Archive for the About Me Category

I am a Jedi Master of Professional Writing

Posted in About Me with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by Jessica Lada

The fifteenth of May, 2010, I graduated with a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma.  The next day I took off in an 18-wheeler with my fiancé and was pretty much off the grid without internet.  I’ll try to fill the gap, starting with commencement itself.

My mom, dad, fiance, and brother in front of the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

I’m not one to preen in the mirror and obsess over outfits, but it took me a good hour the night before commencement to choose what to wear.  Not because I needed to find the perfect little dress to wear under my gown (like anyone can see what you’re wearing anyway) but because I had to find a way to hide my lightsaber.

Yeah, that’s right.   Lightsaber.

The week before commencement, one of my friends pulled me aside at a party and said, “Dude, have you heard about the flash mob at graduation?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Well… you should go buy a lightsaber.”

“Oh hell yes.”

Toys R Us had two pretty awesome ones.  One was a foot long, a couple inches across, and spring loaded.  The other was two feet long, not spring loaded, smaller around, lighter, and had better sound effects.  Naturally I bought one of each.  What’s the point of having a lightsaber if there’s no one to do battle with?

In the days preceding commencement, we all schemed and plotted and laughed and then eventually people started to chicken out.  I saw the flash mob dwindling around me and I thought about backing out too.  I’m shy by nature.  I don’t like people looking at me and I don’t like feeling stupid and embarrassed.  While normal people have nightmares of showing up to school naked, I was now having nightmares of being the only person to jump up and whip out a lightsaber during graduation.  I texted my friend and fellow writer, Marisa.  It went like this:

ME: Hmm… so I dunno if I’m going to do the lightsaber mob now since so many people are backing out.

MARISA: I know. I’m worried. But I’m going to bring it, I think, and see if anything happens.  Ben is still in.

ME: Okay, so at least there would be three of us together…

MARISA: Like the three musketeers of bad ideas…

ME: EXACTLY like that.

MARISA: Let’s make shirts!

ME: With stick figures.

MARISA: And light sabers.

ME: Drawn by that guy.

MARISA:  Baller.

I almost backed out again, right before leaving for the ceremony.  I am such a wuss.  I sighed and paced around and then my brother, ever helpful, offered advice.  “Remember,” he said. “Do or do not. There is no try.”

That did it.  There’s nothing like a Star Wars quote to encourage mayhem.

I chose the lighter saber without the spring loaded action as my weapon of choice the day of commencement.  That brings me back to how on earth you hide the lightsaber under the robe.  My friend Ben had it easy because, of course, he’s a dude.  The saber just went in his pocket, no problem.

Marisa took another tactic.  Her lightsaber was el cheapo and tiny, so she stuck it in the “pocket” (the little dangley bit that hangs off each sleeve of a Masters gown) of her sleeve.  When professors and other students asked what the heck was weighing down her sleeve she deadpanned, “Oh, that’s my Sprite bottle full of vodka.”  Everyone laughed.  I’m disappointed she didn’t just say, “Oh, that’s my Lightsaber.” It would have gotten the same reaction.

The Three Musketeers of Bad Ideas: Ben, Jessica, and Marisa.

My solution was to wear a super-tight, skinny belt and tuck the saber inside it, strapped to my hip and tucked under my arm.  It was less comfortable than I had hoped, but it worked.  I carried my Master hood and hat to block the slight bulge until we lined up to process into the ceremony.  As we filed out of the holding area someone shouted, “Robes open!”  And that’s when I saw the hoard of security officers.

I turned to Marisa, panicking.  “Crap, crap, crap!”

“You’re cool, dude. You’re cool.  Just keep walking.”

Profanities and fear ran through my inner monologue and I unzipped my robe and held the right side open.  I held the other side tight over the lightsaber and folded back just the edge.  I prayed the guards would notice my awesome boots or just about anything else but the weapon.

I made it safely past security without being searched, reprimanded, or passing out, and then we got to our seats.  There we were, the triumvirate, sitting in the very front row, directly in front of the podium. The Dean made his welcomes and thanks and then told everyone that the entire ceremony was streaming LIVE online and would be archived for posterity.


People spoke at length and after 45 minutes of me flipping out silently the outstanding senior got up to give her speech, which turned into a blur of noise in my head.  But then she said, “For pretty much any event, you can find a Star Wars metaphor.”

My heart started trying to fight its way out of my chest from the inside.  I was shaking.  I slid my saber onto my lap under the robe and clutched it for dear life.  Onstage, the girl started talking about Luke Skywalker and how when he was our age he joined a rebellion.  I looked left at Marisa and right at Ben.  We were all in—sink or float.

“Take a chance. Take a risk.  Now is that time in your life to take that chance and try something crazy.”  Here I am about to get a Masters degree with a lightsaber under my gown.  I think that counts.

She concluded and said “May the Force be with you.”


Wait, wait, wait…

And then from an iPhone a few rows back I hear John Williams’s iconic and triumphant fanfare that opens the Star Wars theme.  I whipped out my saber with a flick of my wrist and it gave a proud hum and I battled.

This is the photo and headline the school chose for their link to the archived commencement video.

The crowd applauded, we sat down again, and I could breathe again.  We walked across the stage and got our hoods and diploma covers and then we talked, heckled, and texted as the rest of the graduates did their thing.  We were Masters.  Jedi Masters.

After the ceremony I met my proud parents, gave them big hugs, took lots of photos, and introduced my family to my friends and professors.  Someone asked, “Are you all going over to the journalism building for the reception?”

“Oh, heck no,” I said.  “We’re going to see Iron Man 2.”


To witness the epic battle, jump about 47 minutes in:

Hrrrk! Blarrrgh…

Posted in About Me with tags on February 9, 2010 by Jessica Lada

That’s the sound of character death in the online web series Red vs. Blue.  It’s also the sound of a graduate student slogging through the trials of academia toward the prospect of employment in the real world.

I’m a grad student at the University of Oklahoma finishing up a Masters of Professional Writing.  I’m marrying a devastatingly handsome opera singer in October on his family’s cattle ranch.

I love fantasy novels, movies of all sorts, and I have a weakness for sci-fi tv shows.  In this blog I’ll give my thoughts, opinions, and recommendations on all of the above.

I read.  I write.  I blargh.