Today marks the first day that I am no longer a college student. So, as a mechanism of reflecting on the last three and a half years of my life, I’ve decided to list the Top 10 things that helped me get through college. These things can be anything, from a specific one-time occurrence to an abstract construct I use every day. There is only one rule when it comes to exclusion, and that is that nothing that would have appeared on a similar list had I compiled this at the end of high school may appear on this one. So no, friends, you won’t have to read yet another ramble about baseball, Friends or SNL.
I don’t want to prattle on too much, so let’s just start at the bottom.
I estimate that I’ve played just under 1,000 games of foosball in the last 18 months. Is that too many? Yes. But it’s a helluva good way to unwind. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it, as you would expect someone who has a foosball table instead of a dining room to be. Despite this, I’ve never shut out a reputable opponent. That is my only goal not yet achieved. Moving on.
This one goes back a little further than foosball. Instead of using a calendar or setting alerts for myself, whenever I needed something done sophomore year I stuck a sticky note with a vague term on it above my bed. By the end of the year, I had about 30 sticky notes on my wall, with phrases on them ranging from “Check Out This” to “Launder” to “Call Congressman.” Obviously, I knew what they meant. And theoretically should’ve removed them after I completed the task. But I left them all up.
Today I don’t use sticky notes in the same way. But I still leave them on my bathroom mirror with inspirational movie quotes and on the windshields of friends when they park at my apartment. And somehow I haven’t even gone through a whole pad in three years. But they helped. Thanks green post-its.
After I broke my ankle three weeks into college, I thought walking was going to be a tough sell for me. But then a few weeks later when I got my cast taken off, I realized just how great walking was. Mostly because I walked the mile and a half home from the hospital.
Since then, I’ve used walking as my personal time. I owe a great deal of my best ideas to walking and thinking about stuff. I also owe a great deal of my musical taste and of my quippiest stories to things I said while not wanting to be disturbed while walking.
So what if I lip sync constantly and avoid stepping on cracks at all cost? Of course I’m an idiosyncratic walker. But I like it. So back off.
You thought this was going to be higher, didn’t you? Well, it probably should be. It took up more of my time in college than anything else other than probably the No. 1 entry on this list. And I love what I did and what I do. Wouldn’t trade it.
So why is it so low? Because while I loved it and it truly showed me what I want to do for the rest of my life, I don’t want my work to define me. And I don’t necessarily want the things after this to define me. But let’s just leave it at this:
The best decision I ever made in my entire life was joining The Red & Black. There really hasn’t been a close second so far. And working there – and all the other places I’ve worked – helped make me who I am. So this belongs on the list, even if I don’t like talking about it.
I don’t think there is anything I’ve written about more on StoriesHouse than Almost Famous, but I’m going to write about it one more time. The first time I saw this movie, I was four days away from heading off to college and starting a new life. And just like William Miller saw his future after listening to Tommy with a candle lit, I saw my future watching this film.
I’ve seen it five times. Once before I left for college, once freshman year, once sophomore year, once junior year and once a few weeks back. And I hope to continue watching it as an annual tradition. Because not only is this movie really friggin good, it speaks to me in a way that I should be more ashamed of than I am.
Before I start rambling about symbolism, let’s talk about something else.
Oh, the tweets. How I love the tweets.
I was originally hesitant to join Twitter because of my disdain for Facebook. How could something even more reductionist than the social media I already despised be any good? Then I got one because that’s something you’re supposed to do. And then I couldn’t stop.
Now, I have a really bad habit of opening up Twitter, reading all the tweets, closing out of it, looking at my phone homepage for a few seconds, then reopening Twitter because I have nothing better to do. I can scroll through tweets all day. I am a proud subscriber of baseball Twitter and comedy Twitter and college football Twitter and alternative comedy Twitter. Sometimes I try venturing into new Twitter but they don’t let me in. But I’m OK with that. Because I know I don’t belong. Then I just go back to the Twitter I’m a part of.
For those of you who follow me on the tweets, I’m sorry I’ve tweeted almost 6,000 times. But that really isn’t that much. Also, follow me on the tweets. @nicksuss.
I’ve made it no secret that I was miserable during my freshman year of college. It’s not entirely uncommon. I was lonely, I was in a confusing place, I was making a lot of new decisions and I was reconciling with the fact that I would have to change in order to survive. That’s a lot to put on a kid who just freshly turned 18.
So I popped on Netflix and went to a place where everybody knew my name. And they were always glad I came. A place where the people know that everyone is all the same. The origin story of why I chose Cheers despite having never watched it is a long one that involves Johnny Manziel, me winning a game of Hearts, study procrastination and a weird cocktail of anger and sadness. But it was a phenomenal decision.
I didn’t binge watch it. It took me about eight months to get through all 11 seasons. But that’s because I didn’t watch the Rebecca seasons quite as fast as the Diane seasons. But I know that had it not been for that show, I likely would’ve gone insane, festering in a weird card-game-and-Johnny-Football-induced stupor.
And now it’s one of my favorites. Further proving the idea that I’m bizarre. But you already knew that.
Is my love of Cheers to modern for you? Are you like ‘Cool your jets, groove thang. Stop being so hip?’ Because do I have a throwback for you.
Seriously though, I know that of all the musical acts to get really into in college, Paul Simon’s solo work isn’t exactly what you’d expect. But since the beginning of 2014, not a day has gone by where I haven’t either listened to or reference one of Simon’s songs or lyrics. Graceland is quite possibly my favorite song of all time. There’s a lyric in The Boy in the Bubble that makes me gasp and flutter every time I hear it articulated impossibly perfectly. Kodachrome might be the only song that makes me happy every time I hear it. And Still Crazy After All These Years, well, let’s just say I can get sentimental as hell to that one. And My Little Town. And Slip Slidin’ Away. And Mother and Child Reunion.
Do you get it? I really love Paul Simon. I’m lame. I embrace it. Get over it.
When I think of college, I’m going to think of the people. I’m going to think of the friends I made. I’m going to think of purposely showing up at work or to class way earlier than I need to just to talk. I’m going to think of the senseless arguments and the meaningless minutiae and the four-hour chats about the future and the never-ending alternation between introspection and stupidity. I’m going to think about the fact that I made so many friends that I can’t possibly remember all of them.
I don’t want to single anyone out here because I don’t want to forget anyone and make them feel as if I don’t care about them. But I think all of you know who you are. And I know that I’m a difficult person to deal with. I’m weirder than a mint julep in Minnesota. (I’m also weirder than that analogy.) I had a lot of friends growing up and I like to think I still have a lot of those people as friends, but I know that I’ve never been in a closer-knit community of friends than I have been since I started college, and especially over the last two and a half years. From those who I still talk to ever day, to the friends I have a great time seeing less frequently to those of you who I irrationally cut ties with because I’m a stupid idiot who doesn’t value the way human beings interact with, I deeply care about you all.
I don’t want to get too mushy, but I know I would’ve hated college had it not been for you people. But, as you all know, there is still one thing that comes before you. No hard feelings.
Sorry friends, but as you probably assumed, I’m picking YouTube over you. As I have countless times. The first thing I do every morning when I wake up and the last thing I do every morning before I go to sleep – I never go to sleep at night that’s silly – is watch YouTube videos. If I’m mid-conversation with a good friend and I get a text alert that I have a new subscription to watch, I will stop that conversation and watch the video. I cant even list the amount of times that I have invited someone over only to watch YouTube videos while they looked simultaneously bored with and disappointed by my life choices.
College marked the first time in my life where I couldn’t just come home and watch a sitcom at 8 p.m. and follow the progress weekly. I love that. I hate the binge-watch mentality. I want to watch things as they come out and wait patiently for the next installment. Which is the void YouTube filled in my busy, busy college life. Whenever I had time to watch something, something was there. And it wasn’t just any something. It was a community of somethings. It was content built for fans and built by fans. It’s not like television where the quality dips because writers and directors fall out of touch with what the fans want. It’s a medium so directly controlled by fans that’s it’s impossible for creators to disregard what we want. Also, it’s so damn funny.
I fell in love with Paul Simon’s music on YouTube. I watched episodes of Cheers when I was at my absolute loneliest on YouTube. I worked on YouTube and I walked with YouTube. Most of this list wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for this silly video streaming service.
So here I will thank people by name, because I know these people will never find this article because why the hell would they. Thank you to Mark, Todd, Stasia, Rhett, Link, Jack, Benny, Rafi, Michael, Craig, the entire CDZA crew, Peter, Lloyd, Kurt, Sam, the Screen Junkies and even the terrible people at WatchMojo who siphoned off every ounce of productivity I ever had and made me a slave to Top 10 lists. I am proud to call myself a Defender of Awesome, a Mythical Beast, a Bich and a MyMusician.
You know what none of this means.
And if loving YouTube as much as I do makes me a child, I don’t care. Because I know for a fact that a lot of what made college bearable and a lot of what made college great on a personal level came from the majesty of YouTube.
Come to think of it, I really should’ve put people No. 1. I’m coming off like an asshole right now. Eh, whatever. I’m done with college. What do I care?