Existential Decrees Get Degrees

Pictured: my mortal enemy

Pictured: my mortal enemy

8:00 PM

So. A “gonzo article.” Isn’t that the guy from Sesame Street?

No, seriously, can one of you please explain what the actual heck a gonzo article is to me? Because, apparently, I have to write one by 11:59 tonight, and I still haven’t actually figured out what “gonzo” means or where the word even comes from. I think my professor said something about an artist? Or, like, a political statement? I don’t know; it was nine in the morning. 

Anyway, that initial lecture on whatever “gonzo” is took place nearly a month ago. Now, here I am, three hours and fifty-nine minutes away from the deadline, and I’ve got nothing to show for it. 

“But why don’t you just ask for he–?” No.

“But surely you could’ve started before now–?” Yes, and? Look, it’s not my fault Taylor Swift dropped the re-recordings. Go stream “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” by the way. 

Actually, maybe some background music will get me motivated. I’ll update you guys later, when hopefully, I’ve made some genuine progress. 

I feel pretty optimistic. 

8:55 PM

Okay, I know this looks bad, but hear me out. 

I tried writing while listening to “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” Really, I did. I was ready for the zone, ready for it, I tell you. Unfortunately, I encountered an incredibly concerning problem to which there was only one logical solution. 

The problem was this: My assignment was distracting me from Taylor Swift. 

And look, I just couldn’t do that to her. Miss Taylor deserves better than that. She deserves my undivided attention. Swiftie first, journalistic integrity second. I know my priorities. 

Getting back to the point (hopefully), I listened to “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” for about half an hour, and I was about to stop, but then–but then–I’ve got the free Spotify, meaning it’ll throw in random songs I never asked for, and it just so happened to play “Blank Space.” And that reminded me that the album 1989 existed.

Well, that’s an exaggeration. I would never forget 1989. I don’t care what anyone says; it’s iconic, literally defined the music industry. 

Getting back to the point (no, for real this time), of course, I had to listen to 1989 once I heard “Blank Space.” You never listen to just one song on that album. 

I managed to pry myself away just before 9:00 in hopes of getting some work done on this thing. Oh Taylor, look what you made me do. 

But you know, why would I do anything at…look’s like it’s 8:57 now. Okay, why would I do anything at 8:57 when 9:00 is so close? Might as well wait the extra three minutes. And “Out of the Woods” is queued up next on Spotify, so . . .

I’ll see you guys in three minutes. 

Or. Wait, two now. See you then.  

9:00 PM

To my friend on the document right now, fuck you. 

Get off the google doc.

I will leave this in the article and yes that is a threat. 

“No,” she typed, and our friendship was terminated. 

9:01 PM 

Sorry about that rude interruption, guys. But honestly, at this point I’m so desperate to meet the word count that I’ll leave anything in. 

It has been an hour and one minute and I still don’t know what gonzo journalism is. I wonder if I can cry to get out of this. Almost did that with a speeding ticket once. 

Even if I understood the basics of the assignment, I still have zero ideas for what my topic is going to be. One issue, for example, is that a lot of gonzo articles call for involving yourself with some event or organization and writing a piece on it, except the piece goes off the walls pretty quickly as you start to fall “in too deep.” The guy making fun of flat-earthers becomes a flat-earther. The Kentucky Derby is decadent and depraved, but so is Hunter S. Thompson

Hey, look. A link. An outside source. We’re getting somewhere. According to the link, the original gonzo article was “written under duress by Hunter S. Thompson.” 

“Written under duress.” Same, Hunter S. Thompson. Same. Maybe I do have a shot at this.  

Wait, hold on, “Cardigan” just came up on my playlist. Pause. 

Okay, that took longer than expected. Spotify decided to hit me with “Better Than Revenge” followed immediately by “Mr. Perfectly Fine.” Bop after bop, honestly. I promise this isn’t sponsored by Taylor Swift. 

I was making a point. I know I was. Let me scroll up. 

Right, one of my issues with gonzo journalism. Basically, the problem is that I genuinely have nowhere to go, no super interesting counter-cultural organizations in which I can become super invested. I have a bedroom. I have the Student Union. I have 250 flex blucks. 

Want to know what I did in the Student Union earlier this evening? Got Firehouse Subs. Accidentally stole someone’s order. Brought it back with flaming cheeks. Bumped into a friend, spent an hour and a half playing Would You Rather. In short, yes, I would rather walk on a tight-rope then spend the rest of my life as a mime. I’m terrified of heights, but mimes are gross. 

I stepped outside and there was a pretty large crowd on the quad. No one knew what was going on. I heard loud voices. Then the campus police rolled up, and I took that as my cue to slip away. Came back to Lawler. 

See? There’s absolutely nothing to write about around here.

9:25 PM 

You guys. The ice in my pepsi melted. I was…I was planning on eating that ice…

This is genuinely distressing. Motivation lost completely, melted away like my poor ice. 

10:36 PM 

People who write gonzo articles are usually funny, right? Gonzo articles have humor in them? But that’s actually pretty terrifying. I mean, what if no one laughs at your joke? 

Usually when I want to get a laugh, I make fun of myself. When I don’t know how to contribute to a conversation, I turn to myself with a critical eye, scan for weak points, and take a forceful jab. And people laugh, because if I’m going to put all my flaws on display for the world to see, then I deserve some validation. Laugh at my joke. 

“Include yourself in the article,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. And here I am, putting my flaws on display, looking for a laugh. They said put yourself in the article, so I put in a joke.  

Excuse me while I have my regularly scheduled existential breakdown. Tears, pillow, Taylor Swift. The essentials. 

Here’s a knock-knock joke to keep you company: 

Knock knock. Now you say “who’s there.” 


Well, I can’t be funny if you refuse to participate. 

11:47 PM

I can’t stop thinking about this quote from Sherlock Holmes. Hold on, let me give you a source so I don’t get sued by…you know. Whoever keeps track of all those AP citations. Um, here. Now, the quote, taken from The Naval Treaty: 

“‘There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as religion,’ said he, leaning with his back against the shudders. ‘It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.’”  

I don’t know. I’ve always liked this quote. I hope you like it, too. Let me check the word count.

Right. More. Of course.

I’ve been trying to enjoy the small things, lately. For a long time, I think I was chasing this idea that my life was…unlived, if it wasn’t grand. As if my life could only ever be found in the big, grand moments. 

In college, I think there’s a lot of pressure to become yourself, if that makes sense. You had all that time in elementary school and middle school and high school to be a kid, to learn about yourself and your likes and your dislikes, but now you’re in college, and you’re supposed to start working toward your future. For real this time. You show up at eighteen and they ask you what you want to do with your life, and you act like you know. 

They keep telling you college is about finding yourself, but what if you don’t know where to look? And what if it feels like everyone else does know? 

I’m asking for a friend. 

The pressure to make your life mean something pushes you into…a lot, I think. Activities and extra classes you don’t actually have time for. Running for positions you don’t actually want (unless I happen to run for one. Then I absolutely want it; please vote for me–). And I’m currently reading this book about this woman who works for eleven years toward her PhD in astronomy, finally earns it, then realizes she has absolutely no idea where she wants to go from there.

I think they accidentally classified that book as “contemporary” when they meant “horror.” 

But like I said, the small things. There was this coach at my high school who always said “don’t sweat the small stuff,” but I think you should. You should absolutely sweat the small stuff — the brush of a warm hand, your favorite lollipop flavor, the ice in your cup before it melts. Sherlock Holmes found God in a flower. The small stuff can be fucking beautiful. 

But I mean, maybe that’s silly. Getting teary over a dandelion would be like starting off your article as a fun, relatable little piece, then trying to force some meaning into it by the end. Like trying to actually touch people or something. 

Ridiculous, right?