Or, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce”
I’ve finally made it.
I’m at the top. The head of the pack. A kind of high school acme (not acne).
I am a senior.
And I don’t mean one of those octogenarians with walkers who drive ten miles under the speed limit with their left turn signals on and order from a special menu at Denny’s—I am a high school senior.
It took me three years to get here (for those of you who’ve been reading these columns for that long, you know that was one year of uncertainty, one year of swamp imagery, and one year of fjord-diving) and now, I’m going to enjoy it.
I won’t say I hated the last three years (“hate” is too strong of a word to describe anything except for Mondays and Paris Hilton)—in fact, I’ve had a great time. But senior year just has something… else. Something extra. Something the puny, inchoate minds of underclassmen can’t imagine and something juniors can only dream about.
Senior year brings—if one is forced to sum up the ineffable—prestige. Power. Panache. No one can describe the mysterious aura that surrounds seniors, but everyone can sense it, like the indescribable electric tingle in the air before a thunderstorm, the silence before an accident, or the horrible moment of soul-wrenching terror before Tom Cruise opens his mouth.
But celebrity diatribes aside, the wonder of senior year is a right of passage for all high school students.
We get to drive to school (though many, like me, start at 8:00 and can’t find a parking spot unless we camp out the night before).
We get to go off campus for lunch (no, wait, juniors can do that, too.)
We, uh, get to sit in a different section of the gym for rallies (woo-hoo).
The point is you should all be jealous of me and my senior compatriots. Why?
Because I said so.
And why does that matter?
Because I’m a senior.
You see, power begets power—seniors are important not because we should be, but because we already are. We are an institution as old as apple pie and as American as the pyramids.
I’m going to enjoy being a senior—the respect, the authority, the schadenfreude, even the having to show up at ungodly hours to park. I’m going to enjoy being the head of Hart (say that out loud and Henry Gray rolls over in his grave).
But as great as senior year is, as much power as we upper-upperclassmen wield, there is one inherent uncertainty.
Hint: it starts with “c” and rhymes with “kollege.” On top of the rigorous schedule
I must maintain to assure these colleges that I’m not slacking off (and that I’m a pathetic nerd getting less sleep than is probably healthy), on top of running a paper, on top of my life, I have to spend the months between October and January applying to institutions that will dictate not only the next four years of my life, but also, well, everything.
But hey—no problem.
It’s only a few dozen personal statements to write. I figure I copy a couple of my second grade essays, jargonize them, and I’ll be good (i.e.: “I am a good reader” becomes “I possess hermeneutical perspicacity,” and “I like dinosaurs” becomes “I enjoy spending my free time donating my own organs to save the lives of quadriplegics”).
The only other issue I have with senior year is that it will—like all good things—end.
Seniors can throw our metaphorical weight around on campus (at 150 pounds, I personally don’t have much weight to throw). We can gloat in our self-righteousness. But we are ultimately powerless to stop the vicissitudes of time.
And next year, we’ll be freshmen again.
2. We’re Doomed
I have escaped eternal damnation.
Not through religion, though. A wise man (euphemism for “I have no idea who”) once said that “He who does not know history is doomed to repeat it.”
Well, I now know history.
I—in fact—survived history. A veteran of AP Euro and AP US History, I feel I can pass on my knowledge to you, dear readers. History at first glance may seem like a random, pointless collection of names and dates, but if one looks deeper, it is actually a deeply woven tapestry of interconnecting ideas, movements, events and consequences, stretching from past to (believe it or not) the present.
But enough of the sappy stuff.
Without further ado, I give you the ten interesting moments in history:
10. The Defenestration of Prague, 1618.
During the rather ingeniously named Thirty Years’ War, Bohemian Protestants and Catholics met at Prague Castle. A small disagreement later, and the Protestants chucked the three Catholics out of a window some fifty feet up the castle wall. Miraculously, all three survived. The Catholics claimed angels caught them and lowered them to the ground; the Protestants said they fell in a pile of manure. Recap: strange, yes. Rhapsody, no. Bohemian, yes. Queen, no.
9. Colonel Mustard kills Mr. Boddy in the billiards room with a candle stick, 1948.
Mrs. Peacock found innocent of all charges.
8. French Revolution, 1789-1799.
Before this time of rampant guillotining and Bastille-storming, Marie Antoinette supposedly said—during a bread shortage—“Let them eat cake!” Unfortunately, she was referring to one of those holiday fruitcakes. Angered by her thoughtlessness, the bourgeoisie revolted. The bloody insurrection and reactionary Reign of Terror that followed have death toll estimates ranging anywhere from a meager 15,000 to a much more respectable 40,000. Vive les France.
7. French period of sitting around and smoking while talking about the Revolution, 1799-1803.
6. Reign of Caligula, 37-41.
Also known as “Reign of the Roman Emperor who was Batshit Insane.” Aside from calling himself a god, Caligula also made his horse a senator. My advice? Replace Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). He knows why.
5. John C. Calhoun is born, 1782.
Maybe not the most interesting, but definitely one of the greatest. This day gave us the author of South Carolina Exposition and Protest—but that’s not what he’s famous for. That boy had some hair (and facial expressions). Don’t trust me? See it for yourself: CALHOUN THE GREAT
4. Omaha Beach, 1944.
You know “Saving Private Ryan”? That one.
3. James K. Polk’s mullet, circa 1840.
Not necessarily an event, per se, but worthy of mention because of its sheer awesomeness. With his “business up front, party in the back” hairstyle, Polk declared war on Mexico. But they were asking for it—they called it a “beaver paddle.”
2. Fall of the Berlin wall, 1989.
It had to be here somewhere.
1. Operation Crossroads, 1946.
The first nuclear test after Hiroshima, this experimental explosion of a fission bomb at Bikini Atoll truly ushered in the atomic age, as well as the Cold War, unprecedented paranoia, and Godzilla. The proliferation of arms has continued to this day. (The US has 10,315 nuclear warheads, Russia has 7,200—together, enough to obliterate the entire planet at least three times. Four if you feel like skimping on the southern hemisphere.) Even someone who’s not a math buff doesn’t need me to tell them that Kim Jong-Il + destructive power of five hundred kilotons of TNT = bad. One can tell simply from Kim’s hair—that kind of cartoon afro Looney Toons gets when they blow themselves up. This is not a man who should be messing with enriched plutonium.
That’s the last two thousand years in a nutshell. As we look forward to the next two thousand years, we can only hope we’ll still be around to enjoy it.
On the plus side, “Star Trek” takes place in the 2200s.
3. Christmas in November
I’m not a particularly religious person.
In fact, I’m what John Wheelwright would call, I suppose, a “Friday night Jew.” I don’t go to synagogue every week, I don’t recite prayers before I eat, I don’t keep kosher, and—being a Jew—I know next to nothing about the New Testament.
But even I can recite from Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything… a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.”
So will someone please give me any reason—any reason at all—the proper time to hang Christmas lights is the day after Halloween.
On November 1, I was minding my own business. On my way home at night, I turned the corner to my street and there they were—bright, garish, pretentious, and just sitting there, lighting my neighbor’s house with outlandish flames of green and red.
WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND PUTS CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS UP ON NOVEMBER 1?
Because it wasn’t just a string of lights. Oh, no—it was the whole shebang. We’re talking enough lights to decorate the Great Wall, fake trees in the front yard, glowing candy canes—the only things that were missing were an animatronic reindeer and an anthropomorphized snowman in a stovepipe hat.
Something inside me died that night. There’s something just so wrong, so perverse, about seeing Christmas lights at the beginning of November—two whole months before the holiday. It’s the equivalent of an annoying houseguest that simply won’t leave.
Ask yourself, what would Christmas’ eponymous saint do? I have a feeling he wouldn’t be hanging lights in November.
“But it’s holiday spirit, Scrooge!” you say. Okay. Let’s all start celebrating the fifty-five days of Christmas. But why stop there? Shop for Halloween costumes during a post-4th of July sale! Buy fireworks on Cinco de Mayo! Will the groundhog see his shadow on New Year’s Eve?
“Scrooge”? Please. Attention shoppers, blue light special on shut-the-fuck-up in aisle four.
Why do we insist on stretching Christmas into a two-month long bacchanal of pine trees, eggnog, and cheap lights? Aren’t twelve nights enough?
Of course not.
It’s natural to want to stretch good times out for as long as possible. But Yuletide is confined to December for a reason.
Once you take a holiday and stretch it into a season, is it still a holiday? Or do we forget its purpose, what it celebrates in the first place, as we rush to fill the vacuous months of joy with meaningless shopping and commercialized merry-making?
I propose a new version of the winter holiday season.
It starts at Labor Day. The holiday sales begin, and Santa shows up at the mall around the end of September. Rudolph follows shortly. The underpaid elves set up their factory/Malaysian sweatshop in mid October, and by Halloween, kids are drooling over presents stacked under snow-flocked pine trees bought in April. Everyone says, “Merry Christmas, old chap!” until January.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get a gingerbread latté.
4. Paradise Lost and (Eventually) Found
I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors.
It probably started either with a fall on the head or a trip to Yosemite, but however it began, I’ve always liked getting outdoors and away from the city—whether it be camping, hiking, or getting devoured by mosquitoes because I decided to take a shortcut through a small marsh (true story).
So when my family decided not to go camping this winter break and instead booked a cruise, I had mixed feelings.
On one hand, it’s a cruise. We’re talking twenty-four-hour all-you-can-eat buffet, steak every night, an indoor pool, four outdoor pools, a basketball court, six Jacuzzis, and a staff the size of a small southern European country.
On the other hand, it’s a cruise—which means I would be trapped in more or less one place for a week, minus three eight-hour stops at port. Definitely nothing like Yellowstone or Bryce Canyon.
But once I settled in to the twenty-four hour room service and nightly luxury dining, I somehow began to enjoy myself. In fact, I wondered how I had ever survived in a pop-up tent trailer where bug spray was a necessity and hot dogs were a luxury.
On day three of my cruise, I remembered what it was like to camp. It’s not that we stopped at a port that day—I never left the boat. Actually, I didn’t even leave my room’s hallway until that afternoon. Why?
I was locked on the room’s balcony.
As I sat on the balcony, looking at the vast expanse of ocean float by underneath the ship, my brother opened the door to the room to tell me he was leaving. He then closed the door.
The door locked from the inside of the room.
This is a fact, unfortunately, that I was unaware of until thirty minutes later, when I decided that it was a good time to go the bathroom. I pulled on the handle of the door, and nothing happened. I was trapped.
I walked over to the edge of my balcony and looked around. To my left there were dozens of other identical balconies with no one on them. To my right, dozens of empty balconies. Below me, dozens of empty balconies. Above me, dozens of empty balconies. I was boned.
So as I sat back down in my lounge chair, I took a sip of my iced, non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri and wondered how I was ever going to escape from this horrible tropical hell.
Two hours passed. On a thirteen-deck ship with a casino, arcade, ping-pong tables, and—believe it or not—other people, I was stuck in a prison. It was an interesting juxtaposition: the endless blue ocean stretched out for miles until the horizon, and the faux blue carpet on the balcony stretched out about six feet by four feet.
I was seriously contemplating jumping down to the balcony below mine when I finally heard a noise behind me—one of the ship’s stewards had entered the room. My eyes lit up and I jumped out of my seat.
He waved at me and turned to leave.
I banged on the glass door to get his attention and had to mime that the door was locked and I was trapped on my own balcony. He walked over and in one motion, unlocked the door that had held me captive for the better part of the morning.
I was saved from my worst vacationing experience by a man delivering canapés and Perrier to my luxury suite.
No hiking. No rock climbing. No kayaking. I had been stuck on a balcony.
I need to get out more.
5. Bored Meetings
I used to be a liberal Democrat.
I used to believe in freedom, equality, Al Gore, even democracy—but lately, my politics have taken a sharp turn towards fascist totalitarianism.
The reason is simple: this month, I went to a school board meeting.
I now know why they’re pronounced “bored meetings,” and I’m fairly certain that they violate the Geneva Convention.
If I had any questions about what the afterlife is like for a child rapist, I now know. They’re forced to sit in a never-ending presentation of inter-district transfer policies, out-of-district student handling, and other items about as useful as TPS reports.
So I used to agree with the idea of public forums. But after sitting through four hours of debate and argument over whether to call the banter a “debate” or an “argument,” I’ve decided the fascists might have had the right idea. Democracy might be the fairest and most equitable form of government, but it’s also by far the most inefficient.
My night at the board meeting went something like this:
7:32—I arrive, squeeze through the throngs of rabid Canyon parents to a spot in the back of the overcrowded, stuffy board room.
8:30—Legs begin to ache from standing.
8:46—I begin writing this column.
8:55—Hear the phrase “inter-district transfer” for the four hundred and twenty seventh time.
9:01—Foot falls asleep.
9:10 to 9:17—I might have fallen asleep.
9:22—Notice cobwebs in the corner that I’m almost positive weren’t there when the meeting started.
9:59—The item I came to hear (the third item on the agenda) finally starts.
10:43—Forge in the smithy of my Jocye-ian soul the uncreated conscious of my race.
11:19—Leave in disgust. Meeting continues.
It’s not that I have anything against anyone on the Hart board, or anyone on school boards in general. I’ve met many of them, heard about the rest of them, and like most of them. Hell, my dad’s job even depends on the Newhall district’s school board. But for some reason, when they assemble into some sort of synod to discuss what matters to the district, democracy implodes on itself.
Somehow, somewhere along the line the pointless bureaucracy, the ridiculous number crunching, and the incessant arguing devolve into what can only be described as beadledom. (Well, “beadledom” or the equivalent of a trip to the DMV.)
The board meetings are meant to give the public a chance to be heard. This makes sense when people start to leave as the hours drag on late into the night and early into the morning—the ones who stay are obviously the ones whose opinion really matters.
So if the meetings are held in such a fashion as to discredit public opinion, why have it at all? Skip the whole “democracy” sham and elect me dictator. I think I could whip things into shape—and the same goes for the nation as a whole.
Imagine how efficient the Senate would be if Norman Q. Nobody from Middleofnowhere, South Dakota couldn’t filibuster to prevent a bill changing the size of sprockets on White House plumbing. Imagine how efficient the Supreme Court would be if it didn’t have to bother actually hearing cases. Imagine how efficient our country would be if we weren’t forced to have opinions.
The only solution to the grinding bureaucracy of the school board meeting may be despotism. When there are no people to interrupt the meeting, the “public comments” section goes very quickly—like show and tell at a preschool for the blind and deaf.
Though right now, that’s close to what we have. We show, we tell—not just to school boards but to our representatives, our Senators, our president—and they remain for all intensive purposes blind and deaf. As we approach the bleak future so many homeless, schizophrenic doomsday prophets warn about, we have no solution for Social Security, no consensus on global warming, no plan for stabilizing the Middle East, no idea on what to do when oil reserves run out—and definitely no explanation for school board meetings.
What we need is change. What we’ll get is red tape and paperwork.
The world is in mourning.
No one cares about global warming, Sudanese genocides, or the general end-of-the-universe-as-we-know-it. Something far more important has happened.
Anna Nicole Smith is dead.
One can imagine the “Entertainment Weekly” reporters lasciviously licking their lips as the devoured this piece of news (to use the term loosely), but this is ignoring the human side of the trauma.
Smith led a tragic life—no one can argue that. (Okay, most people could argue that, but for the sake of this editorial, let’s assume it’s true.) Shoved into a cold marriage with an oil gazillionaire 63 years her elder, she was force to live a life of luxury until one day (a whole thirteen months later) her paradise was destroyed by the death of her husband.
To cut a long story short, she subsequently went bankrupt, lost a son, married an attorney, and then unceremoniously died in a Florida hotel room.
So yes, it was tragic. As tragic an ending as an “E! True Hollywood Story” can have.
But why does anyone even know who Anna Nicole Smith is? Let’s face it, being a centerfold in “Playboy” is fleeting.
Smith is (or was) one of those rare individuals who are famous for being famous. She was a Zsa Zsa Gabor, a Paris Hilton, a Kevin Federline—someone with no particular talents (in fact, no talent at all) who somehow ends up in the limelight.
One must wonder how someone like Paris Hilton, hotel heiress, becomes Paris Hilton, superstar. What makes someone wake up one day and say, “Hey—I’ve got more money than all of southeast Asia, so I think I’ll just go to parties until I die from an overdose of methamphetamines, laxatives, and orange Kool-Aid”?
And while these self-proclaimed stars are lounging—and other, unprintable verbs—in the spotlight, the people who truly deserve celebrity are doomed to obscurity.
People cry over the death of Anna Nicole Smith, but what about Hrant Dink? Robert Drinan? Abbé Pierre? Barbaro? They all died in the last month, too.
Dink was a Turkish journalist who championed the rights of Armenians; Drinan was a Roman Catholic priest and congressman who first called for the impeachment of Richard Nixon after the president bombed Cambodia; Pierre was a French Catholic priest who fought for the rights of the homeless; Barbaro was a racehorse.
But ultimately, last week “Entertainment Weekly” got what it always wants: a dead celebrity and a front page story. The sad thing is that Smith’s is the story that people will actually read.
So the world is in mourning. And maybe it should be.
7. Open First Killed the Radio Star
I’m a man of strong convictions.
I believe, for example, that Hot Pockets are God’s gift to mankind. I believe that there should be a law banning the use of Styrofoam packing peanuts. And I strongly believe in getting my money’s worth.
This should explain why—for the last four months—I’ve been getting to school at 7:00 for my 8:00 class: I bought a parking permit, and I am determined to use it.
Of course at the time I bought the permit, I hadn’t received my schedule yet (a clever ruse by the school if I ever saw one), and needless to say when I was handed my schedule after shelling out $35 for my parking permit, I was less than happy, as the lot is completely full by 7:05 virtually every morning. Trust me. I’m there to watch it fill.
However, in four months—at four weeks a month and five days a week, that adds to eighty hours of sitting in my car waiting for second period to start—I’ve come to love open first.
If I was sane, I could sleep an extra hour. But, times being what they are (indifferent to my cause), I drive to school in the bleak early morning every day. I watch cars race in for the lot’s last few spots, and normally things go fairly smoothly.
There are, however, days that don’t go so smoothly, like the morning I parked under a light post and returned at 2:00 to find my car covered in crows’ generous gifts, or the day when I watched as a car sat in two spaces for twenty minutes in order to save a parking spot for the driver’s friend. Needless to say, the latter made me angrier than a talk radio host whose obnoxious sound machine stopped working (more on this tangent later) and I was tempted to pull out of my own spot, drive to her two, and honk until she moved. I was only able to restrain myself by coming to the realization that she probably wasn’t saving a space for her friend—she simply lacked the necessary motor skills to park a car correctly.
I’d like to tell you I use my free time well—that I’ve spent those eighty hours composing a symphony or writing a novel or (gasp) cleaning my car—but I don’t. Usually I’ll do my AP Government reading or any other homework that—ahem—slipped my mind the night before and then I sit and listen to the radio.
Which now brings me to my next conviction: as much as I love open first and the extra hour of procrastination it allows the night before, I absolutely loathe talk radio.
Talk radio peaked with Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats. Since then, it’s slowly declined into inane drivel and/or (more often and) simplistic opinions.
Now, I’m not trying to be political when I insult talk radio. My hatred of talk radio is universal—I detest political ideologues and shock jocks alike. Honestly, I could care less about Rush Limbaugh’s views on, well, anything—but I also don’t give a hoot (for lack of a better, printable word) about what sound the intoxicated caller on line four can make with his left nostril and a jaw harp.
To steal one of late talk radio host Joe Pyne’s insults, all these radio shows’ hosts need to go gargle with razor blades.
When I listen to the radio, I want listen to it for this little thing I like to call music. Maybe you’ve heard of it? But if I turn on, say, KLOS during open first, I’m forced to listen to Mark and Brian instead of musicians.
I just want Mark Knopfler and Brian May instead of plain Mark and Brian. If music is the food of love, I’m going to be lonely for a very, very long time.
8. The Ides of April
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar warned us to “beware the ides of March,” but apparently Shakespeare published the play a little too hastily. Sure, Caesar was assassinated on March 15, but if Shakespeare had waited, he might have decided on a different month for pop culture to associate with impending doom—namely April.
As we look back at the last month, we can see that the supposedly cheery month of spring, showers that bring May flowers, and bunny rabbits brought the unwanted visitor of mortality.
The last month was a less-than-happy visit from the month of April. Not only did Prince William break off his relationship with Kate Middleton, but humanity lost some of its best and brightest.
On April 11, novelist Kurt Vonnegut died peacefully at the age of 84, and on April 16, thirty-three students were killed violently at Virginia Tech in the prime of life.
The two sets of deaths are vastly different, united only by the time frames in which they occurred. But both have almost profound ramifications.
Vonnegut wrote science fiction, and he wrote it with a passion. He told people to challenge authority, to stay human among technology and societal advance. Progress does not always mean progressing—one must remain human in light of so many things that would make it easier to switch to autopilot and set one’s moral compass on cruise control. Doing this leads to dystopian futures, firebombings, and, of course, time traveling aliens.
The stories are pretty inventive.
But Vonnegut’s message can be used to possibly explain the Virginia Tech shooting. The shooting is a tragedy—in one morning, in two separate incidents, a lone gunman killed thirty-three of the nation’s brightest students. They were destined to be leaders, engineers, politicians—and now they’re destined to be epitaphs and tombstones, a somber reminder of things that could (and should) have been.
In this time, which seems almost dystopian, during this tragedy, which evokes images of mass graves like the firebombed Dresden Vonnegut describes, we must remain human. It is our duty to feel sorrow, remorse, even anger over the deaths at Virginia Tech—but it is also our duty to continue.
Continue the students’ memory, continue the campaign for school safety, and, most of all, continue to live.
In the words of Vonnegut, “Things die. All things die.” Death is an intrinsic part of life, and we can’t let it stop us—to quote Vonnegut again, “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are ‘It might have been.’”
The students at Virginia Tech are, unfortunately, might-have-beens. They may be gone, but their memory lives on in their family, their friends, and the gestalt consciousness of America. The month of April was a time to mourn for these fallen students, but the showers of tears will truly bring flowers this month—flowers of not only remembrance and compassion, but of hope and joy and life as we once again learn to enjoy our lives.
In the words of Vonnegut one final time, “we are human only to the extent that our ideas remain humane.” As long as we continue to sympathize with Virginia Tech or Vonnegut and remember that life goes on—perhaps a little sadder or more somber, but it goes on nonetheless. We can still enjoy, love, live—not with them, but for them.
So it goes.
9. Historical Revisionism, TM
Have you ever done something you immediately regret?
Ever wished your life had a rewind button?
Ever traveled to Fresno?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need to strap yourself down to the nearest chair, focus your attention on the newspaper in your hands, and prepare to have your mind blown.
Ladies, gentlemen, and Mr. Bowie—listen up. What we suggest here could solve all your problems.
That’s right, we’re talking about Historical Revisionism, the craze that’s sweeping the dictatorial countries of the world.
Not feeling so good about that war you lost?
Need a justification for your otherwise purely racist and genocidal political platform?
Just looking for a good time?
Then Historical Revisionism is the thing for you. Just listen to the testimonials of some of our most valued customers:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran and the only man in the world shorter than his own name, writes, “Thank you, Historical Revisionism, for allowing me to support my statement that Israel must be ‘wiped off the map’! Without your product, which allowed me to deny the Holocaust and the Jewish infidels’ right to a country of their own, who knows how long the Tehran movie industry could have survived before being overrun by bagels and schmear!”
Reaching into our archive, we find a letter from Adolf Hitler, the “Reichstag Revisionist,” written after he had used our time-tested and animal-tested method to blame all non-Aryans for Germany’s post-World War I woes. It reads, “Historical Revisionism, you are most excellent program. Report to Bergen-Belsen for vacation. That is all.”
Our final testimonial comes from the entire European world, which writes, “Historical Revisionism, you have allowed us to ‘discover’ America! How can we thank you for allowing us to claim credit for a land populated by several historically- and culturally-rich peoples we proceeded to kill with smallpox blankets and firewater? This is so much better than a direct route to India!”
But changing long-established history isn’t all you can do with Historical Revisionism!
Are you a biology professor wondering why the Islets of Langerhans are in the pancreas and not the Caribbean? Simply apply Historical Revisionism once before bed, and watch as people start booking cruises to Langerhans and producing insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin in their Hispaniola!
Or maybe you’re a chemistry teacher dreading having to teach your students about coordinated chemistry because it involves such mellifluous words as “dicyanobisethylenediaminecadmium” and “pentaamminechlorocobalt.” With one use of Historical Revisionism, these names become easy-to-remember words like “couch” or “floor”! (Just don’t spill anything on your new linoleum pentaamminechlorocobalt!)
Even in the sacrosanct field of journalism, Historical Revisionism can be put to use! Don’t like the reason your subject gave for why he ran over fourteen puppies with a zamboni? That’s not the reason Historical Revisionism remembers him giving!
Yes, Historical Revisionism can be used in almost any situation to extricate yourself from the most dire of situations and most unbearable of gaffes!
So what are you waiting for? Order yours today—or we’ll just claim you did!
10. Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night, and Good Luck
One million, four hundred and forty one thousand, four hundred and forty minutes.
That’s about how long I’ve been writing this column for the Smoke Signal. It seems like a long time, but the time between the beginning of sophomore year and now seems to have—if you’ll pardon the cliché—passed in the blink of an eye. Only yesterday was I sophomorically stuck on campus, learning about the twelve dozen Treaties of Versailles in AP Euro and fantasizing about walking to Jimmy Dean’s.
How the times of changed. But I feel that for the last three years I’ve been holding out on you. There are so many things I could have told you, but I have been—alas—reticent. No more! Today, within these six hundred words, I will reveal all my secrets. There are three of them.
And please, keep your hands and feet inside the column at all times.
1. Titular Troubles and Transcendent Tomes
Many of you may be shocked to hear that the phrase “The Seth Material” is not my own. I’ll pause for a second while you pick up the scattered pieces of the illusory lives I just shattered.
Yes, The Seth Material is a book—written by someone other than myself—wherein a self-proclaimed medium (Jane Roberts, a.k.a. “someone other than myself”) has conversations with an all-knowing, death-transcending entity named—wait for it—Seth. Seth talks about life, reincarnation, and the afterlife; I talk about Paris Hilton and goat cheese. So we’re on approximately the same level.
Now you know!
2. Timorous and Trepid, yet Thrilled as a Toreador in a Tumultuous Tornado
I’m going to be honest for a second. I’m scared to death of this September. I’ll be far away from home, on my own, have to do my own laundry, and in all probability I’ll be taking another multivariable calculus class. College frightens me.
But let me be really honest for a second. I’m really excited for September. I’m going to be in a whole new place, with whole new people, learning whole new things at one of the nation’s top (and therefore most expensive) universities.
I’m willing to admit that the idea of going off to college frightens me. But I also know that I’m ready to go, and I can’t wait to get there.
3. Tangoing Tête-à-Tête with Typewriting This Treatise
So three years as a columnist at the Smoke Signal means I’ve written about twenty-four columns—and you can’t be Editor-in-Chief without writing a few articles, too. I’ve written my share of articles, and this was by far the hardest to write since my first article as a freshman staff writer. There was, of course, the lack of motivation due to complications resulting from senioritis, but it was mostly difficult to write for the simple reason that I didn’t know what to write.
How do you say goodbye to a school that’s been your home for four years? To teachers who have become mentors and friends? To the peers I’ve grown up with, gone to class with, and spent my life with for four years, six years, or even thirteen years?
I’m still convinced it can’t be done. Or can’t be done well, anyway. (Yes, if you take anything from three years of “The Seth Material,” please take that—goodbyes are not like steaks.)
In the end, it’s not my friends I’ll miss—I’ll see my friends. I’ll miss the people I see every day but never talk to, the people I’ve grown up with since kindergarten, the people who make Hart Hart and who will make Stanford University decidedly not Hart.
It comes down to this: I love you all. Thank you for reading, thank you for laughing, thank you for being.
In the words of Edward Murrow, good night, and good luck.