Luis C. Medina Presents: A Guide To Graduation (2011)

I’ll never understand why some schools dig into their coffers for a big-name commencement speaker.

Take Rick Reilly, for example.

The University of Colorado’s School of Journalism brought out one of its most famous alums, Reilly, an ESPN columnist who was great once upon a time when he wrote on the back page of Sports Illustrated.

Reilly’s great words of wisdom? Not to write for free.

In a sense, that’s great advice. One of the most influential teachers I’ve ever had, Mr. Michael DeRoss, taught me a valuable lesson as a sophomore, “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.”

However, when push comes to shove, giving it up for free might be your best or only option. If you’re a blogger with opinions or analysis working on a blogspot.com or wordpress.com domain, you’re giving it away for free.

But there’s nothing wrong with that. When I began The Big Dead Sidebar in May 2008, I really didn’t expect to make much money out of it. Sure, there was hope that we could be this huge blog and I could skate by with it or have it be some sort of part-time job.

But in my heart of hearts, I started TBDS to get my name out there as a reputable source of information and analysis. TBDS isn’t Deadspin or The Big Lead, two of the site’s biggest influences, but it stands out on its own.

I’ve been stopped by people at bars, at ball parks, on the El, on the SIU campus by people asking about TBDS. It’s flattering because it means someone’s reading it.

And in the end, all it takes is one set of eyes to get your foot in the door and getting paid to do something you love.

So, you could either follow Rick Reilly, acclaimed ESPN columnist who hasn’t done much more than recycle his own material since leaving SI. Or you could take my advice, run with it and see if you can build yourself up from the ground up.

Oh, and one more thing my little newsies. The best thing you could do at this point is befriend a copy editor. There are a handful of them who I keep in daily contact with who are lifesavers despite the fact we no longer work together. When you need someone to read your junk or bounce an idea off of, copy editors are always there.

Befriend them. Buy them a drink. And always be thankful for their help.

That leaves us with the rest of you. Oh, do I have words of wisdom for you, too.

Many of you will eventually return to where you once left. A place you swore you’d never go back to once you graduated.

That’s right. Your parents house.

There’s nothing wrong with that. After a year in Harrisburg, Ill., I went home to Chicago and slummed it with my folks.

(Then again, when your 48-year-old mother has heart surgery, shit gets put into perspective rather quickly.)

Considering the fact that you’re just getting out of school, you’re probably going to be strapped for cash. It’s also likely that your parents will ask you for rent.

Luda Thoughts Part I: Cook, clean and chauffeur for your parents.

There’s nothing wrong with a little manual labor to earn your keep. Mom’s had a long day at work? Offer to cook the family dinner — or at least treat the fam to some Friday night pizza. Dad’s slept the day away? Take out the trash and do some tidying around the house.

It isn’t much, but it might be enough to ensure you won’t have to pay rent for a few months.

With the money you’ve saved by not paying rent, I’ll bring you to part two. (Because if there’s a part one, part two can’t be too far behind.)

Luda Thoughts Part II: Travel.

To hell with gas prices. I know. I see the $4.00 per gallon. I see that credit card debt soaring. You’re young and you only live once. This country, wait, this world is too big just to only know the same surroundings you’ve known for 21 years.

Over the last four (five? six?) years, you’ve made some good friends. (If you haven’t, you’ve failed and you’re probably going to die alone. Sorry, but that’s real talk.) Call up three of your friends, propose a trip and split the bill.

If you think a trip is too expensive, divvy up the cost by adding friends is the most logical way to get a summer trip in. You’re ambitious enough to get it done, and you’ve saved enough money to hold up your end of the deal.

This would probably be a good time to find that one friend with a gas efficient car and sweet-talk ’em into being Turtle for a few days.

However, this would not be a good time to go visit an ex. No sir. No ma’am. Not unless you want to find out the hard way that you’re not getting sex because s/he is dating the fatter/uglier/lazier version of you. As entertaining as that could be, it’s truly not worth it.

You know what is worth it? How about learning something new.

Luda Thoughts Part III: Ladies, learn to like a sport

On paper, many young ladies find this task more difficult than Chinese math. Alas, it’s really not that hard.

If you’re really hell bent on impressing that guy, invest some time in getting to know something he likes. Usually, that means sports. So we’ll go with that and you can apply to your situation as it occurs.

Personally, I like a girl who likes baseball. Preferably, one who doesn’t ask “When does this thing end?” after three innings or hasn’t hooked up with Nick Swisher.

C’mon. You took the time to stalk the dude from Twilight. Getting to enjoy a baseball game in the summer time shouldn’t be that hard.

Fellas, you’re not off the hook just yet.

Luda Thoughts Part IV: Fellas, learn to love wine

I became a wine enthusiast toward the end of my time in Carbondale, and I wish it would have happened sooner. So much so, I’ve made it common knowledge that I’d like to have my wedding take place at a southern Illinois vineyard. (Blue Sky? Von Jakob? It’s all good.)

There’s nothing wrong with liking wine. There’s nothing wrong with drinking wine. Unless, of course, you’re Tony La Russa. In that case, get a cab, old man. I digress.

I’ve heard it all since becoming a wine enthusiast.

“Wine is gay.”

“You’re gay.”

“Stop talking hockey.”

Sorry, that last one was a Boers and Bernstein texter.

There’s nothing “gay” about wine. And while all your buddies talk about getting hammered after drinking a 30 case of Busch Light, a half-decent bottle of wine will get you drunk faster — and if you’re smart about it — at a fraction of the cost.

One year ago, I suggested in my guide to graduation that the fellas that don’t know how to cook, learn how to do so. I’ve yet to meet a pretty girl who hasn’t enjoyed my cooking.

The next step after making dinner is to show off your versatility with a bottle of wine.

I mean, you’re all about trying to get the girl, right?

Just do me a favor and thank me later.

OK?

Alright.