Stories from after college

I just took some Nyquil. Let’s see how many things I can type before I conk out.

1. Immediately after graduating, my mom and sister and I went to a cool town called Rockport in Massachusetts, on the sea. We stayed at a bed-and-breakfast and, in the morning, had the “breakfast” part of the deal, which was tasty. It was a social, everyone-who’s-staying-here kind of breakfast. The tricky (and memorable) part of the thing was my sister and I doing our best to interpret for our mom on-the-fly, while also eating and socializing. It’s hard, and was slightly awkward (although we were all trying our best to make it not-that)! My sister’s gonna get plenty more of that as she continues her studies.

2. I hung out with Dom and his friends Andy and Brian for a week in Long Island. They’re interesting in that, to them, the only worthwhile part of human interaction is aimless competition. They constantly compete with each other – in fighting for the shotgun seat of Andy’s car, in making brutal insults to each other, in cutting each other in line, in playing magic cards, in being the best at super smash bros – that kind of thing. Hanging out with them is impossible until you’ve acclimated to the constant being-on-your-toes and ready to strike mindset – and then once you’re up to speed, it’s all laid back and non-serious. They’re basically the epitome of not taking themselves seriously – they’re at some level aware that their hijinks are trivial – but it’s how they operate and I think they value that.

3. Unrelatedly, I went into a restroom with Andy Reeves the first or second night of my stay (it was at a movie theater! We were gonna watch The Avengers). I walked up to a urinal, Andy went into a stall. After a few seconds I heard a louder-than-usual splashing noise; after I was done, I turned around and saw that he was facing away from the toilet and pissing onto the floor. He came out and acted like everything was normal. I did my best not to look uncomfortable. This is Andy Reeves in a nutshell.

4. Visiting Duncan in New Jersey! I remember feeling a fairly intense social anxiety for most of the stay, particularly when the other Harvard bandies were there. I don’t really know why this was, since everyone was friendly, but I had a weird sense of being out of place. I definitely remember feeling that social anxiety at other times in my life… but I have not felt it at all in the past several months, despite being in lots of new social situations. Maybe when I know I’m a complete newcomer to a social group I feel like there are no previous expectations of me to violate and I can basically act however I want, as long as I’m not an unpleasant asshole, but in this group, since I kinda knew everyone there but nobody knew me as well as anyone else and I wasn’t an established part of the “group”, there was a little more friction. Eh.

5. Home! When I got home, I started playing video games. Video games are disastrous for my life. I did manage to beat Metroid Prime in about a week, but I went to bed after about 5am every day that week. I’ve got an upcoming, longer and more serious post about this topic, but I think I’ve figured out that video games and me have a very destructive relationship, and I’ve since decided to cut them out of my life completely.

6. California! Nico and I decided to go on a week-long road trip and visit people in the Bay Area and LA. I didn’t realize that Nico had an entire social network in the Bay Area (I was excited just to reconnect with a single long-separated old friend) and learned to kind of roll with their antics, which led to fun situations even if I was a little uncomfortable (see above) about being the slightly-uninvited new guy in a group of people who had established relationships with each other. Again, I think I’ve worked on this.

7. More California! Nico and Ari and I went to a few bars in Oakland, California (which I’d only heard of before in reference to really high crime or something, so I was kind of on my guard the whole time) and it was a VERY interesting experience. We started at Beer Revolution (like, 100 beers on tap) where I had two really strong beers, and then we went to a darker-looking bar and I had a few sips of Nico’s makers’-and-gingerale and danced shamelessly for about 20 minutes by myself. I got tipped a dollar from a cute girl who was there with another guy. That was kind of the most hilarious, and I keep that dollar in my wallet as a reminder of the value of unabashed shamelessness. LATER ON in the evening (let’s say about 15 minutes later), we were going to another place and I declared that I was in need of food. We went to an american burger-style place and I realized I was VERY DRUNK. Drunker than I’d ever been – drunk enough that I very much felt that I was not really “in the driver’s seat”. Do you remember where I said I’d only drank 2 beers and a few sips of a mixed drink? Yeah. I’m a lightweight. Anyway I shouted a lot and expressed my discomfort at the universe and ate a tasty burger and then we left and I continued being drunk and I spat on a bus and Nico and Ari looked at me with concern, which tickled me at the time.

8. Los Angeles! Nico and I went to LA mainly because Nico really wanted to play bike polo and I was feeling indecisive. (Looking back, I might have vetoed it just because it was a lot farther and more money, but I’m glad he had a good time). At the bike polo court (which was very much in a public park and officially closed, chained-off, but nobody was enforcing fence-jumpers so that’s what everyone was doing) I hung out on the sidelines and kinda awkwardly chatted with people and turned down bong hits. This was my VERY FIRST time being around people who were ACTUALLY smoking pot and doing it all out in the open and talking to me and stuff, and so that was interesting. Nico seemed not to know how to handle me and at first offered me a hammock to go hang in a public park, but I think it was worthwhile for me to chat with LA potheads even if it was awkward.

9. Back in Oregon! I went on an amazing hike in the Columbia River Gorge with my friend Adam (which I posted about a few weeks ago in its own blog post) and we had a great time. Afterwards we hung out at his house and his roommate started organizing their living room and brought in a kickass record player and a set of ridiculous records and two GINORMOUS JESUS CHRIST speakers (almost as tall as me!) and arranged them in a beautiful setup in the corner with a cool lamp behind them, and we listened to Dark Side of the Moon. He got his bong out and started taking and sharing hits, and so I decided (being, in general, pretty open minded about cannabis even if I hadn’t tried it before – this is a tangent, but before I was okay with alcohol [and that’s another blog post altogether] I had definitely decided that marijuana was a more OK substance than booze, in terms of health and society and everything) to try a tiny tiny hit just to learn what it was like. I did it, and I think everyone involved laughed at me for how little of a hit it was but they weren’t pressuring me and I was definitely sure I didn’t want any more. I remember this dumb happy-esque feeling that wasn’t intense at all and might not have even been the weed.

10. Also back in Oregon. I made the decision a few days before flying to Hawaii that I was going to pack up my video game systems – all of them – and put them in attic boxes. It was a hard decision, because video games fill me with nostalgia! But they were doing bad, unsustainable things to my life, so I boxed em up and stopped playing console games.

11. Went to Hawaii! Lived in a house by myself for a week and a half (maybe two and a half?), and it was LONELY. I hadn’t really gotten to know anyone at work much, and at home it was quiet, so I had really scant human interaction. This was when I realized I’d have to actually reach out and make an effort to connect with people, organize stuff, and stuff like that.

12. Kendo in Hawaii. I had never done kendo with anyone other than the Harvard club, and felt kinda anxious about it, but managed to find phone numbers of dojos in Hilo before I left Oregon, found one, and decided to bring my armor and stuff along (cost a bit to check an extra bag). The decision turned out to be SO worth it. The people were so nice, and I started to learn something of discipline through the twice-weekly practices!

13. Potluck dinners in Hawaii. About halfway through my stay we had a house dinner (after I moved into the more populous house) and I showed up empty-handed, not being really aware it was a potluck. Our landlady (an incredibly sweet, yet often stern lady) immediately chastised me, and so I ran to the store and got two bottles of wine. An important life lesson! I believe she did this not out of anger but of concern, because I was not really aware that in social gatherings like that it’s often expected to provide something in return for hospitality. I guess I have to learn how to operate in the adult world now!

14. Karaoke! I made a friend at the Mauna Kea Visitor’s center who invited me to a karaoke night, which was incredibly nice of her to include me in her social sphere (she was like 27ish and engaged, so it was purely a platonic thing). And at karaoke I sang a song, remembering my lesson about unabashed shamelessness, and people seemed mildly (or facetiously) impressed. But it was fun! Service was slow as fuck though.

15. Swing dancing! I went dancing a lot in Hawaii, and that taught me lessons as well. The lesson here is the philosophy of being a “lead”. When you are a Lead, other people expect you to take the initiative, and are willing to follow you (because they are “Follows”). You don’t have to discuss the pros and cons of what you do, it’s just your responsibility to actually get the dance happening! I like this because it’s a lesson about cooperation and against indecisiveness. When many choices have very similar outcomes, don’t waste time deliberating between them! Figure out who’s in the best situation to Lead, and if it’s you, make decisions without making people wait for you. Dancing isn’t about doing a move, thinking about/discussing what move to do next, and then doing that. You gotta take charge and don’t break the momentum.

16. Lessons from my advisor. OK I am too tired to continue, so this might have to resume some other time. Nearly 2000 words of freewrite though. Shit, I took that nyquil more than 40 minutes ago? dammit tom

Good night everyone!

between a sponge and a soft place

Freewrite. I’m kinda sick today so taking some forced downtime.

I think a lot about making sure that my year off is worthwhile, that the cost of being away from my intended career is outweighed, vastly, by the personal gains I can make by injecting variety into my life.

I think it’s working. I’m not where I want to be yet, and nothing’s as efficient as I’d hoped, but I can feel a conscious shift in my mindset. I’m teaching myself how to be mindful of how I use my time, how to make mistakes and learn from them, how to self-evaluate.

At the same time I’m wary of becoming stagnant. I am, after all, living at home, with my doesn’t-do-anything dad and a quiet house with no local source of encouragement to go and DO. The conflict between where I am and what I want is tangible.

If this time is going to come out positive and productive for me, it’ll require me to learn how to internalize – deeply – the drive to move forward, to improve, to break away from stagnation. I think it’s starting to happen (I suspect I’ve got the evidence to show it! future post coming soon), but I’ll have to get better (and better, and better) before I feel like I’ll be ready to take on the world.


posty thing

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not all lines are parallel

Another password-protected post. This one’s a lot happier than the last! Ask me for the password if you’d like to read it. (:

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