Checkerboard and Pizza Dice

Well, hello everybody! It’s Tomás at Large, summer edition, because over here in my neck of the woods, summer vacation started a considerable two or three weeks ago  and we’re all soaking up the sun (or the A/C) as we enjoy our brief respite from the daily stress of school. I’ve personally been spending lots of my time editing the documentary I began earlier this year, heretofore titled, “The Sophomore Slump”. I’ve restarted the editing process more than three times, and with editing comes a lot of frustration (especially considering I had to run out and buy a new fan/heatsink for my machine) that eventually leads up to those amazing, happiness-inducing bursts of creativity where you find yourself editing for hours when you thought you’d only spent a few minutes.

Editing, like many art forms, is one of those things in life that requires full devotion and concentration. When you’re editing something, be it a feature length film or a 30 second TV spot, you need to completely envelop yourself in both the creative process, and the world of the production you’re splicing and cutting. In other words, you need to be a part of the film or video as much as the actors are. So if you’re editing a horror movie, you’re going to become entrenched in the fear of the innocent Valley Forge girl as she unwittingly creeps into the house, only to be attacked by the mask-wearing, knife-wielding hockey player bad guy. If you’re editing a documentary, you’re going to become a part of the bad situation it addresses, or the cause it’s advocating. And here I am, editing a documentary that’s essentially about myself.

It’s about teenagers, about school life, about what teenagers think about, what they say, what they do in class, what “drama” they get themselves in, what they think about their teachers, their relationships, high school. To top it off, all the main interviewees are some of my best friends (yes; I suppose the documentary is biased in this respect, but I’ll explain more about this in a later blog post). So I can’t help but think and rethink and think again about what they’re saying.

When Jeannie says, “middle school, you’re walking around and your drama is like, ‘oh my god, she hates me’; in high school, it’s like ‘oh my god, she fucked him”, I can’t help but think about all the rumors one kid supposedly spread about his girlfriend.

When Chris says, “high school’s high school; [for some] it’s a prison, [for others] it’s the next step before college”, I can’t help but think about the numerous amounts of times I’ve heard some of my friends say they hated coming to school.

When Yero ARMANDO Lopez says, “it’s … your prime, like you just want to, like, turn Super-Saiyan right quick; just wanna, ugh … get bitches!” I can’t help but think about … about …

see, that’s where I’m stumped. The reason why there’s a whole section in the documentary devoted to the interviewees and related B-roll talking about relationships and teenage romance, is because it’s undoubtedly a big part of teenage life, right? As an editor, as a screenwriter, one knows the things a movie has to have for it to be complete. If I were writing a James Bond film, it’d be dumb not to include some attractive femme fatales to serve as the Bond girls.

Well, when I was thinking about what I had to show about teenagers to make the concept clear, I knew, without a doubt, that relationships would be one of the many things I had to show. In fact, that was probably the first thing I thought about.

From film screenwriter, I transform to audience member and as I watch the same edit for the 573rd time, I’m trying to grasp the thoughts teenagers have about this relationship business. And there’s still one thing I really don’t understand, and considering it’s frustrated my existence for a while – long before this documentary even began – I figure it’s worthy of an open Blogger question.

More than two years ago, I met one of my old best friends – let’s call him Checkerboard. At about the same time, I met another friend of mine – let’s call him Pizza Dice. I was, of course, much younger and terribly more naive back then, and these guys had understanding of things way beyond what my innocent mind could grasp at the time.

One of them was a well-rooted attitude towards girls and relationships. At the time, I was in a relationship, but when I asked the girl out, I did it more out of the novelty of having a girlfriend, rather than really needing someone. Now, don’t take me wrong – my relationship with her turned out to be one of the most spiritually uplifting and utterly wonderful friendships I’ll ever remember – but the truth is that at the time, I saw it as something cool because the grown-ups did it, not because I needed a partner.

Checkerboard and Pizza Dice were different – they were leap-years ahead of me in this respect; they’d grown enough to be able to want someone that way. Regardless, they often talked about girls in ways that – at the time – I found less than honorable. “Dude, she’s so hot”; “dude, I bet that guy’s made out with her like crazy” ; “dude, OMG, look at her ass” . Being as naive as I was, I dismissed these comments as derogatory and disrespectful, and instantly shot down my friends when they said them. But in reality, they were doing nothing wrong. Sure, the comments were most likely guided by hormonal instabilities, but they weren’t without their moral equivalent. In other words, Checkerboard and Pizza Dice said these things in truth, but they still knew to respect girls and talk to them nicely and all that. What they had was an extra bit of braveness and maturity that allowed them to be playful this way, and be able to express their true opinions about girl’s physical attributes without shame. I couldn’t handle this amount of maturity at the time, and so my defense mechanisms said to ignore it and call it wrong.

But the truth is, I’m falling into that trap now (well it’s not really a trap, but I guess it’s a nice way to put it). I go around looking at my friends on Facebook (on the NEWS FEED only; I’m no stalker) and I realize, when I look at some of my female friends (which I oddly have a ginormous amount of) how I find myself saying those same comments in my head when I see their profile pictures. Or, how when I go to parties or the mall or any form of social gathering that isn’t a dick-fest, how I see myself looking at hot girls in the hallways and saying the same things.

Now is when my “maturity” has allowed shameless admittance of such things to be possible, but now is too late! When I talk to my friends about how hot this girl is, or how lucky that other dude is to be *&#^$’in that chick, the conversations are short and do not allow for my newfound maturity to have its support base. In other words, those shameless comments Checkerboard and Pizza Dice used to say are now replaced by honest emotional cries of necessity for a special someone.

And trust me, I have that too – I also want a girlfriend, not just for a #*$& buddy, but really because I want someone to share special moments with, someone to talk to about my newest computer hacking project – but that earlier stage of physiological need, which was hidden and prohibited from coming out way back when, has now been set loose without that support base that Checkerboard and Pizza Dice could’ve provided back then! I have no brothers in arms to join with when I’m strolling around the mall looking at hot chicks, or when I’m at a JAMA party sitting down sipping on a Sunkist whilst checking out the new arrivals! In Freudian fashion, I’m regressing to a previous stage of hormonal development that never developed properly!

Or am I thinking too much? Will attending one of those crazy beach parties help? I want y’all to help me understand this, to understand myself. Maybe Checkerboard and Pizza Dice will help out. Thanks, guys. I think some time playing Metal Gear Solid is well overdue by now. ‘Til next time, folks.
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Thoughts During Summer 2010

2:52 AM, my room

It’s in moments of great inactivity, it seems, that one has their brightest, and deadliest, ideas. Last summer, my boredom was enough to catalyze what would’ve otherwise been a disastrous break-up between me and two of the best friends I’ve had to date.

This summer, my excitement is enough to keep me awake during moments of inactivity. Excitement about what? Well, about everything I could do that needs doing.

A documentary titled “the Sophomore Slump”, that needs to be finished (I’ll be resuming work this weekend when I get a new heatsink/fan for my heat-inducing CPU), a Russian exchange student I could be spending time with, a Chili’s or McDonald’s tea party I could be hosting, PSP and PS2 games I could be playing (halted at the moment by a 2GB Memory Stick on the PSP – I need at least a 16GB to be able to store a proper amount of games and music – as well as by a PS2 that unfortunately broke down after nearly nine to ten years of faithful service), a bike I could be riding, a video game system I could be working on (titled Daphne VGS (Video Game System); details coming up soon), two or three AP summer assignments I could be working on, a premiere party I could be organizing for the documentary – in essence, summer adventures I could be having.

Summer is a very dangerous time, thus, for teenagers. Because it’s essentially a time you have to make yourself. School provides an itinerary that too many teenagers aren’t able to develop during the summer – sure it involves sitting in class for 2 or more hours (less if you’re lucky) but it incontrovertibly provides a sense of direction that can be very difficult to forge during summer. If you don’t have a good set of activities to embark upon, you might be bored in your house to the point of mental rotting. On the other hand, too many activities and you might be doubly frustrated when you realize you can’t be doing them all. Hell, when you have too many activities, the smallest period of inactivity makes you anxious because you know you should be getting ahead on that stuff you plan to do.

It’s 3:00 AM, now, and what am I doing? None of the things described above! Why? Well, because … I don’t know why. I do know, however, that excitement and anticipation for all those activities I listed is only building up more and more as my body naturally calls for sleep, for some ZZZs. I’m gonna go try to satisfy its needs.