’s great that you’ll have a job after uni.” Narrow your eyes.

FIVE. While writing, cast your mind elsewhere. Feel a stirring of passion for a social-justice issue that you feel the National Government is ignoring. Tweet disparagingly at firms that try to flout consumer-protection legislation. Wonder if you could have done more (or indeed, anything) to catch Kony.

SIX. Watch three episodes of Parks and Rec when unable to sleep at 3 am. Decide that you want to work in local government one day and that Hillary Clinton really is all that.

SEVEN. Get up early the next morning to edit what you’ve written. Discover that it’s complete shit and that you’re capable of something much better. Rue your footnoting the night before, which has a series of ibids below something that disappointingly reads “find someone arguing this”. Traipse to uni, with your bag riding up your skirt to display the pair of togs you are wearing as underwear. Hand it in.

EIGHT. Repeat with whatever else is due the next day.

Truly, madly, deeply,
Janet.

* The Kanye West of New Zealand case law. (Ima need to see your fucking Hansen at the concert.)

I really enjoy being this niche.

 

Hector:

Buenos días,

Look, you’re probably just trapped in that endless cycle of procrastination and repression that haunts us all. You’ve been there before and you’ll be there again. Let that thought comfort you as you realise: you will get there. Keep on keepin’ on, ya feel?

I, for one, love to procrastinate, and I know that Janet is the same. And then, the later things get, the lower your acceptable standard becomes. Why else do you think the questions we’re answering have been getting shorter and more general as time goes by? We just lack the personal drive to make the effort required to give good, specific advice.

Anyone can just throw out platitudes, you see. It’s a snap of the fingers to say stuff like ‘communicate more’ and ‘just get over yourself’. Hell, I might as well be writing horoscopes here. In 2010, that happened. Uther Dean wrote a horoscopes column in this very magazine. Eventually even he succumbed to the trials of long service and procrastination, and it descended into farce, routinely thrown together at the last minute in whatever way his mind saw fit. That said, I had no insight into his creative process and that last bit was pure speculation. Moving on.

Have I descended into farce? Is this nothing more than dull navel-gazing? What about the fact that roughly 90 per cent of these columns begin with “Look,”? I don’t know what I’m doing here. That’s why I’m playing Temple Run right now, with one hand on my forehead and the other hand wiping pizza crumbs from the corner of my mouth.

If in any way the above process is typical of yours, then congratulations. You’re a student. Essays are stupid things that don’t mean anything outside of the academic world, or maybe the New Yorker—which is pretty much the academic world anyway. Take it easy, you’ll do great, kid. Get a B. Repeat these words to yourself as you rock back and forth on the end of your bed, weeping only for show as you contemplate the deeper and sadder reality that you wish your degree was a Doctorate of floristry.

Stay cool shawtay,
Hector.

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