2/3 - I cheer for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. One of my friends, a die-hard Pats fan, is extremely bitter over Tom Brady replacing Drew Bledsoe, and thinks it will be the death knell for the team. However, the Pats hold on to win over the hated (in Saints circles, anyway) St. Louis Rams. This would be the last time I ever pull for the Patriots.
Late in the spring semester - Perform as Lysander in a scene of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for my theater class. My Lysander is a lecherous guy who tries to cop a feel on two different women and winds up getting kicked repeatedly across the floor for it. Wasn’t (entirely) my idea, but apparently enough people wanted to see it happen.
April - Attend a journalism convention in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where I hear a speech from someone working at a newspaper called the Springfield News-Leader.
Hours after arriving home from that convention, I find out that my college track coach - the man most responsible for my attending college tuition-free - died of a heart attack the day before. The wake is in an hour. My head spins.
May - For my last journalism-related class assignment, attend a governor’s meeting at the state Capitol. When I and a gaggle of reporters crowd then-Gov. Mike Foster afterward, I realize I have to cock my head almost 90 degrees to see his face.
June - Start both my college columnist gig and my reporter internship. Both very different, and truly enjoyable, experiences.
Summer - While visiting a friend’s apartment to help him revise a paper, my truck gets towed from the empty parking lot. On a Sunday night. Apparently, there was a visitors’ lot completely invisible from how I got there. Costs $125 to get out of impoundment. “In all my years here, I never saw that happen,” my friend says. Go figure.
9/21 - Watch the UL Ragin’ Cajuns football team thrash Alabama-Birmingham 34-0 in driving rain. I don't think such a blowout has happened since, or even in the several years preceding it.
10/2 - Hurricane Lili hits my house. Gatorade and cold showers for days.
November - Appear as a last-minute replacement panelist on a live public-access cable show about politics. As a joke, the guy I’m filling in for sends me a preparatory e-mail with the subject line, “Nicaraguan economy.” I talk way too much but hold my own. Looking at the footage later, I decide I should lose some weight. Fortunately, my coming financial drought in 2003 would take care of that for me.
12/1 - Attend my first (and so far only) Saints game, a home stand against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After jumping to a 23-9 lead, the Saints (in throwback uniforms) hold on to win 23-20 and improve their record to 8-4. Watching ESPN after the game, I remember thinking, “There’s no way this team will finish 9-7 and all the convoluted scenarios that would have to happen to boot them from the playoffs will actually happen.”
12/2 - Rush back to Lafayette early the next morning to take arguably my hardest final of the semester, which I forsook partying in the French Quarter to study for the day before. Make an A. Phew. It wasn’t for nothing.
12/14 - Graduate from college for the first time. Like it so much I decide to start grad school the very next month so I can do it again. The real world could wait, I figured, especially after reading a job experts saying 2002 was the worst year he could envision for college students to be graduating.
12/15 - At graduation party, watch the Saints give up to a terrible Vikings team on the last play of the game. Bloody Randy Moss! Yay for parties.
Semester break - Fretting over whether or not I got into grad school, which starts in mere weeks. Begin reflecting on how teachers always said school years were “the best of our lives.” Uh-oh.