Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Everybody should

change their language on Facebook to English Pirate. It gives Facebook new procrastination potential.


Monday, September 22, 2008


I don't really give a shit about my grades anymore. I mean, I don't want to get like Cs, but I am not going to bust my ass for a grade. I am going to learn the material, and take what I need from each class, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over the difference between an A and a B. Those days are behind us now.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

I feel bad

because I haven't done any homework this weekend. Not bad in the sense that I'll be incredibly unprepared, but bad because my parents are paying a ridiculous amount for me to be here and I'm sitting in my room looking at Facebook and waiting for the next Thing to happen.



is more interesting
than this.


Saturday, September 20, 2008


Peeing is a pretty good metaphor for life. It feels so good, but only because having all that piss in your bladder is so uncomfortable.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


When I stay up later than usual, which isn't all that late, I start feeling a little weird. Like a werewolf or something. It's kind of like getting drunk.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On Alcohol

Tommy: I am so sick of hearing freshmen talk about alcohol. Well, I'll put it this way: I was so sick of hearing freshmen talk about alcohol, but now I'm just resigned to it. I've learned that "fun" to my peers is usually synonymous with "totally fucked up," or as the nerd wearing a shirt that read "Flirt harder, I'm a physics major" (this was a real shirt) put it, "completely inebriated." When I ask freshmen about their weekends, they give me a blow-by-blow of how many drinks they had at which hours, how buzzed they were after half an hour, how they don't remember anything after midnight, and the hangover they had for two days. When I try and ask about what they actually did ("No, no... like, where were you? What were you up to when you were drinking?") no one seems to really remember or care.

The ridiculous thing is, it is totally obvious that the majority of kids here didn't drink in high school. I'm pretty convinced that a lot of them don't know what "drunk" feels like. So when they tell me that they're "so gone right now" after drinking a cup of apple juice that supposedly has some sort of booze in it at a frat party, it's hard for me to take them seriously.

The self-obsessed dialogues aren't what really get to me, though. Or, got to me, because as I said: I'm resigned to it now. What I really hate is the ceaseless talk about alcohol. I'll give an example of five average minutes here:

A group of freshmen and I are sitting in someone's room doing homework on a Wednesday night.
Freshman A: How much tequila did we drink last night?
Freshman B: Dude, we need to save that shit. It cost us some money.
Freshman C: [Opens the mini-fridge and takes out the half-empty bottle of tequila] Dude!
Freshman A: What the fuck? Where did it all go?
Freshman C: We were pretty wasted last night.
Freshman D: How did you do problem seven? I can't find the integral.
Freshman B: Here, like this. [Does the problem in two seconds]
Freshman D: Oh, okay, I get it now... Let's do shots.
Freshman A: Are you kidding?
Freshman D: Just one?
Freshman A: We need to save that, man!
Freshman C: Well... is anyone down to smoke tonight?
Freshman D: I'd be down.
Freshman B: Yeah, I'd totally be down.
Freshman A: Okay, I'm down. Even though I have a shitload of homework to do. Whatever, it's not due for a week.
Freshman C: Sick. Blunt or joint?

Think: this conversation... repeated... over and over... with some "I was so drunk this weekend" stories interjected here and there... this is my life. I am in a room of tequila on an island of vodka in a sea of Natty Ice. I take notes on rolling paper. I don't play sports here; instead, I pre-game.

How have I learned to live with this? I don't really know. I guess my peers have toned it down since actual work began to pile up. Or, maybe I've just adopted a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

On Humility

Everyone knows how many great opportunities there are for all sorts of students at college, particularly at the rather highly regarded institutions such as the one I attend. People speak of pursuing your passions, learning new things about yourself, and gaining really valuable life experience. That is all surely true, but the two weeks or so I've been here at Brown are perhaps insufficient to fully grasp such things. In such a short span of time, however, I already have had strong, important lessons on humility, which have at times been hard for my ego to deal with, but I have already felt their enormous value.

Of course some examples would not go amiss. I'll speak first about karate. Back home in Amherst, I had been second only to sensei himself for five or six years. I still learnt knew techniques, had to be corrected frequently, and was not the absolute top by any means. But still, I did get very used to being above all the other students who trained with me, always being the one, in sensei's absence, to correct their techniques and try to encourage them rather than the other way around. I enjoyed that existence in the dojo, but I realise now that I had forgotten what it was like to be on the other side of that relationship. At Brown I joined the shotokan karate club, and am now a white belt like any other. Of course my knowledge of how to perform the techniques they're teaching is vastly superior to nearly all the other beginning students (except the other few who had done martial arts before), but that is at times more of a hindrance than an asset, not only because there are subtle differences in the way they teach things and the way I learnt things at Moving Zen, but also because I constantly need to remind myself that despite long past experience, I am no longer at the top of the proverbial heap. Luckily, I think that over the course of the three classes I've gone to, I haven't done too badly at that and have managed to do the techniques as well as I possibly can while still being humble and accepting all corrections I'm given, no matter how different they be from what I was taught back at home.

There is also a second example, which was far harder for me to deal with than that of karate, this being in my "demotion" in Japanese class. Apparently I did quite well on the placement test and was put into a fourth-year class. Over the first week and a half, the class felt very easy and manageable to me, but on Friday, after class, our sensei asked to talk to me and the other two freshmen in the class after class, and told us that she though we'd be much better off in third-year. She talked to each of us separately, so I don't know what she said to the other two specifically, but she said to me that what I had done on a homework assignment demonstrated that despite well-developed skill in some areas, my writing was far too unnatural and showed that I needed to learn a lot in terms of what was culturally appropriate to write to people, and that third-year taught a lot of that stuff. I told her that I agreed with her and would go to check out the third-year class on Monday (which, of course, I haven't done yet because it's still Sunday), and mentally knew that she was right, but there was another part of my mind, or perhaps of my body, which was nearly eaten up with nonsensical indignation. No matter how much my higher parts tried to explain to my lower parts that this was for the best and was a good lesson in humility, it seemed that my other part might simply collapse in depression. Luckily, another part of my brain realised the precarious state I was in and released some chemical into my body that made me kind of excited about taking third-year Japanese, but it took a long time. I am now fully prepared, psychologically and spiritually, to go to third-year, but it was a long climb to arrive there.

The lessons I learnt from the above experiences are ones I already knew and could have preached to others about for hours even before coming, but this is, I believe, the first time I was really forced to experience what they teach, and I'm quite thankful for it now in rather near retrospect. Undoubtedly several more such shocking lessons will unveil themselves sooner than I expect.

Lil Mugi

Monday, September 8, 2008

swarthmore deux

-the people are not as intimidating as I thought they'd be. in fact, many of them are really immature.

-the answer to the question that everyone asks: religion and the human experience, intro to linguistics, intensive french, close reading and its discontents.

-I still don't see how I'll be able to make better friends here than I already have at home.

-partying with people who aren't really your friends isn't that fun for me. most of my classmates seem to be really enjoying it, though.

-I feel much more comfortable here than I thought.

-I've developed a core group of friends who all remind me of our friends at home: there is a julia type... a... a... well, maybe there's only a julia type. okay, so they're all very different from our friends. the boys: a reader, a southern classics scholar, a clean-looking philosophy guy. the girls: a jen gong/jackie slocombe hybrid, a girl with julia's hair and teeth, a southern belle, a dark-haired twin.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


all these distinctions:
philosophy, art, physics, linguistics, American literature, French literature, mathematics
they're all bullshit, right? it's all the same thing.


Thursday, September 4, 2008


I kind of feel like I'm on a vacation that will never really end. I am very happy with all the kids I've met and the classes I'm taking, but holy shit. We are never really going to go home ever again. I mean, sure, I'll probably spend a few weeks there here and there, and maybe even a whole summer, but it's never really going to be the same thing that it was. My room is never really going to be my room again. My dog is never really going to be my dog again. My house is never really going to be my house again. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but I think what I'm saying is kind of the truth.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I can't pretend to have an especially accurate picture of my life here since classes haven't started yet, but so far it's been pretty great. The buildings and scenery are all really nice, and I made friends faster than I'd expected as well. It's not without its lonely moments, but in truth, I don't mind them too much either. I guess you could say they give me a little time to reflect and make sense of the recent barrage of newness. Course registration begins in an hour, and my orchestra audition is tonight. The practice rooms are nice but far away, and it's especially a pain to carry my cello so far, but I guess it's good exercise, right? I'm actually going off to do a little of that right now.

I'll write again when I've had a few days of classes. I promise some good insights/stories/blog material soon enough.


Lil Mugi

Monday, September 1, 2008


Yale is pretty fucking awesome. There are definitely a few people who I've encountered who I'm not really compatible with, but for the most part the people I've met have been great.

More later,