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August 1, 2005

Oh yeah, how could I forget.  Got my AP test results back.  Fives on all three!  w00t!  It was funny, because the score is in the right column and the year (’05) is in the left column… I spent a second or two wondering why the year was there twice, and where the heck my scores were.  Oh yeah, you can totally tell I’m not retarded, let alone capable of the TOP SCORE ON ALL MY TESTS!  HAHAHAHA!  I’M SO WONDERFULLY CONCEITED!!!

Slowing down and backtracking a bit now, I went to my mom’s exchange student class again on Thursday, which happened to be fashion show day.  And you thought karakoke was bad…  I didn’t plan ahead on what to wear, so I just came in an aloha shirt and local Hawaiian slippahs (which is Pidgin, a Hawaiian dialect, for slippers, just in case you’re a moron and had trouble translating that or in case you thought I was a moron for spelling “slippers” wrong).  The day is mostly just for the students to learn how to make a presentation in English, so it didn’t matter much how elaborate my outfit was.

Volunteers for the day were short, as they often are; it was just me and two others, one guy and one girl.  And all three of us are quieter than average, so we’re really not great people to learn English from.  This time around, however, each student was to write down the presentation on an index card, so all we had to do was split into groups and take turns modeling and describing our group members’ clothes.  Making a fool of myself I have no problem with.  I don’t have a problem with talking either, I guess, but talking requires you to think of something to talk about, which is particularly difficult when you have to bridge a communication gap.  With making a fool of yourself, it’s either you’re willing to do it or you’re not.  And I am willing.

J.W., the guy in the group with me and Makoto, was not.  He didn’t find out what we were going to do that day until he got there, and then of course it was too late… he was dressed in quite casual attire: baseball cap, Subway shirt, jean shorts.  But again, it’s not a contest, it’s just to help the students practice their English, and besides, taking a closer look at a random outfit would give them a good idea of our culture.  And really, why should he care about looking stupid in front of a bunch of Japanese students who are going to be here for another couple weeks and will then leave, in all likelihood never to see him again?  Who are they going to tell?  Why would they care when all of them are doing the same thing?  But he still had quite a hard time getting over his embarrassment, and he had more trouble writing the card describing his outfit than Makoto with his broken English.  What was there to be nervous about?

Then I remembered that I was nervous when I was singing in front of the class doing karaoke.  The difference was, I ignored it and did it anyway.  Because I had the above rhetorical questions in my mind, I realized the only consequence being nervous could possibly have would be to make the students more hesitant about speaking in front of their class when they get into the actual school year.  And my mom is always saying how no one’s going to learn English all of a sudden in five weeks, and the number one purpose of the class is to give them the kind of attitudes they’ll need when they start school in America.  I guess I succeeded; she told me that she couldn’t tell I was nervous.  It was obvious to me, though, because I was terribly shaky on notes I usually have no problem hitting, and my heart was doubling its rate as it usually does in front of any crowd not composed of my relatives.

And this got me back into a long debate I’ve had with myself.  Why must nervousness exist when its only function is to magnify whatever you’re nervous about in the first place?  It prevented J.W. from doing what he needed to do, and it kept clawing at me even after I had thrown all caution to the wind.

In fact, what is the point of feeling?

Because, when I think about it, feeling really hasn’t done very much for me.  Take running, for instance.  Every day I work my butt off in practice, but when race day comes, I invariably fall short of my capabilities.  That discomfort I feel prevents me from running at my true potential.  I can tell myself that I won’t die, but it makes no difference;  the feeling takes control of my body, and reason is down the toilet.  You might say, though, that feeling is also what gives your body a sudden surge of energy right when you need it most.  To that I say, look at Natasha LaBeaud.  I have never seen her increase her pace noticeably at the end of a race.  Not once.  Of course, that means that sometimes people pass her in the final stretch.  In most cases, however, it doesn’t matter because her strong, steady pace puts her so far ahead of everyone by the middle of the race that no one has a chance to catch up.  What is so incredible about Natasha, to me, is that her racing is so mechanical.  Absolutely nothing fazes her.  She’s blocked out that discomfort from her mind so effectively that she’s unstoppable.  She doesn’t have any speed because everyone can race to their full potential in a sprint.  In long distance, she’s one of the only ones who comes even close to her capabilities.


As long as we’re on the subject of Natasha, how about her other areas of success?  She happens to be one of the only people in the school who does not procrastinate.  Reason tells us that procrastination is pointless, that we’ll just have to do the work eventually, and it’s better to get it out of the way sooner than later so that we don’t have to worry about it.  In practice, of course, it’s not so simple.  Because we have such an aversion to our studies, we have to wait until the situation is desperate to make any headway on it.  Feelings conquer reason once again, and the result is often disastrous, as one cannot predict the exact amount of time it will take to finish an assigment, especially a large, AP assignment (how are people doing on that AP Government journal?).  Some claim that they work better under pressure, and that may be true, but this is only because the urgency of the situation outweighs the aversion to doing the work.  Eliminate that illogical aversion, and one can do the work with frightening speed and efficiency at any time of the day or night.  The answer to Natasha’s success, once again, is quite simple: it is also the success of reason.  Yet it is still a startlingly difficult achievement.


When I was in middle school, I was a miserable person.  The immaturity and cruelty that emerges en masse during the adolescent years had overwhelmed me, and I succumbed to emotion to the point where it was difficult to get out of bed some days.  There are a number of theories about why I got out of this pattern.  Probably the meds played a part, but on the other hand, my psychiatrist was pushing me to double my dose right up to the day I stopped taking them entirely, and I’ve never had a relapse.  I personally think the main reason was that everyone else finally started growing up, and I didn’t experience the horrors of middle school with such potency as before.  But another reason, and the one that applies to the topic, is that I finally realized that nothing could change as a result of my despair.  Reason told me that it made no sense to focus so strongly on this aspect of life.  This was the world I lived in, and there was nothing to do but to either take it or leave it.


To this day, there are those who speculate that I suppress my feelings, and that suppression results in my occasional outbursts of anger (emotion) that accomplish nothing besides making everything I’m insane.  I’m not so sure that’s the case.  Whenever I’ve had a hard day, I go to lunch and start talking to my friends.  I don’t talk about my problems.  That would make me focus on them more, which simply doesn’t help at all.  Instead, we talk about video games, hold political debates (I was very proud of the diversity of my Wednesday table, where a borderline communist sat with a fundamentalist Christian who came to school wearing a shirt saying “Where’s my day of silence?), make witty remarks, or, if we’re not feeling so creative, really bad puns, or, if we’re feeling even less creative, which is often the case, totally random and stupid references to web cartoons like  We almost never talk about our actual lives.  And afterward, I invariably feel infinitely better.  Because the things I stress out about are really not that big a deal.  Nothing’s that big a deal; we all just get stuck with this idea that our individual lives have any real significance in the great scheme of things.  As Jason Mraz says, “it all amounts to nothing in the end/I won’t worry my life away.”  My lunch conversations bring me back to reality.  There is no suppression involved whatsoever.


To recap, let’s take a look at what reason has done for me:

1.    Lets me see the big picture instead of focusing on the bad

2.    Allows me to approach everything from an objective standpoint

3.    Causes me to live to my full potential

4.    Gave me fives on all my AP tests (just had to bring it up again)

And what emotion has done for me:

1.    Causes people to think I’m insane

2.    Made my middle school life a living hell

3.    Prevents me from running well

4.    Prevents me from enjoying my weekend because of projects in the back of my head

5.    Attempts to prevent me from accomplishing anything at all


You may say that emotion is what makes us human; I say it is one of the many things that separates us from the animals.  Among these are far greater intelligence, increased self-awareness, and a deviation from the “survival of the fittest” principle, all of which can be traced back to reason.  I also believe that what makes us human is the abiltiy to supersede our natural instinct.  Emotions are as natural as sexual urges, and just as we can suppress the latter in a healthy society, we can suppress the former as well.


Things are not looking good for emotion, then.  Yet, for all this, there is something intriguing about it.  Reason tells me that just as biodiversity makes any ecosystem healthy, a balance of reason and emotion may be necessary.  Still, that can’t hold up to all the arguments I have against it.  Mostly, I like the idea of feeling because… I just have a good feeling about it.  Paradoxical, I know, but I can’t ignore it.  I see people going through all the drama of high school life, with all its ups and downs, and my reason screams, “What’s wrong with you?  None of that is getting you anywhere!”  And at the same time, I can’t help but like them all the more for it.  It’s a curse.


Whatever the value of feeling is, it seems unlikely to go away anytime soon.  Which means the debate will go on in my head indefinitely.  Well, “there’s no need to hurry when I’m making up my mind,” hehe. 


From → Uncategorized

  1. I just wanted to let you know that you’re one of the most interesting people I know. Yes, I realize that I don’t actually know you, but I believe that art reflects life, and the thoughts you so skillfully explicate in your posts are definitely a form of art. If you ignore our tastes in media and literature, I have reason to believe that we’re polar opposites, and that intrigues the hell out of me. In fact, you inspired me to post again, and not many people (or things, or events) can do that. Rock on, my brother, and my response is on my xanga.

  2. So a couple I know totally just got a Japanese exchange student like a week ago and they said that she resembles the girl from The Grudge. 
    And you got a five on the French AP test?  Ca c’est insane!!! 
    Now I will continue reading, the exchange student part just got to me.

  3. AWESOMe JOB ON THE TESTS MAN!!if any of us in french class deserved a 5 it was you so congrats.As a side note, I have to say that this post has been one of the few things that has actually made me think all summer, and that’s saying something as I am a lazy bum who enjoys his not thinking, so thanks for that.I do have to say though that procrastination does have its perks. It allows for every possible opportunity of the assignment/obstacle being avoided all together. Let’s just say my kind of procrastination is a little thing called hope.

  4. For some reason I got my xanga subscription digest and not my feedback report, so I went ahead and commented on David’s entry before I read my own comment.  I had a feeling I made an impact, and I am quite honored because I am finding you increasingly interesting myself.
    And Mike has an excellent point there also.  I can’t even count the times an assignment was canceled and I laughed at the few people in the class who actually did it.  Not out loud, of course.  That would just be rude.

  5. Geez, give the other people a chance to shine, Chris. I’ve read through that site before, and all of the pages linked from it at the bottom, particularly the Good Drug Guide, the Hedonist Imperative, and the little ditty on MDMA.I definitely believe that a BNW-esque world can be possible without being so detached and artificial, but it doesn’t keep me from thinking the actual Brave New World is pretty much all-around disgusting.

  6. Heh–I think you’ve got it all wrong though man

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