October 5th, 2010


hoo boy...

As it is with anything we do in life, being a student involves a lot of ups and downs.

I was on a high late last night because I worked out a physics problem to my satisfaction. (This happens very rarely.) I was especially happy to see the connection between higher frequencies and faster decays in systems of identical quality* - strike and hold piano keys on opposite ends of a real piano to hear what I'm talking about.

* - A unitless constant that tells how slowly oscillations decay - higher number, higher quality, slower decay in oscillation amplitude with time.

Anyway, it got to the point that, by golly, I was starting to see some hope in all of this. All I'd have to do is do the work.

But, boy, when it comes to the lows, all those feelings go away. I become filled with despair for the present, anxiety for the future, and regret for the past. I go back to feeling like a simpleton, an idiot, full of... well, you know.

I wonder why it is that I'm here. Could I just be after the prestige of scholarship? Could it be that I don't really care much about the details of the work?

"Why do you think the minimum is always enough, Will?"
"You're not on Student's Council. You're just stupid."
"You stupid fucking cunt whore. What the hell is wrong with you?"
"With your PEI education, I'm surprised you even understood that."
"I guess the elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor."
"English... okay, but you are no science teacher."
"W-sensei is not happy with you."
"Imitate the social behaviour of 'normal' males...c'est a dire, be much more laid back, calm, disinterested."
"You know who I really can't stand? Will Matheson."
"You have the maturity of a three-year-old."
"You may never be cool."
"I don't have to explain this to anybody else, only you!"

I don't know what to think.

Am I just lazy? Too lazy to go through the work? I've been behind in school pretty much my entire life. Why was I so self-defeating? I feel like nobody understands me, but since I seldom understand other people (though occasionally I get brief bright flashes of insight days or months after the fact), that's par for the course. An impediment in communication or understanding works both ways pretty much by definition, child psychology notwithstanding.

I failed my first physics assignment, but I did eke out a passing grade on the second. I think I'll also pass the third. Last year people were telling me I should have been getting 100%s on the online assignments, but I was really only getting 70%s. I got 60%s on the tests. My consecutive B+s were much more due to 'diligence' than intelligence. I struggled and struggled and I often resorted to plain guessing.

I got an A+ in the first semester of computer science years ago, but only a C+ in the second. Something happened - I could no longer get my assignments to compile (that is, I could not get them to be translated from code written in a programming language that the programmer understands into a computer program encoded in a way that the computer understands). Since they were cumulative, and since submitting a real working program was half of the value of each assignment, I was autofailing even on the weeks I was obtuse enough to submit anyway. The professor couldn't even help me - he spent an hour looking at my code, exclaimed that it was exactly like his solution, and threw up his arms.

Hence why I didn't seriously consider computer science as a major for this second go-round, in case you were wondering.

And today I found out I failed my first astronomy assignment. It's got red ink all over it. I'm sickened to even look at it.

It all makes me wonder if I'm only interested in anything superficially. As soon as it's time to go in-depth, the fun becomes work, and I suddenly stop caring. Maybe this is sometimes true.

I really don't want to visit a councillor. You could argue that I should, you could argue that I shouldn't. I don't know what to do with myself if this doesn't work out. I was probably hinging way too much on it.

Well, only thing to do is close the computer and pick up the physics book and try my best, which is what the councillor would probably advise anyway. Every minute in the room is a minute not doing math or physics. I've just got to keep going, even if it seems to come easier for other people. (I realize that I'm comparing myself with people in the academic crowd, not the general public. When I was a kid, people thought I was a genius, but I think they got that impression because I was interested in reading and remembering peculiar things. (And I was often dead wrong, but there was no one around to correct me, and there was no Wikipedia.) Among the things I have to battle are my own hugely overinflated expectations of what I'd be able to accomplish in this program per unit time.)

Don't we all just sort of do what comes naturally, though? Show me an Atlas, show me a Hercules. I don't see too many bus drivers who suddenly decide to buckle down and teach themselves to be astrophysicists. I'm probably much closer to being the bus driver than I originally thought. And that's OK, because some of my favourite people are bus drivers. And I'm a good actor - I'm good at posing as an educated person, else I wouldn't have had the opportunity to work in Japan for a year. There's not much money in acting, though, and I'm not classically handsome.

I dunno guys, what d'y'all think? I'd look for an astrocomedian program, but I doubt one exists.

A point of extreme amusement: I'm not manic-depressive! I'm just my own harmonic oscillator!
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