Friday, March 26, 2010

J.Wiltz, M.A., on Getting a Degree, Moving, the Future, and Saints-Related Optimism

Where to begin, where to begin?

It's been a good two or three months since I've had time to sit down and update ye olde blog, but so much has happened in those two or three months that I almost feel compelled to break it down into a series...Okay, maybe not. Here in the age of Twitter and Facebook, nobody really has the attention span for that sort of thing anymore. So, let me give you the Cliffs Notes:

(1) In December, I finally completed my Masters in American Literature. As a result, I now sign even the most trivial documents with "J.Wiltz, M.A."

(2) After months of planning, I've finally moved back to Oxford, where I currently reside with my old friend and former radio co-host, Keith Sisson. It's a very welcome change of pace. After two years of non-stop school and work, I need to get my social life back on track. And Oxford is just the place to do it.

(3) I've applied to Ole Miss Law School and am currently waiting to see whether I've been accepted. My LSAT score wasn't particularly impressive (taking it again in June), but my work experience and graduate GPA are off the chain. At the very least, I think they should give me a sticker or something for going through the whole application process. I've taken classes that weren't that complicated! Wish me luck.

(4) To cover my back in the event that I'm not accepted to law school, I've applied for teaching positions at any number of schools in Oxford and the surrounding areas. That option is available to me. I AM J.Wiltz, M.A., you know. (See also #1 above.)

(5) I've gotten more writing done in my first two weeks in Oxford than I have in probably the last six months combined. You can expect something resembling a short story collection from me by Christmas.

And probably the most important piece of news --

(6) On February 7, 2010, the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl.

It's weird to see it written down and know that it's true, isn't it? Keith called bullshit on me for being excited, saying (and I'm paraphrasing), "You've NEVER talked about the Saints. Hell, you never talk about FOOTBALL! And now you're gonna jump on the bandwagon because they had a good season?" I'm sure a lot of people have heard similar accusations. But my argument - and I'm absolutely right - is this: there's no one - not a single person - who grew up in New Orleans or along the Mississippi Gulf Coast who doesn't have history with the New Orleans Saints. We all felt that victory.

For example - when I was growing up, my mom would sometimes ask me to do little chores around the house. After I was done with them, I'd always go back to her and jokingly ask for a tip. And, invariably, she'd answer me with, "Here's a tip, you little shit - don't bet on the Saints."

In the late '80s and early '90s my dad worked with a lot of different radio stations along the Coast. One of the perks was that he sometimes got free records. (And yes, I mean records. As in vinyl. This was the pre-CD era.) I don't know if it was 1986 or 1987, but I can remember him bringing home the 45 of "I Believe! Saints Go All the Way!" (video above) and blasting it on the stereo. It was always a big deal at our house when Dad would turn on the stereo and let us listen to music really loud, and we heard that song a lot...I believe it was second only to "Eye of the Tiger" and "Call Me."

And of course we all know the old joke about the guy who dies and goes to Hell. He's pissing his pants with fear the whole way down, terrified of what's coming. The elevator reaches Hell, the door opens up, and to his surprise there's nothing but a winter wonderland of ice and snow for miles around. People are having snowball fights, building snowmen, ice skating, you name it. Confused, he goes up to the first guy he sees and says, "Hey man, what's the deal? I thought this was supposed to be Hell." The guy says to him, "Oh, didn't you hear? The Saints won the Super Bowl."

All my life, you see, the Saints have, for better or worse, been a part of the fabric. Like Barq's Root Beer and Hurricane Camille, they define where I'm from. But growing up with the Saints meant being resigned to the fact that they'd never be a winning team. It was one of those things we all knew we could depend on to stay the same. In fact, the only time anyone on the Gulf Coast or in New Orleans ever used to mention "Saints" and "Super Bowl" in the same sentence was when they were describing something that was simply impossible. "Do you think she'd go out with me?" "Yeah, and the Saints might win the Super Bowl." That sort of thing.

So when Tracy Porter intercepted Peyton Manning's pass and took it all the way back for the game-winning touchdown (see video below), my fellow Coast natives and I all came up off of our couches in an ecstatic, drunken, emotional blur. My exact words: HOLY FUCKING SHIT! WE JUST WON THE SUPERBOWL!!

Sports teams have big wins every day, but this was much much more than just a big win. It was a paradigm shift - a moment when the one thing we thought could never happen took place before our very eyes. A moment when the lyrics of "Tonight, Tonight" rang incredibly true: "The impossible is possible tonight." Those moments are in short order these days, but the mere fact that they do happen should encourage all of us to believe that maybe it is possible to win at this whole Life thing after all.

So, whatever challenges you're facing, dear readers - and believe me, I'm facing a few myself here in my post-grad life - I hope you'll all take heart and learn to believe in happy endings. Didn't you hear? The Saints won the Super Bowl.

Who Dat!


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