Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sleepaday Day Two - Epic Failure

It's 4:11 PM, which is almost unheard of. If today were a normal day, I'd almost certainly be asleep right now. I have no homework, and my schedule is wide wide open till 6 PM. My body is trained to sleep at times like this. I am fighting the power.

To be honest, I can't help but feel a little bit like Isaac Mendez from Heroes. It feels like I'm trying to go cold turkey from drugs or something. I know that it's the right thing to do, but wow, my body is telling me to go sleep. Isaac could paint the future when he was high. When I take naps, I can focus like some incredible robotic machine once the sun has gone down. Isaac had to give it up because he knew the drugs were ruining his life. He couldn't paint for a long time. I'm giving up naps. It's like I'm losing my super power and key to success. I know it'll be better in the future. Isaac did die a hero, after all. I just hope there's no guy with Horn-Rimmed Glasses that's gonna come persuade me to go back to my old days. I've been nap free for 1 and a half whole days- I wouldn't wanna lose a streak like that to save some cheerleader's life.

I've been listening to my music a lot these past few days. It's a lot harder to fall asleep at a desk when there's music going on. I've just been shuffling through my entire playlist. It's been pretty cool, because I've got some good music that I don't get to listen to very often. There's plenty of stuff in there that I don't like, or stuff that isn't conducive to calculus, but it's still been more or less pretty good. There's a time and a place to listen to music, and I've been liking it these past two days.

Today I finally had to face the monster that I've created out of computer tech. I wrote a letter to my counselor explaining why I hadn't taken the class, why I don't think I should have to take the class, and asking if there was any way the graduation committee could switch, substitute, swap, excuse, or otherwise annihilate that credit. Ends up they can't.

So I got called to the counseling center today to talk about my options. There are really three choices that I'm presented with:

1) Take the class at Taylorsville. In fact, that's the plan I'm currently signed up for. Thumbs down, and not the plan I'm going to pursue, but it's the backup. If all else fails, I'll get the credit the oldschool way. It's a bit of a tragedy, but if that's what it takes to graduate, I'll do it.

2) Test out of the class at the GTI. Or somewhere like that, I don't even know where it's at. I can go take a competency test for 85 dollars. This would be the preferred route, except there's a five week turnaround. I have to call two weeks before I go take the test to reserve a date, and then results take three weeks to process. So even if I called today, I'd still be spending five weeks in computer tech.

3) Take the class through granite peaks or GTI or nightschool or something like that. This is the option I know the very least about, but it's actually looking like the most appealing right now. From what I do know, I can go and take the course at my own pace. It'd be after school somewhere else. It'd probably cost money. The rumor on the street, though, is that they test you on each section before you start it. If you know more than 80 percent of the material, you don't have to do that section. This leads me to believe that I could actually complete the course in say, three days, if I got lucky.

So those are my options. I'm working on gathering more information for option three, because that looks the most appealing right now. If that doesn't work, I'll fall back on option two. If I fail that test, well, I'll be stuck in comp tech.

The trouble here is that no matter what happens, I'm stuck in comp tech for 4b for the next little while. The last day counselors would squeeze me into the class would be tomorrow, so for now I'm in there as a backup plan. That means that seminary got bumped, and now I'm taking early morning. I'm excited about the prospects of early morning, but we all know how great I am at being places in the morning. It will help me be on time to calculus. I'm not complaining, but it does change my plan a bit. Going to bed at midnight won't quite cut it if I'm going to be waking up considerably earlier than usual. My gameplan will have to change, at least for a few weeks.

I'm happy to be finally taking care of stuff though. Comp tech is the last thing standing in the way of me graduating. I've known that it'd be a problem for a really long time, and it's good to be taking care of it. It's a bit of an inconvenience that I don't necessarily feel that is just, but hey, I'll roll with it. It's the state, and I'll jump through their blasted hoops. It's not worth throwing a scholarship away over.

Hmm. HRG showed up. Mom just got home and told me that we're going to be pretty late getting home tonight. I'm going to take a nap. I know it's not in the plan, but it's the way things are going to be today. It's a decision I'm willing to make.

Nap time. 4:30 PM


Back, it's 2:04 AM. Got home about 1:30 from working. Had a good two hour nap though, so I'm alive. Got an email back from my counselor. I'll be done with comp tech by next thursday, no sweat.

So, fairly successful day. Moved forward today graduation and made some money. The plan is moving forward. I'm 0-2, but I'm confident that this is the right thing to do and that I can make it work.

So here we are, 2:06, and my day is ending. have a good one friends, I'll catch you all later.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sleepaday Day One - Failure

It's 11:33. I didn't take a nap today, and I got an epic amount of work done. I filmed after school for the talent show advert, turned in my letters to my counselor, did 2.5 calculus assignments, finished my adult roles homework, and made it to mutual. I feel pretty dang accomplished.

I'm running 35 minutes behind schedule. I've been looping my music all day. I could so write a post right now. But I'm 35 minutes behind schedule, I got to bail.

Have a great night everybody. Failure on sleepaday, but a dang effective day nonetheless. Better luck tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Day After

Happy Tuesday everybody. It feels really good to be here writing tonight. It's been a very good day. I woke up early for a meeting, and had a four hour nap after school. That puts the time at 1:41 AM right now. I know that's later than I'd like it to be, but I'll take it for now. Things are going to change there, but we'll handle that in a few minutes.

I just got done having a good talk with Michael. It's always great to have a sit down and talk with my siblings. They're full of wisdom. They've been where I am right now, which is way way cool. I love that there is mutual respect between us. I care what he says, and he cares what I say. It's a happy arrangement.

Rebounding off of blogaday has been pretty interesting. I got used to coming home every day and having comments waiting for me in my inbox. Granted, I didn't always get comments on every post, but it was just cool to always have something waiting. I felt like I was giving the world something, and I was always excited to see how it affected the world. I still come home and expect a comment, but I realize I haven't posted, so there's no reason to expect one.

I do still love blogaday a lot. It did good things for me. It's nice to be done with it, for sure, but I'm excited for the future because of it. Blogaday proved that I can pull some pretty ferocious stuff off when I really set my mind to it. I've got plans for the future, that's cool.

Because blogaday was so incredibly successful for me, I'm announcing the next phase in nightly-adventures. Last time I called out 20 straight days of posting. Tonight's announcement is a little different. Tonight I'm announcing the next phase of my life.

For an undisclosed amount of time, I'm thinking all of February (with a few exceptions), I'm going to end my days at 11. That is substantially earlier than I have been ending my days for years now. It will be a big adjustment for me, but I really feel like it's the best thing for me to do at this point.

For the past 17 years of my life, I have more or less been on the defensive. I have had success being defensive. Under normal circumstances, I default to my "at rest" position. When something comes up, like homework, or a meeting, or mom and dad ask me to do something, or anything of that nature, I leave my at rest position and go do it. Once that job is accomplished, I return to at rest. Under these circumstances, I accomplish everything that is officially required of me, more or less. It has been working great.

But I want to change things. I want to get out of the defensive and into the offensive. I want to start being proactive in making the world a better place. I might write an official post about this some day, but when I say "Make the world a better place" I mean that I'm starting with me. As I see it, my responsibilities regarding the world are, in order, me, my family, my friends, my community, the economy, and then the world in general.

So we're starting at the beginning. The beginning of me making the world a better place is me making me a better person. And the beginning of me making me a better person starts with a healthy sleep pattern.

I feel like I've been doing decent. I've gotten where I am today under the old system, and it's not a terrible one. But I feel that if I am going to progress any further, I'm going to need to be energized. I'm going to need to be able to stretch my body when I need to. I'm going to need more help from the sleep department.

And so that's the plan. It's almost the polar opposite of blogaday, as plans go. Blogaday was all about a product, all about performance. This new plan, sleepaday, will doubtless hinder my initial performance. I am at my peak productivity after midnight. I think deeper and I write more effectively. Because the whole rest of the world sort of stops, it allows me to gain almost hyper-focus, and I can get things done very effectively. Sleepaday is a conscious effort to stop abusing the system. It will hurt initial output.

Ninety percent of the posts I've written this past year have been penned after 11. Every major essay I've completed this year has been printed after 3 AM. Any significant calculus assignment I've done as homework has been completed after midnight. The wee hours of the night have been my arena for homework for the past really long time. I'm condemning the whole building, and we're picking up and moving somewhere else.

It'll be a pretty monumental change. It's going to require that I start doing my homework earlier. It's going to mean that my afternoon naps will either have to go, or they'll have to be shortened considerably. It's going to take a lot of work.

And I'll fail quite a few times, no questions there. I considered starting today, but I ended up with a four hour nap, so I'm going to ride that one out for now. The old system is still viable, no questions. When a big project comes up, it'll be really hard not to break down and revert to what has given me so much success in the past.

It feels almost like metrification. The whole country is so beautifully organized on the Imperial system. We love to go buy a gallon of gas. We all know that Metrics is a better way, but the energy required to change things to metrics is incredibly high. So far, we as a country have been unwilling to exert that energy. Imperial isn't killing us, so we're not changing.

And the old system, it's not exactly killing me. I've been doing alright, more or less.

But it's time to take the next step. Here I go.

I might drop off the radar for a while. You might not see any posts for a while. I'll try, certainly, but I make no guarantees. I am committed to making this happen. I really believe that this is the next step. Both symbolically and literally, this is going to change things. This is going to open doors for me. This is what's holding me back right now, this whole idea of staying up super later to scrape by. I want to be proactive, and this is the first step down that path.

And so I'd appreciate any support available on this journey. It will be worth it in the end, no questions. Blogaday did great things for this blog. That means for me, and for the community. Sleepaday has the power to far surpass blogaday in terms of benefit to both me and you. It's an investment that will be difficult and a bit painful at the beginning, but it's going absolutely going to change things.

I undertake this journey, in part, because of how great blogaday went for me. I feel empowered to actually make it happen. Blogaday was a challenge, but it's one that I pulled through on. Sleepaday will be even harder. But I really believe that I can do it.

This new plan is going to change things. And so here I go. It's 2:02 AM. Late, definitely. Tomorrow night I'm shooting for bed at midnight. I'm shooting for the day to be officially over at 11. That means homework completed and computer shut down. The last hour of my night will be devoted to study and journal. It gives me more time on those than I usually devote, and that's something I'm very excited for.

I don't want anybody to get the idea that I'm leaving the population after 11. If I'm needed, shoot me a text, and I'll be wherever I need to be in a jiffy. I understand that there will be times when I'm needed after 11, and I'm alright with that.

It's a plan, and I'm excited about it. I've got other plans. I've got plans up the wazoo. But the success of any of those plans is going to depend on sleepaday. Sleepday is going to empower me like I've seldom been empowered before. It's the next step, and I'm finally ready to take it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I really like numbers as my titles. They're so easy to think of. No hidden meanings, no labor-intensive puns. Just a number.

This isn't blogaday 23 of 20. You'll notice there is no "of 20". It's just 23. I like the number game.

It'll be a short one tonight. It's late, and I need sleep, but I've got some thoughts before I head off.

Before we get down into thinking, a little business, if I may. Nate posted up a little bit of thinking about my blogaday project on his blog. I thought it was cool how he did that. I always love to see how the local blogosphere is so connected. Stuff that happens here has an effect elsewhere, and stuff that happens elsewhere has a big effect on what happens here. I know we've tried the Alliance idea a million times, and this post isn't about that, but it's no wonder why we keep trying it. We're just all very connected here, and I really like that. We've seen people come and go and come again and sometimes go again. We've seen periods of furious activity and periods of nothing at all. I take a bit of stupid pride in being the longest surviving blogger around here. Yeah, I've had a few brown patches in the lawn of my posting, but more or less I've been here significantly for two whole years. Almost three, if you count philosophy and sporadic posting as being here. But still, I'm proud to still be here. I feel good about that. I love it here. I love the work that's been done and the work that's being done. I love how very encouraging the whole thing is. This window right here encourages me to write. My friends encourage me to write. The good people around encourage me to be a better person. I'm encouraged to innovate and think new thoughts. It's a pretty good system. Thanks Brough.

Been working on my portfolios today. I've got my sterling scholar portfolio due Thursday, and my senior portfolio for English due Friday. I've procrastinated both like none other, but I'll get em done. Neither of them will be exactly how I would have liked to do them, but I'm willing to accept that at this point.

The whole idea behind a portfolio is really super cool though. No matter what I've said about them in the past, I always respect a strong portfolio. I think portfolios of graphic designers and folks like that are just so freaking cool. Not just the product itself, but the whole idea behind it all. "Oh, yeah. Here's an example of everything I can do for you. See how freaking cool I am? Man, I'm gonna make you so much money with my mad skills." It's just a cool idea. I love the idea of presenting your history and showing the world all the cool stuff you can pull off. "This is what I'm capable of. Hire me."

Neither of my portfolios are really going to be like that. Sterling scholar is really just a big assignment. It's not necessarily a "here I am!" but a "fill in the blank". Which is alright, I suppose. Senior leaves a little bit more room for interpretation, which I really like. I'm going to have very little time to work on it, so I won't be able to go crazy with it like I'd like to, but it'll be ok. I still love the idea.

And so that's one of the things I've been thinking about tonight. -

edit: WHOA! my computer just took a dump on me. Just restarted. I think one of the little wire-doobers that hooks up to my power button is hooked up to something that it shouldn't be. If I walk across the room with my slippers on and get enough static, I can turn the baby on from seven feet away. Kinda spooky at night time actually. I'll open it up soon and see what's up.

Back at the ranch.

So that's one of the things I've been thinking about tonight. If I was going to make a portfolio, a true portfolio, what would I put in it? It wouldn't be a portfolio to get a scholarship or to try to be something that I'm not *coughsterlingscholarsciencewhatcough*. It'd be a portfolio. What do I have that I'd want to show people?

I've thought of a few things. I'd definitely want the Jello, but that's a given. I'd have to put in my choir-room-decorating machine that I built a few months ago. The pin driver, wow, I'm still way excited about that one. I'd put in my handwashing article, as well as a lot of stuff from the blog here. I'd put in all my pieces of art made in MS paint. I'd put in my videos, like the leg shaving one, and the Spanish one. I'd have some of my English papers, as well as some mementos from cross country and track. I'd put in business from PLC, and definitely seminary council. I'd put in my ribbon from All-State choir. I might put a little bit in from my journals, which I'm still excited about and proud of, by the way. I'd put in a few of my to-do lists written on the half-legal papers. I think I'd put in my periodic table that I used for both of my chemistry classes- that thing has character after so long. I think I'd go back and get a picture of my madrigal auditions. I'd go back to the day I was on the ladder of death trying to heft up that blasted drop curtain while Sharpe laughed and tried to kill me. I'd put in a picture of all my scouts, those kids that think I'm cool for whatever reason. I think I'd put in a picture of the minivan, without power steering fluid. I'd put in a picture of my name on the choir room ceiling. I'd put in a picture of that time I got the balloon from off the cafeteria ceiling for a girl. I'd put in my snake game, even in its imperfect form. I'd put in one of my pieces of scratch paper for AP chemistry last year, just to show how intense it was. I'd put in one of my note papers for AP American History, just to show how amazing Rockwell is. I'd toss in some papers from old school world history, to show how sarcasm can save a life at three in the morning. I'd throw in a picture of my duct tape pants from seventh grade. I'd toss in the nerd team too, that time we ran Orion 33-3 in round two. I'd throw in the time I finished gone with the wind on my own free will. Every march madness I've participated in. I'd throw in our cool song we made last year for sweethearts. I'd throw in documentation of my days laboring in the carpet industry with Sharpe. I'd throw in a picture of me and my family, and then a picture of me and my friends. I think I'd go through my friends one by one, get a picture, and then write a bit about what each one means to me. I think I'd have to do the same for all the people in my life who've helped me to get where I am now. Mama Withers, select teachers, all that good stuff. I'd take pictures of my 10 trees that I planted. I'd have to have a section dedicated to plans that I've got. Be it for a product, a business model, or what, plans are important. I'd love to have a section dedicated to people who's days I'd brightened. I wish that one was bigger than it is, but I'll work on it.

I guess it goes back to the question that we talked about in blogaday. How do we define our worth? I'm not saying that I define my worth based on the things I said I'd put in my portfolio, but those things are small parts of it. They point to bigger things, obviously. It's an interesting question.

Will I ever build my portfolio of life? I doubt it. I'm struggling to do little portfolios of high school. But it's a cool idea, and it's a cool thing to think about. When I take a look at myself all the way from top to bottom, what would I pick out to put in the binder? What's important, and why is it important?

Choices are important. I think that the things I'd put in my portfolio of life would all be results of good choices that I'd made. The choice to pay attention and take strong notes in Rockwell's class. The choice to go above and beyond in ninth grade and make the Spanish video. The choice to work hard in the carpet industry, the choice to smile at someone who's having a rough day. I think I'd want to focus on the times that I made good choices, and when those good choices led to great things happening.

I love that there's still time to make good choices. Still time to add pages to the portfolio of my life. I guess I'll have time till the day I die, right? And once that portfolio's all closed up, I'll get to add it to my bigger portfolio, start a new section, and keep on trucking on it. Kind of a cool deal.

I've been thinking about choices a lot tonight. Specifically my choice to try out for madrigals. I've made some discoveries, I think, about it. I'm out of time to write about them tonight, but I'll see what I can do about it tomorrow. It's cool how choices in the past bring us to where we are now. It's sobering to realize that every day I'm making choices that are having a profound effect on where I'll be in a year or two or three or forty. This life thing is kind of a big deal.

But it's a good deal, there's no question about that. We're moving right along, and things are on the up and up. We're gonna make it through all this. I'm excited for the ride. For now, friends, it's bed time. I'm out, I hope things go well for you all. I hope you find happiness.

Monday, January 21, 2008

22 of 20

One of my favorite things about blogaday, looking back at it, was the fact that I never had to think of a witty title. Titles are so hard. I know that tonight's is a little illegal, but I can't help but use it. I have no witty title tonight. The lack of a witty title is, in a way, extremely noble. It's so pure. Tonight's title doesn't try to mean anything. It's just there. It fulfills the need for a title, and that is all. It's a good title.

I am posting tonight, I think, to explain that I am not posting tonight. It's no longer blogaday. I'm under no contract to be here.

Today has been different. I've been a lot more emotional today than I usually am. It makes me sort of want to be entirely open about everything. I usually am very open about most things. There's little that I hold back. It's just that on emotional days I've got more to be open about. I'm not concerned about stuff like this on normal days. I might think about it a very little bit, but it's not at the forefront. On emotional days, there are issues and concerns that are very important to me that are things I am not incredibly open about.

And I could do it, but I don't think I will. I could post, really. I could share everything, or at least most, of what's inside of me right now.

But I don't think that's the best course of action right now. It's late, and I've once again fallen victim to the entertaining nature of Gordon Freeman. There's no school tomorrow, and it's currently snowing outside.

This is me, and I'm signing off for the night. I hope you're all doing well. Keep up the good work.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Blogaday 21 of 20

Day 21. Oh, don't act so surprised. You knew it was coming.

So, I do have an excuse for last night's brevity. I was super tired, but apparently I was also coming down with something. I've been sick today, but I'm doing much better now. This happens every once in a while, maybe quarterly. I'll have one big purge, then spend the next 18 hours or so feeling pretty trashy. After 18 hours though, I start to get better. It's not a bad system. This one was actually more like 14 hours, but who's counting? I am glad that whenever I do get sick, it's usually just for a day.

So that prevented me from going out and doing anything tonight, but I had a good time playing warcraft. I miss playing with Levi, but it's alright. His computer is being lame right now. I miss the good old december times though. Me, Kyle, Levi, Ricka, and Tyrel. Between performances, it was just incredibly easy to say "Oh, two hours till we need to be back at the school. Dota?" Nobody had work, because everybody had quit for December. We all knew that we were available, because we had to be to meet the madrigal schedule. It was a golden age of innocence.

It's been forever since we've had a classic game of dota with the five of us founding members. We've converted Glen, and sometimes we'll play with Dak or a few guys we've met in game that are cool. I still think that the very best is the founding five though. We need more of that.

Micron is due tomorrow. I've got half a mind to stick it to the man and not even apply. I know that that's not sticking it to the man. I'll get it in. I know I've got no chance now, and I'm alright with that. I don't necessarily like the way that Micron made me feel for fifteen minutes. That sorta left me with an ugly taste in my mouth.

And I did bounce back, in a way. You saw me write about bouncing back and banking on the Jello. But that really wasn't the bounce that I needed. Of course, I do still plan on banking on the Jello, but the real understanding came later.

See, I'd worked on that crap for most of that night, and I'd gotten it into my head that it was kind of important. That's why it was such a blow when I found out I was competing against mutants, you see. Even after I realized I had no chance, I still thought it was important.

But that night as I prep'd for bed, I looked at what I had written in my journal the night before. It's nothing huge, and I'm not going to share, but it reminded me that while 25,000 dollars is nothing to scoff at, it's most definitely not the most important thing. There are things out there that are actually important, and Micron isn't really one of those things.

My priorities had been a little off. It's interesting to note, though, that this week has been an awful good one. My priorities hadn't been off for the entirety of the week, just parts of it. And it wasn't like those parts were one big glob, but rather I'd split days between on target and off target. I'd still managed to pull a lot of good stuff off, even though I wasn't exactly focusing on that which was important. Interesting week, that's for sure.

So I feel really good now that I've gained some understanding about all this. It's given me new perspective. I really think I just appreciate myself more. I know that Nick's laughing at this part, saying, "Bahahaha, it's possible for you to appreciate yourself even more?" but hey, give me a break here. When I started comparing myself to mutants, I realized that I didn't have what they have. It's rare that I look at people, aside from the athletic folks, and think that they're absolutely better at me at what they do. I know that's sort of weird, but that's the way I am. It was interesting to have my world crash down on me so fast. Parrish had said that right now I was a big fish in a very little pond, but that when I got out into the real world I wouldn't be the biggest guy around. I knew I should have listened, but something inside of me made me think that I wouldn't ever have to face that. Five days or so later, I realized that I was tiny compared to those mutants. I just didn't have what they had.

But there's been a remembrance of sorts. Some very incredible stuff has happened this week. Stuff that makes me know that I'm significant, and I really like that. So maybe Micron doesn't care what happens to me, but I know some people who do, and that's pretty neat.


Blogaday Post-Mortem

Visits the 20 days prior to blogaday: 147
Visits during the 20 days of blogaday: 273
(up 85.71 percent)

Average time on site for 20 days prior: 48 seconds
Average time on site during blogaday: 1 minute, 27 seconds
(up 81.36 percent)

Comments during the 20 days prior: 2
Comments during blogaday: 22
(up 1,100 percent)

Number of pages of Times New Roman, 12 point text: 50

Number of words: 33,472

Number of characters: 176,838

Average characters per word (approx): 5.28

Times I said incredible or incredibly: 49

Average incredible or incredibly's per post: 2.45

References to blogaday within blogaday: 82

Average blogaday's per post: 4.1

Alphabet Breakdown:

Letter ----- Occurences ----Percent total






















































Isn't that incredibly cool? Spreadsheets for the win.

There was more to analyze, certainly. But that just took up a lot of my time, thanks to me not knowing spreadsheets at all. Pops wandered in and taught me some stuff, so that's pretty cool.

In any event, I hope you enjoyed the first post-mortem. There'll be more to come, I'm sure. It's late though, and I need sleep. So I hope you're all doing well, and I'll catch you all on the flip side.

Blogaday 20 of 20

Day 20. Finished.

There's so much. I just went through and looked through the list of all the posts on this blog. There are 338 official published posts. Two are saved as drafts, and will almost definitely never be published. But as I was looking through the list, I realized that there is an incredible amount of stuff that I've forgotten. That are things that were really important to me that I haven't thought about for years. It's pretty insane business.

I kind of feel like that's how it is with my own history. There's just a lot there. Why am I the way I am? Because of choices made every day for the past seventeen years. I don't remember the vast majority of them, but I know that they've come together to make me the person that I am. I am a cumulative person.

Day 20 is unique. It's the last day, and part of me wants to do something incredibly significant and epic. Another part of me wants to do what blogaday does best, and just roll with some writing. For anybody wondering, this is not the essay I'm going to give to the principal.

It's 1:58 AM, Thursday night. Second term officially ended today. All grades will be finalized as of tomorrow. I think, I think, I'm going to get a four-oh again. I did the math, and if Kaelin does the independent study grades like he did last term, I'll barely squeak by with an 80.07 percent. That's breathtakingly close. But wow, I feel pretty good about it. The only reason that independent study is at risk is because I'm always late to class and am missing a ton of quizzes. Thumbs down for me being tardy.

I didn't take a nap today. I played two games of basketball, not being a pansy in either of them. I'm super super tired, and so ready to crash. There's no school tomorrow, and I expect a ton of sleep.

But I don't really want to crash, right now. I really do, honestly, but I feel like I need to do day 20 justice.

But I think day 20 wants my life to be awesome. And so day 20 will understand if I crash.

Ladies and gentlemen, I did it. This post is extremely short. There are a few other short ones. But truthfully and honorably, I completed the blogaday challenge. Twenty days, an entirely unexpected and bold call. I did it, and that feels really great. I'm going to be thinking and writing more about this whole experience in just a little bit. For now, though, it's bed time. Good night friends, I hope things are well for you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blogaday 19 of 20

Day 19. Wow.

Banking on the Jello. I am banking on the Jello.

I had this epiphany of sorts earlier this evening. Suddenly, the idea of banking on the Jello sounded incredibly brilliant. I had it all figured out in my head. I was going to make that the theme of the next semester, the next segment of my life. So I came here and threw down that first line, the one that you see in bold. I couldn't wait to start talking about it, I had to at least get that far. I wrote it then went back to work on this Micron action.

I revised my essay, the second of four times I'm planning on that one, and I worked on my activities list and all that. As I was wrapping up, I decided to google the micron scholarship and see what there was out there.

What I found scared all manner of apparel off of me. I found the bios of last years winners. Holy crap. Mutants, all of them. Every single one of them doing crazy things incredibly well. Research project after research project after research project. What's that, you've had your papers published by universities? Yeah, well I'm freaking president of the Ultimate club that doesn't do anything, what now?!

Yeah, just like that. How am I supposed to stand up to that? I've never been in any form of a science fair since the sixth grade. I did go to the state math competition. Three times. But I didn't win, like all of them did. I don't have two degrees from BYU yet, like last years big winner did. I've never been to anything outside of Utah, let's be honest. I've not gone to anything at the Universities here, and I haven't gone and used MIT's amazing labs to do something insane.

Mutants, that's the only explanation I can find.

And I was hopeful, oh so hopeful. Probably too hopeful. And now a lot of that is gone. My science and math activities list has five activities on it, and most of those are AP chemistry. all of theirs had a billion.

My dangerously inflated hopes have been seriously cut back. There were massive lay-offs in the hopes division. Economic crisis, really.

I will finish and submit the application. I will do the very best job that I can. I'm not going down without a fight. It's just that now the fight is with Chuck Norris, and not the little girl down the street like I thought.

But you know, I'm not going quietly. Because I believe in myself. Me and Kyle talked a bit tonight, about how hard it is to write a paper saying, "Hey, check me out. I deserve for you to give me 25,000 dollars over four years, and here's why..." And maybe I don't really deserve the scholarship. There's an outside chance that I do, but chances are that I wouldn't be an incredible investment for Micron like some of the mutants out there will be.

But straight up, there's something inside of me. I know, deep down, that I'm special, and that I'm going to pull it off. I'm not positive what it really is right now, but I'm going to make it happen. I will be successful out there. It's inside of me. I might not be teaching professors about bioacoustics, and I might not have my own parking space at MIT, but I've got something incredibly important inside of me.

I am not the nerd you are looking for, Micron.

But I am going to change the world.

And that's the realization tonight. That I'm not really all that and a bucket of cheese. My resume doesn't come close to matching up to theirs. I can't back it up with documentation, but I know that I've got it. I can't pretend to be on that level. I can't pretend to be the guy at the science fair, because that's not me.

But you know what? I've got the Jello. And they'll never, ever, ever have the Jello like I've got the Jello.

That's right. I'm banking on the Jello.

Do you remember the Jello story? Do you remember how important the Jello story is to me? Do you remember what we proved that day?

There are two sides to the Jello story. Both relate to the way I perceive my worth as an individual. One is more of a "guilty by association" style relation, so we're not going to talk about it here tonight. Just know that it's incredibly important to me.

The second side of the Jello story is proof. Cold and gelatinous proof that I've got it.

Is now the time to truly tell the Jello story? I should have written about it before, I might have even written about it here. I based my science sterling scholar paper on it.

I don't think that now is the time to go into the details. But know that they're triumphant. And know that they proved something to me on that fine June day. Know that I proved to myself that I had it in me.

It was an incredibly symbolic moment for me. It meant that what I was doing with my life wasn't a waste of time. It showed that my attitude toward life and school and everything around me was paying off. It showed that there was hope in this world for me. It showed that I could be successful, and it showed me how to do it.

That is my history. That symbolic moment encapsulates my theory and plan for the rest of my professional career. The principles that governed success with the Jello will govern success for the rest of my life.

And that unique history is my story. It is me. I cannot pretend to be anybody but myself. I have an unique set of abilities and skills and talents. I have a unique set of weaknesses and follies too. I am who I am.

I'm banking on the Jello. And if the Jello represents who I am, I'm finally banking on the right thing. I have to run, full speed ahead, into what's coming for me. And when it gets here, I have no option but to bank on the Jello. To believe in myself as a person, and to tackle that problem using what I've been given. There is nothing else to do.

Jello has gotten me this far. Jello is all that I've got. There's no more question about what to do here. I've got to bank on the Jello.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blogaday 18 of 20

Day 18. Exceedingly close. I'm entirely almost there. Do you know how far this has come? From a project that wasn't even sure it was starting on the first day, it's become pretty hefty. Much thanks to Nate for the encouraging comment the first day that made me want to definitely do it. It's been a good adventure. And, more than anything, it's done some catapulting.

I talked about it last night, but this blog was built on redundancy, so we shall reemphasize. I feel like my life is ready to take a shift from surviving senior year to really dominating my senior year.

It was no secret that the past two weeks of my life had been some of the more confusing and difficult for me in recent history. No tragic emotional or physical or even mental accidents. I just wasn't getting the sleep I needed, and felt like I wasn't really in control of my life. It was hard to wake up, hard to go to sleep, and hard to make it to school. I wasn't operating at peak efficiency, so I was missing opportunities like crazy. It just wasn't the way I wanted to be running the race.

And I really am reminded of a race when I look at my life right now. It feels like an old 5k last cross country season. I was all dressed up, ready to run. I was surrounded by people I genuinely cared about and wanted to see succeed, and I know they felt the same way about me.

The race would start, and I'd get out there and be strong for the first couple k's. The middle was always the hardest. I'd get tired, it'd get really hot or really cold. The legs would hurt, the lungs would burn. I'd be fighting a mental battle with myself. I'd have to convince myself that it wasn't too much farther, that I'd come this far already, and that throwing it away would be criminal. I'd think about how much my lungs were dying, how incredibly futile this whole race was. I'd remember all the hours I'd spent that week training for the race, and I'd think of how amazing it'd feel to win it. Loads goes through your head during the middle. Sometimes you speed up, and sometimes you slow down. Invariably, it's the most trying part of the race.

Sometimes, in a race, I'd never transition out of the middle mentality. I'd finish the race in the middle. Those were sad races.

But when I could really make the jump between being in the middle of the course to being in the final 1000 meters, final 2000 meters, or final however-far, then things started to get crazy. Suddenly the race changed from a trial in endurance and self-deprivation to an opportunity. Suddenly, I only had a thousand meters left to prove my manhood, to prove my school's manhood, to prove coaches manhood and Kirt's manhood and everybody else's manhood that had helped me along the way. Take that Parrish!

I remember so many footraces, looking at the end of the line, where I knew that I had to go like crazy if I was going to beat this guy before we crossed the line. I knew that once that line was crossed, I'd have absolutely no opportunity to redeem myself for seven more days. If I truly was going to beat him, I'd have to do it in the next 60 seconds.

One of the main differences between the middle of the race and the end of the race is your mindset. The middle of the race is an exploratory time period. Your mind cycles through how much you hurt, wondering why you run, thinking about your position in the race, thinking about your team mates, thinking about your homework, thinking about the ladies, thinking about the weather, thinking about your hydration and blood-sugar and fruitsnacks in your sock. Your mind is everywhere.

The end of the race is entirely different. As soon as you catch that one thought that will catapult you from middle of the race to end of the race, you're gone on the wind. As soon as the race changes from a punishment to a vanishing opportunity, your brain tosses out the flak. You are immediately consumed with only one thought. Everything else really becomes unimportant. In a footrace, the only thought going through your brain is "Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta beat this kid. Gotta go. He's moving, I gotta move. He's picking it up. Can I make it? Yeah, I can get him. Gotta go. Do it. Push it. Move those legs. Gosh this feels good. Do it. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. GO. GO. GO. GO. GO."

Your brain starts thinking and subvocalizing in rhythm with the pounding of your legs and the musical rushing of your breath. Every part of you comes together to push. There really is nothing in the world that I've ever experienced that compares to that final push. It's incredibly difficult to get there. In all my races, it happened less than half the time. It took an incredible amount of activation energy to make it happen. I'd have to run 4000 meters strong or it'd never be worth doing. I'd have to have a challenge, a reason for running. And then I'd have to make the choice. My body would be tired and tight and oxygen-starved. It took monumental courage to make that choice. Knowing full well the current state of affairs in my body, I'd have to say, "Yeah, I can do this. This kid is mine." and go for it.

And I'd loosen up, let the legs start flying. Full strides. I'd get into the rhythm with my breath and thoughts and arms and everything. After a few strong paces, subvocalization in my brain would cease. There wouldn't even be words up there anymore. Sometimes I'd hear my breathing, other times there would be a numb sort of burning purpose. The knowledge that what I was doing was incredibly important to my past and present and future, and that everything else could wait. I'd become united as a whole, hurling myself with speed that wasn't measured or planned or worked on. This wasn't something that could be taught or trained during practice. It was purposeful, and that was the key. I knew my limits. I knew exactly how long until the race ended. I knew the state of my body. I knew the breaking points of my competitors. I knew how strong my heart was. It was a conscious choice, to throw prudence out the window and hurl myself towards the line, regardless of the damage to skeletal structure and internal organs I felt I was receiving. My pain didn't matter; I had something I had to accomplish.

The key to activating the end of race moment was, for me, to be in a position where it would truly be worth it. If I had run a slow race up to that point, I knew that inflicting the punishment of the end race wouldn't prove anything. I'd still be slow, I'd still be a coward for the first half of the race. If I came to that crucial decision making point, and I found myself miles behind the next competitor, I wouldn't enter end-race, because it wouldn't be worth it to me.

The chance to enter end-race was forged weeks in advance. If I showed up to race well rested and motivated, I'd have a shot at it. I'd have to get out and bust my heart open to put myself high enough in the rankings to make hammering my body to pieces give me the ascension I deserved. I'd have to be hydrated, and there could be no chance my bloodsugar was low. I'd have to be emotional and mentally in that race. I couldn't be distracted.

Above all, I couldn't have any excuse. If there was any reason, any one, small, tiny way for me to get out of end-game and not feel terrible about it, I would find it during middle-race, and end-race would never ever happen. "I'm too tired. I might be low. I'm severely dehydrated. I stayed up doing homework. I've got more important things. I'm so far back, there's no pride anywhere anymore." It was easy to find a way out of it.

But when the stars aligned because of the work I had put in, that's when I truly became proud of myself. It took, as I've said, a monumental amount of activation energy to get there. But once I was there, there was absolutely no turning back. Once it happened, it happened. Glory was my reward. There was no question. If I reached a true end-race, it never mattered how I finished. It didn't matter if I caught the kid or not. If I was to the point where I was willing to sprint in, ignoring my body for the desires of my spirit, then I knew I wasn't weak. I knew what I had done was significant. I knew that I was strong.

And if the entirety of my educational career has been a race, now is certainly the time to enter end-race.

I have suffered through the middle-race doldrums. My mind has been to the moon and back, searching for an excuse not to put myself through what I know ought to be coming. I haven't found one good enough.

For the past 12 years I've been working hard to put myself in a position where what I do in the next five months will matter. Twelve long years to work on placement. If maybe just once, I had called it off, let myself fall back down the ranks, I could say right now that I wasn't in position to enter end-race, that it wouldn't matter. But I haven't. I am at perfect placement. I have 12 years of effort to put me here, to give me this opportunity. I can't throw 12 years away.

I am physically fit and able to perform the labor required to sustain an end-race experience. Sleep notwithstanding, I have no excuse that would disqualify me from brutally and wholly finishing this race.

The stars are aligned. Every factor has been carefully placed. I am ready to run.

So what does this mean for me? What does it mean once we step away from the metaphor? It means that I am going to give myself wholly to excellence, no matter the cost. It means that I will, without a doubt, five the BC calculus test. It means I will, for sure, get this Micron application in. It means that I will give myself wholly to being the seminary council president I can be, to making PLC fly higher than ever, to being there for those who need me. It means I'm going to be a better madrigal. I'm not going to hold us back. It means that when I play basketball, I will go for the gold, every time down the court. It means I'll keep the 4.0, no matter what comes my way. It means I'll stay up just a little bit later reading. It means I'll get up just a little bit earlier, because I'm going to be on time.

End-race means the flawless transition from one obstacle to the next, till their might as well not be any obstacles. No time to consider the cost of putting one foot, flying, in front of the other. You simply do it, every time. Every obstacle and everything that stands in between you and victory is systematically and boldly eliminated. There is no fear, there is only the true and free run for the finish line.

Will I fail? Often, yes. But at the end of the day, I am going to feel good about what I've done. I am going to finish high school flying. Yeah, I will be late to class again. I will mess up. But I'm going to take it. I'm going to accept it and hurl on. Launching myself with full purpose towards excellence.

Middle-race is over. It served its purpose.

End-race. It's on.