Archive for November, 2009

The Rest of Break

The last couple nights of the break were a blast and really freaking surreal.  Basically, the class of 2005 had an impromptu reunion in downtown Harrisonburg.  All the JMU students were gone so the townies felt like it was safe to come out of our respective holes.  Anyway, before the reunion there was Staunton and that’s where we will begin.

Emily, Kate, Danny, Rachel and I went down to Staunton to this nice restaurant called “Mockingbird.”  First, Staunton is a pretty cool place.  I like the fact that its small and I respect the feel of the town.  La Plata is small, but there’s no real character to the place; it’s commuterville.  Staunton has always had Blackfriars, one of the best Shakespeare theaters on the east coast and it also has an old-town look to it, which I think has attracted a cool group of people and given birth to some cultural life downtown.  At Mockingbird I tried raw oysters for the first time.  I liked the first one I ate but slowly lost interest.  By the 6th oyster I was done and had firmly decided I liked them, but not that much.  I had a Virginian beer and then we ordered a bottle of wine, both really tasty.

Afterward we went back up to Harrisonburg and met up with a couple people at Daves.  Coincidentally there was also another table of old high school friends and our waiter was a guy who graduated with us.  Then throughout the next 2 hours a steady stream of ’04 and ’05 Harrisonburg High graduates streamed in and out of Dave’s Taverna.  It was ridiculous.  At first I was excited to see old friends.  But quickly the scene changed from “old friends” to “Oh, it’s that guy.”  If you were there that night and are worrying “oh no! Maybe the awesomest person in the world, aka Cole Simmons, doesn’t like me?!”  Yea, I know that would suck and unfortunately it’s a question you may never have answered.  But don’t feel to bad.  You can be confident that I had a good time in spite of you!  (to be honest, I had a great time and no one was truly unbearable.)

The last night of break Carla Meyerhoeffer held a casino themed birthday party at her family’s amazing new house.  I was under-dressed, many people were, and ND blew the game against Stanford but other than that I had a great time.  I just played poker the whole night at the end of which everyone bid on some chintzy prizes.  I won a sweet pencil holder and an airplane bottle of vodka.  I also forgot both of them at the house, oh well.  The most notable aspect of the party were these two really drunk guys.  At first I thought they were really gay, and they truly may be.  There started out hilarious, yet eventually became annoying and stupid.  It turned out they were college republicans from URichmond.  That led me to think that they weren’t gay just preppy and effeminate.  Who knows, but I think Geoff was about to punch one in the face.  That would’ve been awesome.

That’s about all I got from the break.  Well, there’s plenty more, but it’s less interesting.  Basically I spent the entirety of break spending time with friends, which was good.


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Break So Far

Let me begin by saying my Thanksgiving was wonderful and I hope yours was too.  I spent all day with the family.  This entire break has been really nice because I’ve spent quality time with both my family and friends.  Most breaks I spend little time with my family and its relaxing to actually spend time at home.  Sorry I haven’t written in the past two days, it’s not that I’m overly busy but I don’t really have a space to write here in Harrisonburg.  So let me give you an update about what I’ve done so far.

Wednesday I sort of just hung out at the house all day, then in the evening Kate and I took Ms. Stieber a basket of chocolate, peanuts and tea.  I was really only expecting to pop in and say hi and hoping to avoid a depressing situation.  Mission failed.  It was really difficult for me to be in the house and Ms. Stieber wanted to talk about Bob, which I understand but still wasn’t prepared to see pictures of him and deal with those memories.  All this was Kate’s idea and I blame her, only kidding.  I felt bad for Kate; she was really upset and you could tell she was thinking, “wonderful, I’ve made everyone sad.”  But I’m glad we went over to the house; I had to go over and say hello at some point.

After that we went to Dave’s to grab a beer.  It was Emily’s 23rd birthday so a bunch of people ended up coming out to Dave’s which turned out to be a lot of fun.  Late in the night I decided to pick a fight with Rachel.  I currently think that inertia isn’t real and therefore gravity is a myth.  I decided to announce this to her and soak in the response.  Naturally, she thought I was ridiculous and that is probably correct.  And man, I chose the wrong time to run my mouth about inertia and gravity because coincidentally Eli’s older brother was at the bar with a different group of people (he’s in graduate school for physics) and happened to be over near our table.  Rachel called him over and, I don’t really remember how this happened, I ended up trying to convince him that inertia wasn’t real but (surprise!) he wasn’t having it.  Oh well, I had fun.

Well, that’s all I’ve got time to write at the moment.  I’m going to go hang out with the fam for a little.

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Figured it out

I think I figured out what I was missing, but I’ll have to write about it tomorrow.

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Adored or Left Alone

What a weekend!  Wow, just packed full of fun and excitement.  I’m still catching my breath. I won’t even mention Friday night, but that’s because nothing happened Friday night.  Saturday I spent all day at Boarders READING A BOOK.  boom baby! I’m insane.  Sorry Jake I couldn’t find the opium eaters book, and to Pat and Paul I didn’t get your messages until Sunday.  (btw, I think I had a dream where I talked to you on the phone Pat… I think it’s because I got your text message like a week ago and I’ve been meaning to call you.)

Anyway, I gave a great deal of thought Sunday about solitude and that Disraeli quote.  I fell in love with Disraeli this summer while reading a biography about him.  But I can’t quote Disraeli exactly because I lost the book somewhere in Texas.  So the quote went something like, “I either need to be left alone, or constantly adored.”  I don’t know if I feel exactly the same way but I those words do ring true for me.  When it comes to my happiness I must always be doing something towards an end.  Not like every minute of every day, but if I were to go a week only socializing or just doing my job and relaxing in my free time I would fall into despair.  I need to be taking care of preserving my personal mobility financially and preparing myself to move on and pursue my ambitions.

To remain happy, to keep my optimism and confidence I cannot be exposed to a social life without someone to help keep me focused on keeping my affairs ordered and also to rein me in and encourage me to work so that I can pursue my goals.  Without a girl like that I give myself over to my social life at the expense of my academic life.  Essentially, it’s not constant adoration I need; I want someone who pushes me onto better things because they believe in me.  If that’s not possible I ought to be in the situation I’m in now because it has proven extremely beneficial both to my financial affairs but also to my academic interests.  Essentially I get down on myself when I feel like I’m wasting time and losing/wasting my ability to think well and act productively.  My current solitary state has allowed me to keep sharp, not get fat, and prepare for my future in a number of ways, both financially and academically.

Excessive socializing, especially when it’s based around alcohol, lays me quite low.  My current lack of social life is difficult because I’m naturally a social person but it has allowed me think clearly and do what is necessary to avoid becoming trapped by a frivolous lifestyle, which would plunge me into despair.  I guess I’m naturally good at things that having a social life entails.  I like talking with people and spending time with friends but I’ll tend towards an excessive social life if I don’t have someone to keep me stable.  Don’t get me wrong, I never plan on being some recluse academic who solely devotes his life to bookish pursuits.  I always want a social life, but I want a healthy one.  When I think of an unhealthy social life I look back to Freshman or Sophomore year at St. John’s.  I liked those years but was always exhausted.  I worked hard and got decent grades, but all the work I did was hampered or weakened by how foolish I was socially.  I need to sleep and always chasing after girls will leaves me utterly distracted.

Anyway, I guess I’m happy with my current situation because of what I’ve proven to myself – I can do this alone.  But I want a social life so bad, and I know I’m less inclined to give consideration to living well in that scenario because I’ll constantly give myself over to distraction.  So I either need to be left alone to work things out or I need to be with someone who believes in me, which will encourage me to put aside distraction and think well.

Lastly, I feel like this is an inadequate explanation.  I definitely feel that Disraeli’s maxim is true for me and have tried to explain why, but I can tell I’m missing something…

For a more satisfying explanation see: Disraeli

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It’s Friday! Why is My Life So Boring? At least I have a New Friend. on facebook.

Today we are headed to the Baltimore Aquarium.  So I’ll be gone most of the day and I think I’ll be here in La Plata for the weekend.  I don’t really know what I’ll do.  Actually, my plan for tomorrow is to go to Borders, pick out a book and read it.  This actually has me kind of excited.  I followed the same Saturday plan a couple weeks back and have been looking forward to doing it again ever since.  Any suggestions about what book I should read?

The good news is that my Thanksgiving break starts Tuesday night.  I’m pretty excited about going back to Harrisonburg and hanging out with everyone again.  I think it’s been almost a month since I’ve seen them.  I’m also going to try and bring my desk up to La Plata.  Right now the place I live is really only suited for watching television.  There are plenty of couches and chairs throughout the house, but the only suitable reading light is in my room or at the dining room table.  I look forward to giving myself a proper work space, with a decent chair.

Lastly, because I obviously have nothing shocking to say this morning I think I’m going to throw in this to sweeten the deal: I’m now friends with Mark Bertrand on Facebook.  He’s the guy whose blog I diligently follow and whose life I watch.  If you’ll remember I wrote a blog post about this guy a month or so ago. Well now we’re friends on Facebook, which probably means he’ll want to have me over for dinner next week.  He probably wants to ask me to be his real life friend.  Geez, what a stalker.

So concludes another week.  Thanks for reading,

Cole Simmons

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brb, I’m going to rule over europe for a couple years


Pick Me! Pick Me!

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The past week or so I started playing chess with Andrew and then Michael after school.  Tom had the idea that after their next algebra test I take a break from algebra and do a chess unit instead.  I’ve been spending the past couple of days planning the unit and I am so freaking excited.  I get to teach chess!  I’ve been studying different openings again and reading about all my favorite players.  I figure I’ll teach openings and as I teach those I’ll talk to the kids about the different personalities who made the openings they’re learning popular.  Of course I’ll teach them about Fischer and Josh Waitzkin (you know, the kid from “Searching for Bobby Fischer.”)  I also will teach them about Staunton, Alekhine, Spassky and Tigran Petrosian.  I guess I should also teach them about Kasparov.  Two days ago I gave them to Michael and Andrew while we played after school and man they were pumped.  We’ve been recording the games we play after school  I really thought they were going to hate taking notation but they seem to be all about it.  I’m not sure why, but I’m happy they like it.

We’re also going to the Baltimore Aquarium tomorrow, which I’m really excited about.  I haven’t been there since middle school.  Tom has also decided that we’re going to DC in December to listen to Handel’s Messiah at the Kennedy Center.

The past couple of weeks have really changed my opinion of the school and helped to further my understanding of what makes Tom tick.  Tom is a guy whose life is all about molding young people into mature adults.  Obviously we disagree about seminar and religion at times, but I could never doubt his desire to see these kids gain the ability to live well.  He’s obviously done a good job with his sons, who both appear to me quite intelligent and balanced guys.  And as far as the school goes, I definitely think its perfect for most of the kids.  Well, for all of the kids. 

And while I’m enjoying my job much more because I’ve begun to see a greater significance in the work, I still don’t think I want to be a high school teacher.  What’s really happened in the past couple of weeks is that I’ve begun to understand the kids better.  Earlier in the year they were a group of little brats who came to learn on some days but mostly were annoying little idiots.  But I’ve begun to perceive what makes them act the way they do, and what’s even more important I’ve caught a glimpse of their desire for something more than they currently have.  I wasn’t really able to invest myself in the kids because I didn’t see in them any longing for a higher life.  I’m beginning to see that ambition, while also coming to see that there are personal doubts and social realities that stand in their way.  So now I feel compelled to help them overcome those obstacles and seek out a higher existence.

Unfortunately I just wont be satisfied doing this for long, because I’m not following my own desire for something more.  If I were to devote all my time to making them chase after better things, I would feel like I’m living vicariously through them having given up the chase myself.  I think once I’ve satisfied myself I might be more willing to teach, but not right now; not from the outset.  I’ve got so much more I want to read and think about, and that needs time to occur.

As I sit here writing this michael is literally studying his chess notes from yesterday in the other room.  I know this because he came in announced, “I know how you always open, you always play your pawn to eh when you’re white and g6 when you’re black!”  What a nut.  We’ve played like 4 games and he thinks he knows proper chess strategy.  At least he’s passionate about something for once.

Andrew is always the one to scream “no! not chess!”  But at the same time he’s always the first person to bring up the topic and he always sits down to play.  He’s so terrified of liking the ‘nerdy’ things.  But man, he’s in a school of five kids, what the hell does your ‘reputation’ matter?

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