A Long Weekend
Sojourn to SoCal

So, this past weekend I had to go down to San Diego to attend the Freshman Orientation for UCSD, where I’m headed off to in January for Winter Quarter. I already knew before the whole thing started that it was going to be a long and agonizing weekend, because I would be traveling with my parents. See, whereas regular days spent with my parents are tolerable because I’m usually confined in my room and they in theirs, four days out of town with them would be unbearable because I would be with them, pretty much all the time. The question was, how bad would it be?

Turns out, pretty bad.

We got to Ontario, a city about an hour or so east of Los Angeles, on Thursday night. That was where we were to pick up the rental car (a Buick Century, bleh) and drive down to a hotel near UCSD to stay the night (the Orientation was on Friday). I decided it would be an apt time to inform my parents that I had attempted to get into a few classes but they were already full. I thought that they would be disappointed, but understanding.

Hahahahaha…. no such luck.

My parents totally flipped out, and from their tone, volume, and cadence of voice it was as if the world were coming to an end. I had to endure a good thirty-minute lecture on how I had to be more “proactive” and “aggressive”. What a bunch of bullshit.

After that unpleasantry, we arrived at the hotel and the next day my dad and I were off to the Orientation – late, of course. The Orientation itself was boring as fuck. A few nice words from the Provost, then the Graduation Requirements lecture, then some bullshit “four-year planning session” that was just plain dumb considering we hadn’t even spent a single day in class at UCSD. Lunch would have been great had I actually gone out and ate with some potential friends, but instead I had to eat with my dad, who had been attending the parents’ section of the Orientation. I got another wonderful lecture from my dad about being proactive and snatching all those “good” classes, and trust me it wouldn’t be the last.

The afternoon was even worse. The joint parent-student lecture (a lot of lectures, this weekend… from just about everyone imaginable) in the auditorium was so boring that I fell asleep halfway through. Consequently, I can barely remember what was said. After that, we went through an agonizingly difficult photo ID session, which shouldn’t sound like much given what it was, and yet it, like just about everything else that happened this weekend, exceeded every expectation in the boring/annoying/long/mind-numbing department. After that was done, we went to a student panel Q&A type forum which was probably the most tolerable thing at the Orientation, then a quick snack before I left with my still-irate-and-lecturing father (who seemed to be cranky over most of the entire course of the weekend, with the exceptions of the hours between dinner and sleep). My dad was now prattling about his new UCSD-parent friends he made at Orientation, and how great their kids were, and how stupid and ineffective I was in comparison.

I have to make a quick note here. For any current high school seniors that might be reading this, and are planning to attend college next year, here’s my bit of free advice: Do NOT invite one or both of your parents to attend Orientation. I repeat: Do NOT invite your parents (or guardians) to Orientation. Trust me, I did and I lived to regret it. Ugh.

For complicated reasons that I will not go into here, we (as in my parents, my sister, and I) had to head back up to the LA area before going back down to SD the next morning. Dinner (Chinese hot pot) was pretty good, actually. The next day, we went down to SD to look for places to live (I don’t get dormitory housing as a Winter admit) with my new roommate Andy and his family. After a very long day of house-hunting, we finally settled on a nice apartment in a complex called La Scala, in University City, about 10 minutes away from campus. We then, once again, returned to the LA area, and dined at Outback Steakhouse in Covina. It was soooo good… I decided to pig out and have the 20-ounce “The Melbourne” steak, a combination of T-bone and New York strip fillet. Sigh.

On Sunday, we went around the Covina area, ostensibly looking for places for my sister to live. In actuality, most of the places we looked at were large, three/four-bedroom houses, which of course would be highly impractical for my childless sister to live in. The truth was quickly revealed: the houses we were looking at were for my parents, even though, unlike my sister, they had no intention of living anywhere near the area in the near future. Nay, this was part of another one of their MAKE MORE MONEY! real estate schemes that my sisters and I have been pawns of for some time. Well, what did I expect? I probably would have looked into something more practical, like the apartment I plan on moving into when I go down to live in San Diego. Or a condominium. Or a room in someone else’s house. Or anything other than the large single homes we looked at, houses that were designed for a family neither my sister nor I have. <shrugs> Just my take.

Then again, I’m a young idealistic fool, and apparently I know naught of the joys of accumulating massed wealth for some unknown end. I’m too simple-minded to understand the obsession behind real estate games, stock market games, gambling games, drug-dealing games, all done in hopes of striking it rich. I just want to live a good life where I can actually enjoy both professional and personal aspects, and see the world beyond Wall Street and corporate financing.

My mother claims that I don’t understand the importance of money because I’ve had access to it my whole life. She may be right. But for me, it’s not so much that I don’t understand the importance of money; rather, I don’t understand the importance of wealth. I can understand wanting to have enough money for food, water, housing, other necessities, and a few luxuries like cable Internet and TV. But pursuit of more and more wealth when you already have a lot… is that an inevitable side effect of making more money? Is it kinda like me and potato chips – once I eat one, I can’t stop? Does more money lead to a realization of how great money is, and thus an insatiable never-ending quest for more and more money? Do the world’s richest men and women ever wake up in the morning and think, you know what, what I have right now is enough?

Sorry about that philosophical tangent. My weekend story is over, btw – my parents and I came home that Sunday night. Basically, the weekend kinda sucked. But towards the end, the resolution of several areas of business and the promise of what was to come at UCSD led me to find a new optimism – that, in a month, things might be looking up again.