A Series Of Unfortunate Events

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Dear reader,

I hope this message finds you well. Currently I am battling a bit of a fever that is rather stubborn in it’s existence. Nothing serious, but I have slept away much of the day and I honestly require more sleep at this point. Those of you who have been following me for a bit are probably expecting the usual Saturday story. Rest assured I have some good story ideas and I will get to finishing it up and posting it pretty soon. For the time being I’m going to take it easy for today and tomorrow; i hopefully will resume my daily posting routine on Monday.

Today was just one of those days. I really need a shave, I barely left bed, and when hunger got the best of me I ordered Dominoes instead of leaving my room.  The fever is really making me sweat even on top of the medication, but luckily my temperature is somewhat contained. Unfortunately, I have my last paper to hand in before 2 pm on Monday. Between resting and somehow writing my final pages, I’ll have my work cut out for me.

On the positive side of things this sets a bit of a precedent. Something I hadn’t considered is accounting for the couple days here and there where I won’t be able to post. For instance what if I’m traveling on a plane? Which I happen to do from time to time. In all of those cases expect a rather candid letter from me as transparency is the best possibility. I highly value keeping you in the loop as I take daily blogging very seriously. The last thing I want to happen is for me to magically disappear from the blogosphere. That is to your benefit as much as mine as I am a person who can get finicky at times. This blog is a way for me to commit myself to a hobby in a rigorous sense as I have spent much time hobby hopping.

I’ll stop rambling now. As you can obviously tell today was not a day fit for writing. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Sincerely,

Adi

Benjie Bleu Gets In Trouble At School

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As soon as Benjamin Bleu learned to tie his shoe

He looked over at Lindie Loo

“That’s not right you have to tie it tight!”

Thus ensued a tremendous fight

 

One day Benjie was talking to Mary

His mother had told him to look out for fairies

This half princess was starting to look quite scary

“Don’t you know boys aren’t supposed to wear pink frocks?”

That was when Mary stuffed his mouth with a big old sock

 

Another boring class running laps in the gym

Poor Benjie couldn’t take his eyes off of him

“Hey Greg, you look rather big”

“Did you perhaps swallow a pig?”

Greg didn’t eat lunch for a week

Thanks a bunch to Benjie Bleu

 

The principle’s office started calling

“Ms. Bleu, your son’s behavior is appalling”

“I deny all charges”, Ms. Bleu said in reply

“My son revealed that these snivelers are all living a lie!”

 

Well that answers the question of who

Benjie Bleu learned it from you!


Something I find rather peculiar is the fact that basic elementary school manners get violated by some adults on a regular basis.  I’m not going so far as to dictate what people’s opinions should or should not consist of, because everyone is entitled to think what they please. However, there are more tactful ways for grownups to display their opinions so that their little children don’t go around harassing others in the same manner. Sometimes intent is even more important than the opinions held by the speaker; Benjie could have asked Mary why she was wearing a frock, but instead he made it very clear to her that “boy’s aren’t supposed to wear frocks”. With all the talk about what should and should not be going on in society, sometimes I tend to focus on the tone of voice people use rather than fighting an endless battle of opinions. Think what you want, just be nice to others.

The featured image is the main entrance of the old biology building on campus. I thought it resembled a school entrance, but ironically this building stinks of formaldehyde and has been abandoned while the college gathers additional funds to renovate it.

*If you Google search “forma”, like I did to properly spell formaldehyde, formaldehyde appears before formal dress in the recommended search terms bar.  There is still hope for humanity. Although formal dresses are quite a bit nicer than formaldehyde.

Wilting Away While Forever Alone? Not On My Watch!

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Lately I’ve been pondering the darker side of dating culture. The less talked about side where people feel left out while the rest of the world around them runs through relationship after relationship. The negative side of dating where someone has built up intense romantic or sexual desires, but seemingly no one wants to take part in that experience. It can be a soul crushing feeling and for some it is a momentary feeling while for others it has become a describing factor of their entire life. Being someone who weighs the pros and cons of every situation, I’d like to think that there is some additional perspective on the feeling of being forever alone that can help ease the tension. All aspects of life have a scale by which perspectives can be balanced on, and the dating scene is no different. While some people are on one extreme side where they run through partners like flies, the other extreme endures extended periods of isolation that can be quite depressing. These aren’t defining characteristics of people necessarily, just momentary descriptions of the current state of affairs regarding their dating life. I’ve gathered some thoughts on feeling forever alone and hopefully this can help any of you who are suffering from this feeling right now.

Considering The Flip Side

The first thing to consider is that not everyone is worth your time and that holds regardless of whether you’re feeling forever alone or not. Having multiple people displaying interest in you may be a nice ego boost, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into a fully positive experience.

1) Many people are superficial. They can use you for their own purposes and then leave you high and dry.

2) Not all attention is good attention. What about all the stalkers and harassers out there?

3) Getting attention doesn’t necessarily mean the person you desire is giving you attention. You can have many people seeking you out while you truly desire someone else who is still ignoring you or oblivious.

4) Some people turn out to be shit partners and you may only realize that once you start the relationship.

5) Relationships are full of struggles, heartbreak, and compromise even if it’s the best relationship in the world. It’s hard to envision the level of compromise needed to sustain a meaningful relationship from the standpoint of simply desiring one without experience. It can demoralize you as much as being lonely can.

6) The search for Mr. or Mrs. Right doesn’t end just because you enter the dating scene. The struggle of feeling alone often continues as you date different people to find out if people you are interested in actually make good partners for you.

7) Heartbreak sucks as well and there’s plenty of that in the dating scene.

Even if you feel like you’re missing out and it’s killing you on the inside, think about some of the consequences of actually dating people. It’s not all that rosy as some people would want you to believe. Getting your heart broken through a devastating breakup or having a one night stand who “doesn’t think you’re relationship material” are things that are glossed over in the dating hype.

The Positives

In some sense of the term, people who are forever alone really can’t be high risk takers when it comes to relationships. Otherwise the problem would be easily remedied by walking up to attractive people, getting rejected a bunch, and getting accepted some times. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that one scenario, but overall forever alone people are hesitant to take risks in some aspect of dating. If you’re struggling with being forever alone, here is something positive I like to associate with it. You’re probably one of those people who is waiting for a good relationship before making an emotional investment. Even if your body and mind are being tortured by sexual urges and you call a prostitute (highly wouldn’t recommend that), then even in that scenario you’re not willing to take emotional risks with your relationships. You’re pretty hesitant to just walk up to someone and profess your innermost attraction because that’s a relatively risky behavior that often times won’t pay off, but has high reward when it does. In light of that, you’re basically a careful gambler who will only go all in when the time is right. So think of it as waiting for the right moment rather than being lonely and uninvited to the party. Plenty of people out there are dating, taking risks, and not reaping the rewards. In some ways you’re saving yourself from a different kind of pain in order to wait for the right moment on your terms.

Facing The Judgement

Being a college student, I recognize the severe judgement/ostracization that people who are outside the dating circle can feel. I’ve heard people tell others to “lose their virginity already” or “stop being such a prude” among other things. At the end of the day, dating is a very personal decision and whether you like it or not, conscious and subconscious actions are forming your final decisions on the matter. It’s not the kind of decision someone else can make for you, regardless of their authority with respect to you. So no one is your authority on this matter besides you. If you really desire to enter the dating scene, do so without simply reacting to the judgement you face. That can be a bitter disappointment since you can face some pretty negative consequences in light of the fact that you took actions that weren’t really motivated by your own desires. At the same time I cannot stress enough that there is nothing wrong with being “forever alone” because who really is forever alone? Maybe there are some people (who I don’t know of) who have never had a single romantic experience in their lives. But statistically if you desire a romantic situation you will probably get a suitable one eventually. Patience really is a virtue here and anyone who feels forever alone has already displayed tremendous patience in waiting for the right romantic opportunity. That is a gift in some respects because not everyone is capable of waiting, but you are. With that being said accept yourself for who you are before you look to move forward. Being forever alone may cause you some suffering now that will pay off in the long run.


Sometimes people tend to forget the flip side of their perspective. I find that definitely to be the case with some who feel forever alone. Mainly because the desire for romantic or sexual stimulation isn’t coupled with all the risks that pair with the rewards. I find that most people who are feeling forever alone don’t want to face that kind of risk and in my personal struggles with the feeling I have tackled it by simply accepting that I dislike risky behavior that could harm me in ways I’m not willing to accept. I’m sure everyone’s experience is different and I’m incapable of fully encompassing a term like “forever alone” that is in itself hard to describe. I simply hope that if there are any of you out there right now who are suffering from the feeling, my words can help ease the negativity a bit. I’d like to say there’s nothing wrong with being the forever alone person. There are extremely high odds it won’t last and there’s nothing wrong with being the patient type. It’s as much of a gift as being a talented flirt. Don’t forget that.


The featured image is a plant I spotted on the way out of the cafeteria. It was the very start of Spring and this lonely plant wasn’t ready to bloom yet. If you walk by it on a day like today, you’ll see the vivid purples and greens. It’s just a matter of timing and patience to spot that plant on a good day.

Apparently I’m Secretly A Ninja

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Today marked my last official day in the writing center. As per tradition, senior superlatives were held during a little writing center ceremony to honor all the senior tutors, like myself, who are going to be graduating in another week. After gifting my freshman year RA a bag filled with chips and frozen white castle burgers from the convenience store, I was determined to step my game up. The way the writing center superlatives work is each senior tutor is assigned another senior by picking names out of a basket. Over the course of the month tutors submit superlative award suggestions for all the seniors by placing slips of paper into a metal box. Then at the end of the year the seniors receive a list of superlatives for their assigned tutor, and assemble an award/gift to present to them. If it isn’t clear so far, the senior tutors don’t know what their superlatives are or who is going to present them with their award.

My tutor Katherine had the following superlatives:

  • Most likely to make us laugh
  • Best Oreo harvester

I honestly didn’t start assembling my gift until yesterday since it’s the middle of finals week and I’ve been half losing my mind so far. I went down to the convenience store (no I didn’t buy frozen burgers and chips) to get a plush monkey toy along with a bag of Oreos he can hold. My tutor, Katherine, is a member of the college’s improv comedy group and I wanted to give her a gift that would represent her ability to cheer people up through laughter. I slipped in a card that had a rather lengthy note, but it basically stated: “Katherine, please accept this monkey (that may or may not bite) as a reminder to keep making people laugh beyond your college days. The monkey insisted on grabbing a pack of Oreos on the way out due to your Oreo harvesting abilities.” It was quite a nice feeling to watch her face light up as I presented her with the gift. Nothing like making someone else smile to get a good start to your day. No literally a start to my day; I got up out of bed, put on a nice shirt and kept my pajama shorts on as I headed on over to the writing center.

Obviously I was quite excited to see what superlatives the other tutors had awarded me. The award ceremony went in a chain with someone volunteering to start, giving their tutor the award, and then the tutor receiving the award presenting the next award. Midway through the ceremony, Alissa received her award and then turned towards me. “Adi you have been nominated for most likely to (be)”:

  • Quiet but wise
  • Secretly the smartest person in the room
  • Secretly a ninja
  • Survive if sent back in time

This really brought a grand smile to my face because I didn’t expect some of the other tutors to be able to describe me so well since sometimes I can be quite a reserved person. Apparently a reserved person can be described as reserved, duh! Alissa presented me with a really awesome gift in honor of my ninja abilities.

A mug fit for a ninja!

                   A mug fit for a ninja!

You can’t really tell from this picture, but there is a black jacket covering the black mug, which represents a masked face with a slit for the two eyes. The stirring spoon has a samurai sword handle, how awesome is that. My favorite part though is the shuriken coaster. If you’re gonna be a ninja, you need to be armed even while you’re sipping your morning tea. Or morning milk because I really don’t drink coffee or tea on a regular basis.

The award madness wasn’t over because after the senior superlatives, folks from the Army War College presented us with awards as well. Our writing center has a partnered program with the War College where we tutor papers written by International Fellows who attend the War College through a prestigious training program. International Fellows are basically high ranking military officials from all over the world that are sponsored by the American government to get additional training at the War College here in the US. They’re really brilliant individuals, but for some of them English is a second language and the tutors at the writing center help them organize their thoughts cohesively, in written form. In the past, only tutors who volunteered tutored International Fellows because it was deemed a rather challenging task (that policy was eventually changed as the volume of International Fellows increased) . Ever since my first appointment I volunteered to tutor International Fellows, and my first training session as a tutor was with an International Fellow. It was a really special moment for me when the generous folks from the Army War College took the time to create a personalized award for me. Not only that, they went through the trouble of getting it signed by the US Ambassador to Brunei who is now serving as an advisor. They really went above and beyond there because think about this as a resumé item: “received award signed by Diplomatic Advisor to the Commandant”.

This really doesn’t bother me that much since it’s a really easy fix, but the award reads “Ms. Aditya has been an incredible asset to the U.S. Army War College.” It’s unfortunately a common mistake since I have a foreign masculine name that ends with an “a”, which usually indicates a female name. However, when you have to present awards to 40 tutors and get them signed by the “Diplomatic Advisor to the Commandant”, I can so easily forgive such a simple mistake. I’d be lying to you if I said this hasn’t happened to me before (my doctor’s office repeatedly asked my mom “is your daughter due for her annual checkup?” and I went to that office for 14 years). Fortunately I’m not short sighted or easily offended, so I place much greater value on the fact that today commanding officers at the Army War College demonstrated to us that our work actually helped the International Fellows receive their Master’s degrees. It was pretty cool to see that we played a part in US diplomatic relations as well as the training of high ranking military officials from all over the world. It’s quite a unique experience that I’m incredibly thankful to have been a part of.

Today was also sad in some respects because I don’t want my time at the writing center to end. Coming out of high school, my writing was never recognized until I reached college. Even then, I didn’t gain any confidence in my writing abilities until I was accepted into the writing center program, halfway through freshman year. Having the opportunity to teach others about the basic principles of writing was rewarding in the sense that I learned so much by reading a high volume of papers and I had the opportunity to transform people who hated writing into people who enjoyed sharing their opinions through written word. I honestly have the writing center to thank for being able to write this blog because looking back on my writing from two years ago…no one would really want to read that. Being a part of the writing center improved my writing to the point that I can take pride in some of my written works without constantly being self critical. I’ll really miss being a part of the writing center, but this sure was a good way to go out.

Now that I’m not officially a writing tutor anymore, I guess it is an even higher priority of mine to share my thoughts on good writing practices through my blog. With that being said, I also offer free editing services if any of you are in need of a second opinion on some of your writing pieces. A writing tutor doesn’t stop tutoring simply because it’s not their job anymore. I’m happy to say I can take these skills with me for the rest of my life.

The Marker Magician’s Unintended Exhibition

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The past three weeks a mystery marker magician has been drawing artistic bits on the whiteboards. Many times the marker magician chooses to draw flowers, but I distinctly remember an ornate Christmas tree constructed entirely from dots. The Christmas tree drawing happened to be at the back of my abstract algebra class. However, that day was presentation day so about a third of the class took up the entire period writing proofs on the board. I clearly remember my professor saying, “I know, I know. I don’t want to erase that either. You can just write around it if you want to”, in reference to ignoring that part of the board while writing proofs. Immediately a humorous thought occurred to me. The marker magician viewed these board creations as purely temporary, but an increasing amount of people in the math and computer science building worked to preserve them. At first it was my professor who was hesitant to erase the board drawings, then even the cleaning people let some of the drawings stand.

This made me think about how people assign value to creations. Focusing on visual art, the age old principle that the common person can instantly appreciate work they are not capable of creating themselves, holds true. The cleaning crew and several professors hesitated to erase the whiteboard drawings because they appreciated the fact that someone had created something worth taking a look at; something quite superior to a chaotic doodle. The value they assigned to this artistic piece was high enough to actually ponder whether it was worthwhile erasing it. On the other hand, the marker magician was creating these drawings left and right, seemingly at will. I eventually figured out the study group the marker magician belonged to and whenever I entered a math room that the study group was leaving, another marker drawing was on the board. I’m pretty sure the marker magician enjoyed some of the finer drawings he/she created, but they didn’t mean much to the marker magician at the end of the day. Even the ornate Christmas tree had probably taken the marker magician about 10 minutes to draw. We’re talking about next level doodling here.

That lead me to consider if effort is relevant to the value placed on a piece of visual art. The marker drawings took little effort on the part of the marker magician, but a lowly scribbler like myself would have a hard time replicating such drawings with minimal effort. Therefore the average person could walk by one of  the drawings and appreciate it. To counter that, at almost the same time one of my good friends, who is a studio art major, invited me to the senior art exhibit. Whenever we visit the gallery, my friends and I have a habit of constantly bringing up a scribbly stick figure drawing that previously made it into the gallery, which is very exclusive. Not to be rude, but at the time we definitely got a kick out of the fact that the stick figure didn’t leave any sort of impression and appeared to have been created the night before. Obviously the first novice thought that comes to mind is “give me a paper and some pencil, lemme make you an art piece real quick; I can do that too”. So it has become regular habit at all of these art shows to spot pieces that leave us baffled as to why they made the show. Sometimes the answer is as simple as the entire class was reserved space within the gallery so procrastinators automatically get their works displayed. Other times professors and critics find something within carefully constructed abstract pieces that my friends and I can’t appreciate for ourselves.

It’s a rather startling contrast between the two. I’m pretty sure the marker magician is not an art major and simply draws for fun. But the whiteboard drawings give clear objective to the viewer and present evidence of some level of technical proficiency in drawing. Some of the art majors on the other hand are either highly experimental/abstract or superb procrastinators when it comes to finishing their works for the exhibition. Interestingly enough the marker magician never expected these “works” to be valued and expected them to be erased. The studio art majors put a lot of effort into their work (even the stick figure person too) and sometimes hooligans like me will come along who reserve the right to scoff at their work. If you want to talk about pushing the boundaries of what is considered art, the marker magician never considered the whiteboard drawings as something that would become sort of a public display.

Obviously art isn’t something you can truly compare in absolute terms, but in this case it was rather ironic that whiteboard drawings were getting more attention than actual art in a gallery. It goes to show that a variety of things can be appreciated for their creative value and people don’t necessarily place higher value on professional creations. The label of professional really doesn’t add that much; the value of the piece itself is what matters most. Sometimes the art in the gallery makes me wonder whether the art majors are truly finding a vessel of expression or if they are abusing the tolerance their professors have for abstract pieces in order to get away with less work. The whiteboard drawings, as simple as some of them were, never left any doubts as to their message and objective. I guess that only further highlights that the average viewer (aka me) gravitates towards tangible works.


The featured image is two flowers created by the marker magician. I found them in a room I was studying in today before a final exam. While these are still quite lovely in my opinion, it makes me regret that I didn’t take a picture of the Christmas tree when I had the chance. That was my favorite of all the drawings by far.

Just as a small afterthought: I fully realize that a lot of art is abstract or meant to fully realize the artists personal vision in the best way possible. In these circumstances creating a tangible work of art is somewhat secondary to realizing the original vision. However, I believe I once saw a piece at the Museum of Modern Art titled “Purple Crayon”, which involved circular crayon scribbles all over a large canvas. There comes a point where I’m not able to appreciate art that has the unfortunate combination of “I could do this too” and “I’m not really sure this actually has any meaning”. Jackson Pollock is perfectly fine, but “Purple Crayon” makes me raise my eyebrows.

The Other Side Of Finals Week

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An hour ago I went down to the convenience store to get my traditional night time snack. The store is normally deserted or housing a few souls when I arrive there at half past 10. Any earlier than 10 and there is a constant crowd trying to find cheap dinner options. Close to the midnight hour a sudden rush of nocturnal students appears to get their fix before the store closes. Today when I headed down at the optimal time of half past 10, I was already expecting a crowd. Today, Monday May 4th, marks the first day of finals. As long as the convenience store is open, students will be rushing in and out for the duration of finals week. It makes for some interesting observations.

I bumped into an old acquaintance, who took the same introductory college course as I did. He grabbed a five hour energy just as I brought my items up to the checkout counter. “I really need this”, he told the cashier. “I’ve been up for 36 hours straight. I mean I’ve got three finals in one day. The work’s gotta get done.” Chris proceeded to pop the flask open and down the entire drink in one continuous gulp. I immediately got reminded of an incident in high school where a member of the football team downed five five hour energies in the span of two hours. Chris told me this was his third today. I can’t blame the guy; I have trouble staying awake after one sleepless night. Imagine not sleeping for two nights and going on to a third.

The girl behind me had made a direct beeline for the ice cream section. She was dressed in sweats, a sweatshirt, and flip flops; her hair messily thrown up in a bun. This girl wasn’t messing around because she went for the mid size pint container instead of the small individual cups. The last minute stresses of finals week leave little room for emotional comfort. I find a lot of students picking out their favorite comfort foods to keep them company throughout the night. Normally I could imagine a girl like her outlining her stresses to her friend group.  However, during finals week it’s every person for themselves. As night approaches all her friends are probably scrambling too so something had to give in order to relieve the stress. I’m not judging, I’ve faced that familiar feeling before.

Whenever I’m searching for my drink while there’s a crowd in the store, I can always count on someone eyeing the caffeine stockpile. This only gets exaggerated during finals week. I glanced at this large, muscular, frat bro reaching through the freezer for a Monster Energy. I used to think only frat bros went for energy drinks until I attended a club meeting and the student senate representative showed up with a Monster. All I can say is that I identify all of these individuals as high risk takers because I’ve head Monster can really get your blood flowing (not in the good way).I recognized this individual as a member of the fraternity housed down the street from me.

They spent all of Friday and Saturday partying louder than any other time in the semester.To be honest, I hadn’t heard a peep from the frat house all semester. Occasionally I could hear some chatter within on a weekend night, but that was it. On Friday night I spotted people walking on the roof. Saturday the entire party shifted to a pickup truck. Quite an amusing sight as people were sitting on top of the truck, sticking their heads through the sun roof, and hanging out the windows. Before you ask, yes the pickup was stationary and parked in their backyard. In a similar light, as I passed the frat house tonight on my way to the convenience store I spotted (smelled more like it) a congregation smoking blunts outside. Now this gentleman stood next to me, smelling of Axe rather than weed, and gathering some energy drinks to aid him in the process of writing his paper. It wouldn’t be a far fetched guess to assume he would rather be joining his friends tonight, but like Chris, “The work’s gotta get done.”

I can’t blame any of these people when I take a look at the food choices sitting beside me right now. I picked up a Sprite because I like the taste and I need the sugar. The frozen quesadillas have become a staple dinner replacement during strenuous times, so I picked up a pack of those as well. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m eating a ton of saturated fat and sugar today, but just like the other people in the store, I required fuel to continue operating. I try to avoid comparing different peoples choices against each other in these scenarios because I value intent above everything else. We’re all using food or drink to make it through the night and I’m not “better” than anyone else just because I choose sugary sodas over energy drinks.

This is the other side of finals week where work gets done in very short periods of time and bodily fuel is in high demand. A professor I had freshman year once told me, “We can’t expect you to maintain this level of productivity throughout the semester, but finals week is always a rush.” She definitely was right about that. This makes me wonder to what extent professors are aware of the impact the stresses of finals week have on students. We’re cramming all kinds of unhealthy food into our systems to try and stay up all night while walking around like un-showered zombies in our sweatpants. I’m not saying professors are at fault, I just wonder if they take that into consideration when grading or designing their finals. The occasional good student doesn’t have to resort to such drastic measures, but my convenience store trips tell me they are definitely in the minority.

I’m in that majority group as well. Now that I’m fueled, focused, and done writing this blog post, I’m all set to finish writing my paper. Wish me luck, I still have a couple pages left and a presentation to write. It’s funny how these words fly so fast from my fingertips, but the mathematical text is taking painfully long to write.


*The featured image is my living room table. I attribute that mess to the stresses that the end of the school year brings. Before you tell my mother, my roommate had a part in that too.

Daydreaming My Life Away And Looking Onward To Freedom

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For the past year and a half I’ve spent an awful amount of time doodling in my notebooks. It always starts the same way. I tell myself at the beginning of every semester that I’ll study harder; I won’t let the math lose meaning behind foreign symbols. Then a fourth of the way through each semester I look up and it’s all a bunch of Greek letters. Whenever I reached that point in an upper level math class, I tilted my head down to start doodling. Upper level math classes revolve around theorems and their proofs. I usually zoned out for the entire explanation of a theorem. Then while the professor started writing down steps for the proof I would copy them into my notebook by listening to his/her voice. I reached this point in every upper level math class without fail.

I’m not here to say I’m depressed and confused. Contrary to that, it may be even more brutal that I accept my fate with a  relatively calm demeanor for the most part. In two classes I have taken, the material was simply beyond my ability to comprehend. I didn’t have any room to slack off because I was on the verge of failing in both cases. I remember looking up from my desk one day and realizing about a third of my class had just dropped a course required for the major. I’m just glad I passed two extremely difficult courses. On the other hand, I definitely didn’t try my hardest in all the other upper level math courses. It seemed to follow the same pattern. I would get a decent grade on the first exam that accurately reflected my capabilities. Then everything went downhill from there.

There came a point in each of those “downhill” classes where I obviously viewed the amount of work to maintain a B average as unsustainable. I knew very damn well that if I worked my tail off, the best I could hope for is a B. Then after the first exam I was able to reflect on the fact that my life became consumed by one class for a B. I guess subconsciously the opportunity cost was too high since I ditched socializing, gaming, and any creative endeavors for about a month; just to get that first B. A week or two after the first exam I usually stopped caring. I think it’s a combination of lack of positive reinforcement and viewing the work required for those classes as slave labor. The slightest mistakes in a proof were constantly scrutinized. Many times some novel trick was required to solve the problem and I didn’t stoop low enough (like several individuals in my class did) to find those clever methods online.

I’ve been faced with the choice between “slave labor” for grades or mediocrity accompanied by freedom before. The truth is that I have always chosen freedom. I’m not afraid to work hard, but I’ve always refused to sacrifice freedom that I believe is crucial to my sanity. if I ever feel like the curve for reward is too steep or I am barely being emotionally rewarded for my efforts, that effect only gets exacerbated. When I think about it deeper, it’s kind of like a self-defense mechanism. I see work for this class sucking me into depression with minimal reward and I gravitate towards activities that provide positive reinforcement. Namely allowing me to make my own rules, feel a sense of accomplishment, and be productive while doing so. Therefore I spent a lot of time daydreaming about things I would rather be doing or doodling in the margins of my notes, while taking upper level math classes.

One fear of mine is that the rest of my life will be filled with daydreams. What if the adult world is even more ensnaring? What if I’m not entitled to two hours of free time every day? (That’s a lot of time isn’t it). I’ve only experienced a tiny part of adult responsibility. So far I can live with the consequences of maintaining freedom, but I really don’t know if freedom in this manner is something I can keep feeling “entitled” to when plenty of people dig ditches straight down into the ground for 10 hours a day.

When I mentioned earlier that I’m not hesitant to work hard, I wasn’t kidding. In the rare moment when my creative interests and work that is required of me unite, magical things happen. Last weekend I spent seven hours writing a short story when I’m more than capable of writing a shorter one in two. if I ever got full creative freedom while employed, I could make my employers very happy. It’s all part of a greater desire to express my own creative desires in the way I see best fit, I guess. Things are so much more mundane when the only reason I’m doing something is for a grade or because some authority told me to do it. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled with having the luxury of questioning orders. From my perspective, I need a reason to do what I’m doing. I need to be happy and justify my productivity in the process.

Now that I’m graduating, this issue concerns me more than ever. I don’t know if I can actually look onward to freedom. It would be overly optimistic of me to assume that I can find a way to avoid “slave labor” in the working world either. Sometimes I really wish I could change myself. I’ve cried about it countless time to be honest. There are times when I wished I could sacrifice free time or freedom for long-term gains. At the same time I realize that it’s sort of a gift to evaluate every action holistically without automatically taking orders. Nevertheless I understand part of this is born out of stubbornness/childishness and eventually some of this attitude will have to give in order for me to make a decent living in the working world.

Or maybe I could live out in the jungle where there are no rules and regulations. Do jungles have wifi? What about outlets for my laptop? No? Ok I guess I’ll join your society then.

*Just in case I need to mention this, I got really good grades besides the upper level math courses. I’m an economics double and I enjoy that much more, which resulted in far superior grades.


I took the featured image right after one of my math exams. Looking around at nature or the sky helps me relieve some of the anxiety associated with being doomed to a fate not of my own choosing.

Sleep Escapes Him Again

7

Sounds of laughter echoed from the tv, traveling into the bedroom. Anil lay still in his bed, desperately trying to fall asleep. A thick comforter blanketed the young boy’s thin frame. Today marked the first day of August and the air within the room was warm despite the air conditioning.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to leave the windows open for you sweetheart?”, Anil’s mother asked him earlier. She had been concerned her son would sweat himself silly during the night.

“Yes, mommy”, Anil replied firmly. “I don’t like sleeping with the windows open.”

“Suit yourself.” His mother knew how stubborn Anil could be. He wouldn’t sleep with the windows open once his mind was made up.

Now Anil lay sweating in his bed, covers up to his chin. A thin sliver of light from the hallway illuminated the first few floorboards by the doorway. Anil listened carefully, waiting for the dreadful words he had memorized.

“That’s all for tonight folks. We’ll catch you later on next week’s segment of The Carson Caspie Show!”. The brass started to play the ending jingle and Anil quickly adjusted his body before remaining still once again. Now the covers came to his nose with his hands clasped across his chest. He knew what was coming next. With a resonating tick, the sound stopped. With two taps the light across the floorboards was replaced by pitch black. Next came a creaking across the steps followed by a muffled patting as his father reached the landing.

“Dad!”, Anil called out. “You forgot to leave the staircase light on!”

With a tap, a weaker ray barely crossed the doorway. The hollow sound of wood colliding with wood indicated Anil was truly alone now. He waited the customary five seconds before…tick tock tick tock. The clock in the nearby bathroom and the other on the facing wall sounded off in unison. Anil glanced at the digital alarm clock on his nightstand through his peripheral vision. He didn’t dare to turn his head. 12:30 am. The bus arrived at 7 each morning. As much as he desired to sleep, Anil lay there motionless with his eyes boring a hole into the ceiling. He wished his mother was still in the room to finish the second story like she should have.

“And the…hungry caterer…”, Anil’s mother had stumbled through the words of the bedtime story once again before calling it a night.

“Go to sleep mom. You’re falling asleep.” Bedtime stories came to an abrupt end when his mother became too tired to continue. Her head would drift to lay over her shoulder and she mixed up her words too frequently.

“Uhm…num”, she shook her head several times before fully waking up and rising from the chair. “Sorry Anil, you know I always fall asleep during the second story. I’m only good for one.”

“Whatever”, the young boy grumbled through a mouthful of comforter.

“Don’t be angry”, she kissed his forehead. “And remember there’s nothing in the closet, see?” She had made a habit of demonstrating to her son that no monsters existed in the closet. “Monster’s couldn’t fit into your closet even if they wanted to. You have too many clothes”, her laughter was met with a blank stare.

“Close the closet door mommy”, Anil stated in an even-tempered, but demanding voice.

In the present, Anil shifted his gaze across the dark ceiling to the large wooden doors of the closet; monsters never escape closed closets. Suddenly a creak came forth from the hallway. With one quick jolt Anil pulled the comforter over his head so fast it appeared as if his head had disappeared.

Hot breath bounced from the fabric back to his face. His chest rapidly rose and fell, shifting his cover with it. This wasn’t part of the plan, he wasn’t supposed to move. Beads of sweat dripped down his face. The result of the heat under the covers as well as his anxiety. Regardless, Anil tried his best to remain motionless and didn’t dare to bring down the cover. Monsters never break through comforters. Monsters don’t attack what they don’t see.

Creak! Creak!

The steps groaned once again. Anil held his breath, listening intently. Nothing could be heard besides the sounding of the clocks. After a minute, an audible sigh broke the barriers of the comforter. Sweat drenched the boys face now. The fabric of the comforter clung to his face and he had a great urge to pull it away with his fist. But that was not an option. The air started to thin.


Anil’s sleep abruptly broke as he tossed the comforter aside, gasping for air. “I’m coming in five minutes mom”, he called out as he went to turn off his alarm. 2:35 am. The boy froze momentarily as he read the clock. The he bolted down the hallway, racing for dear life.

“Mom! Mom!” his grabbed the door handle, but it stood firm. Locked. Bang! Bang! Bang! Anil pounded his fists on the door. No response.

Creak!

The sinister sound echoed from the stairs once again. The safety of his parents bedroom wasn’t available to him tonight. Creak! He just had to make sure. Dashing wildly again, he slid to all fours at the landing of the stairs. The lone ceiling light above revealed the path to his bedroom and in the other direction half of the staircase below. Beyond lay the dark abyss of the living room. Anil remained on all fours, petrified as he gazed into the beyond. No monsters. No one climbing the stairs. Abruptly two cone-shaped lights faintly pierced the curtains of the distant living room window.

He ran like the wind. Down the hall, into the room. He leaped for the bed with limbs outstretched and landed against the mattress with a resounding thud. Immediately the cover was replaced and warm breath bounced back against the fabric of the comforter. Monsters don’t like movement.


“Anil!!”, a deep voice bellowed.

Beep! Beep! The ringing of the alarm clock accompanied it.

“Anil! You’re going to be late for school! Get up!”, Anil recognized the raised voice shouting from downstairs as his father’s.

“I’m coming! I’m coming!”

Very groggy, he threw aside his pajamas and slipped on the first pair of clothes he could find. He rushed over to the bathroom to pass a toothbrush through his mouth; grabbing his backpack, he hustled downstairs towards the front door.

“Hurry, but I don’t think you’re going to make it”, his mom whispered to him by the door. “I’ll drop you off if you don’t make it. Don’t listen to him.”

Her words were interrupted by his father shouting from the kitchen. “Hurry up! If you miss the bus again no one is going to drop you off! You’re staying home!”

Anil wrenched the door open and desperately raced down the road to the bus stop. As he turned the corner, a yellow school bus pulled back its stop sign and drove away. It had happened too many times for him to be disappointed anymore.

“Get in the car”, his mother said sternly as she closed the door, muffling the shouts of his father.

Their drive to the school started with silence as usual. Until she pulled over in the school parking lot.

“Wait”, Anil’s mother commanded as he moved to open the car door. “I hear you running around every night. You need to go to bed earlier young man. Do you understand?”

A blank stare was her only reply.

“I know you’re little, but you have to understand Anil. Your dad won’t drop you off and I get marked late for work every time I have to drop you off. You need to sleep earlier sweetheart.”

After a minute of silently taking his mother’s reprimanding, Anil couldn’t stand it anymore.

“I can’t sleep at night! I can’t sleep! it’s the monsters! I have to check for monsters! Don’t you understand?!”


The featured image is the clock on the stove in my kitchen. The green color is very distinct in the dark.

Heart Of The City

2

One cold winter

Frosty, cold air cut through my breath

Air escaping the vent was warm

Fearing death I went down below

 

Darkness surrounded me

Interrupted by the sounding horn

Foreshadowing a piercing beam of light

I turned my head; it was gone

 

In the fading dim

Shadows moved before my eyes

Women, men, and children

Claiming the darkness by right

 

“Stranger”, the shadows whispered

In the darkness, alone again I was

A moment to reconsider

My footsteps kept me company, followed by a murmur

 

Pat, Pat

“Stanger”, “Stranger”

I stood still for a moment

Alone once again

 

Hours passed as days

Days as hours

What was time anymore?

Without the sun to guide it

 

Eons later, my eyes opened again

Darkness abated in drastic fashion

Before me lay roads

Paving the undertow of the city

 

Whispers became voices

Shadows revealed human form

A merchant approached me

Displaying his wares

 

I brushed him off quickly

My question was “where”?

“Center city, haven’t you been here before?”

A multitude of faces gaped at me in awe

 

Center city?

But where?

 

Following the road by newfound sight

An endless maze it seemed stood before me

“Make a left, no right”

Unfamiliarity sunk in, as my feet drew circles

 

When all else failed

A trail I did find

“Follow the beating”, the old man said

I perked my ears at the faint sound against the wall

 

Follow! Follow!

I ran like the wind

At last I found what I was looking for

Now directions I have to share

 

Down the vent

Through the path that follows the A line

By the 75th pillar there lies within center city

A beating heart never exposed


* The featured image is a drain I passed while walking on the street. Unfortunately it doesn’t lead that far underground and immediately connects to a freshwater body.