A lot of columnists less egotistical than I have found it appropriate to leave their columns at the height of their game, or to at least sign off with no more obvious a self-reference than a simple “This will be so-and-so’s last regular column” in the tagline. I don’t believe in that. My last column is running on my last day of classes at Yale, was written during the time I was supposed to be devoting to, um, polishing my senior essay, and I plan to make it the most egregious display of self-aggrandizement ever witnessed on this page.
Today, Dec. 3, 2004, is the last day that I, Jessamyn Blau, will attend classes at Yale. If I don’t sleep through them. In that case, my last day of classes was Wednesday, which is a little anticlimactic. Up front, I must say that anyone would be lucky to get a liberal arts education like this one, but that doesn’t preclude a final bout of griping. I figure I can write this column despite its total lack of originality because I am beating everyone else to it by a good six months.
It is the end of an era. When I entered Yale, Bill Clinton was president, the country was running a surplus, and no one thought moving to Canada was a good idea. Now we face the prospect of a president moronic enough to choke on a pretzel single-handedly bringing down the best product of World War II, the Bretton Woods institutions. In the fall of 2000, only the rich bratty kids from gated communities had cell phones; now all of us rich bratty kids have them. Dean Salovey was still Easy-A Psychology Professor Salovey, and our provost was British, for god’s sake. Berkeley had just been renovated, with the Yale Sustainable Food Project only a twinkle in Alice Waters’ eye. Then on Wednesday, Ken Jennings lost “Jeopardy!” and Tom Brokaw stepped down as NBC Nightly News anchor. That was when it hit me. Clearly, my time at Yale has been directly responsible for bringing about a lot of changes in the world.
I’ve got to say, it’s bizarre to leave Yale for good in December. I’ve witnessed the end-of-the-year hoopla of several senior classes, and it’s very endearing. All of a sudden, everyone forgets the angst of the past four years and parties hardy. But at this point, most people are still mired in everyday college life and are in foul moods because of their six exams and 15 papers. I’m leaving Yale tomorrow, and I’m not picturing a particularly exciting send-off. No pipe and tobacco, no B-list celebrity speech, no swim in the beer-cup-filled skanky swimming pool of a Myrtle Beach hotel.
I realize my tone is unexpected. You were perhaps thinking, given my past writing in this space, that I would be extremely sincere. But seriously, college? Maybe you learn how to say “Get me a pitcher” in Czech, what PCR is, why Kant hates pure reason (I don’t know that last one; I dropped that class six weeks into my first semester). But to be honest, I’d like to get out of here. I enjoyed college, but looking back, it felt like a holding cell for the future. Four years of being on deck. A perpetual Dec. 31. The amuse-bouche of life, if you will.
To be honest, when I drive home to Massachusetts tomorrow, I will relish having left all those obnoxious only-at-Yale things behind. For instance, why does the library think it’s a good idea to put little sticky plastic sleeves in all of the books to hold those even-dumber little slips that have the due date on them? Who thought that those new cereal holders that crush all of your Special K into splinters were more practical than boxes? What is the point of having a gate — ahem, Branford, Morse, Old Campus — if you’re never going to open the damn thing? Why were my biochemistry exams printed on 8-by-14 paper instead of 8-by-11? And why, oh why, did the city of New Haven manage to tow my car for $330 in unpaid parking tickets just two days before I would leave town forever?
The thing I’m going to miss most about Yale — well, I should be nice and say the thing I’m going to miss most about Yale after the amazing professors, the talented students and the amazing facilities — is this column. It has been an easy formula: Pick a group to insult, throw in a Google search, some ill-crafted humor, a random reference to my girlfriend, and there you have it: a lasting impact on humanity. In print. There ain’t nothing like Yale for that kind of glory. The Boston Globe has thus far exhibited no interest.
They say that real life hits you like a ton of bricks, but mine hit me like a ton of bricks tied to a giant asteroid thrown by the Hulk from the top of the Empire State Building. I haven’t even turned in my last physics problem set, and I already have just $23 to my name, no health insurance and a pair of landlords whose last job was managing a property in Hell. Yale gives out some pamphlet that is supposed to help you with this stuff, but apparently you only get it if you attend May graduation. So what am I really going to miss? The coddling and the sense of entitlement. There’s nothing like an Ivy League education for that.
Jessamyn Blau is a senior in Morse College.