Monday, October 24, 2011

Tidbits from Yale

It’s a rainy night here at Yale University. On my left, Mike is reading a philosophy book. Tommy is lounging on a sofa, legs up, head buried in a Newsweek. Zach is on his bed, computer in his lap, having fallen asleep with a finger in his mouth. The other two suitemates, James and Wade, are in their rooms, already tucked in. A girl’s laughter floats inside through an open window, but it dissipates, soaked away by the pattering of the rain. Mozart’s piano concerto #23 is whispering its melody; after 3 minutes, iTunes abruptly switches to Divertimento in B-flat Major, the violin vivacious and arresting. It jars me. “Peter, we have to discover nuclear fusion,” Tommy says. “It will make us rich and solve all our problems.” I ignore the waggish comment and continue typing. But the comments keep pouring out: “San Francisco banned happy meals.” “You look like a waiter, Mike. Pretty sure you don’t need to wear a white shirt for waiter-ing jobs.” “I have 45 pages the week we get back.” “Does it actually require research?” His feet smell. His nose-blowing is perverse. His voice is grating. But then I look at him, and my exasperation melts away: he's Tommy, that's all. 

T-$: word why?

When you shower, do you bring speakers with you, so that you can engage your mind with music?

Oh, right: I cut myself with the razor. I put my entire thumb on the plastic tab and pulled down; it came off too easily and my thumb buried itself into the newly exposed razor. I didn't feel anything, it was so sharp. The cut, though, was half an inch deep, and as I waited for the blood to start seeping out of the cross-section of veins, I slathered Neosporin over the area, creating a messy seal. The rest of my time in Port St. Joe, I would gingerly use my left hand for most tasks, my right as good as a dummy prosthesis.

In the Dominican Republic, after two weeks of Ed and I serenading each other with the first two lines of Drake’s most popular songs, John D's computer computer came alive with Drake the first time he opened it.

We collected plates and cups from the entryways in Berkeley. There were utensils hidden everywhere —some suites had upwards of 7 cups in their rooms. We entered the rooms in the most cursory, perfunctory, and disingenuous manner possible, proceeded to look through the cupboards, refrigerators, and rooms of everyone living in the suite. The responses ranged from friendly (“This is a great idea!”) to extreme annoyance (glares of hatred and disbelief). In all, we collected 62 cups and 28 plates.

At Warren's beach house, one of the "hicks" who lived in town stumbled into my living room, drunk, and said to me, “I'm having a better time with people I’ve just fucking met then my fucking friends." 

I moved from Canada to California when I was 5 years old. The last thing I did before leaving was write a card to Katherine that said, "I'm going to come back and marry you," or something like that. I might also have called her the prettiest girl in the world -- I don't really remember (my mom does, though). She friended me on Facebook in college. I remember having a short Facebook message conversation, too, but every time I search for it, I can't find it, which makes me think the entire episode might have been a dream. 

For 10 of my 14 meals every week, I sit at the Berkeley senior table. Over the course of a year, that’s 400 hours sitting on the beat-up maroon chairs, revolving around the same topics—the Jacksonville Jaguars (thanks for wasting my life, John), hedge fund investment strategies, and Youtube videos (search: “Greg Jennings”). I’ve grown used to the routine, and don’t recognize the awe-inspiring features that first struck me when I walked in 4 years ago: the loping chandeliers, demure portraits of former Masters, that admonishing elk head directly above the trays, admonishing people to go trayless.

A ghost frequented our common-room at points. One day, as I was tying my shoes in preparation for a run, the glasses on the table started tinkling – all by themselves. This also happened one night…at 3:38am.

On a chilly Yale night senior year first semester, I sat with Sangay D. in shaded area of the School of Management in a settling twilight and talked about Bhutan. The country is what environmentalists in the US wish our country was. Every 2nd of June, their children engage in Social Forestry Day, where everyone plants one tree and takes care of it for the rest of their schooling. Sangay's tree was 8 inches high when he first planted it, and now it's 12 feet tall. Watching it grow up with him, he said, was an unbelievable experience. In high school, his class adopted an area, and tended to it once a week. The Bhutanese economy is also inherently tied to the environment: 40% of its GDP comes from hydropower and 10% to eco-tourism. 40% of the entire country is a protected area. 

In the Dominican Republic, I accomplished 2 important feats with Ed. The first was recalling 150 of 151 Pokemon over a four-hour hike on the tallest peak in the Dominican Republic. (We missed Paras -- but not Parasect?) The second was creating a MECE framework of all the different types of humor: whimsical, exaggeration, long-form (referring to a prior incident in a novel context later on), storytelling, ironic, non-verbal and sarcastic. For the rest of the trip, whenever someone laughed, we looked at each other and slotted it into one of the categories. 

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