Vonnegut, the Virus and My Senior Year

Noah Paulson
Andrew Gilkey

To say the least, I am at a bit of a crossroads. I’m writing this having just finished the last class of my undergrad, and I have been called by this institution to go forth and set the world on fire. To be honest with you, I feel like the world is on fire enough. I’ve been covering this spinning speck of carbon and its petrol obsessed primates with a penchant for killing each other for four years. Believe me, there’s enough fire to go around. To top it all off, the jobs have all dried up like beached whales. A crossroads, to put it kindly, is where I’m at. I find myself looking back to my favorite author, as any insufferable English major would, to make sense of this unprecedented time.
I’ll start this senior column by addressing the elephant in the room. My plan for senior year was to soak up as much time with the people I love in a place that I love. I had visions of a final formal with my fraternity brothers, taking classes I enjoy and knocking back boilermakers at O’s. I think everyone imagines something similar. As Kurt Vonnegut says, “We are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.” That’s what I wanted, to fart around one last time. The world had other ideas. But the time I was allowed to fart around here, by God was it the best of times.
For a long time, I was angry about school being canceled. I think I can speak for all seniors when I say that if we had to live in a historic time, we would not have chosen this. But, again, Vonnegut writes, “Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” We can not ask why because there’s no answer. A submicroscopic particle that isn’t even in control of its own movement is making global decisions right now. There is no why and that is that.
“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” I agree with Vonnegut in that the idea of my high school class making any decisions more important than what they’ll order from McDonalds is frightening. However, I take solace in the fact that my fellow Blue Streaks will be the ones helping me make sense of this world, and that these men and women who I’ve had the honor to know and love for these last four years will be making important differences in our community. I just fear for the global quality of cafeteria food.
There’s not much to say in closing. You have all made me laugh, made me think and made me cry during my time here. I have tried my hardest to make the same impact on all of you; I pray I was successful. I will miss almost dying on Belvoir, perspiring Natty Lights in a Warrensville basement, singing with Metres, dancing ‘til I was dizzy at B-Side and slap happy fits of laughter in the newsroom. Though, whenever I’ll think of these things in the future, whenever I think of Chad, Jules, Kendra, Alex, Jess, and Nick. Whenever I think of any of my loved ones here, I’ll take the best advice Vonnegut gives. I’ll look up, remember that I was happy, murmur or think to myself “If that wasn’t nice, then I don’t know what was.”
Thank you all. Onward on, streaks, onward on.