The Nine Faces of Dave
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2004-02-17 08:42:45 (UTC)

find me a path off this endless track

So for the first time in a while, I'm actually updating two
days in a row. In the past, this sort of thing has usually
been a bad sign. But it's only one of many.

I have successfully bombed two quizzes in a row in my theory
course for comp. sci., mainly because I'm not good at doing
those sorts of problems with any speed. I can get them, but
it takes me a bit, and when the professor gives us an entire
five minutes to do the problems (which aren't trivial by any
means), I tend to run out of time to do it right. Now we're
allowed to drop our two lowest quiz scores and a single low
homework score, so I'm still all right. I've done well with
all the other work/quizzes, at least on a relative scale, so
I'm not too worried. The point is, I can't fuck up anymore.

In my systems class, I have a homework set to get done, and
of course I don't know when it's due. I also have two more
projects coming down the pike before spring break. And the
sad thing is, even with all this bullshit, I still like the
systems course more than theory. I guess my friend (the TA
for the course) was right; I do have a systems mindset.

I've gained some weight over the past few weeks, because for
some reason I have been incredibly hungry. I usually get by
on two meals a day, but now I often find myself eating three
times a day. I can't explain it, but I need to get it back
under control; I don't have time to hit the gym every day.

Finally, and the biggest kick in the head of all, I'm having
to face up to the fact that things between me and the girl I
met probably aren't going anywhere. I'm not blaming myself
for this one, though. What was I supposed to think, and how
was I supposed to react? I hate to keep coming back to this
example, but she gave me her phone number without my asking
for it. How often does that happen to anyone? And just how
often does that happen to people like me?

It's hard to say where things stand. On one level, I really
can't figure how all the events fit together, unless she is
a little interested and actually is seriously busy. On the
other hand, maybe that's the part of me that really doesn't
want to admit what I know is true. And still another voice
says I don't know what the hell is going on here and I'd be
better off to just put it out of my mind. That one is going
to be pretty hard to do.

Anyway, the aggregate of all this bad shit is leading me to
seriously look at the direction my life is taking. And I'm
honestly not sure I want to continue on this path. I'm too
far along right now to major in anything else, except maybe
math, but that doesn't really appeal to me. And it isn't so
much that I don't like CS, just that I'm not sure it's what
I want to do with my life.

I started on the campus FM radio station last weekend. I'm
really enjoying that so far. And right now, I'm starting to
think that if I could work professionally in radio, I'd take
that opportunity, even if the pay was shitty compared to my
options in computer science. Now granted, I'm just starting
my radio career, and I have no idea where it will lead. But
this is something I've wanted to do for years. Other people
have encouraged me towards this sort of thing; even people I
don't know very well have told me I have a voice like a jazz
announcer. Now for some people that may be a dubious honor,
but I certainly consider it a compliment.

The point is, depending on how this radio thing progresses,
I may have a chance to pursue something I've been interested
in since before I ever got into CS. And given that chance,
I'd be foolish not to take it. After all, a CS degree isn't
going to become useless even after a few years spent working
in radio. But the issue, then, is how things will progress
now. CS is way too much work to use it as something to fall
back on, especially if I went for an honors diploma. So two
years into my studies, and having already declared, I'm just
now questioning my choice of majors. Maybe I should've been
a chemist or something.

It's not just my major, though. I'm seriously beginning to
question the entire direction of my life thus far. For just
about as long as I can remember, I've focused on academics.
I worked hard in elementary school so I could take advanced
courses in high school. I worked harder in high school so I
could go to a "good" college. And I worked hard during the
first three semesters here so that I'd be prepared to tackle
the rest of the program.

And where has it all gotten me? I'm freezing my ass off in
upstate New York, getting empty recognition from a bunch of
academics, working as a TA and not getting paid because some
moron in payroll screwed up. My friends in this godforsaken
hellhole are a bunch of hipsters, other CS majors, and flaky
Japanophiles from Albany. I have no girlfriend, and the gal
I thought I had a shot with probably isn't interested. And
what's worst is that I'm getting that same unbearable sense
of isolation and failure as I had last year right about this
time. There's no mistaking it. Here I thought I'd managed
to kick all that, and it's right back where I left it; stuck
somewhere in the dead of winter.

I don't want to continue on this path if it's all just going
to be like this. And I'll be honest, I can't see where it's
really going to get any better. Nothing ever changes; even
I don't. I have an entry from February 15th, 2003, and one
year to the day later, I wrote another. And I'm in a quite
similar mental state these days.

What I am seeing here is the beginning of a cycle. I start
out in the fall, optimistic, clear-thinking, and clever. I
even make some progress, meet a few girls, even maybe find a
mutual attraction. Then the spring comes around, and I get
tired, and I stop meeting new people, and all the promise of
the fall goes down the drain. The weather turns shitty, my
classes get harder, and I get depressed.

Granted, this is only the second round of this, but patterns
develop pretty quickly. And right now I don't know any way
to break this cycle. Maybe I should go someplace else from
here on. Maybe what I need are some new environs.

I would normally never post song lyrics, but it's 3:30 AM on
a weeknight, and I can't think of a better closing line.

"Seems I've got to have a change of scene
'cause every night I have the strangest dreams
Imprisoned by the way things could have been
Left here on my own or so it seems
I've got to leave before I start to scream
But someone's locked the door and took the key."
- Traffic, "Feelin' All Right"

This is Dave, signing off.

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