Tomorrow is the last day of classes. Am I happy about this? I suppose. I’ve been chasing that six-weeks-in-my-pajamas carrot for the last month or so, but it’s always a little bittersweet to see some of my students graduate. I hope I’ve taught them well. I hope I’ve taught them what they need to know. “Comma inside the quote” is not something I say because I think the world will crumble if they don’t know how to format dialogue, but because it’s important as English majors that they know how to operate within a set of guidelines, that they respect those guidelines, and that they prove they can communicate to an audience effectively and efficiently with respect for the medium. I have a colleague who says, “All we get are twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation.” Another says, “We’re not curing cancer here, but what we do, we do well and it matters.” I say, “I will lose my shit if you don’t know by the end of the Capstone whether you italicize or use quotes for a book title.”
Graduation is a scary time for many liberal arts majors. English majors don’t have a set path like students in Social Work who will go on to be social workers, but as Cathy Day so eloquently says here, “You don’t go to college to train for your first job, but for a lifetime of jobs.” I want to tell students (and do) that I’m fairly certain they’ll have some less-than-ideal jobs in the beginning, but my guess is in five to ten years, they’re going to be happy in their careers. Maybe that doesn’t seem like good news to someone who’s only been alive twenty years, but that’s how I mean it. I’m hopeful too that their liberal arts educations will also have prepared them for a lifetime of happiness outside of their careers by focusing on what matters to them: art, books, writing, history, and so on. And for the love of Christ, book titles are italicized.
Here is the cake I ordered for the Undergraduate Creative Writing Awards in Fiction and Poetry and the event to celebrate making it out of another semester alive: