Vacational Cerebral Atrophy (A.K.A. Getting Dumber over the Summer)

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Anywhere from 2 weeks ago to 2 months ago, students across the U.S. of A. were released from their annual 10 month sentence of incarceration. No more confinement with scheduled “outside” hours. No more having to ask to go to the bathroom (and getting coldly rejected). No more trips to the warden in the detentional hall. And definitely no more menial labor for “our benefit.” Because guess what? It’s summertime, baby.

It is summertime! Well, in school terms, it’s summertime. The summer solstice occurs around June 20th, so technically, it’s still spring when most schools get out. But that’s not important. What is important is the fact that – unless you’re going to summer school – there is no freaking school for 3 months. Heck. Yes.

I am Superman

And develop superhuman flying abilities

As soon as the final bell rings, you and your peers break through the rusty prison – I mean school – doors, rip off your shirts/pants and unleash a victorious warcry signalling your survival of yet another school year. Bring on the fun and the laziness! Yeah, everyone go to my house. I’ll provide the music – you bring the booze and he’ll bring the textbooks – to burn! (Of course you wouldn’t do this because you’re more responsible than that. Yeah.)

So for the next 3 months, the words “homework,” “study,” “set alarm clock,” “all-nighter,” and all their associations will automagically vanish from your vocabulary. You will purge your system physically and mentally of all mention of the mandatory institution that is public education and you will let yourself go in every way possible to make up for the past 10 months of academic brain-frying. Also, you’re trying to get a head start for next year because hey, you are a proactive fellow with goals and priorities and all that good stuff.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll even forget how to read and write! Suck that, Education System. All that work teaching me for nothin’! Aint it awsum!!!1 These next three months will be cycling between partying, screwing up my sleeping schedule, getting a tan from the sun, getting a tan from my computer screen, and wasting all the time in the world (three months’ time).

One of my high school teachers: Why don’t you utilize [he’s the kind of guy that says “utilize” instead of just plain “use”] your summer break to improve yourself and further your education?

Random Student: Dude, why would I wanna’ do that?

High School Teacher: Students always complain they don’t have enough time, when they are the ones that have plenty of time. Make yourself a more valuable person. Build yourself for success.

Random Student: … Sounds like work.

High School Teacher: *In-your-soul-and-inner-thoughts-stare* Just go kick some academic butt.

Huh? You mean, actually do… meaningful stuff over summer break?… Is that even legal? What about having fun and purging all traces of school from our systems? What? Pshaw, the future is the future – it ain’t here yet, so I don’t have to worry about it. So buck off, Old Timer.

Whatchoo Talkin' 'Bout, Willis?

Caption not needed

To the point of this entry: summer doesn’t have to be a waste of time. You don’t have to let yourself struggle your first week of school just because you forgot everything you ever learned and thus have to waste the first month of the next school year refreshing lessons from the first grade. Do I sound like a party-pooping old fart? Unfortunately, I kind of do.

Regardless, just make a list of things you want to accomplish or try or just plain do this summer. Give yourself a goal. A lot can be done in three months: travelling to Cambodia, learning a language, developing a new mathematical theorem applicable to quantum physics. Lots can be done! So don’t just sit and regret not doing things. (Conversely, don’t do things that you’ll regret doing – but I don’t want to get too old-fart-preachy.)

Here are some things you can do to make the most of your summer (Hint: Links provided for clarification. Click on them.):


So get out there and reach your potential! Explore the unexplored! Achieve the unachieved! Unleash the… leashed…

Just go!

Images courtesy of Stock.Xchng and www.hogshaven.com

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Living in Momma’s Basement

So there’s this stereotype that goes something like this: 30 year old guy – it’s usually a guy – living in his parents’ basement because a) he is a dependent, lazy momma’s boy and/or b) he’s just plain lazy. He plays WoW religiously, browses forums all day and posts vlogs about his “awesome” life and his not-so-crazy-more-like-mundane observations about things around him. In his Youtube videos, his mom usually interrupts him by yelling down the stairs in a redneck accent “Whaddya’ want for dinner, Billy?” The guy will scowl and sigh resignedly at the camera, embarrassed, and then yell back “Ma, I told you not to interrupt me when I’m working… I’ll have the mac ‘n cheese…”

Forever Alone

Overused Meme

That’s what everyone wants to be when they grow up, right? Yeah?

He's Drunk

I'm not drunk, Ociffer. I s-*hiccup*-swear.


Well, it is a stereotype and in true stereotype fashion, it is generally an exaggeration. Sure, I have no doubt that there are people out there like that and hey, I don’t judge. To each their own. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all that jazz. Most high school grads, even if they are not completely confident at first, seem to strive to live independently sometime in their lives, preferably in the near future. It’s all about leaving mom and dads’ jurisdiction ASAP. No curfew, no supervision, no rules. Without mom and dad around to bark orders and crack down on their stupid rules, life will be awesome. Break out the bong and the booze. It’s party time.

Uh-huh. Right.

Again, this is stereotypical; it’s hypothetical and it’s exaggerated, much like the stereotype of the 30 year old mamma’s boy. Not everyone does this and unless you’re someone whose knowledge of college life is solely derived from the tomfoolery of American Pie, The House Bunny, Animal House and other asinine/hilarious college movies, I don’t need to tell you that.

John Belushi in Animal House

John Belushi: College Idol

With the cost of living increasing every year, including the fact that we are still in a recession, living on your own seems like more and more of a daunting idea. Sure, you get more freedom (I got a Braveheart moment there), but at what cost? One of my teachers once joked: “The best thing about being 18 is that you can do whatever you want and nobody’ll care. The worst thing about being 18 is that you can do whatever you want and nobody’ll care.” Nobody will care. At 18, you’re legally an adult. Heck, even I’m still getting used to that idea. At 18, moving out is almost a rite of passage in our society. As new adults, we get to embark on the journey that is our own, independent life, where we get to make our own money, pay our own bills, live in our own house/apartment/condo/mansion/trailer, pay our own taxes, etc.

But that’s where I stop and think “Can I really live on my own?”

My answer is “yes.” And then I blink a couple times, slam my head against my bedroom door and say “no.” Wait – what?

I slammed my head against the wall

Not my best idea

Back to the mamma’s boy example up at the very beginning of this entry – that is a fear of mine when I tell myself “no.” I am afraid of a future where I will still be living with my parents, hindering not only my own life plans, but theirs as well. I am afraid of being a dead beat failure with flattened ambition and a tire around my waist that would rival the Michelin man’s.

I am currently jobless, so I have no income, no money to live off of. I have a college savings account that will pay for two years – and maybe three, if I’m optimistic – of my college education. That does not include housing. Housing at my university of choice costs approximately $10,000 for freshman because we are absolutely required to purchase a full year meal plan. I understand they don’t want us iddy biddy “freshmeat” to starve, but really, we should still be able to choose whether or not to purchase a meal plan for the entire year.

Because of this and the fact that I have limited financial means, I will not be living on campus. Yes, I will miss out on the first-year campus life experience. I will miss out on being able to wake up five minutes before class starts and still get there on time. I will miss out on campus pranks and immediate campus news. I will miss out on opportunities to mix and mingle with roommates and other dorm zombies – not that I would mingle much anyway because I’m a reclusive hermit with the social skills of Rain Man. But really, I don’t regret it. Not too much, at least. In 2009, there was discussion about the possibility of lowering costs or even waiving tuition for students who were living at home. As one the student says in the article, “Looking back I am happy with my decision and that I didn’t spend that money on accommodation. But socially my student years would have been a lot easier if I’d moved out, as initially it was hard to meet people.”

Emo Girl

I bathe in vampire blood. I hate my life.


I’m not into the angsty, “you’re ruining my life thing,” so I don’t hate my parents. Actually, I get along with them very well. My siblings… eh… They’re tolerable. Fortunately, my university of choice is only a little over 10 miles from where I live, so the commute isn’t too bad. This way, I don’t have to pay for food, utilities, furniture, living space, and most important of all (without getting too soppy), I get to have close familial support for a little while longer. It’s common sense that staying home saves you money.

Living on campus. Living at home. Either way, there are pros and cons. A student has to prioritize. “I’ll save money, but won’t meet people as easily. Or I’ll make a lot of friends and network a bit, but I’ll struggle to make ends meet.” Or maybe you won’t struggle to make ends meet. Maybe you can afford to be rich in both finances and social life. Then go for it! If you can do it, then go all out! Just be glad you’re that fortunate.

Don’t think I hate rich people and don’t think I’m anti-dorm living. Of course not! I think being able to live with your peers during college is a great idea, especially for freshmen. College is a new experience, different atmosphere, a significant stepping block, but staying at home – there’s no shame in that. However, if there’s one saying that gets me through almost anything it’s “everything is good… in moderation.” Moderation is key. Unless it is your ultimate goal to become a 30 year old mamma’s boy (or girl) or some special circumstances arise, you probably want to move out sometime or other. Living at home is, overall, a more financially efficient option than living in a dorm or some other housing during college. I’ll be living at home, but only for the first year. I do want to experience all that college has to offer (responsibly, of course, nudge nudge, wink wink), so I’ll get a job, get into the groove of college and then – come sophomore year – I’ll pack my bags, kiss mum and dad “adios for now” and say “hello” to freedom (seriously, I can never say/write “freedom” without thinking of Braveheart anymore… “Fr-r-r-e-e-e-dom!”).

Fr-r-r-r-e-e-e-dom!

But they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM.... to move out

What are your thoughts? Are you living at home or living on campus or even off campus?

Images courtesy of flixster.com and Stock.Xchng.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella – Oh My!

As part of preparing for entry into college this fall, college-bound suckers (like me) have to fill out a freight-load of paperwork (maybe I exaggerate) to sift through/fill out/send, such as Intent to Enroll forms, transcripts, housing contracts, test scores, financial aid, etc.

Oh, and how could I forget? The MMR Proof of Vaccination form. That’s where I’m currently at on my “New Student Checklist” provided to me by my university of choice. MMR: Measles, Mumps and Rubella. If you live in the 21st century and/or have been to public school and haven’t been under a rock, where you forage and hunt for food in the wilderness, then you probably have recieved this vaccination at least once.

A quick description of MMR by my good buddy Dr. WebMD:

Measles, mumps, and rubella are viral diseases. All have the potential to be very serious.

Measles is characterized by fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), and a red, pinpoint rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. If the measles virus infects the lungs, it can cause pneumonia. Some older children infected with the virus suffer from encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), which can cause seizures and permanent brain damage.

The mumps virus usually causes swelling in the salivary or parotid glands… giving the appearance of chipmunk cheeks. In men, mumps can infect the testicles, which can lead to infertility.

[R]ubella infection causes a mild rash on the face, swelling of glands behind the ears, and in some cases swelling of the small joints and a low-grade fever. Most children recover quickly from rubella with no lasting effects.
(Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine, WebMD)

Yikes.

Well, thank goodness I have that all squared away-

What? Oh, you mean I haven’t submitted my Proof of Vaccination form yet? Wha- Oh yeah.

I have to fill out the form. Oh wait, I need to check my dates of vaccination on my health record. Oh wait, I have to access my health record online. Oh wait, I have to wait for them to send me my user password so that I can access my record (3 – 7 business days). So… I wait. And wait. And wait, while my limbic system is slowly eating itself because of the overactive imagination going on in the silly cerebral cortex:

“What if the password doesn’t get here on time? What will the university do if I don’t have the form? They’ll kick me out. Then I’ll have wasted $200 on a non-refundable deposit. My parents will whip me with a coat hanger. I’ll end up alone without a college education flipping burgers at the Krusty Crab… This form is stupid.”

But really, I don’t think the form is stupid. Honest. It’s good that we need to submit this. Did you read the symptoms up there? “Fever,” “conjunctivitis,” “pneumonia,” “swelling,” “testicles.” That is some serious stuff. In college, I have enough to worry about without having to surround myself in a bubble to prevent from getting pinpoint rashes all over my body.

Not Shown: Rashes in Sensitive Areas

I don’t want to be sitting in “Pestilence and Plagues in History” class while fighting off pestilence with Joe Measles on my left and the plague with Bobby Rubella on my right. Go away, sick people. Or go sit next to Suzy Know-It-All and get her sick. But not me. Stay away from moi and my less-than-superhuman immune system.

Take your pestilence elsewhere, Joe

Moral of the story: Get your vaccinations and don’t get others sick.
Also, fill out your paperwork.

Images courtesy of Stock.Xchng

Stress: Friend of my enemy… is my friend?

Think back to high school. Or if you’re in high school, think back to yesterday:

So you’re sitting on your couch, minding your own business as you’re watching “America’s Got Talent” and just as they’re about to boo off a guy in clown shoes and suspenders jumping on one leg while singing “Yankee Doodle” in falsetto, your mom comes in and this transpires:

Mom: “Hey, favorite daughter/son/androgynous child, it’s Sunday.”

You: *tear your eyes from the screen reluctantly* “Yeah, so?”

Mom: “Well, have you finished all your homework?”

You: “… Yeah…”

Mom: “Okay.” *leaves*

You:

Size of your brain while watching TV

At this moment, as your body stiffens and all the blood rushes back to your TV-fried brain, you remember the homework that was so cruelly assigned to you on Friday.

Well, guess what? It’s all due tomorrow. You procrastinated – again. So what do you do? You watch as your mom leaves the room and then you make like a clumsy ninja and fly over to your backpack, arms flailing, mind reeling, and you get out your crumpled packet of work from the bottom of your bag. You brush off the sandwich crumbs and pencil shavings and think “oh crap.”  Time to pull yet another all-nighter.

All Nighter

What you look like

This not uncommon occurence (I’m guilty of it, too) has many consequences, the most awful one being fatigue. I’m no expert, but I’m guessing you probably value your sleep – a lot. Me too. So all-nighters do not a happy camper make. Without a good night’s sleep, I am a mental trainwreck. And let me tell you, my mind has been a wreck since freshman year of high school.

When I lose this much precious sleep, it had better be for a good cause: I’m two steps away from curing cancer, I’m conducting revolutionary sleep experiments, I’m afraid of the dark, yadda yadda yadda… But no – it’s because of homework. Because I was raised by people who would practically whip me if I got less than an “A,” turning in homework is kind of a big deal. What does this drown me in?

Stress.

That’s what it’s all about (now do the hokey pokey…). It’s what causes my hair to fall out, helps create the bags under my eyes, and what makes those pink elephants appear when I’m half-awake (curse you, Dumbo). But – is it really all that bad? I mean, really?

Really?

I know, I know, I just spent 300 words talking about how bad stress is, but like a story, a coin, or Harvey Dent, there are two sides to it. Yes, stress can weaken your immune system, give you headaches, strain your relationships, (the list goes on). However, it can also be my best friend. Okay, maybe more like a frenemy – whatever that means. Stress is like a 6 1/2 foot boxing coach with grit in his teeth and steel in his eyes. He pushes me forward, makes me work toward my goal, and frightens me out of failure by threatening me with failure. Whenever I want to give up and nod off and drool all over my papers, Stress smacks me in the face with an imagined “F” and scenarios that scare me into academic submission:

If I get an “F,” I’ll fail the class. If I fail the class, I’ll never graduate. Then no one will hire me except for the gas station and I’ll be stuck pumping gas for minimum wage for the rest of my life. I won’t be able to afford rent. I’ll sleep on the street, be beaten up and laughed at by passing gangbangers, develop internal bleeding, won’t be able to afford the hospital bill. And I’ll die a complete and utter failure with no one to cry at my funeral because I won’t even have a funeral… or a coffin…

You don’t need to tell me I have issues and don’t tell me your imagination has never gone that far before. Hey, it works.

So like everything else, stress is good in moderation – can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Sort of. Just don’t procrastinate.
Yeah right.

Images courtesy of Stock.Xchng.

Stressing Out College [An intro tribute to Steve Irwin]

*bad-australian-accent*

Sh. Looka’ there. They aren’t verah rare, but they’re still quite a sight to come across. Look at how this one has only little hair left. That’s from what the locals call “post-secondary education stress.” Notice the black bags under the eyes and the involuntary twitch o’ the lip. You might think this poor creature’s a Crack Addict, but it’s actually…

Ain't she a beauty, mate?

… a College Student.

All jokingness aside *i’m-dropping-the-accent*, welcome to StressingOutCollege, a place for individuals who may or may not be susceptible to what Dictionary.com defines as “a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism…” blah blah blah – stress. Stress! That’s what I’m talking about! If you’ve ever cared enough about anything, whether it’s family, your grades, or your Justin Bieber t-shirt collection, you have been a victim of stress.

There are already plenty of sites and articles dealing with college advice/tips/stories/etc, etc, etc. This isn’t one of those. Not really. There’ll be some advice here and there, but seeing as I’m be a little new to the whole college thing, I’ll mostly just be writing down observations and musings – whatever comes to my mind that I want to talk about concerning my own experience and the entire college experience in general. So let’s do this. *turn on “Eye of the Tiger”*

If you want to learn more about me, check out the “Stressed Out Student” page. I’ll be updating that shortly.

Don’t forget to click the “Subscribe” button on the upper right to keep up-to-date with the really, truly, very important stuff that goes on here.

Photo courtesy of Stock.Xchng