Houston was really fun. I haven’t wrote the post about it because I’ve just been entirely too lazy, but it is definitely worth remembering. That’s kind of ironic, of course, since I really can’t remember some of the most exciting parts. Thankfully for me, seeing Emily always means one thing: photos will be taken. I haven’t appeared in any photos on Facebook in a long time, so it was nice to change it. You can see my ridiculously long hair (that I’m shaving off tomorrow). Unfortunately for you, I’ve untagged myself in a million photos where I look like a walking corpse. Houston can hit a person hard!
I’d definitely say the highlight of visiting Houston was the club experience. You can’t get that in Midland, and you can’t even find that kind of club in Austin either (though I still love 4th street when I want to be classy). It was a lot of fun to meet Emily’s friends as well — they’re a good bunch. They definitely reflect Emily’s party spirit. I think I impressed them with just how much I can handle and still remain alive; I’m definitely the classiest one of Emily’s friends for sure.
But, mainly, I feel like what I missed the most is just being in college. It was such a fun time to party and hang out. (Yes, Trinity was lame and most of the people were massive OATs [“Only At Trinity” can you find people this strange], but the people I did make friends with turned out to be entirely awesome.) I think Emily and I had a pretty good dynamic — how many times have we partied together over the years? More than I can possibly recall, I’m sure. It was great to have a group of regular people (at the time, usually Ariel, Rob, Austin, Emily, D, and myself) that would come to my apartment, watch stupid movies, and get entirely too drunk. Now it kind of feels weird when I have more than one beer. Strange times, strange times indeed.
I digress here though, so back to the story. Houston is a pretty nice city to hang out in. The food there is undeniably awesome and we got to eat a variety of places I enjoyed a lot. Sushi, fried seafood, and steak — what a good three day streak of meals! And, Emily cooked for me so I even got the home cooked experience. Because she’s a terrorist sleeper cell from Saudi, she’s not, apparently, familiar with American things. She asked me if I had ever had chicken and dumplings. I thought that is the backbone of America? Jeez, I’m sure the next ingredient you’ll be using is fissionable nuclear material to take down freedom and democracy. Your move, traitor.
There were other things that happened, like movies, court cases, and rock wall climbing (which I completely failed at) but the point is that I had a great time. It’s less that Houston is a good city and more that Emily is a great friend.
And she’ll be a rich lawyer one day so I have to flatter her as much as I can to get invites to VIP yacht parties…
Sorry for the super long title and what I’m sure will be a super long post. Basically, I was thinking about what I learned in college and I just kept thinking about the song “I Love College” by Asher Roth — a lot of partying and social things, but not a lot of actual, tangible facts that I can pull from my head. I think my philosophy minor taught me that I don’t actually know anything, meaning college was essentially the experience of learning that I know nothing (read my last essay listed on this page). Sorry, that’s an aside.
The real point of this post is something that I learned how to do really well in college: churn out an essay. Notice that I’m not saying write an essay. This is more out of grinding process where words just manifest in nonsensical and only vaguely related ways for ten pages. The following, in a simple 7 step form, is what professors don’t want you to know, what they don’t want you to write, and what will make you graduate with a 3.5 GPA without spending almost any time writing stupid papers for classes you have little to no interest in. Yes, these papers will suck. Yes, if you do this you lack scholastic integrity. Yes, you can get back to partying with your friends.
Read your essay guidelines that usually suggest topics for you to write. I’m going to choose an actual topic from my senior year, but this method works for any subject or discipline as you will soon see. “Analyze a thematic style from a classic film director studied in this course.” Boom. Okay, find something easy that people will have obviously wrote about in the past. So, I chose “suspense in Alfred Hitchcock movies”. I know, this is an easy example — sometimes essays are harder in those upper level philosophy courses and with those you have to get much more creative in part two…
Immediately get online with your school’s library and choose a database listing. I think my favorite is Academic Search Complete because it’s got something like 50 databases in one. Make sure to check all of the databases so you search everything. So first, enter in “Suspense” and then “Alfred Hitchcock”. You might also find out what movies he has directed and then use “Suspense” and “Movie Name” to find those too, if you’re looking for particular films. Make sure to check “Full text available” on your search”
Click search, and then open about 20 sources and read their little descriptions. If they sound relevant, download the PDF files to a folder so you can get to them easily again. (I also like to check that the PDF articles are searchable when I preview them: who the hell wants to actually read these things to find content? You can search for suspense or whatever and find quotes faster.) You’ll also, at this point, want to make sure you have a RefWorks account (just Google it, but it’s usually provided through your school). This site takes those articles you’re searching and compiles your Works Cited page. Because who the hell wants to try to figure out MLA, APA, ASA or whatever formats? I didn’t, so I just let this site do it for me. You’ll see an “export to Refworks” icon on almost all databases, or something similar. You’re in college, figure it out.
So now, gather the top 10 or however many sources you need, open then, read them if you have to, or just search the PDFs (control + f) for things you need. I take five or six quotes from each article about my topic and past them in a Word document. Make sure to write down page numbers so you can cite them in your paper without having to look at the articles again.
Now you want to make a framework for your paper based on your quotes. Look at what they have in common or don’t have in common. Use this to establish three broad topics, and for each topic, three subtopics. This will give you enough BS to write about to go for several pages. So, for example, three topics in this case can be individual movies, and the subtopics can be how suspense is used in each of the movies (three examples or three different approaches). Something like that. You’ll figure it out as you start pasting it what fits or doesn’t fit.
Write your paper. So from here, write a brief introduction that is probably where the paper will go, then start filling in ways to bridge the quotes. My formula is usually quote, two sentences about the quote, another quote, two sentences, and so on.
Add more filler until you reach your page/word quota. Print it out and turn it in (because professors live in 1910 apparently) or e-mail it to the super future professors who use this advanced technology. If you’re struggling on the filler, you can always blatantly cheap. Google the period trick, which is the best way to gain a page or so when you write a paper.
So, you might be wondering how is this possible? Am I making this up? No, I’m not, and it’s really possible because I certainly did it just like I explained it. I was able to churn out the worst, yet acceptable, papers in just a few hours. So, provided below is every paper I wrote in college at Trinity University. I don’t care what you do with these essays. Use them as a reference, laugh at them, print them out and turn them in as your own (I feel like that might be kind of stupid, but hey, I don’t think many professors actually check).
As an aside, some of these classes I really enjoyed a lot, and, in general, those papers have more interesting content because I had some enjoyment from the class. I’ve denoted those classes with an asterisk after the course title.
ARTH 1307 – Art History Prehistoric to Medieval Final – Roman Verism Portraiture(Note: This is a really awful paper; in the professors feedback she wrote “thesis unclear” and then crossed it out and wrote “thesis missing“. Still got an A, but just a warning.)
COMM 4395 – Communication Major Capstone Thesis – Developing a Targeted Website(Here’s my entire thesis. Someone please print this out and turn it in as their own in an 100 level communication course and let me know what grade you get!)
I own a lot of video games. Enough that when people come over they compare me to a Blockbuster. (Note for reading this ten years from now: Does Blockbuster even exist anymore? Do we have hover cars?) I feel like I spent most of my childhood playing them and I can still recall specific moments in my gaming history. I think from the normal person’s view, video games were considered to be a waste of time, and maybe they still are. Yeah, I guess it is pretty much like vegging out and being an unproductive member of society. If anything though, playing them has become less of a nerdy thing to more of a thing that every adult male does. When the next Halo or Call of Duty comes out, we all line up rank and file to get our copy at the midnight release.
I have a few specific memories about video games, but there are four games that really started me down this path to playing and collecting them the way that I do now:
Gran Turismo 2
I played the crap out of these games as a kid. With the exception of Gran Turismo 2, the other games were computer games and their objective was to shoot stuff. In Doom, you shot 2D things. In Quake, you shot 3D things. In Half-Life, you shot 3D things are there was a cohesive and interesting story. In Gran Turismo 2, well, you raced cars. I remember seeing Quake and thinking “Wow, how is this possible this technology exists?” This was the first game that I stole.
Alright, so how does this lead into thievery? As a broke kid who knew way too much about computers, I was able to track down and find all the games I wanted to play and get them for free. I feel like most of the people who were doing this were also broke kids. It taught me a lot about the internet and how computers work, something I should be thankful for because I ended up pursuing tech fields as income. That said, I no longer steal games because I can actually afford them. But, at the time, it was what I did, for better or worse. This means that when I actually did buy a game, it was serious stuff. I remember buying Half-Life at the store and not being able to see over the counter when I bought it. It was a mature game, of course, but that didn’t matter then. And, I remember getting it home and finding out that I couldn’t run it because my computer didn’t have a graphics card powerful enough. So, I had to buy that too, and 199 dollars is expensive for a kid. But, I got it and that launched me into a world of gaming I never turned back from…
Until now. I feel like even though I still buy and play video games, my patience for them has gone down the drain. I don’t want to die a ton and restart levels or checkpoints, I don’t want to sit online and progress though ranks to get a gun. I don’t want to deal with the people online, and I don’t have the time or energy to sit there and play them all day. Typically this changes for all the big releases and I’ll find myself in GameStop at their midnight release standing next to the largest people with even larger BO.
But this time, I was just too busy and I actually forgot about the release for a day and picked it up the next day instead. And I tried to play it tonight but I just can’t get into it. I’d rather be writing this article than playing it and this game is the next big thing everyone had been waiting for. It’s just not doing it for me. I feel like such a slug for even playing games, and all I do is get frustrated at the screaming twelve year old kids. I guess I used to be one. I think in college, and more so in high school, I had the freedom to just play whatever I wanted and do it all day because you don’t have anything meaningful going on as a kid. And by meaningful I don’t mean profound, I mean working to pay bills and dealing with all your other responsibilities. Speaking of which, I need to cut a check for student loans which are finally kicking in. Ugh.
I actually feel like even if I was just sitting around all day, I couldn’t let myself do it anymore. I just can’t get into video games like I used to. I still will have the occasional day where I will sit around, eat Butterfinger bars and drink (diet) Mountain Dew like a video game nerd is supposed to do. However, at this point, it’s more or less like the days where people sit around and watch movies — they end up feeling like they wasted their day and don’t do it again for a long time. I want to take the time to give a shout out to Dan, my roommate, for one of the stories I tell everyone about video games; I will note that he has since changed his ways. During our sophomore year of college, Halo 3 had just come out and Dan was constantly playing it to obtain the rank of a general or a 50 rating or something like that. So, at 8 AM I left for me 8:30 class so I could get some breakfast and coffee to try to stay awake. At about 9 PM or so I come back and Dan had literally not moved the entire time. He had been stationed in front of this crappy TV in the world’s worst folding chair for the entire day. How can anyone do that?
Well, I know how people can do that because I’ve done that during finals, playing Grand Theft Auto 4 from start to finish in one sitting. I’ve done that with Halo ODST and Halo Reach too. That’s how I tend to play games — short in one burst. Play for a couple of days or a week, then move on. I just get so tired of things so easily now. Maybe I’m just too tired in general and I let games frustrate me, or maybe games have just got so complicated that they’re becoming more of a chore than a good time. (The latest Call of Duty has so many options to customize things, but I got what I wanted within the first hour. Who has the time to sit around and change their icon in the game? I don’t get it.)
I’m really not quite sure what the exact reason is that I don’t feel the same connection, I guess the word is, that led me to spend so many hours in games, completely absorbed in their world and enjoying every moment. I can replay these games for the nostalgia factor and a few moments still shine, but it’s just not the same. Maybe it’s because I’m older and I’m different? I don’t have a good answer for this, though I do assume I’ll be playing games in the future, just in a limited capacity. I still certainly buy the games, so I don’t think the game publishers are worried by this phenomenon. I’ll even buy the map packs and try to get back into the game, but this only lasts a couple of days before I move on again
I think it comes down to the fact that I want to be connected like I used to be; I want to be drawn into a world and escape for a while. But I just don’t feel it like I used to. And that kind of sucks.
So, today I got on Facebook to try to find something that I immediately forgot I was looking for as soon as I got on. While doing so, I noticed it was Dan’s birthday, my old roommate from college, and I so I gave him a call. He made two really valid points about both of our lives at the moment, and it’s kind of upsetting. The following quotes are shown below, but I don’t actually remember what he said exactly. (I literally just got off the phone with him too, making this pretty impressive.)
“Don’t you think it’s sad that we haven’t talked for a few months and we’re doing exactly the same thing as we were before? Nothing is new.”
“Isn’t it crazy how work completely destroys your sense of time? You go in to work on a Monday and all the sudden it’s Thursday. You’re just getting to work and then all the sudden you’re leaving — and then somehow you’re back at work.”
Both of these are sad points. I haven’t updated this journal in months and the only new thing in my life is that I’ve moved back to Midland and started working. Nothing else has happened in my life and it looks like that will be the same for some months to come. Kind of a scary thought. We both really don’t find our jobs to be engaging (though I don’t hate mine). It’s just something that fills up time and gives us paychecks.
I still can’t wrap my head around how people get stuck doing something they don’t really enjoy and then do it for the rest of their lives, just coasting through and until some point in the future — and I’m not sure we know what that point is — where we decide to make a change. I feel like doing it young is the way to go because youth gives you more options to do the things you haven’t. I will go skydiving soon; this is my greatest fear and I have to do it. I’m afraid of waking up one day and being old, realizing I’ve wasted so many years so I could get a paycheck. I think, fortunately, the Navy will keep things varied, and for this, I am thankful. It was a radical option in terms of the regular 9-to-5, and it’s something that will hopefully avoid this fact.
So, I guess my question is this: is this bleak outlook really how the rest of our lives play out? Because honestly, that sucks. I can’t handle doing something like this day in and day out, never getting to do the things I want, never getting to accomplish my goals, and never getting to marry a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader (aim high, right?).
This is actually hopeful post because I feel like my future will have that spark to keep it interesting and give me options on trying new things. The Navy is exactly that: adventure. As well, I don’t think it’s impossible for Dan to get out of his cycle either. Today at dinner, two of my close friends announced they were moving — they’re picking up and getting out of Midland. They realized that all they were doing is flying a holding pattern and searching for something that Midland could not ever offer them. So, they’re dropping everything and moving. Hell yes. This is the power of our freedom, and it’s something we seldom exploit. Have a goal? Do it. Otherwise, I’m afraid we’ll die with the regret that we could have done something and never took that chance.
Shortly after joining the Navy, I was told that I would have to wait until March (eventually until May) to ship and so I was faced with a unique situation: I couldn’t get a long term job, but I needed money to pay off all my college lifestyle credit card debt (both living in Australia and just going out with Sam, Christian, and the rest of the guys so often my senior year). As well, I saw the impending, looming, daunting shadow of my debt from going to school at Trinity University. I shelled out so much money to go there, it’s kind of ridiculous. In the end, however, they sent me a generous refund check… of 1 dollar. Seriously, just rub it in you jerks. Every time I get a letter in the mail asking alumni for financial contributions I curse out loud and rip the letter up. I took a class called Underwriting and Development, so I know that Trinity has staff that knows not to make requests in such a jackass way.
Either way, as a result of all this debt and the fact that my apartment contract was coming for an end, I was forced to consolidate and do something I vowed never to do again: return to Midland and get a job until I leave. At the time, I was looking at March as the latest, though I have no idea what it might be at this point. The advantage of going home was purely monetary in nature because I hate Midland, I hate the people in Midland, I didn’t know anyone there, and living back at home can be frustrating. That, and the issue is coupled with a lot of tension between them right as I was getting back, meaning I was thrust into arguments that I had thought I escaped from in 2006 when I left for San Antonio.
Thankfully, I’m not completely alone because I do have my brother and his new niece to visit, and that’s always a relief since we grew up with the same frustrations as a kid so I can have someone to share with. And, for the first month or two, I met a girl who I really thought I clicked with, but I must have done something or she found my character to be unsavory, because she stopped calling and texting in that way that people do when they’re too embarrassed to say “I don’t like you. Stop talking to me.” If I had to guess, it’s because I’m not particularly Christian. Church hasn’t made a lot of sense to me and the morals imposed there seem superficial and not applicable to modern society. Then again, Midland is stuck in 1965 when it comes to things like that.
But, being completely alone has its perks. First, I was able to get a job with a company called Two Rivers Pipeline Construction that has me driving all over West Texas and New Mexico. It’s time away from the house, from the family, and gets my mind off the looming uncertainties of the future. Second, I spend most of my time at the gym, generally for the same reasons as work. I don’t like being at home, and I really wish I had my own place, but I have too much debt to pay off and a who-knows-when ship date that have made it impractical to do much else.
So between work and working out, the only thing I’ve done is play a few video games. Few being the key word because I really don’t have the patience for them like I used to. I want to play 15 minutes at a time and I dislike playing online because everyone is an idiot. The majority of my gaming time I spend playing Xbox 360 games with my brother, which is always a good stress relief.
This really has been echoed in the past by a lot of attempts to get in shape that really failed miserably. The main factor in my failure was doing little to no cardio (eh, who am I kidding, it was just no cardio). As well, I didn’t have a gym so I thought that if I did a billion sit-ups and push-ups a night I would be in shape, but I couldn’t even manage to keep that up regardless. So, last year, literally Jan 1st 2010, I decided that I would start going to the gym and working out. The results have been pretty incredible in a year — or at least, I think so. The real motivation were the comments I kept getting from friends and family describing me as “able to drink a lot of beer” or “having a lot of fun in college” when they pointed at my stomach pudge. Gross. Well, I guess, thank you family because it worked and it was actually in a good time frame, considering I joined the Navy soon after. Mentally, I had already been mulling over the option and so it helped me get the routine started.
Initially the January through April period I had just bought a lot of stuff to do at home because I was embarrassed about going to a gym. One, I looked pretty awful, and two, I had no idea what the equipment did or how to use it. I had never been to a gym, never ran on a treadmill, or did a lat pull down. And, my gym at the time was provided as part of my tuition at Trinity University, so that meant I would have to see close friends, most of whom I felt where completely ripped and would think I was a fool. I realize now that most people who are working out actually really like helping other people and giving pointers. After all, getting in shape is kind of like a club. We’re all addicted to it and we want to get more people to join in.
I opted to take bi-weekly progress shots to help me get motivated as well, and that was, at first, horrific, and later, much more pleasing to reflect upon. The first time I went to the gym I got on the treadmill and tried to do a mile at 5 MPH, which was impossible. I couldn’t breathe and thought I would die. Yes, I’m serious, I was that out of shape (thankfully though, I was only 218 lbs at my fat kid peak, so it wasn’t awful on my frame). I still remember the moment I did a ten minute mile. I felt like a champion — and I told a friend who quickly noted that she could do that in middle school. Wow, I was a total joke.
Through a mixture of weights and cardio, however, I am now, almost a year later, in the best shape of my life and really content with my progress. (I can run 7 miles a day easily and I’m usually doing around 40 miles a week, with a day off for just lifting and rest.) The process of getting here kind of sucked. Protein shakes and targeted exercises, lots of pushing myself to limits I couldn’t even imagine being able to go. It really does suck. But if you push through it, I guess anything is possible. The hardest part of it all was starting and then staying motivated.
I’m actually not sure what I should do next. Get a six pack? I actually think those are kind of gross. I wouldn’t mind getting larger pecs or arms, but I feel like being bulky isn’t really good for the Navy. And although the Jersey Shore says being a juice head is a good goal, I’d rather be slim and trim. Currently, I’m about 170 lbs of raw steel and sex appeal. I can always make better my best and I never plan to let it rest, so it looks good for the future. All this said, I still eat fast food at least three times a week. There is nothing in this world that will ever stop me from eating delicious 99 cent chicken sandwiches from Jack in the Box. I could eat this 3 times a day every day, and, in college, I usually did.
Note: Below is my senior article I wrote for the Trinitonian (Trinity University’s newspaper) sometime around April 20th. This is the unedited version.
College. It’s really over? It’s hard to reflect on something like this when I’m still writing papers, still walking around campus, and still trying to avoid the garbage they call food in Mabee. Everything is still the same; only after I’m done will I think, “Man, I should have told that story about that one time where everyone got drunk and the rent-a-cops were everywhere and…” – but let’s be honest, that’s a story that I don’t need to tell any of you. Just from the amount of drunken nights where the only memory I have came from photos tagged on Facebook the next day, I know that invariably all of you have been in the same situation at least once. If not, I assure you that you will be.
Just how many days have been a struggle to wake up for class because I was still a little drunk? How many nights have I tried to study and ended up partying with one of you?
Instead of telling you party stories that you can make for yourself, here’s something that happened while attending Trinity that I honestly think can never occur again. It was 3 AM and both of us in the car were coming back from a party. After stopping in Jack in the Box to eat some nasty filth, my friend rolled down the window to order. Suddenly out of nowhere, a human/creature grabs my friend’s hand, slams in a crumpled, wet dollar bill, and screams, “Make change!” Compelled to not be murdered or raped, we scrambled to give him four quarters to get him off our backs. When we finally found enough, he yells to us, “That’s what I get for trusting the cops!” and bolts away into the night. How could I ever forget that?
Somehow, through all of the parties and close calls I made it. I am going to be done and graduated in just a few weeks.
So I want to leave Trinity with another inspiring true story from my life. As a sophomore I went shoe shopping with my friend Cory. While waiting for Cory to take thirteen years to pick a running shoe, I started talking with the sales lady. As it turned out, she was a proud Trinity graduate from 2006. She told me she majored in communication. Awesome. I am a communication major. Surely, I would not end up selling shoes after I graduate. Right?
Now it’s almost May and I’m broke, I have looming debt, and I have no career – let alone a job – in my immediate future. I used to joke that I would end up working at GameStop as an assistant manager. Now I joke that I’ll be working at Jack in the Box as the taco cooker. My joke has changed because GameStop now seems like a viable option. Four years. And there is where I am at right now?
There is a moral here in both of these stories: Trinity can be full of incredible experiences – drunk nights, good times with friends, and even perhaps something that happens in a classroom. No matter what those experiences may be, they are something to remember and something that as you are leaving Trinity, you will learn mean so much more now than ever.