For better or worse, The Oswegonian has played a major role in my life for most of the last five years. It was the first student organization I joined back in the fall ‘10 semester, and it’s by far the one I’ve been committed to the most.
As the semester comes to a close and December graduation approaches, this is the final installment of “In-Klined to Speak.” With that in mind, I’d like to take a moment and thank everyone from The Oswegonian editorial board, both past and present, for their dedication, generosity and most importantly, their patience during my time here at Oswego State. I also want to thank you, the readers, for following my work over the last five years (if only as an alternative to toilet paper). Even now, I find myself humbled by the feedback I receive on a weekly basis. This column wouldn’t have gone on as long as it has were it not for you.
Now that we’ve gotten the mushy stuff out of the way, I’d like to close out this column in typical “In-Klined to Speak” fashion by passing on a final piece of preachy, pretentious-sounding advice wrapped around an equally preachy and pretentious-sounding anecdote from my own life (that sounds vaguely similar to past anecdotes).
I vaguely remember the first time I wrote for The ‘Gonian: I’d been goaded into writing movie reviews by then-Johnson resident mentor Ken Sturtz (who was a copy editor at the time) following a conversation in which practically everything I said contained a reference to “Die Hard,” “The Rock” (the Michael Bay masterpiece, not the wrestler), or “Crank” (Jason Statham’s finest work).
“Tom, I want you to stop by The Oswegonian office this week and introduce yourself,” he said. “You’re writing movie reviews, whether you want to or not.”
At Ken’s insistence, I dropped by the office and was assigned the M. Night Shyamalan-produced “Devil” for my first movie review. Because the concept of a newspaper deadline was more or less foreign to me (and, truth be told, remains as such), my review was relegated to web-only content (and in hindsight, for good reason, given the writing quality of that thing…yeesh…).
Learning to write movie reviews in AP Style was a bit of a hurdle in the beginning, and since it wasn’t academic writing, I could’ve walked away at any time, and people probably wouldn’t have noticed (or cared, for that matter).
But I chose to continue writing for the paper anyway, for better or worse. As I grew more comfortable with writing reviews for the Laker Review, I also began dabbling in writing for the opinion section. With every issue, I found myself spending increasingly more time in The Oswegonian office in the middle of the week, more often than not disrupting the editorial board in the process. Eventually, the staff got so fed up with my antics that they taught me how to copy edit so I could, at least, be of some use to them while I chattered incessantly like the easily-distractable and rambunctious freshman that I was at the time.
At the end of the spring ‘11 semester, I joined the e-board as a copy editor, much to the delight of some and disgust of others. As much of an experience as it was, I stepped down from my position after a semester due to creative disagreements with some of the staff, shifting my extracurriular focus to acting and theater instead. Even then, I continued to write the occasional article here and there, though over time my desire to write started to wane.
As I entered my junior year, I stopped writing articles altogether, partly out of shame at having, in my mind, abandoned the newspaper by quitting and partly due to the emergence of newer and more ridiculous outlets for my excess energy.
It wasn’t until last semester, following an eye-opening semester in Japan, that I decided to return to my roots and write for The Oswegonian once more. When I saw that there was an opening for a columnist, I happily volunteered, pitching a column “in the style of Andy Rooney, without all the senility and being dead.”
And lo, this column was born.
After all this time, I’ve come to realize two things: First, that writing for this newspaper has been one of the most impactful and worthwhile experience of my entire life. Second, that no matter how bleak or confusing one’s life may become, there’s always another adventure just on the horizon. To quote the opening theme of one of the greatest games of all time, “Persona 4:” “Grab your things, don’t miss your chance. Find your own rhythm, and dance your own dance.”
Or, as Joseph Campbell so succinctly put it: “Follow your bliss.”
Thanks for everything, Oswego.