April 26, 2005

Fighting Fire with Fired

I just got fired! Can you believe it?

The Vermilion has informed me that my services will no longer be needed. Just my luck, too—I was finally hitting my stride! But apparently there's some rule that only active UL students can write for The Vermilion, and I'm graduating again. Such bad luck!

I suspect our conservative columnist had something to do with that rule. John Hinson has taken some heat after demanding that non-students stop writing to The Vermilion. Not that Hinson objected when math professor Henry Heatherly praised him in the Jan. 21, 2004 issue; but perhaps he was swamped then. Being a columnist is tough. So why get rid of a veteran?

Since June 2002 I have occupied this space, churning out 99 columns--100 if you count the 2003 April Fool's issue, which I will because I'm compensating for something. This hasn't translated into either clout or the pay raises that go to staff writers after 20 stories (yeah, guys, I saw that rule sheet!). Still, writing commentary on the events of 2002-05 has had a cool Forrest Gump vibe to it.

Like Forrest, I didn't emerge fully grown; it took time for me to become this jaded. My first Vermilion piece appeared in the Nov. 6, 1998 issue, a riveting article titled, "Higher Education Act may benefit USL students." That issue also announced the reconstruction of F.G. Mouton Hall (scheduled for completion in December 2000—yeah, four!).

Fifteen semesters later, we've been through three football coaches, two presidential elections, 9/11, two wars, a thousand of my closest friends and—just under the wire—two popes. On a somber note, these past seven years also brought the deaths of six of my relatives, our longtime track coach, a professor of mine and seven friends.

I've had six school IDs (including two USL cards), three driver's licenses, three academic bulletins and five advisers. My transcript is four pages long. I have so many experiences left to exploit on this page! Besides, I have the UL thing down cold; isn't that a good thing for a newspaper columnist? I have a BA in journalism and now a master's degree in English, yet The Vermilion still let me go! They called it "a long-overdue nudge into real life," whatever that meant.

They must not think I know anything about working. Seven years as manager of the track team doesn't qualify? Hardly a day goes by that a teammate or trainer doesn't ask, "So when are you gonna write about me?" I can't let them down! I need more time!

They always tell you that these are the best years of your life. What exactly is my motivation for leaving school, then? No one at the Grad Expo said, "Enjoy your menial entry-level years! They're the best time of your life." I was hoping to make a career out of being a student, but now they lay me off! Must be the economy.

I suppose, then, that those of you carrying on should heed this advice: open your eyes and take control of your life. Who decides what you believe, what you do and with whom you associate? The answer to that should be you, you and you.

Whenever you make a decision in life, don't do it because George W. Bush, Pope Benedict XVI or Carson Daly told you to, or because your parents want you to take that path. Don't even do it because I said you should; do it because it's right. Never wait to seize the moment, because (as you've seen here) it'll be over before you know it.

Talk to you again soon.

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