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Nutrigrain bars and my era of absurdity

| Wednesday, November 30, 2022

If I could sum up November 2022 in one word, it would be absurd. From getting kicked out of the ND Redheads GroupMe to strutting around North Quad at 4 a.m. singing “Bejeweled” by Taylor Swift to staying in on a Friday night to work out in the BP gym, I would argue my month has been anything but stable … and I think, in many ways, that’s a very good thing. 

Among many of my hot takes on doing life (and doing it well) is my sincere disdain for structure and routine. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know having routines can be a good thing — for example, I have a workout routine and specific times I tend to eat lunch every day — but as a general rule, routines suck. Over time, they become limiting and depressing…seeing the same faces on the walk to class because you always take the same route to and from DeBart in the morning, eating dinner at the same time every day of the week with the same group, only ever going to the gym in the morning…Doesn’t it all get a little boring? 

I’ve found the times when my life has been the most structured have also been the times I was most dissatisfied and bored. I think back to this time a year ago, a period I affectionately refer to as “The Era of Bad Feelings.” Although I can now reflect on this time fondly, thinking of the two helpings of French fries I ate every day or the friendships I fostered in South Dining Hall well after closing, I also think about how dull my daily life became. 

A year ago, every day looked the same: I’d wake up ten minutes before class, roll out of bed, and walk to the Vincent Building wearing sweats and my oversized yellow Birkenstocks (a shockingly weak ensemble that made me look like a bummy frat boy or maybe a duck). I’d spend my lunch breaks reading and supplementing meals with Nutrigrain bars alone in my dorm room and wouldn’t get ready till 1 p.m. (I usually had more people to impress in my afternoon classes). I’d eat a quick meal after class, which only ever consisted of crinkle-cut fries and cranberry juice from the beloved Siggy Dining Hall, and my weeknights were spent eating a late dinner with friends and studying in LaFun and the North Hall lobby until 3 or 4 a.m. 

Every day was just like this for weeks…until November 9, 2021.

I’ll never forget this day — it was the day I ran out of Nutrigrain bars. My stomach was rumbling, so I willed myself to finally show face in the dining hall. I made that walk of shame in my infamous yellow shoes, and, for the first time in a long time, ate something other than French fries. This was a moment of absurdity. It felt weird, almost unsettling, to be eating lunch in the dining hall, and it felt wildly unreasonable to not be eating my typical French fries with a side of ketchup and mayo. Yet there I was, eating macaroni salad and loving it. 

As the weeks went on, I found the more absurd my life got, the happier I became. The more I strayed from the structure my stale routine offered, the more I opened myself up to the opportunity of making new friends and finding new ways to have fun. I started eating cucumbers instead of fries, stargazing during study breaks, doing work in Hesburgh Library or the atrium when I needed a change of scenery and working out at the Pfeil Center late at night with all the gym bros. I started breaking out of my life of limitation and stepping into myself again, and it was magical. 

Okay, so maybe my beef isn’t with routine as a general concept, but maybe it’s with crappy routines or routines that don’t afford any room for freedom, any room for spontaneity. Even still, I’ve decided structure isn’t always the answer. Often, embracing the absurd is the answer.

The absurd is strolling around campus in a t-shirt during the first snowfall because “why not?” or treating your friend’s broomball tournament like the Olympics. It’s taking the long way to class just to change things up or approaching the boy from your freshman Moreau class at the bar. It’s even begging every ginger you know to vouch for you in the Redheads GroupMe because even though you’re brunette, you’re the biggest ginger ally on campus!

All jokes aside, this new era means living more when given the option. It’s ditching the Nutrigrain bars and all the limitations and living fully, living absurdly. 

Kate Casper (aka, Casper, Underdog or Jasmine) is from Northern Virginia, currently residing in Breen-Phillips Hall. She strives to be the best waste of your time. You can contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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