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Friday, May 9, 2008

A Dozen Years: What I haven't learnt yet

It's been a dozen years since I left the campus of Purdue University. Strange how that time has went by - never completely understanding what I was supposed to have learnt from college - and yet, I can remember many, many things that I did undoubtedly learn.

But the quest is still fuzzy.

One, I was never meant to be an engineer. I stayed in the major more out of respect and the hopes of my mother than any really skill or desire to work in manufacturing/logistical plants from 8-6, five or six days per week. The work was never too exciting, and I didn't belong in that crowd. Some can do it - pandering to management or taking on the tasks of greatest expediency - but I was much, much too cynical, yet wanting, desiring idealism in my work.

The next thing I gather is that I wasn't apart of the university like I should have been. In theory, we should get to know our profs, spend time challenging ourselves to learn things we once thought unlearnable and have the ability to gain the leadership needed to provide the guidance to others around us that didn't get the golden opportunity of attending prestigious universities.

Well, I didn't.

Most times I goofed off to the end result of a 2.07 GPA. I skipped more classes than any sophmore could have possibly attended 100% of the time. There were reasons, nay excuses, but I didn't optimize my 5 1/2 year stay at the Purdue U.

Friendships. We talk of those heady days and the people we hoped to make life-long buddies with during those Saturday football games and the weekday all nighters on Thermodynamics. I had my friends - not a constant group by any stretch - but they weren't of the appropriate mindset in regards to whatever they deemed their responsibility to a long-term friendship towards me.

My then best friend did stay around for a few seasons after our graduation from the campus of concrete, the bouncing of basketballs and us, the gadflies of Greekdome. We were mismatched - he the 6'3" man of Minneapolis with a Republican streak, me the 5'6" man of Democracy and small towndome - but we cracked each other up.

Our lives then were intertwined by the threads of card-playing, comic affinities, music flavors and being on the campus searching for Mrs. Right. (Pictured left minus decent clothes - She popped up in my email box as an ad for a Mate 1 singles site. Really, can we have any more adverts for sex, sexual-enhancing meds and the pursuit of something that might replace sex?)

But getting back to that friend, I do miss the odd conversations about his bank account, his roommates (now roommate/wife), working in sales or other woe-is-me-this-week situation. Maybe he respected me for where I had come from, maybe he didn't. But it seems when the going got too tough (for him in knowing me) that ended that road. Looking back, though it was never a friendship of equals, it did matter to have someone to talk or run around with during the 1990's. I kept my sanity likely due to it.

Since graduation, I have been searching for the life I apparently was suppose to find in the classrooms, study lounges, student union (Purdue Memorial Union pictured right) and other places of reflecting on task at hand.

I started going to bookstores more often. Attempted several times to write things of some personal worth (a psychological fiction called The Warehouse and the Watchtower - about 200 pages in, I stopped), poems, journaling, etc. I almost immediately started looking for ways out of Industrial Engineering as a career. I took to law - not the criminal stuff, hopefully, environmental - but got only as far as the LSAT. (Not necessarily due to lacking of desire or ability...personal as usual.)

Little did I know that my only solace came in writing stuff. I began that trek about one year after my graduation on July 4, 1997. I had sparingly journaled before that, but since that time, I have jotted down more than fair share of garbage thoughts, quirky ideas, personal tragedies and the like.

I still haven't learn how to be me. Whether in writing, Memorex (Ella Fitzgerald below) or Alive and Kickin' (Simple Minds, simple pleasures below.)

I was a hick child of the 1980's, a naive college guy of the 1990's and a poor man of the new millennium. That's one way I see it. Through that unerring looking glass of wealth and privilege most suspect is the only way to go in this want-more-stuff-because-it's-cool-techno-junk world. If zeroes and heroes are born via the computer, then zero me in. I learnt just enough to actually be dangerous to myself - since my problems started with an e-mail.

The experiences of a dozen years hence haven't taught me enough to overcome the very things I wish were not in my life. Unlike Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, I'm still closer to food stamps than my field of dreams written with the not-bitter audacity of hopefulness.

There lies an outcome somewhere - but I haven't learned what that is.

The trek is still underway. The tools have changed, the map is gone and there is no sherpa to follow on my own personal Himalayan quest.

The quest for knowledge & life meaning, not found in college (yeah, The Police reared its head in this line) has been the problem.

Maybe, as many noted philosophers/screenwriters have said, "you need to get laid."

Oh, how funny that is...

Happy Mother's Day, moms.
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