Monday, April 27, 2009

School's out for the summer

I’m about to graduate from college and lately I’ve been all smiles, but I just got a bill in the mail from my university for $35. So I called to ask what the charge was for.

My diploma!

So you’re telling me that after all the tuition I’ve paid and the books that I’ve bought, they can’t just throw in a diploma? It’s not included? There should be some fine print that says, “diplomas cost extra.”

I know it’s only $35, but to charge me for my diploma is just silly. It’s just insulting! I mean, these college people are bleeding me dry! Don’t they already have enough of my money? And how much can a fancy piece of paper with my name on it cost? I doubt it runs them $35, especially when they print them off en masse for all the hundreds of other graduates.

I guess it’s only fair that I not get my money’s worth, because my whole college experience I’ve been trying to NOT get what I paid for. I paid (handsomely, mind you) for my education, but I only want to learn the bare minimum. Actually, I don't want to learn anything, I just want a degree, man. When a teacher is lecturing, I ask them what is going to be on the test and only study and take notes on that. I only do the reading that I know there will be a quiz on. Early in the semester I figure out just how much class I can miss and not lose points. Silly, really, when I consider how much money I’ve put into this.

I’ll pay the $35, but one thing I absolutely WILL NOT do is attend the graduation ceremony and “walk.” To me, this is just a way to prolong the college agony. It’s basically a class, some faculty member droning on and on, except now I get to wear a dress and stupid hat! The dress and hat cost extra, too, by the way, and I will die before I give these college crooks one more cent of my money.

And as much as I hate classes and tests and paying for diplomas, I have enjoyed the college experience. By “college experience” I mean “chasing girls, going to parties and shows, participating in school organizations and spending time with friends.” But you can’t stay in college forever, and if that’s all you go to college for that’s kind of like buying some really expensive shoes just to play with the box.

So with all this I swore I was though with college, but recently I decided I want to go back and get my Ph.D. I was inspired by one of my professors who always wears cutoff sweatpants and muscle shirts to teach class. I just thought, “Man, I want a job where I can look as trashy as I want all the time. No more polo shirts or khakis for me!” Plus, you get summers and holidays off, just like a student. All you have to do is teach a couple of college kids just enough information for them to get their diplomas. Dream job.

Muscle shirts and cutoff sweat pants, here I come!

Monday, April 20, 2009

That was classic, man OR Beethoven is overrated

My good friend had her sophomore clarinet recital yesterday and I went to support her. Before, during and after the recital it became apparent to me: I don’t get classical music.

I'm not very cultured and have really only been to punk shows, so I pretty much stuck out like a sore thumb. First off, it was at UNM campus, so I got there and asked the lady working the door how much it was to get into the "show." With a little bit of attitude she said, “The recital is free.”

Oh. A recital is not the same as a show. Got it.

Next, I figured out that at classical music recitals there are strict regulations about clapping. My friend would play a song and then I would start to clap only to get dirty looks from the people around me.

“I thought the song was over, aren’t we supposed to clap?” I asked the person sitting next to me.

"Wait until the piece is over," they said. "You’re not supposed to clap between movements."

“Cool,” I said. “What’s a ‘movement?’”

Apparently in classical music a song is called a “piece” and often a “piece” can be made up of several “movements.” Classical music people expect you to know this. My bad.

Some of the songs, er, pieces were like 20 minutes long. They were great, but I guess pop music has ruined me. When I think of a song, I usually think about two minutes and 30 seconds.

For the last song my friend had her opera singing colleague come out and they did a sweet duet, only the opera chick was singing in German or Italian or Pig Latin for all I know. I didn’t understand a word of it, but it sounded pretty.

When the recital was over and my friend was taking her final bow I started chanting “One more song! One more song!”

Apparently they frown on this at “recitals.”

I followed the crowd backstage and waited in line to talk my friend. Everyone else brought her huge bouquets of flowers. Oops. I was just going to buy her t-shirt (of course, there are no t-shirts at recitals either) and ask her to sign my face. I thought about running outside and trying to gather up a bouquet from flowers I could scrounge there on campus, but I’m sure they frown on dandelion bouquets at classical recitals too.

All in all, my friend sounded really good and I will come whenever she plays because she is really good. She was super sweet to me and thanked me for coming, even though I forgot my bouquet, so she is awesome. In general, though, I think classical music people are kind of snobbish. They are kind of like indie kids in that way. That's all I'm saying.

I looked up the top five classical composers and Beethoven was usually number one. But let’s be honest: Beethoven is cool, but did he ever sell out a stadium? Did he ever sue Napster? Have a baby with Pete Wentz? I don’t think so. And I’m pretty sure he never dated Katy Perry, designed a clothing line or got endorsed by Pepsi. He’s never had a platinum record, done a collaboration with Akon or had a song on Grey’s Anatomy.

Getting culture is hard, let me tell you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beware of imposters! OR Attack of the Clones

Don’t get ahead of me, but I think it’s true. There could be hundreds - even thousands – of clones of me running around, doing who knows what! It all started with a bike ride.

I was meeting a friend for lunch, but I wanted to squeeze in a little exercise beforehand so I hurriedly jumped on my bike and started out on my usual route. I rode most of the way without incident but I encountered a small problem on the home stretch.

There had been a car accident a few hours before at the intersection right by my apartment and the intersection was littered with little pieces of grille, headlight and taillight. One of the cars had also leaked antifreeze everyplace and there was a big patch of it that was soaking into the asphalt.

I didn’t know it at the time, but later I looked up the chemical formula for antifreeze (ehtylene glycol) and it is HOCH2CH2OH. Anyone who has taken Chem 101 can tell you that a substance that contains a lot of “H” means it can be scientifically classified as “wicked slippery.”

To make matters worse, the road back to my apartment is all downhill and my bike tires are bald, which means “good luck stopping, sucker!” Mathematically, my experience could be plotted out like this:

downhill + bald tires + accident debris + antifreeze = EPIC CRASH

That’s right. I ate it. Wiped out and sprawled all over the street. I didn’t really have any other options, you know? Here is a diagram of my injuries:

As you can see, it could have been worse. All of my man parts are intact, except for my ego. It was badly damaged in the accident because I crashed right in the middle of a busy intersection. No less than 20 drivers, five pedestrians and one poodle all saw me splatter all over the asphalt. And no less than 20 drivers, five pedestrians and one poodle all subsequently proceeded to laugh their respective heads off.

So I picked myself up and wobbled home to clean myself off. I scrubbed all the asphalt out with soap and water and then applied some rubbing alcohol, a process that always involves a lot of profanity. Afterward my knees looked like this:

As you can see I left a substantial chunk of my knees back at the intersection. I started to worry because that’s a bunch of my DNA right there on the pavement, ripe for the taking. Any evil organization could come by, scoop it up and use it to make clones of me, which they could use for all sort of sordid purposes. (I think I have a thing with clones.)

Right now my knee scrapings are simmering in a bunch of cloning vats that some evil corporation is using to turn out some Jesse-clone-assassins, or maybe an army of Jesse-super-soldiers. Why? Because with my killer physique and genius mind, I am the perfect candidate for cloning if an evil corporation or government agency wants to make top-notch assassins/soldiers/spies, that’s why! They’ve been waiting to get their filthy hands on my DNA for years, and now they’ve finally succeeded. Curse you, antifreeze! A clone could be writing this very blog for all I know.

So if you see me walking around, make sure it’s The Real Jesse before you tell me anything confidential. I would hate for one of my clones to spread it around.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I am the homecoming king

Whoever said, “you can’t go home again” is absolutely right. You can’t. Or at least you can’t go home again and still feel good about yourself.

I went home this weekend and it’s just so funny. First of all, when I’m back in my hometown I run into all the people I grew up with. Then we have to catch up and then compare and pass judgements on each other’s lives. Here is an example of a typical “bumping into” someone in a grocery store aisle conversation:

High School Friend: You’re not married yet? You’re not even dating someone? Well I have a wife and, like, six kids. And a dog. And a hamster, even! Do you even have a hamster? Aw, too bad. And what did you get your degree in? Hmmm. Where do you work? Good luck making a living at that! I make, like, six figures and I work from home and I own my own company.

I can deal with that, though. No big deal. I am happy where I am at. The real trouble with “going home” is actually going home to your home of origin, like where your family lives, the house where you grew up. WEIRD.

The first thing that happens when you come home is any growing up you have done while you were away from home automatically goes out the window. This means that no matter how hard they try, no matter how good their intentions are, your parents will still slip up and treat you like a kid sometimes. It just happens. It’s not too bad, really. Mostly it’s just funny.

And then you figure out that you are in some weird limbo space with your siblings. You’re still cool, but you’ll never be one of them again. With my siblings, most of this awkwardness comes because I get along with my parents a lot better these days, so I’m no longer an ally in the War on Parents. We used to have a unified front against the Parents, but now that I’m back and know a little bit about the world I try to get along and help out. To my siblings this is high treason.

So I can never again be a kid in my siblings’ eyes, and I will never truly be an adult in my parents’ eyes. I can’t ever move from this awkward place either. The only way to gain favor in my siblings’ eyes is to fight with the parents, and the only way I can gain favor in my parents’ eyes is to fight with my siblings. It’s very tricky.

They try not to put me in the middle of their arguments, but I find myself there often. My parents say stuff like, “You should tell So-and-So that they should do such-and-such. They’ll listen to you.” And my siblings tell me things like, “Mom and Dad are crazy. You should talk to them. Maybe you could talk some sense into them.”

So I miss my family and then I go home, and pretty soon I don’t miss them anymore. Then I hurriedly go back out on my own again. It’s a good setup.