Noam Chomsky, I Adore You

I killed an ant stuck in a crevice in my alarm clock this morning. I believe it was a metaphor for our global order, let me explain.

Anyway, I finally found the answer to my prayers, a man who has most profoundly influenced my own political and social viewpoints on the world. Obviously, by the title you could tell it was the legend himself, Noam Chomsky, the only person who could make me regret and actually want to go to MIT, until I remembered the much more extensive list of reasons why I wouldn’t set foot on the campus in the first place.

 

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The most wonderfully brilliant bastion of hope this world has ever given us…

 

Anyone who knows of this guy, may probably be thinking right now… “So she considers herself a socialist now, big whoop. Doesn’t every kid going off to college come out as an ultra-liberal?”. And to that, I say, well you may be right, but not quite and I’ve always been very liberal so I have no idea what you’re talking about “suddenly becoming” one. To make things clear, I’ve always been skeptical of anything I read that has ties to politics. Behind every article, there is someone with a political perspective that they hope to win over all the others, and the concept of that in its essence is not necessarily a bad thing. What’s frightening is the propaganda and lies spread that convinces people that any means can justify a particular end, but we can’t even define what this end is or whether it’s good for us or not. Back to Noam Chomsky, I recently picked up a few of his books a couple weeks ago on a trip to Barnes and Noble where my mother and I were trying to entice my little sister to read more… she’s allergic to books apparently. Anyway, I’m a huge classics-turned-linguistics nerd and so naturally I go into the section that houses their like 10 linguistics books and I pluck them from the shelves, seeing that my buddy Noam makes up about 50% of the section. Not satisfied with the amount of books in my basket, I go over to the international current affairs section because I thought it was high time that I know more about the geopolitical mess we have on our hands at the current moment.  Now the, international affairs section is much more “well-endowed” than the linguistics section so as an amateur, I try and look for anything familiar to pique my interest (mind you I’m not a total novice to this stuff as a debater for four years, but I personally believe that a lot of debaters, minus extempers, kinda have tunnel vision when it comes to what’s going on with the world, due to the nature of their events). Of course, my favorite linguist also just so happens to be a prolific social critic, and it was love at first sight, but not quite.

So throughout my senior year, I didn’t really have much of a chance to read many books for pleasure, given we were pretty much always reading different books for English anyway. Also, I’m a lazy senior so that too. The one book I picked by Noam Chomsky from this section, “Profit Over People”, was my personal challenge. I needed to finish this book within a short period of time to get back into the swing of reading. Thankfully, I actually accomplished my goal, but what I got from the book was so much more than a check on my personal summer bucket list.

Essentially, the point of the book was to argue about the doctrines and the development of a pro-corporate system of economic and political policies that restrict the public arena and support private power, while also highlighting the harmful effects of policies that are prescribed to poor countries from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and the World Bank. He rails against neoliberalism in its entirety and strongly criticizes the neoliberal policies made by former President Bill Clinton, a man who I’d never criticized that harshly before, among other leaders. Chomsky enlightened me to how much our government’s policies work against the interests of the common people and how pervasively the propaganda that gets us to go along with their plans extends. The most eye-opening parts of the novel for me concerned our foreign policy in Latin America and how far the United States’ government is willing to go in order to protect their profit interests, effectively destroying the stability of countries in order to maintain the cash flow. Mind you, this book was written pre-2007 housing market crisis and Wall Street bailout, and Noam Chomsky is still very much vehemently opposed to the likes of Donald Trump and his reckless political scheme.

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How I felt about Bill Clinton BEFORE reading Chomsky…

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…and after

There was little, if anything that I disagreed with in this book, but unexpectedly, reading this book also made me question my own beliefs. I didn’t just read Noam Chomsky and 100% devote myself to his philosophy, nor did I discount everything he said. Rather I realized that while I agreed with many of the things he was saying, I also began to reflect for myself the pros and cons of so many decisions our global society makes and I know it’s not so easy, and it’s kind of sickening to realize how hard it is to rid ourselves of the deeply embedded “corruption” and debauchery that’s rooted in countless international and domestically based organizations. Who is going to the represent the people, for the benefit of the people? It’s a depressing thought to think about as I’m going into the real world, but it’s also hopeful to know that I’m not alone and that maybe, I can empower, and be empowered, to change the status quo.

Or maybe I’m just too young and naïve to understand how the world works, and in any quest for power and success, I too will have the wake-up call that I must squash all people inferior to me on such a quest.

Kind of like that ant on my alarm clock.

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What the &#&^*! Is College Anyway?!

 

You know, the shitstorm that was the college application cycle was a lot of things, but you know what it was really good at? Blinding us from the reality that college is real. It isn’t just this arbitrary concept that we were all aspiring towards like a trophy. No sirree, we don’t even the tiniest ounce of what shit we’re walking straight into.

Between you and me, there’s a lot of things that I love about becoming a “college student” and a lot of things I haaattteee. For one thing, I hate the fact that the name of my school overtakes me whenever people ask where I’m going. As soon as the word “Stanford” (Surprise, for those that read one of my earlier posts!!!) fleetingly slips out of my mouth, I know exactly the stock responses about to be uttered and the precise thoughts subsequently racing through their minds. To people around my age, I get everything from #1) misplaced “awe” as their worship of the school itself is projected onto me as the conversations quickly shift from being centered around my personal education, to the ACT score I needed to get in or the acceptance rate for the regular decision round or #2) people who, despite never speaking to me about college before, have already decided that I’m conceited and belittle the school I’ve chosen as my future alma mater since they assume I chose it for name alone, and not the fact that they have both amazing biology and computer science programs with a flexible curriculum (not as restrictive as Columbia, not as loose as Brown) and much more laid-back and less cutthroat environments than my other options. Basically, the minute people find out where I’m going, it’s like I’ve lost control of how people perceive me, but even worse, every time I talk about Stanford, I still feel sick in my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get regret my choice whatsoever, and I’d probably feel the same way if I had chosen a lot of my other options, but the problem remains that I still harbor unresolved guilt over the whole matter, but also for the first time, I worry that my choice in college may have been affected by my internal need to always prove to people that I’m capable (I blame 3.5 years of being disregarded and underestimated by #debateboyz for that one), but also that the problem is simply covered up, not erased by the fact that I’m going to a big-name hotshot school, which leads me to my next thought…

College is unbelievable, but the process reads like an Agatha Christie novel.. It doesn’t help that I still have no tangible idea of what my schedule could look like for next year, who my roommate will be, or where I’ll even be living. Maybe it’s my insane jealousy and anxiety that 99.9% of all of my friends are on the semester system (make that 100%), but it really sucks being exactly two months away from move-in day and have no idea how you’ll get your belongings on campus. It’s not that I don’t have the resources to figure this stuff out, but it’s still too surreal, and it probably won’t feel real until I get there, but it’s still too far away to grasp.

Speaking of my soon-to-abandon-me friends. I’m afraid of how much, or more precisely how little, I’ll still keep in contact with them. I didn’t have that many friends in school to begin with. I made my way by being civil and nice, but I was never warm enough to a lot of people and I’m just the girl “people knew in high school”. Those people, the ones who were either friends with me by association or convenience, aren’t the ones I’m worried about. I’ve made my amends with the fact that I wasn’t the most likable person in school, and part of it was my fault. Sometimes, whenever I think I’m getting too close to someone, I feel as if I must be a nuisance and sometimes I back off, which inevitably leads to the friendship deteriorating into oblivion. But that’s beside the point for now, I’m worried about the people I consider “my best friends”, in the loose definition of the word I know today. When I was younger, I had one or two “best friends”, but the difference between them and the friends I have today, is that we only had each other. We did everything together because we were all each of us had, but it’s much different now. Unfortunately, we’re all less close now, precisely because we no longer had JUST each other, leading to my new friends of today. While we’re still close and I wouldn’t want to lose contact with them, I’m afraid the distance will hurt our relationships more than I can even imagine. My friends are so much better at making friends than I am, to the point where I wonder how people even become friends with me in the first place. I’m awkward, shy, cynical, spineless, and so much more, but not qualities you look for in a buddy to join to catch a movie or go on a walk through the park. And as they find people who could replace me in a heartbeat, I’ll be left thousands of miles away, in an unfamiliar place, by myself, trying to figure out how to initiate conversation or appear more approachable. Furthermore, one of my best friends I’ve made in high school, has become much more distant to the point where we haven’t talked in weeks, and I have no idea what initiated the tension. Their disappearance in my life hurts most precisely because I could feel it a little bit earlier in the year, but couldn’t understand it and did nothing to rectify it. And now, I have no idea how to reconcile what we’ve lost, and worry I’ve just lost a dear friend forever. I desperately don’t want the future to keep taking the friends I have now away. Besides, who’s going to tell the abundant embarrassing stories about me at my future wedding?

And to top off my mini-howling on all things relating to the never-ending anxiety that is college life, is the number-one thing I’m there for, my studies. What I do from here on out has the potential to define my entire life. Getting a B in a class derails my chance at getting into a top-notch medical school. Not securing a good summer internship ruins my shot at having a successful career in tech or software engineering. I already feel like I’m coming in from behind, and I desperately want to have everything laid out for me in a simple four-year plan, but I know, especially from my experience in high school., that I will never get anything in life that easily. I’ve tried the past few weeks to improve myself, given my rocky senior year and depression diagnosis that I don’t completely understand and I can tell my mom either wants to ignore or doesn’t have the time to take care of, since I’m so used to handling my own problems aside from matters of money or life-or-death situations. Look at any college meme page and it’s littered with light-hearted jokes that poke fun at the depressed culture of students over finals weeks and problem sets and not doing well enough, but what if I fall prey to such a stereotype. Everyday I repeat to myself that I will rise above it, but if I couldn’t do it in high school, how can I do it now, especially with my terrible work ethic. In senior year, I could count on one hand the number of times I studied for a test, and two hands the amount of times I actually did my homework before the morning it was due, if I did it at all. Yeah, I was that kind of kid, except not many people knew how bad it was. I was a girl people mistook to be “put together” and whenever anyone caught a small whiff of my true ways, they were honestly surprised and shrugged it off. I should’ve been self-destructive, but I still ended the year with straight A’s, even as a second-semester senior (#senioritis). Thing is, I was really good at handling my bad habits. Compared to people I knew who I could tell were letting work slide, I knew what I had to do to maintain appearances, because that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years. I don’t know if it was just a severe case of burnout that never truly settled itself out, or if I really do have a problem, but I can’t jeopardize my future by letting this happen again and again in college. I want to be perfect like some of my friends so that I can achieve what I want without being recklessly irresponsible or screw everything up like I usually do, but I’m so far from it. Finish it off with the fact that nearly every teacher I had throughout my four years of high school saw me as mediocre and nothing special, no matter how much I admired them in return, made me feel mediocre myself, despite being enrolled at a school where I’m surrounded by absolutely extraordinary people. Will I ever even fit in?

I have no idea how long the list of anxieties I have about college are, but you know what’s also entirely unknown?

What the #@$!% college is anyway.

So God, Who Am I in “The Breakfast Club”?

To what extent are our lives like the ones we see on the silver screen?

Maybe it’s the existentialist post-high school grad in me that’s too caught up in reflecting on her high school years, or maybe it’s the countless high-school/college based dramas I’ve binge-watched on Netflix that have lead me to think that I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing with my social life right now.

I think about college and a quintessential part of it that comes to mind are alcohol and partying — two things that I stayed far FAR away from in high school. When you include things like high school romances and sex and all that jazz, I feel like my role as a casual watcher of a lot of shows like Riverdale or Gossip Girl, has led me to possibly become a not-so-casual observer of my entire life. Should I be wanting to party or try alcohol/drugs, because honestly I don’t and have no desire to do so. Should I want to have a boyfriend and go to whatever promiscuous bases with them, because I honestly never really think about that either (I mean, yeah I’ve had the flippant crush here and there, but never with people I spoke more than 5 words too and it was more of a shallow “I think you’re super attractive in a cool way” kinda deal). To make things worse, every surreal happy or sad moment I actually see on television, I perceive as too idealized to ever happen to me. Every time I see some sappy on-screen kiss or some character going off-the-rails from a traumatic experience, only for a moment do I think “this could happen to me”, but immediately after, I dismiss the thought and resign to my boring, vanilla life. At the end of the day, it’s like I’m at this crossroads of being too immature by not experiencing any of these things that are supposed to be quintessentially high school, but also too mature, because that’s the thing, it’s just not everything to me and I focus on other things. Of course, I’m no star. I’m always distracted by other things and you’ve heard enough about my Netflix-addiction, but in the time throughout high school that I haven’t spent wondering what getting high off a dime bag of weed is like or spending all hours with some guy I’m supposedly in love with yet all we know about each other are our favorite colors and our favorite restaurant open after 10 p.m., I have spent that time doing things I find meaningful with my time, like learning new things I’ll never have the chance to learn when I’m older or spending time with friends who will always mean the world to me (and are also mostly just as “straight-edge and proud” as I am…. most of them that is 🙂 ). So yeah, maybe I never had (or even wanted) a “Jess”, “Dean”, or “Logan” to my Rory, or want to know what it’s like to be cross-faded or black-out drunk at a house party, but when I’m ready to *gasp* date, or step out of my comfort zone (tbh probably will always be a straight-edge Sally, don’t wanna get your hopes up), I want it to feel as if I’m the star of the show, but also completely aware that this is in fact, real life, not an idealized fantasy.

 

But let us not forget that the high school chapter of my life is finished, and who knows what college will bring to the table. I may want to grab some popcorn.

 

P.S. – Don’t worry, I am totally casually ignoring the fact I haven’t posted since March 🙂