Goals for Summer 2017

Intros are stupid. Lets get down to business:

1) Get a quality tan.

Yes, I know. I said this before. But this time I’m serious. Remember that time I got a sunburn in the middle of the winter thanks to the light from my bedroom window? Well I’m already starting to use that to my advantage. Plus I’ve been vacuuming the pool on a near daily basis, and I’ll be visiting the beach next weekend. So mark my words: by the end of this summer, people are going to be mistaking me for a giant leather glove. I guarantee it.

2) Finish writing that book

I’m not going to tell you what it’s about until I finish it, but rest assured, it’s the Next Great American Novel. Or more accurately, it’s the Next Great YA Trilogy. 

I know what you’re thinking: do we really need another YA trilogy?

The answer is yes. We need exactly one more.

3) Confront my inner demons

This is a hard one, but a must. 

4) Watch all the TV shows and movies

There are so many good shows out there that I need to catch up on. Orange is the New Black, Veep, Game of Thrones, Curb your Enthusiasm, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mr. Robot, Doctor Who. And then there’s upcoming movies like Dunkirk, Spiderman: Homecoming, and uh, that’s kind of it. I’m excited for Stephen King’s It, but that won’t be until September.

I don’t know if anyone’s gone out and said this definitively, but yeah: television is better than movies. A TV is like a novel and movies are short stories. And sure, short stories are cool and everything, but War and Peace would not have been the classic it is today if it were written at forty pages. This is airtight logic I’m using here, so don’t bother questioning it.

Image result for view from drop of doom great adventure

5) Go to some sort of amusement park

Did I ever tell you about my field trip in senior year of high school? The one where a hundred students in my class went to Six Flags in New Jersey, and they closed the place at eight o’clock so that it was only us and a couple other schools in the park?

Well it was awesome. We went on every single roller coaster in the park, and the lines ranged from short to nonexistent. There wasn’t even a line for Kingda Ka, and there’s always a line for Kingda Ka. The best was going on El Toro not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, not five times, but six times in a row, because there was nobody else in line. 

I understand that unless I have enough money to close out the whole park, the lines are never going to be this short again. I’m going to actually have to wait, like some sort of peasant. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I just to want to go on another ride that’s high enough for me to see the curve of the earth.

6) Read more often

Not gonna lie, I have not been reading as much as I should’ve lately. I blame TV and movies, for being more immersive while also requiring less imagination. No wonder people are reading less. Look what books have to compete with! (Don’t click on that.)

7) Be better with money

I have a tendency to waste money on food, and while yes, I do need food to live, there are a lot of more cost-efficient ways for me to go about this. Like I could get into the habit of cooking at home, or I could start mooching off my parents more. Whichever’s easier.

I also waste money on non-food items, like that $99 premium option for WordPress that has yet to pay off. Or those walkie talkies that I haven’t even used. (“Just use your phone!”) So I’ll try my best to stick to a budget.

8) Continue resisting the urge to shoplift every time I’m stuck in a long line.

The other day I was at a store called Leslie’s Pool Supplies, buying a pair of goggles. There was only one cashier in the store, and after ten minutes of waiting, the line had barely moved an inch. I look at the exit and see there’s no anti-theft scanners by the exit, and I think to myself: I could totally get away with stealing these goggles. After all, I don’t see any cameras, and none of the other employees are paying attention. Plus it’s just a pair of goggles, costs $8.99. It’s a victimless crime!

But I did not shoplift that day. Because as I recall, one of the ten commandments states the following:

THALL SHALL NOT STEAL GOGGLES FROM LESLIE’S POOL SUPPLIES

I’m paraphrasing of course, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it said. I’m almost positive, in fact, that those were the exact words.

I’ve had this urge before, but I never followed through, and I hope to continue not-following through for the rest of my days. Unless I decide to become a gritty antihero. In that case I’ll be stealing all the goggles I can get my hands on. 

9) Get beta readers

By the end of the summer, at least, I should be getting some of these. I was hoping to have a finished book to send to people last year, but I’ll settle for this August. Hopefully late July.

Let’s just say, I’m a little nervous. I’ve had people critique my work before, but only short stories or individual chapters. I’ve never had a whole book — especially one as important to me as this one — be critiqued before, and I am concerned. I’ll do it, sure, but it’s going to be a very stressful process.

10) Have at least one of my preferred political candidates win an election

Excuse me if I sound bitter, but every single election I’ve paid attention to thus far has gone in the exact opposite direction I’d hoped. In 2008 I wanted McCain to win. In 2012 I wanted Romney to win. I actually started paying attention to politics around 2015 and in 2016 I rooted for Bernie. He lost. Then for Hillary, who lost.

I’ve since been paying attention to the smaller, special elections going on, like the one in Montana, where the Republican candidate assaulted a reporter the day before. I thought, “the guy committed a violent crime, on tape. Surely that’s a deal-breaker for most voters.”

But Montana has a tradition of early voting, so a good portion of the population voted before that whole shebang took place. As for the rest of them? Well, partisanship is strong. And body-slamming is pretty cool. I mean, look at this shit:

 wrestling aamir khan dangal body slam mahavir singh phogat GIF

(no but seriously, that whole thing was very depressing.)

Today, there’s a special election going on in Georgia, between Jon Ossoff (D) and Karen Handel (R). By the time this is published, the results may be available, but as of now I’m still waiting for results, and I’m really hoping Ossoff wins. Mainly because 1. the attack ads against him have been all kinds of messed up, 2. the democrats could really use a win right now, 3. I like his policies, and 4. I’m not a fan of Karen’s.

I know this race doesn’t affect me directly, and there’s nothing I can do to change the results, but I’m including it as one of my goals anyway because it feels important. Plus, I needed to finish this list with something, and this was the only thing my brain could think up. Go Ossoff!

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So what are your goals for this summer? Or are you a normal person who doesn’t have goals for arbitrary periods of time? Either way, feel free to comment below. 

A Day in the Life of a College Freshman

Yeah, so I’ve done a few posts like this in the past, one in my junior year of high school and one in my senior, and I got to say, I think this is the most interesting one I’ve done yet. Mainly because it has foreshadowing in it, and also some seemingly unrelated events that come together in the end. Plus something happens to me that feels like it was taken straight out an episode of Seinfeld, so I hope you all enjoy.

(I also just want to clarify that a couple parts of this post (you’ll know it when you see it) are not things that happen to me regularly. So keep that in mind.)

7:30 AM 

I can’t keep hitting the snooze button these days because it annoys my roommate, so I get out of bed and make my way to the bathroom. I watch my step, just in case my alcoholic suitemate vomited on the floor again. He did not, which is a good omen. (“Today will be a good day!”)

7:45 AM

After brushing my teeth and taking a shower and getting dressed, I make the fifteen minute walk to my first class of the day. I would eat breakfast first, but the dining halls don’t open until eight o’clock, which is the same time my class starts. This seems like a rather large flaw in the dining hall system, but there’s not much I can do. Luckily my mom sent me a care package recently that included snack sized bags of trail mix, so I ate that on the way.

7:55 AM

I notice that my phone is only at around fifty percent battery, which is weird, because I could’ve sworn I’d left it plugged in at night. It’s still enough to get me through the most of the day, though, so I don’t think much of it.

8:00-9:30 AM

Differential Calculus. It’s a tough class, but someone’s gotta do it. It’s taught by a TA, who is always nervous, which is uncalled for because he’s teaching a subject that no one cares about. I try my best not to fall asleep.

9:40 AM

Sociology discussion class. I have to give a presentation today about the evolving workforce into today’s society, or something like that. (I kinda winged it.) The presentation was based around three questions that were supposed to be discussed amongst the class. But because it’s a Friday morning and no one actually seems to read the required text, not much discussion is had. That is, until the final one.

The final question I asked was “Is it okay for a company to breach a customer’s privacy, even if doing so will benefit both parties?” It was referencing the Amazon Echo, a device that may or may not be listening in on your conversations in order to sell you stuff. (It totally is.)

What followed was a surprisingly heated discussion between two/three guys who were complete pro privacy, against one girl who was like, “it’s not a big deal, guys. Relax.” I was mostly on the girl’s side until she started talking about how companies can’t invade your privacy unless you agree to the terms of service, because come on. Nobody reads the terms of service. Nobody. Anyone who claims to is a backstabbing liar.

10:40 AM 

I finally get to eat a proper breakfast. Pancakes, and scrambled eggs, and bacon! Nothing quite like bacon to put you in a good mood. Now, my next class is at 2:20, so I have two choices:

  1. I could go back to my dorm and get some sleep.
  2. I could go to the library and attempt to get shit done.

I choose #2, which would usually be the smart choice, the one my parents would approve of. But in this case it ends up screwing me over in a way that will be revealed soon.

1:30 PM 

I get some homework done, but it’s a Friday and the week’s almost over, so I’m not in much of a rush. I watch YouTube videos in the library, then I head back to the dining hall for some lunch. Now, here’s when something weird happens.

As I’m waiting in line for food, one of the cafeteria workers need to walk past me, and so I back up to get out of the way. In doing so, I accidentally step on the foot of the girl right behind me. “Sorry,” I say to her, and usually that would be the end of it.

But after I apologize and turn back around, I find myself wondering if I said “sorry” too quietly. The place is very crowded after all, and loud too, and I may have come off as more of a jerk than I actually am. After a minute or so, I turn back around, hoping that this is all in my head and that the girl behind me has already forgotten about it.

Yeah, no.

Instead she’s giving me the death stare, with her arms crossed, her nostrils flaring. To borrow a photo from one of my other posts, she looks like this:

I have no idea what to do. In the end I just turn back around, feeling her eyes on the back of my neck. I figure it’s too late to fix anything and the damage has already been done, so I get my food and get out of there fast.

2:20 PM

Chemistry. Generally speaking, this is not a fun class either, but I am sitting next to this girl from my high school, (let’s call her Jess) who’s a lot of fun to hang out with. She asks if I want to go to a frat party with her friends tonight, and I one-up her by asking is she wants to bring her friends to pre-game at my suite before going to said frat party. She says yes.

An explanation:

Pregaming is when you drink alcohol before attending an event or social function, so you’re already loosened up before you get there, and you don’t have to spend too much money on drinks. I’m not sure if this is specifically an American thing, but I feel like we’d be the only country where the teens are stupid to do this.

Two of my suitemates usually set up a game of beer pong around 8:30 on weekends, and I’m free to invite anyone I want to them. The more, the better.

Therefore, in this scenario: beer pong = pregame.

3:30 PM:

Classes are done for the day, and I head over to the marketplace for what is basically a second lunch. (Don’t judge me.) I make extra sure not to step on anyone’s foot this time.

4:00 – 7:30 PM

I’m back in the library, working on my novel. Will it ever get finished? The world could only hope. I do get a lot done today though, so that’s nice.

I also watch an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I’ve only watched four episodes so far and I must say, I really identify with this Larry David guy. It’s like we’re the same person.

8:40 PM

I get back to my suite, and sure enough, the pregame is on tonight. I text Jess to make sure she knows which dorm I’m in, and in fifteen minutes I go downstairs to let her and her friends inside. Once they’re inside I quickly drop into my room to plug in my phone, which is now at only 10% battery.

Now kids, the problem with beer pong is that if you’re playing it by the rules and are actually drinking the alcohol, it’s very hard to keep track of how much you’ve had. And then if you pour hard liquor into the middle cup, as we did, you may find yourself getting drunk much faster than intended. So keep that in mind as you follow me along for the rest of the night.

11:15 PM

We end up going to the frat party, but first I go back into my room to pick up my phone, and what do you know? It hasn’t charged at all. In fact, it’s actually gone down to 8%.

Turns out, the extension cord I plugged my phone into was no longer connected to outlet in my wall, which explains why my phone wasn’t at 100% this morning and why it hasn’t charged at all today.

This is unfortunate, but I’m not going to let it ruin my night, so I put the phone on power saving mode and go out anyway, figuring “hey, I’m with my friends, nothing bad could happen to me.”

11:45 PM

I’m at the party, where I manage to bump into seemingly every single person I’ve ever talked to at the university. I’m bumping into people I haven’t seen in months, people I pass by in the halls, people I only met during orientation. It’s like my life in college is a TV show and tonight’s the finale, so all the minor characters are popping up for their last hurrah.

I took exactly three shots over the next hour or so, and I did the math in my head:

3 shots + ? = ??? drinks in one night.

1:00 AM (ish)

Jess and her friends ask if I want to leave and go to a bar. I let her know I don’t have a fake ID. She says it’s cool, because she knows one that doesn’t check them.

We go to bar #1, which as it turns out, actually does check IDs, so we are not allowed in. So we walk to another one, and wait in a long line. For this bar, I only have to give the bouncer five bucks to get inside. I reach into my pocket, then check my other one, and oh shit I lost my wallet.

Yep, it’s gone. Where did it go? Well it somehow ended up on the floor at the frat house, getting stepped on repeatedly, long into the night. It was returned to me the next day with everything still in it, but as far as I know, it’s gone forever.

But no worries, Jess agree to lend me five bucks, and we’re allowed in.

1:20 AM

Gotta say, bars suck. I thought the frat party was loud and crowded, but in this bar you literally can’t move an inch without bumping into someone. People buy fake IDs and risk getting arrested for this? Makes zero sense. I get separated from the group, and after getting suffocated for at least fifteen minutes, I decide I’ve had enough and I make my way outside.

The journey back outside is a long and arduous one. I don’t know what “arduous” means but it sounds like an appropriate word in this context. I’m moving about five feet per minute because there are just so many people in the way. When I get out I take a deep breath of the cool, crisp air. Thank God I’m out of there.

I take out my phone to text Jess and let her know where I went, only to find out that that eight percent battery has gone down much faster than expected.

So now I have a dead phone, and no wallet, and I’m drunker than the average man. I’m also in the middle of a city I don’t really know, and it’s the middle of the night. Most of the people walking past me are college kids travelling in packs, but I see one girl by herself and I ask her if I could use her phone. I’m quickly explaining my situation to her, but I stop in my tracks once I get a closer look.

She recognizes me just as I recognize her. “Wait a minute,” she says. “Aren’t you the guy who stomped on my foot this morning?”

Gotta say, this is surprising. There’s at least thirteen thousand students at my school so I’d honestly never expected to see this girl again, and certainly not this soon. My gut reaction was to go on the defensive, which may not have the best decision. “Well I didn’t exactly stomp on it. It was an accident.”

Bruised Foot Girl, however, was not having any of this. “Do you have any idea how painful that was? I could barely walk afterwards!”

“Oh, come on.”

“Would you like to see the bruises?” She bends over, threatening to take off her shoe for me. “You basically squashed all the toes on my right foot.”

At this point, we’re both raising our voices at each other and making a scene; I’m getting all angry and flustered. “Look, I didn’t mean to, alright? I did apologize —”

“Oh yeah, thanks for saying sorry, it really helped with the healing.”

“Well what do you what me to do about it? It was a crowded room, you were standing right behind me—”

“Oh, so it was my fault?”

“What? No. It wasn’t—”

“I’m so sorry for standing in line behind you, sir. It won’t happen again.”

“Okay look,” I say, calming myself down. “I’m sorry I stepped on you, I felt bad about it and I didn’t know what to do at the time. I lost my wallet and my phone’s dead, so I could really use some help right now.”

Unfortunately, the girl is not in a charitable mood. As she storms away down the street she yells at me, “Maybe watch your step next time, asshole!”

1:45 AM

Yeah, so that happened. I end up asking someone else for their phone, and they’re a lot nicer about it.

After about ten minutes of sitting outside, Jess and friends get out of the bar, and we take a cab back to campus. I decide not to mention my run-in with the Bruised Foot Girl, because I’m not sure which of us was the jerk in that situation. (Was it me? I feel like it was me.)

2:05 AM

We’re dropped off near one of the dining halls, the one that’s open til 4 AM on the weekends. I don’t have my wallet, of course, so I just get a cup of water, chugging two cups in less than a minute. Turns out, I was a lot more dehydrated than I thought.

2:25 AM

I call it a night. I’ve already lost my wallet and gotten yelled at, and I feel like if I keep going, only worse things will happen.

2:35 AM

I am back in bed. It’s nice and cozy.


If there’s a lesson to this post, it’s that bars aren’t fun and people hold grudges. Also, if you plug your phone into an extension cord, make sure said extension cord is properly plugged into the wall, before you leave it unattended for over an hour.

It’s been a long weekend, guys. Thanks for reading.

The Trump Presidency: A Look on the Bright Side

Image result for i like ike

(Warning: I get political here, but don’t worry, I’ll go back to normal posts soon.)

If I had to describe the feeling of watching the 2016 election results unfold in a slightly over-dramatic, self-important way, the best comparison for me would be To Kill a Mockingbird.

I’m talking about the court scene where the jury declared Tom Robinson guilty, and he was given a death sentence for committing a crime he so very clearly did not commit. I felt like Scout did in that moment, with the confusion, the disappointment, the injustice of it all. I didn’t, and still don’t understand how 60+ million people could vote for such an obvious Bad Choice. How they could turn away from a flawed, yet undoubtedly smart and qualified woman and instead vote for a man who, amongst other things, lied about muslims in New Jersey cheering at 9/11.

I give this example, instead of all the countless other awful, reprehensible things Adult Joffrey has said and done, because I think it’s one of the worst and it doesn’t get enough attention. The man went in front of a bunch of angry, gullible people, and he gave them an excuse to hate and discriminate against another group of people, people that he knew for a fact were innocent in this regard.

Also, and I feel like this should be focused on more, he has a very punchable face. Not at the Ted Cruz level of smug grossness, but he’s definitely up there.

But I have to remember that To Kill a Mockingbird ended on a hopeful note. (I think. It’s been a while.) And as Atticus Finch once said, “it’s always darkest just before the dawn.” (He did not say this.) So for the sake of my mental health, let’s focus on the bright side, shall we?

1) The next president’s going to seem amazing in comparison.

Literally all he has to do is not throw twitter tantrums at three in the morning, and everyone will think, “Damn, what a classy guy. So glad he won the 2024 election.”

(Too dark? I feel like that was too dark.)

2) We’re probably going to get at least one really badass woman out of this.

I’m talking Joan of Arc levels of awesome here, or someone like Susan B. Anthony. Someone who goes down in the history books as just an all around great person. Personally, I hope its Tammy Duckworth.

She’s an Asian American senator, who’s also a disabled veteran, and I hope she runs for president in 2020, because she’s already done and said some things that made me say, “hot damn that was cool.” Like during a midnight vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, she said, her voice filled with emotion, “On behalf of the 1.2 million Illinoisans who will lose health insurance with this repeal of the ACA, and for all those with pre-existing conditions, I stand on prosthetic legs to vote NO.”

If you want to watch the video where all the democrats in congress fought and failed against the Obamacare vote a few weeks ago, here it is. I found it incredibly moving.

But to get back to Duckworth and why I think she’d made a great candidate:

  • She literally lost her legs while fighting in the Iraq War, so it’s going to be tough for her opponent to claim she hates the military.
  • “What was that? I couldn’t hear you over the sound of my awesome prosthetic legs, which I got from risking my life for this country.” —what I would say in a debate, if I were her.
  • For the most part I approve of her voting record.
  • She doesn’t have any email scandals that I’m aware of.
  • She has a goofy, but likable name. It’s the type of name that sticks with you, and in the early stages of campaigning, name recognition is always important.

3) When bored, you can always play “Find the minority!” during Trump’s speeches.

It’s a depressing game, but it’s still a game, and games are fun. Whenever you see a crowd of his supporters on TV, look around for someone who isn’t white and see how long it takes before you find one. I played it during his inauguration the other day and the first black person I saw was actually, in fact, a horse. (I gave up after five minutes.)

Or you can play that drinking game where you take a shot every time he lies about an easily provable fact. You’ll be dead before the game ends, so get your arrangements in order first.

4) The Republicans have sort of lost the moral high ground.

I’m biased, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I struggle to see how the Republicans could possible continue calling themselves the Family Values party, or the Party of Personal Responsibility. I don’t think this has been the case since at least 2000, but it’s never been more obvious than it is now. They also shouldn’t be allowed to condescendingly call liberals “snowflakes,” considering that they just nominated the world’s whiniest snowflake as the leader of the free world.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t a good thing for any Republicans reading this, (sup guys), but they can rest assured knowing that they have a super-majority, so they don’t actually need the moral high-ground anyway. And if public support wanes, they can always just gerrymander some more, or maybe just keep on gutting the Voting Rights Act, as they’ve already done in several states. And they’ve successfully stolen a Supreme Court Justice, so they’ll be just fine.

(Man, being a Republican must be so nice right now. Maybe I should switch sides.)

5) No matter what happens, there’s no happy ending for Trump.

I think he ran for office with the idea that a) he wasn’t going to win, and/or b) that being president wasn’t actually that hard. I remember back in November hearing him say how surprised he was at just how big of a scope his new job entails, and I recall him making a rather unhappy face when he realized he’d won the election.

Image result for Trump upset he won
Couldn’t find that photo, so here’s another one.

Trump’s going to be miserable with this job, and part of me hope he crashes and burns. That he resigns in disgrace with single-digit approval ratings and he goes down in history as an utter failure. Then we can all look back and say, “hey, remember that time Donald Trump was president? That was weird.”

The only way Trump does get a happy ending is if he does a good job as President, and in that case, we all win. In fact I hope he does so well I end up voting for him in 2020. Do I think this will happen? Nope. But never have I wanted to be proven wrong as much as I do now.

Though let’s be real. If it’s Duckworth vs Anyone, I’m choosing the Duck.

QUACK!

Something that Happened Years Ago That I Need to Get Off My Chest

Okay, so this is something that I never really talk about, because no one ever believes me when I tell them. I’m starting to doubt if everything went down exactly as I remember it, but I know that something definitely happened and I can’t quite explain what it was. Even all these years later, I still think about it at night when I’m lying in bed. I keep trying to make sense of it all; to find a rational, scientific explanation for what happened to me, and every single time I fail.

I don’t remember how old I was when this happened. It could’ve been anywhere from five to eight. It’s strange how I remember that night so well but I can never quite place it within a specific year of my life. Memory is weird like that.

Up until I was twelve or so, my family didn’t have an upstairs bathroom. If I ever needed to go in the middle of the night, I’d have to walk downstairs, through the dark, empty kitchen and into the dark, empty living room. 

There was a glass door in the living room I’d always have to walk by, that lead out to the side of the house. Usually the curtains were covering it but sometimes they weren’t, and because I always turned the lights on with every room I walked into, I could never see if anyone was outside, peering in through the glass door. All I could see was the reflection.

Those walks to the bathroom in the middle of the night were some of the most nerve-wracking moments of my childhood. I rarely heard noises, but I always had this feeling that someone was downstairs with me, like someone would be hiding behind the couch in the living room, or someone would be waiting outside the bathroom door when I came out.

When I was finished I’d have to walk all the way back, turning the lights off behind me as I went. I’d try to keep calm but once I reached the staircase I’d always break into a sprint, and I wouldn’t feel safe again until I was back in my bedroom with the door closed shut.

The walk got easier during the Christmas season, because that was when the decorations were always up. We had a Christmas Tree covered in lights in the living room with stockings set up around the fireplace. We had this weird toy with a foot-tall plastic Santa Clause, whose head moved around when you pressed the button on his leg. I think he was supposed to talk, too, but he never did.

It was the night before Christmas Eve when I woke up again, needing to pee. I turned on the lights as I went downstairs and walked into the bathroom in the living room. The curtains to the side door were closed this time, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone looking in. 

The bathroom had a fan that turned on automatically with the lights, making it so it you couldn’t hear anything going on outside. That’s the only good explanation I can think of for why I didn’t notice any noise. If it wasn’t for the fan I probably would’ve locked myself in that bathroom for rest of the night.

Instead I walked out of it, as usual, and I immediately noticed a few things were off. It seemed colder than it had been just a minute ago, and the curtains to the side door were no longer drawn. They’d been shoved to the side, away from the handle, and in the reflection of the door I saw something moving around in the kitchen. I saw the light of the refrigerator turn on and heard the sound of glass clinking, and when I looked in closer I saw a man in a large red suit.

I thought I’d be excited to see something like this. I’d been one of those kids that loved the Christmas season and whole-heartedly believed in Santa, but seeing his back as he rummaged through the fridge sent nothing but doubts down my spine. I think it’s because, for all my willingness to believe in him and for all the arguments I’d gotten in with classmates over his existence, deep down I knew that Santa Clause wasn’t supposed to be real. At the very least, you weren’t supposed to see him. 

I watched as he took some orange juice out of the fridge and chugged it straight from the carton. He gasped for air when he was finished and wiped his mouth, and when he walked over to the trash to toss it out he glanced at the side door and stopped in his tracks, and I realized right there that he had seen me through the reflection. It was the longest moment of my life. He stared at me through the door and I stared at him. He lifted his finger to his mouth and smiled.

He continued searching through the fridge and eating our food. As I watched I realized he wasn’t as old as Santa Clause was supposed to be. From his face he seemed younger than my parents, now that I think of it, and his eyebrows didn’t match his beard or his hair.

After a couple minutes he walked into the hallway, out of view. I heard a door close, and footsteps going downstairs into the basement. 

I ran back to my room. I wanted to wake my parents and tell them what happened, but I didn’t know what I’d say. I didn’t think they’d believe me. And most of all, I didn’t know what to think of the man who’d just rummaged through our kitchen. I kept going back and forth from ‘he’s Santa, he’d never harm anyone,’ to ‘he’s an intruder dressed up as Santa and he’s going to rob us and kill us in our sleep.’

I don’t remember sleeping that night. I remember sitting up in my bed and listening to the noises from downstairs. Occasional bumps and mutters, the creak of the side door sliding open and closed, and at one point I heard the sound of slow, heavy footsteps making its way up the stairs to the upper floor. The steps grew closer and closer, until I saw the shadow of the man from the light under my door.

For a moment, I heard nothing but the man’s breathing. Then he started yanking the door handle. Violently, up and down. I kept expecting the door to swing open at any moment, but it never did. He just kept shaking the handle. I sat perfectly still, terrified to move or to make a sound, and it’s at this point that I should clarify that none of this happened, and I’m just messing with all of you. I know that if I were to come across this post, the first thing I’d do is scroll down to the last paragraph to make sure this wasn’t a joke story, so I’m just going to continue from here as if these last two sentences were never written: after who knows how long, the handle stopped shaking and the shadow disappeared, and I listened through bated breath as the footsteps shrunk in volume and the man descended down the stairs. I heard the side door open and close again, and the house was silent for the rest of the night.

Nothing was missing the next day. Even the orange juice carton was back in its place. The curtains were drawn again, and everything in the basement was exactly how it had been the day before. I told myself the whole thing was just a dream, because I didn’t know how else to deal with what I saw. The whole memory’s been tearing at me ever since, and I’m glad I have an outlet here for me to get this off my chest. If anyone has any similar experiences, or they can think of an explanation for what happened here that would put my mind at ease, please comment below.

No, Participation Trophies are Not Turning Kids into Entitled Wimps, so Shut Up About It

Image result for participation trophies
Okay then.

So as a side effect of the 2016 election, I’ve become increasingly involved in politics, and to keep my mind open, I’ve been trying to read from a varied number of sources. From liberal talk-shows, to conservative blogs, to moderate newspapers, to random angry YouTube comments. (Let’s not compare source validity, here.) And no matter what end of the political spectrum I’m reading, there always seem to be one issue that everyone seems to agree on: that participation trophies are the worst things ever.

Seriously, according to the internet, the worst things in the world are:

  1. Genocide
  2. Torture
  3. Participation Trophies
  4. Christmas Music
  5. Disease
  6. Discrimination
  7. Pop-up Ads
  8. Poverty
  9. Climate Change
  10. People Who are Bad at Parking.

In my humble opinion, number three is the one thing on this list that doesn’t quite belong.

“But Matt!” you say. “By giving all the kids trophies just for showing up, you’re teaching them that they don’t have to actually try in life. They’ll think life is just sunshine, roses and rainbows, and they won’t be prepared for the competitiveness of the real world.”

And I understand that reasoning. I believed it for the majority of my (not that long) life, mostly because that view had been drilled into me by so many adults, so many random people on the internet, so many teachers and relatives and fellow students. You know how many times I’ve been told that young people think they deserve to have everything handed to them? That this whole “Everyone gets a trophy” culture is turning kids into narcissistic, entitled wimps with unrealistic expectations and no real work ethic? Admittedly, not that often.

Still, it’s total bullshit. And it makes me wonder if the people arguing this have actually talked to children before, or remember what it’s like to be a kid. Because all the articles I’ve read on this issue seem to neglect one important factor: kids aren’t stupid.

Okay, kids can be pretty stupid sometimes. When I was five I believed that color didn’t exist until the 1950s, because everything filmed before then was in black and white.

But when it comes to certain things, like competition, they are not. You could tell a group of children that they’re all equal, that they’re all special snowflakes in their own way, but this isn’t a lesson that’s going to stick. Because they inherently know that it’s not true.

I got several participation trophies growing up. Quite a few of them, actually, not that it fooled anyone. I played baseball, soccer, and basketball up until I was around seven or eight. The coaches never really kept score, and there was no championship game or anything to see who the best team was.

But trust me, the kids knew. We knew which kid was always hitting those line drives and which kid couldn’t catch a fly ball if it landed in his glove. We knew which team was the the more obnoxious, douchier version of the Yankees and which team was the even sadder version of the Cubs.* And at the end of the season when we got a participation trophy, we didn’t think we were cool; we were thinking about how the obnoxious Yankee team got the real trophies, and how they were probably going out to get ice cream.

The last participation trophy I ever received was during my last year of Little League, and trust me, I was not proud of it. By that point, every kid my age knew exactly what that meant. My mom bragged about it to my brother as if it was an actual accomplishment, and the results were disastrous. My brother laughed at me the moment he found out, and then he told everyone else about it, who reacted the same way. Every day for weeks afterward, somebody from school would bring that trophy up, in that mocking tone that kids are so good at. “Hey Matt,” they’d say, “Congratulations on the participation trophy!” Then they’d laugh and high-five each other for the sick burn. It didn’t take long for me to get the ironic nickname of Athlete. As in, “Hey, Athlete. Heard you suck at baseball.”

In the end, I threw the trophy in the trash. I quit baseball after that, by the way, and I entered middle school with a very dark, cynical view towards life.

My point is that participation trophies aren’t the phony beacons of false hope we’re giving to children to set them up for future failure. Instead, whether intentionally or not, they’ve become our way of politely telling kids how terrible they are. And they know it.

___________

Edit: I know I’m in the minority on this opinion, so if anyone would like to go into a hardcore debate over this (or even just a softcore debate), feel free to do so in the comments below. It’s more than possible, after all, that my experience with participation trophies is not representative of most people’s experience.

*I wrote this post months before the Cubs won the world series. Don’t judge me.

Seven Summer Lessons I’ve Learned So Far

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. In my defense, when people told me that the summer before college would be nothing but sex and drugs and rock and roll, I assumed they were exaggerating. (First lesson of summer 2016: don’t assume anything.)

Okay, so maybe I myself was exaggerating a bit there, but I have indeed been busy lately. Once school ended I had to attend a string of graduation parties, ceremonies and what-have-yous. Plus now that I’m eighteen and school’s out I’ve been working very long hours. I also started volunteering at a hospital nearby, so that’s cool.

(Lesson #2: Don’t expect much from volunteering at a hospital, at least if you’re still a high school student. My first day they had me cleaning the railings in the hallway and I was told, “feel free to take as long as you want with this, because we have nothing else for you to do.” I still had six hours left on my shift.)

(That being said, I don’t regret volunteering there. The conversations you can listen in on are a writer’s goldmine.)

I also made the mistake of buying Grand Theft Auto V, which is stealing all my time. I know, I know. I should take responsibility instead blaming my problems on a game, but in my defense that game is like heroin. Offensive, lazily misogynist heroin. 

(I am ashamed.)

Then the other day I went to my college orientation, and I’ve been on edge ever since. Part of me can’t wait to pack my bags and start this new experience, and the other part of me is constantly whispering nerve-wracking thoughts into my brain. “What if you flunk out?” “What if you have no friends and everyone hates you?” “What if your roommate is the next Ted Cruz?”, and my only coping mechanism thus far has been to browse through the millions of advice articles for incoming freshman out there. They all say pretty much the same things. Does that stop me from reading them? Nah.

(Lesson #3: The food in my college is really good. Either that, or they keep the quality up during orientation and let it slide during the actual school-year.)

(Lesson #4: Don’t get the pancakes during breakfast at college, because you will be unable to find butter or syrup and will have to eat it plain. I ate a naked pancake, guys. It was awful.)

How else have I been spending this summer? I watched Finding Dory and binge-watched Orange is the New Black, and currently have zero regrets regarding either decision.

(Lesson #5: Just keep swimming.)

Now, you may be wondering just what it was exactly that snapped me out of my laziness enough for me to write this post. Mainly it was an incident with a customer at my job that pissed me off. I was no longer angry about it by the time I got home, but it made me think about all the other stuff I want to blog about. Like my aunt’s crazy, incoherent rants about Obama, or the fact that it’s no longer considered okay to drink out of a hose. Oh, and Matt Walsh. Fuck that guy.

At the end of this long thought process I realized that I’ve neglected my blog for too long, and made a mental note to jump back into things. Y’know, just after I run over some hookers with a stolen police car on GTA V.

(Lesson #6: there’s nothing like a little righteous anger to get you motivated.)

(Lesson #7: playing Grand Theft Auto turns you into a terrible person.)

In Which I Am a Giant, Thundering Ball of Happiness

Okay, so you know how I said I was accepted into the spring semester at Binghamton? And how they almost definitely weren’t going to take me for the fall semester?

(I think you know where this is going.)

Well I just received a phone call from the admissions adviser and you guys won’t believe who’s going to Binghamton this August.

(Me. It’s me.)

I’ve decided to use a bunch of gifs to describe my feelings right now:

cheer hooray happy excited celebration
Source: http://gemini-dragon-gifs.tumblr.com
excited seinfeld happy dance exciting celebrate
Source: Mostlyinnocent.tumblr.com
FOX International Channels reaction dancing happy simpsons
Source: Fox?
celebration will ferrell paul rudd steve carell anchorman
Do I really need to include a source for this?

So, yeah. They took me in for the fall semester, for some strange reason. I mean, did they not see my GPA? I am a good fifteen points below the usual range for admitted students. 

But I ain’t one to argue with a good thing, so I’ll just enjoy this feeling, and hope that they didn’t just confuse me for another Matthew Black, one with better grades and more extra-curricular activities. But as of right now, it all seems legitimate, so let this be a lesson to all the younger and more impressionable students reading this right now: don’t bother trying.

Judging from my experience, all you have to do is put the bare minimum amount of effort into your schoolwork, don’t even bother with any extra-curricular activities, and people will just hand you things on a silver platter. Turns out, life really is all sunshine and lollipops after all.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t true, because my laziness over the past two years have really screwed me over when it comes to scholarships, and while the cost of a SUNY school isn’t nearly as high as most colleges, it’s still pretty high, and it’s gonna be rough having to pay that off.

Also, I can’t imagine that my college courses are gonna be as easy for me to slack off in as my high school classes, but then again, I don’t plan on slacking off this fall. (Because college costs tens of thousands of dollars whereas public high school costs basically nothing.) Then again, I’m afraid I may have lost the studying habits I used to have in eighth grade, back when I thought that dipping below a 90 average would destroy my life. Hopefully I’ll go back to that level, because the fear of flunking out should be enough to motive me for at least a semester or two.

*shrugs*

Oh well, I’m very excited right now, for reasons I will list in bullet form:

  • I’ll be able to quit McDonald’s in August instead of next January! Which is good because I don’t think I could handle an extra five months there. I do plan to work again just for winter vacation, as a lot of employees have done, but hey, absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I should actually enjoy being back at the store for a couple weeks again.
  • I will no longer be the one child left in the house this fall, meaning that I will not be called upon every single time the lawn needs mowing, or the dishes need to be cleaned.
  • Mostly though, I just did not expect this to happen, because when I went on tour the admissions counselor told me that it was very, very unlikely that they’d be taking anyone off the waiting list at all, and I had accepted the fact that I’d have to wait till late January to start off on my own. 

I suppose I should mention, though, that my original plan to go on an official hiatus when I started college in August will be happening after all, which means that I only have three months and twenty-ish days left before I say good-bye to this blog forever.

(Okay, not forever, but for at least a couple weeks.)

So I will do my very best to make that time count, hopefully ending these past three years of blogging on a high note. This may be tough, because with graduation parties, a weirdly high amount of birthdays coming up, and the end of high school coming soon, I’m going to be pretty busy.

Knowing my past history, it doesn’t seem likely that I can succeed in posting as consistently as I did in my glory days, but I’m currently in an optimistic mood (mostly ’cause of the whole college thing) so I think that maybe, just maybe, I might be able to pull this off.

Until next time,

Matthew Palonius Black.

(Yes, my middle name is Palonius. Don’t question me on this.