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Commentary: Registration at Semester’s End

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Well, thank God the semester is finally winding down like a fading movie star agreeing to do one more film for the ages, for no other reason than to nab the retirement paycheck. And that culminating film, that last hurrah, of course, is semester finals (though admittedly finals are nowhere as fun as “Sharknado 5: Global Swarming”).

To some, this semester has felt like a sprint. To others, a marathon. And to even a lucky few, it’s been a limo ride. But to me, this semester has felt like one long, drawn-out Matthew McConaughey commercial. Even “The Irishman” went by faster than this. And that’s saying something. In fact, I’d say this fall can be likened to several other motion pictures as well, such as “Uncut Gems,” “Taxi Driver,” and “Groundhog Day.”

Allow me to explain. On an average day, it’s almost as if I have at least fifteen loan sharks breathing hot flames down my neck, demanding anything and everything from me. Professors, parents, employers, friends… the list is never-ending. It’s like someone installed a chip in my ear and set the audio tone to “bee.” Bzz-bzz. Bzz-bzz BZZZ. I’ve practically gone deaf. So there’s your “Uncut Gems.”

Then you have “Taxi Driver.” My routine has hardly shifted since I touched down on campus in August. Wake up, sear my soul into a screen, eat lunch, sell more of my soul to Zuckerberg, eat dinner, back to bed. “Groundhog Day,” same idea. I’ve become an automaton.

Consequently, my brain has slowly softened to unidentifiable mush over the past few months. So much so that I could easily fit the Scarecrow’s role in a modern-day adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz.” Don’t believe me? I’ve lost so many marbles that a few days ago, I wrote “Ghanda” on an assignment, fusing “Ghana” with “Uganda.”

“Ghanda” aside, this whole year has felt like a charlie horse; just when you’re three seconds away from sinking into a deep sleep, the stallion neighs and sends you bucking wildly, clutching your muscle in nauseating agony.

Stress, too, has seen some time in this Kentucky Derby. I’d estimate that since March, I’ve experienced about as much hair loss as Woody Harrelson. To complement that, I’ve developed so much acne that Neutrogena contacted me the other day to ask if I’d mind playing the “before” model in their commercials. Even the stress balls I’ve been using are getting stressed out.

But it’s not like I can just inoculate myself against this anxiety-like bleach to COVID. It’s been hard, very hard. Participation is at an all-time low on campus, almost even lower than CNN’s ratings. No one participates in anything. Every time I attend a Student Activities Board-sponsored event, it’s like touring Wyoming. Not a fruit fly in sight. About as close as you can get to a Mick Jagger ghost town.

The final defense against stress, I suppose, is sleep. The “fall back” schedule certainly makes that obstacle less of a hurdle, and the extra hour of beauty rest is greatly welcomed, but with the sun setting earlier, I find I’m starting to turn into my grandparents. You know, eating at four o’clock in the afternoon, calling dinner “supper” and spending the rest of the night cursing at the remote.

Another joy that caboosed this semester was class registration. Once again, ever indebted to COVID, this year’s registration was anything but orthodox. The J-Term gateways to Elysium were finally opened to first-year students, an announcement that rightly garnered some excitement. After all, J-Term is as good a time as any to knock out that Underwater Basket Weaving course.

But when all was said and done, this utopian promise made to first-years, the assurance that one could “get ahead” in January, was emptier than Trump’s “rounding the turn” guarantee. This coupon, it turns out, contained virtually illegible fine print, reading, “while supplies last.” Meaning just about every course, or at least ones not designed for monkeys, had been full since day zero. Yes, to nearly no one’s surprise, the freshmen got the bottom of the barrel on this Potsdam Conference of an agreement. It was like being left with a box of peanut shells, the peanuts having already been doled out to the upperclassmen, or being handed a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos with the nacho cheese having been licked off.

It’s a shame, too – I really needed that Cosmetology class to fulfill one of my Scientific Literacy credits.

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