Mal-Form.

The whirlwind.

This weekend I visited Panama City Beach, Florida for our fraternity’s formal weekend. I arrived friday evening with the rambunctious excitement you’d expect anyone to have after an eight hour car ride. Drinking in the car a few hours prior to arriving certainly contributed to my enthusiasm. Unfortunately everyone had driven through the night the morning prior and participated in a full day of drinking on the beach, so they were exhausted and less than receptive to my springing excitement to start drinking, especially at two in the morning when we arrived. Exercising some judgment, I decided that I should restrain my passion and save my energy for the following day, which I expected from prior experience to be a long and exhausting extravaganza. So I passed out. I woke up around eleven a.m. on the pull out mattress as everyone filed out of their air conditioned caves. I rallied my date and immediately took six shots. I then visited my roommate’s hotel room and produced three hits of acid from my backpack. My one room mate and his date decided that they didn’t want me having all the fun, so we each took a hit. I began pounding beer. Miller High Life. We then gathered ourselves up, filled our coolers with all the necessary beverages and ancillary paraphernalia for a hard day’s drinking in the sun, and walked a mile to the beach. At this point I was beginning to feel numb and thoroughly intoxicated, despite only an hour’s worth of wakefulness. Rather than walk around a strip of beach front property, we made an executive decision to climb over a locked gate which, as things would have it, was covered in maple syrup, presumable to keep people from climbing over. The brothers acquired a generator and speakers, and permission from one of the beach front homes to use their outlets and beach yard to place them, and we began blasting music to commence the festivities. It was a gorgeous day. Hotter than hell and zero clouds. While I never black out, I do drink to the point where no memories have been reliably made to recall, and that was definitely the case this day. We drank and carried on for at least six hours under the excruciatingly relentless Florida sun. The group began dispersing around six thirty and we were the last to walk back to our room, but not before I, in my deviantly responsible drunken state, cleaned the beach of trash, towels, and other belongings left for loss scattered in the sand.

Dinner was at seven thirty. I finished about twenty beers throughout the afternoon, in addition to countless shots. I was obliterated. Everyone made it to the chartered buses on time and we traveled a dozen miles to the catering hall. The trip felt like five minutes. I ate food. I drank beer. I watched a senior slide show. I may have lost my camera. At one point I wandered into the catering hall storage closet and grabbed six bottles of wine that I decided to deliver to tables throughout the room and, presumably stolen, everyone happily drank them. I gave a speech after my ol’ pledge buddy had a few words. Everyone thought I was going to say something deep, and I had planned on producing a compelling narrative, but I did not want to give into satisfying everyones expectations, so I mostly rambled about how awesome the frat was, how drunk I was, how much I enjoyed being the center of attention when giving a speech, and then I stepped down, or I was forced to. Either way.

I ate a lot during dinner, consuming three chicken breasts that tasted like smoked cedar, and eating multiple portions of a potato cheese scallop casserole. I made sure I consumed the vegetables as well with the idea that I was somehow countering the intense abuse I was wrecking on my body. The ride back was even quicker than the ride there. I went to my room, got changed, met up with my room mates in their room, and looked around for fun. I talked to three black guys from New Orleans and I introduced myself. Coincidentally, they introduced themselves, in full seriousness, with the same name. All four of us. I almost thought it was a joke if it wasn’t for the friendly casual nature of the encounter and the seriousness with which they replied.

I received news that the seniors were gathering on the beach for the ceremonial get together where champagne and speeches poured forth, and sentimentality could be shared in appreciable company. I gathered some people and set out to find it, but I was far from coherent. I got distracted by the sight of a Domino’s and decided to order a pizza which I proceeded to carry with me to consume as we ventured towards the beach. Unfortunately we weren’t able to locate this gathering so we decided to return to the hotel to revel with the rest of the group.

I made phone calls and eventually found out that my room was apparently hosting the party. I returned, but not before gathering people along the way and doing my best to persuade a young security guard to join us. Out of professionalism he politely indicated that he was working but, as a result of my genuine interest in his company, he compromised and rode the elevator us with us, indulging in the pleasant vibes of our group’s intoxicated camaraderie. Upon returning to the room the party was in full swing, making my entrance pretty disorienting as I tried to reaffirm whether this was indeed my room. In my drunken haze I had consumed a stimulant that was just starting to work its way through my blood stream and I could feel the boost of energy swell over me and out of me in enthusiastic gab. I’m not sure where the night went really, but I was talking about everything with everyone, and I distinctly remember conversations revolving around philosophical thought and my reputation for “being deep” or “philosophical”, which I made a point to rebuff as nothing more than a natural result of being curious, and that everyone would be considered deep if only they were more curious. We also talked on more trivial matters, such as the habit of periodically shaving one’s body, which I argued was a habit that was no different than any other arbitrary hygiene dictated by social convention of the like we typically take for granted, such as cleaning your ears, or shaving your legs or armpit hair, or brushing and bleaching your teach, or haircuts, or tanning, and the other multitude of inane grooming procedures that signify a status of class and care.

I recall spending a lot of time of the porch, probably with an agenda to snag cigarettes and hits of the maryjane circulating around. Whatever the reason for my preoccupation with the porch was, I don’t know, but I spent almost the entire evening out there, for better or worse. At one point I distinctly remember finding myself surprised that my alcohol consumption was increasing, rather than decreasing, and I decided to attribute the phenomenon it to the stimulant.

While on the porch I found myself in the company of a good girl friend whom I always admired. When we met she was young, a freshman, and in my mind naive, simply due to lack of experience. Due to my age I couldn’t reconcile the disparity in experience. But my attraction was definitely pronounced, specifically because of her exuberant personality that exuded an air of honest abandon, a happy casual disposition that seemed all too pleasant. The result of this disposition was an alluring mystique, a veneer that indicated there was more than meets the eye. She shared a curiosity for life that I equally cherished, and consequently chose to study philosophy which I, for obvious reasons, admired and revered. Whatever the case was, we talked on the porch, standing side by side and leaning on the balcony railing in tandem, staring into the evenings dark open air. In my haze I felt a rush of affection warm over. It was probably due to our conversations which, while I don’t remember the theme or details, I assume was genuinely thoughtful. I allowed my inhibitions to unhinge and embraced the attraction pulling my towards her. Those moments always contain the most bliss, a complete euphoric abandon. We kissed, and continued to kiss, and I yielded to the impulse to utterly absorb her presence, kissing and hugging with playful poise and affection. I explained that I hope she didn’t mind, but I was intensely attracted to her, and I couldn’t keep myself from indulging in the feeling. She didn’t mind in the slightest and reciprocated with equal fervor. Needless to say, we continued reveling on the porch, talking with our fellow drunkards, kissing and touching whenever the urge presented itself. It was humorous that, in the midst of sitting around in circle and conversing with others, discussing the nature of philosophy, its rule and duty, as well as the significance of etymology, we continued to kiss, blissfully unaware or unconcerned with appropriate conventions. Our interlocutors would interject that, if we wanted, they would leave so that we could continue doing our thing, but I was totally content sharing in the moment with everyone and that there was really no need to worry about any intrusion on their part. I was enjoying it all the same. It was comical really.

Eventually I decided I wanted to seek refuge in a bed with this girl. We ended up growing in knowledge. I was exhausted when I woke up. I felt like death. The ride home was pretty miserable. My date is an adderall crack head and she consumed countless pills on the way home, which prompted dilatory rambling that I was not in the mood for. She was also a huge fan of Glee, musicals, country music, and acappella covers, all of which I disdain ad nauseum. I tolerated it, however, out of courtesy for her driving. But I felt like hell. Sweating, fevers. Our first meal we ate at Wafflehouse, which was mediocre, as expected, but appropriate hangover food nonetheless.

quick post

I’m not happy with my lack of journaling lately. In fact, I’m not happy with my current all around lack of reflection. I have much homework and studying and so little time and energy to get it done. Here’s my brief update:

Tomorrow marks the third week of school. I’m taking 17 credit hours, working roughly 15 hours a week, developing a KLICK project that focuses on researching social entrepreneurship in third world countries, participating in Alternative Spring Break (ASB, community service work during spring break that includes service work and training throughout the semester), and I am pledging a fraternity- zeta beta tau.

That brings me to my next point. I have no life. Why? Well, I wasn’t planning on pledging and now that I am, my expectations and demands have skyrocketed. I have class or work from 8-330ish everyday. From 4-6 we clean the zbt house, 6-7 we eat together as a pledge class, 7-10 we have mandatory study hours, 10-12 we get hazed. We have to memorize copious amounts of information, not to mention running errands all day every day.

Anyway…

My classes are enjoyable so far… I suppose. I haven’t been spending as much time as I would like. I should be journaling every night. I need to practice better time management. By the end of the week I am completely exhausted- mentally, physically and emotionally. Why am I pledging you say?

Because at Vanderbilt, 50% of the school is greek, and if you aren’t involved, you are deprived access to those networks, relationships, and exposure. In reality the greek scene dominates the school. If you would like a social experience on any level beyond studying with a group of friends, getting wasted with hall mates, attending sports or theatrical events on campus, then the greek scene is your only avenue. It could be argued, of course, but I’m being realistic. The pain in the ass, however, is this bullshit 8-10 week pledging period where 19-21 year olds bitch me around because I’m a “pledge” or “New bitch”. Its all a game to me, really. And I know how to play games extremely well. When I say game, I mean its learning to abide by the myriad of social expectations and pressures until you are received as having a genuine and legitimate place as a “brother”. Initiation, whatever you wanna call it, is really a tradition of retribution passed down to each new pledge class, all in the name of brotherhood. I had no idea it would be so serious. And painful. And a pain in the ass. I figured we just worked and ran errands. Getting hazed by a bunch of kids younger than me is just a humbling pain in the ass.

I like to evaluate it as a psychological experiment. I’m not one of the 18 year old freshman in my pledge class desperately willing to perform fellatio for friends, booze, and women. I’m a 23 year old recovered addict who has indulged in more debacle and bacchanal gratifications than these kids will ever see in college. While they’re participating in the stereotypical greek life, doing the best they can to live up to the illusory images of what greek living should look like, I have run out of inspiration for such things. While kids were doing this in college with responsibilities, i was doing this as a bum, with no responsibilities. I could have a hangover for a month straight, getting high morning, noon, and night. There was no reason to preserve my brain cells. I took it to the extreme and I know what it leads to. Most of these children haven’t a clue. They manage to juggle academics and the occasional community service hours and boast about their valiant contributions as a member of the Vanderbilt community. That being said, the more I spend time with these kids, the more I love to appreciate them. All the seniors are a year or more younger than me. They have their cool card, checked out from the silly ‘sophomore’ activities of their past. They’re beyond that now, too cool. I laugh at myself because, shit, that’s what I do.

I have so much to say right now. About social animals. About people and how they function. Learning their ticks.

I will tell you something beyond value. We humans love people who make us feel good. Period. If you can do that through a smile, through genuine compliments (because we all know what is bullshit and manipulation and what isn’t… timeliness, accuracy, whether we think its true, whether that person has a stake in gaining your approval), or simply by your association. That last one always sticks out in my mind. If you exemplify the traits and characteristics that people admire and value in life, or simply think are cool and worthy, then simply your association with that person adds value to their life. Most people don’t come out and tell you they think highly of you, so you need to be keen to watch for their interest, otherwise they might grow resentful that you don’t give them the time or day. When this happens they put up walls. They get defensive. You need to make people feel good, feel that when they are around you their life has improved for that moment or simply thereafter. If you can do this, people will gravitate and orbit around you.

Anyway. I have much work I need to finish. I should write more often. I will write more often.