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.

Vandy day three:over

*stream of consciousness*

First weekend at Vanderbilt is over… I’m alive and all is well.

The school? Everyone is pretty awesome… warm and inviting. There are 6500 students on campus and I’m sure I haven’t encountered a mere fraction of the diversity here. Transfer orientation is almost through… tomorrow we have an community service fair, student organization fair, and a greek life info session. I’m seriously considering active participation in Model UN and the Debate club… as far as greek life goes… its dependent on the chapter and how well I click. This is obvious stuff, but I am not a conformist, and I shudder to think I need other men to reaffirm my self worth and esteem. I want to be around men that support and reinforce it. So we’ll see how that goes. There’s always the typical stereotypes, but I do my best to avoid falling into those traps.

Economics and Philosophy… that always gets mixed responses. Some people associate Economics with Math, while others view it as a theoretical practice that coincides with some degree of philosophy. I am dead set on that combo until the econ courses convince me otherwise. I do plan on taking some mathematics… I am a little hesitant to take math classes here… only because its vanderbilt, and I’m not a math major. BUT, I would like to reinforce my economic studies… and math is the best way to do that. My adviser suggested I take as many as possible… we’ll see. I still must fulfill the AXLE (achieving excellence in liberal education) requirements… international studies, natural sciences, US history, etc etc.

Tonight I met a few guys… we bought some beer and hung out.. shot the shit and talked about our expectations for the year. Its odd being 22 and hanging around 19 year olds. All the transfers are around 19 or 20 so its interesting… I feel older and wiser… not necessarily better. Just like, I’ve been around the block enough to foresee all their anxieties with making new friends and trying to find the cool kids and finding women and trying their best not to get fucked over and be cool in the process. I, honestly, do not give a shit about any of this. I’m here to work hard and study, and find as many like minded enjoyable people as I can along the way. This leaves me in a precarious place when looking for friends. I’m not worried though… Classes will begin and four weeks into it, this place will feel as familiar as home.