Friday, January 10, 2014

Eighth Time Around the Bend

I am exhausted. I am drained. And the semester hasn't even started yet.

Today, I signed up for the last classes I will ever take at CalArts. I don't think that has fully set in yet. I had my eighth and last class sign-up day. The "Arena", as the Registrar's office calls it. (Other names: Hell, Worst Day Ever, The Pit- well, you get the idea...)

Personally, I love going into the Arena. Something about it feels very real and accessible. Signing up for classes online is just boring to me. I like speaking to a teacher in the face. (And free donuts!) And if you know how to do it "right", you can be in & out in no time at all. Granted, I don't know that I have had a "real" experience with the event in my full four years of being here because I have worked it every time. My first one my freshman year, just a few days after moving to California, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew no one! I remember sitting with Maureen Furniss and signing up for her History of Character Animation class. And I remember the ANCIENT computers! (Three have died this year- their loss is ... sort of being mourned.) The next semester, I was AT the Ancient Computers- entering classes! I remember putting Nelson Boles' classes in. First time I'd ever really spoken to him. Intimidated the crap out of me.

The second year, I worked both semesters. Same with third year and now fourth. It has changed a lot in four years. My freshman year, it was two half-days. The first half of the alphabet on Thursday, the second on Friday. We worked registration all morning, then I had the whole afternoon to gather up all the course request cards and get them partially organized before the second day when 500-700 more were turned in. My second year, I was upset when they pushed it all into one freaking long day. The students don't care- neither do the teachers. But the Registrar's office gets SLAMMED!

I guess maybe I feel it a little more acutely because I don't just work it, but I'm supposed to be getting all of my classes, too! Thankfully, the office understands this and lets me get what I need then show up and do what I can to make things go easier.

Last semester was hard! There were SO MANY good classes I wanted! Illustration and Sculpture with John Mahoney, Screenwriting with Nicole Panter, freaking FILM GRAMMAR with BRUCE BLOCK! (yes, he deserves capital letters), and my story class with Steve Anderson. Getting in five separate lines for just as many classes takes time. But you get to stand there with your classmates and talk about their break and how things are going and such. But I have to trick the system. I show up early so that I can be the very first person in line at 9 AM, when it starts. That helps a lot, especially if the teacher signing you up likes you and will either let you sign up before 9 or will let you skip across the table rather than going to the back of the line. HAHA! (Ok, ok, this doesn't happen all that often, but occasionally you can get lucky.)

This semester is different. For the first time, it's less about what classes I want. It's more about- how can I take as little as possible, with as little homework as possible so that I can SURVIVE?!?! I am going to be at exactly 12 units- the absolute minimum to be a full-time student. I've never taken so few units. My average used to be about 17. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but consider that one unit is supposed to be equal to 3 hours of homework. (For you un-math-saavy people- that's 15 hours of homework a week.) I need that time for my film. I MUST finish this film. For me, this isn't even about program requirements- this is about: I WANT to finish this film! I want something to show and be proud of.

My head is getting fuzzy... I think I'm going to call it. I still have to decide if I am hungry enough to walk all the way to the Caf for dinner. Major life decisions here.

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