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Ten Years

2010 May 6
by Matt

Forgive me if these seem tedious; a lot of personal anniversaries cluster around this time of year, for me. At one time or another over the years, this five or six week span has seen me: arrive in Ohio for the first time, wind up both of my last two full-time jobs, and start my own business. And then there’s one other anniversary, which many people mark (or forget) at this time of year, though for myself I think this one requires some form of recognition…

Me am graduated

"No degree valid without the authentic (facsimile) signature of Martin C. Jischke"

I’ve noted the approach of this Big One a time or two, this year, but today it’s official. Ten full years since the date of this degree (which, amusingly, confers honors and distinction upon me twice over; I suppose the university feels happy to be generous with anything that’s free).

College of Design graduation, May 6, 2000

I actually went to two graduations. This one at the College of Design, that morning, and a formal, cap-and-gown all-university ceremony in the afternoon.

Ten years. Ten years before that, on May 6, 1990, I would have been presumably enjoying the weekend (the sixth having been a Sunday, that year) prior to going back to school the following day. In the sixth grade.

Strangely enough, I don’t find myself wondering “where did ten years go, so fast?” They’ve gone by increasingly fast, it’s true, but I know where they’ve gone for the most part. I’ve seen enough drama and change over these ten years to feel like I haven’t been short-changed, at least in that regard (I could file a few economically-directed complaints about these ten years but, hey, I had it better than this year’s grads are likely to, and this isn’t the day for that anyway).

Completing my formal education and leaving the school system is probably still the single most significant change of my entire life, though. Going to school defined life for as long as I could remember; trying to remember anything before preschool is pretty difficult, after all. I still have one of those dreams now and then that, somehow or other, it actually isn’t over.

So what of this decade of “real world” life? Other than a lot of interesting memories, slightly more money and slightly more stuff, and a good deal fewer active hair follicles, what do I have to show for all this time since dear auld ISU said okay, baby bird, you’re ready to fly… (or if you aren’t, you’d better be)?

How about a list? Lists are fun. I didn’t spend a lot of time on this (I started it last night; I guess some things haven’t changed all that much) and a lot of these are more “I learned how to…” than pearls of wisdom you can take away. It’ll have to do.

Anyway, the most valuable thing we can learn in college, arguably, is how to learn on our own once we leave. So, in no particular order, here are ten things I’ve learned:

  1. How to stretch and otherwise take steps to avoid injuring my wrists through long hours at a computer.
  2. The use of gears other than “D,” “R,” “N,” and “P.” (Iowa has hills, but I never drove on any kind of real mountain road until last year in Pennsylvania, actually.)
  3. How to use InDesign (which didn’t even exist ten years ago), CSS (which kind of did, a little) and Flash (still working on this).
  4. The reality of “it’s not what you know, it’s who(m) you know.” This has been one of the most important, useful lessons. I think the key insight is that it’s less “who you know” and more “who knows you.” Because most people don’t turn to personal connections because of some corrupt streak of shameless cronyism. They, and almost certainly you and I, turn to personal connections because there are enough unknowns in life already, and even a slight personal familiarity feels more reliable than turning to a complete stranger. Wish I had really understood this ten years ago.
  5. How to make roast turkey, all by myself.
  6. A number of British terms (shufti, Blighty, rozzers, blag) or usages (pants, rubbish) which I practically take for granted. (Though oddly, the metric system, centigrade temperatures and British spellings have made no impact on me. “Colour,” indeed… Rubbish.)
  7. How to cope with household allergies (or how to make a decent attempt, at least).
  8. Decimal equivalents, off the top of my head, for any number of eighths (i.e. .125, .25, .375, etc.)
  9. How to wind up the affairs of a terminally-ill relative.
  10. The value of readily-accessible, liquid savings.

And yes, there will be some celebrating; by coincidence AIGA Cleveland is having one of its Cocktails with Creatives events this evening, downtown. I’m planning to be there.

Two graduates at home

The handsome fellow beside me? Who knows; he could be Clark Kent, but Kent wears glasses so obviously it isn't him. 😉

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