The Last Block

I took this picture just before the end of seventh block, when the sun was starting to come out and knitted rainbows on trees seemed like a most excellent way to celebrate. Now, it is eighth block.

Eighth blocks tend to produce a palpable sort of…commotion.

Everyone has come back from their final block breaks of the year (or their final block breaks ever), probably having ingested more substances than they usually would, probably a little sunburnt, probably a little burnt out. It seems that my own block break rafting group is now experiencing a perfectly time-released bout of heat rashes that we thought we had escaped when we left Utah after several full days in beating sun.

But yes, there is a sort of commotion because commotion is a word general enough to be applied to many different, more acute feelings developing in many different people. For me, it was kind of like this:

  • Freshman Eighth Block — Oh my God I finally have college friends! I am not going to see them for three months! Holy shit people do a lot of partying here! We have to take in all the scenery! We have to get our lil freshman hands on a copy of the senior calendar! What is “You Won’t?!”
  • Sophomore Eighth Block — I should probably get a job. At least an internship? We finally made it over the sophomore slump! It WAS real after all! Holy shit are we actually halfway done with college?! Well at least we are spring chickens compared to those seniors dancing in champagne on the quad and crying at unexpected moments…
  • Junior Eighth Block — Wow, eighth block is a whole lot more fun when you’re in a place with a block system….
  • Senior Eighth Block — Well I guess this is it, right? It’s a little overwhelming, terrifying, sad, happy, and stressful. And now I see why people need a party every night.

See what I mean? Different acute senses of this general feeling of rumpus, brouhaha, unrest, uproariousness…Now, why does this commotion occur? To us CC-ers, it seems really, really obvious. But having spent the second half of my junior year abroad, I realized that when there is no specified block of time to separate the end–the eighth–from the rest, it’s just not as exciting. Sad, right?

But this is the wonderful thing about blocks. They are just as arbitrary a means of dividing time as any other system–semesters, quarters, Jan Plan, unemployment haze for what feels like infinity…–and yet, we let ourselves get totally swallowed in them. Instead of waiting for New Years or our birthdays, we can make resolutions every three-and-a-half weeks.

We become different people, hopping planets from something like Microeconomics to something like Naked and Delicious (yes, that class happened, and from what I hear it was beloved). A group of my guy friends who live together and call their house “the Grundle”* started the “Caveman Diet” on the first day of seventh block and kept it up until the final Wednesday. The only alcohol they could drink was wine, and they were forbidden from bread and refined sugars. Basically, it was meat and vegetables for a month. But it was solidarity! That’s the thing about blocks. We all understand the excitement of a new one and the pain of a fourth week. Other people don’t understand it, unless they go to Cornell College in Iowa.

And eighth block, the weather gets better, the classes get easier, the people get drunker, and everything just seems to be hazy with emotions and endings. But as a senior, I’ve also realized that the breakneck pace pace of the block let’s us turn our thoughts away from some important realities. Oh, we need to apply for jobs? Just let me finish this really busy block. Oh, our college experience is ending? No, that doesn’t happen until fourth week. Oh, these friends aren’t all going to be in the same place, always? I can’t think about that yet.

I am a senior on the verge of being kicked to the curb (or euphemistically, a senior preparing for a majestic and fulfilling matriculation), and I can say definitively say that my eight block commotion is a world away from what it was freshman year. In fact, it’s a world away from what it was any year. And all those years, I thought I understood the whole “senior” thing, but I really didn’t until now. College turned me into something, and now it is turning me out. If you haven’t felt this yet, you will. It’s not bitter…it’s just true. We celebrate, and then we shrink back and get nervous about things, and then we celebrate again and again and again.

So now we begin the eighth block commotion.

*sidenote: President Tiefenthaler was invited to a Grundle dinner at the beginning of the year, an invitation which she accepted, instantly upping her cool factor among the senior class

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