Senior Wisdom: Boris Vassilev
Written by Bwog Staff
Name, Hometown, School, Major: Boris Vassilev, Rockville, MD (Originally Sofia, Bulgaria), Columbia College, Physics and Creative Writing (I did it for the money.)
Claim to Fame? Fame: Bwog’s last surviving copy editor. The only Eastern European, transfer science and humanities double major on campus. My heart chambers fire out of order. Infamy: The set of Fiddler on the Roof. I promise that was a miscommunication issue, albeit a huge miscommunication issue.
Where are you going? I am taking the summer and part of the autumn to research short story cycles in Eastern Europe and then travel via trains, buses and velocipedes to Prague, following the path of a famous Bulgarian fictional character, and writing about it. After that, back to New York and working for Writer’s Bloq, Inc., where I look forward to fruitful employment with the tantalizing(ly slight) possibility of earning enough to feed myself.
Three things you learned at Columbia:
- When your suitemate texts you: “EMERGENCYCOMEHOMENOW,” you should, because there is probably a torrent of dirty water pouring in through every orifice of your living space. Probably.
- Heeding criticism is important, almost as important as understanding when to ignore it.
- Don’t compare yourself to others, you become hooked to their expectations.
- How to count good.
“Back in my day…” Cibreo was spelled Campo, Mel was followed by Gibson, transfers had a fortified palace on 113th street (affectionately dubbed “Delta Transfer”), Ferris Booth had seating that made logical and geometric sense, it once snowed during the wintertime, there was just a many red flags on the lawn, you didn’t have to be hoisted up and climb through a window to get to the roof of Mudd, and John Jay Dining hall was dark and moist, like your favorite… CC allegory: Plato’s cave. What?
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: Right brain, left brain fought and nobody won, makes for good cocktail conversation. Please to good home.
Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? The War on Fun is never over, it has just changed battlefield. Columbia students (myself included) have gotten so good at case interviews, self-inducing panic about employment and figures (salary and in the mirror), that we’ve forgotten that the War on Fun has to be won within before you can wage it outside. So drop that homework assignment, queue up Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians into your iPod, spend the day outside, with friends or a book or that blow-up doll you feel strangely affectionate for, and remind yourself that there is a texture to life that makes it special and worth living.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I lack the convenient excuses of hypolactasia, so the question remains for me: whether to deny my Bulgarian cheesecraft heritage, or give up, you know, oral sexing. This is obviously an impossible choice, so I propose we turn the question around thusly: “Would you rather give oral sex or cheese?” I am no good at gift-wrapping oral sex, so I guess I’ll have to stick to the cheese. Thanks, faulty logical reformulations!
Advice for the class of 2016:
- Get into all manner of devilry. See this city, it’s the best lesson in life you’ll ever get. Columbia is its people. Get to know them, and hold on to the ones that fit well. Don’t be afraid to change your mind about everything. Have resolution with your decisions. There are plenty of wrong decisions, but also a great subset of “probably great” ones that will take you wonderful places. Sometimes systemic failure is a good thing.
- An addendum via Herman Blume: “But here’s my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can’t buy backbone. Don’t let them forget it. Thank you. “
Any regrets? I wish I had met the people I met this year many years ago. I regret being as much of a stick in the mud about having adventures and trying new things. I regret not failing my last class so that I could stay another year.