Why I Didn’t Post Last Week

I keep getting in trouble with my English teachers for being too mean. This has been going on for a while.

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There’s something very uncollegy about the check-plus, check, check-minus system. Like they’re afraid to tell us if something is good or bad.

Like we’re children.

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In my early-level courses, I was grateful for the sugarcoating. Writing is a vulnerable act, and early on encouragement is probably more important than honesty.

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After a while, I began to distrust this plastic layer of niceness.

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Now it’s reached the point where I completely distrust anything positive about my work.

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The problem with English majors is that they’re goddman sensitive. Everyone’s got some common problem with a simple solution, but instead of trying to solve the problem they expect the universe to change around them.

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I wrote all this last week. If it reads as a condemnation of people feeling bad for themselves then good – I fooled you. I also fooled myself. That’s what I was really trying to do.

But you can’t run away forever, and it looks like things have finally caught up to me.

Oftentimes when I make fun of things, it’s because I’m trying to expel something I see in myself. That’s what I was trying to do with the first half of this post, but I just couldn’t finish it.

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I’ve been posting every Thursday for a while now, but I missed last week because I was staring at my computer, wondering what was standing in my way.

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I like to think of myself as the type of person who is in control of their emotions, but that’s only because I know I’m not. My outside behavior is a product of carefully maintained self-manipulation.

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I don’t think this is unusual, and everyone does it to some degree, but for me it’s a constant process. When I see people acting in complete disregard of their own insignificance it enrages me.

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I’m going to try to be more empathetic.

meo

~Fin

Why I’m Afraid of Haircuts

My hair grows very fast. I know this because, in my family’s lean and early years, my constant haircuts were a source of contention.

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As the member of our little family that contributed least to our financial security, I felt it my responsibility to keep the monetary burden of haircuts as minimal as possible.

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I kept my haircuts down to one or two a year. As a result, this cycle of growth and removal became unintentionally ritualized – a trend that continued long past the age when it is appropriate for parents to pay for personal grooming.

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I did not realize to what extent this cycle had on me until several days ago when I decided to cut my hair before the new semester and found I was deathly afraid.

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There’s a barbershop I pass every time I walk to the grocery store. It’s just some guy’s house with a sign and phone number outside.

This house used to just tell me I was one block away from packaged food. Now every time I passed it,  the house was like a guilt-machine reminding me of my crippling personality flaws.

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I bought more and more groceries to force myself to keep passing the house, until finally I had mustered up enough courage to schedule an appointment.

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Three sunsets later, I returned to the house/barbershop.

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The Barber washed my hair and then cut it.

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I had 25 dollars in my wallet. He charged 20 dollars, so I gave him a 5 dollar tip.  He said if I ever needed a quick trim it was free.

When I looked in the mirror, I was amazed by how symmetrical the haircut was. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that haircut was actually asymmetrical, but in a manner inverse to the way my face is asymmetrical, making the face as a whole therefore symmetrical.

Most haircuts I’ve had try to be perfectly even, but the human face isn’t perfectly even.

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I guess if you decide to cut hair in your basement, you probably know what you’re doing.

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Here’s to new beginnings.

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~Fin

Personal Failure, Part II

(Click the picture below to read the first part. It’s not a requirement. You are free to make your own choices.)

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Now that everyone has completed the first part of my tragedy, I feel confident in giving you the conclusion. Here it goes:

I took financial mathematics because I needed a math credit and I thought the practical application of finances would lend to a practical learning environment.

I was incorrect.

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I turned in assignment after assignment with answers correct down to the decimal point, but would constantly receive zeroes on assignments for doing it the incorrect way (the way the book does it). Eight out of ten answers on the first test were correct. By my math this is an 80 percent. By his math it was a 10 percent.

After the first test was graded, about half the students dropped the class. This moment would have been perfect for me to leave this professor and his ego in the math department where it belonged. No one would blame me if I left.

Instead I took it as a challenge.

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Academia had usually provided little challenge for me, and in the rare instances where I was challenged, a few dedicated study sessions pulled me out of even the most dire of situations. Hell, senior year of high school I had less than half attendance and still managed to pass all my classes. I think technically I shouldn’t have been allowed to receive credit due to my absences, but they let it slide on account of my consistently high grades (and I think it would have required paperwork they didn’t want to do.) I would have even received honors if I attended the mandatory meetings (I didn’t, and they kicked me out.) Before I took financial mathematics, I had never failed a test.

Now I’ve failed four.

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By last month, I was mathematically failing this class. By this I mean that even if I were to magically receive perfect scores on every subsequent assignment and test, I would still not have enough points to pass the class. The amount of people attending the class on any given day had dropped from the initial fifty or so to about eight.

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So why did I continue to stick around even when, mathematically, I had no way of succeeding?

I’ll tell you:

It’s called a grading curve.

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Yes, in order not to feel like terrible teachers, sometimes educators will employ this magical device to curve the grades. F’s become C’s, B’s become A’s, and A’s stay the same because fuck you if you’re getting an A when everyone else is failing.

You see kids, if everyone is failing, than failing is the average, and an average is a C, not an F, you silly, silly children.

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I chatted up the few remaining students, and most of them seemed to be failing or at least close to failing. A beautiful grading curve was inevitable.

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Now, I’d like to tell you that even though I wasn’t the strongest or smartest, even though all the odds were stacked against me, I stuck it out. And because I stuck it out, working hard, studying into the wee hours of the night, turning in failed assignment after failed assignment, my god-damned determination paid off in the end.

I’d like to tell you that.

But I can’t.

Because it didn’t.

I fucking failed and I just have to live with that.

And so do you.

Failure

~Fin

Silent Knowledge Accumulation

For a good chunk of my childhood, I did not speak. This was the height of my popularity.

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Because, at this time, my parents were hippie liberal bohemians, they decided it would be best if I got my education in home environment where I would be free to till the garden-heart of my inner creativity. They purchased a book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and some puppets and some building blocks and I went on to receive the greatest early childhood education anyone could ever receive.

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After just 100 lessons, (which were as difficult as advertised), I became literate. I mostly used my newfound power to figure out which cereals were most delicious.

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I was an excellent reader, and probably had far superior vocabulary and much clearer syntax than any of my peers, but for some reason I never felt the urge to express these skills through verbal communication. Even when I spoke to my mom it was in a whisper.

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Any free time not spent reading was spent staring at walls, trying to help my dolls process the accumulated knowledge into the key to unlocking the doors of perception.

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I continued this trend of silent knowledge accumulation until about fifth grade, when I began to grow tired of never getting my way, but was still unable to speak.

So instead of talking, I began to develop “anger issues.” I would break things and throw things and cry. This quickly ended my reign of popularity.

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My once endearing silence had become terrifying. My parents had no choice but to readjust their strategy.

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~Fin

Sad Times For No Reason

Sometimes I think that human depression is caused from an unfortunate mixture of empathy and imagination. Empathy opens you up to dark feelings that aren’t even yours, and imagination makes these feelings real and able to hurt you.

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Just to keep yourself safe, you start to close off any vulnerabilities you see in yourself. You patch them up so the feelings that follow you can’t wriggle their way in and burrow inside you.

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You feel proud of yourself for cleverly blocking off the hole in your chest. You don’t even mind the emptiness. The emptiness is safe. You care store all sorts of things in the emptiness. Usually some cash-money.

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Everything seems to be going okay for a while. You’re lying to yourself, and you know you’re lying to yourself, but you don’t think it matters because everyone lies to themselves.

Material things do a good enough job filling the hole. You’d use something better if you had some idea of what that was, but you don’t. Maybe Jesus could fill the hole for you, but you don’t really trust him after two-thousand years of child crusades and inquisitions. Besides, you’ve visited too many museums to believe the earth is 6000 years old. So instead you just wait…

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When I get like this it’s you don’t ever want to leave your bed. You know when they’re this close it’s only a matter of time, so you kind of hide to delay the inevitable. The only way you can manage any interaction is to become a quiet lonely starchild who loves with the cold distance of a terrible ice demon or human father.

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You let it in the hole is filled. You feel a little less empty, but you can’t help but feel calloused, uncaring. You’re content with yourself but you don’t want anyone to see you. And you let it consume you, fearful of what may someday emerge from the void-egg around you.

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~Fin