Yeah, so college is pretty excellent.
My last two months, in sound bite version:
I went hiking in the Appalachians for two weeks with other freshmen who are entering Gordon. Some of them are already my new best friends.
I'm in an Old Testament History, Theology and Literature class with Dr. Wilson, a world-famous Biblical scholar who was the most prominent translator for two books of the NIV Bible, the largest translation project in the history of the world. He's a friggin' genius, and his class is fantastic. Right now I'm at the top of the class of 124 students, although this rank is only based on a single grade so I don't expect it to stay this way.
I'm taking Calculus I to fulfill my Natural World core thematic requirement. I'm considering a math minor, but I had my first exam today and didn't do particularly well. I knew most of the material, but had to rush through everything and didn't have time to answer two questions. Since you can't get much more basic than Calc I, I'm starting to wonder whether I'm equipped to get through 20 credits of collegiate math while maintaining the 3.5 my scholarship holds me to.
I'm also taking The Great Conversation, a sort of blended English/philosophy course for honors students, and Intro to Language and Literature, which is required for all English majors. We all think the professor for Lang and Lit is a Marxist - borne out today by his lecture on Marxist criticism and his obsession with the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston movements - which makes the class much more interesting than I would otherwise expect.
I'm writing for the student newspaper, the Tartan, which appointed me to serve as a "beat reporter" for the student government after I turned in my first article. (I can only assume that this is a promotion of sorts.) This is probably the perfect job for me, since it lets me combine my English and political science aptitudes whenever I set finger to keyboard. I also get paid $10 per article, which seems like a pittance these days, though it's definitely better than nothing.
I'm working as a member of the Idiom staff, which is the more informal student literary magazine. This lets me critique literature every Thursday night, which is a convenient way to keep my writing skills sharp-ish. For an English major, I don't seem to be doing much writing these days, and I think it shows.
Oh yeah, and I have a girlfriend. :o
It's surprising how things happen sometimes. For years I was obsessed with Gaia or trying to get over her, and it was difficult to get past the enormity of my inability to be with the girl I liked so much. I'm don't think I'll ever lose my soft spot for her. But suddenly I came to college and sat next to a girl in calculus and... well, everything changed. We go on dates. I take her to dances (well, not anymore - we both acknowledged that we don't really like dancing with another person). We eat dinner together and do calc homework together. We talk. We listen.
It's so strange. I still can't quite take it in.
For future blogging reference (in case I continue to post here), I'll call her Irene (in honor of the hurricane, I guess). She's majoring in economics and classics and she's fantastic at Latin. She has a sister three years younger than her. She lives in New Hampshire. She's a Republican. She has long dark brown wavy hair and likes wearing long, colorful, super-decorative dresses. We both go to Idiom meetings. She loves Owl City even more than I do and doesn't think that I'm gay for liking Adam Young's music. We sing Owl City songs together in her dorm (or in mine, sometimes). She plans to become a professor of economics and/or classics. I don't know how doable this is, but we haven't discussed it that much. I don't want to worry her. She worries a lot. I find her worrying strangely comforting.
I don't know how I feel about the relationship. I enjoy spending time with her and I like and respect her. I'm not attracted to her, and this makes me feel clumsy and somewhat dishonest. She initiated everything about the relationship except its "Facebook official" status, which I had the balls to suggest. (If a ring makes an engagement formal, Facebook seems to be its equivalent for a "mere" relationship.) Often I wonder whether I'm doing the right thing by pretending to be romantically enamored. Everything I do is out of admiration, respect, friendship or duty rather than love or lust. This can't be right. At the same time, I'm not going to dump her like a dirtbag just because I don't think she's a "smokin' hot babe." At the very least, we're both getting valuable experience about what to do and what not to do. And we certainly have a lot of the elements of a good match. My RA (resident advisor, the upperclassman who's in charge of my dorm) fancies himself a matchmaker, and he says that he thought we would be a good match before he even knew we were going to the ball together. He believes strongly that lying is a sin. I believe him.
Still, I feel a bit lost. I took Irene to an Indian restaurant tonight, and after we'd gotten back and I'd dropped her off at the dorm and spent half an hour listening to Owl City with her before meeting her father, I couldn't stop thinking about how lost I was in the relationship, and how unready I am for the real world. This is college, the Twilight Zone. You can't win and you can't lose. I can't understand a world like this. Maybe Irene can.
Since this is my last week on Sals (I effectively leave for college at 8am Sunday), I want to bring some closure to a few things. One of them is the DM+ Mafia game, the storyline of which I plan to post in the Story Mat (staff permission permitting, of course. (Personal closure won't be happening, hopefully, as I'll be pretty liberal with leaving contact details. When your hoped-for future career depends upon publicity, Internet anonymity seems a little less important.) Others, a little more universal, I plan to address in my leaving topic, which should be up at some point fairly soon. That leaves, of course, the real-life threads that this blog deals with. I hope to have time to talk about Gordon College soon. Right now, though, I'm going to talk about Gaia a little bit. (Some of you may remember that she's the girl who I made blogs entries about for, like, nearly two years. My apologies.)
Since I doubt many people remember the intricacies of my personal life from years past- briefly, Gaia is a girl who used to go to my youth group and who is now going into her sophomore year at Gordon. I had a massive crush on her for about eight months; two months in I was convinced that, contrary to my previous resolution, it WAS worth it to ever bother getting into a relationship rather than remaining single forever. Then she told me, eight months in, that she didn't like me in that sense. I was devastated, and took months to get over the fact. I was almost reluctant to go to Gordon because she was going there.
There are really a lot of remarkable things about her and about myself, and also about our "relationship." (I hesitate to call it such, but there isn't a better word.) To explain this properly, I think I have to talk about myself for a bit.
Although girls seem to be drawn to me in many ways - I think I look pretty good, I'm funny and outgoing and I'm also pretty trustworthy and nice, for what it's worth, I only seem to attract girls that I have no interest in, and I can't handle flirting. It just seems strange. Maybe it's my autistic tendencies speaking, but I really don't like meaningless small talk that has only one purpose, a purpose entirely contrary to what's actually being said. I mean, I've found myself flirting with girls that I like - or something like it, anyway - and it seems to work fairly well, but I don't have any urge to move directly beyond flirting into a relationship. I do, however, want a deep, meaningful and loving relationship with somebody very badly - and I'm capable of that, I'm pretty sure. The problem is that I think in order for one of my relationships to succeed, it has to start from something meaningful and work its way out - not start from something shallow and overtly sexual and work its way in. I have the same urges other guys have in terms of "endgame," obviously, and the same need for a partner to share life with. I just don't have the desire for the stupid stuff in between - the flirting and the playing games and other bull. I want to skip all of that without just going straight in for sex or whatever. This is hard. From what I understand, feeling this way about relationships used to be more common, but cultural values changed, for better or worse, and now I'm stuck with being the way I am, which is annoying but hopefully worth it. (The people who know me best think that there's virtually no chance of me ever getting divorced.)
Anyway, this is where Gaia comes in. I figured out in retrospect that the reason why I stayed so fascinated by her, even when I realized that "wow, she's good-looking, but there are other fish in the sea, d'oh," is because I felt as if I had a connection with her that was deeper than I've had with almost anybody else. I don't mean that I knew her better than almost anybody else, I'm not that naive. But there aren't many honest people who are willing to open up and talk about things that are difficult to talk about - like life, the universe, God - and she's one of those people. Her thoughts are strikingly similar to mine, but in root, not in development. We swapped philosophical poetry and essays for a few months last spring - while I still obviously liked her way too much - and while we weren't too comfortable around each other in person (she's never been in a relationship either, I think, and honestly is pretty similar to me in some ways, social-wise), we really talked up a storm on Facebook. It was annoying, though, because usually when I did wind up spending much time with her in real life, I ended up just making her feel uncomfortable. I couldn't tell if it was entirely my fault or not. I worried about it for a long time, even though she liked over a third of my numerous FB statuses for several months.
We're almost back to normal now, socially, after her being off at college for a year. Last week she asked me if I could drive her up to SoulFest, a Christian music festival in New Hampshire, which is about 2.5 hours from where we live. (She contacted me on Facebook while I was on a page containing nothing but my status, on my Safari browser, and because my status began with "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH," the title of the browser flashed from "Gaia messaged you" to "AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH" every couple of seconds. :) I thought it was pretty funny.) Obviously I'm taking her, since I'm planning to go anyway, so it should be a fun ride up.
After she got off Facebook, I had a long think about where I stood with feelings. I realized that I would definitely take her out if I knew she was interested... but at the same time, I realized that I would take any girl I liked out if I knew she was interested. I feel inexperienced enough that just the experience would in itself be worth it, at this point. I feel badly behind the curve. I also realized that I would be less eager to take Gaia out than another girl whom I felt equally attracted to, because I care more about her friendship. That was important. I know where I am now. I know that I'll always have a soft spot for Gaia, but I wouldn't call it a crush anymore.
That said, I really long for that deep connection with another human being, that intimacy of mind which could patch all of the ragged holes that my character has. I care more about that than the physical nature of relationships. Is that unusual? I don't really know. I would guess not, but the conversations I have with my friends seem to indicate otherwise. Most of them seem way more interested in sex than anything else. I don't know whether I'm mature beyond my years or a hopelessly naive adolescent. Very possibly both.
I wish I'd met somebody besides Gaia whom I felt such a strong connection to. Even though I don't have a crush on her anymore, I think about her in that crush "slot" all the time, just because I have nobody else to think about. There are seven billion people in the world; finding somebody else I like shouldn't be so friggin' hard.
Ah well. I guess that's partly what college is for. So much for closure.
Hey, I want to ask everyone who reads this a question: When did you stop feeling as if you had a home that was unequivocally safe?
I leave for college in eighteen days. I have no "normal" days left. I no longer trust anyone's opinion as being totally reliable. I've discovered "flaws" in everyone that I know offline, and while I haven't burned any bridges, I no longer feel that I "belong" to anyone on an emotional level. Everyone keeps telling me to be an individual - well, I suppose I am, because I no longer trust anyone completely. This isn't because of a traumatic event or anything unfortunate or pitiable, it's just the result of a long process of realization.
This is the way my father's brain works, and the main reason why I never want to turn into him. Trust issues are the worst. I have to learn to let people in - even though I "click" with very few people, despite the fact that I'm pretty good at making casual friends (who are usually little more than acquaintances). The problem is that everything is changing and I'm not going to be able to just sit down and cement old friendships anytime soon, given my ridiculous schedule over the next two and a half weeks. Although I'm looking forward to college more than I have to anything in an extremely long time, I'm going to have to pick and choose who I want to stay in touch with and who I want to let out of my life, and that drives me crazy. I don't love many people, and the people whom I click with aren't usually the people I love.
I don't trust my father because his perspective on life is very flawed, and all the intelligence in the world is useless if it's not being focused correctly. I don't trust my mother because she can't do things properly - this may be an overstatement, but in the context of my needing someone to rely on, it's true. I don't trust my brother because he doesn't respect me enough to trust me, and one-way-trust is rarely of use to anyone. And since I trust them more than I trust most of my friends, and the few whom I can trust more certainly aren't coming along with me to college, I'm not really sure who to rely on. The obvious answer is myself, but I don't trust myself to do too many things, and in the past, an excess of self-trust has not produced good results. Faith in God is my ultimate goal, then, but I'm not very faithful. I'm not even sure how to rely on God; although I have no logical reason not to do so, it's hard to actually, on the level of my will, put my trust in Him. I'm a very poor Christian, whatever appearances may be, but then, this is supposed to be one of the most difficult parts of faith. Nothing that is ever really important is easy.
Also, I plan to quit Sal's for college. I won't have time otherwise. I need to be able to seize the day, and I can't do that with moderation duties or a redundant debate over Pascal's Wager on the tab between my PolySci notes and Facebook. Both can be addictive. I'm really unhappy about quitting, but I've thought about it for a long time and I know it's the right thing to do. That said, Sal's has been the only source of continuity for me over the past five years (by which I mean that no other continuity has lasted that long), and it's going to be tough to let this, too, go.
Not sure if this sounds whiny or not. It's meant to be very bluntly honest. Since I expect I have my head on backwards in some way or another, feel free to point out how. I wish SlashingUK was still around, he was great at that.
So I guess I should probably blog about the show I was in. Lilshu, if you read this, tell me if your friend ended up going to see us. :)
Since I doubt anyone remembers what I blogged about like seven weeks ago, my comedy troupe - Aspergers Are Us - performed at a 900-seat theater in Boston a few weeks ago. We only sold about 150 tickets, and since we sold each for about $10 and had to fork over about two grand to book the theater and boondoggle the local sound tech union into working for us (state law required that we paid a union $750 if we wanted to use clip-on mikes on stage :glasses: ), we actually lost close to $600 on the performance. But we had a lot of fun. My friends "Marty," "Zack" and "Drew," the other three members of the troupe, were pretty nervous about the show going off well, but as it turned out, it went as smoothly as possible. I was able to recite lines that I'd gotten wrong in literally every off-book rehearsal perfectly, and besides a couple of minor mistakes, it was an overall flawless performance.
We started off with a sketch about Drew's mom getting divorced from Marty, and then introduced ourselves with a dumb gag about jumping jacks and marathons. From there the show went straight into a surreal conversation between Zack and his "lover," Marty, who was nothing but bubble wrap and tried to convince Zack of that fact when Zack told him that he was pregnant. My punchline (which I delivered as a doctor, with the help of a human anatomy chart I'd borrowed from my ex-high school) was a little screwed up because the lighting cue wasn't followed, but the sketch still went off brilliantly.
From there on it was just mayhem and constant laughter. We'd decided just a few days before the show I would sing random songs from the public domain (i.e. ones that had been written before 1912, from my poor understanding of copyright law) between sketches, so I sang my school's alma mater, the national anthem, various Christmas carols, "Buffalo Gal, Won't You Come Out Tonight," Auld Lang Syne, "Have You Seen the Ghost of John," etc. The original plan had been for me to sing "Buffalo Gal" between every single sketch, but that would have been friggin' annoying, so we ditched that plan.
After my favorite sketch, about an obscenely creepy English teacher named Sean Snider whom I carted off in a wheelbarrow (Sean, aka Marty, called me Principal Weiner as I did so and recited William Carlos William's poem "So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow"), we took "a brief break for some bong hits," which led straight to me grabbing a cymbal and banging it with my hand, shouting "Bong! Bong! Bong!" Yes, it was that type of show. :)
After the second half, which became increasingly surreal and then briefly satirical, we took our bow and greeted the audience. About twelve people from my youth group showed up to see us (not Gaia, she had work), as well as a few guys from my school - my best friend in first grade, now a basketball/theater stud whom I've recently again become friends with, an ex-sophomore who starred in my school's most recent play, and a friend from physics who I played soccer with back in elementary school. One of my oldest friends, an entering senior, also showed up to tape the show, which we're going to try and sell later. :) Props to him, he's spent hours working on the material, which is like 75 minutes in length, not counting the intermission.
Our NPR interview didn't get much attention, because they could only air it on the afternoon of the show itself, rather than the two days of exposure NPR had promised. We had the bad luck to record the interview just before Whitey Bulger's arrest, and the resulting press completely gypped us of the few hundred dollars our extra coverage would have generated. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.
We've had three other interview offers - two taken, one that we seem to have missed the boat on - and we're now slated to play at MIT in the fall and at an official conference/party for the largest group of disability-advocacy lawyers in the US. It's going to be a very busy fall. :)
Oh, and I leave for college in three and a half weeks.
Yep, that's me now. In the past two weeks I've been through a senior class trip to Disney World, the school awards ceremony, Vespers, Ivy Day, more awards, the senior banquet, an official senior comedy club night, prom, Senior Singout, graduation, and an all-night Senior Celebration. If any school in the world makes more fuss over seniors graduating, I don't know what it is and I'm glad I didn't go to it. ^_^
Since I obviously don't have the time or space to write about everything, I'm in danger of writing this entry as either a list, a failed exhaustive analysis of everything that's happened, or an off-topic rambling philosophical monologue. Instead, I'll just write about some highlights and anecdotes. Everyone's name is false, of course.
Disney was fantastic. Everything sort of blurs together, but some of the highlights were as follows:
Buying a Captain Jack Sparrow hat and a kimono, and wearing both around Epcot for the rest of the day
Dancing in my Jack Sparrow hat, kimono and poncho with the senior class during a thunderstorm as the fireworks lit up the sky over Disney
Swimming with Dean (my best friend), Tupdike (my friend the grandson of John Updike), my prom date Tina, Brett the troll, whom I've known for eleven years, etc.
Animal Kingdom rides with the Yeti, in a safari zone, and in a dinosaur dungeon with the above, plus others like my friends Val (the valedictorian) and Jacky, the class Historian who's possibly the nicest guy I know
The Rainforest Cafe and awful monkeys that would start screaming at everyone at an earsplitting pitch once every five minutes or so
Borrowing receipts from Tina to blow my nose on because I had a terrible cold and nobody had any kleenex
A stellar haunted house, appalling Brer Rabbit water ride, Space Mountain, etc. with various other friends
Eating out at a Moroccan restaurant (twice) and trolling one of my friends by getting the Moroccan waiters to serenade her with a Happy Birthday song
We were there for about four days, from Thursday through Sunday (which was an all-nighter; the plane left at dawn). Here's a nice picture from the end:
After that was a nice recuperation day, followed by an awards ceremony the next morning where I won plaques for being the best in AP Literature and Composition and Honors Physics. Then we had Vespers that night, which is something where everyone walks across the auditorium stage and gets flowers, followed by a dinner with graduation pictures and then an excursion to a comedy club. Here's a pic of Dean and me in grad robes:
Wednesday was Ivy Day, which I'm not going to talk about because it was a lame ceremony. That night we had an awards ceremony, though, and I was given a $2,500 scholarship for basically being outgoing and writing a great essay about my sombrero. I think it had something to do with being a good student, too, but I'm not sure. (Actually, I think that was Tuesday but whatever.) We also went to a banquet down in Boston, which was tedious and not especially fun. After that we received our yearbooks. Apparently I was voted Most Outgoing, which is cool.
The next day was prom. It was great, as might be expected, but not without some issues, as also might be expected. :P Tina picked me up late and then forgot something at her house, so we had to pick that up, and then I realized that I'd forgotten her corsage, so we picked that up as well. By then we were super late for pictures, so we hurried over to my friend Grace's house, took about sixty pics and hightailed it to the promenade. All chill.
Tina (she made her own dress, plus a matching bow tie for me) and I:
From left: Tina and I, my old D&D buddy (going to a tech school and joining rowing crew, because he's 6'5") and his girlfriend, Dean's fourth (?) ex, who entered college a year early and decided to go to prom with him now that she's out, Dean, Grace (my friend from the school magazine), and her boyfriend.
The prom was fun, obviously, with the main downer being actually dancing with Tina. Both of us are much better at dancing solo than we are dancing with someone else, so the couple times we actually danced together were a little bit... weak. I wish I knew how to grind, but that might have actually been worse, since we're not really together. I also threw up twice during the prom, because I dance extremely vigorously and I ate a big dinner (always a bad idea). The first time, it was all right enough, but the second time I started gagging while dancing with Tina for the third time, and obviously that was... less than ideal. So yeah, prom wasn't exactly perfect.
I drove down for breakfast at Dean's house at 2:30 in the morning and shared some bacon and fruit salad with him, his prom date and two of our friends. Then we watched half of Beauty and the Beast and slept until 11AM. Fun stuff.
Then we hightailed it to the high school, watched Senior Singout (an hour-long movie put together by Jacky, the class Historian, about the class of 2011 and its growth together), and autographed each other yearbooks as we fought off tears. After getting the crossing guard's signature for my yearbook, I headed downtown for lunch with Jacky, Val, Tina, and five other friends. It was a good day.
Finally, graduation day came. The ceremony went off smoothly, Val mentioned me in his speech as "the guy who wears a sombrero to class" (just as the class president had), and my family took a zillion pictures that haven't been uploaded yet. Then we went out for a 12-hour Senior Celebration from dusk until dawn, going from a music hall with a hypnotist to a triple-decker boat in Boston Harbor that had a disco dance floor and a buffet to a deluxe bowling alley to IHOP.
Man, I'm going to miss my class so much.
Just look at the above post. I'm slowly turning into an Internet hipster, language-wise, without even trying. Don't know what I'm going to do about this.
Life is great right now. I'm in the middle of Senior Week; I graduate in five days. More on everything later.
So for the past year, several friends and I have been in a comedy troupe called Aspergers Are Us. We all have Asperger's Syndrome, so it's rather appropriate. :P Our name is also extremely fortunate because it gets all of the guilt-ridden "Autism Speaks" establishment members on board to see our show, so our shows attract a much larger audience than we deserve.
Because we found a fantastic niche in the comedy market to fill, we get tons of publicity. Our very first show, at a friend's seafood restaurant, made my friends' local newspaper and got us an audience of about sixty. Our second show was even better. After it reached the local paper, it got picked up by the Boston Globe and then, later, my local paper. That was insanely annoying. Over fifty people came up to me and said "Hey, I saw your article in the paper," etc. etc., until I could barely stand it anymore. (The nurse even called me down to her office via the school loudspeaker to tell me she'd seen me in the paper. Honestly, you'd think that nobody ever gets into the paper around here.) Then it hopped the border into New Hampshire. Then my New Jersey aunt called to say that her Philadelphia relative had seen my picture in her local paper. It even wound up in a random backwoods Louisiana newspaper, as my fellow troupe member "Marty" discovered while Googling our name or something.
Our third show is in a few weeks - at a 900-seat theater in Boston - and now NPR wants to interview us. I still can't believe it. I'll try and give a shout-out to Sal's Realm while on air if I get a chance.
I'd drone on some more for about sixteen more paragraphs, but I have to go see Thor with Dean and his brother. You got off easy this time, punks. :glasses:
Please stop comparing European countries to the US and saying that "funnily enough, X works well in Europe/the US, thus the root of a problem must be your refusal to adopt this policy!"
There are so many key economic, structural, social, geographical and historical differences between the two regions that these arguments are invariably gross oversimplifications, and they're getting very tiresome to read. I gave up responding to them long ago, but I hope several of you read this and lessen your reliance on this argument. It works both ways, you know.
Two more weeks left of high school! And a good thing, too - I'm getting extremely tired of doing work. I don't mind the non-work parts of school because I finally have a downright good social life, but my brain doesn't have much room left to learn anything knew, and I'm getting really apathetic. I barely care that I have my AP Government and Politics exam in two days; I already know that I'm going to get the top score. I don't even try in that class anymore; every practice exam I take, I inevitably get far above the minimum grade necessary for a 5. I'm thinking of changing my second prospective major to political science, because this stuff is so much easier for me than mathematics - I have a straight B in AP Statistics, which I'm taking an exam for this Wednesday. I do care about that, but the cutoff for the top grade is so low that I don't care especially about that one, either: I can get partial credit on all six open response questions, answer one-fifth of the multiple choice incorrectly and still come away with a 5. Easy.
I went to meet Ralph Nader in Boston on Thursday and got his autograph. (He was speaking at a church across the street from Harvard. I wanted to tell him that my grandmother had gone on a date with him once - a true and kind of funny story - but I didn't have time.) Then I got home at around midnight, tried to do my playwriting homework, fell asleep at the computer, woke up at three and finally did it, then did my precalc and went into school with a sombrero and poncho to give to the junior class's vice president, who'd requested them for some random thing in Spanish class. He never showed up and my playwriting teacher (who is a 21-year-old college student and isn't even going for a teaching degree IIRC) got mad at me for not watching a couple of sitcoms that I'd been assigned to watch. So whatever, I guess my grade goes down. I already have a B (because she doesn't know how to grade), so that's actually pretty bad.
Remember Tina, the girl I mentioned like twice about six months ago, as a girl I was considering starting a relationship with? Well, she's my prom date now, platonically. Which is the way I want it, because she's the ex of my best friend "Dean" and I don't think a relationship with her would work out that well anyway. We get along really well, which never ceases to surprise me, since I've gotten a lot better with girls but have yet to process that internally, and I'm definitely looking forward to the prom, but unfortunately awkwardness might arise because of the estrangement between her and her friend groups and some of my other friends, like Dean. My social networks are like a spiderweb. High school reunions are going to be awkward. I'm just glad that virtually nobody appears to dislike me, so at least not much of this drama affects me personally.
My 18th birthday was a few weeks ago, and I had several friends over for pizza, cake, ice cream and Toy Story 3. Brilliant success, even though it was the day before Easter and so a lot of people changed their plans at the last minute. I requested donations to an anti-human trafficking organization for presents, and got about $75 in that way. I had my friends from the comedy troupe, Tina and her BFF, a freshman and sophomore from youth group, a junior friend of mine who does theater and my brother there, and it was actually a perfect size. It was too bad Dean couldn't make it.
I'm going to a Model UN conference at the University of Southern Maine next week, representing Lithuania. Huzzah?
So yeah, there's my life. I enrolled in Gordon a few weeks ago, still waiting to hear back from Dartmouth. I might not hear back until August. Apparently Dartmouth had a 5% acceptance rate this year, so I suppose I should be honored to even make it onto the waitlist.
Have you ever watched yourself slowly going through a change that you didn't approve of and wanted to stop, but couldn't, or wouldn't, halt? Have you ever tried to prevent yourself from drifting in the wrong direction, but failed? It's like watching Pangea, isn't it? It's like watching continental drift. You watch from afar as, slightly faster than in reality, India crashes into Asia, and all hell breaks loose. The continents collide; cultures mix until you no longer know what belongs where, and what strange beasts are native to you and which are from the world outside. After a while, you fear, they'll begin to mix; some creatures you don't necessarily want part of you will mate with other denizens of your mind, and there will be a new and partially foreign species dwelling in you. And you don't always want that. The Himalayas are erupting, towering barriers of ice, snow and rock separating what is foreign from what has been with you all along. They're cold and unfeeling, but they at least keep out the changes, the new arrivals. But for how long?
My life isn't necessarily that dramatic or that cool - in fact, I think I can say definitively that it isn't. But continental drift is a neat parallel to any kind of life change. And I do like my analogies. :P
Over the past few weeks I've begun to feel like a bit of a jerk. I haven't had the time or the inclination to help other people; I've been far too occupied with helping myself. When you're overloaded with work and are unsure how you'll get everything done, and you're not succeeding at anything you put your hand to, it becomes more difficult to muster the patience to deal with your "lessers." It's the survivor's instincts - when you're already doing poorly, it becomes less important to you to help the less fortunate, and you have to fight your animal thoughts and help anyway. I didn't have the energy to fight my animal instincts. I was drunk with sleeplessness and fluctuating waves of emotion and misdirected bursts of stamina, and I did very poorly on my penultimate AP Stats quiz - a very bad thing, as I plan to major in that subject. (I believe I got a D.) I studied my hindquarters off for the very last one, and I was still unable to get more than a B+, which devastated me as other people in the class were getting easy As. I'm used to being a scholastic ace. I haven't considered myself a genius or anything like it for years, but I expect to be among the best in the class because I'm used to it. I have straight As in the majority of my classes this semester (which are all honors and AP courses, barring the electives), and although I can acknowledge that I don't deserve better grades than I get, I expect better. Failure sends me into a spiral of anxiety, and I can't help but take it out on some of my most important parts - my compassion circuits.
Although I've been angsty, pessimistic and less than my usual self with my classmates - and less helpful than usual at youth group, where I'm supposed to be a leader - I still got myself to my church's 30-Hour Famine on Friday night. Barely. I scarcely dragged myself through last week, even though the long-awaited work vaccuum had arrived, and my AP classes were finally wrapping up for good. I was simply too tired and beaten to care about anything. I felt like an emotional louse, because I could sense the bitterness inside me, the cynicism and the doubt, and if there's anything worse than feeling like a failure, it's feeling like an awful individual and a failure at the same instant in time. Yet the 30-Hour Famine is important to me, because it gives me a sense of perspective. Several youth groups (six this year) come together at my church to fast for thirty hours and get a sense of how it feels to be hungry for days on end, as they raise money for kids who are starving to death and absolutely devoid of any support. They also work for local families who need help but are unable to help themselves for some reason.
Obviously, I was psyched about doing this. Not only am I a bit of a masochist - I enjoy the challenge of not eating for a long time, and I went forty hours without eating instead of thirty; I've done a three-day fast by myself in the past - I wanted to get out of myself, to stop thinking about my own problems, and to remind myself of the Big Picture. The slide show we were all shown Friday night definitely satisfied this latter desire of mine, unsettlingly so. We saw pictures of kids who were literally starving to death, kids who were even worse off than the poorest and most helpless family I met in Kenya. A pastor from another church talked about more meaningful ways to help the homeless than simply driving past them and giving them clothing or food, and he talked about a photographer who won the Pulitzer for taking a picture of a starving child, a man who later committed suicide because (according to his suicide note) he couldn't live with himself for enduring callously and ungenerously a world with such misery in it. I'm pretty a pretty buoyant person in the last analysis, so I got over these stories, but they're deeply unsettling. Thankfully, I was lifted out of my shallower personal problems for at least the duration of this weekend. I'm glad we're helping these kids through our donations, and I don't feel guilty about my lifestyle because I donate a quarter of my income to a boy in Kenya so that he can go to school. But that doesn't make the slideshow anything less of a call to action. I know that my weak and frail human frame can only do so much, but I want God to do as much with me as I can find the strength to allow. Everything is a constant battle, but it can be a joyful one in the right mindset.
We broke the fast on Saturday. I enrolled in Gordon College this afternoon. I'm finally a college student, guys! >.<
I turn eighteen on this coming Saturday. I WILL BE A MAN AT LAST. This is exciting and sobering. I take birthdays pretty seriously, and I've always regarded one's eighteenth birthday as the official day upon which one becomes an adult. It's a pity that I'll be studying for so much of this coming week, which is a week off - I'm still going full-tilt in honors physics and honors precalc, I have three AP exams to study for, I'm the school magazine's major salesman, and my playwriting teacher, who is a college intern for some reason and grades me as if I'm chopped liver, wants two major assignments back shortly after break finishes. (Also, I'm representing Lithuania in a Model UN conference in mid-May, because I have a death wish, so yeah, that's even more work.) But I do have social stuff lined up. And I am planning a small birthday party. There is light at the end of the tunnel. :)
Also, I know lots of people don't like Owl City, but I find this new song by Owl City, aka Adam Young, absolutely marvelous. I named this blog entry after it, even though it has a lot more to do with continental drift than a song by a shy, slightly effeminate singer from small-town Minnesota. Do me a favor and give it a listen.
So I've just had one of the craziest weeks of my life. For the second week in a row, I went 1 night-for-3 in terms of sleeping AT ALL (all nighter on Tuesday, passed out between midnight and two on Wednesday, another all nighter Thursday). The April Fools event didn't help, but at least I got nearly all of my scholarship applications in. Two of my three AP courses wrap up next week, so things should get easier soon.
April Fool's Day was awful, beyond a doubt the worst April 1 I've ever had. After my all-nighter I walked three blocks through the snow in bare feet to my friend's house as part of an April Fools stunt, as Senior Prank day was being cracked down on with a police presence at school. (I also wore my Kenyan kikoi, a sort of female wraparound toga that I bought in the Kenyan marketplace, and the sombrero I bought on a Mexico missions trip.) After a great breakfast (the only good part of the day), I got a ride to school and then spent the entirety of AP Literature and honors physics trying to put my nightmarish scholarship portfolio together. Between these two awful classes were AP Statistics, in which I had a quiz and probably secured my first and only failing grade, and gym, in which I played volleyball and worked out in toga, sombrero and bare feet. Afterwards I was approached by the gym teachers and informed that state law forbade bare feet in school (because Massachusetts is fascist), and I had to borrow the gym teacher's sandals. Since my feet are bigger than the feet of all four gym teachers (quite an achievement), I didn't have to wear actual shoes.
I missed lunch and the first third of AP Government and Politics to finish putting my scholarships in order. Then, after honors pre-calc, I finished my AP Stats quiz, cementing my failing score, and went to my Record Magazine meeting, where I fell asleep and was physically unable to work. I went home, did my paper route late and had to deal with an hour of trying to force my mom to mail an application for a $20k scholarship that she had refused to mail earlier, because she didn't think I would get it. I succeeded, with a little help from my father, but the postmark date will be a day later than required, so I have very little chance of getting it.
I'm pretty annoyed. I love Gordon, my second choice, so I would have been fine with a polite "no," but being deferred is awful and anxiety-inducing. I'm going to enroll in Gordon and then change over to Dartmouth if they let me in. That should be good enough.
I don't go on Sals for ONE night and part of another, and come back and the DM group is gone all of a sudden, Adam? is a Respected Member, and apparently everyone else is a plebian?
Someone explain this to me, I'm logging off right now because I have absolutely no time for anything, but I am SO weirded out right now. I'm not even mad, although I probably will be when I find out what happened (there's a 45 page mass topic in the staff forums about the changes, but I'm obviously not going to read that, at least not for a while). I'm just confused.
I usually don't target blog entries at individual people, but I want you to know how freaking annoyed I am at you. Really? You seriously think you can talk that way about the DMs? I was in favor of getting rid of the group myself, but it'd be a joke to do that when they're behaving in a more distinguished way than some of the current mods. Hopefully the admins come to their senses and demote you and Yuan, because you're both way out of control and frankly you both deserve a long suspension. I almost suspended you for a short period of time as it is; I only held back because I've never warned a fellow staff member before and I didn't want to go too far - one step (or seven steps, as it were) is enough at once.
Yuan, I would have warned you too, but for some reason you have mod powers now (idk when you got them back, presumably 5 minutes before you started acting like a total moron), so I obviously can't. Anyway, consider this a warning: I'm done with you. If you and Venom are still on the staff in a week, which I can't imagine, I'm definitely not sticking around on Sals. I'm already too busy IRL, and I hear back from Dartmouth tomorrow afternoon. I don't really have time for this forum anyway, and I can keep in touch with all of my friends via MSN. Maybe I'll make a special exception for Mafia, but that's it.
Anyway, consider this a goodbye. I've posted this in public so that everyone can see my intentions. I'm sorry that I'm leaving when so many cool people are coming back, but I can't stand this place much longer. The mod forum has been a hellhole for the past few weeks, months really, and the DM Halls aren't much better.
Within the next seventeen days I have eleven scholarship essays due: four in eight days, two in twelve days, three the day after that, and two more the day after that. I'm unlikely to get any of them, of course (very possibly one), but it's worth a shot. A thousand dollars is nothing to sneeze at.
I have a 14-page outline due tomorrow, which I haven't started. Another one is due on Tuesday. A massive 10-page intensive research paper had to be started two days ago (a thesis and outline had to be turned in), but I haven't even selected my topic yet because the teacher hasn't been in for a long time and I have no idea what to do for it. I also have to do a project on a Nobel Prize-winning author, but I haven't done anything more than glance at the rubric for that. We're reading Hamlet, which I've been looking forward to all year, but this may have to be my first ever Sparknoted book because I haven't any time to read.
I'm getting 20-minute assignments in AP Statistics and 45-minute assignments in Honors Pre-Calc nearly every day. I have to prepare for two sessions in the Model UN, which meets next Tuesday and Thursday after school, and am one of the chief editors for the school magazine, which does the most work in March. This means I have to stay after school on Monday and Friday to work. I'm also scheduled to do an event for National Honors Society fairly soon (no date on that yet), and my comedy troupe is going to have four several-hour practices over the next two weekends, in preparation for a performance on the 20th.
I'm also going to youth group, Bible study, and church. On top of this, I somehow still have a social life outside scheduled events; I'm going into Boston with my friend to celebrate his birthday in a couple of days.
This is madness. I have no time to moderate or even post right now. I'm fairly happy, though.
So hi everyone. I have a second to post here again. (And by that, I mean "I waste 5 hours a day procrastinating and then complain that I have no time to do anything, including procrastinate through posting here," but hey, wording is everything.)
First semester is over. I feel dead on my feet, because a) I never get any sleep, b) I rarely hang out with school friends anymore, and c) I procrastinate so much. But the work I do do from time to time seems to be paying off. I'm now in the top ten percent of my class, accepted to the honors program of Gordon, and I made the high honor roll (all As) for the first time since fifth grade. I have an A in AP Government and Politics and Honors Physics, plus an A- in AP Literature and Composition, AP Statistics, Honors Pre-Calculus and Photography I, which is pretty nice by my standards. I'm really tired of the grade treadmill, but since I've been thinking about it so much recently, it seems honest to talk about that first, before anything else.
Aside from a wonderful weekend up at Camp Berea with my youth group last weekend, things have been pretty grim of late. On some days, every word that comes out of my mouth feels negative and cynical. My grandmother is slowly but surely weaving her way towards death, although at least now she gets to die at home, rather than in an institution. My future has been bothering me, especially because I'm still having difficulty with friendships. The people I fit in with the most are those who I have difficulty communicating with, paradoxically, and those I connect with most easily (the guys in my physics class who make up the majority of the basketball team) are also the ones I have the least in common with, and the least potential for deep friendships. To further complicate matters, I have a recurring and increasingly plausible theory that a rumor is circulating that I'm gay, and I don't really know how to rebut it, either. Stuff's a puzzle. I don't enjoy being unusual. I don't enjoy talking about myself all the time, either, but I guess that's what a blog is for.
Basically the feeling that I have no idea what's going on, anywhere, is gaining strength. Things feel meaningless because the people I've grown up with will all leave town in a few months, along with me, and if there's one thing I hate, it's goodbyes. I'm sure this bothers everyone, but I've only talked about it with Dean, and he may be one of the guys who thinks I'm gay, which has been putting me off-balance, because he's also slightly awkward and it makes conversations difficult when he may or may not think I have a crush on him. I worry about this too much. But nothing seems very important right now.
I'm not sure I can handle being in control of my life yet. I can basically take care of myself, in every sense but the financial one, but I hate the idea of running my own life and making my own decisions on how to fundamentally think. I make the wrong choices. Most people seem to. I can only deal with things within parameters. We can only control a limited amount of aspects of our lives, and the overwhelming weirdness of having the world before me scares me. I need somebody to talk to again. This isn't working out. I can't keep closing myself off within a realm of work-and-procrastination and not having any deep relationships with anyone.
I'm not sure what's better: heartbreak or apathy.
This entry shouldn't have been public. I didn't proofread it or anything. It's not remotely entertaining, and it perpetuates my tradition of writing blog entries mainly when I'm in a bad mood, which isn't a good thing. But it's therapeutic, I guess. And hopefully nobody will judge me too harshly for essentially ranting about nothing.
These constant snowstorms are driving me mad. I'm trapped in an inhuman equation that is essentially meaningless, and yet the only option available to me is to take it completely seriously. Physics, literature, statistics, government and politics, photography, precalculus and impressing the vice president of the Dartmouth Lawyer's Association are all on my agenda, and it's really getting absurd. It doesn't help that I'm waging a losing battle against a longtime fetish of mine that I've traced some of my relationship problems back to. To add to my issues, my social life is peaking right now - DURING EXAMS - but that might just be keeping me sane, so I probably shouldn't complain.
I'm rabidly anticipating the end of exams, because they're the last thing Dartmouth and Colby will see before they make their admissions decisions regarding me. I would have had them over by now, but the last midterm exam has been pushed back until Tuesday because of two snow days. All I've had so far is Photography I on Wednesday (which was a joke, yet may have gotten me kicked off the high honor roll if I'm unlucky), and AP Literature and Composition/AP Statistics on Thursday. Today was yet another snow day, which our city was virtually the last in the state to announce. (My physics study partner was literally refreshing our school's home page every three seconds, but he gave up at half past ten.) So now I have AP Government and Politics and Honors Physics to anticipate on Monday, and I no longer have time to cram for them at the last minute because if school isn't canceled on Tuesday, I'll have Honors Pre-Calc on that morning. Then in the evening I'll have my interview with the aforementioned vice president, and then an end will be made of this hellish semester.
I'm sliding down a slippery slope into cynicism. For my photography exam, I basically wrote down three paragraphs of aesthetic garbage on the importance of art in the schools and the unique qualities of a photo I took. They will probably be judged the best in the class, and given full credit - that's what generally happens to my writing in art classes, even the stuff that literally reads as if I was high when I wrote it. Then I tried to give an above-and-beyond presentation on the plight of a kid imprisoned in a laboratory in Siberia for my PhotoStory, the other part of my exam, in support of a charity called Socks for Siberia. I printed out color packets about the charity and handed them out to everyone, then started telling my story, but I interrupted myself halfway through, telling the class that my story was ridiculous and to forget all about. (I was telling it really badly, and the technical difficulties were proving significant.) I still went beyond anyone else and got some great pictures, so I'll probably ace the "exam," but if I'm unlucky, this will hurt my grade and I'll drop down to a B+, losing me my first spot on the high honor roll since fifth grade.
AP Literature was ridiculous. I wrote a page and a half about a twelve-line poem by Anna Akhmatova, then two pages about the lifestyle encouraged by Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon - both were fine pieces of writing that I had few misgivings about, but the middle of the second essay was damaged by my utter loss of morale during my composition of it. This was because by the time I got to it, my teacher had graded the absurd multiple choice questions we were required to answer, and I'd gotten one more wrong than I could afford to, making it physically impossible for me to get an A in the class. (I had a 92.92 in the class and needed to maintain a 92.5 for an A; the seventh and final question I got wrong dropped me from a maximum of 92.54 to a max of 92.24.) NONE OF THE MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS IN AP LITERATURE MAKE SENSE. I've answered about 150 sample questions, and some of the answers the College Board gives as "correct" are flat-out wrong. Every single one of the answers to one of the samples on my exam was wrong, so I marked the one which seemed most likely to be correct - obviously, it was wrong, though if the College Board was sane this wouldn't be a problem. Anyway, the point is that I lost my chance for a straight A, and consequently Dartmouth will see that I can't maintain an A in either of the fields I plan to major in - because the AP Statistics exam I probably aced afterwards can only bring me up to an A-.
Do I sound crazy and nitpicky? Yeah, that's probably because I am. My philosophy of late has been to put my all into admissions success, because once I've done everything I can - which I will have, at the conclusion of my Dartmouth interview - I can step out of the rat race 100%. (Sure, I'll still have to work hard, but there will be no external pressure, which has been the problem in the college process all along.) I haven't been doing wonderfully, either, what with my lousy time management and everything. I've read my devotionals every day, but aside from a sharp feeling that I'm entirely missing what I should be doing in life, I have no idea what to change in my life. My parents have no influence on me any more, so I make all my own decisions and invariably choose safe, conservative things to do with my time that help few people, except my soulless grades.
I want to love people. I want to become closer to God. But whenever I'm not working - which is actually most of the time, as my study habits are terrible - I tend to mindlessly ramble off into magazines or the Internet, and reflect on nothings that, at the end of the day, don't really matter. I'm getting sucked up into six different kinds of rat races and have to slap myself awake again every few minutes. I'm fighting that fetish that's ruining my relationships and undermining my thoughts, and I'm losing ground every week. Don't get me wrong, I have a good life in itself - even I recognize that - but it's going to go to waste unless I do something about it, and I have no idea what that something is. Love is a gift, and I'm turning it into some sort of calculus formula. I haven't taken calculus yet.
This is going to be a short entry, because I'm tired and I need to sleep. I have my Photography "exam" in the morning, which will hopefully be a joke, and then the first part of my AP Gov and Politics test on the presidency and the bureaucracy. Fun stuff. The last two days have been snow days here, so I've been getting up at noon... it's going to be difficult getting used to a reasonable sleep cycle again.
Anyway, what's new? My Dartmouth interview has finally been scheduled. It'll be with a local lawyer on January 25, my oldest friend's 18th birthday, which is sort of fitting. I also got notified from Messiah College that due to my class rank, #22, I won't be considered for the honors program despite the fact that my SATs are "off the charts" (the guy telling me's choice of words, not my own). I guarantee that no more than 10 people applying there have higher than a 2380, yet they won't put me into a program with nearly 300 people in it already. Oh well, I didn't really want to go there anyway. Gordon has exactly the same policy for honors program admission, and they let me into their program without skipping a pulse.
Snowbama. Quite clever, isn't it? I wish I could take credit for this. As it is, I just put it on Facebook and tagged Obama fans as the people in it. About ten people "Like" it so far. Smart chaps and chapettes.
In regards to the title - Gaia used to call me "The Great Teenage Philosopher." (Okay, so she called me that once, but with the capital letters and without sarcasm. She isn't a big fan of sarcasm, at least not with me.) I'm starting to think that that epithet was scarily accurate. I stay up late at night and write journals for AP Literature that are pure philosophy. I don't need to do this, and I don't always want to, but I do it anyway. I think too deeply, and possibly too narrowly as well. This worries me. I suppose being up at half past three doesn't help matters.
Anyway, here's something I just wrote. I think it's pretty good, but definitely drier than the stuff I usually write. (By the way, the title looks incredibly cool when the font actually works properly.)
The utopias and the dystopias both have it right. Even the perfect societies dreamed of by intellectuals are not places of ultimate freedom, but places in which control begins where wisdom ends (or perhaps the other way around). Yet there must be wisdom to begin with, or the dystopias will displace their counterparts. A thousand would-be saviors have valued control over wisdom, power over respect, pity and love, and so destroyed their people. Yet the evil lies not in the control itself, but in the end result of destruction. Freedom is nothing but the absence of obligation. At its root, it is but a hole in other possibilities, a tunnel through which one may crawl to access different layers of reality. It is an elevator, perhaps — but elevators can descend as well as elevate. No, there is nothing really pure in freedom itself, and if it is foolish to remove it altogether, it is equally reckless to crawl through it blindly, exploring its winding tunnels on careless whims.
This brings us to another burning question: Is freedom an absolute condition? Can it be an absolute condition? Practically, this seems impossible. Every human being has the obligation to eat and sleep if he or she wishes to survive, and even if he or she does not, his or her own mind may impose obligations until the burning needs of the body are met. Society places additional obligations on all of us, unless we literally live with our heads under a rock 24/7. Literal absolute freedom, the absence of any obligation whatsoever, seems impossible in this life. “Essential” absolute freedom, however, the freedom to do whatever one may reasonably expect to be able to do, seems somewhat more feasible. None of us will ever have the opportunity to skip from galaxy to galaxy on a wormhole-riding “solar surfer,” and the nature of things means that equal freedom to become the elected leader of a nation cannot reasonably be extended to every citizen. Yet the freedom to worship Whomever or whatever one wishes, the freedom to attain whatever level of education one wishes, or to say whatever one likes are more feasible, and important, measures of freedom. Absolute freedom may be very nearly achievable. Yet it is not, for the very same reasons that make it not a virtue in and of itself.
By its very nature, freedom to do as one wishes precludes the necessity of taking the
needs or desires of others into consideration. Where personal freedom exists, and where it is exercised, self-interest takes root, and the more freedom develops, the more self-interest tends to flourish. Freedom does not mandate self-interest; it merely encourages it more than a regime of tyranny ever will. It does not remove the opportunity for genuine virtue, but such virtue must be a conscious rejection of self-interest, or there is no truth in it. The more one remains effectively free from any influence, the more self-interest has the power to enhance one’s comfort in the status quo, making it harder to break free into genuinely noble, charitable acts. Furthermore, the self-interest encouraged by freedom does not encourage maintaining the freedom of others, which must take place if a state of complete freedom is to be maintained, as long as humans have contact with one another. Paradoxically, absolute freedom inherently jeopardizes effective freedom through its encouragement of self-serving behavior.
What then shall we strive towards, if freedom leads to the destruction of any meaningful end goal and tyranny generally produces depravity? There is one solution that includes neither forcible, valueless suppression nor reckless self-interest — we may give up our freedom voluntarily. We may surrender our “rights” without surrendering our duties to ourselves, and devote our time to the welfare of others, to avoid burdening the world with another dream to fulfill. Capitulation is an act of surrender, and given our human familiarity with strife and war, we tend to view it as surrendering to the enemy. Yet capitulation can be an act of forgiveness as well, a unifying effort that mitigates strife rather than vindicating it. If we capitulate to peace, to love, to God, then we put our journey in better hands than our own fallible ones. Freedom has a cost to everyone, ourselves included.
To surrender freedom voluntarily, not to others but to a higher purpose or Being, is not an act that weakens us or makes us vulnerable to exploitation. Rather, it strengthens us, refining our self-interested impurities and cutting away the canker of our souls until the only parts that remain are those worthy of admiration. There is profound loss in such a capitulation, a loss which can ache and gall for as long as one still longs for an absolute freedom that asks for nothing and receives less. Yet as Gandalf reminds his friends as they say goodbye for eternity, not all tears are evil. The world asks for capitulation of some kind: to death, tyranny, or a high purpose or Person. Our surrender should be wise.
When you try your best but you don't succeed When you get what you want but not what you need When you feel so tired but you can't sleep Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face When you lose something you can't replace When you love someone but it goes to waste Could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home And ignite your bones And I will try to fix you
I still have that Coldplay song stuck in my head from a New Year's party I went to tonight. (Yeah, it was a week late. Stranger things have happened!) It was at a church 30 minutes away, so I originally wasn't going to go, but Heather invited me, one of the girls whom I went with to Mexico, the Bowery homeless shelter in NYC, and Kenya. I haven't seen her much lately, so this was a good excuse to catch up with her. It was a pretty good party - there was a quasi-professional screamo band there, as well as an INCREDIBLE high school band. I had to check to make sure the lead singer wasn't lip syncing to a recording, she was so good. We were urged to come back by some of the extremely friendly people there (it was a youth group party), but it's too far away. I'm not driving for an hour every Friday night when I'm strapped for time as it is. Once again, a door opens halfway, a friendly hand waves "hello" from behind it, and then it slowly swings shut.
Things are changing around here. Whenever I get home from school (usually "fresh" from an exhausting workout), the house is besieged by carpenters, plumbers, painters, roofers, nurses, or (once) an orthopedist whose son runs with my little brother on the varsity track team. There's a new addition being built onto our house for my grandmother, and my mom is working full time to call in all sorts of specialists to take care of her own fairly wealthy mother, who's paying for everything. It's like living in a beehive. Yesterday I couldn't take a shower when I needed to because the bathroom door was being repainted. My home doesn't seem like home anymore. School does. Which is too bad, since I'll be leaving there a few months before I leave my real home for good.
I wrote Gaia a letter telling her that I was no longer interested in her romantically (convincingly, I think, although I was a bit long-winded tbh), but that I still greatly respected her and hoped the lack of awkwardness this new status quo forged would make at least a good friendship possible. I meant every word. It may not always be true that "absence make the heart go wander," but when conscience, reason and despair join forces, that tends to be the case. I no longer have that all-consuming crush on her, which is a relief for both of us, I think. Still, things remain awkward. I still have the compulsion to impress her in everything I do and say, which I ignore, and this makes me nervous. Thus, I'm inevitably dull and standoffish when talking to her. No longer liking her hasn't changed the fact that I still care deeply about what she thinks of me, and so I'm always stressed when I see her. It's a mess, and a bitter one, at least for me. I hope she doesn't find it as distressing. Probably not.
I crashed my car last Wednesday. I was driving along the main road of my town when I realized that a biker was going the same speed as I was, right next to me. There isn't a proper bike lane there, so I looked over to make sure I wasn't going to hit him, and was distracted for maybe 3/4 of a second by the fact that he resembles a friend of mine. I turned back to the windshield just in time to watch my Mercury slamming into the back of a tremendous truck. My head hit the roof, but I'd only been going fifteen miles per hour and I was wearing my seat belt, so thankfully I didn't have any injuries. The car, however, was totaled (even though the massive truck was completely undamaged). My parents were just glad that I was okay, and thankfully I didn't lose my license, but the car is obviously gone for good, and my insurance bill will triple until I turn about 25. It could have been worse, but it could have been an awful lot better, too. Counting my antique Volvo that died on the way back from Dartmouth (because of the plant growing in the exhaust pipe), that's two cars I've seen die in only two months. The Car Thestrals are visible to me now!
Better news: I got into college! Gordon accepted me to its honors program - if I go there, I'll be an A.J. Gordon Scholar! Messiah accepted me, too, but since I won't go there unless I'm one of the six students to receive a full scholarship, and I haven't heard ANYTHING from them about their honors program since applying, I'm not as excited about this news. I applied to Colby and Dartmouth the night before my crash, but I won't hear back from Colby until April 1, and not from Dartmouth until April 10. I'll probably go to Dartmouth if I get in, and I probably won't go to Colby whether I get in or not - which is too bad, really, because I have about a 60% shot at Colby and a 10% shot, if that, at Dartmouth. At least I know I'll be happy wherever I go by this point.
My social life is fine. I've been in a melancholy mood for months, but this usually goes away when I'm spending time with friends. I have some definite "intermediate friends" now, people I can call comfortably whenever I need to to talk, and people who call me when they want to talk, as well. Apparently I'm one of the finalists for "Most Outgoing" in the school yearbook, which is very strange considering my introversion. (I nominated myself for Class Clown and Most Likely to Be Sleeping in Class, and I'll probably win the latter title but lose the former. :P) But then, I have few reservations to talking with anyone in school; study hall in particular has been wonderful this year. It's completely stacked. :D We call each other Hitler and discuss absurd philosophical questions in great depth, such as whether if one stares into the void long enough, the void will blink and look away.
I rarely do work in class anymore; all of my work ethic I tend to save for the evening. I've probably been infected by the "genius clique" in the senior class, which is unusually large: most of the people in it are known for being absurdly negative and vulnerable to procrastination and cheating. Occasionally I help. One night, our AP Literature class was assigned a set of 60ish comprehensive questions to answer (with two days to accomplish this horrible deed in). Everyone was enraged, as the majority of us are in AP Government and Politics and had a massive outline to write on Congress by the same day. I stayed up all of the first night answering the question, then posted them on Facebook for everyone to copy and reword. Lots of people didn't bother rewording them much, and the teacher noticed. She asked us if we worked together to answer the questions, we said that we did, and she said, "kai, well, they were really good, so I'm going to make the homework a quiz grade." So we all got As or A+s. I got the A, not the A+, because the teacher noticed that some of my answers were exactly the same as a girl across the room. I checked with her: she got full credit. :P
I rewrote my Common App essay, which was originally about Sal's. Sorry, guys. :P An journal I wrote on a quote by Socrates ("Enjoy yourself; it's later than you think") received a grade higher than any teacher is actually supposed to give, and the teacher told me to send it to Dartmouth. So I did. :D My father, a Harvard grad who was told by his freshman English professor that he could probably teach the class, says that the first part of the essay could have been written by a great eighteenth-century author - and that's not even favoritism, because he said my National Merit Scholarship essay was "terrible" (which it wasn't). So obviously, if I'm going to send anything in, this should be it. I really do like the piece a lot; I may post it up here after I hear back from Dartmouth and Colby.
I've been in decline on Sal's. I'm constantly tired, mainly because I only sleep five to six hours per night, and any time I spend on Sal's is time I could probably spend in bed. I really hope that this will change soon. It may in two weeks, when I finish my midterm exams and no longer have to worry about colleges seeing any of my grades. After that, my priority is to do whatever is best for myself in school, and not worry about assignments that don't matter in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully I'll have a rebound from my drained state, too - I'm worn out from years of unrequited liking, then loving, then liking again. Requited awkwardness is not much of an improvement. I can be happy throughout the day, but when I get home and sit down to work at the computer, I'm invariably lonely. It's a typical, common feeling, I know. And I'm grateful for what I have, even if I don't often say so in this blog. But that doesn't change my earnest wish that just once, I could get over myself on the inside and find somebody to love. I forgot part of what love means in sophomore year, and I've never remembered. Sometimes I wonder if I love anybody at all. It's damaging my relationship with God. I can't rest in Him like I love to. I can't rest, period. Maybe that's why I barely ever sleep anymore.
First person to reply to this gets the 1,000th comment!
Well! November has been a loony month, full of hairy situations, especially the literal kind! If I'm not pulling all-nighters to finish projects on Fyodor Dostoevsky or flitting between makeshift study groups, trying to master physics concepts, I'm taking road trips to colleges and breaking cars on the way back! And all the time, my beard for No Shave November continues to grow, and my cheeks are glad in their respite from the razor blade.
I spent much of the month helping my class put together a school spirit skit themed around Star Wars, which had to be fewer than ten minutes long and simple enough to teach unskilled actors within a week. In colloboration with the other worst procrastinators in the senior class (bad idea), I helped frame and write the original draft of the script, which wound up being far too long. I did most of the work on the first draft, with consultation but little other help, but almost none of the lines which made it into the final version of the skit were mine, because most lines were too sophisticated and the whole thing had to be condensed. It was irking, especially because I wrote the skit to be somewhat dumbed-down anyway. But that's editing for you, I suppose, and I have to admire my friends for doing the dull, depressing work of cropping out jokes and putting in more basic, fluffy language to suit our inexperienced actors. Our class defeated the rest of the school, anyway, so I guess the whole operation was a success.
Does anyone remember Evin290? Retired mod, joined in 2006? Furry avatar? Big in the Debate Room, erstwhile agnostic turned Theist (probably a Christian, though he's not sure IIRC)? I met him for the first time in a drive up to Dartmouth College in the heart of New Hampshire. He's a sophomore there now, and I dormed with him and his friends for a night, then sat in on his Women and Gender Studies class and toured campus with him. Dartmouth is beautiful, even in November.
After a long and dark night drive, my first time driving on an interstate highway in the dark, I arrived at the outskirts of campus. I felt elated but nervous. I was full of the glow that comes from trying a brand new experience by oneself, and it felt like such a blessing to be able to sing at the top of my lungs on a road so remote and dark that the only headlights to be seen were my own. I was meeting a friend in person for the first time, even though I had known him well for over three years. This is always a nervous experience, though, and, locking my car door in a dark parking lot outside a remote Ivy League gym, I found myself completely lost.
Since I did have Evan's number, I called him up and eventually found my way to his location - the Japan Society meeting in a dining hall. The meeting was over, and we greeted each other like the old friends we were, with only minor awkwardness. (Strange that I'd known him for longer than anyone else in that building, yet was seeing him in person for the first time.) Then we went out to eat with his friends and wound up back at his dorm, where I watched a couple of his roommates pass a bong around (which I refused, hemp cross on my chest notwithstanding). It was a merry night. Evan gave me a couple of T.S. Eliot books, and we turned in.
My day at Dartmouth was... interesting. I attended one of Evan's classes, Women and Gender Studies, which turned out to be a question seminar with a perverted old gay man who had been arrested at age nineteen for being homosexual. And he was perverted - in his mid-seventies, he still goes out to cruise highways and bars to pick up guys to have sex with, almost every day and night apparently. He ran a movie theater that ran pornographic films for years, and although he lived with his partner for 42 years, he regularly cheated on him (which his partner knew about, and seems to have been okay with). He seemed surprised at how faithful and "conservative" gays seem to be nowadays - many of them want a lifelong partner whom they will remain completely faithful to! How strange! Evan said it was the weirdest class he'd been to. I found it fascinating and riveting, and, I'm pleased to say, didn't react like a bigot and brand the old man as a lousy human being, or have an outburst or argument. I might have done that several years ago.
After that, Evan had a class where he'd basically just be taking instructions in music, so he suggested I explore campus on my own. I went to visit the campus art museum, which was in itself fascinating cross-section of history, ranging in date from ancient Babylon to the Cubist works of the 20th century. Then we met up and took a tour of campus, exploring the beauty of the college, and he told me about all the different features campus had to offer - the tremendous library with texts going back centuries, to the Middle Ages and beyond; the river, where one could go canoeing and camp on islands in the middle of the Connecticut River; the mountains, where one could go hiking with the massive Outdoors Club; and the science facilities, where even undergraduates could work on real projects that could have a significant impact on the biomedical field and the commercial world. It sounds like an incredible experience.
Then I spoke with Evan's friend Grace, a senior and a strong Christian, who encouraged me, along with a graduate friend of hers, to go to Dartmouth because it might strengthen my faith. I would be challenged here, she said, but I would have a strong, intelligent, non-complacent community that might be superior to a "sequestered" one at a Christian school. I hope she's right. Some of the things her graduate friend said weren't as encouraging. I don't want my spiritual life to be just the same as it is at my high school (i.e. people accept me but I can never talk about my faith, because it's awkward).
I drove home that night with plenty to think about, and plenty to sing about. Half an hour down the road, as I was breaking into the chorus of "Fireflies," my car started making weird noises, and it stopped going 65 miles per hour. I floored the gas; I'd been afraid of this from my extremely unreliable 1990 Volvo. I was still going far too slowly for my own good; soon I was breaking the minimum speed limit, and with cars going around the corner at 75 mph behind me, I was afraid I'd be hit. I shifted into the breakdown lane and started praying for an exit to come soon, and for my car to hold up until then. My car then got a second wind - it crept back up to 45 mph from 25, and was able to keep up a decent pace until an exit arrived. I pulled off the highway and stopped at the stop sign, and my car promptly died. The engine shut up, and steam began pouring out of my hood as if it were a sulfur vent at Yellowstone. Alarmed, I grabbed my phone and scrambled out of the car, remembering that scene from Back to the Future III where a train runs over Marty's car and the car is blown to bits. If an 18-wheeler came along and wasn't paying attention, I might not fare much better.
Thankfully, the first truck to come along held a couple of Good Samaritans who helped me push my car off the road and made sure I was safe before moving on to wherever they were going. They also discovered that the reason why my car had been slowing down was that the exhaust pipe was clogged with some peculiar white weed. So strange. I thanked them warmly, and was on the phone with Triple-A when the fire trucks showed up.
Apparently, a huge cloud of steam rising from the hood of a car had not gone unnoticed, even at a minor exit in a sleepy backwoods New Hampshire county. I heard the sirens and saw a police car and several fire trucks driving towards me from each direction, and thought "Oh golly, this is probably because of me, right?" It was. The firemen ensured that I was safe and uninjured; they heard me speak lucidly and didn't bother making me take the Breathalyzer test. (I had a cream soda bottle next to my seat that looked exactly like a beer bottle, so I was worried for a moment.) Since I was a minor, they needed my parents' permission to not send me to the hospital, so I called my mother and had to explain everything before she gave her permission. At least nobody was angry at me.
I got a ride home from Triple-A, which also brought my wounded car home. (The Volvo never recovered from its ordeal.) The drivers regaled me with stories of men being chopped up by propellers in the Air Force, tales of eye surgeries gone wrong and mice being gassed to death after they made their homes in exhaust pipes. Upon arriving home (finally) at 10:45, I started writing my debate (due the next day) on the constitutionality on banning depictions of animal cruelty and mutilation. So yeah, a pretty fun night all around.
What else has been going on? Oh yeah, I went up to Camp Shiloh in the mountains with my youth group, where we cut and stacked six tons of wood and generally had an amazing time with each other, nature, and God. My brother's girlfriend came over for Thanksgiving, to replace my grandmother, who was in the hospital yet again. My grandmother made a full recovery, and then another friend of mine came over and spent the night with us, because his parents were away. Aside from having my friend over, I haven't really done many social things lately. I feel rather lonely sometimes.
I got my SAT scores back! I have an 800 in Reading Comprehension and Writing Skills, or whatever the heck the two English categories are called, and a 780 in Math (composite score; I got a 750 in math the second time around). So I have a 2380! This makes me happy.
Two college applications down, two to go. This year is extremely intense. I haven't been nearly as active on Sal's as I'd like to be.
My grandmother moved in! She's in my old room! At last, no long road trips to visit her, and no more wondering how she's hanging on in the hospital!
It's such a relief to have my mom's mom in the house with us, for a number of reasons. More than anything else, it's obviously nice to have her around so I don't worry about how she's doing in her nursing home. But it frees me from having to live in what's basically a hallway - although my room is (was!) decent-sized, walking through it is the fastest way to get through my circular house, and so I never had any privacy. Now I have a room across from the attic, my father's old study, and so the computers are right next to my bed. (I can type all night without anybody knowing!) This means that I get a fresh start in organization, I can redecorate my surroundings, and, since this is little more than an attic I now spend my time in, I can decorate the ceiling to my heart's content. Since an entire (admittedly tiny) floor essentially belongs to me, this is probably good practice for college.
Also, my grandmother moving her gives our family the money to basically renovate the entire house. We're rebuilding the whole backyard, adding a second bathroom, a new porch, a new bedroom, etc. It's cool, even though now we have workmen around the house all day. I have my little attic room. :)
I've been infernally busy. I still have five projects running simultaneously and have finished none of them, though I've done the work for the majority of three. I'm doing really well in school, though, except in my easiest courses like Photography and Honors Pre-Calc. Go figure.
I also got back my SAT scores... 800 in US History, 780 in Literature. I'm astounded. Due to the Marine Corps-level US History boot camp I went through last year, I'm an American History encyclopedia, so the 800 doesn't surprise me. But the 780 does. That Literature exam was ghastly. I thought I did very badly, but it's always nice to be proven wrong on a subject like this.
I'm dressing up as Gimli the dwarf for Halloween, going in a Lord of the Rings group with my friends. Dean is Aragorn, my prom date is Frodo, a girl I'm interested in (Tina) is Merry, another guy is an Ent, one couple is going as Pippin and an Uruk-Hai, and another is going as Legolas and Gandalf. It should be a very merry Halloween.
I thought I'd be Gimli out of sheer irony, since I'm quite tall, but I little imagined how annoying that would prove. I put off ordering my costume until Monday night, and consequently had to request two-day shipping rates so that it would get here by Friday morning, the day of our Senior Parade. Turns out shipping rates are $51.00 for two-day air from the UK. (Whoops.) It arrived a day early, but, in trying on my costume, I discovered that the costume, being a dwarf costume, was actually sized for dwarves. YOU HAD BEST BE JOKING. The beard, axe and helmet are more than satisfactory, but I am extremely unhappy with the length of the cloak. It won't wrap around my body, and it barely goes below my waist. Wearing an old knight tunic from freshman year and a pair of burlap pants any hardy dwarf would be proud to wear, I think I've done okay... but we'll see in the morning.
Also, I have two axes. One of them is long enough to be a polearm. So at least I look very intimidating, if that qualifies as a plus.
And now we come to the very interesting part of this blog: my love life, or rather, lack thereof. Gaia has deleted her Facebook... for the third time, actually, so this is nothing new. It's been gone for several weeks. I like her so much that even a simple but beautiful quotation coming from her makes me fall in love with her all over again, on an emotional day. But without this exposure to Gaia, the combination of years of denial and a constant effort to lose interest in her is finally having an effect on my crush. I'm losing interest in her. I can like other girls again.
One problem I'm having, though, is detachment. Cynicism. I was afraid of this, though I didn't think it would be this bad. I feel as if no girl can make me feel the way Gaia does/did, so when I do "like" girls now, I only do on a casual, superficial level. I think "Wow, she's cute, I might want to date her." But that's it. There's no sexual or magical feeling. There's no passion. Sometimes I wonder if I'm developing gay tendencies, but I'm not attracted to guys all of a sudden. It's like I no longer have the ability to really like girls. It's very unsettling.
I feel like this actually makes me more attractive. Now that I have so little stake in relationships, I feel more comfortable around girls in general. There are several girls who seem quite interested in me this year, and I flirt with them just for the heck of it, though only on a very, very low level. I really want a girlfriend... but when I've analyzed my reasons for wanting to go out with someone, none of them are very good. I want to be able to say that I have a girlfriend. I think somebody is cute. I feel jealous of my brother. I can't honestly say that anybody I dated would be the #1 girl in my life, and I wouldn't lie to my girlfriend, so I feel like I really shouldn't date anybody at the moment. I'm not sure, though.
Thoughts? Advice? Also, I love this picture:
This is going to be a brief entry, because I'm tired as hell. Probably a lot tireder, actually, since sloth is one of the seven deadly sins and I bet a lot of hell's residents sleep 12 hours a day. Or try, anyway. But that's beside the point.
On Saturday I got up at 5:35 AM to do my paper route, after three and a half hours of delicious but entirely inadequate sleep, and did the job in utter darkness. There was ghostly, disembodied laughter echoing from a block down, which frightened me in my mediocre state of mind, but it turned out to be nothing but a friendly pack of joggers who passed me halfway through. Then I was picked up by one of my friends and taken to Boston, where I worked with eleven classmates for the Deval Patrick gubernatorial campaign. (For those of you who know nothing about Massachusetts politics - probably most of you - Deval Patrick is the state's first black governor, and he's seeking re-election. I support him, if only because he's the only candidate who is willing to keep taxes where they are, which we desperately need right now.)
It was amazing. Obama showed up halfway through to drum up support for Patrick, but I didn't seem him because I was still outside in the biting cold. One of Patrick's aides picked me to guard the stage and make sure nobody came on without a ticket, and so I couldn't really move. I found out that I was a lousy security guard, because this one photographer managed to get past me just because he *looked* official. But none of the politicians bothered to show me their tickets, so it was very hard to tell.
Also, John Kerry was by far the most partisan speaker there, constantly pulling punches against the Republicans and making several blatant lies. I'm no fan of Bush, but Kerry would have made a lousy president. Just sayin'.
The whole thing was amazing anyway. ComicCon was being hosted in the same building, so the Ghostbusters, Optimus Prime, Jack Sparrow, Mr. T and the like kept walking by. (I got a photo with Optimus Prime. >.< ) Pretty much one of the best Saturdays ever, and I had fun hanging out with my friends, too.
It's a good thing I have so much of a life right now, because a lot of it is terrible. I've slept 23 hours in the last six nights, total, 2.5 hours last night. One of the nights was an all-nighter. I can barely think and I had three tests today. Somehow I did pretty well on all of them. I fell asleep at half past three in the morning, or thereabouts, after giving up on writing comprehensibly about the right to bear arms, and stumbled into my bed, which I'd helped carry upstairs the previous evening to accommodate my grandmother, who's moving into my room this weekend. So now I have an entirely new room, and it's freezing. I intentionally stayed in a T-shirt to make it harder to fall asleep.
I tore myself out of bed at six-something (I don't sleep well with unfinished work hanging over my head) and dashed off summaries of the rest of the Supreme Court's incorporation of civil liberties for AP Government and Politics. Then I headed off to school, ate my breakfast in the car, and was late to AP Statistics, in which I had a quiz. Then I hobbled through Photography, wrote two essays for the National Honors Society in my hour-long study hall, used my lunch during honors precalc to write an outline of the solipsism inherent in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, then took the first half of my test on civil liberties for AP Gov and took another quiz on vector motion in honors physics. Then I turned in my National Honors Society essays and recommendations, briefly attended a meeting for the school magazine, and headed home with 30-40 pounds of textbooks and binders.
I didn't do anything about applying to colleges. I should probably start worrying about that now. At least I can get enough rest tonight.