Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category

This I Believe

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Essays

I’m not what you would call an average community college student. Since kindergarten, I’ve received the best private school education money can buy. When I graduated from my prep school in the spring of 2010, I watched as my classmates excitedly prepared for successful academic careers at top-tier institutions: Williams, NYU, USC, BU, Cornell, Amherst, Trinity, Holy Cross, Georgetown, UPenn, Princeton, and so on. My name, however, did not appear on the matriculation list; I had no idea where I’d be in three months.

I had a B average and a kick-ass SAT, so Roger Williams offered me some money, and I even got accepted to Wheaton, but in the end my parents simply couldn’t continue spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on my education. As my father put it, “I’m not going to burn 50 grand a year just so you can write poetry.” That July, I enrolled in Bristol Community College (BCC). Now, like my friends, I walk to class every day, but only because my house is five blocks from the campus.

Where I came from, community college was a joke; I even invoked it as an insult to a blonde in my history class senior year. As far as I was concerned, it was reserved exclusively for morons and slackers. When people asked, I hesitated to tell them where I went. When I did tell them, I was usually met by a patronizing, sympathetic, “oh… well good for you.” I was quick to write off all my classes as sub-par and my classmates as unintelligent.

But I know better now. I knew it after just a few weeks. Not only are they intelligent, but also passionate. Yes, there are morons and slackers… there are always morons and slackers. But I’m in the same boat as almost everyone else, though we had taken different paths.

This I believe: the students at community colleges aren’t morons and slackers; some of us are just lost.

Many of us work full-time jobs, and hope that education can open doors we don’t even know exist. Some of us take refuge from a society that shuns us or thinks us subordinate. Some of us simply don’t want to waste money trying to figure out what we’re going to spend the rest of our lives doing. Some of us come to recover from drug addictions, improve our minds and embrace a community. Some of us need a new way to support sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, siblings, or parents. Some of us come to set an example.

Some of us are here because we have no place else to go.

Sure, it’s been a culture shock –no one in prep school ever asked if court dates counted as excusable absences– but it’s a culture I’ve now embraced. I’m not being paid to say this, and I have no reason to lie: I’m proud to be a Community College student. I see and understand the prejudice held against my classmates and myself. It’s okay. We may be lost, but we’ll find our way.

No one ever talks about just how different paper clips and underpants are from each other. It’s time to break the silence.

Paperclips are long, thin rods of metal shaped into a form (a clip) that can hold several sheets of paper. Underpants on the other hand, are terrible at keeping your papers together. They do not offer nearly enough grip; papers will just fall right out. This is a very important fact to remember if you keep your underwear drawer next to an office or other work area where papers may need to be clipped. Not only would it be ineffective to pass in your English essay with a pair of boxers, but most likely, very embarrassing too.

Similarly, paperclips can never hope to serve the same purpose as underpants. Underpants are meant to add another layer of warmth and protection for your “below the belt” region. They prevent chafing and, should the worst happen and your pants fall off (or are forced off by a delinquent whose parent’s didn’t hug enough), protect your dignity.

Paperclips cannot do any of these things. They are impossible to fit your legs through, so they cannot be worn. Even if they could, they lack the elastic qualities of underpants and would greatly restrict movement. They are far too slender to protect the dignity of even the most unfortunate “pants-ee”. If anything, keeping paperclips in that area would at best cause discomfort, at worst, bleeding, scraping, puncture wounds, tetanus and castration. This is important to remember in case you find yourself naked in an office supplies store; try to keep the presence of mind to realize that you’d be far better off raiding the employee lockers.

Paperclips have the unique quality of being able to be linked together easily to form a weak chain. This chain can be used to create jewelry and belts, a lasso, keep together your two nun chuck sticks, escape from prison, transfer an electric current, create a crown and declare yourself king or queen of all office supplies, and much more. Underpants can be tied together and in theory could help your escape from prison, but that would just be silly. Underpants should not be worn outwardly like jewelry is unless you possess super strength, can fly, or have heat vision. This is important to remember in case you find yourself killing time in an office; just link together paperclips! Don’t take off everyone’s underpants and tie them together. You’d find yourself at a loss for what to do next, which does not justify the effort you just went through to get the underpants in the first place.

While underpants are stretchy and elastic, paperclips are hard but malleable; underpants will always snap back into their original form, but paperclips can be bent to create many different shapes that can serve many different purposes. The unwound paperclip can be used to reset a wireless router, torture your enemies, teach mice how to throw javelins and pole vault, or pick a lock. This last fact is important to remember in case you need to break into a room to get more underpants.

Underpants are sold individually or in packs of up to maybe twenty. If anyone tries to sell you an individual paperclip, punch him in the face because that’s just messed up. Paperclips are sold in bulk. They are great in case you have some money to blow and want like, eight billion of something.

While there are many more ways that underpants and paperclips are dissimilar, this should have instilled you with enough knowledge to discern between the two on your own. And in case this essay was actually useful to you, may God have mercy on your soul.

My Shelf

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Essays

I’m something of a closet nerd. This isn’t just because of how much time I spend online or playing video games, although that certainly contributes. What really makes me a nerd is the 15-foot long shelf in my bedroom.

I’ve had the three-foot-high white bookshelves for as long as I can remember, but it was only about five years ago that I began my fascination with knick-knacks, action figures and other objects of sentimental value. It’s pretty impressive, really. There are easily over a hundred individual pieces on the shelf.

My mother always tries to get me to pack it all up in a box and bring it down to the basement, or the knick-knack graveyard. She says that I’m not being fair to myself when I have to dust the shelf off, along with everything else on it. Perhaps not, but I enjoy the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with all my stuff, and smile inwardly with the knowledge that every time I clean, I end up leaving everything in a different pattern, and different mini-sagas are being told.

Roman soldiers I bought on our trip to England six years ago could finally get their chance to drive that purple corvette I got when I was eight, a ninja might highjack Luke Skywalker’s Lego speeder, and Halo’s Spartan super-soldiers and their sworn enemies, the ferocious alien Elites, may reconcile their differences and agree to spending a month watching the Incredible Hulk’s interminable grimace while ignoring the nearby custom spray-painted plastic soldiers on the firing line about to execute their brother-in-arms for high treason.

The brilliant part is that everything barely fits on the shelf. It’s just perfect. I’m able to make all these random parts fit together like pieces to a puzzle. The Creature From the Black Lagoon, once a lame toy from a Happy Meal, now plays a key role looming over the toy cars packed neatly together on top of the certificate I received after getting a silver medal in the National Latin Exam.

I think my middle school and high school diplomas are buried in there somewhere, too. I never really bothered to check. Maybe the Lego R2-D2 that peers out the window saw them. Or maybe the dueling glass Coke bottle and the aluminum Sprite can did. I remember being crushed when I learned that the same company owns them both; I trusted nothing for a month.

I can sense you judging me. Don’t. Look, it takes over two hours to dust everything off. I figure I should do whatever it takes to entertain myself and make the process bearable.

It’s not all nerdy, either. I try to counterbalance.

There are trophies and medals from baseball, lacrosse, swimming and basketball. I have a letter and pins from my High School. I still have my trophy from the “Daniel M. Kelly Walk-A-Thon” from when I spent my third grade at Tansey Elementary. Sure, maybe you had to buy the trophy after you finished the walk-a-thon. That’s not the point. A trophy’s a trophy.

Several airplanes and helicopters occupy their own section next to the trophies, although I’ve always been slightly peeved that they were all modern flight craft. I once got really jealous of my nephew when he got a biplane in a pack. I guess it would have been too small to be displayed with my others, anyway.

There’s the model I made of the Battleship Massachusetts, where I had my first job the summer going into high school. I didn’t have the red I needed for the hull, so the whole boat is still a fog-gray. I like to think that it’s camouflaged even better than the real thing. Next to it is a small confederate flag I bought for less than a dollar in an antique shop. Apparently, they aren’t in high demand in New England.

The cases for every Nintendo DS game I’ve ever bought occupy their own shelf. Somewhat ironically, the next one over houses all my literature: Dante, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Freud, Hemingway, Capote and a vacancy for my Bible which is currently downstairs next to my Xbox.

Speaking of literature, two shelves are noticeably empty; all my Archie comics went down into the graveyard. I didn’t realize how many there were until I had to haul the boxes down two flights of stairs. Now, they’re in-between my favorite childhood toys, my countless plastic toy soldiers and my original Thomas the Tank Engine playset; I’d build a track in an afternoon, play with it a couple times over the next few days, and scream and cry like I just lost my best friend when my mom would show up with the vacuum almost a month later. My basement sometimes floods… maybe someday I’ll put the boxes up on bricks.

There’s still a fortune of comics in my room, along with magazines, movies and CD’s. I suppose what I’m most embarrassed by is the music I used to listen to… I don’t like to think about it. I will say that it rhymes with “Mackstreet Moys.”

There’s several posters I got from magazines on the walls, usually calendars advertising games I never bought. There’s a poster of Fenway Park I bought when I was in Cooperstown. Pictures of my family are scattered throughout the shelf. Now obscured by a Croatian flag and an Irish flag is a self-portrait I did when I was three years old. It’s a good thing my parents decided to put the label on it saying what it was; I never would have figured it out.

On the opposite wall, perpendicular to the wall the shelf runs along, is a print I made when I was in the eighth grade. In four different-colored quadrants (yellow, blue, green and purple, I think), a large-headed, large-eyed caricature looks straight out with a neutral emotion and flat mouth. My math teacher at the time offered to pay me for it, she liked it so much. She wanted to put it in the room for her new baby. I made a copy for the obviously delusional woman and gave it to her.

Now, it watches over my shelf, perhaps curious of the new additions I make, perhaps saddened by those rare instances when I take things away, and probably always judging my mother when she comes in to tell me to just stuff everything in a box so the shelves can finally be clear. After all, it must think, what other purpose does an empty shelf serve than to give you a place to put all your stuff?