"News is the first rough draft of history."

The Voice of the College at Florham

"News is the first rough draft of history." - The Voice of the College at Florham

State party chairs give election autopsy

MELANIE ANZEDEI
Staff Writer

Fairleigh Dickinson University recently welcomed the state party chairmen for an “Election Autopsy” on the recent New Jersey State gubernatorial race, which resulted in an outcome that shocked voters throughout the state and nation.
Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, the Democratic Party chair, and Assemblyman Jay Webber, the Republican Party chair, were both very open to the various questions that the audience, which was a mix of Fairleigh Dickinson’s student body, faculty, and staff, had in store.
Current New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s failed attempt at re-election left the Democrats empty handed as the position of governor was handed over to former U.S. attorney, Chris Christie. The Democrats’ loss not only questioned whether they deserted their nominee, but also whether the New Jersey voter had abandoned President Barack Obama.
The Democrats, according to Cryan, had difficulties moving forward between regional and ideological differences among the party. These differences created a weak campaign but “didn’t cost the election.” Cryan explained that the re-election was lost not because of a desertion, but because the Republicans simply ran a better campaign.
“They beat us… that’s it,” said Cryan.
Webber also felt that the Republicans ran a well-organized campaign that appealed to New Jersey voters. He credited the victory on having a good nominee.
“The flip-side of that coin is that we had a strong ticket,” he said, referring to Christie.
Republicans were able to stay on the “right side of the issues,” said Webber. He reminded the audience that this election resulted in the “second largest Republican victory in a long time.”
The New Jersey voter, according to Cryan, has changed in recent years. He explained that the state is currently in a “conservative awakening,” which affected the Democratic campaign strongly and negatively.
“We were talking about pre-school; they were talking about property taxes,” he said. “We knew about the problems; we didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed every day.” The Democrats simply took a different approach towards those problems.
This change also questioned the New Jersey voter’s support of current Obama, a Democrat who won with a sweeping victory. But his popularity did little to nothing in terms of helping Corzine win re-election.
Obama had campaigned alongside Corzine on a few occasions, one of which was a rally held at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan campus in Teaneck. The Democrats hoped that this sold-out event would better the chances for Corzine in Bergen County.
Surprisingly, Obama’s support for Corzine did not change the minds of New Jersey voters and the governor’s seat was still handed over to Republicans.
When Cryan was asked if he felt this election reflected what will happen in the 2012 presidential election, he without hesitation answered, “NO.”
Both Webber and Cryan agreed that this gubernatorial election was more a referendum on Corzine than a referendum on Obama, even though Obama couldn’t change the minds of the voters.
The Republicans held a campaign that would have been a “winning formula for any candidate,” said Webber.
The event was organized by Politics on the PublicMind, which is directed by Peter Woolley, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. The event took place at the Orangerie, located in the school’s library.

New secular student alliance on campus

KRISTEN HEACOCK
Staff Writer

A new group has begun to rise on the FDU campus, a group that questions and analyzes not only the world around us, but the presence of a God as well. The group, Secular Student Alliance, is not just for atheists, but for agnostics, secular humanists “and anyone who believes in questioning the status quo,” said Nicole Aiello, its president.
According to the Secular Student Alliance Facebook page, the organization has a network of over 170 campus-based groups.
“The mission of the Secular Student Alliance is to organize, unite, educate, and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human based ethics,” according to the secularstudent.org Web site.
Despite some of the group’s fliers being torn down, Aiello keeps a good attitude and hopes to affect the student body in a positive manner.
“I am hoping that people will realize that there are alternatives to religion and that a community of nonreligious people exists at FDU,” she said. “We want to dispel all of the misconceptions that people have about atheists, especially that we are immoral and nihilistic.”
Student Beth Blackman said “if there are clubs that are for those who are religious then why shouldn’t there be one for those who aren’t? Of course it might cause problems because people get upset when they hear that others don’t believe in God even though it has no effect on them.”
Secular Student Alliance meets every Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8p.m. in the Wroxton Room in the Student Center.
“People tend to have a lot of preconceived notions about what it is to be an atheist, most of which are not based in reality at all, and we are eager to discuss normally taboo issues in order to make ourselves understood. The fact is we have morals, most of which are very similar to the morals that the three big world religions espouse, and we care about the rest of humanity and the future of our world just as much as any believer, if not more,” said Aiello.

From the Metro editor’s desk

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-In-Chief

As I woke up at 8 a.m. to sign up for classes on Monday, it occurred to me this would be my last time ever registering for undergraduate classes.

Four years ago, I remember being nervous and anxious about college and what the future held for me, and now as I enter my last semester, I am even more nervous and anxious about what’s next.
For me, it is the inevitable question: graduate school or straight to the workforce?

I recently attended the New York Women in Communications career conference, which encourages women to pursue their dreams to enter the media communications field.

As I sat in an audience filled with young adults, all striving for the same glamorous future, I listened to some of the most powerful women in the field as they gave tips on making it in this field.
As this industry struggles, along with all industries, I learned there is a push for creativity and new, young innovative ideas. As we enter the workforce, we can not let the recession stand in our way.

Time will move forward, whether you want it to or not, and if you are stuck focusing on unemployment or competition, you will never be able to advance. Instead, I learned you need to practice new ways of seeing. Be prepared for crazy accidents, and take advantage of the unexpected. Although crises are inevitable, I find that with crisis comes opportunity. One way is to take the struggling industries as an opportunity to form new, innovative models.

I also learned that it truly doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. While the 2010 class prepares for graduation, some will have jobs right out of college and some will not. If you are focused on what everyone else is doing, you will miss your own opportunities. Everyone takes a different path. You need to look forward and push for the future, or look behind and learn from your past. If you look sideways at what everyone else is doing, you are going to miss what you need most: your own creative ideas.

At the NYWICI conference, and most other conferences, there is a push for networking.
Far too often I have heard that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I think that while networking is great, when your work is truly the best, it will speak for itself. If you are the best at what you do, it won’t matter who you know or who you don’t. That said, clearly it is still helpful to get your foot in the door. When interning or when you are just starting in the work field, you need to be pleasent and be someone people want to work with. Creating a good rapport with the industry’s leaders combined with excellent work will inevitably lead to success.

As the conference came to an end, the panelists were asked to give some final words of advice. One, in particular, stuck with me. She said the key is to “decide what you want to be known for.”
I thought that was a perfect way to describe how your future should lay out. That is the hard part. If you can imagine what you want the next generation of young, innovative people to remember you by, the rest is simple strategic planning.

Take every point of engagement seriously and use every experience as an opportunity to learn. I do not think success is measured by profit, rather by experience and personal satisfaction. For me, the second I stop learning is when I am no longer successful.

So, as I prepare to graduate and enter a pivotal point in my career, I realize I need to take in every opportunity and make the most of it.

It does not matter what your friends do, what you wanted to do as a child or what your parents do. What matters is what you want to be known for and what you can make of every situation.

A small conglomerate of lights

JOHN SAAVEDRA, JR.
Contributor

The last couple of weeks have reminded me of the connections we make with people. Sometimes these connections are subtle. I hear myself thinking, “Well, he/she seems like a nice person. I’d like to hang out with him/her sometime.” Other times we see people we have similarities with. We see the artist within ourselves when we look at them or talk to them. We see the person we have been aiming to be and for others to see all along. It’s always a good feeling when you are compatible with someone, alike with someone.
Another realization is the fact that human beings are like spontaneous sparks of light. They are constantly rushing in and out of our lives, passing by us at mind-boggling speed. Most of these small lights barely stop to say, “Hello,” or “Sorry for bumping into you.” Human beings are constantly flickering on and off in their own private suns.
This is the sweet moment: I have found many of these people in the past two months. They are writers, musicians, poets, artists, smokers, laughers, runners, scientists, people that like to stare. Blue-eyed beauties with a tinge of green. People who like to hug and kiss on the cheek. Those abnormal people who will share angel food cake with you, not worrying about the germ-crazed factoids surrounding us or the swine flu scare. These are my people. My friends. These are the people I want to hold hands with and march into the next day.
Not to flatter—or pity—myself, but: Writing is a lonely business. It almost equates to being an undertaker. Both of these individuals turn to the silence and emptiness in their professions as company. The writer and the undertaker try to build images, whether it is on paper or a face. There are barely any lights in the workroom of a writer, besides perhaps a desk lamp or the dim light of the monitor (why doesn’t anyone use typewriters anymore?). So it is amazing when someone comes along and shines a bit of extra light on you. These rare but beautiful moments have come to me in the form of writing sessions, those strange occasions that occur almost against our will because writers can be such loners. More than once, I’ve sat down with someone, our laptops facing each other, the clicking of each other’s keyboards relaxing one another. That symbolic clicking gives us the one reassurance we can have as young writers in a hailstorm: we are not alone. And what comes out of that feeling of companionship is something very beautiful. A poem, a story, an essay, an energetic article that says, “Look out world! I’m not afraid to speak my mind!” Perhaps these moments can even give us a glimpse into what the creative process really is. Maybe we are not inspired by loneliness, but by the thought that we are able to make a connection with something. Some of us write to make a connection with others. Another writer might write to make a connection with him/herself. Either way, there are connections to be made. We are like the swarm of ladybugs clinging on to the Mansion in the fall: cold and looking for a home.
What have I learned from this overwhelming melting pot of experience constantly being dropped over my head? Some lights flicker on around us and somehow—I have no doubt this is one of the small miracles that make the human condition such a wonderful experience—make our own light even brighter.

The recruitment of LeBron James

CHRIS NIMBLEY
Sports Editor

Friday in New York City began with a parade to celebrate the Yankees 27th World Series victory and the night ended leaving the Knicks and their fans with only that to hang on to.
For the past couple of years the only thing that could excite the Knicks fan base was the thought of LeBron James possibly joining their beloved Knicks in 2010. The fans have been given the idea that somehow the Knicks have been this bad for so long and its all right because they were going to make a run at James during this offseason. The media and the Knicks management have been toying with their fans over this idea of James coming to save this once proud franchise.
The Knicks have an incredibly loyal fan base, but it is tough for a team to only get this type of attention when a specific player on another team comes to play in their arena. When James comes to New York City he does not steal the spotlight from the Knicks; he is the spotlight.
“I have been a Knicks fan my whole life,” said 26-year-old Nick Thomas, “but I’m here to see LeBron tonight. Hopefully this time next year I will be watching him play for the Knicks, but until then I have to settle for watching him beat my Knicks.”
James deals with being the spotlight everyday of his life and pretty much everywhere he goes he is the most famous person around. Every time he plays on the road he has to know many of the fans are there to see him, not their home teams players, but it is never as painfully obvious as it is when the Cleveland Cavaliers come to Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks.
The Garden used to be a notoriously hard place for opposing players to play. Sure, there were players who thrived off that and had success, but the fans would give them hell anyway. Michael Jordan never received any type of warm welcome from the crowd; Knicks fans hated him and never hesitated to let him know it. When James comes to town it’s a completely different story, instead of hurling insults at the guy they roll out the red carpet for him. Obviously the difference is that, when Jordan was playing, the Knicks were competing for championships. They were just always losing to Jordan and his Bulls; now the Knicks lose to everybody. The fans want to see some quality basketball, so they come to watch James play and dream of him playing for the Knicks next year.
Entering the arena there were clearly more James jerseys than Knicks players’ jerseys. There were plenty of people jumping the gun and wearing Knicks jerseys with the number 23 on it and the name James on the back. It cannot be easy for the players who are actually on the Knicks to know that their years of losing has driven this proud fan base to root so openly for another player over their own team. The team can’t blame the fans, though. Simply put: James puts on a better show night in and night out than the Knicks do.
In team sports there is the old cliché that no one person is bigger than the team, but in this case there is no denying that James is bigger and more known than all of the Knicks put together.
In the 90s the Knicks would routinely have celebrities in the arena to watch their games, but now they only come to see James and Kobe Bryant. This night was a perfect example as to why that is. James took over from the opening tip, scoring 19 points and five assists in the first quarter, to open up a 40-21 lead. The Cavs never looked back and put it on autopilot from that point on. James finished with 33 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
The Knicks managed to make a late rally to pull within nine points, but the outcome was never in doubt. James and the Cavs controlled this game from the beginning and the fans loved it, showering James with cheers the entire game.
“The guy is an animal, I mean look at how he just picks the Knicks apart. I know the Knicks are a bad team, but that doesn’t take away from the show he puts on,” fan Jermaine Rodgers said. “We have been told to be patient and wait for this offseason, it’s all us Knicks fans have to hope for. If he doesn’t sign with us I don’t think we can recover. I don’t think there is a plan b; he is the only plan.”
“This couldn’t have been planned better. I had come to grips with the fact that LeBron wasn’t going to come here, but for him to come here on the day of the parade for the Yankees and C.C. hopefully pushing hard to recruit him, it gives me some hope that he might actually sign here,” said fan Justin Wadleigh.
On Friday night the Knicks had many of the newly-crowned World Series champion New York Yankees at the game, along with other celebrities like Jay-Z, but there was no secret that they were there because James was in town. Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia knows James very well and they both consider each other to be good friends from Sabathia’s days playing for the Cleveland Indians.
Since Sabathia signed his contract last year with the Yankees, he has been asked about the possibility of trying to help recruit James to come in play in New York. He has always entertained the idea, but he has never seemed so confident that playing in New York was great until now; it could be that winning a championship will do that. With the odds now seemingly stacked against the Knicks signing James, Sabathia and his new championship ring have become their best hope of saving this franchise.

Poetry therapy allows students to express themselves

ELYSE FETHERMAN
Entertainment Editor

On Nov. 4, over 30 students gathered in Hartman Lounge to experience the cathartic and inspirational benefits of poetry therapy. Resident Assistant Janae Sones and Lona Whitmarsh of the psychology department brought in licensed poetry therapist and Madison-based counselor Kerstin White for a participant oriented session.
White, a licensed poetry therapist, jumped in ‘en media res’ and started the session with a warm-up activity. The group began with a reading of a 12-year-old’s poem, entitled “To Understand Me.” After interpreting different meanings, the language and purpose, the group was encouraged to write their own “To Understand Me” poems.
Senior creative writing major Paul Russell shared his poem with the group. Russell shared his likes, dislikes and unique quirks in a poem similar to the “To Understand Me” poem. From pizza and cats to his at times difficult relationship with his brother, Russell shared a little bit of himself in a comfortable, safe, non-judgmental environment.
White’s strategy of beginning with a writing exercise was quite intentional. “The best way to learn about poetry therapy is to just experience it,” said White.
Conducting sessions for both groups and individuals, White believes that the creative writing process is “a catalyst for expressing emotion.”
Turning again to the group, White supplemented this point by prompting the group with the question, “why do you write?” Many students offered similar answers such as self-expression, emotional release and to document everyday life. Quite appropriately, therapeutic writing has similar driving forces. White explained that therapeutic writing is all about self-expression. “We aren’t concerned with editing and grammar,” said White, “you just gotta put it all out on the page.”
And for some, this self-expression can be a powerful healing device. White explained that people who have experienced trauma often feel a sense of fragmentation. According to White, poetry therapy can alleviate that sense of separation. “It combines the left and right sides of the brain. It reunites and links feelings with events,” she said.
White also described poetry as a “catalyst and a bridge between the client and the self.” But why poetry over other styles of writing? According to White, poetry is the ultimate form of self-expression. “Poetry is the language of dreams. The metaphors, abstract concepts all get directly into the unconscious,” said White. “It gets quickly to the core and is ideal for a group because it is short and concise.”
To dive into the unconscious, however, White has to go through a lot of prep works to individualize each session for her clients. For the group in Hartman (mostly creative writing and psychology majors), White prepared an exercise relative to the experiences that college-aged individuals might face. She presented a series of college-oriented poems under the general heading of new beginnings. After exploring the themes of identity, individualism, independence and the future, students wrote their own new beginnings poems.
Senior creative writing major Megan Lacey shared her poem with the group. She hit many common themes in the other poems as she discussed who she was, where she was going and what she was going to do following graduation.
And while many of the students who did share their poems were creative writing majors, psychology and education major Brittany Becker also shared her new beginnings poem after a little encouragement from White. “Many people feel that they don’t know how to write” said White. “And when they do and when they share, it is inspirational to see them tap into something deep within.”
And perhaps one of the best things about poetry therapy, according to White, is “the chance to have your voice heard and have others listen.”
A truly relaxing and therapeutic event, White helped tap into the students’ subconscious in a safe, fun and interactive environment that released a semester’s worth of stress.

Dreyfuss adds elevator in compliance with ADA laws

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-In-Chief

The beautiful landscape and architecture that so many love at the College at Florham has presented problems in terms of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, leading to necessary construction throughout the campus.

Projects that have been designed to improve handicap accessibility include the wheelchair lift in the Mansion courtyard and the ramp near the Mansion portico, according to campus Provost Kenneth Greene.

Most recently, as many students have noticed, the construction to put an elevator in Dreyfuss building has begun. The project’s cost is approximately $3.5 million.

“The Dreyfuss renovation is designed to make the building handicapped accessible. According to the ADA, handicapped students must be able to reach the computer rooms and the ITV room and other academic and staff offices,” said Greene. “At this time, students in wheelchairs cannot reach these areas. The solution is to put an elevator in Dreyfuss.”

As previously reported in The Metro, periodically, the Office of Civil Rights checks various colleges to see if their ADA regulations are up to date. A few years ago, the Office of Civil Rights came to FDU to do a complete assessment and found that many of the campus’ buildings were not complying with ADA regulations, said Greene.

“A lot has already been done,” said Greene, referring to simple problems, such as lowering the paper towel dispensers to meet ADA regulation height.

On the other hand, some of the major renovations need more time.

The Office of Civil Rights had given FDU seven years to meet all accommodations, according to Greene. All new buildings, such as the New Academic Building, Park Ave., and Rutherford, had to be built handicap accessible.

The ADA requires other small changes as well. For example, the ADA says that a door must not require more than five pounds of pressure to open.

Because the College at Florham was not designed to be a college campus, it can be very difficult for physically-handicapped students to get around, according to Greene.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 “prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation,” according to its Web site.

The construction in Dreyfuss, which was supposed to start at the beginning of October, but was delayed for two weeks because of the late arrival of trailers to temporarily house the Information Technology offices, has been a hassle for some students.

“I am incredibly annoyed with the construction,” said senior Cindy Fernandez, who frequents the building to use the theater for play rehearsal. “Dreyfuss is like home-base for a bunch of us. There are times when I have to run to Dreyfuss real quick to pick something up or use a computer real quick between classes and I end up 10 to 15 minutes late to my classes that are outside of Dreyfuss because I have to walk around the entire building to go through the Rec. Center.”

Greene pointed out that no one will be able to use the front entrance of Dreyfuss until construction is completed, hopefully by early April.

“Until then, we must use the entrance to Dreyfuss that faces the athletic field,” Greene said. “This is an inconvenience, but the main renovation will involve removing the current front of the building and putting up a new one.”

Senior Elise Kaplan wishes construction had taken place when students were not on campus. “They are putting an elevator in, but the entire front and side of the building is closed off and you can’t even walk through in between Dreyfuss and the Rec. Center,” she said.

According to Greene, the construction is especially difficult because of the number of levels in the building. “The architect the University hired to design the renovation determined that the most appropriate place for the elevator was where the Information Technology offices are currently located,” he said.

When the elevator is installed, the building will lose a classroom on the lower level and most of the Information Technology offices. Consequently, the front of the building will be expanded by bumping it out toward the area that faces the plaza.

Greene hopes that the new front of Dreyfuss will blend more easily into the architecture of the Rec. Center and the NAB.

In the future, the University is scheduled to put an elevator in the Science Building in order to satisfy the ADA requirements and allow all students to utilize this building.

Car-sharing now available for students

MELISSA HARTZ
Design Editor

For students without cars, this scenic campus can sometimes feel like a prison. Though the train system near campus is convenient, the lack of a car can make simple things, such as grocery shopping, exceedingly time consuming and difficult. However, on Nov. 1, FDU’s Hertz Car-Share Program became available to students. This program allows students over 18 with clean driving records to rent out a car by the hour to take wherever they please.
“This program is an excellent benefit for freshmen and upperclassmen who do not have cars on campus,” said Dean of Students Brian Mauro. “As long as the student has a valid driver’s license, they’re welcome to use the cars.”
“These car-share programs are increasingly popular across the United States. FDU is not the first University to implement it, but we’re certainly not the last,” said Mauro.
At the moment, FDU has two Toyota Prius Hybrids available for student use. Each car comes complete with GPS, card swipe and keyless ignition.
“The keyless ignition takes a little getting used to,” said Eric Range, assistant director of residence life. “You don’t use a lever to park like you would in another car, but other than that it drives just fine.”
Range, the person responsible for organizing and implementing the Hertz Car-Share Program, explained how it worked.
“Students need to register online first and reserve the car for however long they want it. From there, the student will get a membership card that they use to unlock the car. It’s important for students to register and have their card with them, because the key only works when you’ve unlocked the vehicle with your card.”
After registration, students can choose from three different payment options: Connect, Connect50 and Connect150.
The Connect option is the simplest, allowing students to pay an $8 hourly rate as they use the vehicle. However, if they will be using the car more frequently, the Connect50 and 150 options allow students to buy hours in bulk.
The other two options are paid month-to-month, and bring the cost down to about $6.50 per hour. Gas, insurance and use of the car are included in the hourly rate.
Range stressed the importance of each user taking responsibility for their time with the vehicle. “It’s a community car, so people can’t leave McDonald’s trash all over the car. If the car has less than a quarter tank of gas in it, we ask that students fill it up before returning the car to campus. There’s a gas card right in the car, so it doesn’t cost the driver anything and it can be used at any gas station.”
The car also has an automated program where students can report vehicle problems directly to Hertz.
“The great thing about this program is that only the people that use the program will pay for it,” said Range. “Because we had minimal startup and expansion fees, students that don’t utilize the cars won’t be footing the bill.”

From the Metro editor’s desk

KAYLA HASTRUP
Editor-In-Chief

“Obama comes to FDU.” No wait, “Obama rallies for Corzine at FDU.” Or should it be, “FDU holds Democratic rally”?

As I spent the weekend determining the appropriate headline for the Obama article, I questioned what would be the most creative, yet informative, non-sensationalized sentence for the front page.
It seemed too easy to grab people’s attention with, “FDU hosts Obama.” That is true, but it was not a FDU-sponsored event. What would students read?

Hundreds of students, from both the Metropolitan campus and College at Florham, flooded the crowded Rothman Center for the Corzine rally. Most, I imagine, went because they wanted to see President Obama but knew hardly anything about the gubernatorial race.

I’m thinking, students will read the Obama article for sure. They have to. He is probably the most influential speaker FDU has ever had.

Back to the headline. Do I mention the politics behind the event? It is doubtful the majority of students will want to read about, let alone know, what I’m talking about.

Before the rally, I asked students if they planned on voting. The majority had no opinions or did not know enough about the gubernatorial race to have an opinion.

I don’t think every student should closely follow the race, but I do think it is important for the future of New Jersey to have a valid opinion. If students know nothing about the race but what was said at the Corzine rally and what the president said, what sort of educated decision can be made?

I doubt many students will turn to credible sources to find their information if there are boring, informative headlines.

One reason I believe no students read a thing about politics is that, in some articles I have edited, Barack Obama’s name has been spelled wrong.

Too often have I heard that students only pick up The Metro if they are in it or their picture is in it. I question what is the point of spending all weekend laying out the paper with hard news if the audience doesn’t care?

So, as unfortunate as I think it is, I leave out the politics. Instead, I fill space with students’ pictures because that is what the students want.

Dawn of the freshman

JOHN SAAVEDRA, JR.
Contributor

Word of the day: transition.
It is bouncing around every freshman’s head, including my own. My first moments as a college student were ones played out with music— I room with Isaac Leggett and Matt Ryan, after all. I set my stuff down on the floor, my father following close behind with more things, my mother taking very slow steps into the room that would soon become her son’s new home. I looked around. Though the room wasn’t anything special in size, I could still feel a sense of its enormity. At that moment I felt like an ant, expectation’s big foot ready to stomp down on my puny body. I was scared in those first moments.
This is false: you can leave your home.
You cannot. The second thought coursing through my head after the fear was gone was that I was completely “free.” There would be no one to tell me to clean my room or invade my privacy — my parents don’t ever knock, which makes for hundreds of interrupted writing sessions. At long last, I was going to go out whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted.
But then I realized that every time I came back to my dorm on Sunday I needed to Febreze (yes, I can turn air freshener products into verbs!) my room. I didn’t only need to clean my room, I wanted to. I fold my clothes and put them in organized drawers categorized by type of apparel. I even put a new trash bag in the garbage can, sometimes even in my suitemate’s! It’s really scary realizing that I’m listening to my mother when she’s not around. As much as I hated the rules, the scolding, the complaining, I end up living my life with those same credos. Even if I’m running the clockwork of my life on my own now, my parents and their teachings are embedded in me. Home stays with you wherever you go.
Another lie: college doesn’t change you.
Fears are conquered on open mic nights. History, however small it can be (although huge for the individual), was made in the Mansion. A shy eighteen-year-old writer stood in front of a tightly packed crowd. It was silent. The mood was perfect for a poem. The happy folk songs were done with and only those with endurance were still in the room. They sat waiting for the writer to speak. His first words were nervous ones. They didn’t sound natural at all. In fact, he’d been rehearsing them all night, as he watched people begin to battle their heavy eyelids at a quarter past twelve.
“I wrote this last night. It’s short so it will be quick and painful…less.”
No one laughed. He was never a comedian.
Then he looked down at the paper. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” began to play in the background like it would in a Stanley Kubrick film. He read, “Man reading a newspaper…”
He read the whole thing, silence throughout. It was not a funny poem. He wouldn’t dare try something like that. A year before, he wouldn’t have even dared go up and read a poem in front of an audience. This night, he decided to change.
Final words of the poem: “A day in his life.”
Routine: keeping to myself, not sharing, not giving an inch of myself to the public, keeping quiet. Writing. Pondering on whether I should step out of my shell. A day in my life.
When I sat back down, people clapped. Brandon Battersby, a prominent student in the Creative Writing program, gave me a thumbs up. I didn’t feel like I had affected the audience with my poem. I hadn’t made it even more silent, as each person’s thoughts began to race in their heads. It was a simple sea of words lost in a wave. But experience is never lost. After that night, I feel like I can read again, and with a little bit more confidence. Next time I don’t have to say dumb jokes before I read. Next time my paper won’t shake as I read it. Most importantly, there will be a next time.
A pathetic attempt at wisdom: pick up a pair of sticks, start playing with them. Eventually, you will learn how to start a fire.
Last words: A new day. Discover something new about yourself. Make it sacred. Make it home. Nothing you have learned so far will be left behind. It was all thrown into the cocoon that is adolescence. You will be different when you bloom. A butterfly.