On travel, Christmas, and people.

Hello, Poppers. That’s what I’m going to call you if you visit here. You can think up something else if you want.

I was fortunate enough to have places to go for both Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner this year. It was the first year in a long time when I was able to relax and enjoy a holiday outside of my friend Charles’ place in Idaho. But the Bay Area is starting to feel like home to me. Everyone here is such a weird mixup of everything humanity has to offer – so many travellers, of the world and of the US, and so many different viewpoints and strategies to share. I think you can come to the Bay Area with a closed mind, but the Bay Area will pry that mind open over time with raw strangeness and vigorous beauty and intrigue. Radical acceptance is required here unless you get in with a community that doesn’t like diversity.

Travel has been seriously important for me. I have lived in 8 states, one as short as 2 months, most for more than a year. I left Oregon after two months because it felt very familiar to me and I wanted to stay outside of my comfort zone. Albuquerque was the hardest to adjust to, and it changed me in many ways. It was so harsh and violent and gritty there that it taught me what real problems are like. Even the dust there is oppressive; I coughed and hacked for two years before I finally acquired Albuquerque in my veins. I might be on edge sometimes as a result of that experience, but I am also calmer in dangerous situations.

Not much life will throw at me compares to the time a meth-head person walked into my house while apologizing for the damage he was about to do to us; my friend (a health care person, salt of the earth, ex-military) happened to have a huge, ridiculous, silver, ivory-handled revolver at hand.

 
it looked like this, but with less filigree and more caliber.
 

He forced the guy out, kicked him instead of shooting him when yon drug-addicted person didn’t seem to get the message – the most striking thing to me (I can play it back in my head in slow-mo like most dramatic events in my life) was that the dude kept coming even when the revolver was pointed straight at his head. The guy definitely walked into the wrong house, but that mistake probably saved all three of us a whole lot of trouble and/or injury and/or death. And my TV. The guy was in front of my TV, the spray pattern would’ve gotten all over it.

Go Navy. Thanks for not shooting, Regan! I got a lot of Guitar Hero out of that TV.

I was surrounded by amazing people for two solid days, and I don’t think I want to miss doing that again. So I’m sold on holiday parties. It’s just I never felt like I had a lot of people to care about before now, particularly not all in one physical place. I got a lot of hugs in the past two days.

But that’s not even the start. I had a tuition bill from this summer I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay. A friend of mine, a pillar of support, Andy, donated two thousand dollars to my campaign on gofundme.org. Just to start things off. Then a new Stanford friend, Michael, donated two hundred and fifty. Then another, Steve, who participated in serious nerdiness with Andy and I at Pocatello High School, contributed five hundred dollars. For me as a student, these numbers are the kind of money I make in eight, one, and two months, respectively. I do not get money of my own. It all goes in my stomach or to stuff for school or medication or therapy.

It didn’t stop there, though. Along with these huge amounts of money came a bunch of money funneling in from Googlers. +Andreas Schou is a big name on Google+, and that happens to be my friend Andy, and he personally and textually approached Googlers, whose paycheck in my experience generally matches the size of their hearts, who then contributed a ton of money. Old Community College compatriots like Heather chipped in, new Stanford students I barely know but want to get to know better helped out, special thanks to Nathan (Stanford Daily!), Molly (KZSU!), Jaih (yeah Intro to Statics!).

My tuition bill that must be paid before I can register for classes is $3725.

I did some math to see what the target number on gofundme would need to be for me to pay that bill on January 5:

4045 – 0.08% (WePay/Gofundme’s take) * 4045 = 3725.

22 donations and I’m at a huge $3476. With paying fees, this means $3198 in cash to me, straight to the school.

4045 – 3476 means I’m only $569 short of being able to attend classes in Winter. All the rest of the money I asked for is for job search costs like public transit, business attire (my friend Rob said he has connections on cheap suits), the GRE, etc.

This is by far and away my personally best Christmas ever. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make it that way. I think I forgot to mention Sean and the Outlet crew who put on a hearty Christmas feast that lasted into the wee hours, Bill who had his wife’s huge Malaysian family over (so many people! more than Outlet!), my mom, who sent me what she could, my aunt.

What I learned Christmas 2014 is that it’s okay to ask for help as long as you’ve been honestly putting forth an effort at being the best human you can be. And help can come from surprising places. Oh, and a last surprise awaited me when I found out I’ve actually had a positive influence on a couple people.

 

Oh, and apparently that I can write a 5-page essay that’s worth at least $3476. Thanks, Stanford!

 

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Here’s to a 2015 where we don’t torture anyone except the memory of Jesus via Mel Gibson films and the concept of Jesus via moneychangers. And all the other religious beliefs that conflict with our enormously capitalistic society.

Maybe we should rename Black Friday Money Day, Christmas and Hanukkah Gift(s) Day(s), and do away with the pretense. New technologies, new holidays – but let’s have real talk, you know?

It wouldn’t be a season’s greetings from me if I didn’t snark about wealth inequality at least a little. But I am proud to know so many people who are committed to the reality of redistributing it themselves, who practice the generosity and abundance we all feel right here is right if possible, rather than hoarding it like President Business Smaug Koch, Destroyer of Economies, Sole Voting Shareholder of Mount Dhoom.

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