The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Who knows what the future holds

Few questions annoy me more than “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” (I don’t know) or “Are you related to John Hinckley, Jr. – the guy who shot President Reagan?” (nope), except for the big one that keeps cropping up more and more now that I’m a senior. It’s the immortal, “What do you want to be when you graduate?” that drives the pitchfork in my side.

It happened again just the other day. I almost lost it. I almost popped Grandma one right in the ol’ yapper.

We were relaxing in front of the television when she started firing the barrage of questions. First it was, “Now what is it that you’re studying?” in one of those high-pitched nasally voices for which she’s famous.

“I’m studying lots of stuff, Grandma.”

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I could tell it was going to be a long, exasperating conversation so I decided to play the sarcasm card right away.

“No, I mean what is it that you’re going into?” Grandma whined.

“I’m a creative writing major, Grandma.”

Of course that didn’t come close to satisfying her. “Oh,” she said. And then a few moments later, “What’s that?”

“Well, it’s writing things … creatively.”

“Oh, like newspapers?”

“Kind of, but that’s usually called print journalism. But that’s my minor,” I quickly added hoping it would let me off the hook. By God, I thought, she might be understanding it after all!

“So what is it that Brad used to do?”

Damn, I was wrong. Brad, my brother-in-law, used to be a television news reporter and weekend anchor. Grandma loved watching him cover the E-coli and lice outbreak beats in the Mason City school district when he was working at a station in Iowa. She was finally related to someone famous!

“Well, Brad was probably broadcast journalism,” I said.

“Oh. Well what’s the difference?”

My fuse was burning considerably short by this point as Grandpa sat idly by, the background noise too loud for him to hear a damn thing.

“Print journalism involves printing … on paper … with ink and words,” I said, shoving our local newspaper at her. “Broadcast journalism involves broadcasting … on a TV or radio or something,” I said, pointing to the picture of Oprah and Dr. Phil on the TV screen.

“So could you be on TV?” she asked.

“No! I don’t know! No! I like words … and paper, not TV!”

“Well if you were on TV I could see you then.”

“What if you didn’t get that channel? Huh? Huh?! Then you couldn’t see me!”

“Well, if you were like Katie Couric I could. We watch her every morning. Don’t we Grandpa?”


“Well,” she said, equally as agitated as I, “So what is it you want to be exactly?”

My first reaction was to shout out, “How the hell should I know?!” I’m only 21 years old for crying out loud! How is it that I’m expected to know what I’m even going to wear tomorrow, let alone what I want to be? And why must I limit myself to one career anyway? Isn’t it true that the average person will change jobs at least five times in their life or something like that?

I thought about it for a while. I am a senior, and I suppose I should have some sort of direction in my life. Grandma’s inadvertent guilt was starting to sink in. I just spent four years, and took out thousands of dollars in loans to be nothing but stunned that all of a sudden I am supposed to have an answer in regards to my ominous future. What the hell? I was scared. But not for long.

It hit me all of a sudden, like a long-lost assignment during finals week. I was never one to voluntarily follow the crowd. So I told her, “Well Grandma, I could potentially write books, but that’s pretty hard to do. I wouldn’t mind editing them, though.” And then I decided to let her have it.

“Oh, but I have always thought it would be kinda cool to be a professional hockey scout. Or an international peace-keeper. I could rub elbows with heads-of-states, smoke Cuban cigars and bring home complimentary bottles of Russian vodka for the kiddies.

“Oh and hello, raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to be a rock star, because I know I have!

“And my friend Jeff and I used to talk about becoming professional hobos. Only we would do it a bit differently, like non-traditional hobos, if you will. Set up a base camp somewhere where other hobos like us could meet and greet and offer up support to newcomers and those veterans alike.

“Usually though, Grandma, when people ask me what I want to be, I just tell them I want to be a bum, but preferably somewhere nice like Southern Italy. I would spend my days basking in the sunshine and begging for bread and wine. Yeah, I know, it’s not as noble as being a bum in say, New York City, but I’m in it for the rest and relaxation. I’m in it because I want to be not because I have to be.

“So really, what do I want to be? I guess anything but bitter and unhappy. Maybe a little free even. I figure I have all kinds of choices and a lifetime to decide, right?”

“Well I don’t care what you do,” Grandma finally conceded, “as long as you marry rich. Now why is it that you don’t have a boyfriend? We would like to still be alive when you marry, you know.”

Oh, good grief.

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