May 4, 2010

Ze End of Ze World

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I do my best writing in the shower. At some point during the lather, rinse, repeat process — usually and for no discernable reason between rinse and repeat — a string of words appears. Since they’ve yet to make waterproof paper, and since I have no desire to electrocute myself with a recorder, I usually lose them the moment I grab the towel. I know: Most people just sing.

If you take into account that, give or take my laziness, I shower 5-9 times a week, that’s a hell of a lot of lost words.

When I came to Cornell, nay, before starting Cornell, my one goal was to be a columnist. It’s that unsurprising mix of hubris and narcissism, with a tendency towards verbosity and an opinion about everything that causes must-have-a-column-itis. For me, it’s also a compulsion to write, an affinity for deadlines and an acknowledgment that I, more than most, need a word limit.

And after over a 100 articles, I’ve reached mine.

After finishing a piece, I wonder: Did I use the right words? Did I express myself well enough? I don’t say this to fish for compliments. But the reason that we keep plugging along is the hope that our opinions, observations or experiences will do some small bit of good, even if it’s to entertain. If I offended, confused or alienated you, then I am sorry. But if you gained anything at all from my words, than I’ll know I did good.

Goodbye columns should actually be about something, not just another laundry list of thank yous. So then, what’s this one about? How I put off college until I put my head on right (one of the best decisions I ever made)? That it’s okay if you don’t have a set path post-graduation? The mistakes I made as a columnist, and the regrets I have with my Cornell experience? Or, the most meta thing of all — speaking to what I wrote, or what I attempted to write? You decide, I’m sticking it all in here.

If you were to chart my columns on a graph of irreverent to (self-)important, sarcastic to sentimental, you would now find me in the top right corner, almost off the chart. But if you were to walk down Ho Plaza on a late afternoon, completed thesis in your arms, and stop to look out over campus, I dare you not to compare this moment — the fear,  readiness and dawning sense of reality — to those first moments as a freshman, overwhelmed by that heady sense that it, the whole world, was in front of you.

Here’s the dirty secret, whether it’s the job, grad school or parking your ass on your parent’s couch; whether you’ll travel the world, tout that fancy fellowship or farm … sustainably: It still is. Graduating? Scary as fuck. Also, awesome.

That said, it’s important to know where I come from. For me, that’s a long line of Sun columnists, who followed traditions because they’re just cool. In that vein: First, the moniker. I hope you just understand it. But if not, you pop cultural heathen, you:

In the dark ages before YouTube, most animated videos came from something called eBaum’s World. Including one of my Favorite Things — a video with the title of this column. Like the caricaturized French in the video, I am often le tired (more often, le lazy), like the Australians, I’m often late and confused by the world’s absurdities. But mostly, it was facetious, satirically pointed, like I was hoping to be when I started out writing a column, for Arts and many moons ago.

But life is more than my column, and for that, it’s thank you time.

Hokay. First, to The Sunnies: To Weiss, Sammy and Tony, my official editors, to Carlos, for helping me find my voice; to Fink, Shoval, Jonny and Elliot, who brought me in for reasons I’ll never know but am eternally grateful. To the 125th, my honorary board, thanks for letting me be a part of the family, to the 126th, everything I’ve already said, and everything more I could say. Cory, Molly, Sarah, Carol, Dave and Munier — thank you for making my work life my social life; and to Keenan, Strat, Irene and the rest of 128: I’m already so impressed by all of you. Thanks for putting an old lady out to pasture so sweetly.

And to Pete: I’ve good naturedly griped about it all year, but it’s weird how often we think along the same lines (and how often I’ll open the paper, read your column and have to change my topic). But I think that uncanny mind-connect is what made us work in such sync. Who knew when you walked in the door sophomore year that you would be the best co-editor a girl could hope for.

To my professors (look! A Sunnie who went to class!), and especially to Ed Goode, Amy Villarejo, Tim Murray and Kath March: Thank you for pushing me to do my best and really explore the intellectual world Cornell had to offer. To Celeste, and to Jen: I often needed guidance through the rougher patches, and your unwavering compassion and availability served as my GPS.

To Alex, Emma, Lynne, to Nick and to Mike, my first friends and still my best; to Max (why you, Vinny and Herbie decided to befriend a loud freshman girl is anyone’s guess) the best guy I know; to Rachel, Rabia, Syd, Mel and Janice, my roommates, who are a million times funnier than me, and to all of my friends: you’re why I love this place.

To my parents: I know I talk more than you think capable, but thank you for encouraging me to do what I love and not what’s practical, and to go to Cornell (despite my insistence that the scholarships were elsewhere), just one more sacrifice among many for your children. To my siblings: Thanks for picking on me so much, you jerks; it gave me ammo for life. I love you.

To TV: Thank you, really, for always being my best friend.

And to Cornell: Like I said, over 100 articles. At 800 words on average, that’s … well, that’s 80,000, but if that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is. I’ll miss you, obv. But it’s time for me to get my elderly behind out of here and bounce.

P.S.: And to Alaska: You can come, too.

Julie Block, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a former Sun Arts and Entertainment Editor. She may be reached at jblock@cornellsun.com. WTF, Mate?! appeared alternate Wednesdays this semester. Over the years Julie has written on topics ranging from Uggs to Cornell’s Study Abroad Program, here is a brief survey of her work:

Original Author: Julie Block