I’m trying to think of what Eric Thomas said. That whole lion and gazelle parable…it’s not true. You can’t be the gazelle, because if there’s no lion, the gazelle will stop running. But if you’re the lion, you will run or they won’t eat.
And it kind of goes back to what Lawrence Pang said, how when you’re tired you have to think of the team. Because if you think of the team you’ll find strength you didn’t know you had. As long as you’re doing it for someone else, you’ll be able to run that extra mile.
And it’s strange that I think of dragon boat so much these days since I’ve been off of it for so long. Maybe the sport itself lost its appeal, just for me, personally.
But the lessons are still right. Always were, always will be.
The Perils of College Life
We are college students. ”Let no man deny the perils of our times.”
We have been forced by our parents and by ourselves to slave away, attending hours of optional lectures each day. But even when these lectures are completed, even when the day is done, we still must stay awake and complete ridiculously time-consuming homework assignments.
“If only you could see what I have seen through your eyes!” I have witnessed the rise and fall of entire academic careers, seen GPAs that hang by a thread over the abyss. I have sat in the 24-hour study room from dusk to dawn, seen the computer engineers pour their hearts and souls into problem sets, only to miss deadlines. I have seen countless pre-med students turned away from their dreams by the dreaded oChem. I have seen it again and again, day after day, and I have not slept at night beneath these stirring thoughts and the sounds of college parties.
Society is to blame for the plight of the college student, but nothing can be done. We are doomed to follow a path set by them, to pick careers of their choosing, to steer away from everything we once dreamed we could do. Whatever we want in life is meaningless, for society decides how we should be, who we should be, and why we should be.
And though we are powerless, let our voices not die down! For him time, history will know of the magnificent but ultimately tragic story of the generation of college students.
If you never see someone again, is it like they’re dead? I know it’s not, but it’s scary to think about. It’s knowing that they move on, that they’ll continue to live each day and meet new people and write their own story, but I won’t be a part of it.
I know it’s what’s better. I just don’t know if it’s what’s best.
People change. Relationships fade. Sometimes there’s no reason to stay close to someone, just like there’s no reason to stay in the same city forever. Time moves on and we’ll grow and grow apart, and that’s just a part of life.
So let’s try and enjoy this while we can, okay?
Story Sketch - Structure
Last week, my best friend died. He biked a little too quickly, signaled before he turned, but the driver couldn’t see him in the dark. His face slammed against the glass before his entire body was pulled back underneath the car. His blood splashed everywhere, even on other cars.
The driver was happy to know that all he ended up having to pay for was a new windshield.
One week later and no one really talks about it. No one ever talks about death here—we’re convinced that death isn’t real, that everyone is born again. We believe that all things, past present and future, are written in the source code.
But I don’t know if I believe it anymore.
The whole idea stems from the Smosh video “If the internet were real,” but I think Neuromancer is a greater influence. Basically, it’s a kind of parallel universe inside the internet, a Matrix-world where everyone and everything is data.
I’m still debating whether to try to write it as a joke or as something serious, but here are some ideas I’ve had
-A lot of plot devices will be parodies. Logic bombs will be physical bombs, SQL injections will be like stim packs, firewalls will literally be firewalls. It will be written by someone who knows nothing about how computer systems actually work
-All locations will be parodies of websites. We will have a Google headquarters, which is a library, a Tumblr house, which is a support group, Facebook, which is a park/meeting place, and Cisco, which is secretly running everything
-Convinced that he needs to find answers, the main character will attempt to break into the source code. The source code is heavily guarded, so he will have to penetrate security and enter a single building (will try really hard not to make this part too much like Neuromancer)
-Murder will be euphemised as “Denial of service,” where you “deny someone the service of being alive”
-When the main character realizes everyone just regenerates without memory, he will do a 180 and turn into a serial killer
-When the main character finally reaches the source code and learns the hollowness of their existence, he will modify it and give himself superhuman abilities in an attempt to take over their world
Story Sketch - Leftover
Opening Lines: Every week, I volunteered at the soup kitchen. The best thing about this was I could tell everyone I volunteered at the soup kitchen. ”Yeah, I’d love to stay and chat,” I’d say, “But I have to go to the soup kitchen right now.” I’d say it like it was no big deal, which it wasn’t…but that didn’t stop me from telling everyone.
It was great for a while, but Dan changed that. Dan, the one who killed that whole scheme. Dan, one of the people who, as the saying goes, is only alive because it’s illegal to shoot him. Dan. Fucking Dan.
Last year, I wrote a 13-page story based on my experience at the Davis soup kitchen. The whole idea was to write something funny, but very few people who read it were amused. Basically, it was narrated by a guy named Dan who had dropped out of college and had a mediocre job. One day Michelle and David, two law school students, volunteer there for the first time. The rest of the story details Dan’s attempts to persuade David that he needs to stay in law school and should not pursue his dream of studying art.
The professor recommended I completely change the plot but preserve the characters. This is what “Metastasis” did, but it was a much more casual story that was only really written for people in my ECS60 class.
Here’s the basic idea for the rewrite: It’s going to be narrated by David this time, take place at Davis, and detail Dan’s attempt to perform murder-suicide. This time, Dan is a disturbed, psychotic character who gets so obsessed with his interpretation of Palahniuk’s work that he becomes convinced that life after college is meaningless. He tries to crash a car with David and him in it, but David convinces him that his life has value and that he should stop the car.
In the end it is revealed that David actually doesn’t care about him at all. He yells at Dan, punches him in the face, and files an order to get Dan’s license revoked.
Inside every person is a story to be told. We fake secrecy time and again, but deep down everyone just really wants to be understood.
We make things so complicated. We always speak too soon. With eyes that judge and ears that do not hear, we label people before we get the slightest fragment of who they really are.
Maybe if we dug just a little better, learned just a little more, then we’d just get along and understand.
Sometimes it’s just really hard to explain how I feel. It’s like I’m two people at once and can’t decide which one is right…but I want to because if I can put things into words then I can move ahead in logical steps.
I don’t know if I’m happy or sad or something in between, but now I know exactly what I want.
And I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing because I always used to know what I felt but not what I wanted, and everyone said that this was okay.
The mind is like a car battery—it recharges by running
Bill Watterson, Kenyon College Commencement
Someone argued that the walk-on candidates almost never win. They go against people who demonstrate that they actually took the time to prepare a speech and register, and that’s significant to the voters.
But I’m sure it happens from time to time.
They only get five minutes to speak, and those five minutes mean a lot. Someone with more confidence and charisma can easily overtake someone more qualified for the job, and I don’t know how I feel about this. It’s a job interview of sorts, a kind of unfair system that can’t avoid being unfair because it’s so efficient.
You can have a board scrutinize each candidate, but that’s not democratic. You can give them more time to speak, but that’s inefficient.
Sometimes I wish we talked about writers the same way we talked about movies. Everyone has their favorite genre, just as everyone has their taste in music. And though we have our standards, from Mozart to The Beatles, and few could dispute that these bands and individuals had talent…not everyone likes them, and it’s fine.
I don’t just want to praise every short story we come across. Yes, it’s a class where we read from the greats, and few could deny that these authors are skilled. But it’s subjective, and when we finish praising them we can start to really understand what they’re trying to say.
Writing is never about the writer. Writing is about the reader.
That’s how it’s always been and it has never changed.