Dear EJ Six Months From Now,
Hi! It's me, Present Day EJ. I'm currently sitting in a study carrel in our campus library, surrounded by several volumes of Foreign Relations of the United States, empty Smarties wrappers and a pile of bloody Kleenex. I just got my second bloody nose of the day for absolutely no identifiable reason. Except that maybe I've read so many recently declassified CIA cables that our brain has started leaking out our head. If that's the case, I'm really sorry. You're probably missing that extra brain right about now.
Despite how grim that all sounds, I'm writing to you to remind you how good you had it in May. You only had one class, and you got to pick a paper topic that your geeky self at least somewhat enjoyed (because when normal sixteen-year-old girls in 1998 were obsessed with the Backstreet Boys and figuring out how long one should date a boy before going to third base stopped being slutty and started being good behavior, we were obsessed with rereading The Poisonwood Bible and lamenting the unlikelihood that we would ever personally witness a sub-Saharan African revolution). Yes, my thesis changed quite a bit over the last month, the last week, and, um, okay, the last weekend, but it's 12:01 AM of the day the beast is due, and, save a final edit, I'm pretty much done. That hasn't happened since our sophomore year of college, a year which saw us write the first of three papers in our academic career in which we referenced Paris Hilton. By the by, that we got into graduate school proves that there is a God, and that She has a great sense of humor.
Oh, also emember that you got to finish this paper in a study carrel, an experience that combines the focus and energy of a library with the privacy that allows one to eat Wendy's for dinner while blasting The Hold Steady and later talk on her cell phone as she makes a major timeline breakthrough in the Brazzaville cables section of her study. It's enough to make a girl want to pursue a PhD, after all.
So basically, you have it just fine now. That cab ride home will be a tad pricey, but I think of it as an investment that would otherwise be spent on Tums tomorrow as I tried to frantically finish the damn thing while not letting our boss know that I'm doing schoolwork all day. You know that feeling, the gut-twisting panic as your fingers flutter over the keyboard, the air between them and the computer seeming a terrible barrier to putting words, any words, on the page that is due in your prof's box in ten minutes? Remember that feeling. Now, remember how you felt right now. I'll give you a hint: SO MUCH FUCKING BETTER.
So come finals for fall semester, when you're tempted by holiday parties and happy hours and weekends in New York and seeing the Nutcracker, remember how very not at all bad this was. If I can spend three days doing wedding stuff for some of our closest friends and still punch out this sucker in time to not have a heart attack, then there is no reason for you to stall until the last minute like we usually do. Cuz remember, kiddo: you're going to have TWO classes this fall. As in "TWICE AS MUCH CLASS WITH JUST AS MUCH WORK, AND, PLEASE GOD, JUST AS MUCH IF NOT MORE FUN." So do what you have to do. Stop spending Saturday mornings watching TiVoed episodes of The Wonder Years and Buffy. Stop letting Jim from Capitol Hill books give you free Wallace Stegner novels. Spend lunch hour reading Clausewitz, not Gawker.
And I really hope you enjoyed our choice not to take classes this summer. I hope you read all that Stegner and that whole other stack of fiction sitting in our den, that you finally finished unpacking the new place and took a lot of road trips. I hope you spent time with our friends and family and maybe even some boys. I hope you learned to cram in fun time when you could get it, because we're going to get a lot less of it over the next two years. And kiddo, I really hope you learned how to not write blog entries after midnight, because MAN, we ramble.
Now, turn off the TV and go do your homework.
Present Day EJ
PS- Empty Sadie's box. Just because we have papers doesn't mean others should suffer. Plus she's already figured out how to fling litter all over the bathmat and by fall finals she'll probably know how to smuggle it into the sheets.