Countdown to Graduation

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

posted 3/3/2009

One of those days…

You know when you just have one of those days where you see everything in a sharper light because you're just amazed at how you think you're at exactly the right place in your life and there is nowhere else you want to be? I used to think that was on a beach catching rays with a fruity cocktail in hand and a Tony Kornheiser podcast on the iPod (did I mention I'm a HUGE journalism/sports geek?) Turns out, that place is right here on our lovely UNC campus and I happened to have that realization standing in front of Saunders Hall. I almost stopped in my tracks, but I was in a hurry to get to work at the Carolina Alumni Review! The day was last Thursday and I know it's been a while since then, but the fact that the day is still sticking with me makes me think it's worth writing about.

First a little background info. I often joke to my friends that I spend Tuesday/Thursdays hating "the man" because in both my classes we learn about oppression of minorities —  sexual minorities and racial minorities. I do often end my day feeling angry and even helpless, but I love learning about it and do think it's made me have a different perspective on a lot of important issues. This Thursday in particular touched on a lot of tough topics. In my Politics of Sexuality class we were discussing partisan politics in relation to sexuality. It was a group presentation day, so students were leading the class. The case of Mark Foley was brought up to illustrate a lot of the points that they were trying to convey. It's a sensitive subject when it comes to sexuality and it can be easy to forget that he didn't resign because he was gay, he resigned because of illicit relations with an underage page. This fact kept getting lost in the shuffle, and it was easy to see tensions were rising in the room.

This cartoon was posted on a powerpoint and it felt like the roof could have blown off our classroom with the amount of emotions coming to a boil. Hands shot up and everyone wanted to be called on to speak. The student presenters were daunted and were coming to the realization they were stepping into the equivalent of a crocodile pit, people were ready to snap. The issue was that my classmates were upset because they thought the student presenters were equating pedophilia with being gay. Now, this is almost certainly not the case, though it could have been presented in a much better way. I am not one for entering such crocodile pits because I tend to avoid conflict like the plague, so I just sat back and watched everything go down. I might not have been involved, but I was riveted. The discussion was civil, though heated, and I marveled at all the different points of view in one classroom. My professor eventually stepped in and got the class back on track because the presentation wasn't over, but that discussion has stuck with me since and really shown me how you present something is sometimes more important than what you're actually saying.

I didn't get much time to think about it though because I was off to my next class. We were having a discussion panel for our midterm about DJ Spooky's Rebirth of a Nation (link:, which is a remix of another movie we had watched for class — Birth of a Nation (what most consider the movie that started narrative film). Our discussion panel consisted of a film teacher, a leader of diversity affairs here on campus, a DJ and a PhD candidate in southern culture. Honestly, I wasn't too thrilled about the event. Discussion panels can often be long and boring with people saying a whole lot of nothing. This was, in fact, just the opposite. And if my previous class was a crocodile pit, I think this could be considered a lion's den. The people were not scared to say anything controversial and one of the women made her voice heard loud and clear (since it was an event for our class, I don't want to put names here). Her points really made me think though, even if I didn't agree with them. She said even though Birth of a Nation was supposedly a brilliant piece of film, it should not be taught in the classroom unless students had a course on African American history first. She also thought the Rebirth of a Nation wasn't really helping matters. I'm not quoting exactly but her comments were something like, if you stir crap around, it's still just crap. I was taken aback by a lot of the things she said because she wasn't afraid to speak her mind. Some of the other speakers on the panel could have felt a little bit attacked, but they valiantly pressed on with their own points of view.

I left that class and started walking down to the Alumni Association building and I just had all these thoughts swirling around, questioning a lot of my own stances I had previously held. I didn't come to any sort of conclusion, but that's okay. I just couldn't help smiling because I was at a place that made me question so much in the span of three hours. I felt like this relates to my quest for graduation because one of the things I'm most nervous about is losing that ability to be challenged like that on a daily basis. Where else besides Carolina will I be presented with such differing views in such a confined place? I know those places exist, but I'm going to have a hard time leaving the one I've already grown to love.

25 Things

So, the big fad going around the interweb these days is the "25 Things" where you write 25 things about yourself then implore 25 of your friends to do the same thing.  I was skeptical of this at first, and am still not sure I am interesting enough to do this, or even if I have 25 friends that would read it. But, once sportswriting great Rick Reilly joined the bandwagon, I figured I had to do this for my career. Or maybe I was just drawing a blank on my next blog post, at any rate, here they are, My 25 Things.

1. My favorite gum to chew has been and probably always will be Extra peppermint flavor. I think this has to be a direct correlation to grandma, who we refer to as Mama, always having it at her house. There has not been one time that I have asked Mama for a piece of gum when she hasn't had it. I used to open her food cabinet and it smelled of Extra peppermint gum. I associate the gum with a lot of good times I've had at her house. It's also just ridiculously tasty.

2. I consider the term best friend a serious one and have only used it to describe one person since seventh grade. I realize I have a lot of great friends I've made since then, but I also realize that none can compare to that one best friend. It doesn't bother me when people refer to multiple people as their best friends, I just choose not to.

3. I hate when people call me out for telling stories more than once and not because I get embarrassed, but because I hardly ever call people out for that. If I have to listen to your story more than once, then it wouldn't hurt you to listen to mine!

4. I wasn't allowed to watch PG-13 movies until I was actually 13 and because of that I haven't seen a lot of movies that "everyone has seen." People are always amazed at the movies I've never watched, but I must say the buzz of Jurassic Park died down before I was allowed to watch it, so I just never did.

5. I'm jealous of people who wear Uggs, and no I'm not being sarcastic. My lack of shoes that actually keep my feet warm is borderline insane and when walking around campus I imagine how warm and toasty my feet would be in a pair of Uggs. I just think they are so hideous that I can't put them on my feet.

6. If I like a song, I will absolutely kill it and make it so I never want to listen to it again. This could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, so if you think I will stop overplaying a song in your presence, you could be waiting a while. Songs I've recently become obsessed with, but haven't actually killed yet include Taylor Swift's Love Story, Kanye West's Love Lockdown, Say Anything's Admit It!!! and every Beyonce song on her new album.

7. If you really want to make me seething mad, there's really only one way to truly accomplish it: judge me by the music I listen to. If you think you're better than me because of music you listen to, then you're wrong. Music is a personal choice and though I might make fun of certain bands (i.e. Nickelback), I would never judge you for what you choose to listen to and wished everyone else would do the same. Also, I lied, another way to make me mad is to spill red juice on a pair of pants I'm currently wearing.

8. I have an insanely good memory about things that don't matter. I used to entertain friends in high school by reciting to them every pair of shoes they've owned since I've known them.

9. There is only one thing that truly haunts me about my past. One time on my birthday, I forget how old I was, we were exchanging presents with my grandma (this one we call Grandma, not Mama) who has the same birthday as me. My siblings and I had made a lot of presents for her, the homemade kind of cards and pictures and whatnot. She had gotten me a dress and I made a comment like how come we got her a lot more presents than she got us (my twin and I). My mom reprimanded me for saying something so selfish, but Grandma hadn't heard what I said. I mumbled that I hadn't said anything, but my mom made me repeat it to her. The look on her face is still seared into my mind today, how she was so disappointed that she had a granddaughter who was so ungrateful and I still think about how bad that made me feel to this day.

10. I think being a journalism major has ruined a lot of things for me. I look at things in a much different way than I would have otherwise when watching TV or reading stories. I always think about the questions they didn't ask or what they didn't show or how something was presented. It makes silly reality TV shows a lot less fun.

11. The most upset my mom has ever seen me was when I failed my driving test on my sixteenth birthday. I cried all day and wouldn't go to school. I still get nervous having to back straight to this day.

12. I hated beer until I went to London. When I met my roommate Cathy at the airport we made a pact that we would acquire a taste that our fellow Brits liked so much. She did not keep up her end of the bargain, but I haven't slowed down since. I love trying new beers and my favorite thing is taking a long time to drink one beer while sitting outside.

13. I really think that I had the perfect childhood. I played in our safe neighborhood with my siblings and neighbors, my parents loved us and each other, I had two grandmas who lived in the same city who I loved spending time with, and nothing truly sad happened to my immediate family (that I can actually recollect) until I was a freshman in college. I know this makes me ridiculously lucky, but sometimes I think I'd be a better writer if I had a reason to have angst.

14. I have a reoccurring dream that my brakes stop working in my car and I always wake up right before I crash.

15. I've had a lot of people tell me (especially growing up) that they thought I was a snob, but really I was just painfully shy and scared to talk to them.

16. I am a slow walker and I love it. I hate being in a hurry (which is probably why I'm always at least 10 minutes early to things.) Some people might see me loafing around campus and think I'm lazy, but I just love dragging my feet and taking my time to get somewhere. If it's a sunny day and a good song is on my iPod, then it could take me 20 minutes longer than usual to get to class.

17. Whenever I get really upset, I calm myself down by thinking how lucky I am to have an older sister who will love me unconditionally and would (and has) dropped everything to talk to me.

18. I'm a pretty laid back person and while I consider myself pretty liberal on a lot of topics, I don't actually do much or talk in a way that indicates I have strong opinions on certain subjects except for one. I get really worked up about sexual minorities' rights and actively research the politics of it (aided by politics of sexuality class.)

19. If you think you have a bad "I was so sick story…," I think mine can trump almost all of them. Spend a night in a not so sanitary Chinese hospital where no one speaks English, there are no real toilets and you're in so much pain you'll take drugs that you have no idea what they are just to try something, then get back to me. That being said, even at the time I knew this was going to be a funny story to tell, and I made it through the experience thanks to my guardian angel Jennifer Carpenter.

20. Speaking of being sick, I was one of the people that got E-Coli from McAlisters on Franklin St., a claim to fame that I wish never happened.

21. I never take for granted how amazing my two grandmas are and legitimately look forward to hanging out with both of them. They are on completely opposite spectrums of the personality scale, and I'd like to think I'm becoming the perfect mixture of the two.

22. My favorite animal is a penguin because of reading Mr. Popper's Penguins in 4th grade. My family still makes fun of me for thinking the penguins at Sea World weren't real because they looked mechanical.

23. Baseball is my favorite sport and I've tragically been a Chicago Cubs fan since the beginning of my baseball obsession. The reason for this is because WGN shows most of the Cubs' games, so they were always on TV and I caught every game I could including my favorite game watching experience where Kerry Wood broke the single game strikeout record (link: That might be a lame reason to like a team, but I think I've proved my allegiance by sticking through the good and bad times (and most of them were bad.)

24. I've read The Giver more than 30 times and I think it gets better every time. I owned a copy signed by Lois Lowry that I bought at a used book store and didn't even realized she had signed it until years of owning it.

25. Danny Green has been my favorite player since the day I set foot on the UNC campus. I'm incredibly happy that he's playing so well this year, but I am also bitter towards all the people jumping on the bandwagon I've been on for four years. Also, if he gets drafted by the Lakers I would a very happy girl.

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