Blast From The Past

I wrote for a weekly paper in college. It was more of a magazine, really, styled after the New Yorker in a lot of ways, which means that, although it was pretty funny, it was exceptionally pretentious for people who were college-aged. I wrote for it for all four years, and it was the only extracurricular I did consistently through my entire fairly mediocre undergraduate academic career.

One other thing I did in college was play rugby, poorly. I joined the club team (ie no cuts) part of the way through freshman year when three friends decided to sign up. I was very much a follower at the time. But I liked rugby. It was unique, and it was fun, and I felt like I was part of something, the same way I feel like I’m part of something with my running team and the running community in general.

But I wasn’t very good, mostly because I was slow (funny to say that now) and I wasn’t very coordinated. I mostly stayed on the sidelines and I played when they needed a body.

So, I say all that to say that I got a message today from a teammate from the class of 2004 who remembered an article I had written in said paper about a rugby tournament we had won. The team, apparently, remembers that Ivy League win very fondly, so he wanted to know if I had a copy he could share. I googled, and lo and behold, there it was, so I sent it to him, and he shared with the alumni email list, which I’m still on.

I wrote for that magazine for all four years, like I said, and I rose to manage one of the sections, and eventually to become Managing Editor, which sounds great, but that role made zero editorial decisions, and I’d really wanted to be Editor in Chief. They picked people whose writing they were more fond of, and I lost a lot of confidence in my writing ability. I had said, to anyone who would listen, that I wanted to be a writer after college, but since I didn’t really have a plan (I was no Elizabeth Warren), it never took off, and I banked on leading a prominent campus publication as a springboard, and when it didn’t happen I kind of gave up.

So now here I am, getting a doctorate, and realizing that I may well end up making my living from my writing in some fashion, all these years later. I placed far too much emphasis on the decision that didn’t go in my favor those years ago, and I should have found my way into writing long ago, but it’s useless to regret and useful to cherish reality, so I’m just glad I was reminded that a group of rugby guys - perhaps more representative of the general public than my colleagues at the paper - thought I had some skills when I was 17.

So here’s the article. It’s pretty good, very clearly written by a kid. I think at this point what’s clear is that I’m not all that great at writing from anything other than my own personal perspective, but I’m pretty damn good at that.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality