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These are the times that try men’s souls

Summer break was much needed. Two years ago at this time, I was running on all cylinders — full speed ahead into the unknown. Last summer, I was recovering. I was adapting to life after a traumatic spring, and when life stopped, I took time to watch everyone’s ways of dealing with life, listened to advice (discarding bad advice and adopting everything that I thought worked). It was in that summer that I made several startling discoveries: 1) People think things are crazy when they don’t understand them. 2) People deal with pain in different ways. 3) I adapt quicker than most people, but live my life mostly in my thoughts, and don’t vocalize them unless I need something cleared up. When life gets hard or something unexpected happens, I tend to think negatively and go into a downward spiral until something or someone breaks me out of it. This spiral ended this summer. That’s right, fifteen months of a downward spiral — stuck in my own head –little-to-no sleep — reviewing the traumatic experience on repeat — thinking it was my fault, if I acted another way, or did this instead, everything would still be okay — stressful day-to-day learning in grad school compounding the issue because I have no time to decompress and forgive.

Let’s put it this way: I was 100% two summers ago. Last summer, I was probably at 10%, burnt out physically and emotionally. This summer, after a month and a half of good living, I’m efficiently back in the 70% or 80% area. By the end of the summer I could very likely back up to 100%, but over the last year of school, I could probably be burnt out to about 50%… I know most people don’t picture themselves as a human lithium battery that needs to be recharged over long periods of time… but it helps me guard against unwanted stress, and not to overextend myself. Everyone always wants a part of you, and if you give too much of yourself, you’ll have nothing left. It’s a sad truth.

I will also be updating this blog more (but not sure for how long, maybe for a year, maybe just until I don’t need to anymore). This is because during my free time, I’ve been doing some amateur psychology research. I was talking to a college student, and she said she just changed from being a psych major — and that when she first meets people she automatically types them as one of the four types of people. Apparently, I am a B/A mix (sometimes called the melancholic type). This interested me because I didn’t know about psychology. I immediately did my own research on personality types and traits, quickly finding the Myers Briggs personality types. There are 16 types, and my type, the INTJ, is very rare, comprising 1% of the population. I found an INTJ forum, and quickly discovered there are people who think like me. The many explanations of the type fit me perfectly. and I found a website that explained how INTJ could attain immense personal growth. One of these tactics was to write my ideas and not have them bottled up in my head, rattling around and causing confusion. In effect, meeting someone and talking about types of people really broke me out of the worst funk of my life (even worse than when my aunt died during college).

Cheers, for now.


Oh the Life of an Academic

It’s been no secret that I’ve been applying to law schools this cycle. It’s very intimidating and stressful.

I think I’ve figured out the schools’ admission strategies thus far. So far, I’ve only been admitted into the lower tier schools. All of these schools need to know if I’ll be attending their institution by April 15th. The higher tier schools do not promise to have made a decision by that point. Plus these schools might only waitlist me and I’ll be in limbo.

This is how the lower tier schools get students. They create an unnecessary deadline so students will get worried (like me), panic, and send in a personal check for so-and-so amount to reserve their spot.

I refuse to settle. This ploy will not work! But we’ll see when April 15th rolls around. Then I’ll be panicking like crazy!

Wish me luck.

Van Gogh in Relation to Me

Van Gogh’s Starry Night

The other day I was driving home and my iPod started playing Don McLean songs. I listened to American Pie, and then Vincent came on afterwards. I always knew American Pie was his most successful song, and I’ve always determined that Vincent was at worst second best. But I had never actually pored over the lyrics of Vincent before. I didn’t know what it was about. I sat there, driving along, when I had an epiphany—you know, one of those moments where you connect the dots—and realized, for the first time in my life, that this song was about Van Gogh. It came to me during one of the last parts of the song when McLean sings “starry starry night” again. And then I realized that Daffodils was another painting by Van Gogh…and it’s well-documented that he was insane…and probably because he was in love. Wow, I was such an idiot. Truth be told, if I heard this song ten years ago I wouldn’t have realized the allusions to the paintings anyway, but it was still an eye-opener.

It reminds me of the time where my friend made the connection between the words shepherd and sheep (“oh oh sheep herd”), and it was one of those moments where I felt glad that no one else was with me, because they definitely would have laughed at me and my childish glee—“I made a connection! All by myself! Ha Ha!”—and I might never have had the chance to live it down.

I’m not the Mac Guy, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t Mr. PC

I was sitting in my boss’s office a few weeks ago, just talking, wasting time. We started talking about technology—ramblings that moved from portable GPS devices to iPods to Google’s purchase of a phone company. And then it hit him. He said, “You know, I’m the PC guy, and you’re the Mac guy.” If you don’t know what that means, other than betraying both of the general ages in this friendship, he was entirely right. I do own a Macbook.

Mac Guy and PC Guy

This one stray comment, seemingly a dawning realization on his part through our meandering conversation, hit me hard. Are Macs cool to the younger generation? Is that the only reason I have one? I suppose they are generally accepted to be sleeker and more stylish. They are advertised as such. And mostly to the younger generation as well.

In my case, Macs are regarded as the proper computer choice for my field of expertise, but if, say, I weren’t in that particular field I think I still would use a Mac because of its stability—compared to PCs.

But more importantly, in my boss’s revelation I began to see how he viewed me: someone more cutting-edge than himself, a little more technologically-savvy, at least twenty years his junior, and with plain blue clothes and very little facial hair. I’m nothing but a geek to him.

Am I “with it”? I do have a Facebook account. Should I disable it and walk around the world like the rest of the wandering youth without one? Or maybe I should be like my boss, someone who doesn’t see its merits and probably doesn’t really care about them either. He might not even know what one is, and I’ve had one for over two years.

If I had a better brain, one with a quicker wit and a flair for outrageous humor, I would edit my Facebook account. I am Facebook friends with one such person, a former classmate of mine from school. He created an entirely false account—a fake name, and a catchy one at that, with a running lists of honors, awards, misdeeds, and funny anecdotes this character supposedly did.

Spanning at least three “Page down” scrolls, this page is an enormous background for someone who doesn’t even exist, and I find it daring and hilarious. I picture a scene at Facebook Headquarters, in an underground bunker—though their offices are ironically probably in an Apple-like office building—mouthing into walkie-talkies.

Crssssshhhh Message to Base: We can’t find an actual birth record for User ID # Niner Ocean Beach Eightball Zebra. Over. Crssssh

Crsshhhhhh Keep looking. Google his name, he lists many accolades. Over. Crsssssh

I have read about people who instead of deleting their accounts over the data mining of Facebook, have edited them to portray information they could care less about. Copying and pasting random paragraphs of obscure articles found within the bowels of the internet, posting self-referencing hyperlinks, naming “Ponies, riding ponies, buying ponies, grooming ponies, and betting on ponies” as their interests. The information ruins the data Facebook receives, and these users are doing their small part to divert it.

I’m starting to think my level of technological-savvy is actually slightly below normal, and that my boss is the one who has been left in the dust. I demand that I be perceived as normal. Though just yesterday, I couldn’t figure out how to print from the new Microsoft Word!

However, I think this whole post proves that I am a geek, and now there is no going back. It’s time to embrace it.

The Time Capsule

The holidays are officially upon us. Hanukkah is about to end, and like many people in December, I found myself scouring every nook and cranny of my attic for Holiday decorations. We found ornaments, and knick-knacks, and all sorts of Christmas and Santa material—so much in fact, that there was sensory overload. Shifting through these boxes took me back through the years, when, believe it or not, I was hell-bent to be on Santa’s Good List. We displayed the ceramic Christmas displays my grandmother made, which my family is particularly proud of—mostly because it’s a great memento of my grandmother that she bequeathed to us—but also partly because it is so beautiful. There were snow globes and nutcrackers, and everything else that reminds me of past great Christmases, those Christmases that will be the benchmark for successful upcoming ones.

It took a few days to set the house up and I found myself starting to get nostalgic. The Christmas movies started playing on television, the radio station I listen to started playing Christmas music just after Thanksgiving, so the hour commute added to my mindset. And if it weren’t enough, my family forced me to start a Christmas list of presents that I potentially would want.

Essentially, the holidays were in full swing.

The Cat Who Came For Christmas

When we were putting the empty boxes back into the attic, I stumbled upon a box of my belongings that anyone else would probably label “OLD SHIT.” Secretly, I’d been searching for this box. As I graduated high school, I stuffed everything I thought was childish and hastily stuffed it in storage where I didn’t have to see it everyday. I can admit that as I’m on the verge of finishing my last semester as an undergrad, I wanted a retrospective of where I’ve been, so I can accurately determine my future. I thought this box would unlock the mystery of who I really was, maybe even who I would become.

I was sadly mistaken.

In this box, I found many things. None of them tell me anything I didn’t know. For example, I kept a scrapbook. Normally, scrapbooks keep newspaper clippings about oneself—may it be the honor roll, or an achievement, what have you. Don’t get me wrong, my scrapbook did contain some of those things. However, it was also a litany of ongoing public disputes and general pop culture knowledge that is utterly useless for my quest for personal self-discovery. In hindsight, the All Star Celtic guard Reggie Lewis’ death from cocaine overdose was a great tragedy and affected me deeply. There was no plausible reason for me to cut out an article about his death (which happened to be on two pages, yet I still carefully taped them together) and paste it into my scrapbook. I also have the words “CLINTON IMPEACHED” across two pages, screaming for someone to read them, and headshots of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Abraham Lincoln(?).

No, I don’t know why either. Honest Abe was someone I admired?

I also have a scrapbook page dedicated to Roger Clemens in a Red Sox uniform. Seeing that I now see The Rocket as the spawn of the devil, this didn’t go over very well with the present-day me.

It seems like my life revolved around sports. In the box were all my youth league trophies and my Emmitt Smith and Ken Griffey Jr. posters. The scrapbook has my press releases: me rollerblading with a friend, every soccer goal I scored, my group’s photograph from Spain. There’s also my senior year profile from the sports section where I inexplicitly mentioned that Nomar Garciaparra was my favorite athlete, when everyone I know knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Emmitt Smith has always been my favorite. Also, apparently, my favorite band was Jimmy Eat World.

No, I don’t know why either. Maybe I wanted to Bleed American?

I did find my high school diploma, my varsity letter, and all my important Eagle Scout things; the letters from all the politicians and my medals in the smooth velvet box were stuffed in the attic where they could have been damaged! I was such an idiot.

What I learned from perusing through my old things is that I have always been impressionable. Judging from my Christmas nostalgia, I guess some things never change.

Happy Holidays!

The Lies Movie Trailers Infer

I love the phenomenon where a movie trailer looks exponentially better than the actual movie it represents. Commercial editing for the movie is done perfectly. The plot is entirely ruined and the best scenes are shown to entice a potential avid viewer to dole out eight dollars to a legitimate piece of crap. Both the best and worst movies ever made have had movie trailers (with one of the four main trailer voiceover people—yes, there are only four—but one works exclusively for Disney) that do the same formulaic, cropped hooey within a two minute period.

I love watching movie trailers more than wasting hours of my life watching painfully written scripts, with less than stellar actors, and almost no creativity in the directing.

Film Reel

In the trailers’ never-changing formula, there is always the cliffhanger. The long, drawn out question that can only be answered by actually viewing the film, but I can live with that. I think, “hey, maybe the next trailer will have the answer I’m looking for”—and honestly, it’s only two minutes of my life, I can lie to myself forever—and it gets to the point where I have a feel for the movies as their shortened forms flash on my screen. When you see enough of them (and I’m not talking about thirty second commercials here, understand that), you know when you see the right combination, the perfect balance of script and the great actors, it doesn’t matter if the concept of the movie isn’t original, it’s how this new version’s performances blow the previous versions out of the water.

In short, I’d prefer to watch a movie trailer sometimes over the actual movie it represents. I don’t know if that’s strange or not, but it works for me.

Endgame on a High Note

Kevin Youklis and Julio Lugo

I’m content.

At least for today. The best day.

The day after.

Late last night, the Red Sox won the 103d World Series, and, let’s be honest, winning never gets boring. As Red Sox fans, we were bred to take every bad break as an omen for disaster. Today, all these worries have evaporated. Beckett threw Clemens-like heat with Pedro-like skill. Pedroia hit the ball like he was double the size of Richie Sexson. I will always remember Manny on the base paths, chucking his helmet off while running at three-quarter speed, Ortiz crying during the celebration, and Mike Lowell’s impish grin while being presented his MVP award.

These are the 2007 Red Sox, World Champions. And I rooted for them. In November, I started reading the rumors online, I saw us sign the antichrist, J.D. Drew. I saw Lugo adjust his crotch dozens of times against my will. We traded Willy Mo. Coco and Youklis caught everything within twenty feet of them, and I saw every out of Buccholtz’s no-hitter. This team was special. I know there were more people than me who scoured the fine print of the sports section, debating our transactions. They know too.

Out of the league’s thirty-two teams, the Red Sox, again, after four years, are World Champions! Hail, Tito! Long live Red Sox Nation!

When does spring training start again?