Confusion Corner: Childhood nostalgia solves college issues

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October 23, 2009

12:37 AM

There’s something about this time of year — late October, early November — that just encourages all of my ambition to die out. At the beginning of the year, you’re committed to starting fresh, showing initiative, really working on that grade point average. But then, all of a sudden, I start skipping that 9 a.m. class more and more. I let a few of those “mandatory reading assignments” slide. Suddenly a B-average doesn’t look too bad at all. Class work, extra-curriculars, what have you — all motivation for anything aside from sleep and the occasional weekend party just drain right out of me.

I’ve found only a select few ways of dealing with this phenomenon. It is impossible to reverse this lack of motivation, of course for, it’s incurable until exams can finally put the fear of death into you.

The first is called “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.” You may have met before. It’s that game you played all throughout junior year of high school, often choosing it over memorizing passages from “The Odyssey.” Well, it’s junior year again, and CJ Johnson needs some help fighting those Ballas. And while you’re at it, why not retry all those old PlayStation 2 games you’ve got sitting in the back of your closet? If you don’t have them anymore, no problem; that’s why God invented the internet. By the end of the month, everyone — and I mean everyone — I know will have discovered a downloadable version of the original Pokémon game online, and will be halfway to getting their Thunder Badge.

That blast of nostalgia having been exhausted, you hit YouTube for another dose. Aqua, Salt-N-Peppa, Eiffel 65 — anything you can get your hands on. You may even stoop so low as to find an old copy of NOW 7 with that Smash Mouth song you know all the lyrics to. Anything to remind you of those old days where all you had to worry about were pop quizzes in Mrs. Stephenson’s class and whether or not Wendy Thompson was wearing a bra the day before.

Soon you’re going back even further. You’re organizing touch football and stickball games out in the street. Maybe even a game of capture the flag, because hey, when’s the last time you played that, huh? You start arguing about the rules, since none of you can really remember them, with a passion you haven’t felt since arguing the merits of the various Power Ranger Zoids.

It’s no coincidence that random phrases scrawled in multicolored chalk start to appear on the sidewalks around campus. It’s just another step towards our inevitable regression. “I ‘heart’ my Big” they’ll write, or “Free concert tonight,” or even something as seemingly random as “PEPPERONI” in wide bubble letters across the pavement. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere on a deserted strip of sidewalk, 20-something-year-old college students are furtively, but gleefully, playing hopscotch and four square.

But I’ve bested them all. Having advanced through the various stages of late-October nostalgia, I’ve finally found it in its purest form, the Platonic ideal of regression: I’ve started volunteering at the local elementary school. Now, under the guise of volunteering, I get to play with Play-Doh. I get to help put together an alphabet puzzle in the shape of a turtle. I even get to sound out the letter “P.”

The best thing is just getting lost in the wonderful oblivion that is a kindergartner’s mind. To them, doesn’t matter if you’re reading the alphabet book with pictures, or the number book with numerals in the shape of animals — their enthusiasm is undeterred. Each of them is so delightfully enraptured in whatever task — practicing their penmanship on both upper and lowercase letters, explaining to the class their show-and-tell item of exactly one solitary froggy slipper — that it almost makes you want to go back and attack next week’s physics problem set with the same vigor. But later of course. You’ve got a finger painting to finish first.

__Kevin Mooney is the Flat Hat Confusion Corner columnist. If you have some free time, pass him a note between classes written in gel pen.__

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