Despite being published a month into the summer break, this post is about my last two months of school. Some of it was written during that time. Most was written after. Sorry.
* The sickness is literal
Funny little flaws,
compound with time,
they take control,
Its who you are.
LECTURES ARE DONE AND EXAMS ARE GOING ON!!! I haven't left campus since the beginning of the term. I hate it here so much. I'm so ready to leave. No more signing hours of my life away for a shit paycheck, no more painful nights of answering useless assignment questions, no more lectures that waste everyone's time and seem to only exist so that I can pay for them, no more worrying about grades because there will no longer be anything I can do to change them. I am very excited for the summer.
Since we aren't there yet though, heres what happened since last blog post...
It was 2am on a Friday. It was 2 in the morning on a school day when these "pranksters" pulled them fire alarm. A persistent shriek from the now glowing red detector in every room filled the air. I grabbed my keys and left my dorm without shoes. I stepped out the building to see a group of girls running away and laughing.
People began flooding out the building. They were all PISSED. We had been disturbed and forced outside. The alarm sound was horrific. The act of setting it off was cruel, immature, and unprovoked. There were a lot of reasons to be upset but I couldn't stop smiling. After all these months here, finally something interesting had happened.
I got sick and it was pretty horrible. While suffering in bed I watched Deadpool which was a super big movie when I was too young to see it. I thought it was bad. The movie is pretty much, Deadpool likes having sex with his sex girlfriend but then he gets cancer and thats lame so he goes into a program where they cure his cancer (by torturing to make him a superpowered mercenary) but then deadpool explodes the place and leaves with the powers. Hes too scared to go back to his girlfriend because torture made him ugly and he doesn't think she'll have sex with him anymore. Then the people who tortured him steal his girlfriend (???) and are like "hah hah come and get her" (?????). Deadpool doesn't like this so he does come and get her. His super team is better than their super team so she is saved. Then they go have sex probably...
The movie doesn't really say anything and the characters don't learn or change. I think the only big feature of the movie was Deadpool's design and personality which is good but wasn't enough for me to care about what was happening.
After that I started watching another Ryan Reynolds thing: Welcome to Wrexham. The premise of the show is that two Holllywood people (Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds) buy the Welsh Football team Wrexham and try to get the team promoted to a higher league. I had heard it talked about on multiple podcasts and thought that learning about the culture of Football fans as an outsider (weak loser who is so bad at sports that he can't find great feats of human physicality relatable enough to be enjoyable) interesting. It was! There is something amazing about seeing so many people care so much about the same thing.
I have never been a sports fan. It sounds silly but I think the only adjacent experience I have to sports fandom is when I attended a Not Another Dnd Podcast live show back in October. That day was very strange for me. I joined the queue to the theater alone but during the show I felt like I had a thousand friends. The crowd screamed with appreciation through the entire show and many of those screams were mine. Genuine and unthrottled - something I didn't even know I could do. It was a communal experience of raw enthusiasm. For the first time in my life I had found a mass of strangers that I felt I belonged to. I used to think caring about sports was illogical but if sitting in a stadium and screaming at a ball feels anything like how I felt when I sat in a crowded theater and watched 4 nerds play Dungeons and Dragons, then I was very wrong. Caring about sports is completely logically valid.
Before watching the documentary, I could already see a few cool things about sports. There's the history, the logos and uniform designs, the rules, the strategy, and of course the analytics. I could imagine the obsessive joy of caring about all those details intensely and yet could never get myself to do it. Sports teams are a bit of a Ship of Theseus problem. Everything from the players, coaches, and owners, to the name, location, and stadium can change. If all these elements, especially the players, get traded around, then what really defines one "team" from all the rest? When sports fans cheer on their team, what is the actual THING they are cheering for? I now know that THING is the community behind the team. Their community. They are cheering for each other.
I haven't been able to like sports, not because I'm a "weak loser who is bad at sports" but because I've never made an attempt at joining the community.
Since finishing the documentary, I've watched a few Edmonton Oilers hockey games, started following some Oilers fans on mastodon, and even read an article about the Oilers performance in the playoffs. Lets see if I can finally get myself to care about those analytics!!!
At this point I pretty much wasn't sick anymore but my life was still boring so I kept watching TV. "Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is the Rob McElhenney guy from earlier's show. When they mentioned it in Welcome to Wrexham I had no interest in watching it until I realized that Rob doesn't just act in the show but also writes and produces it. In fact the ongoing series was created by him and two other show stars 18 years ago. The length of the run and the stars having a role in every step through the show's production communicated to me that Always Sunny was the product of a lot of care (it is) and maybe worth watching (it was).
The show is about a group of morally decadent fools who own a bar. There is a little unfamiliarity in watching a series where the characters are explicitly and irredeemably bad people. Despite witnessing their abhorrent behaviour, you still grow an attachment to them and hope for their success. However the characters never really reach their major goals. Their idiocy and selfishness always leaving them undeserving. Its is also strange for me that the characters are more codependants than they are friends.
There is a lot of variety between the episodes. Most don't involve the bar at all. Sometimes they do crazy things like put on a theater show or get jailed in a sinking cruise ship. In other episodes they never leave the floor of the bar. This variety is very different to other sitcoms. Most sitcoms have a tighter premise and are much more grounded. For example most episodes of Seinfeld are about dating and breaking up with women in humorous ways. They pretty much never leave New York and one of the craziest things they do is kidnap a dog. In Always Sunny they don't kidnap dogs, they kidnap people - and then tie those people up, steal their money, and demolish their houses.
Due to the variety, I have stronger distinct opinions on each episode. There are some I have rewatched many many times already because I loved them that much. Others I skip over because I clearly didn't. During the summer I'd like to do a full rewatch and make a personal ranking of every episode. Maybe make it a cool feature on this website. That would be a time exhaustive project though and this summer my time is limited because...
... I have a summer job! The Ubyssey is UBC's student newspaper (Its pronounced yoo-bi-see NOT you-bussy). The job is remote and I'm predictably on the web development team. I'm writing this a month into the summer but I'm just going to talk about getting the job at the end of the school year so that my next post can include everything about the first month of the summer.
I tried volunteering for the website at the beginning of the second term. I joined the meetings every week but I wasn't really able to contribute until about the last meeting when I made a pull request to add strike through to the richtext editor. At the end of the semester I was asked if I wanted to apply to the webdev team. I did so but I didn't expect to actually get the job. I had been rejected from every other skilled job I had applied to, I hadn't done a lot as a volunteer, and I had no experience with most of the softwares that the website is built off of. Surprisingly though, I got the job without an interview. I know that software development jobs are hard to get now so I was extremely grateful to have gotten one so easily. I think its likely because most other computer science people don't also have an interest in journalism and so wouldn't look into something like The Ubyssey. I actually planned to become a writer for The Ubyssey before university started but then was too scared to take something from the pitchlist.
A week before my final exams started I had a meeting with the business manager. I had a dreadful feeling walking into the AMS building ("The Nest") where I thought the Ubyssey headquarters was. I was just told to meet him at his office and had to search frantically through the discord to uncover where that office might be. I felt like this was the moment where I mess up. I had been fortunate to get the job but now I was going to be late or go to the wrong place or be obviously inexperienced and I would lose the opportunity I had lucked into. I successfully navigated to the Ubyssey offices half an hour early and then paced around The Nest anxiously. This was only the second or third time I had been there and I felt overwhelmingly and strangely self-conscious. Like I wasn't supposed to be there. Like I was an intruder and soon everyone would find out. This feeling almost always quietly lingers in me when I'm alone in smaller public spaces but that time it spiked to a stressful level.
Eventually I found a place to sit and waited uncomfortable until it was exactly the start time of the meeting. Then I knocked on the door to the business manager's office - softly because I was scared of disturbing him. The meeting did not result in me losing the job like I feared. Mostly he explained or reexplained how the job worked and I nodded or said "mhm yeah". Apparently I get my own desk in the office which I can use to study and work during the school year. Thats pretty cool. During the summer I'll work seven and a half hours a day and in the school year I'll work one hour a day. The hourly pay is a little more than my dishwashing job.
There was a very comforting feeling that came with securing a developer job. For all my memory, grades have been the only method of measuring my "success in life." School was the only important thing and my averages were opaque markers for how good or bad I was doing at any given moment. That hasn't exactly been a joyful way to live - especially this year. With this job I'll now have something else to base my "success in life" off of. I'm diversifying the portfolio of my self-worth! Its also comforting because not only am I sort of accomplishing a goal I made eight years ago by getting a job that involves programming, but I'm also making it more likely that I can get a more serious programming job in the future. Even if the absolute worst happens and I fail university or something, I'll still have web development experience locked down!
I don't have to do that anymore. Yay!
I left every final exam feeling horribly defeated. Because of that 55 I got in honours math in the first semester, I had to do well this semester. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to major in computer science in second year.
The lectures are very important in sociology and I had to miss some when I was sick. That meant I just didn't know some stuff on the exam. I did feel good about the short essay though.
My final grade was 76 which is way lower than I could afford to get...
The exam started fifteen minutes late because they were too slow letting people into the building. I arrived ten minutes before the exam was supposed to start so I was almost at the back of the very long queue and had to wait there (in the rain) for 25 minutes. The exam began as soon as I was let in.
I did horrendously bad on the first economics midterm, skipped the second midterm (the weight moves to the final), and now I had to do really well on this one in order to get a good grade. I didn't. So many of my answers didn't match exactly with the multiple choice. Some questions just didn't make sense to me. A lot of numbers didn't add up right. Not good. My economics grade is the second lowest I got this year at a 70 (which is also the average of the course).
Also also I think the people who were sitting to the right of me were cheating off each other. They kept whispering and showing each other their calculators.
Physics was the only exam I felt fine about. It was such an easy course. The class average was very high and it was my highest grade of this semester. That was actually pretty disappointing though since it was only an 86. I needed an average of 90 to compensate for last semester so if my highest grade isn't even in the 90s... yeah this year was a failure.
Other than honours math last semester, this was the only course I got BELOW AVERAGE on. The class average was really high though at 85. I got 81.
I honestly expected to get in the 90s for this course and thought the final would be easy. I ended up making multiple stupid mistakes that shot my mark down though. I circled the wrong answer, I accidentally skipped a page, I told myself I would do a section later and then forgot to... IT SUCKED!!! I don't know how I could have made all those classic blunders in the one exam. It was probably stress.
This was a pretty bad course. The lectures were 2 bloody hours long and very confusing to me. For Math 101 we had these quizzes which were all due at the end of the year and were released every week. I left them until the very last week.
I was lost almost from the very beginning so I had to teach myself the entire course in that week to do those quizzes. What I found while teaching myself was that the course was actually extraordinarily simple. The reason I couldn't follow what was going on wasn't because the content was too difficult. It was because the professor's teaching style was so disorganized that they continuously buried the lead in what we were actually learning.
During the exam a funny (but terrifying in the moment) thing happened. I miscalculated when the exam was supposed to end and thought I had one less hour than I did. I only had half of the exam finished when I thought it was supposed to end which resulted in a horrible panic until I realized we had 150 minutes instead of 90 minutes.
I felt very uneasy after this exam. It was one of those "if you fail the final then you automatically fail the course" courses. I didn't think I failed the final but the possibility of it was terrifying.
I ended up getting a final grade of 80 which was a big surprise to me, considering I had learnt the entire course in a week. The final was probably scaled or something. The class average was the lowest out of every course I had that year: 68.
Computer Science 210
I felt good about this exam until the very last question which involved something I was completely unfamiliar with. That question was worth the most points. oops... I got an 83 which was pretty disappointing because I had done so well on the project and labs. I thought I could also do well on the final and get in the 90s smh...
My overall average ended up being too low for last year's computer science cut off so I don't think I'll get in next year. It sucks because if I didn't do all those extra courses I would have been fine. Math 120 killed me and then I added economics and sociology believing they would be extra credits to tilt the scales back. Those courses ended up killing me even more.
It's bizarre to me that that's how University works. They just take all the credits and average them. It doesn't matter if I took more courses or more difficult courses. That system actively discourages what I wanted from University. I came here looking forward to the freedom of learning whatever I was interested in. I loved sociology but if I was smart I never would have signed up for it. I was and still am excited by the idea of learning how to form mathematical proofs and yet taking the course for it severely damaged my chances of getting my major. Why do it this way?
My guess is a lack of incentive on behalf of the people making the decision.
During the first semester's exam break I went to downtown and wandered into the Vancouver public library. I walked aimlessly until I came upon the science fiction. I had the idea to pick a book at random and commit to reading it so I scanned the shelf and pulled down a little book with a blue jacket (this was also the smallest book on the shelf - lets pretend that was a coincidence).
It was titled Awesome. The cover illustration seemed to show a man in a suit holding a very small robot. I opened to the first page and began reading a story stranger than I knew could exist in the form a published book.
Awesome is about and narrated by an extremely self-absorbed giant who sort of just strolls around doing extremely random things. The story makes no sense and is 100% for laughs. It's a bit like if Family Guy or Teen Titans Go was a novel in the first person. The seredipity of it reminded me a little of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy but it was so extreme that it honestly shocked me. I've always seen literature as a serious medium for story telling. I had never once encountered a book that was so carefree, only for the purpose of humour, and about nothing. I also don't read a lot so maybe thats why.
After reading for a while I checked out the book and read more of it in a coffee shop. It was a nice peaceful time. I couldn't finish the book there though so I had to bring it back to my residence. I then proceeded to not open the book for several months, holding it wayyyy past the due date. During second semester I never left campus but finally in the exam period I found a day I could spare to go to one of the branches of the library and return the book.
I took the bus to Point Grey and had a really nice time while trying to finish the book before I gave it back. I ate at this restaurant called Rice Burger which sold Rice Burgers. I had actually seen the restaurant on google maps last year when I was looking around Vancouver to hype myself up for going to UBC. The Rice burgers were very good. I also went to a coffee shop to drink tea and I walked all the way to the beach and back. By the end I was physically and mentally exhausted but I had a good day and I did finish the book. After giving the book back I ate at an Indian restaurant to congratulate myself for almost being done the year. It felt really strange having a sit down meal by myself. I don't think I had ever done that before. I was super awkward asking for a table and sitting alone felt weird but the food was really good!
The day before I left to BC last year I recorded an audio log where I gave my predictions of how first year would be.
I was very optimistic. I was excited to explore Vancouver, to acquire deeper academic knowledge, and to meet new people. And yet even in the recording I show that at the back my mind I knew how things would really go.
In this first year of university I failed to form a friend group, rarely did anything outside of school, overwhelmed myself with things I didn't want to do, procrastinate everything, and failed to receive grades to the standard I needed.
"My intelligence" very clearly won the disagreement with "my emotions" that I reference in the recording. I should have easily predicted how University would go because it followed a very similar pattern to my experience in high school.
No friend group in high school, no friend group in university. Tired and stressed in high school, tired and stressed in university. Did nothing fun in high school, did nothing fun in university.
The truth is that University really doesn't have to be the way I made it. I was right to be excited about Vancouver's mountains and beaches and nicer weather. With thousands of students at the school, it would be crazy to say that none of them could be friends with me.
The problem is that, just like in high school, I made very little effort to actually have a good time. I looked forward to so many locations and geographic features and yet through the entire 8 months that I was in Vancouver I never visited one of the mountains, I went to downtown all of 4 times, and I sat on an off campus beach only once. I enjoyed myself when I did those things but I did them very rarely.
I was a little better in terms of friends. A few people befriended me on whims. One guy asked me for the time at the end of a lecture and then subsequently sat next to me and talked to me for the rest of the course. One saw I was wearing a pokemon hat in the cafeteria and spontaneously started a conversation about it. Another weirdy kept telling me he "saw me everywhere" until we became friends. They were cool people too. They shared interests with me like Star Trek, or web development, or video game news. But even still, I felt friendless. I only talked to them by chance or during lectures. The one time I had just "hung out" with someone at UBC was in November when my friend from Junior High visited. The rest of the academic year was absolutely barren.
Why didn't I ask these people to hang out? Why didn't I hike up one of the mountains? Why did I commit myself to leading this unwaveringly miserable life?
There wasn't a day where I didn't have school work to do. That's why.
I have to change the way I go about things. When I was younger my life was scheduled by my parents or my teachers. At school we had class for learning, then recess and lunch break for having fun. After school I had some activity to stay healthy and then I had no homework so I could play video games for the rest of the day. Now that I'm older, not only is there very little structure imposed on me but I also have a lot of shit to do. Its difficult to both do the shit and find time to have fun. In high school and this first year I didn't even try. I'll do my best to make next year different.