Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Last Column Ever

Of "Quarked," at least. Someday I hope to do another, but that will have to wait. For now, though, you have to forgive me my sentimentality because I loved writing my column so dearly I nearly cried sending in the last one.

Anyway, this week's column. I focused on a favorite topic of mine as a writer, favorite words, because most people seem to have at least one or two of them. (Survey of friends revealed words like "brownie," "squeegy," and "cockatoo.") If anyone wants to mention a few of their favorites I'm all ears; here's what I came up with-

You are now reading the last "Quarked" column that will ever appear in The Observer.

I know. I can barely handle the suspense either. But instead of launching into thoughts about graduating, something that would only serve to bore you and depress me, I'd like to talk about words instead. I like them. I spend a lot of time thinking about them. And I have yet to meet a single writer who did not have words they particularly liked or disliked.

As a final column, it seems fitting to introduce a few of my personal favorites.

Phantasmagorical - This is my absolute favorite word, due to both its sound and meaning. In fact, when I was first starting this column I was very close to naming it "Phantasmagorical Pandemonium," after my first idea ("Perpendicular Thoughts from a Parallel Universe") was shot down due to length constraints. In hindsight, I probably chose the right one.

Succinct - Cool. Enough said.

Feminism - Of all the words that are improperly perceived and used, this is the one I most want to rein in. I will never forget the day in one of my introductory history classes when the professor asked who in the room was a feminist, and my roommate and I were the only ones who raised our hands out of a hundred people.

All feminism is defined in the dictionary as a belief in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. This means a freedom that covers both my mother's choice to stay at home and raise my siblings and me and my ambition to be an astrophysicist. And there is nothing radical about that.

Smile - I don't know why people don't do this more often. You are, for all intents and purposes, among the wealthiest and best-educated people in human history. Two weeks from now you'll be on winter break. George W. Bush will never be president again. There's plenty to smile about, and people will wonder what you're up to.

Lambda-bar - This is how you pronounce, which is a physics term used when you combine relativity and electromagnetism. The reason I like it is because it sounds like a delicious kind of chocolate, preferably very dark with crème filling. If I ever start a candy company, the first product will surely be called Lambda-Bar and have Maxwell's Equations on the wrapper, followed closely by black-coated Graviton Gobstoppers and Gluon Toffee guaranteed to stick your teeth together.

Yes - Of all the words I list here, I think this one is the most important. It is the one that makes things happen. Life is too short to be afraid of living it, and having an experience is better than no experience at all.

So say yes. Say yes when someone asks you out even if you're not sure what you think of them yet. Say yes when you're offered a job even if you doubt yourself and your capabilities. And definitely say yes when you send in a rant to The Observer and are offered a regular columnist position.

It has been my great privilege and joy to share my words with you these past few years. Thank you.


Emily J said...

You should be like that 2006 alum and keep writing for the Observer from all over the world!