The Mountaintop

I have finished Georgia Tech. I have taken all my finals. Most of the stuff is out of the Duplex ready to go back to Gadrock. Tomorrow morning I head to the Georgia Dome to go through commencement.

And it is looking like I will have quite a plate of options on the table. I have interviewed with / am in the process of moving forward with three different opportunities. One is being on the expansion team expanding AIESEC into Mongolia, and continuing the good work begun by my former comrade Alina and her band of merry Yalies. One is a traineeship for Prime Networks, Ltd., a content delivery network startup in Beijing, PRC. And one is for Mindvalley in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

They all represent radically different possible paths for this new stage in my life. The winds of fortune will have to be read carefully for me to take the wisest path. I intend to be out of the country by August, but if I choose Mongolia I will have to be there by July 1. As the possibilities weigh themselves on my mind at the crossroads, I remember the words of the checkout clerk:

If you want to find the truth, you have to walk through the darkness. In the depths of the darkness where no one likes to tread is where the truth lies.

Those are the words that swim in my head at night when I lay me down to sleep, that buzz through my brain while the steam of the shower awakens me while the morning light streams through the bathroom window. I think they are the calling of my destiny.

But until then, I go with a great companion on a long trip where he will begin his life anew in Seattle, and will drop me off in San Jose, CA; on the way we will commiserate and rest with old friends in Ohio, Kansas, and Colorado; we will hike a bit and chat aplenty. Then I get the pleasure of spending two wonderful weeks with Colin before he begins his MC term working with Tiffany and the others on the AIESEC US Dream Team, the first properly elected and selected such team in twelve years. I’ll also be with my new ladyfriend, exploring San Jo, San Francisco (I’m particularly interested in checking out a Long Now Foundation Seminar!), camping in Napa Valley and culminating in AIESEC San Jose’s Get Golden camping trip in Yosemite over Memorial Day weekend. Then I fly to New York to visit those people beginning their terms on the MC, and then back to Alabama on the first of June for some much needed R & R after five years of mental siege.

So much to try to experience and prepare for before the next chapter begins in this saga. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In VLSI and Advanced Digital Design on a Monday at the Autumnal Equinox

My day is one of path effort delay and flip flops and latches, of masculinismo y marianismo, awful sushi with green Tabasco sauce to make it palatable, reading the news on my Smackberry, fretting for my homework and grades, trying to conquer it all with AIESEC and being conquered by my environment. It is a day of overstaying familiarity and futility of the dream of escape and breaking bonds, of fulfilling my Pyramid and occasionally descending (or ascending?) into a different Way just for it not to be the same Way.

I feel like after graduation and my traineeship I would benefit from one year in a place where the bulk of my day would consist of reading and running, so I could descend into my own underworld, discover the boon, and return it to this plane. Then I would be The Conqueror to our enemies and The Liberator to us.

Them Tuesday Vibes

I finally got my Russian invitation letter to go to EUROXPROS, so tomorrow I will go and get my visa. I will also try and schmooze them into some kind of useful partnership for the LC, like facilitated visa processing for someone wishing to catch a Ride.

I forwarded the applications for the CC of IC 2008 in Brazil to the national leadership list and to the LC, and I have already gotten five emails asking for details, expressing interest, looking for reference, etc. I’m glad I could be the vector for that.

Today was a rollercoaster day. It started out pretty good when I got my letter of invitation, but then it tanked after I found out my grade on the prob/stat test I took Thursday, and when I couldn’t do most of the homework I had due today in Instrumentation & Circuits, and even then, I couldn’t finish the lab. It was exemplary of my reasons for loathing much about this place. But then I had a nice dinner with Laleh and Ben James, where serendipitously Willy’s was selling $3.50 burritos with a college ID – only on the first Tuesday of each month. Our conversation focused mostly on facilitating exchange, shall we say.

Finally, just as I was dropping Laleh off, I got a text message from our SGA president – the bill for Laleh to go to APXLDS passed! So in the end, today was a day of balance. Too bad it was in such extremes.

I’ve stayed up too late to do it now, but Thursday morning if it isn’t raining I’ll start running again.

The Shaft

I hate to do posts like this, especially at so pivotal a time, but due to the pivotal and difficult nature of this epoch I am required to do so.

Winter Conference was cool for the people, but I felt like the planning and session quality left very much to be desired. I hope to be able to provide appropriate perspective for that. However, Southern Comfort Region did emerge closer. The ride home was funny and we ate at the Jefferson’s in Belleville, IL which is also where Uncle Tupelo are from. Some people at the restaurant there had stolen my and Dave’s idea; you can see me referenced at their less-than-awesome website.

The day after I got back I moved into our new place, which is really pretty awesome and well-located. We’ve had two parties here in the week since we’ve been moved in. I also started back at Tech, which is a system shock. I’ve grown rusty on many of the fundamental electrical-engineering concepts but I anticipate I’ll be back in full swing…somehow.

While I was out I also officially transitioned into LCP, which technically occurred as I screamed “Auld Lang Syne” at the conference over a YouTube karaoke video into the house sound for all the AIESECers present. I also had a nice SoCo circle a few hours beforehand to toast the year.

I got food poisoning early the morning of the second day of school, probably from school sushi, and it was so bad that when I stumbled into the health center after somehow surviving my first class that day and skipping the second they immediately stuck an IV in me and emptied it into my veins. For about 36 hours my entire diet consisted of saline, water, and about a third of a bowl of ramen forced down over a period of an hour. I recovered by Friday but I had missed valuable productive time.

Homework will be my bane. I will survive.

Are you feeling better now?

Yes.

Because, my last-ditch email for course approval yielded all transfers – so now, I have a better situation than I could have imagined.

The intensive language course went through for three hours, which is awesome for two reasons: I only have to take nine equivalent hours at UPV, and that completes a scheme where I now get six free elective hours because I get SPAN1001 and 1002 filled in on virtue of higher-level completion and the classes I took in hike school.

Two of the classes I am taking went through for ECE (my major school) credit, one as three hours of 3xxx credit and the other as a direct transfer class, ECE 4330, Power Electronics. Finally there is Spanish Regional Economy, which I did not go to this morning because I chose to sleep through it, and which will be worth 3 ECON hours. That’s 13 hours when I needed twelve.

Oh, and I only have class between 1700 Monday and 1700 Wednesday. So’s theres gonna be lots of Eurotrips and Hispanotrips.

I am, needless to say, extremely happy about this arrangement. I still don’t believe that everything turns out for the best, but I am quite amazed at how well this has turned out.

Now I just need to plan my trips. My companion for the Paris trip to see the Decemberists backed out… I could do it, but I kinda don’t want to go alone, and Paris isn’t a great town. Whatev. I shelled out what it takes to go see Valencia play Barca this Sunday. Yes, the game is across the street from me.

There is something else that has been on my mind which must be stated.

I don’t really think of anywhere as “home” – I realized this when I was in Tuscaloosa one weekend in 2004, and we were out and it was late, and I said, “let’s go home” – meaning to my friends’ dorm room. I realized, however, that I meant home. It just meant base.

So, I really don’t get homesick or want to be back somewhere, like the South or the US or anything. But there are two things – just two – that I want here, and both of them have to do with food. The first is an establishment open late-night where you can grab some grub on the cheap. Waffle House is the most obvious answer, but I’m looking for anything – a doner, tapas, you name it.

The other thing is Jefferson’s Bar and Grill. The original Jacksonville, Alabama location served as the spiritual equivalent of Tolkein and LewisEagle and Child Pub to the high potential and extremely bored young population of Gadsden, Alabama. Though every one built since the Jacksonville original, including the one in Gadsden, has not so much character (my friend David refers to them as “shitty nice Jefferson’s”), the most important factor remains: they have the best buffalo wings I can possibly imagine. It doesn’t matter when or where I am, I dream of Jefferson’s wings.

If you are reading this from Kansas or St. Louis, you will go to one of the nearby Jefferson’s restaurants.