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Posts tagged “summer

Doldrums

I feel stir-crazy, and I haven’t felt this way since that day I was cooped up in my Boston apartment when the entire city was looking for the Boston bombers and the order to remain indoors was in effect. I yearn for something new, something exciting to spice up my life. Here I am seeing the lives of so many other people on Facebook and their endeavors. Then here I am on Facebook literally just eating, sleeping, and dicking around online until something happens. This is the feeling of reverse-culture shock for me. I was inundated with lights, people, experiences, adventures, and sounds for 24 days nonstop until it all came to a halt. I will write about it in a later blog post, but for now I just cannot get over how awesome the adventure was. I think that I am getting bored with the same old same old over here back home, because I have gotten used to the lifestyle of always moving and always adventuring. Maybe it’s similar to how teenagers always want to feel and yearn for that feeling of some sort of exciting emotion. It’s too quiet and dull over here, but I know that these are the last free dog days of summer that I will have in a long time.

However, I still know that I am lucky. In a few months I will be leaving to volunteer in Uganda, Africa for a 27 month Peace Corps volunteer assignment to teach secondary math and science education.  It also doesn’t help that I just got back from my Eurotrip with my two best friends 6 days ago. Now it’s just the waiting period between adventures. I am in the process of bidding farewell to my old college life, and in the process of moving on. But I’m stuck in this limbo of life between my mom’s apartment and my old house where my dad and his wife live.  It’s definitely not a bad life at all, but I know that there is something greater out there and something better that I could do with my time. And I don’t know if this is a good feeling or not: to have the consistent thirst for newer horizons or to be content at home doing nothing too extreme and staying content just being.

I keep forgetting how therapeutic blogging is, and I there are a few posts that I need to write down in the next few days.

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A Slight Case of Ennui

I am trying to get my code to work at work so that I can finally update the report that will hopefully be finished by August 24th along with a presentation that I will deliver to the rest of the institute where I will be working in. For the past few days I feel as if I have been hit with a slight case of melancholy and ennui. A large part of me feels as if this stems from my recent respite from travelling and adventuring. I mean, I am very behind on the blog posts, but I still have a few stories to share about my Amsterdam, DAAD RISE Dresden Conference, and epic adventure weekend that I experienced. Sunday was the first day in a long time when I did not have anything large or major planned for the evening. Funnily enough, I have actually started for reasons to become bored, because every single evening has been dedicated to hanging out or discovering a new part of Berlin. Since then, several intern friends of mine have already departed back to the US, and things have mellowed down a bit. This screeching halt to furious activities has kind of thrown my body into shock. What do I do with free time now that I can sit down and reflect, or write down my thoughts after the fact?

Everything is changing just as I started to become comfortable with my surroundings. The seeds that I have sown here coupled with the friendships that I have made are being uprooted just as quickly as they sprouted. And before I know it I shall be back in Boston for my Senior Year, and I will attempt to move on in my life. But how could I ever explain the stormy German internship experience that this summer has been? I will be unable, and thus I shall feel a bit more isolated. It’s kind of funny, because the more experiences we have in life both at home and abroad connect us with others, but also leads us to become more alienated. We learn how to set up camp, navigate through our surroundings, and as soon as we become comfortable with our companions and area we have to once again relocate. We are nomads with no clear destination in sight. That is both a very comforting and unsettling matter. There is no immediate deadline to life that we know of unless we make one for ourselves. And life will continue to surprise you with every step that you take.

As I biked to work today, I noticed a slight chill in the air. It was an August breeze that signaled the beginnings of Fall. Fall instantly brings back strong memories. It’s the farewell to once endless summers and the greeting to a coming school year where all things start anew. The breeze reminds me of driving to and from my high school back in Maryland, or biking to class from the Ashford area in Boston. One of my favorite kinds of weather is when the sun is brightly shining with a few clouds in the sky as a cool breeze rustles through you. It feels crisp. And it is this type of weather that heralds the beginning of the end of this internship. Has it really been more than 2 months since I left the United States? I have lost concept of time, especially since the years have started to come and go much faster than they used to. Maybe it’s because I am getting older and so time feels relatively shorter to me than when I was younger and an hour felt like an eternity.

I have already listened to all of my favorite songs here at work, I have already drank my favorite tea, my coding is almost done, my friends are leaving, the weather is changing, and I have been changing. Nothing is permanent, and that gives me the cause to write this with a sigh. A sigh symbolizing my contentment with what I have accomplished this summer as well as a sigh coming from looking forward and not knowing if I will like what lies ahead somewhere ages and ages hence. But there is warm sunlight here, a cool breeze, chilled Bier, fresh air, and a Matlab code that needs writing… so I suppose that makes all the difference.


The Start of Summer

And so summer begins for me. Sure, finals ended a week ago, and I have since been chilling and enjoying Boston for what it’s worth. Lately, I’ve been sleeping in the wee hours of the morning and waking up late in the afternoon like a good college student during the summer. I’ve been rediscovering my ability to eat and sleep exorbitant amounts without provocation. I’m all packed up and ready to depart for Maryland. My bags are filled with my clothes, toiletries, and electronics to see me through the next two weeks, as well as prepare me for my departure for Germany on May 28th. I am so excited to be returning back to Germany where I had studied abroad last year. It’s still surreal for me, and I know that it will not hit me until I actually touch down on German soil. This reminds me that I have to remember my German, and brush up on the idioms and culture shocks that will await me.

It’s kind of sad that I’m leaving now, because I really wanted to clean up the yard area, as well as enjoy the apartment during the nice weather. I’ve been busy the past few days moving my friends in to the apartment in order to sublet over the summer, and it’s been bitter work. However, I am now done, and ready for my last few weeks in the United States.


Summer Apathy

I apologize to no one in particular to not keeping this blog updated. Yes, I know that the past few blog entries have repeated the same thing, but I wanted to reiterate it for the last time on this blog. I started this blog more than half a year ago with the intention of documenting my study abroad experience in Dresden, Germany. And I learned something in the process; I learned a lesson about life. Towards the beginning, I would document almost every single moment that I took with my Nikon D40 camera, and I would quickly rush back to my central room on the 2nd floor of the Max Kade Haus and write a blog post on this wordpress site. I have to admit, I am proud of my prolific activity during those early days. But as time passed and my free time became more scarce, I started to write chunkier posts that were few and far between. And towards the last month and a half I hesitated in writing down my reflections about my experiences in Dresden, Germany. Those are some memories that I have already forgotten and have since left my long-term memory. But as one of my friends told me in Amsterdam, “Just live through the moment.” Or was it live in the moment? I cannot remember the exact preposition, but the message to me was very clear; it was to not try and encapsulate the past moments through lacking means and simply enjoy the time for what it is worth. And that message has hit been hitting and smashing into my face during these past few weeks here in Maryland. I have already accomplished everything that I had hoped to accomplish during my summer break. I guess that I took so many pictures and wrote so much in WordPress articles and journals because I was worried about forgetting. I didn’t want to let go of the past and move on into an unknowable future where I might change and become a person or thing that I did not like.

But no one can stem or halt the flow of time. And I guess that I should listen to my own advice and just let the moments flow through me as I flow through them. I mean, I haven’t even taken the tons of photos that I thought I would take during my time hanging out with old middle school friends on that 20ft rope swing, or during the High-LI opening mass, or when we made a delicious dinner for everyone. I think that my inaction in taking pictures results from my growing acceptance of an experience for its own sake and the normality of my time here in Maryland as compared to my time in Dresden, Germany. But I’m restless. I cannot stay still for more than a few moments, unless I am sleeping. And I lost interest in my old passions. I think that this may be due to the idea that the experience and feeling of wonder within me has started to lose its effect. However, I believe that this is only natural. I think that I have already experienced many of my turning points and Kairos moments in the past four years, and they will only continue to become more scarce. I think that this is a way for me to grow up and mature more, because the lessons that I have learned from these moments have prepared me to face the reality of this world in a more direct way. I am no longer just that one-week missionary volunteer in Haiti or the leadership trainee in a retreat house. Instead I am someone who is spending more time down from a high mountain to help live my life as I see fit. Does that sound selfish? I do not know, but my experiences have prodded and shoved me down a path that I hope to take. I eventually hope to work as an engineer in a third-world country. I think that that job will be a way to assuage and satiate my restless heart.

Am I too selfish? Is it perhaps possible in my search to help make others in this world happy I end up making those close to me sad? I ask these questions, because I feel as if I am too materialistic. I attempt to say this with as much humility as possible and without comparing myself to others. I think that I place too much emphasis on personal items that I associate with memories or on souvenirs that I think “perfectly” represent a place and time. For example, one could have looked into my study abroad room in Dresden, Germany and seen dozens of posters and papers taped onto my wall that spanned 6 months and dozens of cities and countries worth of experiences. And upon my bookshelves lay a graveyard of beer, wine, and liquor bottles and souvenirs from almost every place that I had visited in Europe. Everything had its own place and all felt right in the world. I envy my closest friend, Tyler, who can survive and even thrive on very few possessions because they do not possess him. The one fact that sobers me is that one day all of my treasures and belongings will have no meaning to me. They only possess meaning for me in this life, and after that they will remain here as memories of other people of my life that I had lived.

However, my legacy will remain. My failures and triumphs will stand longer than the great ruins of Ozymandias. Actually to give try and refute my hubris, I believe that that last statement was an exaggeration.

I have learned a few things since I returned from Dresden:

– 2o foot rope swings are amazingly fun especially if you drop 20 ft into a 20 ft deep river

– I have switched my sleeping pattern from sleeping 3 hours a day to 12 hours a day

– Don’t lie and overbook motels

– Don’t play ultimate frisbee on the beach at 2am when you are drunk and still have keys in your pocket

– Anything citrus-like can be substituted in for the lime during a tequila shot

– Your friends whom you’ve had for years will always be there for you

– Jobs are ridiculously hard to find

– It’s still fun to play tag with your eyes closed on a playground at midnight

– Video games lose their appeal after a while

Honestly, I can’t believe that I took getting drunk whenever I wanted for granted (and it was legal there too). I think that the reason why people drink and smoke is so that for a few hours in the day we can forget our problems and live in a state of forgetful bliss. For the wiser folks, they realize that this dream state is just that, a dream. And once the dream ends, life begins where it left off regardless of whether we are ready to wake up or not. Also, this dream can easily become a nightmare, especially if its a bad trip. Then there are those who trudge onward through life without the use of any substance other than their own mettle, and they attempt to beat forward against the ceaseless tide. The tide. I cannot remember whom I told this to, but when I was at the beach I remember explaining to someone that we were all changing in outlook in in our paths through life and that there was nothing that we could do about it. The ceaseless tides always carried the beating waves back to pound against the shore. From that moment on the sand, the water, and the whole being of the beach and moment changes and will never revert back to that state. And yet the waves will continue to beat back and forth regardless of the changing environment, and from that we can understand that there still exists a familiarity in the changes that we experience in life. Many of us can appreciate the gradual changes in life, but the great changes are the ones that force us to awaken, get off our asses, and work towards a goal.

Here I go rambling again. It’s getting late, and I think that I would like to reenter the dream world again even only for just a few real world hours. I can gladly say that it is nice to be writing on this blog again, and I will try to be more faithful and steady in my updates. Goodnight and thanks for listening even if only for just a short while. It was a good catharsis for a rough day.


A Particularly Beautiful Day

This last day of vacation before actual engineering classes was a particularly beautiful day. I did not take any pictures, but I doubt that any pictures could have captured how beautiful it really was. But before I explain what happened today, I must first share what occurred last night. It started with drinking as usual. Before we knew it, we were playing a drinking frisbee game. It’s hard to explain the rules without showing someone, but I will do my best. There are two teams that stand about 20 feet apart. In the middle between the two teams is a cup filled with some amount of beer. And at the foot of each team are two empty beer bottles separated by a distance equal to the diameter of the frisbee disk being used during that game. Each time takes turns throwing the disk and attempting to knock over the other team’s empty beer bottles. When one team succeeds, the thrower must run after the thrown disk and continue throwing towards the opposite side in an attempt to knock over as many empty beer bottles as possible. But at the same time as the thrower starts running, one member from the opposite team must run to the middle, drink the beer in the cup, and then try to block the frisbee disk by touching it with any part of his/her body. Once that is accomplished, the round ends and the team who had knocked over the empty bottles gets a point for every bottle knocked over. Extra Oregon rules stipulates that an article of clothing be removed by the thrower if the middle cup is knocked over by the disk. And one must also go streaking if one goes an entire game without hitting an empty bottle. It was a fun game, with a lot of bruises from hitting other people with the disk. I guess that it was hard at that time of night and point of inebriation to judge where things and people were.

After the game ended, people just started a pow wow circle around a bottle. And a game of spin-the-bottle organically manifested itself. The rules were simple: you spin the bottle and you kiss the person whom the bottle points towards. If it was girl and girl, then they had the option to kiss. If it was guy and guy, they only had to kiss the cheek if it landed on him 3 times during one person’s turn. It was sexist, but that’s how the rules went. After that game and frolicking around the volleyball sand courts for hours until 4am, we all went to sleep. And that’s when this gorgeous day actually began.

I woke up to the sound of chirping birds and the sun gleaming through the windows. I felt hot, because I wore my sweater to bed for some reason. I made a glorious brunch of waffles with nutella, eggs, vodka tomato pasta, and sausages. A group of us then walked to the library to get work done. And it was a summer-like 70 Degrees Fahrenheit with only a few wispy clouds strewn throughout a clear, blue sky. We get to the library, and I sleep on its roof that doubles as a quad. I sleep shirtless, tanning for two absolutely glorious and endless hours. The wind blew across my body, and it would have been perfect had there not existed black ants that kept crawling on me. Then the group headed towards the center of the Altmarkt to the Augustiner Restaurant near the Frauenkirche. And we all had Eis Kaffee (Iced Coffee with Ice Cream) in the orange gleam of the setting sun. We all just told stories and bonded a lot over scrumptious drinks that just hit the spot.

The group left for the Haus, and I headed to the Katholische Hofkirche for the 6pm German Messe. I reflected a lot, and followed the mass parts. As I headed back to the Haus, I stopped by the Asian Grocery Store near the Hauptbahnhof for Soy Sauce and Crushed Garlic. And for dinner I had fried rice with green beans, leftover vodka pasta, and wild summer salmon. To make it, you just need to heat it up in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and Herbes de Provence that I bought during my France vacation. That fish was just so delicious and juicy. I then went on a run with one of my best friends on this trip, and we ran to the river, shared deep stories, and then ran back. I showered, and now here I am attempting to update my blog.

It’s interesting, because to a stranger this appears to be a badly written journal entry. But for me, it will represent that last vacation day before real engineering classes. A last carefree day in Dresden before the real work begins. It was a day of relaxation and warm sun that just made you feel like you could fly alongside the divine breeze. I just wanted to sing alongside a guitar to the tunes of summer. It was that smell of dampness and dew that just inspires you with images of endless sunlight and stories of wonder. It is the change of attitude in people’s demeanors that almost appears as if everyone’s cares disappear. One cannot describe the feeling, because it is a pure feeling. It is one that must be experienced to be fully understood. The summation of this entire day led to me giving it the title of “A Particularly Beautiful Day.” I took no pictures today, and in a sense I will never be able have physical proof of how beautiful this day was. But beauty doesn’t need any proof, and this day was great.


Maturity

So right now it’s about 2am, and like an old person I am waiting for the water in the kettle to boil. It’s an interesting feeling, actually it’s always an interesting feeling when it comes to my thoughts. I always look forward to the break, but whenever I get to the middle of the break, I always feel as if I have nothing to do. Or I feel as if I do not accomplish enough during the day. Fortunately, since I have started writing more and more of my thoughts down, I have been able to focus my disjointedness into several tasks. Since December 20th, I have held several reunion parties, cleaned and packed up my room, started exercising again, cooked a lot, gone clubbing, started a blog, and hung out with my best friends. And yet, I still feel pangs of shame. I guess that shame is too strong a word. But I feel something akin to how a young adult feels when he’s caught doing something immature and childish.

So I turned 20 on December 22, 2010. I had my best friends sleep over, and in the last moments as a teenager I wrote, “My last minutes as a teenager and nineteen-year-old. But in my basement I am surrounded by my best friends, and everything’s alright. What have I accomplished? Well, for what it’s worth, it was worth all the while. Last minute as a teenager. But there’s more adventures left in life. It’s only just begun.” I wrote this down with a shot of Captain Morgan in one hand and a pen in the other, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For several months I was wrestling with the thought that I would never ever be a teenager again. I would never have that extra suffix of teen added to the end of my age. I had now become stuck in that in-between state before I could legally drink in the U.S. But this transition meant a lot to me. I could no longer attribute stupid decisions and actions to being a teenager. Several friends disagreed with me, and told me that 20 was no different than the later teen years, and that the changes only started happening after the mid 20’s. Up until I actually turned 20, several thoughts raced through my head: did I do enough as a teenager? Did I make all the stupid mistakes that I wanted to make? What if I’m not ready to leave my teenage years?

I don’t think that I was scared of what would lie ahead, rather; I was apprehensive about moving onward. Also, to employ a bit of direct characterization, I am a very giddy person. I love to laugh, play around, make jokes, and just smile like a small child. I have already cancelled out the notion that I’m cool, because I have tried and failed to act chill during many situations. I would rather just act loudly crazy and weird all on my own rather than try to be someone whom I am not. In any case, there are others who can flit between their cool and zany personalities, but I am not one of them. Therefore, I would suppose that many people viewed me as still being this childish person. And I feel as if I do have a lot of that within me. And then sometimes others would say that I had the spirit of a child, but could be serious when it counted. Hmmm, maybe that’s what it’s all about.

So I turned 20 on December 22, 2010. I had my best friends sleep over, and in the last moments as a teenager I wrote, “My last minutes as a teenager and nineteen-year-old. But in my basement I am surrounded by my best friends, and everything’s alright. What have I accomplished? Well, for what it’s worth, it was worth all the while. Last minute as a teenager. But there’s more adventures left in life. It’s only just begun.” I wrote this down with a shot of Captain Morgan in one hand and a pen in the other, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For several months I was wrestling with the thought that I would never ever be a teenager again. I would never have that extra suffix of teen added to the end of my age. I had now become stuck in that in-between state before I could legally drink in the U.S. But this transition meant a lot to me. I could no longer attribute stupid decisions and actions to being a teenager. Several friends disagreed with me, and told me that 20 was no different than the later teen years, and that the changes only started happening after the mid 20’s. Up until I actually turned 20, several thoughts raced through my head: did I do enough as a teenager? Did I make all the stupid mistakes that I wanted to make? What if I’m not ready to leave my teenage years?

I don’t think that I was scared of what would lie ahead, rather; I was apprehensive about moving onward. Also, to employ a bit of direct characterization, I am a very giddy person. I love to laugh, play around, make jokes, and just smile like a small child. I have already cancelled out the notion that I’m cool, because I have tried and failed to act chill during many situations. I would rather just act loudly crazy and weird all on my own rather than try to be someone whom I am not. In any case, there are others who can flit between their cool and zany personalities, but I am not one of them. Therefore, I would suppose that many people viewed me as still being this childish person. And I feel as if I do have a lot of that within me. And then sometimes others would say that I had the spirit of a child, but could be serious when it counted. Hmmm, maybe that’s what it’s all about.

In terms of maturity, I view several of my best friends as being some of the most mature people whom I have the honor of ever befriending. I honestly can tell these friends anything that I have ever thought, done, or said in my life. You know masturbation, sex, family issues, relationships, curiosities, faith, beliefs, and desires used to be a taboo or awkward subject to even joke about? Well I have been able to talk to these friends about these topics and more, to the point where even they may have known me better than even myself. Anyways, some of them have held full-time jobs along with attending college and still finding time to maintain a successful relationship. I started to think about whether or not I wasted my break not doing anything at all. Even though I was the oldest in my group of friends, was I the least mature and the least ready to face the challenges of life?

I guess that at some point, maturity no longer increases with age. I see my friends as acting in a more mature way than adults. For the literary geeks out there, I guess that one can compare Huckleberry Finn with Holden Caulfield. Who is more mature? Speaking of that, I could not even begin to fathom the thoughts and feelings of the teenage Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I could not relate to him, and maybe it’s just because I had a very different personality.  Where he sees phoniness in all things and people, I see sincerity and my belief that people are really good at heart. I’m no literary critic or scholar, but I couldn’t relate to him. Yet he too undergoes a transition. He is the teenager who sees all people as being no better than he is in a sense. For him people are phony, but I don’t think that I can give you a good enough reason why. He uses his isolation and loneliness as both his greatest strength and weakness. He has a great mind and imagination, but he can’t grow in that state. He wants to be the catcher in the rye who hopes to catch children before they fall off the cliff and die. Symbolically, this means that he does not want them to lose their childhood innocence and grow up.

As I’ve discussed with friends, life is also about finding a balance. For some people, they matured overnight when they had to take care of their siblings like a parent. And for others, they matured slowly and fully ripened over the period of several years. Sadly, I do not think that everyone eventually matures. And like any good philosopher, one must first define what maturity means. But I am no philosopher, and I dislike having to define words and then use logic to actively support a claim or attack one’s beliefs. In this case, maturity will mean whatever meaning you hold in your head at this moment. The question that I have is: “Can a person be mature and innocent at the same time?” I think that the answer to that question is yes, but that there are more people who are no longer innocent but are mature. There is no absolute. Sure, some may argue that sex is one of the most important forms of experience that humans have on this planet. But experience alone does not necessitate maturity. Maybe maturity means having enough experience under your belt, coupled with an outlook on life that is drawn from those experiences. Perhaps the sheltered catholic school boy is just as mature as the boy who had to live on the street and deal drugs to support his family. Maybe that’s a stretch, but both boys have different outlooks on life that lead to two distinct types of maturity.

Hahaha, there I go again on my tangents. I just hope that these are thoughts that are filled with meaning, and not the empty ramblings of someone with nothing to say. Well, I better get some sleep, and I will try to be more mature in my own way. Maybe I think too much? Or maybe everyone thinks just like I do, but they never get the chance to write it down.


Jamaica Christian Service Trip – June 11, 2008

Excerpt from my first real journal entry:

“The plane ride was nice, I sat in front of Robbie and I think that I have a friend in him. During the first few hours at Loyola I felt awkward, I hated that feeling where I have to think about things before I say them rather than just speaking spontaneously. However, I have begun to feel more at ease with my fellow classmates: Jeremy Walton, Brandon Friedland, Casey, Ryan Taylor, Robbie McGarry, Ben Pasquerella, Corey Voelkel, Collin Schuster, and myself. The chaperones are Ms. Warfield, Ms. Phillip, Mr. Ranalli, and Fr. Joe. I am beginning to feel more comfortable with my classmates. I am in a beautiful mango tree beside the retreat house. The sun is setting over the yard as a fresh Jamaican breeze flows through the air. Everything is as it should be.

Two contrasting things. Gangs and shooting while there are children and majesty of the mountains. Can you hear the prayer of the children? They have hope and a youthful optimism that most people in America, including myself, have forgotten. I disagree with my previous statement, everything is not as it should be. These kids have these hopes and reams but they have a small chance to actively pursue them. Yet some people in the U.S. waste opportunities. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. there is the issue of differing governments. Here, a reelection or not results in acivil war, family against family, and brother against brother. But there is still hope, love, and a family.

I am about to sleep tonight, and I wonder whether or not I have experienced enough in life. I am still a virgin, and I do hope that I make the correct decisions. I have neither been shitfaced nor drunk. I have a close group of friends. My older group from my old school does have members who have been laird or have gotten drunk. for some of my other friends from Loyola, they have also stayed sober and virgins. These are my honor friends. As of right now, I have a girlfriend whom I told, “I love you” before I left for Loyola the night we slept over. I have not said that phrase to her for a long time. The reason for that is because I believe that true friendship must come first before a more romantic and meaningful relationship can take place. I respect her, and I respect my parents, friends, and my God. Sometimes I wonder whether or not I will be able to make the right decisions when faced with the opportunity. I think that I really do lover her my heart… (the lights were turned off)”

And just like that the journal entry ends. The first serious journal entry that I ever wrote. And it’s funny, because it is really reminiscent of my first blog entry here. You know, even back then I felt that I was very innocent and naive, but I feel that I am still the same way. Maybe that’s how we are supposed to feel, but we can just disguise our own insecurities with bravado and pride. Or maybe not. Anyway, I seem to have come to a realization early on that there is something very wrong with the world. I think that my two weeks in Jamaica during the summer of 2008 changed the course and goals of my life forever. I knew then and there that I wanted to join the Peace Corps and devote my life to some kind of service.

I also speak of how I was introverted and shy. There is a back story behind all this. Contrary to many middle schoolers, I actually had a great 8th grade year in my coed Catholic School: girls said hi to me, I was two years ahead in math, sang in the choir, and I played in the county rec football league. I attempted to recreate this experience during my freshman year in my all-male, Jesuit high school known as Loyola Blakefield. However, I met my match, and I could not stay at the front and head of my endeavors. I could never remember my football plays, I received C’s on math tests, I didn’t feel popular, and I couldn’t get the hang of my homework. I would run to the bathrooms and cry, because I felt like a failure. Sure, now it looks like I was being overdramatic, but back then it felt like a big deal. I guess that I was used to feeling important and perfect, and now that I joined a more challenging high school I couldn’t deal with the pressure. It was during this time, as I was falling asleep during a homework set, that my mother asked me to pray the rosary with her and my lola (grandmother in tagalog) who was visiting during that time. And for the first time, I felt a tangible, real presence in my faith. I felt comforted, and knew that what believed in held real meaning. From that time on, I knew that my faith was real. I soon stopped playing football, and I was able to focus more on my grades and studies. However, an unintended consequence of that was that I secluded myself from many social situations, and only played the MMORPG, Runescape, during the weekends, or I studied for tests and quizzes to the point where anything below a 90% was a bad grade for me. This made me turn into an introvert with most people who were not my close friends, friends who also played video games as much as my other fellow classmates partied.

And that is just one of the paths that I had journeyed upon to get to that mango tree in Kingston, Jamaica. Sometimes I can still remember the breeze blowing through my entire being as I witnessed the golden sun setting across the yard. That was a pretty cool and serious reflection, and I guess that those reflections during the two weeks awoke my love for inner reflection and deep talks. Later during the night, the rest of the guys gathered in a room, and started talking about drinks and girls whom they hooked up with. I guess that that was my other awakening call, because I could not relate to them. I could have easily explained to them how to get 1mil gold in Runescape, or what the Zelda timeline theories were, but I could not even tell them what beer tasted like, let alone how it felt to kiss a girl on the lips. Yes, that was my inner confession in my journal that urged me to be more than I was. I was still conservative and a devout Catholic. Jamaica helped me realize that I only had one more year with my fellow high school brothers, and I wanted to at least know all of them by name. I guess that I was a late bloomer in the social regard.

Well, now I can say what it feels like to be shitfaced, wasted, hungover, and drunk. I could explain how it feels to kiss a girl on the lips. And I can still explain to you how the same voice actor for my least favorite character in the Mass Effect video game was the same one for my favorite character in KOTOR. Haha, I can still honestly say that I’m a video game nerd. But in all seriousness, this passage struck me in a special way. I did not fathom it then, but during that night right before the lights went out in the hallway, I understood that I wanted more out of life. And I am still thirsting.