Student shut-in prioritizes having fun over work

Benjamin Mullin

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I pass the same sidewalk graffiti on my walk home every day. It’s a stenciled send-up of Darwin’s evolution of man, the oft-caricatured visual representation of humans evolving gradually from chimpanzees.

This version has a chilling twist, however. Right after the human stage of evolution, after the man finally begins to walk erect, the graffiti depicts him slowly dissolving into a bar code.

Lately, I’ve been glancing at this graffiti a lot. Not because the sketch is any different, but because I’m going to graduate in a little less than a year. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I’m hoping the next stage in my personal evolution will be something more than fading into obscurity — becoming a bar code, something monotonous, mass-produced and boring.

To that end, I’ve started making a Chico bucket list. It’s my response to the end-of-college jitters, a reminder that I’m still young enough to do crazy things — even if my society-proscribed young and crazy period is coming to a head.

1. Perform onstage

You might say this is a strange and juvenile thing to put on my bucket list, but no one asked you. I didn’t have much on my plate when I auditioned my freshman year, so when I got a callback to join the show choir, I was stoked. Then the deadlines started piling up for The Orion and I was forced to make a decision — my dead-end hobby as a low-rent, miniscule-talent tenor, or my dead-end, low-rent job as a journalist. As you can see, I chose the latter. But after this semester’s over, I’m looking forward to singing my heart out for a group of people who are just there for appetizers and air conditioning. Their polite, half-hearted, stifle-a-yawn applause will be all the affirmation I need after covering campus theater for a semester.

2. Go floating

The first I ever heard of Chico’s annual Memorial Day floating tradition was at a meeting for The Orion’s news team, where my baseball bat-wielding editor asked all of the news writers who wanted to cover “the float.” Naturally, the list of writers who wanted to abandon their own Memorial Day plans to cover the annual carnage was exactly zero people long. But because I didn’t have any plans, being a clueless freshman, I signed up to watch people in varying states of intoxication wade into the river. This year, hopefully I’ll be on the other side of the news — not drunk and waterlogged, but enjoying a leisurely float down the river without having to worry about a deadline.

3. Have a Chico Halloween:

Every year, I’ve gone as the same thing during Chico’s annual celebration of all things scantily-clad — a reporter. When everyone else is getting on their Halloween costumes, I’m turning on the police scanner. When everyone else is getting blasted at local bars, I’m on the phone with police to figure out how many people were arrested for DUIs. And when everyone finally collapses at around 2 a.m., I’m bent over a keyboard banging out the last paragraph of a crime story.

But not this year. This semester, I’m going to try on a different costume that doesn’t include a notepad, camera, press badge and a 6 a.m. deadline. Maybe this year, if nothing too crazy happens, I’ll go out for the weekend. Maybe everyone will behave and I’ll have a normal Halloween.

Yeah, right.


Benjamin Mullin can be reached at [email protected] or @benmullin on Twitter.

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