how I learned… I was basically addicted to the Internet

Rocket Science was started as a time capsule for future introspection. During those first 365 days I wasn’t really writing to remember, I was writing to find a point.

How I Learned is “a monthly series of writers, storytellers, comedians, bloggers and performers” sharing stories of wisdom found and gained.

It happens every fourth Wednesday in Brooklyn, and although the website doesn’t post transcripts, they share pictures from each reading and they always share the topic beforehand.

Some of my favorite prompts include: How I learned … I was basically in love with you, there might be some issues (stories about therapy), to inhale (stories about drugs), to live on the road (stories of travel), and my favorite: what everyone else already knew.

Even though I have yet to write one of these narratives, they inspire me to spend time reflecting on my own stories and stories that I’ve been told.

How I Learned serves as an extension of my own introspection and I can pretty much guarantee that one of these days, I will write a post about something I have learned. Not that I don’t already do that…

I can’t help but be addicted to anything that throws a little wisdom my way.

All images by Jon Boulier and gleefully stolen from How I Learned. GO THERE NOW!

don’t know much about history, pt 1

Passing a class is not the same as learning from a class.

Whoa, right?  Duh.  We all know that.

The first semester of my freshman year I took an English course titled “Fun With Ancient Rhetoric!”–the exclamation point was included.

We talked about Cicero, Marc Antony’s famous Hearts speech, Plato and other shit that was the antithesis of fun.  There was a lot of crying, wailing and gnashing of the teeth that semester.  By the hand of God and a well-timed study group, I ended up wading through that material and ending the class with an A.  Talent, I thought, but in reality the professor was old and basically gave everyone an “A for Effort.”

I didn’t realize that though.  I thought I was brilliant, unconquerable, bestriding the narrow world like a Colossus.  My western civilization course taught me that I was wrong.

I didn’t get the old writing, didn’t totally understand its importance.  Yes, I had been impressed by the fact that these ancient rhetoricians gained respect and high positions in government based purely on their persuasive speech.  It could have been a wink and a gun or a disarming smile and Cary Grant good looks.  It could have been anything, it just had to work.

If you were a sensationalist, you got the results (ie: KILL CAESAR); if you were rational, you got it all (ie: YAY MARC ANTONY, yadda yadda yadda–we’re easily convinced in times of crisis).

The point is, what is it that you are hearing and seeing, and what reactions does it incite in you?  Why?

Once again, it’s the whole “This is water – liberal arts educations aren’t teaching what to think but how to think in a more considerate way”- Be awake, be aware- thing.

And I have to be honest, I understand the point but sometimes I don’t have the time.  Actually, throughout the school year I rarely had the time to do more than skim through the assigned texts.

My summer reading is devoted to making the time and working to understand it all.  Starting with World War II, the “tragedy of reason.”

What is the point of scientific development if it can only teach destruction?

What is the point of logic if it can help someone justify mass extermination?

Starting with John Keegan’s The Battle For History, progressing to Mein Kampf, ending with Profiles in Courage because I’ve got time and I have to actually earn that A, even if it is in retrospect.

DAY 365. frick, frack, fruck!

In Rocket Science, when Hal Hefner meets up with Ben Wekselbaum, the boy he thinks is going to change his life, Ben turns to Hal and says:

The fights you fight today are the fights you fight for the rest of your life

On January 25th, the day before 365, I resolved to do plenty of things.  The original list, in all its single-spaced glory is here: YO.

On that list, I am most proud of the fact that I kept an open mind and interacted with people who I never thought I would.

I was reading Jay Z’s interview with Interview Magazine and while he spends the majority of the interview commenting on his specific industry I found his lessons learned to be universal.  When you get to a position that you’ve worked for it’s easy to put your life on auto-pilot and stay within the confines of whatever box you’ve created because that’s what works.

I wrote in that first post that I don’t typically make resolutions outside of the whole “To be content” box, because that’s easy.

I feel that the majority of my life is all about maintaining whatever state I’m currently in. Maintain my grades, maintain my health, maintain my sanity, consciousness, drug habit, etc. And I think it’s time for me to finally seek to go past just maintaining.  Besides, to maintain your position is to remain stagnant.  There is no way to ever grow as a person, if you’re not allowing yourself to move past a certain point.

A year ago I wrote that and I still feel that way now.  I still feel that I can push a little harder, that sometimes I rest a little bit longer than I need to; that I get afraid about what I want to do and so I don’t do anything, as if that’s a viable alternative.  But, I know that is always going to be an alternative and it’s up to me to challenge myself.

It’s a fight that I will have to fight within every aspect of my life and I like being aware of that.  It’s fun to see how hard you can push yourself, to look back and see that  you conquered something that seemed impossible.

I can’t give myself the true 365 days because some days I just wasn’t in the mood, but my WordPress Dashboard tells me that overall I wrote 364 posts, which is good enough for me.

Thank you for reading!

I can’t wait to not have to add the stupid numbers at the beginning of every post.

day 320. the final(s) countdown.

I will not write about that crazy dream I had last night, wherein I broke a bobble-head and was ostracized because of this.  It was a bobble-head of a woman named Dawn, who had short brown hair.  Like the last dream, I’m pretty sure that means something significant.

If I looked back in the files, I could probably find a couple of posts from midterms when I was FREAKIN’ OUT because I had no time and the world was caving in on me and studying was causing sensory overload and then everything turned blue and I was sure I was colorblind, then I calmed down, realized I was taking waaaaay too much cocaine and checked myself into rehab (jokes).

Wait, what just happened here?

Point: finals week is not a “sink or swim” type of week.  If you’ve paid attention in your classes, showed up for a majority of them, and generally understand the point of those classes, you’re going to do well–or, at the very least, you’re going to do as well as you have been doing.

Last semester my toughest class was my stupid Biology class.  I worked my ass off the entire semester studying for those exams, and I did pretty well, in general.  The Biology final was on Friday in the late afternoon.  I was completely exhausted from an entire week of finals–I had one every day that week.  I studied/memorized some facts about Biology, went into the test, filled out the test in less than ten minutes and left because I was EXHAUSTED, remember?  I got my grade back for the class and I got a B overall, but I definitely got a D on the final.  I’m not sure what lesson I learned with that one, but I was pretty excited about that B.

I hate science and math classes, and I’m very lucky I didn’t have to take any this semester.  I’m okay with my finals load this semester, because I’m not just filling in bubbles; I’m writing and explaining what I learned and it’s significance.  Yeah, my hand is going to get pretty tired and I’ll probably have carpal tunnel by Thursday, but at least I actually give a shit this time around.

day 241. let’s be hurricanes.

…if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.

Google classifies the book as “juvenile” fiction; I think the only thing that makes this suitable for “young adults” (ugh, what a stupid, stupid phrase) is the fact that the main characters are in high school. Pudge, Alaska and the Colonel are a perfect representation of everything (else) I wish I had experienced in high school. They pull ridiculous pranks, are blatant about their hate for authority and the “Weekend Warriors”–the good kids in school, they drink and smoke and stay up too late, and really, truly embrace the fact that it doesn’t all have to mean nothing.

Why do so many people believe the opposite? “In a few years, this won’t even matter” is a phrase used by too many people.

Why? Or, how? How could any experience that you learn from mean nothing? I get that in a few years it won’t matter that I cycled through my entire wardrobe–pajamas and all–in an effort to avoid doing laundry for as long as possible until I could bring it all back home; I get that in a few years, actually, in a few months when the semester is over, what grade I got on my Psych test won’t matter. I get it.

But I refuse to miss the importance of every day happenings, because they mean something now. And where else are we but in the present?

It’s not all going to be life-changing, but it’s there. Beverly Ann Donofrio, author of Riding in Cars With Boys said that all life is “is four, or five, days that change everything.” I know I’ve quoted her here before, because it’s just something that stuck with me–and I read that book around six years ago, so imagine if I decided that anything that I have ever appreciated pre-college was a total waste of time and completely irrelevant. I’d have a lot less material to work with.

And, I take it back–in the future I will be so much more appreciative of having my own washer and dryer because I’ll remember all those times when I purposely avoided laundry and looked awful for no other reason than I like to hoard my quarters.

The book is John Green’s Looking For Alaska.

Let’s be hurricanes, and make it count. Ignore the “teenagers” reference, because I think John’s talking to everyone.

Those awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.

This quote makes me want to read Paper Towns:

The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never be struck by lightning, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us. I could have seen it rain frogs. I could stepped foot on Mars. I could have been eaten by a whale. I could have married the queen of England or survived months at sea. But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.