COLUMN: My last twelve months and the twelve fears I’ve faced

By Lee Feder

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” ~President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The end of the academic year brings joy to those who no longer have class and homework, extreme joy to seniors who never again have either, and a smidgen of, yes, fear of the uncertain future. College is about challenging yourself and breaking the barriers once thought impenetrable, and this year was no different. The highlights of our 2007-08 experience from its roots in August to the wilting finality this week, in a month-by-month breakdown, with a white whale (real or humorous) for each month:

August: Quad Day was miserable. Too hot, too sticky, too crowded. Mercifully the days in August were few. Personal fear faced (PFF): Returning for a final year of school, one filled with making judgments and taking responsibility for 40-odd college students.

September: What? You mean our football team won a game!? Against a Division I (I’m sorry, Bowl Subdivision) team! Next thing you know, they’ll be in a bowl game. PFF: Facing the realistic chance that I will not be on campus for the 2008-09 academic year by actually looking for a job. Yikes.

October: Midterms, Halloween, blah blah blah. I don’t like October; therefore, I will not write anything about it. PFF: None, I still didn’t dress up for Halloween. What a waste of a day.

November: This month is only slightly more interesting than October, mainly because of Pilgrims and turkey. On the plus side, the war in Iraq seems to be going better several months after Gen. Petraeus’ surge. PFF: Beating cousin in card game. The world was supposed to end but shockingly didn’t.

December: Christmas, for once, was a tough time to be in retail. More importantly, the Illini somehow ended up in the Rose Bowl!! Nobody, not even the “experts” on ESPN, saw this coming. And yes, the Rose Bowl was in January, but December is a slower month, so there. PFF: Cornrows on Christmas break. Nothing like a tall blond guy with cornrows. Really, what was I THINKING?

January: The economy starts to cool off, much like the weather. Fortunately, unlike the temperature in Champaign, the economy never reached Absolute Zero, the temperature at which all activity ceases. George W. Bush finally seemed to acknowledge his irrelevance with a rather pointless State of the Union address. PFF: Friends being stranded in a slightly ghetto Wisconsin town outside Milwaukee. Up until 4 a.m. waiting for them to safely arrive in … a different small, slightly ghetto Wisconsin town outside Milwaukee.

February: SNOW DAY! Wait, that was last year. With the snow and frigid temperatures, the winter was definitely the story of the month. The 2008 primary election enters its seventh month, and the “contenders” begin to separate themselves from “pretenders.” News flash: Illinois goes for Obama on Super-Duper-Expialidocious Tuesday. PFF: John Edwards drops out minutes after I mentally decide to endorse him. I am the curse.

March: Winter is still here? Uhm … that’s not cool. The election continues. Basically, this was February all over again, except with a week of vacation at the end. And Easter. And no Illini in the tournament. PFF: Going to Vegas and 1. Not losing all my money, 2. Not being swept away by the ersatz atmosphere, and 3. Not getting picked up by a lady of the street. Wait … scratch 2 and 3.

April: Winter is still here? Uhm … that’s not cool. Hillary makes a charge in the primaries. Several significant elections in Africa become hotly contested. Gas rapidly approaches $4/gallon, and yet people continue to drive SUVs to class. Mercifully, small-car sales in the first quarter of 2008 are up. PFF: Oops … there goes the hair. And apparently I have since disappeared from campus, realizing my greatest fear of vaporizing into the crowd. Oh well, at least people no longer confuse my head for a mop.

May: Hot cold windy, hot cold windy. Is this global warming or just messed-up weather? How do you expect me to concentrate on final exams when I don’t even know what to wear outside? Oh wait … finals don’t matter so much because of the ultimate PFF: The end of college. Joining the real world. Can someone get me into grad school before the end of this column? Whoops, too late.

Lee is a senior in mechanical engineering and is done with undergrad (for real this time) approximately 24 hours after you read this. Congratulate him and offer him free vacations. Cash will do too.