Countdown to Graduation

Countdown to Graduation
One senior scrambles to cram in all things Carolina before heading out into the real world.

posted 5/15/2009


Well, this is a "Countdown to Graduation" blog, and the counting is over, but I'm still here. I just can't get away from the blogosphere. Also, I'm not so ready for my life to change too much. The day after graduation I did the same walk to the Alumni Center like I did every Monday morning this semester, except it was rainy and cold – not a good first day of summer I kept thinking to myself. Then, I realized, I graduated, I don't get those assigned summers anymore! Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Like I've said before, I wasn't too pumped about graduation, but I was excited about the family and the food. My parents, grandma and sister all came to Chapel Hill on Saturday. Unfortunately, my brother couldn't get off work and my other grandma has an injury that isn't conducive to walking around campus with thousands of other people. My parents and grandma got here first on Saturday afternoon and we went to lunch at Top of the Hill. The good food had begun! It really is a different experience having your family in a place that's usually reserved for independence or times with friends. I showed my grandma a lot of the places I work and she kept commenting on how much things have changed since she traversed Franklin St. when she was a student at UNC-Greensboro. They went to go check in at their hotel and I went back home to just wait until dinner. After some picture taking with the roomies, the family (now including my sister) was there to pick me up for a later dinner at Elaines.

My grandma said it well that Elaines was more of an experience than a dinner. The menu was interesting, so much so that it led to about 20 minutes of questioning (I could be exaggerating) asking from my mom. We all tried different entrees then passed bites around the table. I had duck livers, goat cheese ravioli and banana sorbet, delicious and filling. Dinner didn't end until 11:30 and I was super tired from the food and wine, so I was excited to get home and get some good sleep before the big day. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. I don't know if it was nerves, or the mixture of food, or some sort of karmic punishment for not being excited about graduation, but I think I only managed about two hours of sleep altogether. That made for a pretty long day on Sunday.

Sunday morning came far too early, so I tried to chug some coffee and inhale some mini muffins, all while trying to look cute in a Carolina blue robe. It's officially impossible to do that. The question is why I worried so much about finding a graduation dress when no one really sees it. Then came a lot of (but not enough, I'm bad at that) picture taking and standing around. I was finally seated in the sea of Carolina blue and waited patiently while a bunch of people I didn't know got honored. Then came the now infamous Tutu speech. A lot of people liked it, but it had a little too much God in it for my taste. I know he's an archbishop, but it seemed a little much for a public university. Though, most people I talked to loved it and my dad said he didn't see a problem with it because the general message wasn't religious. At any rate, it had to be better than last year when the speaker didn't even speak, so I guess I won't complain too much. I did enjoy when he called us "blue clad creatures."

We took in a quick lunch at P.T.'s before heading back to the Dean Dome for my journalism graduation. It was at that time, the lack of sleep really started to hit me. There wasn't anything too exciting to keep my attention, so I kind of drifted off until my name was called. And the most exciting thing – my name was pronounced right! Score for the UNC Journalism School. Also, it was kind of interesting (or depressing, but I'll go with interesting) graduating when there seemed to be an elephant in the room. And that elephant stood for, "Oh crap, we're graduating with a horrible economy, should we really be celebrating?" There were a lot of speakers using inspirational words to tell us not worry, but graduating from J School as a print journalism major leaves one a little wary.

By this time, my eyes were involuntarily shutting, but there was one more dinner to go. Crooks Corner is a Chapel Hill gem that I just recently discovered, though it's been around much longer than I have. Unfortunately, we were all pretty tired and my family was ready to get back on the road, so I'm not sure we appreciated it as much as we should or could. I sent the family on their merry way and got what I had been searching for all day, a nap!

Then, it was time to go out for a crazy graduation night! Well, turned out to not be so crazy and that was just fine with me. After a quick stop at the insanely packed He's Not where I ran into some old friends, we decided maybe we'd try for a quieter Linda's. The people at He's Not were literally spilling out into the streets around the bar, and I was looking for a place where I could just enjoy a beer and not have to scream to be heard. Linda's was just that and I enjoyed a Honey Brown pint and cheese fries while discussing my favorite memories of the past four years. It really was the perfect way to end my time at UNC.

So, graduation has come and gone. But here I am still blogging. It'll be less throughout the summer, but I'm sticking around the Review as long as possible, so keep checking in to see how life after graduation is coming along.


posted 5/12/2009

The Boss and The End

I try not to look forward too much. It's always better to live your life in the present, people say. But, there are a couple of big things I've been looking forward to for a long time. One, was the Bruce Springsteen concert (check), and two is Gabe coming home (still waiting on that one). So, I guess with those two events taking up space in my brain, I haven't had time to think about looking forward to being done with college.

I've had a lot of people ask me if I was excited about graduation and then were surprised or disappointed by my response which usually entails a shrug of the shoulders and an "eh." Then come the exclamations of this is such a big day for you, or you should be so proud! I guess I never really thought this day wasn't going to come, but after all these heated reactions from different people, I have tried to think differently. Not everyone is a college graduate, and not everyone can say they are a college graduate from UNC. It's something I think I will be a lot more proud of down the road, but for now, it just kind of seems like the next logical step. Maybe putting on that Carolina blue robe will invoke these feelings in me, but really I'm a lot more excited about the delicious dinners my family will be taking me out to then hearing my name (hopefully they won't butcher Mechum) as I walk across a stage.

I guess I was officially done with college at about 2 p.m. May 2 when I left my Politics of Sexuality Exam. I needed to pass a gym class and one more three hour class to graduate, and I think I can safely say I'm in no danger of not graduating. I rushed home, so I could be there in time for my parents to pick me up on their way to Greensboro. It was BOSS TIME! I'm a relatively new Bruce fan, his music often played in my house when I was growing up, and while I enjoyed it, I never sought to listen to it on my own time. I was supposed to go to a Bruce concert last year, but that plan was foiled when I had two big exams the day after. One weekend this summer my parents were out of town and I begged my mom to let me borrow her car for the weekend because mine didn't have air conditioning and she kindly obliged. She had a Bruce Springsteen greatest hits album in the CD player and I spent the weekend jamming to Born to Run. That was the first song on the CD and usually I wouldn't make it to any of the others, just pressing repeat. After that weekend, I loaded the album to my iPod and spent my time in China listening to Bruce whenever possible. I even listened to Bruce on the way to the Great Wall, it seemed fitting and unfitting all at the same time. At any rate, I was hooked.

I looked up when Bruce was coming to town next then begged my dad to get tickets. Him and my mom didn't need much convincing. My dad did more than just get tickets, he got the best that was offered. My mom and dad were eager to get back on the road as soon as they picked me up Saturday afternoon because we needed to get there by 5 to get bracelets to enter the lottery system to get the best spot. We were one of the last groups of people to get bracelets, with about 1200 people altogether receiving them. My number was 1073. After everyone receives bracelets, all the numbers are put in a container, then one is randomly pulled. They do this to discourage camping out because there is really no advantage of getting there first or last, it's just a crapshoot. We heard only about 400 people were going to be in the best pit area in front of the stage, so there were going to be 800 disappointed people. It was a raucous crowd, but everyone was silent when the random number was called. The number was 981 and I let out a scream of joy and received high fives all around. The 400 people after 981 were getting in first. 1073 was a great place to be, I then told my parents they owed it all to me and my exam being at the time it was. Then, there was a lot more standing in different lines. We got to know the people around us and my mom told everyone she could that her "baby" just had her last exam of college and that she was graduating. I got a lot of congratulations, and then had to answer more "are you really excited" questions. My answer tended to be, "Well, I'm excited for Bruce!"

Once we were let in the pit area, my dad saw an open place in the front left that no one was at. He asked the security guard if this was blocked off for some reason, and it wasn't. Front row to Bruce! Way to go Dad!! Then, more waiting, and making more friends. I met one woman who had been to 195 Bruce concerts. Everyone was really excited for me that this was my first. The house lights went down and the intro to Badlands played. My mom told me my teeth were literally shining I was smiling so hard. Bruce proceeded to rock the house for almost three hours. I know it's been said before, but the fact that Bruce has that much energy and passion at almost 60 years old makes me not so nervous about getting older. The biggest thrill for me was actually Little Steven. I'm a big Sopranos fan and he plays my favorite character on the show. He was also a hero as he rescued a woman who had passed out from the heat in the pit. He picked her up in his arms and carried her to safety and I was actually a little jealous. He kept pointing and smiling to the woman next to me that had been to 195 shows. But, I kept telling myself that maybe one of those smiles was for me. Bruce played Born to Run with all the house lights on and I had never seen so many middle aged white people dancing so giddily. Our newfound friends asked me what I thought of the show, and all I could say is, "When's the next one?"

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