Thursday, April 15, 1999

deep springs essay 1

From the Archives
Another college application essay found on this disc of random stuff from 12th grade, all of it so cringe-worthy. This, especially.

1.) Self. What a difficult word to put into words, especially in this stage of my life when I’m trying to figure out exactly what “self” means.

I’m the artsy, drama geek you always thought was gay. People form this opinion because I don’t try to emulate the Britches models who attempt to assimilate the youth of America into preps, so they can yield a larger annual profit margin to attract more investors. People who just mindlessly follow the herd of society and take what’s spoon-fed to them, drive me crazy. I like people who think for themselves and question our society’s beliefs. I am one of these people; I think for myself and definitely question our society’s beliefs.

As a kid I pontificated about life’s great mysteries, and would ask my parents questions like: What’s that thing on your chin (referring to my mom’s mole)? What’s going to happen to me when I die (a question I still wonder about)? And from the backseat, in chorus with my sister, “Are we there, yet?”

As I went through puberty and the loss of innocence that accompanies it, I continued in Socratic method, but the focus of my questions changed. Instead of wondering, “Are we there?,” I began to wonder: Where is there? Where do I want to be and what do I want to be doing when I grow-up? When I first asked myself this question, I wanted to be the next Hulk Hogan, and since then I’ve wanted to be everything from the president to a street vendor in Jamaica, from a reporter to an actor, and from a plain old millionaire to a hobo just riding the rails.

Questions permeated practically every part of my life. I began to question the doctrines of the Catholic church; then later I began to doubt the validity of any religion. I came to the realization that religions were established for the sole purpose of easing man’s innate fear of dying. Besides having questions about religion, I also began to have questions about my sexuality (something I’m still struggling to figure out). I found myself attracted to men and women; though I still consider myself straight, it’s a very hard thing to come to terms with and its an even harder thing to try and explain. Right now, I consider myself in a stage of exploration, where I’m trying to figure out exactly what I am. Are these things just a temporary stage in my life, or what? Am I gay? Straight? Bisexual? Catholic? Atheist? What?

In my freshman year of high school for Lent, I decided to give up eating meat. My worried parents made me research this because they thought I would get sick, “not getting enough proteins.” While researching vegetarianism, I read about the many benefits of going vegetarian and the many evils of eating meat. When Easter came and Lent was over, I decided not to eat the ham as an act of conscience, and haven’t eaten meat since. I just can’t eat meat anymore, it’s such an immoral act. Some carnivores, in an attempt to justify their diets, claim that they didn’t kill the animals, so it’s okay. But it’s supply and demand; carnivores are demanding by purchasing the product, so the meat industry continues to supply. By being a purchaser of animals, one is basically a hitman, not committing murder, but still responsible.

Late at night, in bed, I come to these conclusions, thinking about issues running the entire gamut from alien-life to communism to all the people who have held the same penny. To let my mind release, I get out of bed, walk carefully reaching for the light switch, flick it, then grab a cheap spiral notebook and thumb to a blank page. There I write poetry, manifestos, notes to myself, and indistinguishable doodles. These are my free psychiatric sessions.

Other things that ease my mind and make me wildly happy are John Waters’ movies, old cartoons from when I was a kid (ex. The Simpsons and Inspector Gadget), and a radio that emits funky tunes. In addition to these selfish methods, as trite as this sounds, I take satisfaction out of helping others.

Throughout high school I’ve helped Key Club tutor kids, collect blood, and distribute food for the poor. Over the summer I volunteered with Meals on Wheels, and saw first-hand the disturbing conditions in which some of our elderly reside. In one instance, I was overcome by a feeling of melancholy as I entered a dilapidated house with musty, stale air that reeked of cats and choked me the second I entered her house. She was an elderly woman confined to a bed with the happiest look on her face that someone actually came to visit her.

At that moment I was deeply saddened by an old woman’s misfortunes, but as bad as this sounds, I usually take pleasure out of other peoples’ misery. If I see someone fall, or spill a drink all over their nice clothes, I will burst into wild, spastic laughter that borders on cackling. That’s why I like shows like Jerry Springer so much, and even own a copy of Jerry Springer: Too Hot for TV.

But, just because I take some odd sick pleasure from Jerry Springer doesn’t mean I’m a Philistine. In fact, quite the opposite. Living so close to Washington, D.C., I get a wonderful exposure to the arts: hop on the subway and in half an hour I’m looking through all the different art museums and galleries, staring at works by van Gogh, Picasso, Lichtenstein, and Warhol, or listening to one of the many concerts that are continually taking place throughout DC. There’s also a thriving literary scene with poetry readings and slams constantly taking place, along with book signings. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Rita Dove and my favorite author, Irvine Welsh.

Theater, though, is probably one of my favorite art mediums. I’m a Thespian and also very involved with the school theater, participating in many of the plays. Some people, though, think that I’m a bit too dedicated. For example, last year in The Music Man, my character was a middle-aged, balding man, so I shaved a bald spot in the back of my head. My parents both were stunned, and when they regained consciousness, I explained it to all them.

I also often get the chance to go see plays in DC, and being my cheap self, I’ve found a way to see just about any play, free. I don’t know why, but I am quite a penny-pincher. I have a well paying part-time job at the library, so it’s not a of lack of money. It’s just another one of those sick, odd pleasures I get out of life. I love shopping at thrift stores - that’s another essay in itself - there are just so many interesting things to do there and so many random items to find. I frequent yard sales, flea markets, and, of course, dollar stores.

A description of my “self” would not be complete without mention of my personality. I make bitter, sarcastic comments as an old, scratchy-voiced grandmother might. I question authority; I like to know why things are the way they are. Recently, at the library we had a staff meeting and my boss said, that if we saw people looking at inappropriate material on the internet we should tell someone at the information desk. I knew she was probably referring to pornography, but I asked her anyways, “What do you mean by ‘inappropriate material’?” She sat there, confused I would ask this, trying to think of an “appropriate” way to explain “inappropriate material.” I stared at her, waiting for her to reply. She said, “Well, if you see someone looking at pictures of naked girls.” Upset at this instance of censorship, I asked, “Well, what’s wrong with that?” She looked even more startled and the staff burst out laughing, thinking I was kidding. If they only knew.

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