Friday, September 4, 2009

It's An Editorial Illness.

I may have mentioned a few times that I actually have a life outside of the drama that you usually read about on this blog. It's sad, but true-- there are somehow enough hours in a day for me to be productive AND have some form of drama going on.

One of the many hats I wear is quite the jaunty one. I happen to be, through some fluke of moral ineptitude or momentary lapse in sane judgment on one of my professor's parts, the Editor-in-Chief this year of Champlain College's newspaper, the Current. Though I accepted this post with mild skepticism, no idea what I was doing, and a vague feeling of nausea in between bouts of giddy excitement and daydreams of bossing around freshmen newsy minions, I have to admit that though I will periodically find myself cold-sweating in mid-afternoon about if we'll have enough stories to make even a small first 8-page issue, I'm enjoying myself.

Other than page count and submissions, the other thing that makes me slightly lose my gourd is having to write my editorials. I am a love/sex/relationship columnist, for christsake. Editorials are deep. Editorials are supposed to change lives and perspectives and mean something. I generally write to try to get people to change the brand of condoms they use. (Trojans all the way, baby!)

So you see why I have a sort of mini-existential crisis going on. What can I write about, in my own tone, that's subject matter will be both informative and appropriate for an audience not only of college students (who I'm sure would have no qualms reading about why I curse Durex into the far corners of hell for being generally tiny condoms), but also for college faculty, alumni, and perspective students and their hovering helicopter parents? Also, I get into a little bit of a moral bind here-- first and foremost, this is a college newspaper. I want to make it interesting for the college's students to read. I want to make it something that they'll pick up; that they'll want to pick up. For the past few years, while it showed a REMARKABLE turn-around under last year's EiC, the Current has strayed into the gray territory of being targeted more toward the "adults" who read it, and not the students at the college. Lots of news, lots of interviews of "important" faculty members, lots of ass-kissing, not much fun.

(Ahem. Ever notice "faculty" contains the word "cult" in it? Hmmm.)

Being a hardcore lit fan in whatever media I can get it, I've been picking up the Current on-and-off for the past few years. Last year was the first year I started to see a more student-oriented vibe to it-- more reviews, more loose and informal editorials, less of the college-mandated ass-kissing. It was a start, but I really wonder sometimes if they're ready for me. I'm already slating beer reviews and advice columns and fashion articles and mountain reviews in the winter. Oh, and also, my editorials-- I'm trying to decide how many of them can be sexual in nature before I get ganked by faculty for lewd and lascivious conduct.

But hey. This is my dog-and-pony show. This is my paper, my editorial policy, and my editorial judgment. I'm putting my name and reputation on this, so it better be something I'm proud of and feel strongly about. And I do. I'm not sure if this is what Warren Baker had in mind when he told me he wanted someone in the post who wasn't afraid to "shake things up and had questionable morals and ask the hard questions," but I do believe I fill the "questionable morals" part of that equation. Today, my morals are pointing south, or, down. I'm horny as fuck, and some of these freshmen babies are looking awfully good.

So, without further ado, I'm subjecting you to my first two forays into the world of the Editorial. The first is the one that will be in the first issue of this year's Current, which is going to press this Tuesday morning! It's about college life-- real college life. Since the undercurrent (har har, excuse the pun,) theme of this first issue is about welcoming freshmen to campus, and we have lots of pictures of Orientation and tons of information about clubs on campus and event schedules and an advice column directed at freshmen issues, I decided to be the Big Voice of the Hard Truth. With some humor. A sort of, "what to expect now that you're here" guide. Yes, I reference drunkenness and drugs, but hey-- it's real life, people. Deal with it.

The second editorial is about relationships. Yeah, that's right-- I went there. I figure a big part of college is meeting new people and wondering where your next lay is coming from and if you're really dating and what the FUCK is going on, and there's this word being passed around more and more and more every time I talk about my love life or hear anyone else talk about their love life, and that word is "complicated." If "complications" are becoming more prevalent on the scene of our lives, I figure it's up to an editor to point this out and set the record straight, right?

Tell me what you think. Tell me if you think student's parents will swarm outside of my apartment with hot tar and pitchforks. Tell me if you think faculty will shrill my name to be ousted from the school. Tell me if you think the students are going to read it and give a collective sigh of relief that finally, here is an editor who acknowledges their interests and burning desire to know whether or not it is ok to cheat on your long-distance girlfriend if she is in another state. (Not ok, by the way. You're in a relationship. Grow up, man up, and deal with it. Same for you, ladies. You're with that other person for a reason, and a cute drunk freshmen is no excuse to forget that.)

Editorial One: "Camp Champ 101"

"I don’t know about you, but this past summer was an experience. My status as “unemployed” meant scheming up creative ways to pay for gas and groceries (cashing in Susan B. Anthony dollar coins for a quarter-tank of gas; debating between buying Oreos or toothpaste; hello, awkward life moments,) or growing in maturity while losing weight because it sometimes came down to choosing between getting places or eating. I’ve always thought that adventure feeds the soul, anyway. I hope your summer was less existential than mine.

Now that school is back in session, I’d like to formally welcome the Class of 2013 to our campus! Almost 550 new faces now reside here on the hill, the second-largest incoming class Champlain has ever had. Champlain also recently made good press with its inclusion in the newly-released 2010 edition of U.S News & World Report’s “America’s Top Colleges” as one of the “Top Up-and-Coming Schools.” This is good news for this year’s graduating seniors—more name recognition opens more job opportunity doors, something that I think we all realize the importance of in today’s economy.

But I realize that right now, the economy may be the least of some of our worries. For a lot of new freshmen, this may be your first time living away from home. There’s a lot you feel like you don’t get about “Camp Champ” and college yet, but even more that you think you do know. (By the way—“Ireland” and “the GBTC” are the same building, not separate ones as you may think.) I remember my freshmen year. (Mostly.) It was an exciting time—getting to move out of the sticks of rural Vermont, and getting to meet new people, a lot of whom I still am honored to call my friends, two years and many shenanigans later. They say that college is where you go to build your future. It’s also where you go to meet the people who will affect you for the rest of your life.

To this note, I’ve decided to dedicate my first editorial to you, Class of 2013. Both as a friend and cousin of people going away to their freshmen years of college, and as an upperclassman here at Champlain (how did that happen so fast?), I’ve compiled a list of what I consider the most important lessons you’ll learn while here at college. Learn from my (sometimes painful, sometimes gleeful, sometimes hilarious) mistakes, and spare yourself some hard learning. For our upperclassmen readers, I’m sure there are some points that will hit home for you, too. I mean, come on—I can’t have been the only one who actually thought wearing my ID card on a lanyard was an ok fashion statement.

The Top 20 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A Freshmen:

- Your bed is not only going to be where you sleep (most of the time,) but it’s also going to become your couch, your homework area, your entertainment center, your personal phone booth, and even occasionally, your dining room.

- You are going to find out that every urban legend you ever heard about college cafeterias putting laxatives in your food is more or less true. You’re going to learn to eat sparingly at the caf because of the instant food-bloat you get from what you eat there. Gaseousness was never attractive to anybody.

- Quarters are not part of your personal currency anymore. Quarters are worth far more than a measly 25 cents, because that’s how your laundry gets done now. (I haven’t spent a quarter on anything but laundry for the past two years, and getting them back as change makes me SO HAPPY, it’s not even funny.)

- Girls go to the gym to work out. Please do not interrupt us, especially when we’re sweating it out on the treadmill, running a 5K. Guys go to the gym to do one rep of lifting, grunt, and then walk around and admire themselves in the mirrors. They think there is some sort of instant result here, or at least, they’re hoping for this. They admit to it. It’s just what they do. Pay no attention to them, unless they’re sitting on a piece of equipment that you want to use, and then, ask them to move nicely.

- You stay the same age. It’s the freshmen who get younger.

- Two people CAN fit in a narrow twin-size college bed. Just make sure this is someone you want to be this close to. Also, it helps to be creative about sharing space. (Also, be safe, please. If you’re gonna love, use a glove. Babies and STDs both top the “Unwanted” list for college students.)

- Ramen. Easy Mac. Chips. Cookies. Popcorn. Brownies. Pizza. Wings. Soda. Alcohol. Cigarettes. Anything that can be classified by its chemical compound and resides on the government’s list of controlled substances. Hamburgers. Chicken patties. Salads loaded with ranch dressing. Don’t kid yourself. This is what you’re going to be ingesting. Get yourself to the gym as much as possible, or that Freshmen 15 will be the Freshmen 30.

- Always set your alarm earlier so if it’s a horrible day out, you give yourself the time to debate going to class or skipping it to sleep in or checking your Mymail account to see if your professor cancelled class. But no skipping classes more than 5 times each a semester. That’s a recipe for failing out.

- Get involved with clubs or activities on campus. You need something to put on your résumé or grad school applications, and “partying every night” isn’t it.

- There is an equation for good grades and relative leniency from professors, and it goes something like this: participating in class discussions with valid, well-thought points and actually trying to achieve some level of academic conscious thought + staying after class to chat with professors + promptly responding to any emails from professors > than doing all of your homework/attending all of your classes/getting in all assignments on time. Believe me—I’m a Dean’s List student who hates doing homework and likes sleeping in.

- Walking around campus and taking the stairs are good ways to burn off beer calories. In fact, walk down the hill to Church Street and back up. Not only is this a great way to waste some time and burn some calories, it’s also a great way to get acclimated to the town. There’s always something happening—you just have to find it. Look in local newspaper’s Events sections and on bulletin boards around campus. You’re sure to find something interesting.

- So, ok, smoking is bad for you. Yes, we know this. But the chances of you picking up the habit in college are great. Promise yourself, your friends, your family, and anyone else who will help moderate you that you’ll stop after graduation. (In my case, after grad school.) Smoking a cigarette 2 or 3 times a week when you’re really stressed for 4 or 6 years isn’t like smoking a pack a day for 20. Yes, it will affect you, but I’m not planning on living past 75, anyway. But really, the easiest way to be healthier in general is to not start smoking in the first place. Be stronger than I was—don’t cave to the pressure.

- Alcohol poisoning is not something you want. Eat a good, high-protein meal before drinking, make sure to stay hydrated with water throughout drinking (a glass of water between drinks will do the trick, and looks like vodka if you want to save face,) and most importantly, KNOW WHEN TO STOP. If you can’t stop, then you have a drinking problem, my friend, and believe me, I know how not fun those are. In that case, know your trigger points: what your favorite beverage is, at what point or number of drinks down you start to lose coordination, sound judgment, or consciousness, and who your friends are who will look out for you and actually physically take your drink away from you no matter how much you swear or scream at them.

- If you’re a girl, be smart—don’t walk alone after dark. Even be aware during the day. Calling or texting someone to let them know where you’re walking and what time to expect you home is a good game-plan. Also, no iPod on at night. That really isolates your awareness.

- Guys—your masculinity is not directly tied to how good you are at beer pong or how many girls you managed to sleep with in one school year. Really. I promise. Chill out. Relax. Girls will like you more for it.

- Grown-up: Splitting textbook costs with your roommate for one set of textbooks because you’re taking the same classes.

- Not grown-up: Pressing your cell phone to your forehead and savagely whispering, “text me back, you giant idiot!”

- Long-distance love with your boyfriend/girlfriend at home does not mean the death of your relationship. It just means you may have to work a little bit harder. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

- Make a friend with a member of the faculty, be it a professor, or staff member. Having someone who will vouch for your character as either a job reference or as a friend is invaluable.

- Go to the job fairs. Get a job. Do work/study. Everybody loves money, and yes, it does make life easier. And if you haven’t taken a look at the total of your tuition bill and what you’ll be paying back in loans after you graduate, believe me—you’re going to need it. LOTS of it.

Best of luck to you all this year, and be sure to keep picking up the Current! We’re putting a lot of work into it this year to bring you the most interesting and informative content we can, from campus news to mountain reviews, articles on fashion to advice columns, sports events to movies, books, music, and food. Until next time, keep it easy.

And um, get to your 8 AM classes, lazybones.

Carissa,
Editor-in-Chief of the Champlain Current."

Editorial Two: "It's Complicated." "No SHIT."

"There's this stigma that's been associated with the term "complicated relationship" for so long, the mere idea of this Facebook relationship status sends shivers of terror into teen' and twenty-something's hearts everywhere. Tell a friend or relative that you're in a complicated relationship, and they're bound to give you a sympathetic look and tell you love is hard. Well, yeah-- it is. But honestly, complications are being given a bad rap.

This term is coming up more and more in daily conversation. Maybe it's because we're in the age of instant gratification and using technology to make the simplest things even easier for us, but it seems like everyone seems to be using the word "complicated" a lot more lately. I'm guilty of using it, too, but honestly, I can't think of a word that sums everything up better than "complicated." What is so horrible about complications, anyway? I like a little spice in my life, and without the periodic complications, relationships can get boring. It's almost as if complications are a relationship's natural defense from keeping us from falling asleep at the love-wheel and letting things get staid and us get lazy. Complications make us work. Complications make us learn valuable lessons.

Furthermore, a "complicated relationship" is almost an oxymoron. Show me an uncomplicated relationship, and I'll show you an unfunctioning relationship, or a relationship void of the two main components of why people get together in the first place: drive and passion. Some of the best and most famous relationships were complicated: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Cash and June Walker, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. They may not have all worked out in the long run, but they were the romances that captivated everyone. The ones that did work out were the ones that showcased the sort of togetherness that seemed effortless, a clever disguise that masked the hard work that goes into dealing with someone day-to-day even when you love each other enough to try to achieve that goal. Say what you will-- Yoko may have broken the Beatles, but John was willing to compromise that to stay with her. That's dedication despite the complications.

There's no such thing as a relationship that isn't complicated. People by nature are complex beings who want different things-- therein lies the complication. A relationship is about striving to achieve the best possible compromise between two people while still retaining your autonomy. One of the best ways anyone in a relationship can deal with complications is to be yourself, and let their partner be themself. This person (hopefully) loves you for you, weird little quirks, snoring, clumsiness and all. If they see that you're willing to stay chill through the long-haul, they'll be more willing to be tolerant, too.

Complications can include, and are not limited to:
- Distance.
- Differing opinions on what members want out of a relationship.
- Different attitudes, points of view, or habits and hobbies.
- Third parties, (friends or temptations).
- Self-made drama.
- Miss-communication.
- Not clearly stating intentions.
- Not speaking up about something you feel strongly about.
- Lunacy.

The only time complications become a problem is when you let them. (However, lunacy might be a deal-breaker if it's not just a fleeting emotional response, but instead, a real chemical imbalance.) If you're making a complication a big deal, then it's going to be one. If you assess it and decide that it's not worth the pain and panic to your relationship, then it won't be, because you're not making it into a huge thing. No one should expect a relationship to go off without a hitch. No one should expect to be happy 100% of the time they're together with someone. But you should expect to be happy most of the time. The only way to sort through your complications is to actually face them, head on, like an adult. Warning, this may involve actually having to talk to your significant other. But as long as you approach it calmly, reasonably, with a sense of humor, and and as a united front to work through it together, there's absolutely no reason why you can't say proudly, "I'm happily in a beatifully complicated and daily-evolving relationship" and mean every word of it.

So take that, Grandma. I'm not settling down anytime soon, and yes, I love all my "drama."

Carissa,
Editor-in-Chief of the Champlain Current."

I'm not totally thrilled with the second editorial, as I feel it's missing a little of my je-ne-sais-quoi, but I'll work on it more and be back with a revised edit. In the meantime, lovelies, I hope that gives you some food for thought. I'll be back with another one of my regularly scheduled life-posts soon, although I have to admit-- having Perfect away and busy and not in ever-day contact is killing my excitement, not to mention, my mood. I miss the boy, a lot.

XOXO

3 comments:

  1. Let's face it-this is going to be a fucking hilarious year to be on the current staff. I look forward to more weekends of huddling in our basement/office/closet headquarters!

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  2. I left you an award on my blog :) enjoy.

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