Looking Back

Here we go, it’s finally over. I’ve reached the end of the game. Whether or not I’ve crossed the finish line, the game’s over. The suspense may have been killing me, but I’m too exhausted to feel the suspense at this point.

Year 1 is over. I’ve finished a whole academic year at university, my first big change since high school began. It’s had its ups and downs and sheer ecstasy moments; I’ve loved the freedom that’s with being on my own in university, I’ve enjoyed being able to prove myself wrong— in good ways! I’ve loved what I’ve learnt this year, not just in that typical ‘personal growth’ way, but also academically: it’s nice to fall in love with an area you may be in for a long time to come!

I’ve also come to fall in love with the area we live in: downtown Toronto, the heart of the city. I’ve always been a city kid, but my “city” ended in the suburbs—I never fancied living in the rush of the sprawling upward expanses with square glass fingers desperately stretching higher skywards in a place where you’d enjoy it if you live for the thrill of the fast lane 24/7.

Not my kind of thing. But I’ve come to love it. It’s not entirely an about turn, though. Our campus is 1865 powering its way into 2019 and adamantly staying that way, and it’s beautiful. It’s neo-gothic style architecture drives students crazy (and me; sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s a tourist and who’s a student because even as recently as this month,  eight months in, my phone camera is still out. This was on the way to an exam location, no less. I guess imminent death makes everything look prettier! (Naw, it’s pretty as it is)

Now that I’m sitting home, it’s kind of this bittersweet wait. A long, anticipated wait.

I’m awaiting grades and major decisions. It’s been a chaotic last few weeks, and my finals weren’t even half the reason. Finals don’t stress me out, as you’ve clearly seen. All my best work (a twenty-six and counting comics included) comes during my highest periods of pressure. And I’m not even talking academic work. My creative output skyrockets under pressure. When people bring up the whole debate about the tortured artist, I hide my face and run away. It’s not something I can pretend doesn’t happen!

But it’s been a tiring year.

I am, or at least, at this point, I think I am, a computer science student. I can’t pretend I knew much better when I signed up for this, but apparently it’s a well sought-after major. Which means resources are limited, but the demand is pretty high. Which means stuff gets competitive. My school is one of those that selects majors once you’re already in college, so you have a bunch of people scrambling around for places in a pretty limited program, because everyone can take their shots. At the end of the year, based on how you’ve fared compared to the rest of your class, you’re either in, or you’re not.

And guess what, it’s the end of the year.

So it boils down to this. Numbers will be concrete now. The hypothesisations are out. Over. I could be out and over. The possibilities are literally limitless and are veritably driving me nuts.

I’ve been doing more math than computer science this last month, and there are so many loose ends. I don’t normally think of myself as someone with loopholes. It’s a challenging field out there, and while I can’t say the actual coursework has been stressing me out—no sir, I’ve loved it—the consequences of messing something up are killing me. Getting an assignment back is no longer about look! So much of this is right, I’ve learned—maybe even mastered—so much!, it’s about oh no, I’m below the class average this time! How much better am I going to have to do on the next assignment to make this up? Back to the calculator it is!

At this point, I genuinely don’t even remember why I liked computer science in the first place. There’s this hazy mist above my head that’s saying “I remember I used to like it, so I must’ve liked it. Can’t recall why though.” I’ve forgotten what I wanted to do after college, what area of computer science I wanted to specialise in. Goals have shrunk down to micro-goals. What do you want to do in life? I want to get into second year. I don’t remember what came beyond that. Was it research of some sort I’d wanted to do? Go into graphics or interaction or something? Jump on the AI bandwagon? (Look, I’m open, but that probably wasn’t it. I feel an internal need to run away from the mainstream, even if it may end up being something interesting. I wish I could change that, but my internal magnet repels way too strongly.)

The point is, I don’t remember, I’m just so exhausted and worn out, that me saying anything about this will have me sounding like a broken record (ask my poor roommate). I used to be kinda interesting, you know. I used to talk computer science stuff like I was really interested, and I’d leave the conversation having you hooked onto something you’d never imagined you’d find interesting or remotely imagine spending the day with (I can vouch for myself here because I’ve had a twenty minute conversation with a self-proclaimed luddite on binary storage. Better times! Talk to me about it if you’d like, I’ll see if I still have it left in me).

Well, here’s the thing, me not knowing is worse, because it means I’m going to have to do the painful discovery process thing again. If I need to get my ass out of this place and at a new place that’s not quite as much of a gladiator showdown, I’ll need to write another bunch of long and thought out essays on why a college should have me as a computer science major. Last year, I’d swore I wouldn’t do that again.

So here we go, it begins again.

The hunt, the search, the outputting. If you missed the shitshow last year, here’s a repeat telecast.

Man, I just want to be sure, for once. Just know that there’s something out there that I can come back to, and bank on. Maybe you’d call it a backup.

I really don’t want to have to go. I love the place, I love the people, I love what I do. I have friends (I am personally surprised by the number of people I’ve discovered in the last month that would vouch for me) and I was really settling in quicker than I ever have before.

Starting uni, I really just hit the ground running. Things weren’t out of place, culture shock didn’t really hit me, I was weirdly not homesick either (hurray for WhatsApp!) and I really just clicked. It was a beautiful feeling, almost like Toronto had been waiting for me since forever. Even if it wasn’t me in question, Toronto can make anyone feel home and familiar, I’ve noticed, but hey, this here is my theatre production, so back to me.
You can’t seriously be telling me at this point that I’m going to have to pack up and move. Not after I’ve worked that hard. Not after things have worked. Not after everything had been blue skies (actually no. Grey skies with a 40% chance of snow; this is Toronto, guys!) and wind in the sails and a 90 on cruise control. The blow those finals dealt me has me kind of stunned, because me numbers don’t predict graceful nosediving worth a perfect 10 in synchronised swimming.

Basically, I’m confused. I didn’t see that coming and I am not prepared for it. Denial may kick in soon, but I need to plan my bust before that happens.

Look, there’s nothing pretty about this piece of writing anymore, it has descended into a pure mad rant. This is Lady Macbeth checking in, deliriously washing the blood of her murdered grades off her hands and whispering, what have I done? Or more precisely, when have I done this?
Can someone tell me what is going on here.  

You don’t have to read this if you don’t want to, it’s a one-person tragedy now. There’s no more script, just rants. Just someone who doesn’t want to write FIVE more personal statements and who wants a tiny little bit of security in life.
Ironically enough, here’s a computer science major insecure. I heard an english major whining about it the other day and sympathised. Well guess which one of us knows they’re gonna be at this uni in four years time and actually graduate.
The irony kills me.
The competition just killed me. It’s almost not fair.
If you’d have told fifth grade me about this, you’d have gotten a smirk.
Trivial. All you’ve got to do is get from first year to second year!

I’ve added a fancy picture here because reading all that must be an eyesore and you deserve a break. Commendable that you got this far. I wouldn’t have. But thanks anyway. 
Source: not my work

Yeah, it’s totally that simple when you’re not in my major. Really. I have nothing remotely optimistic or witty or quirky to say. I can’t say I’ve learnt how to deal with anything better than I would have without this kind of failure. I’m a little bratty about not getting my way and this isn’t a humbling learning experience. I’ll probably remain a brat. All those easier colleges we collectively shit on because ‘we’re so hard’, I shall probably not feel sorry or take back all that, shall we call it, letting off steam? It’s not a learning curve, we genuinely are harder. I’ve compared course syllabi with other schools, and I like ours better. Call it a learning curse. I shall be sorry to not have access to the incredible stuff my uni’s computer science department has to offer if I leave. I just wish I could still have made it.

I just wish for once I could go to bed thinking I’m a tiny bit of a satisfactory success.

Spent

The brain 

It does the best it can

But light as it is on its feet

It can’t always make it in a heartbeat 

So it calls up a friend

To take care of the backend

And clean up the mess

Before it begins

And finds a partner in crime

In the spine. 

And sometimes I wish

Good a partner as it may be,

The spine shared more of the brain’s workload

Because mine’s spent

Before I can afford it to

And I need a little more juice to push on

Come on, brain, come on

Me, I’m spent 

Somehow got to make it to the end

Might just stubbornly pull through

But man, I wish I could do that with you. 

Granted

I sat alone
With the humming of vents
Buzzing in my ears
Familiar chain of events

Everybody’s gone and
I’m the only one left
With a head up so high
And a mind bereft

Of any new thought
Running on rewind
Shutting out the time
I left behind

I wish I may
I wish I might
Just for a few hours
Stop time tonight

And I sat gazing
In endless gloom
Five AM
My predicted doom

Just a day that I might
Be spared the sleigh of time
And she smiled a twisted smile
That wish shall be mine

She came and sat beside me
And smiled like the sun
And my watch stopped working
At a quarter to one.

Just so you know, this is a true story, except no one comes and smiles at you at 1 in the morning. That’s the sort of nightmare I don’t need in my life.

Also, are my circumstances kidding me?! I have two back to back midterms coming up next week, and I do not have the time to replace a battery now!

Just my luck.

—This post was presented to you at 12:45 AM 1:31 AM

Schrödinger’s Snowflake

As my assignment deadline grows nearer and nearer, I am officially getting closer to the rabbit hole.

At this hour of the day, I can’t recall the exact details here, but some aspects of physics don’t really work the way you’d expect them to when you get really close to some powerful landmarks.

Let’s just say my upcoming assignment deadline is a landmark.

Does this look the same to you as it does to me?

According to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, you can never know the exact velocity and position of an object. At this point, I’m pretty close to the deadline’s position on my calendar and my momentum is spiralling outwards and out of control.

It suffices to say, things aren’t looking very normal.

Welcome to my city, a place where we simultaneously experience summer and winter. (I refuse to answer any follow up questions about this “summer” I speak of) Sleep deprivation and insomnia. Panic and procrastination. Dead and alive, and Schrödinger and his cat. And my assignment due.

Although fair to say, the whole city doesn’t have an assignment due. But then again, this close to the deadline, I can’t even be sure. What if they do? What if all this mounting ice we’ having is nothing but the entire city crying over their share of my CS assignment? No wonder the snow tastes salty here.

Pass me the maple syrup please!

It’s probably an error, and with the winds it’s probably no more than -7 degrees anyway, and it’s not going to change the fact that we are living in the centre of a giant skating rink that isn’t nearly melting as quick as it piles up, but there we go, this forecast fascinates me. It’s my current state of mind. On repeat for the last five days or so.

Once this is over with, I am so out. Out cold!

Midterms

Midterms next week
And answers I seek
And find a reprieve in sleep

But don’t be negative, you say
Stuff will find its way
And I could just point to the streets

Positive temperatures due this week
Pending like that assignment deadline
I’m trying to keep

And all three feet
Of snow from over this week
Is going to water away to waste

Is this what procrastination looks like?
Muddy slush bursting your pipe
Scrunched under foot;
Slip and slide
And fall on your butt on the ice.

Cruise Control (Is Lost)

I’m sitting and doing some physics. (Yep, I’m pretty much still running yesterday’s state.)
I’m sorting out a tangle of wires and looking for potential where there is none.
I’m up to date with all current affairs.
Kirchhoff’s laws are looking good; everything’s starting and meeting at a point. Beautiful.

If you look at it, Kirchhoff’s laws are basically Valhar Morghulis for the layman.
All current, potential or EMF that generates somewhere must return to that point (and hence end it’s journey). All born must die.

But yeah, my loops are sorting themselves out, calculated values are looking weird as ever (and as I’ve come to learn, that’s often a sign that things are on track!), and basically, I’m in control. I’m so in control, I’m listening to Green Day while doing my numericals.

And then dad calls.

They’ve been going through my grades to send to colleges, and apparently I’ve got an A in a chemistry. (Where I want to send my grades, an A+ is kind of a prerequisite)
I’m prepping for my pre-boards right now (and blogging… Could we skim over this bit?). Ever since my December SAT scores have come in, I’ve also got new colleges to send applications to (because for once, things worked out in my favour, and they were good! Unfortunately, that only meant that a whole new race had begun!)

So dad reminds me I’ve got two college applications to write.
Their submission deadlines are around the 1st of Jan. My pre-boards begin from 2nd Jan.
I was the one in control.

And then, in my ears, FOD by Green Day takes foreground.

Stuck down in a rut
Of dialogic and smut
A side of you well hid
When it’s all said and done
It’s real and it’s been fun
But was it all real fun?
Let’s nuke the bridge we torched two thousand times before
This time we’ll blast it all to hell.”

Screwed.
Again.

Now I just want to sit listening to FOD on repeat and satisfy myself sorting out wire loops much messier than I.  *electricity crackles*

Reel Saturated

Aargh, why do I feel these days like movie scripts are a waste of actors, and half the time actors are a waste of scripts?
Have the scriptwriters lost their own attention spans? Are they writing a few punchlines and getting a sixth grader to fill in the rest of the pages?
Half the punchlines, I see the pleading faces of an embarrassed actor on screen: please do laugh when you hear this!
Some seem bored, some are boring, and why is it that the one day I ditch my nonexistent schedule for a movie it must be such a bore?
Yes, I did go for a movie, and I carried a backup with me that did end up saving me a few hours of cringing: my phone, with noise blocking earphones I scored off my mother. (Mine don’t block out noise.)
Well if you asked me if it was worth my time, I’d say it was, because I caught the decent parts of a movie and watched 2 episodes of Arrow!
Now that’s a few hours well spent, I feel proud.

On a related note, if you’ve spent too long around physics textbooks, I think sometimes, it can screw up your movie-watching experience. (Quite literally)
I sat in the hall with muffled sounds in my ears, I could hear when I wanted to, and I heard a bit of dialogue at a point. Seemed interesting, I paused my episode.
There was someone named Helix getting beaten up by the hero.
I’m thinking, oh, how interesting, there’s a guy named Helix. Never seen that before. I’m not even sitting for a sci-fi movie where a bad guy ‘screws’ everyone over, what’s the deal?
Right on cue, Helix tumbles down a staircase rolling, might I mention, in helical motion.
Ah, that must be why a self-proclaimed comedy film has a baddie who spirals down staircases, named Helix.

Fast forward two hours, I realised his name was really Alex all the while.
Boy, am I saturated with physics.