Category: reflection

Xander’s College Life – Epilogue

All good things…

Class of 2008. Those were the words I read over and over again in 2004 as a freshman entering Assembly Hall, along with the eight thousand or so others in our bright orange “Freshmen” shirts, excited/apprehensive. The year seemed more of a concept than an actual time, really, they might have well said Class of the 22nd Century. Yet now, here we are, in September of 2008, all graduated and well into the next step of our lives. What does this all mean? Unlike the last pivotal transition (from high school to college) which I brutally documented so often, I’ve been very negligent to reflect on this one at all. Quite a shame, given how significant and unique each story is.

But it wasn’t sheer laziness that kept me from writing, oh dear readership–but I think… I needed to make sense of the whole college story before I could move onto reflecting about my present, and quite honestly, I still haven’t made all that much sense of it–especially the last… 3 years or so. School, friendships, relationships, etc… all of it was a blur that got blurrier the longer I gave. The greatest message I got though, as Frost said about life, was that “it goes on”. Whether or not I”m ready to understand the significance of what I went through during those days/months/years, more will come. And the key lesson here is, without looking back, without reflecting on the moments that our lives are made of as we experience them (or soon after), they will be forgotten, and before we know it, more days/months/and years will have gone by as well.

Well. Can’t let that happen, can I?

But if there’s another thing that I’ve learned in the last four years it’s that there is so much in life, that you lose more in the present than you could ever gain by holding onto the past. This is a very important period in my life, here in the Fall of 2008, and while I reflect on occasion to four years ago, I will continue to blog about the here and now.

So, here’s a brief cheer to everything that college was–in terms of friendships, relationships, classes, and life lessons–may we all take what we need, and move onto the next steps more learned and more prepared than we could have been without it. I’ll reflect more on the past in the days to come.

Purpose in an unguided world

There comes a time when each person is forced to consider their life’s destiny; their story, if you will. Those with lost hopes on the street were not always so, yet at some point, they transitioned from being people with hopes and dreams to adults, where living day-to-day has replaced any sort of adventure.

It is a terrible transition and one that I am refusing to ever fall into. But of course, no one ever *wants* to become a hopeless wretch without dreams or purpose; where happiness is a transient whim that can come and go without control. How does it happen then, that so many people live having settled for mediocrity, not in jobs or love… but in their lives, entirely?

At what point do we give up on the hope of happiness, and meaning? I don’t know… but I’ve always been afraid of giving up on dreams. THis leads me to ask myself again, just to be sure that I haven’t lost mine… what “is” my end?

Am I meant to be happy? Successful? Purposeful in this greater world? Impacting the lives of those closest to me; or will my greatest impact be to those that I have never met?

I’ve met so many people that are jaded in their views, those that have had a brutal transition from childhood naivety into adulthood realism. It’s a terrible shame, and I’m beginning to wonder if there is any real hope in letting them find their dreams again. And more importantly, to accept happiness when it comes knocking at their door. This is a sad world right now… and I’m taking this moment now to wonder what I can do to make the lives of those closest to me, a little better.

Xander’s College Life: Year 3 Chapter 11

Xander’s CollegeLife: Year 3
Chapter 11 – More life

I shall be around here over the summer

So, the third year of college is ending already… and I wish I had more to say. I’m finding myself more and more lazy, less willing to put in the short time of day it takes to make a decent blog entry. There was a time when I’d go through the day, observing my own life and my own thoughts (oh the joys of metacognition) as much as I did living it, and at night, I’d sit down, crank out a blog entry, reassuring myself that indeed, this one day that will never come again had been a meaningful contribution to my life. Chained all together, the days became months and years, and my blog (be it on Angelex, or here on Xanga) served testimony to the joys and struggles of my life. At least, it did for most of the past four years. It seems that Xanga as a whole is going through a slump, whether it’s a condition of my community or a dying fad, I can’t be sure. I *hope* blogging isn’t not just a dying fad; it may be a guilty voyeuristic joy in keeping up with the details of friends far away, long after I stop talking to them on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, but as blogging (or journaling at all) reassures me of the significance of my own life, reading others’ daily livelihoods reminds me that I am, in fact, connected to those far beyond the scope of my influence.

That aside, blogging also lets me keep track of my own life, as busy hectic weeks of homework, projects, finals blanket every productive waking hour. School has been busy–here’re some quick updates:

Finally finished the computer graphics final project:

Looks cool enough, right? Visually, not that stunning, just your basic phong shaded thingy with rudimentary bump-mapping, but to render the physics accurately, especially when you’re working at the code level, and have it appear realistic visually,that was a challenge. It’s hard enough dealing with regular codingerrors, trying to take reality and create an abstract representation of it in code, and then have that representation drawn 100 FPS, now that’s tricky. I’m glad I liked Wilverding’s class in high school…

And! I’m sad to say, but I won’t be around for the summer. I’ll be a little bit away from the flat plains of Illinois this time around, out in Redmond, Washington interning for some software company. . Which I’ll get into for a short brief:


These people were very nice about accommodations… my very first, first class flight! I’ll have to say, first class is a bit over-rated… on my own, I’d probably never ride first-class. Felt a bit out of place there too; most people were older, 40+ business people…

Shameless internal advertising everywhere


The City (Seattle) at Night.

Okay so yeah, unless this whole thing is some kind of scam (like I had paranoidly suspected for a bit), I’ll be working at Microsoft this summer–during my interview trip, I had a chance to explore the neighborhood a bit! Having never been to Seattle before, I didn’t really know what it had, besides the Seahawks and the Space Needle. There’s so much that I’m sure I’ll talk about it it later… but here’s a list:

(1) Most amazing oysters on a half-shell! Looking at this picture, I’m craving them already!
(2) The Music Experience Project / Science Fiction Museum-Hall of Fame – I saw the REAL Terminator

(3) Piroshky Piroshky! Amazing food, lines were huge!

 IMG_7254(4) The World’s First Starbucks Store

So, I’m looking to have a good time this summer! People! Come visit me! I promise, at the very least, a night out to Elliot’s, on me! This in particular, goes for Flam, you East St. Louis junkie 

In the midst of this, I’m still trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life (like almost every other person I know). I’ve always told myself that I do want to go into private industry work. Why? Because it’s aproductivity-driven world, where your work is purposeful in itself, and you truly do have the (more) direct power to contribute to the daily lives of many. Then again, academic life isn’t so bad either. After my first year experience working in the Language and Brain Lab (now the Cognition and Brain Lab), I struggled with the discrepancies between the neuroscience that I was pursing(pretty much the practical, world saving, hippie blah blah), and the academic environment where it was developing. I didn’t like the work there; there was too much emphasis in getting grants, so that you can get research to be published, so that you can get more grants… the never ending cycle of struggling for funds wasn’t very attractive, and really, it seemed to far removed from the applications-based way of thinking that I held. So I steered far away from there, and came into engineering. Then, the whole research climate changed. The new startup lab that I’m working in has a vision, this time, we’re working with brain-computer interfaces (something I’d been wanting to do from before high school), and have several solid sources of funding (NSF, Darpa, the ECE Department, NINDS etc…), and finally, I’m actually making a slow, but significant contribution. So, really, not so bad after all.

What’s the point to all this?

“I’m out to save the world…”