My Year-End Self-Analysis

Per the advice of LifeHacker.

Done while listening to Neil Young’s “Harvest” Album

Accomplishments

  1. Started a relationship with a wonderful woman
  2. Graduated Georgia Tech with a BS in Electrical Engineering, a Spanish Minor, an International Plan and Co-op Certificate, and a 3.06 average
  3. Took my sister on a cool trip to Spain
  4. Had a fantastic cross-country roadtrip
  5. Summited Half Dome
  6. Drew up plans with Kelsey for Entropy
  7. Got a fine job in Beijing
  8. Started the AIESEC Beijing Trainee Committee
  9. Started BrainCanvas with King
  10. Learned a good bit about my ancestry and shared it with the family
  11. Had a wonderful Blue Plate Special shift on WREK


Failures

  1. Didn’t get distinction for graduating
  2. Lost out on my bid for the MindValley traineeship
  3. Didn’t make it into the NOI BootCamp in DC in July
  4. Didn’t get the Eben Tisdale Fellowship
  5. Didn’t make it past the first round in the Unreasonable Institute selection
  6. Got no job offers from the career fair
  7. Fell off of good updating for BrainCanvas
  8. Haven’t started learning Chinese
  9. Started, then stopped working out again
  10. Poorly handled turning down the AIESEC Official Expansion Mongolia invitation

Five Pictures to Sum Up 2009

  1. Revolutionary Beers at City Tavern
  2. Spain Trip 2009 304
  3. California Roadtrip 2009 433
  4. img_9344
  5. img_9075

Looking Forward to NYE 2011

  1. Making Waves in Washington, DC
  2. Working Out my Body, Mind, and Soul
  3. Learned Conversational Chinese
  4. My Writing is Referenced in Influential Publications
  5. Making Music Regularly

Midsummer

It was exactly one year ago that I spent an amazing evening celebrating the summer solstice with many thousands of Valencians on the beach, bonfires strewn about and music and celebration to be had. It was one of my more memorable nights, and it was exactly one week before I left Valencia.

I have got to get out of this place.

It Tolls for Thee

Valencia.


If you only knew the kind of music that word entails. Music like the most sublime themes and strains of the Ainulindal√ę. My heart beats as it does for almost nothing else when I just hear the music of the word alone, not to mention the state of being it describes.


It is Valencia I must leave in twelve hours. The “working” reason for coming here – getting Georgia Tech course credit – was scuttled by Ma Tech herself. I intended to get twelve credits on-site with three more to come from taking a test for a Spanish course I would have over-reached, and thanks to her own policies I am walking away with six. Unless they have more surprises up their sleeve. Now I also have to worry even more about my graduation date, which seems to stride farther and farther away like a renewed house arrest in Burma.


This town is nuts, my kind of place – I don’t wanna leave. I don’t ever, ever wanna leave.


Amidst these beatings on my nerves, I cannot help but melt into this paradise. The weather is unbeatable. The people are unbeatable. The food is ambrosia. The interplay between truly ancient edifices, well-thought out vibrant open spaces and greenery, and era-defining new architecture and programs take Valencia and make it a blameless youth that Atlanta will never be – Abel rewarded over Cain.


My life for the last five and a half months is now packed into a hiking backpack, a purpose-bought suitcase, and a laptop bag. I will go now with my roommates to have my final cena in Spain. That act of ingestion, like many since time before writing have ingested for the shamans, for their god or goddess, reminds me that I have left here a new human being. And at the base, I can feel that wind in my soul – Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man. I love this place – but I gots to keep on moving.


Even if it’s only so I can move again on down the line.

Scraped Away like Rotten Cheese

A familiar tension has taken a hold of me. I walked tonight to go to Friend’s Doner-Kebab, because it’s the best in town and because the 25-minute walk to it was needed to clear my head and my nerves. I reflected on the paseo. I haven’t felt a feeling like this since the fall of 2005 – when I found the answer to my terrible loneliness and boredom in WREK and AIESEC. Now, with just over a month left and a final on the way, I feel that loneliness once again.

It’s not homesickness, although I sincerely can’t wait to see my friends and family again. Rather I feel like the Americans here have disowned or abandoned me, be it deliberately or through the crime of accident. Since Friday I’ve had almost no real social interaction, and that gets to me, especially when I’ve now got to study for this final. I specifically asked one person on Sunday afternoon: “If you do anything tonight, please call me because I’m really bored.” The response was “Will do.” They went out and did not contact me. Maybe it’s just because I’m from the South and am around people who are “sincere” at best and “polite” at worst, but that just ain’t right.

As I was walking, I recalled the challenge of ITC: Be authentic. Focusing on that phrase – much like someone from back home might have told me to repeat the name of Jesus over and over – washed and renewed me. I thought: If they happened to ask me what I thought, at least I’d tell them exactly how I felt. Bullshit gets too heavy to carry.

Luckily, I’ve got an itinerary that’s in my favor. My only exam is on June 5, and Chris Foulon from the US/Belgium, whom I met at ITC, will arrive in Valencia on his Eurotrip on the 7th. We’ll experience Valencia and Madrid together, and then it’s only a coupla days before I go to Germany, immediately after which is San Sebasti√°n, immediately after which I look forward to a visit from Johanna and Claire for a festival in Valencia, and then only a week remains left of the Dream – at least, this chapter of it.

On a possibly unrelated note, this is pretty deck. Although I’ve heard the “wallpaper” bit before on OLED.

He asegurado un piso!

Finalmente! I have found and secured an allsome apartment. More amazing than finding that such a place actually exists is that out of 20 people I was chosen as the rightful inhabitant. Here’s a google-mappage of where it is. Yes, it’s across the street from the football stadium. And it’s also right where all the fan-bars are, three minutes from the metro, and ten minutes walk to the university, and five to ten to the “river park” and beyond to the old city. Which is nice.

Ah, the things which have and have not occurred since my last blizz-ogging. Notable in my own personal vision and development in the medium-term I shall relay in this anecdotal story.

Friday evening was the Erasmus dinner, which was to celebrate the end of the two-week intensive language course (which I passed, gracias por Dios!) at the slightly early time of 9:30. In an interestingly AIESEC-like fashion, everyone was to bring a dish from their own country and complete a banquet of international tastiness (complete with two provided barrels of sangria and “agua de valencia.”) Now I cannot cook, and there is not even an oven in the apartment in Gandia, but I had a great and simple idea to bring these Europeans the taste of the South: I would fix up some sweet tea.
So I checked a recipe online and I got the necessary ingredients from the store (sugar and tea). And I followed the instructions as they were written (or so I thought – realize that there are no measuring instruments in these apartments): I put about three or four cups of water on to boil and I put a cup and a half of sugar in as well. Threw in ten teabags, left it to boil for an hour (like I thought the directions said) and went to someone else’s apartment.
How the apartment smelled and was hazy when I returned an hour later. Smelling of burnt glucose. When I opened the pot of boiling sugar water/tea, it was no longer boiling. I was reminded of the scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day in which Sarah Connor visualizes the nuclear attack on Los Angeles, and sees the parents and children at the playground turn into black casts of themselves from the heat before the blast blows them away like so much ash. Well, that’s what the pot looked like. Everything was blacker than Mordor, and burnt sugar was all that was left. It even overtook the teabags, which crumpled to the touch. That pot is still not wholly clean after three washings with boiling water.
I was extremely frustrated and disappointed after that, but I just realized that I had to take the pot off the heat when I threw the teabags in and let it steep for an hour. I still had an hour and a half and ten more teabags, so this was easy. I just did it again with the crucial step of removing from heat. After an hour, I poured the syrup into a container and poured in a right amount of water (just like the recipe said!) and got barely, barely sweet tea. Not even worth bringing to represent Arkansas, much less Alabama. So I didn’t bring it.
And on the walk to the university, I came to the conclusion that one of my great challenges will be to become a “master” chef by the time I return to the land of the free. I’ll have to start out slow – my first victory will be successfully completing a pot of sweet tea – but by the end I’ll be able to cook for eight guests so well that they will all have to remark about it in between mouthfuls. Of food.

The other thing I will challenge myself with is starting AIESEC in Valencia. This way I can meet Spanish people, stay involved in AIESEC, and keep challenging myself, as well as bring AIESEC to this amazing corner of the world.

The other day in the metro I saw someone reading a book with the title La conjura de los necios and then I saw this picture on the cover:


The glory of A Confederacy of Dunces has been brought to Spain! I doubt that all the linguistic jokes can translate well, however.

I’ve been meaning to type this for some time, but I always lose time, but now I have time. A week before this past Friday in the language class, our professor was asking for adjectives that were negative about things or people. I proffered “fascista,” the professor said, “SI! SI!” and threw it up on the blackboard. A few minutes later, one of the Finnish dudes said, “comunista,” and she looked confused and said, “por que es mal?” I experienced a few thoughts and emotions at this time. Of course I was glad at her appreciation of the real meaning and good things of socialism, and more so that she would be able to counter that it was not a bad thing at all. Almost immediately afterward, I thought about how that could never, ever be uttered in the United States – yet our societies are both Western European derived societies. Why is it universally hated in the United States while it is taken seriously and debated seriously in Spain?

The answers lie in several places, most of which do not include the Cold War (which is the most recent reason for U.S. outright dismissal of that kind of society). One of the most interesting and influential clashes of ideology ever was the Spanish Civil War, in which the left fought the right. The right won. But during the war (especially in Catalunya) the left proved that its system worked for real. Which is glorious. The point here is that after the dictatorship of Franco, the people of Spain recognize a socialist society as both the democratic alternative to Franco and as the thing to achieve after what they have experienced under dictatorship.

Anyway, tomorrow is the day of matriculation and settlement. Cheers to all from Valencia.