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Arts in Review

…to any Mulcher government

Stress can be a killer. Not literally – I don’t think anyone’s been actually murdered by stress. It’s more a turn of phrase than a literal declaration, so why don’t you get off my case about it?



by Paul Brammer (News & Opinion Editor)

Stress can be a killer. Not literally – I don’t think anyone’s been actually murdered by stress. It’s more a turn of phrase than a literal declaration, so why don’t you get off my case about it?

There, now I’ve gotten my mandatory argument with my invisible audience out of the way. These Culture Mulcher doohickeys don’t manage to pull in an audience, but my word, you should see the invisible audience I get: the Invisible Man; Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man; the other guy in Hollow Man 2; the invisible one off of The Fantastic Four; Frodo Baggins when he’s wearing the One Ring; Harry Potter when he’s wearing that invisibility cloak which is just a rip-off of the One Ring in that book that’s just a rip-off of Lord of the Rings; the list goes on and on. 

I’m sure my invisible audience will agree that stress can be a non-literal killer. You need only look in your classrooms at the blood on the walls and the “No hope, no way out” smeared in excrement in the cafeteria next to the sandwiches that life as a student can be disgustingly stressful.

There’s several ways you can go about combating this stress – the first option is to go down the old Kurt Cobain route and blow your motherloving head off with a large shotgun. This is not the best idea – you’ll probably be dead after you do that, as the brain and kidneys and pancreas and stuff is all in your head, and you need those most of the time to stay alive.

Another way is to go down the protagonist-in-a-Bret-Easton-Ellis-novel route and spend your university days idling your youth away, paying little to no attention to your work, trying to slip your dirty love into anything that has a pulse and complaining about how difficult your life is. 

Though this route may seem appealing at first glance, allow me to be the one to pop your narcissistic bubble – though somehow Ellis manages to make his books riveting and remarkable despite the crushing unlikability of pretty much of all of his characters, you will not get very far in school by taking this route. You’re not at a disgustingly rich-enough school for your grades and academic results to not matter, and your dad’s probably not a CEO, so he can’t get you a six-figure yearly wage for hanging out, doing coke and killing hookers.

Other than that, you pretty much have insanity which, although initially appealing, does involve drooling and soiling yourself. A bit like being from Hope, all told. The last option, and the one that most of us chumps stump for, is gritting our cavity-ridden teeth and getting on with it.

It’s what I do. Since day one of this interminable yet fleeting semester, I’ve been busier than a commandant at Belsen in 1945. A couple of weeks ago I got so busy that I forgot to breathe and blink for sixteen hours – when the paramedics broke my door down my eyes were all scabbed over and I was going “Can’t breathe…need…air” like Peter Parker used to do in the old Spiderman cartoons.

Come to think of it, why did Peter Parker bother saying “Can’t breathe…need…air” when he was stuck in a room where there was no oxygen? Why didn’t he conserve his energy for his inevitable escape? As plot explanation goes, it’s up there with the worst of them.

Every time I turn round, there’s something else that needs doing – homework, work-work, car’s fucked, check e-mails forty-three times a day. It’s criminal how often I check my e-mails. It’s also criminal how many bloody e-mail addresses I have – I seem to acquire them like the scruffy kids at school used to get nits. At least they had a special comb they could use – I have to enter and re-enter my usernames and passwords like a stuck record playing some shit by Kenny G.

There. I took a time out from writing this column to check one of my bloody e-mails. And there was you, thinking that I valued this  time that we spend together every week. If you counted up all of the man-hours wasted due to me checking my e-mails – just me, that is – you could probably cure one of the cancers. Not a big one like brain or lung. Probably toe or ear.

Anyway, back to the stress. My boss and/or my wife might disagree with me, on account of my being a lazy bastard when I’m not busy as all hell, but I feel as though this semester has been, for me at least, an especially horrible one in terms of stress levels. The more people I speak to, the more I realise that I might not be alone in this assumption. 

So how can we deal with it? I usually just plow through as much work as possible – it’s only when I stop working that I realise how busy I have been and how tired I am, so I try to keep going like some perpetual motion machine such as the Star Trek Enterprise. Sorry I didn’t throw out a nerd alert there, what with the Star Trek reference, but hey, if you’re a university student, chances are you’re a nerd by trade. Unless you’re a Kinesiology student, whereby you’re a weird pseudo trendy-nerd hybrid, with your Johnny-come-lately half-science gig. It’ll never catch on, you know. So give it up.

If you have any weird, wonderful or downright terrifying ways of dealing with stress caused by university, tell me in no more than 75 words at The best ones’ll get printed, and the worst ones will probably still get printed, because we’re desperate to fill space.

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