30 March 2008

Boot 'n Paddle - Almost Caught Up!

Due to the fact that this is appearing in a newspaper and that I have a bit of news, I’m going to tell ya’ll something that has had a dramatic effect on the past two weeks of my life. Ya’ll? Wow, this excitement is really making me fresh! I should also point out that while there seems to be a lot of farce in this issue of the Hill News this Boot ‘n Paddle is one hundred percent authentic.
Here’s what happened: A couple of days before spring break I came home from jai-alai practice and had a parcel waiting for me in front of my bedroom door from my friend, Pete. It wasn’t wrapped, nor was it in an envelope, so initially I was irritated by Pete’s lack of presentation. However, I then picked up a note that Pete had written and I forgot all about my annoyance. Here’s what the note said:

“Alex, I found these in the snow by the 24 hour room at ODY… either these are yours or you have a secret admirer. –Pete”

Now, besides letters that I’ve written to myself, I’ve never had a secret admirer, so these words gave me goosepimples. Along with Pete’s note was a pile of old newspaper clippings. I thought, “Boring,” but then something caught my eye. I noticed that the clippings were my very own Boot ‘n Paddles! Someone, not me or my parents, had cut out ten or so of my columns and collected then in a group! It’s not like they cut them out and put them in a drawer somewhere; they were carried around campus and as far as I can tell were taken out of a backpack outside of the library and admired to a point where they got so excited that they dropped them in fit of delight.
This is a pretty neat story and it makes me feel pretty good, but there’s a problem. Someone out there was/is seemingly very enthusiastic about Boot ‘n Paddle, and now they’ve lost their collection! (There is, of course, the possibility that there was a disgruntled fan that reached such a level of discontentment with my column that they took their Boot ‘n Paddle collection and ditched it by ODY… I’m just saying that because I’m trying not to sound arrogant but let’s face it, that scenario just isn’t plausible.)
So that’s my story. It was a great day.
Below is a little note that I wrote for the individual who lost his or her Boot ‘n Paddles. If you are not that individual, please respect our privacy and don’t read the following section. Thanks!

I’m twenty-three and think you are really great. I’m worried about your lost B&Ps. I love breakfast foods but rarely eat breakfast. Would you like to eat corned beef hash with me sometime (for dinner)? I smelled the clippings that Pete gave to me and there was a trace of Vicks vapor rub… are you sick? Some of them smelled like bosco sticks. I’ve never had an email relationship before, but I think, I mean if you’re into it, that we should get one going? (aceato05@stlawu.edu) Let me know. :-)

Boot 'n Paddle - Still Catching Up!

St. Lawrence students email me all the time asking for details about me, Alex Eaton. They say, “So many of your columns seem to be fictional. In Boot ‘n Paddle # 15, you said you have a bald spot and I don’t believe it!” They tell me that they want to know the man behind the column. I usually write back a calm, mildly offensive note suggesting that they get to know themselves before they pry into other people’s lives. It seems to have worked.
However, as a result of a constant battle to try to reinvent myself, I’ve now decided that being open and forthcoming should be valued and practiced on a daily–– no, hourly basis. So, I’m going to put myself out there; I’m going to show this campus (and my parents who read this is Arizona!) who Alex Eaton really is. What better way to introduce myself than to give a sample of what I was like as a child, the basis for who and what I am today? This should also interest my parents as for most of my childhood I was under the supervision of a drifter named Gary.
I have chosen to print a story that I wrote in Kindergarten for the Cornwall Elementary School’s annul literary magazine. This particular story is called the “The Slug” and was accompanied by an illustration, peanut-like, and labeled “Slug.”

Once upon a time there was a fat slug. And he snuck out of the house. Then a kid fell and landed on him on his slimiest part. Then Indiana Jones came to save him. Then he whipped the kid. Then the kid got out his pistol and shot him.

I was a cute little kid.
Okay, sure there’s a certain degree of ambiguity at work… like why was the slug in the house? Who did Indiana Jones really come to save? Whose pistol did the kid use to shoot Indiana? Most importantly, did Gary write this story and try to pass it off as mine? We can’t be sure because Gary was killed with a pair of toenail clippers when I was ten, but I think that he probably did. For those of you who know me (you, now), I am not a very violent person. In fact, I rarely think about whips and firearms; Gary was very passionate about them.
So really, this story doesn’t give you much insight into who Alex Eaton really is. But do you see what happened? In setting up the story and explaining its significance you learned a considerable amount about me. You learned that I am hesitant to divulge details about myself. You learned about my parent’s role in my upbringing. You learned about Gary and the regrettable (and illegal… he was wanted by the police for selling his pee as lemonade) influence on my childhood and presumably my adult life.
I’m really glad I did this. Thanks to everyone who emailed me!

Boot 'n Paddle - Catch Up!

Last week I wrote about how we should all avoid collapsing far into the depths of the St. Lawrence social network, and the importance of acknowledging the reasons we are here, those which can easily become mundane. That was a recap; it seemed more lighthearted in the actual column. This week, contrary yet slyly complimentary to last week’s column, I want to stress the importance of frivolity.
Last year, I took a writing course during which the topic of daydreaming came up. People were self-conscious about the subjects of their daydreams, but there was no doubt that everybody did, in fact, daydream. However, there was one exception. A lowly, highly beauty shopped coed sitting in the front row. She expressed to the class that she didn’t really understand what we were talking about, that she had never “daydreamed” before and thought it sounded immature. I thought she sounded dumb.
Now I will say an opinion that I have and you will agree or disagree, but can’t argue with me because you’re reading a newspaper. Not daydreaming or fantasizing is indicative of a much larger characteristic of being a generally dull human being who will do little with their life. The individual I’m talking about has graduated already and I would try to imagine a day in her shoes but it’s tough imagining what it’s like not imagining.
What can we assume about the lackluster student? First of all, that she has no aspirations. You need to imagine something to aspire to it. Also, she has something very substantial on her mind constantly, probably gymnastics or sudoku, leaving absolutely no time for her mind to wander. Let’s also assume she is a horrible storyteller. And she is always very well kempt because she can’t imagine the right guy coming along and falling in love with her even though she’s just in her jammies. She’s awful and she’s out in society bringing other people down to her level of depressing nonbeing.
We need to steer clear of her approach to living. I fantasize on an hourly basis; it’s how I accomplish things. It’s how I will accomplish things. Plus, fanaticizing is fun. I don’t get that many chances to be a badass, but when I’m walking to class and I imagine a that I just got back to school after escaping a hostage situation in the Middle East, I am a badass. Then I go to class and feel way cooler than everyone else having not actually accomplished anything. There is, of course, a delicate balance between daydreaming and living in a fantasy world, but having real conversations with real people makes that issue futile.
You don’t have to daydream all of the time; it’s just a great way to stop taking yourself so seriously. Laughing, and joking are also good methods. All I am saying is we have a lot of cool kids on campus, kids that need to lighten up a little or they’re going to end up like my former classmate. If you ever need inspiration for fantasy, try going to Stewarts (see past Boot ‘n Paddle).

Boot 'n Paddle - Spring '08

College, St. Lawrence, the basic concept, is odd when you think about it.
Think about it. When we turn a certain age, once we’ve achieved a certain level of accomplishment, our parents send us off to a communal living situation where our seniors teach us the information they think we should know during our lifetime. They pack us in together, within the confines of a few acres, where we have everything we need and want to live. We sit, everyday, lined up in rows staring blankly at our mentors as they transfer their knowledge into our brains. And dining halls? Weird!
Not to suggest that it is, but college can be very cult-like. I think it’s fair to say that cults are often times negligent of the outside world. Sometimes truth, commonsense, rationality, and consequence have a way of slipping through the cracks here in the collegiate realm. As we wend our ways through a lifestyle of repetition, it’s very easy to get caught up in a humdrum of nothingness. Days and nights littered with work, friends, and the same sidewalks bleed into one another; the more time we spend in this whirlwind, the more our lives revolve around what happens on this tiny campus. But this, of course, defeats the purpose of college!
What a depressing outlook! Wrap your brains around this! Contrary to the first paragraph let me depict a different scenario of academia. For eighteen or so years, our parents and communities prepare us for four years of intense training, where a field of experts will tell us everything they know. Even cooler… we spend four years training for a secret mission. We learn everything we can and then infiltrate the public sector where we create results; we use our super-knowledge to make this a better place to live. My version of this scenario also includes a lot of blue lighting, passwords, and someone with a headset walkie-talkie on. And, there’s a phone in the corner that connects straight to the president.
One version is cynical, the other is slightly exaggerated. Compromise, meld the two together to make a truly effective and enjoyable college experience that will benefit both ourselves and others. Hey, listen. When we hear about dogs that are locked in their house all day we feel bad for them. Right? So how can we get mad at them for pooping on the duvet? But if that dog had a human brain, hands, feet, and the capacity for sensibility, then that dog should be punished.