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.