среда, 7 сентября 2011 г.

Higher Learning

New project of Tavi Gevinson Rookiemag  is a magazine for teenage girls with plenty of nice reading, which kept even me in front of my laptop till 2 am yesterday. Some things never leave you after all, such as insecurity, loneliness, sadness, weird thoughts, they're just   wearing out and appear to be not so sharp as at 18. One of the coolest features is Higher Learning, a collection of high school stories by famous guys including Dan Savage, Zooey Deschanel, Patton Oswalt, Jack Black etc.

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Zooey Deschanel

If only high school were as simple as a teen movie. I would have loved to have been as single-minded as your typical teen heroine (must get in with the popular crowd, must get floppy-haired dude to take me to prom, etc.), but as a teenager I had a lot on my mind. For instance, infinity. How was I supposed to think about prom when I spent so much time thinking about the concept of infinity? Prom was OK, but infinity was interesting and terrifying. This made it a lot harder to think about the dudes with floppy hair.

I often liken my high school experience to the opening scene in Stardust Memories, where Woody Allen is sitting on an unmoving train with a lot of really miserable-looking people, when out the window he sees an identical train, only on this train, as I remember it, everyone is happy and attractive, and there is a young Sharon Stone wearing a feather boa, and there are men in sailor suits popping bottles of pink champagne. He can no longer accept his sad train existence now that he has seen the happy train, and he tries in vain to escape. The difference between Woody Allen and me was, I kind of liked my sad train. I saw that there was another version of high school that was being peddled by the media but I could never connect with it.

Of course, I went to an artsy sort of school, so things were a little bit different. It wasn’t unusual to find a young gentleman wrapped in a piece of duvetyne theater curtain secured with safety pins into a makeshift toga. And no big deal guys, but we had Guys Wear a Dress to School Day. But even surrounded by all these unicorns, I felt like the unicorniest. I just did not fit in.

One day my history teacher asked our class, “Do you guys think about infinity?” Most of my classmates gave him the you’re totally lame blank stare, but my mind started racing. “How does he know?!” I wondered. He said, “I used to think about infinity, and then I stopped.” He chuckled to himself. For me, this moment mapped a strange intersection of emotions: whereas I now knew I wasn’t alone, the people I wanted to connect with, my peers, seemed even farther away. I guess it was then that I realized I wasn’t required to LOVE high school, like the movies demanded; I didn’t have to want to go to prom and homecoming or be the center of the social world—I just had to make high school a place where I could get better at the things I wanted to do. And that’s exactly what I did.

Jack Black

I was running with a pretty rough crowd in 1984. It was a gang of kids from the tough part of the neighborhood. We’d listen to heavy metal and watch The Exorcist. We’d wear jeans and flannel shirts. We’d BMX and skateboard around town.

Things got pretty hairy. I wanted desperately to belong to something cool, and fitting in with these guys was everything to me. I stole some money from my mom. I got caught and confessed all my badassery to my parents. I felt like I needed a fresh start, and my folks agreed. They decided to send me to a school for troubled youths. It was called Poseidon.

It was a very small school in West L.A. that featured a student psychologist named Roger. In addition to being a kick-ass therapist he was also a big bodybuilder who could defend himself and break up fights in the yard if necessary.

I was not required to have sessions with Roger. But I saw the other kids going into his office, and I was curious. I wanted to tell him my story and see if I needed counseling. So I signed up for a session and went into his office the next day. I spilled my guts about stealing from my mother and cried my eyes out. It was an intense catharsis. All the guilt and stress I’d been holding on to for years just melted away.

I continued seeing Roger, but never had that kind of mind-blowing release again.

The rest of my ninth grade was mainly focused on animation drawings and improv classes with my incredible theater teacher Deb. Deb was inspiring. She encouraged me to get involved in all aspects of theater. She insisted that writing and directing were far more interesting endeavors than simply acting.

I was also obsessed with two students named Collin and Gary. Collin loved Mick Jagger and Gary loved Michael Jackson. They would do impersonations all day and argue about who was better. One time it came to blows and I tried to jump in to defend Collin, who was getting his ass kicked. I punched Gary in the side of the head, and he just stopped and looked at me with confusion in his eyes. I had never done anything like that before. Or since.

I started reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I drank it up like a delicious nectar. It is the story of the young Buddha’s journey. Reading that book marked the beginning of a spiritual journey that lasted for years.

But that is another story.

Good luck in high school. Being a person is hard.


Lesley Arfin

Dear Kid in High School,

Not that you really give a shit what I have to say, cuz kids in high school love not giving a shit, but I also know that you actually give a huge steaming pile of shit, so shut up your face and listen.

You’re allowed to care about stuff. That’s the first thing. Even if you think it’s stupid or weird, like polka music or “being obsessed with mimes.” One day you will look back not at all the things that made you cool enough to fit in, but the things that didn’t. And you will love them.

The second thing is write everything down. Even if you don’t like writing, just write about every obsession, story, hatred, happiness—whatever. And save it. All of it. I say this because when you’re an adult, you will get drunk with your friends one night and read your diary out loud to them.

It will be the funniest night of your life.

When teachers say, “This is the best time of your life,” they are wrong. They are only saying that because they’re teachers and they have to look at your weird faces every day. There is no “best time of your life,” but rather perfect moments, like when someone’s gum falls out of their mouth while they’re telling a story, or when a jerk is walking toward you and accidentally gets hit in the head with a soccer ball. Make sure to store these moments in a safe place in your brain. They will be useful to you in the future, I promise.

But also, quit bitching about being in high school. At least your mom still makes you dinner at night, and that rules.

I’m not gonna say don’t do drugs because that’s ridiculous, just don’t take anything that is known as an “epidemic” (crystal meth, Oxycontin). When they tell you in health that they’re addictive, they’re not “just trying to scare you into being a normie,” and it’s not all “government propaganda.”

Stick with pot, acid and booze and you will have way better memories. When you do acid or shrooms and you think you might be having a bad trip, get a piece of candy and hold your friend’s hand and it will go away. Try not talking for a while, too. If it’s still bad, well, whatever, it will be over in 14 hours.

If you want to stay out all night, say you’re sleeping at a friend’s house.
If you come home super early and your mom says, “Why are you home so early?” you say, “I got homesick and I missed you.” She will then make you eggs and you can watch TV.

If you don’t want to change for gym a good trick is putting sweatpants on over your jeans. If you don’t want to go swimming say you have your period. If you want to go home early or get out of a class, give the nurse a general “my stomach hurts.” If she asks you, “How does it hurt?” you say, “It’s just pain.” There’s no cure for that.

You might feel at times that you are ugly and disgusting and unlovable. Some of you might feel as though you are beautiful and hot and cool and awesome. Know this: When you’re in your 20s you go through, like, a time machine of opposite days. What I mean is, everyone who thinks they are hot shit in high school eventually turns into cold diarrhea by their 30s. And all you ugly nerds will eventually start to sparkle like geodes. If you don’t believe me you can ask Facebook.

Hmm, what else what else? Some things I regret: not learning an instrument (I gave up playing the sax, wish I hadn’t), not learning a foreign language (got kicked out of Spanish), not taking more acid (was afraid of bad trips but regret now due to lack of funny stories).

I don’t know what else. You guys are gonna do whatever you’re gonna do, fuck that up, do it again, and so it goes.

You all probably know just what you’re doing anyway and don’t need any advice at all, isn’t that right, you little smartass?

I’ll be watching you. I am the eyes and ears of this institution.

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