Saturday, June 12, 2010

To go away or not to go away to college? That is the question.

The idea of life being boring is sometimes a good thing. There are certainly worse things in life than the mundane. My mom is doing better, though not yet 100%. We eagerly anticipate her full recovery. My brother is his usual obnoxious self; he occasionaly resorts to behaving in an almost human manner just to catch me off-guard, but for the most part, his mission in life is to make my life less pleasant. I have accepted this and am thus no longer terribly bothered by it. My dad is putting in extra hours to make up for recent time he had to miss work due to my mom's illness and my injuries and illness. It's good that he likes his work. I would have to feel sorry for him otherwise. Judge Alex has been in rerun mode, but the Hooters episode was one I'd watch ten times; it was THAT funny.

My kidneys are near where they need to be. I have a tentative surgery date of June 21. Pieces of bone will be removed from each hip and grafted into strategic points in my leg. I'm annoyed by the idea of having additional body parts in pain. It seems like a compound fracture of two bones in my leg, a collarbone fractured, a dislocated shoulder (the left one, not the same side as the broken clavicle), infections in both kidneys, and the dreaded (as much as I hate to mention it, I might as well if I'm trying to make anyone feel sorry for me) staphylococcal diaper rash; now I will have to feel as though both of my hips have been fractured. To say I am looking forward to any of this would be a big fat lie, but I am looking forward to having it all finished. The idea that it's probably on June 21 bothers me. I could visit the doctor beforehand, for instance this Monday, have levels of everything checked, and find out that everything is so great that the surgery will be done the next day. Or things couldn't be ready yet by June 21.

This all reminds me of an international case I read about that happened many years ago. A teenager, maybe 17 or 18, named Michael Fay, had been convicted of vandalism in Singapore, where the traditional penalty for such action is caning. It became an international incident. Although, I think as a sort of peace offering, the Singapore government reduced the number of times they hit Mr. Fay with the cane, he still was caned. The thing about his situation that reminds me of mine is that he never knew when he was to be caned. He just knew that one day his jailers would wake him up and it would happen. I feel that my surgery is the same in that I'm not sure when I'm going to be medically tortured (for my own benefit-- I'm not blaming the doctors); I just know it will probably happen sometime in the next two weeks. Not knowing when is stressful.

Just in case my dad violates the agreement not to read my blog because others are monitoring it for safety and appropriate content, and there is thus no need for him to read it, I must discuss something besides my health. If you are a regular reader, such as my English teacher and a few relatives, and my blogging/Twitter buddies Joslyn and Rebecca, you might remember that my dad complained that the only topic old people willingly discuss is their state of health, and that my blog was precariously close to that level. If you're reading at this point, Daddy, keep reading. I'm digressing from my usual hospital stories and medical travelogues.

I mentioned in my profile, I believe, that I have sufficient units to
have graduated after fall semester of last year. I knew that the chances of my parents allowing such a thing were about as likely as the odds that one of the Kardashians would be elected to a high-level government office in the near future. Still, just in the interest of experimentation, I filled out several applications and sent them in with the required fees at my own expense. Before my arms were temporarily rendered useless by my accident, I earned, between school and church piano/organ jobs, almost two thousand dollars a month after taxes. My parents required me to tithe and to bank 90% of what was left over. The remaining amount was considered my "allowance." I have no problem with their requirements of what I needed to do with my money; just the term "allowance" annoyed me, as it was money I earned myself. They could have just called it my "uninvested salary" and left it at that.

My parents have said that they will only pay for public colleges and universities, so I didn't waste a lot of money applying to private colleges. I did apply to Stanford with the idea that maybe enough scholarship money would appear to make enrollment there feasible, as unlikely as that sounds. Also, my mom's undergrad degree was from Stanford; she might soften up a bit if it came right down to the wire. For the most part, I applied to numerous University of California campuses. At about sixty dollars a pop, I'm roughly four hundred dollars poorer for the experience. Anyway, lost in all the drama of the accident was that acceptance/rejection letter time came. My mail piled up until I was eventually conscious and alert enough to care to open it. I was accepted for next year at U.C. Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, and ././././././././ (drumroll)././././././ Stanford!

All of this is moot. My parents are not going to let me graduate early. I will be incredibly lucky if they let me go anywhere other than to a university near us even after I've done my four years of high school, because I'll only be seventeen-and-one-half at the time. They're afraid I lack the common sense to be safe in the big bad world without their supervision. I told them that college dorms supervise minors more closely than regular enrollees. (That is something I made up on the spur of the moment. It stands to reason that it might be true, but I don't know
for anything resembling a fact that it is the case. Still, since I didn't know it to be false when I said it, it was not a lie.)

If I knew that I would be able to hurdle and dive next year, it would be my choice to stick around anyway. My doctors can't guarantee anything. One orthopedist told me that chances are my diving won't be severely impaired regardless by spring. I should have enough leg strength to project off a springboard. Gymnasts (which I used to be) are natural divers mostly because of ability to manipulate upper bodies. My leg should at least be straight by then, and able to bear enough weight to spring off the board.
The running/hurdling thing is a bit more questionable. Even if I can physically run and make it over the hurdles, I may not be very fast. We'll just have to wait and see.

In any event, it seems I threw away hundreds of dollars for nothing. Actually, it only seems that way. There were methods and strategies behind my seemingly wasteful spending. I intend to use it all as leverage in about ten months when the time to choose a university for real rolls around. (Additionally, if I can convince any of these universities to defer my enrollment for a year, I may be able to convince my parents to reimburse some or all of my application fees.)

The university near me is a good school, but who wants to attend a university that is practically within bicycling distance of his or her own home? (I should be careful in saying that. It might give my parents the idea to buy me a bicycle[or make me buy my own with my "allowance"] to use as transportation when they finally force me to enroll there.) I would agree to enroll there this year, although it's too late, as I deliberately didn't apply there. Next year, I want the "real" college/university experience. I don't plan to make a roaring drunken fool of myself. I've tasted my dad's and my uncle's drinks, and I'll never taste them again. They taste like cough syrup, which I have to be bribed to take no matter how bad my cough is. I just want the opportunity to watch others in their varying states of drunkenness while I'm in the process of acquiring a high-level education. Is this so much to ask?

Is is really my fault that my parents' poor planning resulted in babies that were born on December 2, which is the kindergarten cut-off date in California? If they wanted me to be eighteen when I went off to college, they should have conceived in June so that I could have been born sometime around February. They also could have held my brother and me out of kindergarten until we were five. They made the decision not to do this. I feel that they need to take responsibility for decisions they have made in the past. They made their bed (or, more literally, had a bit of recreational activity in it). Now they need to man up and sleep in the bed they've made for themselves.

In reiteration, I'm not seriously asking to be allowed to go away to college as a sixteen-year-old, having graduated early. I am requesting, however, that after I've completed my four years of high school successfully, I should be allowed to enroll at a reasonable university of my own choosing. Am I asking too much? Please post your comments.


  1. By the way, I tweeted Judge Alex. He has no problem with 17-year-olds going away to a university. What a wise man he is!

  2. Hi AlexisAR! Fun read. Tough gig. If your benefactors are strict, you either go with their plan or you embark on your own adventure. It's gonna be a tough, adult decision for you to make either way, I'm sure. Some people get dealt the good cards, some people don't. If it's any consolation, you can always join the military at 18, risk your life and still have the full college experience courtesy of the GI bill. Meh, I guess that's no consolation... :/

  3. Russ, I don't think they'll have an issue with my going away once I'm 18. It's just the 16-year-old thing and 17-year-old thing that give them trouble. I'm officially 16 1/2 now. I haven't technically graduated, but I have met all graduation requirements and have been accepted by universities. There's a better chance that the Prez and Sarah Palin will have a love child-producing affair (Gawd! What would she name this one?) than there is that my parents will let me go this year at 16. At 17, I still have hopes. It's not that I HATE UC- Davis; it's just too close to home.

    I've actually thought about the military academies, but it seems too much like that would be trading one set of over-protective parents for another set that was even worse.

    Once I'm 18, I'm OK either way. I have enough $
    in the bank to pay for three years of college if I live frugally even without getting another job. I should have enough AP units to get through college in three years. So if my parents choose to be idiots after I turn 18, it'll be "Hasta la vista!" and I'll be self-supporting if poor for a couple of years. It would be nice, though, to use the money for things other than college.

    The big challenge will be getting Mom and Dad to cut the umbilical cord when I'm 17 1/2. Part of the equation will be my brother. If I can manage to get into less trouble than he does for a year, and then he gets a Division II baseball scholarship and they let him accept it, they'll HAVE to let me go. So let's cross our fingers that my brother has a few minor screw-ups. I don't want him to impregnate any sub-moronic cheerleaders, but being caught trying to sneak in reeking of booze wouldn't be a bad thing.