Column by Zan Strumfeld

Zan Strumfeld

You know how it takes years for you to get to where you want to be? And then when you get there, you sort of just sigh and say, “Oh, that’s it?” Well, I’m finally here and I guess I just don’t know how to feel.

It’s March. In about two months, I’ll be graduating college. And it’s not like
senior year of high school when you can’t wait to run the hell out of those tortured hallways because some college thinks you exhibit “promise.” No. It’s much different. It’s like, “Holy shit, I’m finally 22, I’ve been taking college courses for four years, only thrown up a few times from drinking, driven to the mountains way too many times and raised my sexual encounters significantly.”

So now what? What do I do with all of these clichés as the days slowly dwindle away and I have to pack up all of the Norton Anthologies and thousands of New Paltz Oracle notepads?

As of a week ago, I decided to stay in New Paltz for the first two months of summer. I stayed here last summer while interning at Chronogram magazine and loved every moment of being surrounded by the quiet, complacent streets. Not that I couldn’t do that back home…but back home doesn’t have sidewalks. Only long chains of fast-food restaurants and dirty malls.

What’s funny is that, while in the midst of trying to transfer to some school in the city during my freshman year, I remember telling myself that I didn’t want to be one of the students that stayed in New Paltz after graduating. I guess I just had met too many that had stayed too long; I didn’t want to get sucked into the bubble. It’s so easy to get sucked into that damn bubble.

I won’t be staying here for long, and I know that writing this will help that…because if I read this column three years from now and I’m still here not doing anything… help me. As much as I love coming home to stay with my dad in our upstate New York home, New Paltz has become my new, better home.

So, since I am fully aware that I am a determined and motivated person, I will use New Paltz as my platform this summer to figure out where the hell I need to go now. I’ve already discussed with my dad that two months of extra rent will most likely be cheaper than anti-depressants.

But where to after that?

Being an English major has taught me that although I love (and always have loved) reading, I’m not incredibly gifted at analyzing, interpreting and all-together absorbing and devouring English literature. I’m glad I’ve figured it out before applying to any prestigious graduate schools. A journalism minor, but more so The New Paltz Oracle, has taught me that although I’m not a hard-news writer, I can write a kick-ass feature story and maybe I’ll go somewhere with that. A creative writing minor has taught me, well, most New Paltz creative writers either need to read more or write less. Sorry.

As for me, I’ve always wanted to be an editor. I have no problem slicing and dicing the shit out of everyone else’s work (and don’t mind you doing it to mine either. Constructive criticism and I are good friends.). After being an editor for eight straight semesters and reading other students’ work, I’ve learned quite quickly that no one revises what they write. It’s really, really annoying. And frustrating. But I won’t get into that.

And while I’m trying to be an editor (i.e. applying to publishing companies, magazines, the works), I’m going to try to be a rockstar, ‘cause why the hell not? So if you don’t find my name as an editor of some writing-related thing (is that really the best word you can think of?) or touring the world with a guitar and hopefully a mandolin player, well I suppose I’ll take those anti-depressants.

Or wait for the world to end with all you silly world-ending believers.