It's the end of the world as I know it because today I received my rejection letter from Queen's.

I have been planning my entire life to go there. When I visited in February, I loved everything about the place: the people, the campus, the residence. Every single thing. I knew I shouldn't have been setting my heights so high because the simple fact that they only accept about 180'something out of the thousands that apply each year to the business program. I knew that statistically the chances were slim, but I always told myself I could get in. I have the marks and I wrote as well as I could on my personal information form, but that wasn't enough. It's an incredibly horrible feeling to know that I worked as hard as I could over the past 3 or so years only to fail. I ignored my friends far too often, stopped working to focus on school and now I have absolutely nothing to show for it.

My world has been shattered and now I'm going to be settling for second best, something I know I will never be able to deal with. I have always been the best at every single thing I have ever done at school since about grade 5. Now I failed, at the time when it mattered most.

I never thought it would be quite like this, I'd Be Happier if I Was More Depressed.

The seconds of each and every hour
are slowly falling through time
marked by the regular drips
falling from a tap
that cries to itself
in the darkness
of early morning
rather like I do
when left alone
to think.
At breakfast
the grains of sand
in this egg timer
falling into the space
of the hollow glass sphere
always remind me of you.
The sand is still running
and we are still young enough
To have hope in our future

Seven years ago today, my son was born.

My wife and I had discussed with the doctor ahead of time that I was going to cut the umbilical cord. It was only fitting that I was involved in the start of the whole process that I should be involved in the end.

Not wanting to waste an opportunity to say something memorable at that moment, I racked my brain for a few weeks ahead of the event looking for something to say. I came up with "You're on your own now". I'm cutting the cord, breaking the physical bond between mother and son. You know, "on his own" breathing, blood supply, etc. Witty, Terse. I was sure to have the labor room in hysterics.

There we were. Labor was intense. Birth was incredible. We made a little person. I remember him, all of 10 seconds old, lying on his mother's belly. The doctor pressed a pair of scissors in my hand so that I could cut the umbilical cord. I readied my cheesy words. One quick snip with the scissors and it was done. My son was about to hear me clean and clear for the first time. These would be the words that would chart the rest of his life...

"I love you."

The story starts about a year ago, around noon one day. I probably had a class to be at, but what did I care? I was at college for the adventure... for the experience.

I wake up to a joint being passed under my nose by my roommate. Not really a bad way to greet the day. I stretch and anticipate the upcoming cruise.

Lo...what's this? There is no ordinary cruise planned for today?

No. We are going on a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage of biblical Wellesley!

Rubbing the grit from my eyes, I get out of bed and take care of what needs to be taken care of. On returning to the room, I see that the appropriate parties had already been contacted and we are ready to go.

In the few minutes it took us to get to my roommate's SUV, he managed to lose our starter joint. Or so he thought... for after a half hour of frantic searching of the entire area between our room and his car, he suddenly reaches into the hood of his sweatshirt and pulls it out.

Oh here it is. Let's go.

So we drive.

Several hours and half an eighth later, we see a sign... Welcome to Wesleyan University! it proclaims.

Excellent! Here we are!

Wait a minute...

Heh. This isn't Wellesley.

Heads are shaken all around.

Best make the most of it we decide, and begin to walk around campus. After a little searching, we happen upon an art museum and head on in.

A few hours roll by, and we start to come over a bit peckish. A plan is formed to infiltrate the dining hall under the guise of high school seniors visiting the school.

After locating the dining hall and scouting around to find the best way in with the least chance of being stopped, we determined that there was, in fact, no food being served. Shaken, we wander out into town.

There is some kind of massive road construction project going on. We climb around dozers, rippers, chunkers, crackers, layers, smoothers... god knows what else, until finally we see some sort of sandwich shop off in the distance. We head straight for it and pick up some nice sandwiches and drinks.

We're finished with our food and we begin the drive back.

So I've never been to Wellesley...but Wesleyan isn't so bad.

The souks of Aleppo are blissfully cool. Narrow streets, under high stone vaults, opening onto fourteeth and fifteenth century khans through giant, nail studded iron doors. The ceilings flutter with writing, on red, green, pink white plastic like Tibetan prayer flags, but I don't know if these were religious, political, or 'sale! sale! sale! everything must go!' messages rustling in the breezes coming through the open windows at the hihest points in the domes.

I wandered for hours, back and forth, sniffing the cardomen and the rose water, and the sandalwood which drifted through the air from the tiny shops that line the souk's streets. That beat the place where I'd started: I entered the covered part of the souks by the meat market, and came face to face with a shelf of sheep's heads, grinning evilly. Glistening dark kidneys dangled from hooks behind, among ribs and innards. I took the first turning out of there, heading into the maze that runs from the old city walls to the citadel on top of a huge mound on the eastern side of the city.

The citadel dominates the entire city, with huge defensive walls on top of a steep stone-clad glacis. Inside, the way goes left, right, and around, with every doorway guarded by stone lions, and grills above your head, through which boiling oil could be poured onto less welcome visitors than the tourists who shell out 300 syrian pounds for a green and white ticket to wander. Once inside, the citadel opens up, to a bright white tumble of walls and towers and a pair of mosques. At the very top is the throne room, restored to its old glory with massively intricate painted, carved wood ceilings and walls, and a small fountain babbling away in the centre of the marble-tiled patterned floor. It's cool and dark and peaceful there, though watched over by the inevitable double portraits of the old and young Assads.

Every time I sit down to admire the view, or drink of cup of tea, I gain company. In Aleppo the offers are to 'visit my shop, see my antiques, my carpets, my silver'. In Palmyra it was 'see my garden, drink tea, eat dinner, just you and me' or, 'ride a camel?' In Damascus, it's 'have tea, have a chat about the time I was in London.' In Deir ez Zur, it was 'hello! what is your name? FUCK YOU FUCK YOU TOURIST'

I spent an hour sitting with one of the most charming kids on the planet. Thirteen years old. He'll make a killer business man one day. He's more than halfway there now. He's being coached in English, and sales, by his nine uncles. ('Don't be pushy. This is an English lady. Polite. Say please and thank you and excuse me. No rushing. Germans, then you can be a little pushy. No, no, too quick on the price. Wait, talk a little.') I met seven of the uncles - all have the same scrunched up eyes when they smile, the same English accent, and the same taste in puns. The youngun coached me on proper dealing in the souk, warning me off the commission agents, explaining how it worked, warned me of the very new antiques, walked me through the souk, telling me not to answer when people call out 'where you from' because otherwise, in minutes, everyone will be claiming their cousin went to England, pointing the prettiest way through to the citadel.

Tomorrow evening I will head to Raqqa, to visit Resefah as early as possible the next morning before the heat settles in, if, of course, I can get transport (not an easy task on a friday). There's no point trying to get out there to see it tomorrow, the taxi men will all be enjoying their holiday.

I'm enjoying mine...
Stuff not to during the exam that you're dreading the most: Sleep

This is a little out of date (as this happened to me yesterday), but so is everything I'm writing here today, as I haven't noded in quite a while (I've been busy, as you will soon see...). I turn up to this exam 1h15 in, of a 2hr exam. This was my worst possible nightmare. My exam paper may now not get accepted by the exam board. I may have to retake. This is causing me much stress. And of all the messed up crap that has happened with this, the university also call my parents trying to find me when I don't turn up for tht beginning of the exam. Given that neither parent will get this message for another ~9 hours, this was kinda pointless, and simply causing of much stress, as my parents spoke to one of my housemates, and the last words I'd said to him were "I'll be back in a couple of days" (jokingly referring to the amount of time I've spent with my new gf over the last week). They panicced, and this is just not good.....

Oh, that's the other vitally important thing in my life. I have a girlfriend. For the first time in, well depends how you count, but ignoring stupid shit involving deranged housemates and so on, a bit over 2 1/2 years. That's a long time for a 21 year old bloke. Who is still a virgin, mostly because I realised that I couldn't cope with the breakneck pace that this current relationship was going. She agreed, we're still having lots of fun, my purity score has dropped a fair few points in the last week and a half, but slowing down on everything, not proceeding with some things until we're ready. This weekend should be interesting, as we've both got a ~7 day gap between exams, and so we're having some R&R. Original plans was "don't get out of bed", but I don't know what we're going to do now. Possibly just relax with one another, simply spend time rather than doing anything else.

This has all been very intense, my senses haven't quite been able to cope with the level of sensation here. Delay, slow down, relax. There's plenty of time

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