The Alex Trebek Legacy: A Follow-up

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post honoring the great Alex Trebek. At that point, he had been suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer for a year. I was constantly impressed by the fact that his diagnosis did not at all diminish the charm and wit that he was famous for exhibiting during his time hosting Jeopardy. Even though I knew Mr. Trebek was a hell of a fighter and thus wasn’t going anywhere for a while, I wanted to reflect on the immense impact that he had on my life. I discussed in the blog how he fostered my love for learning and for knowledge, and I encouraged other people to find someone that makes them as excited and curious about the world as Alex Trebek made me. 

Flash forward to last night, I was on the phone with my sweet boyfriend, and the topic of curiosity came up. He described to me a podcast he had listened to that talked about how the American school system essentially destroys kids’ natural curiosity. As he talked, I started to feel really bummed, for I realized that my own curiosity had really vanished over the last few months. I don’t know if it was the pandemic, the craziness of school, or the challenges I’ve gone through mentally over the last few months- All I knew was that I couldn’t remember the last time I felt the love for learning that I used to feel on a daily basis. I used to watch documentaries about US presidents in my free time, listen to psychology Ted Talks on my runs, and stay very up to date with the news. I realized during that phone call that I don’t do all that stuff too often anymore. Before I knew it, I was in tears. I said to Andrew that I just miss the feeling of wanting to want to learn something, and though he reassured me that such wording meant that my curiosity is nowhere near gone, I don’t know if I fully believed him. Nonetheless, I calmed down and told myself that I would try to work on getting that love for learning back once finals ended. 

This morning, I couldn’t figure out why I was so emotional during the previous night’s conversation. Then, I saw the news about Trebek’s passing, and everything made a whole lot more sense. 

I’m not a big believer in signs from the universe, but this felt like one. It would have been easy for me to deem last night as simply an instance of me being overdramatic.  It would have been easy for me to make excuses and blame my rigorous course load for my lack of desire to learn in my free time. It would have been easy for me to keep putting off re-finding my love for learning. Mr. Trebek did not let me do that though, and I’m really appreciative of him for that. Though I would give anything to somehow bring him back to the physical world, Trebek’s death reminded me for good that I can never afford to lose that curiosity ever again. After telling my parents the news and letting myself cry some much needed tears, I put all my homework aside and just listened to a podcast. It was about climate change, a topic that I have opinions on but honestly do not know much about. I learned a lot in those 15 minutes, and it felt so good to be learning it for me and my curiosity. Not for a grade or to impress others with my knowledge- just for me. I’m promising myself that I’ll make time every single dang day from now on to explore like this. It creates a sense of fulfillment that I cannot quite put into words, and I’m very thankful Mr. Trebek helped me discover it back then and remember it today. 

Rather than try to reword my message from a year ago, I’m simply going to copy and paste a section from that post that I especially stand by and want to reiterate to honor the beloved host: 

“To anyone else whose screen this post pops up on, I hope you find someone who encourages you to learn the way Trebek has encouraged me and many others to. We can’t be experts on everything, but there’s a world of knowledge out there for us to delve into, and we owe it to ourselves to take in as much of it as possible since it’s right at our fingertips most of the time. Trebek once said, “My life has been a quest for knowledge and understanding, and I am nowhere near having achieved that. And it doesn’t bother me in the least. I will die without having come up with the answers to many things in life.” We can’t learn everything, but we can learn a whole damn lot. And when we make our lives centered on a motivation to learn more and more, we become better, more empathetic and aware people and contributors to this crazy, opinionated, and often ignorant world. So whether it’s turning on your tv at 7 o’clock every night and taking in information from a Jeopardy category, reading the daily news from a variety of sources, or simply meeting new people and hearing their stories, I hope you choose to learn. It’s not my place to say so, but I think that’s the kind of world Trebek wants to be proud to call his own.”

I don’t think I knew back then how much I would eventually need to reread and internalize my own words, but here we are. 

My heart is really sad knowing that such a remarkable man is gone from the physical world. I struggle with the fact that someone as genuinely good of a person as Alex Trebek had such a painful end to his life. He got 80 years, which is more than a lot of people get, but if there’s anyone who deserves to live forever, or at least not die from cancer, it’s Alex Trebek. The man was in the studio filming Jeopardy episodes up until ten days ago- Who else in this world has that kind of dedication? He focused on his contestants up until the very end, never drawing more attention to himself than he felt beneficial. He was the kind of person who you might not know personally, but you simultaneously feel like you know on a bigger level.  I know that viewers all over the world will take his legacy and let it live through them, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. 

In an interview, Trebek said that he wanted to be remembered as “A decent guy who did his best to help the contestants perform their best.” I think it’s safe to say he will be remembered for much more than that. Viewers all over the country and world will remember him as a polite, insightful, appreciative, and hardworking man. I will remember him as all of that and more. I will remember him as one of my heroes, the person that taught me what it means to want to understand the world, and an epitome of the kind person I will always try to become. 

Thank you for everything, Mr. Trebek. You will be so very missed.

The Alex Trebek Legacy

One night in March of my junior year of high school, my friends and I skipped out on going to our school’s annual charity dance (also known as our school’s annual mini rave/make-out-fest) and instead decided to stay in, order a pizza, and watch some television. Upon arriving at my friend Allison’s house, we quickly turned on the one show the three of us loved to pieces- Jeopardy.

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How to Have the Best Senior Year Possible

Seniors, seniors, seniors. You have quite the year ahead of you. Finishing up your SAT’s, sending in those college applications, embarking on that fun senior trip (if your school is lucky enough  to give you one), getting to slack off after AP exams. It’s a crazy year to say the least. Some say it’s the best year of high school, others say it doesn’t live up to the hype. That’s for you to figure out…but as I sit here waiting to move into my college dorm in just 4 short days, I figured I’d let you rising seniors in on some pieces of advice that I wish I heard as I prepared for year 12 of my education.

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My American Girl Doll

Like most girls, I grew out of my American Girl Doll phase at around age 10, and after that, my sweet little Rebecca Rubin had little purpose. However, one summer night a few years ago, I decided I would play with her once more. I began to rummage through her clothes basket and found all the outfits that I was once so obsessed with. I dressed her up in all of these outfits that night. Every single one.  I tried a bunch of different hairstyles on her, and I read her some of the books that I “hand-made” for her back in the day. That night made me feel like a kid again, and now I have one of those nights at least once a year.

It’s a little tradition between Rebecca and I, and it’s usually something I do solely to feel like a kid again. Last night, however, honoring this tradition meant a little more than just jumping back into childhood for the night. Last night I realized how crucial she was to my growth all those years back.

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Make The Most of Your Vacations

     

eiffel tower during daytime

     For months in my AP Euro class this year, we talked about Versailles. For those who don’t know, Versailles was a residence created by Divine Right Absolutist Louis XIV when he ruled France in the 17th and 18th centuries. It’s basically a palace outside of Paris that was created to restrict the nobility’s power by making them come to him instead of the other way around. It’s gorgeous. It’s one of the many places I was lucky enough to go to this past summer on my trip to Europe with my family.

     Let me start by saying this was not my best summer. My love life was all over the place, I spent hours all day doing SAT prep and summer work, and I was just overall miserable. When my family told me we were going to Europe, I was excited but apprehensive because I HATE being away from home. Nevertheless, I boarded the plane that mid-July night wanting to give this trip a chance. I loved the Netherlands and Belgium because we adventured around with my dad’s friend’s family. However, they didn’t come to France with us. My parents and I were left alone exploring all of France, a “problem” that many people would love to face. I, on the other hand, didn’t love this problem. I felt frustrated that my three years of French couldn’t help me figure out this brand new city. My parents were thrilled and loved the sense of adventure, but all I wanted to do was curl up in our tiny hotel room and cry. I blame this on my ungrateful teenage mindset. All I wanted was to go home and pet my best friend’s dog, hang out with the guy I was flirting with, sleep in my own bed, catch up on Netflix-basically just resume my regular teenage activity. I just wanted home! I didn’t bother to read up on the history of any of the places we visited. We only really learned vocabulary and grammar in French class, so the history of these landmarks was pretty hazy to me. I dragged myself through all the museums, taking all the artsy pictures I could, occasionally stopping to read about the painting I was looking at. I was in the historic Louvre, and all I wanted to do was go home! Now, looking back, I’m so ashamed.

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You Don’t Have to be “Smart” to be Smart

   

black and white blackboard business chalkboard

Think of the smartest, most intellectual person you know. Is he or she a physics expert? Does he or she know every war in American history? Can he or she carry out a conversation about any book you name?


That scientifically gifted, history-loving, well-read person is what I used to think of as “smart.” Grades aside, I used to think that true intelligence was marked by a natural curiosity and talent for all things “scholar
ly.”

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What I’ve Learned from my Grandmother’s Dementia

Today is my grandmother’s 87th birthday. My mom and I went to visit her today with a bunch of gifts and flowers. At first she was a little confused, like always, but the day went very well. She opened the gifts and tried on all the clothes we gave her. I painted her nails with the new nail polish I got her and then ate some chocolates with her. I showed her my pictures from the holidays and we talked and took pictures of our own. It was a beautiful day. 

My grandmother has dementia.

She is so similar to me in a lot of ways. I inherited her small hands and love for romance. We both cry when we get emotional. We both love sugary foods. We’re both dreamers.

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