A little bit of what everyone’s talking about

I’m finding myself feeling so depressed, and I can’t really pinpoint what it is that is bothering me the most. Several things are pushing for attention in my head, leaving me little energy for my Senior Exit Project and Presentation, my friends, exercising, reading, anything.

First and foremost, college. Like every other kiddo in America, I am anxiously awaiting acceptance letters from the slower colleges, as well as financial offers from all. Unlike some of these kiddos, however, I have the burden of paying for colleges that range in price from $32 000 to $37 000 all by myself. Because I am a tax deduction on my parents’ tax returns, I am their “dependent” (logical, right?) and had to use their income for my FAFSA. This left me with an Expected Family Contribution larger than my tuitions. The problem is in the fact that my parents are paying nothing. I’ll repeat that for those with trouble comprehending what they read on the first go-’round. I get nothing. So I’m planning and scheming on ways to get loans that don’t require co-signing by a parent if you have no credit, or loans based on financial need where I can apply in my name rather than my parents. Worse case scenario: I want to go to my top school (if I get accepted into Carleton), but they don’t offer me money and can’t be pleaded to do so. That means a loan for the full $33 000 for four years. Best case: Carleton or WPI offer me a full ride; I don’t have my hopes up for this one. Average case: I take my $15 000 scholarship to Rose-Hulman and get a loan for the remaining $17 000 for four years. I’m doing my damndest to not let the money affect which college I go to–it should be the education that matters, ya know? I’m willing (albeit with gritting of the teeth) to get a loan to Carleton if (after a visit), I feel they can meet my educational needs better than Rose-Hulman. But damn. $33 000 for four years?! And that’s not counting interest on whatever shitty, high interest, unsubsidized loan I get with my lack of credit. I find myself saying shit like, “I have plenty of good music. I won’t need to buy any for the next six, seven, eight years, or however long it takes me to pay it all back.” Or “There are plenty of good libraries around colleges. I can avoid buying a single non-textbook for four years,” or even “I hope like hell I don’t get anything worse than the flu for the next four years…” Yeah.

Another issue that’s been on my mind a lot lately involves an acquaintance of mine that has sort of come up missing. David, a senior at Harding, is a great and funny guy that never let on the troubles he was having at home, was always silly and happy-go-lucky, although just about everyone knew that he was a foster kid that floated from home to home. He was just a cool guy. Back in December, he was supposed to have moved into his own apartment, etc., but there seemed to be a few problems. He missed a lot of school during his high school years, and by December, our teachers were more surprised when he was in class than when he was out. He came back after Christmas break for a few days, but hasn’t been back to school since early January. At this point he would fail on the issue of absences alone. I asked a mutual acquaintance if she had heard from him, or about him, and got an unusually flippant response from her: “I don’t know, maybe he just gave up on graduating, ya know?” While I don’t think he’s missing, like, let’s put his mug shot on a milk carton, he is missing from Harding completely and no one seems to know where he disappeared to. That scares me, and I find myself thinking of him a lot.

Another issue is the war, of course. Folks here in Charlotte, North Carolina are taking one of two stances: because Charlotte has a high density of nuclear reactors, is a transportation hub, and is the second largest banking center after Manhattan, we are a potential target and everyone should be careful to stay out of the Bank of America building for a while. The other view: Charlotte is just a pissant, podunk town and we have very little to worry about; the terrorists/enemy will go for larger, more dense cities. No one talked about the war much at school. Everybody seemed as though life was normal, and treated it as such. If I asked a question, I was given quick, flippant, rehearsed answers and talk moved to other topics, like the dinner party on Saturday, or the latest developments in Diablo II characters. The mood wasn’t particularly somber, but I felt it weighing on my head and shoulders. My school is a very short distance from the Charlotte-Douglas Airport, and is not far from downtown Charlotte, meaning that if someone did strike Charlotte, students at Harding would have a… unique vantage point. People are still arguing about whether we should be in war or not, and I feel like laughing at them a little. That subject is kinda academic at this point, isn’t it? Of course, with G-Dub the Shrub’s attitude, it always has been. I still haven’t pushed myself off the fence on the matter of the war, however. I can see and understand the arguments from both sides (the reasoned ones, that is), and find myself unable to pick a side. But I don’t need to. My opinion on this issue matters to no one but myself, and I have never had a problem with not picking a side, like some people feel they must. It’s enough for me to have considered the issue and it’s aspects and potential consequences without having to put my foot down and preach that this way or that way is the right way to think and feel. But I’ll argue any side of the argument anytime you like (and there are more than two sides to this). I am frustrated, however, with the sensationalism of the media and the fact that only the most liberal of liberals or the most conservative of conservatives seem to be making much noise. I wonder if people understand how little the shit on CNN matters. Those reporters are not going to be with the units carrying out the most crucial and decisive battles. That’s not to belittle the efforts of any troops involved in the war, of course, but they aren’t going to stick a loudmouthed civilian who’s saying shit like “Wow, that second bomb launched exploded just a little ways south of here” in a crucial operation. They give away too much information. If we are sitting and translating the Al Jazeera news on a minute-by-minute basis, don’t you think Saddam is doing the same for our news?! Why the hell wouldn’t he be? We aren’t fighting bushmen in Africa; these guys have ways to do something as simple as watch our television stations, I’m sure. But the people that are making the most noise about the war are either the anti-war pacifists that feel that war should never be fought, under any circumstances, or the ultra-conservatives that feel that we must turn Iraq into a field of glass, and damn the civilians. I know there are moderate opinions (some for, some against, but still moderate); I hear them from teachers and some students at school, and on certain blogs I read. But they don’t seem to be speaking up on the air waves much, and when they do, they are quickly overshadowed by the raving lunatics on the extreme ends of the political spectrum. It’s all sensationalism–what gets the best ratings and what inspires the most passion (whether in agreement or otherwise).

And there are the “smaller” things that are bothering me, like the fact that I am distancing myself from people again, that I’m planning on leaving this house in about four or five months and never coming back and must deal with my mother’s reaction to that, that I may not have enough money for the three trips I want to take to visit colleges, that I’m not going to have enough money to buy a bicycle at the end of the school year, etc. And life goes on.