Last summer, while the others ran inside under the flimsy sheets of plastic they called windbreakers, I tossed mine aside and frolicked in the water, the wet, the sensation of my home and autumns past.

“Thought you would all enjoy this…

The most destructive habit…Worry / The greatest Joy…Giving / The greatest loss…Loss of self-respect

The most satisfying work…Helping others / The ugliest personality trait…Selfishness / The most endangered species…Dedicated leaders

Our greatest natural resource…Our youth / The greatest ‘shot in the arm’…Encouragement / The greatest problem to overcome…Fear

The most effective sleeping pill…Peace of mind / The most crippling failure disease…Excuses / The most powerful force in life…Love

The most dangerous pariah…A gossiper / The world’s most incredible computer…The brain / The worst thing to be without…Hope

The deadliest weapon…The tongue / The two most power-filled words…’I Can’ / The greatest asset…Faith

The most worthless emotion…Self-pity / The most beautiful attire…SMILE! / The most prized possession…Integrity

The most powerful channel of communication…Prayer / The most contagious spirit…Enthusiasm”

-A scrap of paper tucked in my brother’s old desk

I’d rather play videogames than deal with reality.

In a videogame, one may fail, but can always try again. If one succeeds, the progress they’ve made is explicitly shown. The rules and boundaries of the world available for play are all defined and easily seen in-game or online. Even if a game is challenging, everything should still be set up for your success.

The real world isn’t so lenient: progress is often halting and inconsistent and different moral, political, legal, sociological, economic, as well as other variant ideas and laws clash all the time. Even if one makes progress, they might be unsure of how much it’s worth in the grand complex scheme of the world and all those different factors may put into question those achievement’s relevancy or adequacy. For example, I’m intermediate-advanced piano, that mark isn’t so impressive when put next to those of a kid ten years younger than me playing the same pieces.

I guess it’s like a drug or alcohol then.

I mean, that is why people abuse substances, right? To be distracted from a reality check?

Playing games stops my mind from wandering, if my mind doesn’t wander it doesn’t go through it’s regrets, all sorts of coulda beens, those suppressed wants and desires….

Instead I feel good enough, like I belong.

It’s a virtual prison of my own construction, built to last, but built to be comfortable at least.

The other day I went into town with someone I had never really talked to before but had noticed admiringly from afar. That first lunch, first experience we shared was so raw and open that I now feel in those two hours (which would have no doubt turned into three, four, five…double digits if not for life’s other plans) I came to know and understand her better than those I’ve been surrounded with for FOUR YEARS.

Now, is that because she’s extraordinary or due to the oddities and shortcomings of those in my grade?

College Essays

Dear Jack,

Stanford students are known to possess a sense of intellectual vitality. Tell us about an idea or experience that you found intellectually engaging.



Mr. Stanford,

Well this one time I had to write an essay about something ‘intellectually engaging’ and I found that really interesting. Like, how can we even determine what’s ‘intellectually engaging’. What’s enthralling for one person may barely hold the attention for another. When you were a kid, everything was ‘intellectually engaging’. The doorbell’s chime might have entertained you for hours. On the other hand, now that you’ve grown up, your own kid’s bell chiming drives you crazy.

But perhaps we can narrow down this topic with the ‘intellectual’ part of the question. Something that is ‘intellectually engaging’ should go beyond just holding your attention, but also challenge you or your world view. This however, smashes awkwardly straight into an endless amount of multifaceted factors such as cultural background, geographical location, and societal position. Snow for Bostonians is a natural, annual occurrence. Texans seeing snow for the first time though however might be struck dumb with wonder and awe. A more abstract example, Jackson Pollock’s paintings in some eyes are masterpieces and in others the scribblings of a madman or child.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is I found John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath to be a great book.

I’m sorry,