Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Super-Senior Lessons

For the last 15 minutes or so, I have been sitting at my computer agonizing over what I should write about. I want to write something funny, but not pessimistic, and that is a very hard line for me to walk. I'll try my best to make this post fit the bill. However, I've already ruined it. Here's an important principle to remember in all of your social interactions: Never begin a story with "Here's a funny story..." or a statement with "Here's something interesting...". You're only setting yourself up for failure. If you preface your anecdote with a promise of humor, you create an expectation for laughs, and if the story proves to not be funny, you only leave your listeners disappointed. Instead of introducing a story with something like that, just begin your story. That is all just a free tip from your friend David.

So I guess instead of writing the previous paragraph, I should have just written: "Here's a post. Read it."

I'm getting old. This year is my fifth and last one at Ozark, which means I have been here longer that just about everyone. Most the the students I came in with as bright-eyed freshmen have left and are doing all sorts of things all over the place, but I'm still sitting at the same desk I have had since 2006, with the same posters on my wall. Really the only thing that has changed is that I have a roommate who doesn't mysteriously disappear when it's time to clean the room for room checks. We are already halfway through the fall semester, and now that I have a good amount of my fifth year under my belt, I thought I would share a few lessons I have learned about what it means to be a super-senior.

1. You get slow and out of shape
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I was ever freakishly fast, as I am not the posterchild for athleticism (as much as a surprise that might seem to many of you). Nevertheless, I did come to the realization that my prime days might be behind me during intramural frisbee season this year. I have been playing with basically the same team for the past three years. The season started off great. We won our first game on a clutch score near the end of the game, and we were riding high with visions of frisbee domination for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, that was the last game we won. Not only did we lose all the rest of our games; we were decimated in ever facet of the game. What we finally concluded was that, while other teams recruited freshmen and sophomores, we had remained the same. So while everyone else got younger and faster, we got older and slower. The result? An already fragile ego being smashed to bits. Thankfully, intramural season started last night. Let's go Stoop Kids! 1-0, baby!

2. You're not as influential as you think you should be
When you're in high school, everyone knows that the seniors run the school. They are the ones who have been their longest, and they have, well, seniority. They are the ones who set the tone for the year. But that isn't how it works at a college like Ozark. The truth is that the freshmen and sophomores steer the ship in many ways. For one thing, there are just so many of them, and for another, so many of the older students have bailed out and now live off campus. Of course, maybe these reasons are just an illusion, and the true reason is that I'm to passive and apathetic to have more of an influence, but I don't really care to find out for sure.

3. Your weekends are spent attending weddings
I remember when I used to spend my Saturdays doing things I really wanted to do--sleeping in, watching movies, taking a nap, shooting stuff with Nerf guns. These days, however, weekends mean that I actually have to take a shower, because they mean that I have to go watch someone get married. This weekend I will be attending my third wedding of the semester, and as much as I love to put on a tie and dance the night away, I do miss college football.

4. Your romantic life is probably over
While I am on the topic of weddings, let me share with you some information that my roommate Ryan was kind enough to read to me right before I went to bed a couple weeks ago. In their book Creating a Successful Christian Marriage, Cleveland McDonald and Philip M. McDonald write this about Christian colleges:
There is no better place for a young person to find a mate with similar beliefs, goals, and values; and a multitude of happy Christian marriages have resulted from courtships on Christian campuses. If a man or woman leaves the campus without a mate or prospective mate, he or she will never again have such a wide selection of possible mate choices. There may be eligible bachelors and single women back home in the local church, but the opportunities will be much fewer than they are on campus. (119)
The McDonald brothers(?) go on to write that many students do not date because they are shy [insert: they sit in their rooms and write blogs instead of speaking to actual human beings], and that they need the Holy Spirit's help to overcome their undeveloped social skills. I certainly don't want to undervalue the work of the Holy Spirit, but it sounds like the McDonalds are telling people like me that once we get to May and are still single, it's going to take a miracle to change that. Or, I guess I could get a tattoo of a cross on my arm. I heard that works.

5. You're not as fun as you used to be
Like I said before, I did all kinds of fun things my first couple years at Ozark. Ryan and I often reminisce about how, our first semester, we went to the student center after lunch every day and played a few games of pool with Charlie. It felt like, in those early days, I was always playing games and ordering pizza and going on late-night food runs. Here are some statistics that help illustrate the change: so far this year, I have played ping-pong twice; I have played basketball once; I have played cards once; I have watched one movie on our projector; and I have not played pool at all. Somehow, I have gotten so serious about things these days, and I miss the days when I didn't feel like I needed to work as hard and when I laughed more. Before long, I'll be one of those crotchety old men at the nursing home, and some kid will ask me to play checkers with him, and I'll tell him no because I would whatever crotchety old men do. Think about broken hips or something.

6. You're expected to have some sort of handle on life
On an almost daily basis, I ask Ryan, "What are we doing with our lives?!" It seems like the closer I get to graduation, the less able I am to answer this question. A few years ago, I had it all figured out--I would graduate and then look for a year-long youth ministry internship, and then after that I would look for a youth ministry at a mid-sized church in the Northwest. Nowadays, the answer is much more vague, and is something like, "Well, I might go to seminary....if I can afford it....but if I can't....I guess I'll do.....something....." Since I was a freshman in high school, I pretty well had the next stage planned out, but now that I am getting closer to another transition, I am on less secure ground, and that is a scary thought. That's why I occasionally make a threat to just work at Domino's. I do love pizza, after all.

So I've been trying to think of ways to increase the readership of this blog, because I feel like not a lot has changed in a long time, and I'm never going to be offered a book deal at this rate. I suppose the best way to get more readers would be to write more posts worth reading, but that sounds like more work for me. And so, I propose a contest (which is in itself a way to increase readership): Leave a comment and give me a creative suggestion on how to increase readership, and whichever idea I like best, I will buy that person a taco or something.


Caitlyn said...

"Or, I guess I could get a tattoo of a cross on my arm. I heard that works."

When I read that, I laughed so suddenly that I choked and started coughing. So your goal to make a funny post was a success. At least for me!

And I know exactly what you mean when you talked about having everything you've figured out kind of become this vague guess. It's so easy to have plans when their fruition is far-off. I mean, look at me - I'm an OCC grad about to start working retail for lack of ministerial hiring. So Domino's might not be such a bad idea, but I think you can do better.

And now for my entry into the contest. I think you could increase readership by featuring people in them. I mean, I love reading blogs by Dave about Dave, but remember that time we collaborated? That was a treat. Maybe more people want to read about themselves.

Charlie said...

I want to echo Caitlyn's statement about laughing at the tatoo part. However, I think there can be an improvement. Instead of putting "Gal.2:20," put "Gal. 2:20a" because the ladies don't really like the latter part of that verse anyways.

So you want an idea to increase readership??? Get a facebook ad promoting your blog. Get a plane that is pulling a sign that has your blog's address on it. Post more pictures of you with your shirt off. Let Connor do a couple guest posts, and you cannot censor him at all. Go around and get pictures of you kissing babies...I'm not sure what you'll do with those pictures though. I think this is a good start.