Aug 4, 2004

Keep chasing the butterfly...

While out wandering along the coastal cliffs yesterday beneath a lovely overcast sky, I discovered an envelope lying on the ground. Curiousity aroused, I stooped down to pick it up, and discovered it was a refund check addressed to a Michael H. Gomes. I recognized the name immediately, not only because he's the brother of the esteemed guitar maker who lives just up there road from here, but also the owner of a several thousand acres of private land in this region. I heard he's not the most friendly gentleman for trespassers to run into, and I knew that white SUV I passed on the way down the gated road had to belong to someone who had "connections." I quickly concluded that he must have just lost it, seeing as the envelope was entirely dry and clean when the rain had been pouring down just hours earlier, and I had not noticed it before on my way down. I suppose it would be good karma to place it in the local mail drop box at the post office, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. ...After I tape it shut, of course. The envelope had been ripped open on the side and marked with arithmatical computations.

So, I've been spending the past hour or so trying to get rid of this spyware application that magically appeared on my computer, called "QuickSearchBar." It replaces my browser's home page with a page full of useless links. Pretty much the standard, anymore. Of course, going into my Internet settings and entering my old home page address into the field does no good. The next time I start up my browser, I get the "about:blank" link directory again. You can't just go into Program Files and delete the .dll file manually, no. You have to go into Add/Remove Programs and uninstall it. And then you have to run AdAware and exterminate the registry entries But that's not all! You have to find a program called "CWShredder.exe" and scan your entire drive again. Then, and only then, might you finally reach salvation! I had to repeat these processes several times in varying orders to finally eliminate the problem.

If some bastard of a spyware application is altering your Internet settings, popping up search toolbars at random times, changing your browser's startup page routinely, don't just deal with it. Blast the hell out of it, no matter how much effort it takes to do so. If only for me, please. Don't help generate revenue for some malicious cocksucker at your own inconvenience and frustration. I've downloaded Spybot Search & Destroy, a free, top-rated spyware killer, which made a back-up of my registry and immunized my system from 1944 bad products. So, I have two spyware killers, increasing my chances of sweeping all the unsolicited junk off my drive. These things are practically a necessity, these days. I'm also getting the Google search bar, since it contains a pop-up killer.

I read in the newspaper that a few beaches on west Hawaii are being "improved." Yes, the access road to a classical favorite beach of our family, a traditional beach for us to go, is being paved. A parking lot is being constructed, with a wheelchair accessible ramp leading right down to a new pavilion overlooking the beach. A public restroom facility is being built. Trees are being cut down to "improve the view." Now, little old ladies can scoot right up to the shore in their electric wheelchairs. A few miles down the road, another once-favorite beach of ours is undergoing a similar "improvement." Pretty soon, they'll both be crawling with fat, white tourists who couldn't bear a five minute hike. This makes me feel all the less reluctant to be moving to the east coast, which is remarkably unspoilt and incredibly gorgeous. Sure, our west coast has most of the stereotypically beautiful pure white sand palm tree-lined beaches, but the east coast is more my kind of beauty– rough, rugged, rainforested, and hence absolutely uncrowded.

I experienced quite an interesting dream involving school, last night. I dreamt I was part of a small group having glass in a dark trailer parked out in the middle of the field, with an animated instructor educating us all on Iraq's finest brands of cream soda by passing around samples from Venice Beach. Of course, the eerie piano soundtrack, typical of all my dreams, played faintly in the background. I'm not certain why it is I have so many dreams involving school– not college, but high school. ...An abysmal era of my life that I have long moved on from, and am very grateful not to have to repeat in this lifetime. I miss high school like I miss the wart on the base of my middle finger. Yet, it very much seems to be occupy my sub-conscious to a substantial degree. Perhaps that's because high school substantially affected me and shaped who I am. Yes, that's probably it. I may never forget high school, and the overly tender years of my life in which I was forced to endure it.

I know I've written on high school before, many times. School is a subject I feel rather passionately about and possess strong opinions on. When my train of thought tends to chug on without a caboose, I often end up thinking of school ... as an institution. I think about how I attended public school for twelve long years, twelve years of a childhood that only properly lasts eighteen, and wonder why the fuck I did it. Why the fuck did I waste twelve years of my childhood in a goddamn classroom? Because it's required by law, of course. Because my parents wanted me to be law-abiding citizens, and get me an education. And get me friends. And get me out of the house for long enough to retain their own sanity. Because I was an impressionable child who for the most part did what he was told. Who wanted to please his parents. Who felt he had no other choice but to attend school everyday. Who felt he had to get decent grades or suffer a life of pain, punishment, and misery. Who went to school and suffered pain, punishment, and misery, but learned how to write, add, and ignore bullies. Who was told repeatedly that if he didn't succeed in school, he would never succeed in real life. Who was told that the real world is a whole new ballgame, and that in comparison, school is the easiest of easy streets. Who was told that if he didn't persevere and make it through school, he would be a nobody his entire life. Who became so depressed he no longer felt much will to live because he was flunking chemistry and algebra II, and was convinced if he failed those courses, he would be a failure forever. Who positively loathed getting up at the same time in the morning, every single day for five days a week, to attend the same classes at the exact same times with the exact same people in the exact same building. Who discovered that such barely sufferable repetition was specifically designed to dull his brain and sap the livelihood right out of him, so he'd be an obedient little drone who would always turn his homework in on time and serve society without complaint. Who honestly believed that life would only go downhill from high school because all signs given to him pointed to yes. Who was told he should enjoy high school and find it a joyous experience because it's the best time of one's life. Who believed it as he observed so many of his peers having a great time on the days they actually bothered to come to school. Who couldn't bring himself to enjoy school in the slightest, and thus believed his entire life would only get shittier than it already was. Who watched the clock for several minutes at a time everyday, particularly in last period, waiting for the freedom bell to sound so he could finally slip free from his chains. Who stared blankly at the blindingly bright white intellectually unstimulating worksheets handed out to keep the students busy while the teacher drank coffee and read his Elmore Leonard novel. Who thought deeply to himself whenever he wasn't spacing out in mind-numbing boredom and fidgety, sore-buttocks-discomfort, and barely validated the existence of anyone else around him. Who was heavily provoked by those around him for not validating their existence. Who read from textbooks dry as a pile of bones in Death Valley and marked up like a ghetto-Brooklyn brick wall. Who answered countless questions that challenged not his mind but his ability to scan through his text to find the answer in black and white. Who was so often asked to write creative entries in a literature class whose students and teachers inspired him about as much as an earwig. Who was hit on by a gay Japanese teacher because he said "arigato" in a femine way. Who was referred to a counselor in 7th grade who tried to "adjust" him because the teachers found his quietness a sign of an emotional disturbance. Who was greatly emotionally disturbed by his counselor trying to get him together with individuals he thought he should be friends with. Who had his mother ensure the counselor that all was right as rain in Nealy's world. Who always preferred to walk home three miles in the wind and rain than board a crowded school bus. Who would look out the window during his first few days of first grade and see the sweet Oregon rain begin to fall. Who would break out of his chair and rush to that window, only to be peeled off of it like a poster and caned back to his seat by his teacher. Who had a principal in first grade nicknamed "Mr. Wildfang." Who got in trouble for following a trail behind the gym down to the river at recess. Who was scolded by his third grade teacher for responding to a question that asked what your favorite part of school is with "hearing the final bell in the afternoon." Who went straight from a rural Oregon school with 150 total students to a large school in Hawaii with 2300 students. Who attended five different public schools from first to fifth grade. Who never had human friends as a child. Whose canine best friends made him aspire to live the life of a dog. Who took off into the wilderness and emulated canine behavior whenever he could. Who found incredible inspiration and reassurance in the many meaningful messages of Calvin and Hobbes. Who realized how similar he was to Calvin in so many ways, and how Calvin universalizes so many other kids' perspectives on school. Who read his brother's senior quote in the 1997 yearbook which said, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Who realized as soon as he entered 9th grade that his popular brother had turned half the senior class against him through blatant lies. Who ended up disspelling myth after myth of what he truly was. Who witnessed his brother nearly get suspended for a week for bringing a keychain pocketknife to school. Who was told a teacher reported his brother for wearing a t-shirt that said "fuck" all over it to class. Who scraped by year after year with his imagination and strong will alone. Who spent most physical education class periods sitting on the bleachers and doodling in his notebook and getting A's anyway. Who sat through health class listening to his teacher call out numbers instead of names, and forgetting the number he was supposed to be. Who spent an entire semester in zoology class peeling flesh from formaldehyde-soaked cats, being thankful his specimen wasn't among those that had acquired maggots over spring break. Who killed time in art class coloring in circles and squares with acrylic paint and drawing perfect diagrams of compact discs with a compass. Who learned how to properly use a broom when sweeping an industrial shop area in woods class. Who witnessed first-hand what a baby pig's bloody testicles look like in farm. Who learned how to prevent slip and falls in the kitchen as he prepared gourmet quesadillas in home economics. Who learned how to type like a true veteran in Keyboarding I by keying the same phrase a hundred times on a 1970's apple computer. Who dropped his pencil and lined up single-file along with everyone else whenever the fire drill bell sounded. Who covered his head and hid under the desk just as instructed to do whenever a standard volcanic earthquake produced the slightest tremor. Who was conned into flipping a light switch in the gymnasium, which actually turned out to be the scoreboard buzzer switch, and was thus punished for such disruptive behavior by having to sweep the stage. Who was discriminated against on several instances on the basis of skin color. Who had to use office bathroom because all the regular student bathrooms were engulfed in clouds of tobacco smoke. Who dealt with a security lady who had a crew cut and behaved like a male Marine drill sergeant. Who had a lesbian P.E. teacher who graded her students on how happy they seemed to be in her class. Who had a class for an entire year where he did nothing but rake rocks around and grow zucchini. Who had a principal with the last name "Bratt" and who looked like a female version of Jabba the Hutt. Who had his mother as a kindergarten teacher at the same school, and who was quickly notified of any deviant act he tried to pull. Who studied for SAT's, those little tests whose scores determine how successful you'll be for the rest of your life. Who was encouraged to join myriad extracurricular activities he'd never enjoy to impress colleges like Harvard and Yale, which he'd never attend. Who was told that anything was possible if he dreamt big. Who dreamt big about things he knew would never become possible. Who was guided by a guidance counselor who guided him nowhere but farther down a downward spiral. Who was nearly conned into joining the army due to his own naivete. Who spent every recess swinging on the swing set until swings were deemed unsafe because someone slipped off one and sprained his pinkie, and were thus taken away. Who then spent every recess playing ping pong in the gym until the last ping pong ball was crushed and the state couldn't afford any balls and students weren't allowed to bring their own and the tables were hence folded up and stowed. Who never took part in the prom and couldn't fathom the meaning behind such a seemingly ridiculous tradition. Who for two weeks in his junior year became involved with an insane female named Camille who later stalked him and sent her entirely imbecilic hired henchmen to supposedly murder him. Who spent every recess in the computer lab playing video games until video games were banned. Who then spent every recess in the library reading magazines until magazines were banned. Who then spent every recess listening to a CD player in a quiet corner in the shade until CD players in any corner of campus were banned. Who attended school on days where the electric was out for the entire day and the teachers had to hand out worksheets designed for kindergartners because they couldn't turn on their TV's to show them 30 year-old videos on proper nutrition for gerbils and handy Spanish phrases to use in Mexican quilt shops. Who was expected to perform mandatory cafeteria duty once a month, which served as extracurricular training for life as a janitor, and earned him a free meal he didn't eat. Who was sent to a mock prison across campus for a day for refusing to serve meat to students in the cafeteria. Who wore a stupid hat and apron and served peaches in the cafeteria for three hours to every grade in the school instead. Who always brought a bag lunch to school and was criticized for it by all the other students who brought the revolting processed school lunches. Who couldn't bear to eat inside the cafeteria in the company of two dozen loudmouths at his table stuffing processed pig entrails into their faces. Who stopped eating lunch at school altogether when eating lunch outside was banned due to many students littering the campus. Who memorized countless trivial facts just so he could pass a test and forgot them immediately after he was required to loudly gobble like a turkey in the annual Thanksgiving pep rally's class spirit yell. Who skipped half the pep rallies he was expected to attend by dashing off into the woods and laying back on the leaves in perfect silence, listening to the sweet euphony of birdsong while eating the tangerines he just picked from wild tropical trees, reveling in the quiescent solitude and natural beauty as opposed to four hundred noisy buffoons yelling at the top of their lungs as instructed so they'd get certificates for free McDonald's hamburgers next week. Who strove to remind himself of what was actually worth living for. Who dreamt of a life where he could roam free all day long, away from all the students and faculty he so abhorred. Who discovered the magic of Internet communities in the 11th grade, and made distant friends which saved him from himself and those around him in the nick of time. Who picked up his diploma with a blank expression on his face, entirely unaware he'd be watering piles of sand with garden hoses for two months in the matter of a week, as a parent-directed introduction to the "real world." Who eventually wondered how much more enjoyable his childhood would have been if he had been spared of institutionalization. Who only realized what a joke high school was after high school, when such a realization no longer counted for as much but counted for something. Who came to understand that after sixth grade, school prepared him for a life in a correctional facility more than anything else. Who knew that in his possible next lifetime, given any subconscious memory of his previous one, he would insist upon home-schooling when he was six years old.

Ah, school. I'm so thankful they were all just lying to us. College is so much better. I love university. I hated high school. Life has improved drastically. I'm so proud of me for never allowing them to institutionalize me into a complete nitwit who subscribes to groupthink at every fork instead of thinking for himself.

No comments: