Confession: I almost went to UC Davis. Waiting until the very last possible day, I decided to attend UCSB somewhat unenthusiastically. My reasoning was that Santa Barbara, about an hour away from my hometown, was too close. Part of me wanted to go away to college to fully experience it, while part of me knew that UCSB was really the better choice for me. Well, having been a Gaucho for four years, lived in Isla Vista — on Del Playa — for three years and studied abroad in Rome, I can safely say that UCSB and I.V. are unlike anywhere else in the world. I can also safely say that I made the right decision.
Tom Petty once said (I know, Is he really quoting Tom Petty right now? You’re damn right I am.) of one’s college experience:
“You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ‘til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does … ”
As I read this quote, I find myself completely agreeing with its message. So, while doing well academically was always important in terms of getting a degree, it was not the priority. Getting the most out of my college experience is what was and is most central to my time in college.
Sitting down to write this column, I knew I had certain things that I wanted to express. First and foremost, I wanted to show appreciation — appreciation for the opportunities I have been given; appreciation for these past four years and all that they have given me; appreciation for UCSB.
This university has provided me with a healthy and diverse list of memorable times. I was fortunate enough to take classes about sports through the now defunct ESS program, and screenwriting and TV writing classes from established writers on Robocop and Cheers. I survived four straight years of out-of-town invasions on Halloween, caught the last real Floatopia, ushered in the era of Deltopia and rushed the Harder Stadium field searching for celebrating Gauchos to interview after a record-setting attendance in a men’s soccer win over UCLA. I competed with friends in intramural sports, opted to walk to the beach to surf rather than attend Thursday afternoon lectures and met and talked with Kobe Bryant during the greatest class period of my life.
UCSB offered me lectures and events featuring Adam Sandler and Jim Rome, brought me numerous memorable concert experiences and taught me the wonderful games of Snappa and Gauchoball. I learned the meaning of life and had epiphanies while admiring the beach or frolicking through the butterfly forest (may or may not have been drug-related), graduated from aimlessly following music into random I.V. house parties to singing karaoke at OTT and going downtown on Thursday nights — and received a blowjob in the library.
As the message in the film “Into the Wild” stresses, “Happiness is only real when shared.” And it wasn’t just talking about blowjobs. All of the happiness I have experienced through these amazing events and opportunities, with the help of UCSB, is really because of all of you. So lastly, I wanted to express appreciation for all of you — all of you that made my college experience what it was; all of you that read and enjoyed Daily Nexus sports over the past year. Even more than the relationships formed and cultivated, it is about the memories. The good times are always remembered, even if the people we experienced them with are no longer in our lives.
The sports editor position has allowed me to do two things that I love: write, and talk about sports. This past year of my life has been more or less consumed by the Daily Nexus, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I have grown as a writer, a leader and a person and met many great friends along the way who I am sure will continue to be so. I can only hope that all of you who have picked up a copy of the Nexus — whether it was to check for the latest men’s basketball recap or Sunday Funday column or simply to find a distraction during class — enjoyed reading the sports page as much as I enjoyed creating it for you, day in and day out.
So now I graduate, and as an uncertain future approaches, I leave behind a school, friends, this awesome job and these memories. It’s no wonder why the UCSB alumni community is as tightly knit and receptive as it is. With one of the most beautiful campuses in the world and a town that is the most densely populated area West of the Mississippi, there is a certain kinship that all Gauchos possess.
For all of you who are fortunate enough to have more time at UCSB: Enjoy it. And like Adam Sandler pleaded with the chubby kid in “Billy Madison,” “Stay here. Stay as long as you can. For the love of God, cherish it.” Oh, and take summer school.
At the end of one of my favorite films, “American History X,” the character of Danny Vinyard concludes the narrative by saying that “It’s always good to end a paper with a quote … someone else has already said it best, so if you can’t top it, steal from them and go out strong.”
And surely, the great John Wooden could never be topped. Which is why I am stealing this perfectly appropriate message from him to leave all UCSB graduates with in a time of great uncertainty:
KENNETH SONG/Daily Nexus
“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”