Interxiety: where technological apprehension, pandemics and anxiety collide
Going back to University is hard. Pandemics are hard. Simi’s trying to sift her way through both.
It was just a few weeks ago when, for the first time, I learnt what an en dash was – and, that there was an emdash, too . Thank you to my private school, for failing to teach me the basics of English grammar. I guess it was more important that I learn a language for thirteen years, of which I cannot remember how to speak. Maybe my year level convener monitoring my skirt length or sending me to the nurse for nail polish remover was more conducive to actualising my potential.
Perhaps this gap in my knowledge – of the ins and outs of the English language – is what subconsciously drew me to my new masters course, where I am studying creative writing, publishing and editing. I have always been an excellent speller, and often my classmates at school and university would ask me to look over their work to provide notes. But I didn’t really have any formal education of syntax, past participles and/or the different kinds of adverbs and nouns. To anyone who is multilingual, these parts of language are obvious. But as a monolinguist, I never really thought about language in this way – English just sort of ‘made sense’ to me. I pretended I knew how to use a semi colon, when let’s face it, I just chuck it in sentences most of the time, hoping that grammatically, it fits.
The following series of tweets from my personal account are documented thoughts I had upon my decision of returning to university to study my masters, after working full-time in the publishing industry for only six months.
I’ve started strong, with this:
I am always last, because of the W in West. Those of us with last names beginning with V, W, X, Y and Z have a certain kinship. We are the patient ones – the last, but not the least.
The rectangular pieces of plastic were splayed out on my floor, a mixture of concession cards I could no longer use and the adult cards which would deduct more dollars from my dwindling “everyday spending” account.
I had spent the last few weeks proclaiming on my Instagram story that I lacked PhD level intellect, before announcing that LOL – I was going back to university to study my Masters – a literal conduit to a PhD (if I want it to be). For someone who utters the superfluous word ‘like’ in every sentence, this was probably a shock to my myriad followers.
Every introductory class is the same. I meet a few classmates while waiting for the teacher. We exchange names and what we studied in our undergrad. I immediately forget all said names. I am saved by the mandatory roll call.
I am always last, because of the W in West. Those of us with last names beginning with V, W, X, Y and Z have a certain kinship. We are the patient ones – the last, but not the least. There is a level of respect you wouldn’t understand if you belong to the pious and elite A-N, or the humble O-U category.
It’s always the same. No evolution here.
In the midst of COVID-19, during these ‘unprecedented times’, the whole world is as anxious as I have been about my daily life for the last ten years.
“SIMONE WEST?” Pronounced sim-own, even though it’s actually sim-on. We are not French – my mum was just really into Simone De Bouvoir.
“Yes, but everyone calls me Simi!”
“And West? Like the direction?”
“Yes, like North, East, South, West.” Every. Single. Time.
I actually used to tell baristas my name was Sam when I ordered coffee. It was just easier that way, instead of sitting there, confused, as they called different variations of what they thought they heard me say:
“Skim?” (this was funny to me, as it was like the milk)
After a certain amount of time, I just resorted to Sam. I AM SAM NOW.
I’m just going to keep being the best adult version of myself that I can be – from the comfort of my own home, of course.
I used to make fun of the word unprecedented, because it’s a word that ScoMo and Turnbull have overused in times of crises. But there really is no better word for it. In the midst of COVID-19, during these ‘unprecedented times’, the whole world is as anxious as I have been about my daily life for the last ten or so years. This is how I always feel. Scared for the world, scared for my health, scared for the health of my family. Even before the pandemic began. It’s difficult to entertain the thought that everything will be back to normal soon, because this could take months. Boris Johnson himself said that social distancing might last for a year in the U.K.
For now, I’m just going to keep adapting to these evolving times. Accepting the weird process of online class presentations, catching glimpses of my classmates’ pets on Zoom and having to work from home while my own dog howls for attention. I will take the time out of my homebound day to make sure I do other things that I enjoy, like reading for leisure or writing creative pieces. I envision the next few months will be filled with memes and books. I’m just going to keep being the best adult version of myself that I can be – from the comfort of my own home, of course.
This last tweet was published three weeks before my course went online. It still remains relevant – it is a poignant reflection of how I’m sure all university students are feeling during this ‘unprecedented’ pandemic.
Simi studies a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing at The University of Melbourne. Simi has a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from RMIT University. You can also find her running her sensational meme page – Simsational, on Facebook.