Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Senior Column Writing

I'm sick, sore throat, and should definitely be asleep by now. I have detention in a mere 5 and a half hours for ditching a period on ditch day. It's ok though. I'm actually looking forward to detention because it's themed and we'll be in underwater gear.

I'm struggling right now with my senior column. I think I'm going to title it "On Failure and Expectations." So naturally it begins with descriptions of all my failures at Harvard-Westlake. But I'm not sure where I want to go with it from there. I really only see two possible paths. There's one, less appealing at the moment, which goes "I failed, but it's ok because I'm happy anyways, in spite of, or because of my failings." The other, at the moment more appealing, goes "I failed, but it's ok because I graduate having learned this important life changing lesson."

But of course despite gravitating to the latter option, I really have no idea what lesson I learned. And part of me tells me I should probably have known that before even beginning to write. I wish I could write a rambling, stream of conciousness blog post-esque column. All I got right now is the description of my failings and the quick interlude that leads me into my sermonizing on the lesson. But ack! What lesson?

This column is pretty important. It's my last one, hence senior column. Instead of going in the normal opinion section of the paper, (the Chronicle by the way, found at the senior columns go in the special senior section of the paper, along with the matriculation list and a fun cartoony recap of the past six years. And the columns are due to Ms. Neumeyer, the Chronicle's adviser, 4th period tomorrow. I just feel like it'd be good to finally turn something in on-time for the paper and for school. I've definitely missed more deadlines than I've made for the paper. It would just be a great way to go out to avoid that stress and finish the column on-time.

Why'd I pick failure to write on? Great question! It's not nearly as self-pitying or deprecating or something else bad as it might sound. It actually feels in a strange way, liberating, to be able to go out and admit everything that I did not do. Get to air out my conscience. Clean the skeletons out of the closet in a way. I think the topic first occured to me in conversations with my parents. I had a similar revelation as I have in my column about how I didn't achieve nearly as much as I set out to do, and they tried to comfort me and do everything nice, kind parents would do when it sounds like their kid could be down on himself. But I really wasn't down on myself. To that end there's a couple lines in the column, "By all accounts, I failed at Harvard-Westlake. Or at least I didn’t meet my expectations, which if you’re keeping score at home just so happens to be the same as failing."

What I mean by that is I'm not sad, mad or down on myself. I'm just acknowledging the truth, my truth, my reality. This is what I think I'll see when I look back at my high school experience later in life. Or at least, this is what I see now. I was a tremendous success in elementary school at Valley Beth Shalom. And I planned to continue in that path at Harvard-Westlake. But I didn't. So now I'd like to acknowledge that and admit that that's an ok way to be because I learned.... I learned that you learn more from failure than success? No doesn't ring right. Although that's probably true. Failure leads to more introspection than success. Success leads to celebration, glory and victory. Not really the same as introspection.

But still that's not what I learned because I don't think I ever really applied myself wholly and completely to any of my failings. Or to most of them. Had I and still failed, I think I would've had a lot to learn and probably learned it. But I knew I wasn't applying myself, which just allowed me to shrug off every failure, no matter how painful, and just tell myself that next time I would apply myself and succeed beyond my wildest imagination. So why waste time and take stock of yourself after this failure? Success is around the next corner. Optimism. Only skin deep.

Back to Microsoft Word in hopes of some stunning realization hitting me, before I hit the green bean bag to my right. (That's hit in terms of 'hitting the sack' and not angry frustration, although there will be a little bit of both tonight).

D. A. Alpert

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Prom, College Decisions and more Gap Year news

So last night was Prom. Lots of fun. One of the more interesting parts of my night was seeing a friend who I hadn't spoken to or seen in months. And it was really cool because, aside from some good-natured ribbing and guilt tripping about being bad at keeping in touch, we didn't miss a beat and our friendship felt just as strong as before. It's just comforting I guess to know that there's people who you can go a long time without talking to or seeing, and can still keep up the same rapport.

...Emory was really quite nice, despite the rain. And I really felt that I could be at home there rather quickly, which might be part of the reason I'm still headed to William&Mary. Not that it's so different, but I like the fact that WM will put me a little more out of my comfort zone (as any college will). I also had this silly notion in my head that wouldn't give that no matter how fun Emory seemed, and that's the first word that comes to mind, something at WM will spur me out of my underachieving ways. That might not be a healthy way to look at it, putting all that pressure on the school when it's really me who has to start working and time-managing, but I just feel like it's some combination of me and me at the school that will really click.

...I signed up for the South Africa program with CCS from 11/22 to 12/27 this past week and I'm really excited. Cape Town should be really great especially since CCS' Home-Base (where they station the volunteers) is near the University of Cape Town. CCS' volunteers can range from their teens to their seventies, so it'll be good to have people my age for a month near-by.

That's all for now. I need to go watch 'No Country for Old Men' to compare it to the book for my final paper in high school (for Cinema Studies II).


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Off to Atlanta

Well I'm leaving in about an hour to go see Emory. I got in off the waitlist on Tuesday, only 4 days after I picked William & Mary in Virginia to finally end the process, or so I thought. It'll be rainy and muggy while I'm there and graduation just happened so the campus will be dead, but I'm still excited to see it. Either way, both schools are ok with the gap year. I actually got my deferrment letter from WM last week and Emory's admissions office said they would be ok with it too, so I'm still on!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Where does the blog's name come from?

The name of this blog, and to a large extent, the theme of the gap year comes from the same idea; never say no. (Unfortunately, that name was taken, so I went with never ever say no). Credit for the idea and phrase has to go to Tim Allan.

The idea is self-explanatory to a degree but it deserves some commenting. Jaime (DyBuncio, who will be joining me on the gap year) and I really believe that we'll get a lot more out of life and we will be able to fully enhance our year and the experiences during it by being more open-minded. This extends past simple experiences, events and invitations. Even more than any of that it really applies to ideas, cultures and different ways of life. In order to really broaden my horizons, the goal for this gap year, and the rest of my life, is to say yes as often as I can, without putting life or limb in too much jeopardy, in order to learn about this world and move past my limited life experience.

I will be blogging all summer long in order to get a hang of this and get in the habit of doing it as often as I can, so do check back here often. And finally, just so we're all on the same page, here's the itinerary for these next 12 months:

June-Aug '08: Reprise my internship at the Lt. Governor's office (Downtown L.A.)
Work on John Perez's State Assembly campaign

Mid- to late-Aug: One week at Camp Harmony (Malibu)

Sept 28- Nov 16: Volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions (Yaroslavl, Russia)

Nov 22- late-Dec: Volunteer with CCS (Cape Town, South Africa)

Late-Dec to mid-Jan '09: Break at home (Los Angeles)

Mid-Jan to mid-March: Organic farming and travel on the cheap (Australia and New Zealand)

Mid-March to May: Volunteer with CCS (Xi'an, China)

May: Organic farming and travel on the cheap (Spain)

Just as an added teaser, here's a link to an album in a Facebook group with pictures from Russia. Only 4 months and 17 days!