New Life Update

Summer session ended, fall started. I ended second semester calculus with an A-. I guess I did ok on the final because I failed a bunch of quizzes. Standard stuff, partial derivatives, double integrals, differential equations, infinite series. I got an A in my CC class, of course. I didn’t do any work, really. For the presentations, I just recited poems I’d already memorized and turned in a paper from high school. So combine that with my successful PCAT, my getting the needed letters of rec, and getting all the transcripts sorted out, my summer went pretty well.

Went back home for a week. I beat HL2 E1 again. Got some achievements tacked onto it. Beat MtG: Duels of the Planeswalkers. Beat Supreme Commander 2. It’s not so good. Played Alien Swarm, which was meh. Played some Guild Wars. Instead of starting a character in the Nightfall campaign (the early portion of which is INCREDIBLY boring) I just ported my main character — the one who beat prophecies and EOTN — to the Nightfall campaign, and later to Factions I guess if I’m still playing at that point. That was that week of my life.

My new roommates moved in. Archibald moved out, he’s going abroad for a semester. So I’m still living with Waffles. The two Asian people I had over the summer who I didn’t nickname are gone. Just as well. The girl was okay, but the guy was boring. We have new people. One of them is Waffle’s friend, she’s pretty cool, has a reasonable sense of humor. Really spontaneous and fun. Codename Passionfruit. The other is a recent graduate of another nearby top-tier school, and she’s here for graduate studies. She is more serious, the kind of person who travels for fun and is defined by her planned experiences. We got her off of Craigslist. I’m pretty sure she’s engaged. She’s rather cute, but she brought over her boyfriend who looks like a pale tree. He’s arrogant and boring. She is too, but to a lesser extent. Passionfruit’s boyfriend thought so too, and he attends their alma mater, so it’s not a school rivalry thing. Codename Nutella. I really try to accept my roommates for the people who they are, so I won’t discount the possibility that we’ll be friends. The smart money isn’t there, though.

Fall came by. New classes, old faces. Social skills are a bit better.

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The last word about the Irish

Recently my life has been rather Irish-heavy. They’ve lived two doors down for a few months now. My roommate talked to them briefly once in a while, but I didn’t really know them. One particularly boisterous one was more outgoing and made friends with my roommate. He was drunk every time I met him, and therefore a fun chap. He came over once or twice, and then I got to know the Irish after my roommate and I attended a large party on the apartment building’s roof hosted by the Irish.

The Irish are around 3 guys and 4 girls who live in a 2-bedroom apartment. Apparently in Ireland it’s really easy to get a visa to the US, so they all come here for the summer for laughs. And it’s a lot of them, not just a few of them. A sufficient number that a good chunk of their social group can come over with little difficulty. They only frequent a few spots in the US, the major cities held as the brightest gems in the crown of Americana – San Francisco and Huntington Beach on the west coast, New York City, Chicago, and Boston further east. Choice is mostly arbitrary, and they take road trips and plane flights from one place to another, so they’ll have visited most of these places before they return to Ireland.

I can’t help but feel that the European geography lends to self-reliance. It’s all sufficiently close together that plane tickets are peanuts, so even university students can be well-travelled. With such a wide diversity of travel available, you’d have to be a member of the BNP to hunker down in your own country. And going to other countries relying on youth hostels and your own personal moxie builds character. Comparatively, the US is much larger and doesn’t have the same concentration of hostels, making travelling for students a financial burden.

The party. The Irish invited a bunch of their friends over – other Irish they knew back home, all from County Cork. I’ve documented it all in another medium, but this party was how I became familiar with the rest of the Irish crew.

The guys included the boisterous one, the quiet one, and the one who looked like a parakeet. I didn’t get to know them very well, because they returned early to Ireland. The four girls featured the scary one, the quiet one, the one who could do a really awesome valley girl accent, and the one who looked extremely Irish. A bit later, another crew of Irish people moved in to replace the guys who left. They came from San Francisco and hastily departed their local habitation because some of that crew had left and the remainder couldn’t pay the rent. Their deposit was forfeit anyway, since they apparently subjected their apartment to all sorts of horror while drunk (like throwing trash everywhere, carving their names into a door, breaking household appliances).

Anyway, my roommate likes to be nice, so he made them quiche (pretty bad quiche where the filling separated and cooked into layers, it was more like an egg mcmuffin). Then they made Irish stew (a bit bland, but its faults were easily correctable. Then we made risotto, and they made… something pretty generic. Beef, chicken, and bell pepper roasted together. Anyway, we were going out night after night. My roommate had spent every night of the past month drunk. We were both taking classes, but a getting B+ in calculus is an acceptable tradeoff for meeting interesting people. I have low expectations when it comes to math (is this the last math I have to take? Yay!)

What’s amazing is that they’re actually interesting people! It might just be the cultural exchange, but I’m not sure that’s it. It’s like they’re all cultured. I know it could be an in-group/out-group thing. That’s certainly a portion of it. Maybe part of the dynamic is that I am relatively cultured and I’m able to talk about cultural stuff of most cultures in the world which is always interesting but the same exchange isn’t readily available with people who’ve had the same general cultural experiences as yourself.

So, we went out. We went out to bars. Over here, the dorms are mostly on the south side of campus, and the really crappy bars are there as well. The kind of bars where the floors are sticky, and the lower half of the IQ curve attend nightly to be sardine-packed into a dimly lit urban cavern, jostling among girls who clearly can’t pull off what they’re wearing and guys who eat pudding as a hobby. In these places, it takes all of my energy just to stand in one place, let alone partake in any kind of activity. I’m uncomfortable when I’m out of place.

My last night, we went to a bar that I hadn’t been to on the south side. It was complete garbage, and I had the horrors. “Having a laugh” means that you’re having a good time and “having the horrors” means that you’re having a bad time, with some ineffable nuance. So I walked around campus by myself.

In the end I think the real measure value isn’t cultural, although that might give bonus points to the affair. For every Irish person I met who I genuinely liked, I was lukewarm about two or three.

There are guns in the world, and there is butter in the world.

… but are we the guns, or are we the butter? The dilemma doesn’t have to make sense to make my point, although usually I ask it of wolves and rabbits when I’m not writing exclusively for myself. In short, some people go to nightclubs and some people look at pictures of birds in hats.

http://birdsinhats.blogspot.com/

For a long time, I’ve been worried about philosophical authenticity. Am I really introverted? That is, lacking decisive outside pressures, will I socialize or will I keep to myself? I no longer think that this question has a clear answer. I am introverted in some situations and extroverted in others. It depends on how comfortable I feel — drastically dependent on the situation, even small vagaries of detail. Also, I no longer feel that the quality of my person is at all a reflection of how many friends I have. This insight brought to you by my Irish neighbors.

Who the CC people were

I thought I’d just write about who the people in my community college class that I took on accident were.

I had a big gay dude. He looked part latino, but he said that he was black. Must have been what once would have been called a quadroon (octaroon, etc). I guessed that he was 24, but he said that he was much older. He was really concerned with minutiae, like which students precisely were presenting that day and figuring out who was absent. I thought he was autistic or something. He didn’t have TV or the internet, and apparently just listened to the radio at home and read romance novels. He seemed to have bounced around from community college to community college, never really scraping enough units (and never transferring his old ones so that he’d qualify for financial aid). He was really weird.

Two black girls. One had a stylized African-type name (that sounded like someone who had no idea of Africa chose the name). She’d gone to schools in a rough part of town and seemed to have a lot of resentment. The other was fat and commuted two hours to get to class. They always brought food to class.

A black guy. He had a day job and would show up late or skip half the time. He was really religious. He’d never be up in your face about it, but when the subject came up, he’d espouse the typical rhetoric that everyone has to believe in something. Other than that, he was cool, I guess.

Those were the only people I knew well. We had plenty of Viets who spoke with thick accents. Plenty of urban youth as well.

One interesting character was really religious, and he admitted that he made prophesies in his spare time. He prophesied that his friend would be arrested or something. Although the odds were with him because he was an urban youth.

Um… we had one cute girl. She was Chicano (probably). Didn’t seem particularly academic, but she didn’t seem too urban either, which is refreshing.

The instructor was a former pro-baseball player. He had a scholarship, and studied communication in college because he was an athlete. Nice that he could do something with it after he got it.

Two Events

Two things happened today. I got my PCAT scores back. I’m in the 99th percentile. I was relieved, but I wasn’t really happy. I just thought of all of the hurdles I have yet to leap instead of being happy for having leaped this one. I thought of all the interviews and all the logistics of applying that I’d have to suffer through. Good news just made me sad.

My roommate downloaded Starcraft 2. He then went out drinking. I played the campaign for seven hours. During that seven hours, I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t happy, but at least I wasn’t sad.

That’s why I play video games.

(sidenote: SC2 is awesome.)