Happy Halloween! I’ve managed to be late to everywhere, and Halloween’s one of them too. At least it’s not yet December!
October’s not my favourite month. I’ve been skipping film club all month because I’m not very fond of horror films. Half the time I find stuff cheesy, the other half of the time it gets me thinking, but a little too much. It’s not like I’m afraid or anything, I just value my good night’s sleep. I’m a comp sci student at uni, there’s horror abound and I don’t feel a particular dearth!
Go ahead and laugh, I’ve got a very late comeback. Late. Haha. Halloween pun.
This should knock your socks off if you’ve had to sit through statistics/maths/physics or just generally want to be a-mu-sed.
Mu is the mean in statistics, the refractive index and coefficient of friction in physics, micro- units in measurement (10−6 anythings), just a fancy variable to impress your non-math friends, or to give your math friends nightmares.
I did a quick search to see if there was anything I missed, and the answer was a loud, resounding yes.
Mu stands for a lot of things, even within the same field, there’s an impressive list on Wikipedia!
Man, I miss the old days of nursery and day care where part of your day was just curling up for a nap.
I’m at work right now and tired out by stuff I’ve been doing since morning. Of course I’m too self conscious to sleep. It’s not something you do at work.
But imagine if sleeping was in fact a part of your workday. Some new-fangled study claiming that it boosts productivity and miraculously, ensures bug-free code (nothing ever ensures bug-free code).
This would be the next big thing in quotidian work lives.
Now, people fuss over their hair and clothing, cuff links and ties, formal leather shoes and a neat haircut.
Authoritarian look, good language, a firm handshake. Sharp briefcase. All the things we focus on because we’re allowed them at work.
Clean wallpapers, work-filled laptops.
Now bring sleep into the foray.
Imagine IKEA rolling out its latest collection of chic yet work-friendly pillows. Pillow cases and pillow stands for people with their own office rooms. Foldable pillows that fit into your briefcase. The artist’s work-pillow. The boss’s work pillow. The intern’s work pillow.
The big question to be asking a successful CEO in a ‘look into the life of’ interview: what sort of pillow do you prefer?
How does the sort of pillow you carry affect your job interview? GQ articles on the most subtle yet effective pillows to bring to the workplace.
Adverts showing approving colleagues watching the smartest pillow-carrier sleep:
Fire drills at work are 75% needlessly dropping my facade of pretending I’m busy doing work and 24.5% awkward socialisation, and 0.5% remembering the last horrific time there was a fire drill, more of a false alarm really, that happened to occur only on the day I had a really bad case of diarrhoea.
Needless to say, I don’t like fire drills anymore.
Yeah, you know the smug guys on the other side of the barrier, showing you how clearly and plainly they have not picked your side in this war. Them of the tired, weary looks, and also them of the indistinguishable, incomprehensible drive-thru voices, but they’re a different story.
It’s them of the “Next, please” that I am onto today.
(And also, this has nothing to do with the little yellow guy who’s biggest ambition was to stand before a table, pen and in hand and say, “May I take your order, sir!” Just so we’re clear.)
So I went to buy my a sandwich, which is a very ordinary, Adult™ thing to do. Nothing fishy here.
…I occasionally stop by to buy food, because I don’t want to cook for myself.
And given my cooking capabilities stretch across the vast expanses of egg, bread, cereal and milk, who am I kidding, I’ve bought me more food from outside this month than I have in the last nine months combined.
So I go to Tim’s, and ask for a sandwich.
“Hi, could I have the xyz sandwich?”
(No, I’m too mad to recall which one it was)
“Sure thing!” Says she, because why wouldn’t she say that?
I say, cool! Sandwich for dinner and then straight to bed for the tired adult kid who stayed up till 4 last night. I’ve only half a good reason, and that reason was SpongeBob SquarePants. The other half was work.
What, logically, should have been the next thing for her to say?
Maybe “to go?” Except everything in Tim’s is wrapped.
“Napkins?” If you’re feeling judgy.
Or, “Have a nice day!”, because you’re Canadian.
Okay, no that’s too nice, even for a Canadian.
The correct answer is, you ask, “debit or credit?”
And guess what she asked?
“Debit or credit?” —NOT!
She asks, “Would you like a combo?”
No, I would not like a combo, I just want a sandwich.
… what’s in a combo?
Well, I just want a sandwich.
Somewhere behind enemy lines, a siren rang out. Soldiers gathered in formation and blared their trumpets, cocked their guns upwards, and sang the national anthem. They summoned the very fathers and mothers, and going back far enough, apes, velociraptors and cockroaches, of this land and poured their very animal spirits into their souls. Then all together, they looked towards the enemy approaching on the horizon, with a look of hope and new found confidence, as they prepared to begin their march for victory.
Whatever all that above was about, this lady seemed to sum up, within milliseconds, with a smile.
The end of the day arrives, The soldier takes a break. Trying to walk back home is great for the adrenaline, not so much for a backpack with a laptop on a back for an hour. At least I don’t need to make me food.
The hand dips into my bag for that hard earned loaf, and wanders to the side pockets of the bag.
Defeat is bittersweet, and I mean it.
She had me and my social awkwardness at the eyebrow raise. You can’t take a word back. You can’t take a question back. The aftertaste of the question is bitter.
Good for me that I have this whirlpool to numb it down.
Yep, I am not even two days old at my internship, and I already have the layout of the fire stairwell memorised.
Adulting is in motion, and has been going swimmingly so far.
Day 2 of being a Real-World Adult™ has been an eventful one.
Now a proper member, I have a badge.
The thing with being an intern is that, you’re temporary, and last priority.
So I went to collect my official Employee Stuff, and was being taken around by someone a lot more permanent than me. So we go up to a different floor and I collected my needs. I figure out how to configure a few networks I will need for work. Then I collect my things to leave.
See, the building is connected across floors by a stairwell and elevators. The doors to everywhere are restricted-access and you need to swipe yourself in and out.
So the so other guy swiped me in, and on leaving, I was free to check out the wondrous pride a beeping piece of metal can be made to give you.
Now my badge is on a retractable string, and being a fidgety person, I was dying to give it a pull!
So I open the door and get into the stairwell and practically hustle to my floor door.
Badge face up? Check!
Scanner running? I mean, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be my problem so much as theirs, but check!
And sling! Pull it forward, and scan!
Now for that sweet green light.
I get red, blue, green, purple. Purple? That’s a scanner colour? Also, the blue was pretty.
Whatever. I try the door. It’s still locked. I try the handle more properly (I’m learning that I have a problem with turning the keys all the way at home sometimes. It doesn’t help that I often have other things on my mind when I’m leaving in the mornings), still locked.
The SpongeBob in me kicks in. Oh well, looks like we’re just gonna have to swipe again! Baahahahahahahahahaaa.
Oh, not yet? Guess we get one more chance, to feel the pride, the importance, the glory…
(Beep beep beep!)
(Boop boop boop)
(Ka-ching boop beep)
(boop boop boop)
(Poop poop poop)
It won’t budge!!
By this point, my face had begun to follow the scanner: red, green, blue, purple. So I decided to go back up.
Let’s say I had a nice long conversation with the door.
After that, I ran like bonkers checking other floors, but hey, if I don’t have access to my own floors, what are the favourful, flavourful odds that I’d have access to other peoples’ floors?
But stairwell-trapped me didn’t think too much about practicality. What I did think was, there’s gotta be a way out of here!
I ran down two floors till I was in the basement.
All those instincts that had taken a nice long naphibernated, were waking up and kicking in like a Thor coming back into action after a long, beer/Fortnite-fuelled vacation.
(Okay, not having water is my poison, and my goto game is Pokémon, so I haven’t hit rock bottom yet.)
If those guys were waking up, this was turning out to be some internship alright.
I was like a soldier underground right now.
All I wanted again, was to see the sun. Get out of this trap box!
In the basement, the unlikeliest place of all, I see my choice. It’s the emergency exit. And it leads out! My way to freedom!
But if there’s one thing school has taught me (apart from, hey, coding will take all night), it’s that freedom has its own price. I haven’t seen an emergency exit that’s a free way out in a long time. Most of them are equipped with the most sophisticated psychological attack ever: you touch me, I scream.
Too many kids at orientation, too many tired all-nighter kids at libraries, too many instances I’d seen of people setting off the alarms by opening the wrong door. I still had to work here you know. This was an exit, not a get-out-of-jail-free heist.
I needed them to not think me a sociopath and let me come back and finish my shift.
So I opened the door to the basement and stood at the door that led to a passage that led out.
Through the glass windows on the top half of the door, I watched freedom stand a hundred meters from me. So close, yet so far, unless I dared to get kicked off my job on only day two.
So instead, I turned around and ran the other way. A T from the staircase meant I had a second option to explore. I stopped by a layout of the building in the walls in the corridor.
And now you know where this episode gets its first line from.
Well, it led out to the basement parking. From there, it was just a matter of finding the elevator to go up. No, I wouldn’t actually see the light until I got to my desk again, but figuratively, this was enough.
I made the triumphant ascent on the elevator, trumping one floor at a time, got out at the second, and sweet victory, I was home.
Well, not home, because I could’ve just taken the fire exit and run home, but you know what I mean.
I won. I was back. You couldn’t take me out of the game that early, I would survive day two, and with all my Internly grace.
I then promptly got myself locked out of the door again.
The receptionist let me in and taught me how the locking-wiping system really works, once I’d explained my little adventure, minus a little emotion because I don’t think an office is up for the high-adrenaline thriller that I can sometimes inadvertently make out of my life, but you know what I’m thinking?
This little orientation would’ve been a little more handy before I’d locked myself out.
Let’s call it a draw for consolation, but then, under her watchful eye, I proceeded to go out at swipe myself in. Tap.
Hooray for sweet greens!
After that was all done, I pretty determinedly worked till I had worked my determination away and finished the day with this being my biggest contribution of the day:
I’m gonna be such a pro.
This post is being posted on Day 5 as the hero, the intern was out faster than bacon on broccoli night somewhere within twenty seconds of reaching home.
Your wildchild is entering the real world. Setting out on a new journey, equipped only with a bad sense of direction and a faulty Google Maps.
I’m off to work.
Really, it’s only an internship and so under the adamantium shield of Intern I get to make every mistake in the book, and get away with it, but it doesn’t make things less real, and I say that because I’m sitting in office.
Before you ask why I’m sitting in office, on day one, and typing up a blogpost, I’ll specify I’m sitting in the reception. The wait begins.
You know, it’s diplomatic strategy. You make someone wait, and then they seem more important. Well, I’m handling that game really well: it’s blogpost time!
You’re probably just glad I am not drawing a comic in here.
So far, my journey’s been great. I misread my watch this morning. In the dim morning light, my watch seemed to read 6:55. I said great, I’m up before my alarm.
You know that sweet, sweet feeling when you get up on your own, and see that there’s some time left before you’re scheduled to drop out of bed? Yeah, it’s even better than waking up on time, because you feel like you’ve snatched away those five extra minutes of sleep, never mind the fact that had you not woken up then, you’d have scored them anyway. Heck, by setting your alarm to 7:05, you’d earned them the night before!
Well, guess who thought they’d earned 20 extra minutes.
I don’t know about you, but once I’m awake, the anxiety that my alarm will shoot off, “any minute now”, is very real. It’s awful, and it doesn’t let me sleep again. It’s nearly pointless, I don’t get those ten minutes back!
So I lie there, waiting for the drill sergeant to scream. I used to have a siren as an alarm once, it was proven to be the most effective, yet it gives me absolute shoots in blood pressure, the cold sweat, the entire package.
At least I know I’m bodily ready when a real emergency hits!
So I lie to acting for what seems like forever, and nothing rings, there’s no sound.
My first thought is, shoot, the alarm isn’t working!
My second thought, shoot, I missed my alarm?
My third, and finally, action driven thought, let me check the time.
It’s 25. Shoot, I was scheduled for 7:15!
… but wait, what’s that? 6?
And then I lay waiting for 7:15. Turns out, I’d misread 5:50 for 6:55. That’s an hour and 20 minutes of my sleep I’ll never get back.
But I’ve mostly been on schedule since.
Then I got pranked by Google Maps this morning. As I stood at the bustop, I was texting a friend, and two seconds later, Maps shows me, with an A-OK in green text colour, that my bus was on time and had departed three minutes ago.
Okay, I was talking it was semi-important, but did I just let my bus pass me by? I was trying my damndest to be early too.
How early, you ask? Well, I live about ten minutes from work, and I begin at 9 AM.
I left home at 8:18.
But something tells me, my not so asleep senses aren’t wrong today, no bus did come!
I stood there panicking, almost considering walking the whole way, and I’d have done it too, but my footwear stopped me. I’d have looked quite a sight, stomping and struggling my way to work in a shirt and 0.05 mm heels. I’m really bad at this.
So I waited, and a bus did come. But before it did, with me at the stop, Maps tells me, “you are scheduled to arrive in one minute.”
Yeah right, smart mouth.
The bus I did get on came smack in between the two scheduled timings. So now I don’t know if I was late on my bus, or early on the next.
And now I’m sitting and waiting, for formalities, casualties (me), and forms—oh god, forms!—must be filled.
And as I sit here and wait, I can hear a high-end meeting beginning in the room next to me.
They’re discussing Pokémon.
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!
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.
But I’m also quite a heat of the moment sort of a person, especially when things happen after 11 PM. Which means, for all the stories I string about being up till 3, I’m there, but I’m really not.
My friend and I have a theory that after 11:30 PM, my alter ego takes over. And after some inspection, we’ve come to realise that my alter ego is in fact a monocle-wearing, Fedora-tipping, moustache-sporting, English journalist called James.
Too bad half my best work seems to come after 12 AM.
So I’d promised comics twice a week, and now I’ve put out more. Feast, dear readers! (Actually, I don’t really recommend eating while you’re reading comics. I’ve done that with my Spider-Man comics (with a hyphen, as the guy himself has said!). It doesn’t end well either for your food, or for the mag.)