May 26, 2006

The Speech (uncensored)

(Uncensored portions are in bold and italics. At graduation, I added in a thank you to Mrs. Paquin for letting us do Guitar Club, and also nods to Denise Tanner and Rod Soto; all at the end of my thank-yous. Also, I added in a request for a round of applause for our parents before I thanked my own parents.)

Thank you, Joy. Joy’s been a wonderful friend ever since freshman year. I must have cost her hundreds of dollars of gas when she got her license a year before me, and she graciously gave me rides everywhere. Damn, we're huge nerds.

A good friend of mine has a theory that each one of us has at least one hundred years to live. One hundred years; that’s a long time. And throughout these last four years, whenever I’ve been stressed about homework and projects, or burdened with drama and conflicts, I try to remember: I still have at least eighty years left. That’s a long time too. And whatever is happening now, whether it’s schoolwork or personal issues, that it won’t matter much, in eighty years. Or even in forty years.

But this, Class of 2006, this graduation will matter in forty years and eighty years too. This departure from one stage of our lives to the next, this end of the beginning; this will matter.

So let go of all the little things that won’t matter, my fellow classmates; forgive that nasty argument in spring, and that bad break-up last summer, but value the best friend that stuck up for you. Forget the time all of your books fell out of your backpack in the middle of the hallway in front of the counselor’s suite before second period, and instead remember the time you saw it happen to me, and couldn’t stop laughing until lunch.

Let go of the bumps and bruises of the last four years, and instead revel in the growth that we’ve all experienced. We’ve all gone from insecure, somewhat naïve freshman, to confident, mature seniors. Take pride in that, ’06; that’s the victory we’ve all won together.

Some of you may disagree that I've successfully become confident and mature. Be that as it may, I know I would definitely not be making this speech if not for a lot of wonderful people.

First, I need to thank my friends. I knew none of you when I entered high school, and yet now I feel like I have a second family. I’m continually amazed at your generosity, open-mindedness, and overall kindness. Many of you literally walked up to me and made me be your friend, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

Specifically, the three people who have inescapeably changed my life during high school: Jordan Marbach, who is the most intrinsically nice person I have ever known, and showed me the virtue of sincerity; Ha Nguyen, who played therapist for me so many times, and taught me more about everything than I could have ever learned on my own; and Luis Diez, who, along with being an amazing friend, introduced me to guitar, and thus, to myself.

Next, the members and sponsors of the organizations I’ve been in: Speech & Debate, Math & Science, Guitar Club (which rocked out at its first concert last week), German Club, and Orchestra. It is these clubs, and all the others, that make Hightower known everywhere as a badass competitor and a good sport, from academics to athletics to everything in between. And then my teachers and (certain) administrators, especially the ones whom I’ve known for a few years; all of you have made learning fun for me, and I can only hope to be lucky enough to learn from professors even the slightest bit like you. I can't not mention here Denise Tanner and Rod Soto, two of the most amazing teachers I've ever had the honor of knowing. They've both been so much more than teachers to me: they've been my mentors, my friends; everything.

To save the best for last, I have to thank my family. Those of you who have met them know that they’re wonderfully kind, extremely supportive, and have a wacky sense of humor to boot. Everything that I’ve accomplished, I dedicate to you. My grandmother, who has recently flown in from India to be here; you’ve spoiled me as only a grandmother can, and it’s been wonderful having you staying with us on and off for the past few years.

To my parents; whenever I think about the far future, I’m scared that I won’t be able to be as good a parent as you two were to me. To my father; as clichéd as it sounds, when I finally do grow up, I want to be a lot like you. You, more than anyone else, have kept me grounded and sane throughout this time. To my mother, who homeschooled me in elementary and middle school; I guess you did okay with that, didn’t you; you’ve given me a love for learning that I can’t imagine living without.

Lastly, to my sister, Priti, who is everything from my partner in crime to my best friend to my confidant, and who is graduating from Stanford University in a few weeks. I’m so, so proud of you. You’ve been such an awesome role model and mentor to me; I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t always just a phone call away.

So here’s what I say to you, Class of 2006: let go of the little things, and be proud of this big one; though everything from make-up tests to mercury spills may have stood in your way, you’ve made it here despite all these obstacles against you.

As the great blues guitarist B. B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” This achievement is yours forever, Class of 2006. Thank you, good luck, rock on, and go kick some for me.

May 23, 2006

The War

Today, two days before my partially outdoor graduation party, my parents and I have discovered a nest of bees entrenched in the small gap between the brick and the wood that makes up the back wall of our house. The wood part of the second floor has a slight overhang over the brick wall of the first story, so the bees have set up the entrance to their camp in the upper corner, underneath the overhang. At any given moment, there are about twenty to thirty bees patrolling the area around the entrance for several feet in every direction. This poses a problem; how to get at them?
My parents and I looked up various remedies on the Internet, from soapy water to pesticides. The problem was, anything that we used would have to project itself up the hole in order to reach the nest, meaning anything non-compressed and ready-to-shoot was out of the question. My mom went to Lowe's and returned twenty minutes later with two different types of Wasp/Hornet spray while my dad and I cleared the plants underneath the overhang. This was war, and we wanted to minimize civilian casualties.
My mom dressed for action - a jacket and a pair of gardening gloves. My dad and I set up our ladder a few feet from the overhang and, armed with the first can of insecticide, she slowly planted a foot on the first step. With no response from the bees, she advanced cautiously, gripping the can tightly. About halfway up the ladder, she aimed and fired. The spray from the insecticide, supposedly 25 feet long, was in fact about five feet at best. She emptied the can at the bees, but to no avail, at least that we could see.
My dad, similarly dressed, took the second can and, like the first wave, he crept up the ladder, checking for any reaction at each step. We had moved the ladder closer for this attempt, but the spray still fell pitifully short of the entrance to the nest. He emptied this can as well, but this was more to get rid of it than out of any real trust that it would work.
For our next attack, we waited until near dusk, when websites and friends had told us that the majority of the bees were likely to be in the nest. And indeed, the number of bees patrolling seemed to have lessened. Emboldened by our successful prediction, we moved the ladder directly underneath the entrance to the nest for our next weapon: a fogger.
Foggers are generally used indoors: a "fogged" house would have one of these pressurized canisters set on the floor of every room with all the furniture covered and people and pets evacuated. A jet of toxic insecticide would spray out vertically from the top of the canister, and this chemical would saturate the air inside the house, killing any unwanted inhabitants (this also works well for stowaways and those kids who never know when the game of hide-and-seek is over).
We set up the fogger outside, against the directions on the label. But we had had success with foggers in the past (indoors), and we had faith in its ability to shoot directly inside the nest, and perhaps saturate the air in there.
My parents dragged the ladder, as I said, directly underneath the entrance to the nest. We found an unused flowerpot filled with soil (we hope nothing was growing there - it's dead now, anyways), and set it down gingerly on the top platform of the ladder. While I, jacketed and gloved, held the ladder steady, my dad, also re-armored, scaled our assault vehicle and, once at the top, planted the fogger firmly in the flowerpot, facing the top in the direction of the nest.
We all held our breaths, and my dad depressed the button on top. A short burst, and then nothing; a false start.
He did it again, this time holding it down for a few seconds, and suddenly a spray of gas shot straight at the entrance to the next. Holding his breath, my dad descended the ladder quickly, and we all retreated to a safe distance. The fogger, it seemed, was working. Although no bees were dropping like flies yet, it was aimed perfectly at the nest, and definitely getting its noxious fumes inside. But the fumes were also spreading out at least a few feet from the ladder. We all retreated inside and watched from a window, waiting and hoping for victory.
I'm starting to think we need an exit strategy.

May 20, 2006

Even More Updates

Some things I forgot in the last post.

1. Set list from the concert:

Malaguena - Nirav, Luis
Bass Solo - Brandon
12-Bar Blues - Nirav, Luis, Brandon, Raphael, Mr. Peguero
.45 - Brandon, Zach
Pink Floyd Medley - Alex, Keenan, Camden
Stairway to Heaven - Keenan, Marcus
Iris - Brandon, Zach
So Cold - Brandon, Zach
Nothing Else Matters - Brandon, Zach, Nirav, Jake
Purple Haze - Brandon, Nirav
Eruption - Camden
Seek and Destroy - Luis, Raif, Ian, Marcus, Adam
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Luis, Raif, Ian, Marcus, Adam

2. Life is becoming increasingly hectic. I have something almost every day of the week, and any off time I get, I need to be packing for Germany and practicing my speech.

3. I'm in the market for a new electric guitar to bring with me to college. I can't stand a floating bridge anymore, like on Strats and Strat knock-offs; I think I want a light Ibanez.

4. I probably forgot some more things. Will post again soon.

May 19, 2006


Wow - a whole lot of stuff has happened since my last update.

1. I wrote my speech. Then I had to rewrite it. Apparently, speaking for over a minute is way too much for graduation. I also had to cut out all personal references besides my family, and all specific references to club and organizations. That was the first rewrite. Then I had to add in a thank-you to administrators, and take out a reference to mercury spills. This is censorship.

2. Prom was, well, interesting. It was both boring and over too fast at the same time. About ten minutes before it was supposed to be over, the fire alarm rang. People came to my house afterwards and we watched Pirates of the Carribbean. Pictures are up on Facebook.

3. We got our caps and gowns at graduation practice.

4. The Guitar Club Concert rocked, plain and simple. This is one of the things I'm most proud of in high school. Pictures on Facebook soon.

5. I got a new laptop, which I am blogging from now. It's sexy. Sony Vaio VGN-SZ110.

Further updates as events warrant.

They misspelled my name in the Hightower newspaper. Nirav Shanghani. Sounds vaguely Japanese.

And events have come full circle, somewhat.


May 6, 2006

I Give Up

Ok. I get it. I give up.
Until Thanksgiving break.

On a lighter note, Michael Buble is a really good artist. Although people like Frank Sinatra are infinitely better, it's nice to see young artists respect their roots. It's despicable when people think that Ray Charles ripped off Kanye West.

Guitar club spring 2006 concert: Thursday, May 18, 2006. Times: 6:30 to around 8:00. If nothing else, it'll be interesting.

Gotta write my speech by Tuesday. Class of '06, here we go.

May 4, 2006

Talk to Me?

Why don't people stay in touch anymore? Too many people have moved away from me that I love dearly, and this is only the beginning. What will happen when we all go to college? We'll all see each other in summer vacation, I guess, but how many friendships will drop off and wither away because we're just lazy? Perhaps that ones that are worth keeping will be kept; I trust that it will sort itself out.
But others...Norway, California, Ohio; everyone's moving away. And one specifically; why shut me out? I try to call, email, IM you, but I get barely a response. If you want me out of your life, then tell me so, and I promise, I'll stop bothering you. But don't just ignore me; the opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference.
It's not fair.