A New Angle

Of recent, turmoil has completely invaded my life. Among the turbulence is the flux of the high school-college transition. A bee colony of 1,600 students becomes a bee colony of 28, 00 students – this one with more than only one reigning queen bee. My reputation – everything I have worked for the nine years that I have lived in the United States – will evaporate as soon as I step through the gates of the Universitas Virdis Montis’ (UVM’s) main campus. I once had a teacher for AP United States History that emphasized the very early American principle (colonial, even) of hard work. He called it “pulling yourself up from your bootstraps.” That’s what is expected of me next year. For the beginning of the year, at least, I will be disregarded by college professors as just another freshman fly that they will attempt to swat away, as the buzzing in their ears turn into pleads for recognition. As a first year “fly,” I will be expected to undergo the undergraduate metamorphosis driven by the colonial American ideal of “pulling yourself up from your bootstraps”:

  • The Freshman Fly: An overpopulated group of insignificant yet boisterous students buzzing for attention.
  • The Sophomore Ant: A hard-working population of students managing to carry a heavy load on their shoulders while learning to follow the pheromones of the main population.
  • The Junior Bee: The student population which fertilizes the crops of knowledge as they are forced headfirst into the world outside their college colony.
  • The Senior Centipede: Successfully juggling a hundred tasks, this student population is ready to graduate from his undergraduate education. Some centipedes will continue their education in graudate school while others yet will begin their careers with anxiety-provoking interviews.

But what if I suggested an alternate undergrad experience? One that does not repeat the arduous cycles one goes through high-school, college, and undoubtedly beyond. If there’s one chapter of my life I would rather forget, it would be early high school. Though substantially more comfortable than middle school (*shudder*), I spent long nights studying for what  at the moment seemed like the most important classes of my life.

Life is too short to work so hard for fleeting respect, isn’t it? I’m not an expert of philosophical discussions on the meaning of life, but if life is measured in the number of different experiences one has, then repeating my high school experience in UVM would be an errant way to make the most of the undergraduate experience. That’s why I’m proposing a new angle for my priorities as well as this blog: Discovering New England. For the first time in my life in two weeks I will be living on my own. Sure, I’ll have the support of a roommate, but the authoritarian nature of parental presence will evanesce.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Formaldehyde: A Preservative Agent’s new angle: Discovering New England.

 

Felix Torres, Aspiring Travel Aficionado 

“What Have You Done Today?” -An Introvert’s Nightmare

Everywhere I go I’m asked different variations of the same question – “What have you done today?”, “Did you do anything fun over the weekend?”, and “What are your plans for tomorrow?” – as means of making light-hearted conversation. I cannot be the only one who blanks when asked these questions, right?

I’ve struggled with this inconvenience my entire life, quite frankly. I started thinking why exactly that is earlier this summer, in preparation for the summer session of this repeated question – apparently everyone’s favorite time of year to ask the question. Why is it so hard for me to answer a question about my day’s adventures? After all, I’m typically pleased with what I accomplish in a single day. My typical day consists of reading classical fiction, exploring new releases in music in the iTunes store, concocting graphite drawings whenever I get the chance, and occasionally, rescuing a damsel in distress from a fire-spewing Horntail dragon. That is, when I’m not at work (which – not so surprisingly – is one of the few times I leave my dungeon and certainly where I am asked this question with most frequency). The truth is that I’m perfectly content doing all these things in a day. Ever since I can remember, I have taken more pleasure in doing independent self-improvement (or socializing…in small groups) than in populous gatherings, yet I always struggle finding an answer to this question in my finely archived memories.

Bingo! As I was thinking about the infamous “What Have You Done?” question last night, I realized why it’s really so hard for me to answer it.

It isn’t everyday people are impressed when you let them in on the secret that “Today I sat, listened to music, and pondered my next article topic.” To make matters slightly more uncomfortable, some may even give you a look of cynical judgment. Boy, if looks could kill, I would be missing two legs and an ear based on some skeptical looks I’ve received over the years. How could someone be so unamused by something that makes my heart palpitate and jump up from my chair in a thrill analogous to that of when a child hears they have a three-day weekend from school?

That’s when I realized: I’m as amused by what “extroverts” do for fun as I’m amused by watching grass grow. Don’t get me wrong – some of my closest friends are unbelievably extroverted, but that doesn’t mean we have identical interests. Think of your own siblings (or parents, pets, etc. if you’re an only child) – you love them, yet you’re independent from them.

So this is my tidbit of advice to all introverts out there: when someone asks you what you’ve done in the day, breathe in the air of confident comfort and answer – “Thank god I stayed home alone today, it’s about time I deserved a break.” You might be surprised by how many people agree with you – the world has many more “closeted introverts” than you think!

 

-Felix Torres, Introverted High School Graduate

Friendship is Plague

I knew signing up to be the devil’s friend was a bad idea the moment I signed her covenant. Let’s face it – as friendly as I may seem, I am not a “people-person.” Friendships lead to emotional talks and social commitment…basically, the antithesis of my existence. Why would anyone willingly sign themselves up to pretend they enjoy someone’s company and feign interest in communal activities? Societal measures of friendship are just not my cup of tea.

In case you were wondering, I really am not as cynical as the introductory paragraph of this article suggests, but do I have your attention now? Perfect!

However, there is one negative consequence of a tightly knit-friendship…disease. That was not a typo, I sincerely mean the viral-infection-kind-of-disease. In fact, you can count on me to raise awareness on the medical consequences of friendship. (All that is left now is to recruit more volunteers and design a logo for our cause, am I right?) Maybe I’ll even make this idea my doctoral thesis – any thoughts? Trust me, this is not just another one of my unsupported theories on mass plague….No, this is backed by overwhelming scientific observation. Okay, maybe I didn’t enforce the empirical method so strictly, but considering Mr. INTJ (from a Myers-Briggs perspective) is the author of this article, you should take every *word* seriously. You can expect the research below to make appearances in biology textbooks across the world within ten months.

 

Basis of Hypothesis: 

The person I now consider an accomplice of Judas – Matilda Keller (all names are pseudonyms for a reason) arrived at my house after a volley of texts designed to finalize our day’s beach plans;  Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA), the driver, the food-supplier, and most importantly, the Estimated Time of Departure (ETD). While Keller excitedly drove up to my house in her deceivingly shimmering and virtuous Toyota Corolla, I fretted at the convulsive thought of any forgotten items:

  • Wallet, check
  • Phone, check
  • Phone charger, check
  • Towel, check
  • Camera, check
  • Coffee, check
  • Mints, check
  • A strong sense of discomfort, check
  • A strong immune system, check

I didn’t forget a thing. I didn’t even forget to bring along my ability to make small-talk; I deliberately left that behind. Why did I do that? Well, I slept through my pressing alarm, woke up a half-hour before being picked up, and only had a few minutes to take a quick shower. But even the accumulation of those factors don’t compare to the sin of eating an untoasted bagel; it’s blasphemy! I didn’t have time for the few minutes it takes to toast a bagel – one could say it was the Archfiend himself who interfered with my morning routine. The unfortunate morning completely deleted any motivation I had to be a talkative, interesting friend.

I spent my time at the beach listening to music and trying to ignore the infernal coughs coming from Keller. Microbes stealthily crawled up my arm every time the devil’s accomplice coughed and roughly after noon, the sky loomed with dark, stormy clouds. If this was an omen of anything that was to come, my wit wasn’t quick enough to detect it; I thought it had been an unexpectedly successful day. Fast-forward thirty minutes and I’m back in my home, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate – the perfect treat after spending valuable time in frigid water. I spent that night reconsidering my values about friendship – thinking that I had been too quick to judge my inability to act well in social situations. I woke up the next morning in a painful state of soreness of throat and spent my day with disgusting candy-coated menthol ovals known to the general public as “cough drops.” I had been deceived.

 

Conclusion: 

There is a morale to this story – Friendship is Plague.

 

–Felix Torres, Medical Warrior