Thoughts on Graduating College

I blew an academic scholarship from Rutgers when I was 18 due to…basically acting 18. In retrospect, I don’t see how anyone does anything responsibly at age 18. Eighteen year old humans shouldn’t be considered adults. I documented my issues in Houston in earlier blogs, but there was no way I would be able to take classes out there either. When I joined the military, I figured I’d be able to just skate through school while being a 24 year old moron instead of an 18 year old moron. The result? I failed my first five fucking classes. Whether it was because changing my work shift threw off my routine too much or because I thought having a five page paper in Week 1 was unreasonable, I always found a way to justify giving up. Always had some funny story about how school was getting in the way of more important things like having fun. I never let anyone know how deeply those grades affected me. I had made my entire reputation from being smart, and based on everything on paper, I was an idiot. My combined GPA  up to that point was a solid .6 or something. What if I was actually stupid? Or just destined to be average? It was a legitimate existential crisis. My already fragile confidence completely cratered. I didn’t (and still don’t) enjoy what I’m doing in the military, but what other option did I have?

Well, I’m 29 now, and I got my bachelor’s degree last Saturday. You know what I realized? Graduating had very, very little to do with my natural intelligence. Many people say that plenty of dumb people exist with college degrees, and they’re absolutely right. Almost anyone can follow rubrics to the letter and look up sources or Wiki to write a paper about something. But those “dumb” people had the resolve, work ethic, time management skills and made the sacrifices that were necessary to get through 40 classes (120 credits) of whatever their major was, and the older I get, the more I realize how much more important those qualities are for success than being born with a high IQ. I didn’t have some magical moment one morning where everything came together and I turned into some kind of genius. Really, no kind of success works that way. It was gradual. It was difficult. I had classes where between my long commute, work, and class, I was gone from 5:30am-11:00pm. Accounting almost made jump through a window. It made me grow up. It made me truly commit. It forced me to be consistent. And it was the best thing to ever happen to me.

I also realized that my earlier struggles with school in my were a symptom of a larger issue that I had. I was terrified of failing at something that I actually tried to achieve. I bailed on everything (and everyone) the moment it wasn’t 100% easy or convenient. That went for writing, school, basketball, weight lifting, relationships, the whole works. If I just dropped it (or her), I always had the safety net of saying that I could do it if I really tried. In short, I was a coward, and it’s really easy to be a coward when your support system doesn’t call you a coward. Cowardice is like smoking in that it doesn’t bulldoze you as much as it gradually erodes you.  You push back your goals until tomorrow and your tomorrows become next week and your next weeks become your New Year’s Resolution and you look up one day in your mid-30s and realize that you haven’t done anything outside of exist and you wonder where all the time went. I was well on my way there. And then I wasn’t.

(Personal aside: I say really nice things about my wife in this blog often (because she’s pregnant and I don’t want her to kill me), but I seriously could not have done this without her. She always knew when to prod and when to let me relax and which buttons to push and I keep thinking that I’ll run out of ways to say that she’s my everything but I keep inventing new ones because holy shit is she amazing. Also, this is my first post in several weeks. My capstone course was really difficult. Forgive me. I’ll be writing consistently again. Oh yeah, remember that .6 GPA that I referred to earlier? I ended with a 3.482. Am I happy about that? No. I wanted a 3.5.)

 

So, We’re Having a Boy

I should’ve known. Of course we’re having a boy. All of the unofficial signs (carrying high, glowing, etc.) pointed to Rachel having a boy, but I held out hope for a girl until the bitter end. And for about 5 minutes, we thought we actually were having a girl…

So I’m on Skype watching Rachel and her parents during her ultrasound, which was pretty mundane in of itself, at least initially. There’s nothing truly notable about seeing your in-laws read trashy magazines and crack jokes in a waiting room or Rachel complaining about having to pee since that’s all pregnant women ever want to do. But it meant a lot to me. For the first time of Rachel’s pregnancy, I felt like I was actually there for her. I mean, we talk daily and I make sure that she has what she needs, but I’m never actually there for her. As in, present for what she’s going through, whether good or bad. On Tuesday, I felt present. That was important.

Rachel and her parents walked into the doctor’s office and the doctor hooked her up to whatever machine produces the ultrasound. The doc went through labeling the different body parts (“there’s the head,” “oh look, there’s a leg right there,” “look at the size of those eye sockets!”), seemingly building up the suspense for the gender reveal intentionally. After a question about whether we wanted to know the gender was answered affirmatively (I specifically said, “Hell yeah, man. Shit.”), the moment was finally here. Those 15 seconds or so that followed felt like hours. Then the doc spoke…

“It looks like you’re having a girl.”

Me: “Wait, what?”

Rachel: “Really???”

Doc: “Yup. A girl.”

Me: “WOWWWWWWWWWW!!!! I TOLD YOU!!! I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!”

Rachel: “Wow. Wow. *exhales deeply* This is insane. We’re really having a girl.”

It was at this moment that my mother-in-law asked what seemed to be an incredulous question. “Are you really sure that they’re having a girl?” My father-in-law responded, naturally, with a sarcastic remark about the doctor not being sure since she doesn’t do this for a living or anything. I stayed quiet, but I was with pops-in-law on this one. But sure enough, she convinced the doc to give our fetus one last look. And sure enough, the lack of confidence in her initial prognosis started to show, which instantly changed the energy in the room, replacing euphoria with an amount of tension normally reserved for a cancer prognosis, a change that I easily felt through the computer.

Doc: “You know, maybe I should get a second opinion on this.”

Rachel: *deep sigh*

Me: “Oh lord…”

Dad-in-law: “I think I just saw a penis!”

Me: “How in the world…..”

Rachel: “I can’t believe this.”

The second doctor came in, and like pops-in-law suspected, we were indeed having a boy, and it was “quite obvious” that it was a boy. So there it was.

I know there’s a strong implication that having a boy disappointed me in that story. I should plainly state that that couldn’t be further from the truth. It was more the giant swing in emotion and genuine anger at the initial doctor that caused my subdued response than anything else. After spending my entire adulthood thinking that having a daughter is a curse, then transitioning to no longer thinking that it would be the worst thing in the world, to actually thinking that I would enjoy it occasionally, I started actively hoping for a little girl. It was more of a novel idea (when I say novel, I would’ve sooner jumped into a snake pit than raise a daughter as recently as 5 months ago) than anything else. I just happened to heavily invest into that novel idea in a short time.

But man, I’m about 20 weeks away from raising a mini version of myself. Rachel has already declared that we’ll dress alike as often as possible, which will ensure our place in Facebook’s most sickening families, and is already proposing terribly inefficient purchases, like an infant leather jacket that will look adorable for the three weeks that he’ll be able to fit into it. There will be a basketball waiting for him upon his exit from the womb. And books. Lots of books. And wait. Is it already Halloween? Holy shit.

On Going Back Home

There was a time where I promised myself that I would never return here, no matter what. I was the black sheep here. Too many bad memories. Nothing and no one I can think back on fondly. It’s boring. I lost touch with 99% of the people here. But after the storm and the subsequent flooding, I really had no choice.

Well, I absolutely had a choice. I had gotten touch with my family during the worst of the storm, and they weren’t in any mortal danger. I could’ve just used that as an excuse to not give much outside of prayers and well wishes to them. But I kept prying for something, any excuse for my presence to be necessary. I found the excuse the moment the words “you know we’re too old to take care of the yard in the aftermath” were uttered. Now I’m sitting in an empty passenger terminal, waiting to take an unpleasant four hour flight (flying on any military plane outside of a C-5 is unpleasant) from Honduras to Charleston, SC which will lead to a two hour drive to Sumter, the place where most of my skeletons and human flaws and insecurities were born.

But why? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s the quest for closure that I alluded to in my last post. After I actually had the chance to say goodbye to people I cared about for the first time, maybe I’m chasing that oppurtnunity again. Closure is a very foreign, but welcome feeling.

The impending move to Germany certainly feels like the end of a chapter in my life, and although it doesn’t mean that I’ll stop speaking to the friends and family I already have, there’s no use in pretending that life, for me or them, will be remotely the same when I return to the States in 2019.

My Wife is a Bundle of Hormones

Oh, this month should be an absolute blast. Rachel has already obligated that I shower her with compliments until Halloween, even if she’s in the process of ripping my head off via Skype, because she can’t help it and science agrees with her. You know? If I have to deal with that part, I should at least have the reward of Rachel being ready to bone 24/7 to counteract it. But no.

According to my cool What To Expect app thingy, our baby is the size of a peach now. A big headed peach. Seriously, the baby is 75% head at this point (it’ll remain that way after birth, due to our genes). The baby is developing tiny bones, so that’s cool too. H/she’s also developing vocal cords, a process that I’m sure we’ll wish was delayed or disabled at various points.

Other than that, we’re both slowly getting back to our normal routines after her visit. My school and writing rhythm has been thrown off a bit, but that’s a small price to pay to see my radiant wife in the flesh (she totally approves this message). The next major milestone in the pregnancy (since, again, I won’t be able to enjoy her wanting to bone 24/7), is figuring out the gender of the kid. All of the silly signals that we’ve read in “how to tell if you’re having a boy/girl/whatever” articles point to us having a boy, but I’m still holding strong to my hunch that we’re having a girl.

I don’t know what happened between the rest of my adult life and Rachel’s pregnancy, but I would really enjoy raising a daughter. That’s something I would’ve never, ever said as recently as the moment before I found out my wife was pregnant.   I always thought about the moment that I would have to kill someone with my bare hands for hurting my little girl or worrying about her becoming a stripper or something else crazy, but I never actually considered the cool parts of having a daughter. Little girls are the cutest creatures on earth, there’s less pressure for them to turn into pro athletes, so it’s relatively easy to raise them to be well-rounded human beings, and when they inevitably turn into the preadolescent/teenage monster version of themselves, they just turn on their mothers, so I’m still in the clear! Plus, it would give me a chance to reenact one of my favorite scenes ever.

Not like I’m ever going to complain about doing father/son stuff, but the thought of having a daughter has really grown on me. Maybe I can wish it into existence.

I booked my flight back to California to be with everyone for New Years. By “everyone,” I mean “my wife, her family, and God knows who else because all of my friends left the Bay Area for greener and cheaper (mostly cheaper) pastures.” Should be fun to be back in the States again, at least until the next time a black or Latin kid gets shot in the face by a cop and I have to watch people justify it. Then I’ll be ready to leave again.

Time’s moving too fast. I have no clue where September went. I’m already in contact with my replacement for Honduras. I’m going to say something that will cause Rachel to stab me through the phone in a pregnant rage while I have to complement her as I swim in my own blood pool. Help.

Beware the Roadbuilders Redux: Education Reform Wars Fail Race, Again

I’m very much into this kind of stuff. What an amazing read.

radical eyes for equity

A classic analogy is Mothra vs. Godzilla, but a more contemporary comparison—and one to be highlighted in upcoming Marvel superhero films—is Marvel’s Civil Wars.

First, the larger situation involves two powerful forces, both of which are driven by the missionary zeal of being on the right side, that wage war against each other while those who both sides claim to serve is trampled beneath them as collateral, and mostly ignored, damage.

More specifically, Marvel’s Civil War involves two legions of superheroes (and villains) who side with either Iron Man or Captain America (the two powerful forces characterized by missionary zeal and reckless disregard for citizens), but notable in this war is that the X-Men are neutral, as is Black Panther—serving as embodiments in the comic book universe of the Other (identified groups marginalized by status: race, sexual/gender identities, poverty).

Finally, what does this template represent? I recommend reading carefully Andre Perry’s 

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