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March 18, 2007

Just had my first real date with Sumita.  She told me all about her life before college, how her parents were basically like Christie’s parents (not as bad, of course), and she constantly felt the pressure, and she constantly felt like she wasn’t worth anything because of the things they would tell her.  I can hardly stand this anymore.  That makes three girls I’ve liked with stupid insane parents like that.  Naturally, Sumita emphasizes that they aren’t actually as bad as she’s making them out to be.  And of course they’re racist too.  She hasn’t told them about us because, well, who knows how they’d feel about her dating some boy who isn’t Indian?

Why don’t we just do away with the whole idea of parents?  Let’s make a new law where we hire professional parents to bring up our children for us, according to rules specified under the law and carried out in a very controlled fashion.  It’s way more efficient, and the only drawback is that everyone might start turning out more alike, so that we’re in effect mass producing people.  But hey, since when is that actually a drawback?  Isn’t that what we’ve wanted all along?  All we want is for all our children to grow up to become the most “successful” people they can be.  What better way to guarantee that than to leave them in the care of professionally trained parents using only the most up-to-date methods?  Just make all of our children the model American citizens they should be.  Everything would be so much better.

What really got me was how she was saying how her parents always assumed she was the typical renegade teenage girl, with boys and sex constantly on her mind, getting worried about the fact that condoms are made readily available in the dorms.  It’s not so much the pushing Sumita to be successful that bothers me, but the fact that this is done at the expense of building any semblance of an actual relationship.  She says that she and her dad are somewhat close, if not her mom so much.  But to completely ignore what your daughter is actually like… to make assumptions based on the actions of other girls that have no bearing on the kind of person your daughter is… at that point you’re just not being a parent at all anymore.  You’re being a factory, treating each model in the assembly line as exact replicas of each other.  The factory assumes that every piece, being made of the same material as the last and the same material as the next, have exactly the same pliability, and one will bend just as much as the other when a uniform amount of pressure is applied to each one.  It goes through all the same motions, back and forth, back and forth, relentlessly, and how could it notice if one of those pieces is somehow of a different model that found its way into the line?  How could it notice if the pressure it applies is slowly causing a piece to break?  Well, you just can’t worry about that sort of thing when efficiency’s what you’re after.  If the machine can’t assemble a piece correctly, then that piece was just defective, and there’s nothing you can do about it but keep the line moving, just keep it moving.

She’s studying for her math midterm now.  The midterm’s on Wednesday, and it’s looking like I’ll only get to see her once before spring break.  I have work I could be doing too, of course, but it’s yet another one of those nights where I can stare at the page for half an hour at a time and not progress a single sentence.  Hopefully I’ll be more productive tomorrow.

But every time I work now, the factory image just keeps coming back… it didn’t disturb me, what Damon said, not at first anyway.  What he said about colleges not being bastions for expanding one’s horizons and broadening one’s education, even perhaps helping us gain a little wisdom here and there.  That’s not what they are anymore, if they ever were before.  Now they’re just factories for churning out upper-middle-level management.  Who’s really at college to learn anymore, anyway?  My heart’s not much in it anymore, that’s for sure.  I do find the material interesting occasionally, even often, but ultimately it feels like I’m just amassing more intellectual treasure, as Salinger might say.  I don’t know.  It’s hard to explain, really, and it doesn’t make sense the way I’ve just explained it.  If I find the material interesting, that should be reason enough to do it, but I still don’t do it.  I haven’t felt like reading anything for months.  My reading is getting slower and slower, dropping far below the already slow 3 minutes to a page that used to be the norm for me.  Part of me wishes I had a worksheet or something to fill out, even though that’s about the worst way to learn ever.  Most of me is just missing high school in general now.  The days when I could really, genuinely look forward to going to some of my classes, and the days when even if everyone then was as single-mindedly set on being successful or on getting drunk and building shallow frat-like friendships as they are here and now, it at least wasn’t noticeable to me.  And the days when you could actually just talk to people, and you had something to talk about.  I came here expecting to find the place of my dreams, a place where everyone here, no matter what sort of background they came from, would at least be interesting to know and a lot of fun to talk to.  Smarter people are more interesting, right?  But it now seems that there really was something special about Folsom, though I can’t begin to put my finger on it.

Well, I’d better go to bed now if I want to have time to do all my homework tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

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