Dear MIT Admissions:

So, waitlisted, eh? I'm pleased to say that it's not affecting me quite as much as one might expect-- going from "deferred" to "waitlisted" doesn't really cause that much of a change in my life, really, because my status is still essentially indeterminate. The question, however, remains: Do I want to stay on the waitlist?

Because this is becoming a lot like an abusive relationship, guys. After a while, one has to stop crawling back.

Let me tell you-- I went to grad school. I'm running for office. I'm writing a novel. I am the most active and self-aware teenager that you will probably ever meet. I can explain this in a thousand ways that relate to anybody. I carry everyone I've met inside me.

I know that it's a limited admissions pool. I saw friends that I felt really deserved to get in who were rejected outright, and I saw some people that I really felt didn't opening their acceptance letters. I'm not bitter on my own behalf, here-- I undertstand that it's the perogative of the admissions committee to make the best possible decisions.

And maybe I didn't accurately represent myself, because you don't understand exactly what I go through on a daily basis-- not as a complaining teenager, but as a man who feels three times his own age and is weary with the world. I'm weary. I'm weary and I want to change what I see.

This is why I liked MIT. If I wanted to change this world (it makes me sick, sometimes, to watch the way that we destroy ourselves and hurts its inhabitants), there's a thousand ways there that I could do it. Design a better city. End poverty. Mobilize education. Certainly I can't end human suffering, but I could poke a few holes in it. Save a few people.

Do you understand this? Do you?

I took a bus most of the way across this country and I met some of the poorest people I've ever seen-- and some of the richest. I stood in the shadow of Nashville while families dissolved and people changed for the worse, I feel them inside me when I'm by myself, these people who have been damned for one reason or another that are so far away-- You're not human if you don't want to help everybody. Maybe you're not perceptive, can't understand yourself, can't find humanitarian desires, I don't know.

But I entirely grasp this need within myself, and God does it eat at me. I wanted to change things, guys, really I did, but I'm not going to pick the scraps of an admission from the floor. You made the wrong choice (I don't brag. Ever. But here I'm going to) and I'm not going to clean the mess up, come begging to you for the slot somebody rejected. I'm going to give it to someone else who cares and move on to where I'm wanted.

Take me off the list, guys. Sorry.

If you want really nice home the easiest solution is simply to pay for one. Nice homes with big rooms, jacuzzi tubs, data outlets and everything else a person might want is there for the taking, For a price. The problem for me is that I'm a working stiff. I make a decent buck, but no one is going to ask me to serve on the board of a major corporation. Yet I want a nice home.

So for me the answer is sweat equity.

But I've also been there before. I call my current home Re-Biltmore for a reason. I knew it needed work when i bought it. What shocked me was how much. The bathroom has been rebuilt from the foundation up, as it was in imminent danger of dumping the bathtub into the crawlspace. The kitchen wasn't much better. The siding was ruined. You could play basketball through the garage roof.

These problems went on and on, and often led me to fantasize about coming home and finding a tail marked Delta Airlines sticking out of my roof.

But no airliners struck my home. No tornado blew the place clear to Oz. and no rich woman decided to make me her stud-puppy. I had one choice; Live inside a haunted house or get to work.

Eight years later and Re-Biltmore is done, and rather jolly place it is. Albeit a very, very small form of jolly. Many apartments are larger than my home. And I have a lot of stuff. So it is time to move on.

Today I looked at a very interesting home, advertised as needing 'a little TLC'. A little TLC my ass! The place had been boarded up because kids had kicked in the windows. But it was the right size, a decent neighborhood, bricked, new roof, reasonably modern. So it was worth looking at.

The first time you buy a home there is a tendency to romanticize how everything can be put to right. I remember focusing on how nice the trees were and how easily I could put in electric while missing less aesthetic structural issues.

Today I see houses like this one as a job. And I'm no longer an apprentice, but a foreman. I run a crew of electricians, keep them working, concentrate on what needs done. I'd like to think I'm good at what i do. And I looked at this house not as a starry-eyed engaged couple, but as a contractor. So you start by building a job list.

The first thing to do is look at the general condition of the place. The roof is straight, shingles tight to the roof and look reasonably new. Good roof vents. inside the walls and corners were all straight and level. So I saw no major structural issues.

But it was clear that the previous occupants had cleared out in a big hurry. I saw more clothes than I own abandoned on the floor, most near one large closet. There were two TV's, broken glass, bicycles and a lawnmower in the garage. Broken glass everywhere. Apparently the place had been used for drug parties as well.

So right off the bat there is a refuse problem. So I need a nice big dumpster, say thirty cubic yards. There goes $500, plus two days' labor tossing everything. If you call me to your home to do electrical work i will bill you out at $35 per hour. I'm worth every red cent, becasue I will tell you the things you don't want to hear and what I fix stays fixed. So there's 16 hours at $35 per hour.

Since I'm rounding things for estimation purposes there is $1000 is cleaning and refuse costs. Now the carpet may be good, but i couldn't tell in the light i have. Frankly, it's probably wise to assume it was all trashed based on the overall condition of the house. The house is listed at 1,300 square feet, but it's a split, so really the square footage is really larger. I figure that around 1500 square feet will need new carpet. So, at $1.70 per square foot around $2500 for carpet.

The total is now $3500

Next we go to the kitchen. The cabinets are quite nice, but the cook-top and its base are missing, as they have probably been pawned. A drawer is missing and a cabinet hinge is broken, probably due to abuse. It appears that a line of wall cabinets have been torn down as well. The countertops are also shot and it looks as though someone tried to pull out the double oven but only got the door to the microwave/top section. It looks like they tried to sell everything that would move.

That's fairly typical of repossessions and evictions. A lot of times people who are losing a home trash it or strip it on the way out. One one hand they need the money, because if they had any the bills would have been paid. Secondly, they're usually pissed off and take their anger out on the property. This house shows lots of anger.

If I can get the top section alone, there goes $250. The cooktop is probably another $400, though the carnage does allow me to easily convert it to gas which i prefer for cooking. the countertops are another $500, and the cabinet repair a grand. If I can match the existing cabinets. That's a really big if. Say $2500 in the kitchen, at best. Upstairs the main bathroom has been gutted. No sink. No sink base. No toilet. They even stole the tiles off the floor. The tub is filthy, but it surrounded by tile. Pink tile. As a heterosexual male there is no way I'm redecorating around pink bathroom tiles.

So, we start with $800 for new floor and wall tiles, and another 20 hourse of installation. $1500 there. $200 for a new toilet, $250 for a new sink base, $150 for the sink, $150 for the countertop, and an additional $100 is miscillaneous parts. Ssay $3500 with labor

The total is now $9500.

Now we need new windows, including a big picture window up front.$2700 sounds about right, thought it might get cheaper or more expensive depending on just what needs replaced.. Needs a new double door in back and a new side garage door. With jambs. $1200 more done right.

The total is now $13,400

We need drywall and ceiling patches, about $100 for stuff, and about 20 hours of labor. Let's round that up to a grand. $14,400.

The electric service needs to be upgraded. $500, and I won't count the labor there because that's labor of love.

So, for this house we need $15,000 and we have not yet begun to paint. The previous owners had made some particularly-- ahem-- daring color choices. Only the best paint will do, and only multiple coats will cover. It does not pay to scrimp on paint. The cheap stuff doesn't cover well, is hard to clean and easy to stain. So I figure the house has to be $18K below market value before I can think of breaking even. Understand these are 'fast and dirty' numbers and if I were really serious the calculator would come out.

The realtor says the house 'needs TLC and is priced accordingly'. My take on this is he has priced the house at about $10K below market value for a ready to live in house. He's dreaming. I'm not buying this house for a red cent less than $20 or 25K below market value, because if I've missed anything i could end up in the hole over this, and if i'm going to do the work I intend to be well paid.

On the plus side, the seller is a bank. They know that a house in that condition can't go through conventional financing. There are permit issues before the house can be occupied, that affect financing. They put out that price hoping for a starry eyed idiot. Which I am not.

So, I shall sit back and wait, because every month that house costs them money. And I may make them an offer they won't like, but may not be able to refuse.

Because done right, it might be the right place to grow old in.

I'm now faced with the frightening realization that it is expected of me to be a productive, mature member of society. I have to be a responsible adult, now that I'm wrapping up my education. I'll have to pay for my own food, which now seems absolutely absurd. I will be paying a rent soon, and a mortgage later.

It will be expected of me to marry, and possibly bring children into the world. I'm in the boat that would starve to death if I didn't have someone bringing me food at the end of the day, and I'm supposed to provide for a family!? Like, scoff! I once forgot to shave half of my face after a long weekend, and the next thing I know I'm a bread winner?

From wearing the same pair of pajamas a week straight to owning a home? America is a strange place.

I've looked for some loophole in society that would allow me to stay in someone else's care forever, but the only possibility involves a trial by jury and reffered to by a number.

So, what's an immature, naive, lazy post-adolescent to do?

Wherever you hang your ten gallon hat/touque, that's your home (Part 2 of 5)

A few days ago, I introduced what I called an exercise in serial daylogging. This is the second installment of the series. Please read my writeup at March 13, 2004 before proceeding.

What I miss most about Winnipeg
I was born and raised in and around the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In all, I spent the better part of 27 years living in southern Manitoba before moving to Texas. This is a list of the important (and trivial) things I left behind in Winnipeg, and in Canada as a whole. At least the good things; the crappier things will be covered later.

  • Perogies -- Perhaps an odd item to lead off my list, but hey, a guy has to have his priorities straight! The strong elements of the Polish and {Ukraine|Ukrainian] immigrants who came to the city in the early 20th Century have left an indelible mark in Winnipeg's overall culture. Virtually every non-fast food and non-ethnic restaurant in the city offers perogies on their menu, whether they be American chains like Perkins or the landmark Keleckis Restaurant on Main Street. Safeway offers two-pound (908 gram) bags of frozen perogies in three or four varieties. Cruising local garage sales may even net you a unique prize... Hunky Bill's Perogy Maker! Anyway you have it, perogies are hard to come by in Texas, unless you want to spend three dollars for a tiny microwavable tray of bland, nasty dumplings at Kroger.
  • Summertime festivals -- It's not that Dallas-Fort Worth doesn't have its festivals. It's just that they're not as ambitious as Winnipeg's. Texas summers can verge on the oppressive, pushing most outdoor concerts into the spring and autumn (for example, the State Fair of Texas, held annually in Dallas, is in October). Winnipeg summers are warm and sunny, providing perfect backdrops for events like the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Folklorama, the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Red River Exhibition. Nothing says "summer" to me as much as strolling the Midway at the Ex, eating bagfuls of Those Little Donuts.
  • Labatt 50 -- I miss 50. I miss Molson Dry. I miss Pilsner. I even miss Club (not necessarily the beer itself, but just the concept of it). While much cheaper than their Canadian counterparts, most American beer is simply offensive to the Canadian palate. 'Nuff said.
  • Canadian snack foods -- Perogies, beer and now chocolate bars? Yes, chocolate bars. Many of Canada's favorite junk foods can't be found south of the border: Caramilk (although it has a close cousin in Cadbury's Caramello), Crispy Crunch, Aero, Mackintosh's Toffee, Timbits (Tim Hortons has made some inroads in New England, but has yet to consider Texas), Coffee Crisp, Old Dutch potato chips, etc. Granted, there are new confections to supplant the Canadian treats, but many pale in comparison. Nostalgia has a taste, and that taste is good.
  • The bus system -- With a road system as frustrating and time consuming as Winnipeg's (see the next installment for details), a reliable mass transit system is a must. Winnipeg abandoned its streetcars decades ago, and has yet to have foresight enough to build a light rail system. This means that the burden of moving Winnipeg's commuters falls squarely on the shoulders of Transit Tom -- Winnipeg's fleet of orange passenger buses. The system works well, covering almost the whole city. Bus shelters are plentiful (a necessity when the winds are howling and the temperature's hovering at -29C) and the major arteries are covered by several routes. In comparison, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is serviced by two different transit systems (DART in Dallas and The T in Fort Worth) that have very limited overlap. Several cities in the region have opted out of the area's transit systems, citing lack of money of a desire to keep out undesirables. (Way to be progressive, Arlington!)
  • My friends -- I left this to the end on purpose, and it's not to insinuate that perogies are more important to me than my friends and family. Moving far enough away from home reinforces the kinship you have with your acquaintances. Starting from scratch in a strange city is a daunting task at best. Visits home and visits from home help ease the homesickness, but the best way to cure it is to forge new friendships in your new home. This, for me, is an ongoing process.

The next installment of the series will be very different from, yet similar to, this one... "What I miss least about Winnipeg".

The Daylogs
Part 1: An Introduction -- March 13, 2004
Part 2: What I miss most about Winnipeg -- March 18, 2004

Well, God dammit...

In my previous blatherings, I described how I valiantly laid it all out on the line for my girlfriend, left no question unanswered and left nothing open for confusion. She was pleased, and thanked me for telling her.

I'm pleased to report that after that, things got better. Then it all turned to shit again. At least now she's not planning to date anyone for awhile. Heh.

Apart from my divorce in January, this is the first "breakup" I've ever gone through. Of course, I still live with her, we still have a very good friendship, and things are officially "paused" and not "over" while we both figure out who the fuck we actually are.

She and I have both recently come out of unpleasant relationships; mine was a good amount nastier than hers was, but still, it was hard for her. She's got her own demons to find, beat up, and remove from her life, and I suppose I've got mine.

I have to say, though, that letting go of this relationship even temporarily is pretty damned hard for me. I don't fully understand why sex seems to be such an integral part of an intimate relationship to me, but it is, and I'll miss that part of this one. Everything else we have going in our lives together continues on -- now we just don't do the really fun bit anymore.

Working out my own issues will prove to be a challenge -- I have a lot of self-confidence issues, despite my relative success since moving out here to California for a fresh start. I'm not "on my feet" yet, which I'm sure bothers her a bit, but she's still right there at my side to help me when I stumble and encourage me when I need it. The work load is overwhelming here, but ultimately I'll be able to handle it.

The next few months, while we both work hard on work-related things, try to resolve our own internal (mental/emotional) issues, and get used to each other while she works towards being ready for a relationship again, are going to suck.

It will suck mostly because I know after we both emerge from this period of introspection and self-healing that even when she is ready for a relationship, she may not want it with me. That officially sucks. One of the few things left that keeps me going is the hope that she'll ultimately want to pick things back up with me. The relationship itself is really good -- it's strong, effective, passionate, and loving. In fact that's all still there, and won't be going away. I hope when we're both healed a bit more and are feeling ready for something more long-term that she'll still feel that with me. If she does, it'll be absolutely wonderful for us both.

So, um, how the fuck does one go about fixing one's self-esteem? It turns out my ex-wife did more emotional damage to me than I realized, and there's shit that needs healing and there's other shit that needs to be faced down inside my head, fought, beaten up, and purged.

How the hell does that work?

I found her!!

She was hiding in a small shop in my college's hometown, there is not a big shopping district so I had written off even checking to see if such a shop existed. After several months of searching and the torture endured at David's Bridal I pulled out the phonebook and started go thru the yellow pages. Had a shopping list of stores to visit, but all were disappointing - seems the current style now is strapless, and quite frankly I hate that style makes one look like there's a tortoise shell pulled up around their torso. Plus I'm going to be dancing and enjoying myself I don't want any risk of dress 'malfunction'.

After an afternoon of disappointment and the determination to find her, we entered the last store on the list. All day we had searched and only one place had come close to a decent dress - but it was over-decorated with pearls and everything quite a dress for royalty the lady in the shop even said if I want to look like loyality it's perfect if not I'll look like a pauper in another dress from somewhere else. The dress was heavy for starters, and the final decision was the fact that from the mesh netting on the sleeves I was read and itching - quikly ruled the dress from the running.

At the little dress shop in Kent there was not a very large selection, I didn't get my hopes up when I started sifting through the single rack of dresses. Much to my suprise I was heading back to the dressing room with a handful of dresses and feeling all giggly and excited inside and confident one of these were the one.

The last dress I tried on was an matte satin white simple but elegant dress - it did have a slightly girly bow on the back which I was trying to avoid but it more of a rose with dangling rose buds. The train is detachable by snaps so no need to get a bustle and look like I have a big back-end. It was perfect with several elegent lace cut-outs, embroideries and little pearls elegently randomly placed about the dress. BUT the best finishing touch was the poofy slip that made the dress radiate - I was thrilled. At this point of parading around the store to make sure the walk feels right I signalled my mom that this would most definetly have to have a down payment put on - best of all the dress was being discontinued by the manufacturer so it was half price! After picking out a nice veil, the night was complete!

Now only to finish invitations, decorations, groom and grooms men tuxes, cake, flowers, rings...oh my!! And only 111 days left!

I hate how the room smells like you: Somebody wore your perfume to bed.
You've never been here before, and I've but touched you once since I got here 24 long hours ago.
But I can feel you.
You're ten minutes drive from here; an hour's walk.
A far cry better from the three days drive we live daily.
Three days drive is a long way for a soul to travel.
Ten minutes drive makes it even worse when I can't see you.
I miss you.
With love.

I'm in Minneapolis, from about 1315h yesterday afternoon, as my Boeing 737's rubbers screeched and thudded to the runway. I got picked up by my girlfriend's roommate, who I met for the first time 20 minutes after landing. I don't even remember walking through MSP. The last thing I remember was either the peanuts on the previous leg, which unsettled me, or the walk across Denver. We went to her dorms, and I got to see Amber briefly. And met her best friend. And her dorm room. The dorm room was probably the least socially awkward of the lot of them!

Her roommate, the Foreign Exchange Student friend, and I went to the Mall and ate Chinese. After the mall they dropped me off at my hotel room. I left my Moby CD with them, which I now regret, because I miss him. I watched TV, and lazied. I went to bed a midnight, and fought my demons. Woken at 0900 by the tenacious maid. Forgot the DND. Slept until 1200. Since then, done nothing. Possibly meeting the roommate later. Possibly seeing Amber late.


Halfway across the country for possibly.

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