It’s that time of year again. The turkeys are basting, the cranberries are coming out of their cans, the stores are starting semi-annual sales, and the commercials are already calling for Christmas. Here in Santa Barbara, the seasonal shift is a little bit harder to detect. Sure, our stores are already festooned with all things festive, but our weather is more warm than wintry. And, as much as I want to revel in the spirit of the season, pending papers and heavy homework are taking out my mood faster than tryptophans on Turkey Day.
But I’m sure I’m not the only person with a mother who won’t take no for an answer during the dreaded mid-meal discussion about what, exactly, everyone eating at our holiday feast is thankful for – a feat that sounds simple enough, until you take into account the lethal combo of family dynamics and the requisite amounts of alcohol required to stay in the seasonal spirit despite them. So, this year, in preparation for being put on the spot at the Thanksgiving table, I’ve decided to come up with my list in advance. After all, preparedness is the key to success – or at least a little less slurring when it comes time to deliver at dinner. Unfortunately, a quick glance back at my column archives shows that I did a similar laundry list last November. My, how time flies when you’re trying to come up with column topics.
But, in this, my last year at college and my 21st year on Earth, I think I’m going to take stock a little differently than I have before. Last year, I had two long years of college left in me – a lifetime in Isla Vista terms – and a slew of seconds left to experience the magic time known as my college years. Now things are different. Almost every day brings a reminder that it’s all coming to an end. Graduation is just around the corner and people are already getting engaged, getting jobs, and getting ready to move on and grow up. With that in mind, I think this year’s thing I’m thankful for is Isla Vista. Or more importantly, the Isla Vista lifestyle and all the love, laughter, and lunacy it’s provided me.
So, what am I thankful for in particular? Well, there are the obvious answers: my incredible friends and roommates, my amazing boyfriend, my fantastic family, and my inspiring coworkers. I’m thankful for the opportunity to express myself every week in a publication that I truly respect and read regularly (mostly while procrastinating at work, but still). I’m thankful to have a job that challenges me, excites me, and allows me access to all the free wine I can pour on First Thursdays. I’m thankful for the Film and Media Studies Department, where I can be stimulated by a discussion of subversive youth films of the 70s one minute, and talking about my favorite guilty pleasure movies from childhood with the likes of Super-Advisor Joe Palladino the next. I’m thankful to be taking my last Law & Society class ever, virtually guaranteeing that I might actually graduate.
I’m thankful to finally be 21. And, on a related note, I’m thankful for Study Hall and Dublin’s, Elsie’s and Sandbar, Tonic, Wildcat, Sharkeez, Zodo’s, Q’s, and pretty much anywhere else that honors the institution that is college night and the right to serve bevies of barely-legal boys and girls alcohol with as much reckless abandon as propriety and pancreatic functions will allow. Not to mention the fine folks behind Bill’s Bus, without whom none of it would be possible.
I’m thankful for the Gauchos – quite possibly the hardest working folks in all of Isla Vista – who travel house to house collecting cans, bottles, and other recyclable goods in an effort to earn their daily bread the long, hard way. I’m thankful to the people behind the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District, the Environmental Affairs Board, the Shoreline Preservation Fund, the Community Affairs Board, the Surfrider Foundation, the Isla Vista Tenants Union, the Isla Vista Food Co-Op, Arts & Lectures, A.S. Program Board, Magic Lantern Films, and all the other institutions and organizations where underpaid staff and under appreciated volunteers work tirelessly for the town that county planners forgot.
I’m thankful to Dej Vu for what are still the best fries in town, Super Cucas for late-night nacho runs, Gio’s for their ravishing ravioli, Woodstock’s for the whole wheat crust and the killer combo of high-def basketball and huge Monster Cups, and Naan Stop for chicken masala that melts in your mouth. I’m thankful to The Habit for never flinching when I ask for a free water cup during work, only to fill it with diet soda when I think nobody is looking. I’m thankful to Sushiya for Crazy Rolls, CaliRoll for sake specials, Something’s Fishy for half-price sushi, and my body for not seeming to mind that raw fish and rice make up most of my diet.
I’m thankful that the Arbor has started stocking toiletries, thankful that the Corner Store never runs out of bin candy, and thankful that Nicoletti’s offers options other than the swamp water they try to pass off as drip coffee. I’m thankful that the Rec Cen remodel has made machines much more available than they were when I was just a poor, pudgy freshman, and thankful that my fellow Isla Vistans don’t judge me when I’m sweaty, shlubby, and struggling for breath during my morning runs.
I’m thankful for Facebook and Craigslist, YouTube and iTunes, MySpace and collegehumor.com. I’m thankful to get my news from Comedy Central, my commentary from The View, my meditation from Food Network, and my cocktail party conversations from The Soup. I’m thankful for new media, old media, and all the endless entertainment in between. And I’m thankful (and jealous) that the next generation of UCSB Film and Media Studies students will be able to study it all in what promises to be an amazing new building.
I’m thankful for the theme parties, the beer pong tourneys, the Kings Cup, and the Quarters, the drinking, the dancing, the debauchery, and the crazy costumes. And, I’m thankful that Facebook will let me de-tag all of the photos taken when I’m tanked. I’m thankful that biking everywhere burns most of the calories from drinking everything and I’m thankful that my boyfriend doesn’t mind the little beer belly that’s left behind. I’m thankful that it turns out my body can run on more caffeine than sleep, and thankful that I only have to test those limits every once in a while.
I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made here, for the memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and for the fact that I will graduate able to simultaneously shotgun a beer and discuss the relative merits of Metz and Marx, Eisenstein and Bazin, Locke and Hobbes, Firestone and Guinness. But most of all, I’m thankful for Isla Vista, and for all that lies within its small borders. This Turkey Day, I raise my glass to you I.V. May you eat, drink, and be as merry as midterms and pending papers, propriety and pancreatic functions will allow.