It was almost 0830. I remember the sunlight feeling hot when it came in contact with the skin; but the air was chilly enough to create goose bumps in the shade. Outside the cosmos was clear and blue as the star that owns us invited itself in through the slightly moist, brown-stained classroom windows.
Summer was close to an end, and Chabot College’s 2006 fall semester had begun. I was starting my second year as a freshman and was taking calculus for the third time. The room contained a distinct aroma of uncirculated air that took on the smell of the enclosed walls. The class was long and narrow, consisting of three rows of about twelve desks that stretched from one wall to the next facing the blackboard. The ceiling was about ten feet over our heads, housing the engineered lights that made no difference to doing its only task compared to the organic light that can easily consume the entire planet.
Less than 20 students were enrolled in that particular math class as they gravy-chained through the door to expeditiously occupy the middle and back rows. I premeditatedly made post in the middle of the class, which could have been one of the reasons for my failure.
Class started. Coming in late was an Asian girl. As I looked up at her, everything began to slow down. She came in walking like she was strutting down a runway. The smell of her sassiness and the sound of her high heels hitting the classroom tiles made certain parts of me tingle. As one of my military colleagues would put it years later: “I would drink her bath water.” I am a sucker for high heels. I recalled she was dressed like Adriana Lima on a cover of those Victoria’s Secret catalogs that come in the mail from time to time. She obviously was promoting one of the two things: tight jeans or simply trying to get the D.
She decided to occupy the seat on my twelve o’clock. As the big booty lay before me, I couldn’t help noticing the exposed skin down on her six o’clock with some black tribal ink. I looked down even further south only to discover the exotic, sensual, touch me ever so gently, blue g-string she had on. A natural caveman mating grunt shot out of me as I enjoyed the site: “Mmmmm.” After some deep thought and debate with myself, I concluded she definitely wanted the D.
Before I knew it, the class ended, and I missed the whole lecture. During my first day of class, the distractions already began like the other three semesters prior. Little did I know, I was the one on the way to getting the D in the class. As my high school mentality followed me throughout college, a series of failures led to finding my path to success.
During high school, I would frequently stick my middle finger to the school as I walked away from campus with my friends to go to malls for the main objective of hollering at girls during regular school hours. I considered myself a smart kid when it came to academics, primarily math, but never wanted to put effort when in the vicinity my peers.
One particular afternoon I remember heading down Redwood Road in Castro Valley, California, on my 2003 Yamaha YZF-R6 with a broken speedometer, geared one-down-two-up, harnessed with a gold RK 520 racing chain with the tensile strength of over ten thousand pounds. The sky was grey and cloudy, making the afternoon sun seem darker than it already was on an October afternoon. The engine revolutions fluctuated as I engine matched only to pursue the perfect apex through the turns.
I was the engineer of the design that day. Carefully tweaking the throttle to maximize the traction of the tires at specific lean angles only to compensate for the existing g-force amount from the chosen entrance speed being applied to my half-human, half ninety-one-octane-in-line-four-banger-engine system. I mimicked my riding buddy’s race line as we attempted to find the perfect balance between speed and turning radius through the rough, curvy pavement.
Although reckless, this was the place you did not want to eat shit: on the right, you will either hit the cliff, whereas on the left, meet your maker at the bottom of the cliff. My conscience spoke to me: “Ride safely or smash through it like a Moto GP champion?” As the engineer, I responded to the telegraph that never existed.
Fuck it. It is all about the moment.
We ripped through a series of turns, blazing past the trees and terrain as they became blurry, solid green and brown walls. The Scotts steering dampener made it easier to control the handlebars as they shook violently. The front wheels dug into the ground like erasers on paper at a forty five degree angle. The heart was steady and the mind was focused on what frontal lobe recognized from the firing neurons sent from optic nerves to display the images like reel of your favorite film.
But there was one particular moment that felt different. Something was about to happen. Something was coming and I had no idea whether it was a good or bad thing. I realized this already happened, as if life was replaying itself again at this very moment. It was déjà vu. Everything slowed down. By that time, I already knew I fucked up. There existed connection between me and the cosmos that I was going 60 in a 25 MPH zone. Why did I know that? Where did that information come from?
At the end of the turn there was a CHP officer in his creased, khaki uniform waving for us to pull over. He zapped us out of nowhere. We were immediately guilty of speeding down the road as the officer observed the rubber melting off the sides of the front and rear Michelin Pilot Powers. Damn! There goes my driving record, bike, and future paychecks. This was going to be my third speeding ticket and my fifth moving violation in two years. After receiving the ticket, I was disappointed and ashamed of myself as I departed from my friend and headed home.
I woke up the next morning looking at the white ceiling. I stared off into space and I felt like something was wrong. I reflected about the reality I was currently in. The cosmic roll of the dice has led me to this point. I asked myself, “What the hell is wrong with me?” I compared my life to where I imagined would end up, and I was nowhere near that. I wasted almost four years after high school being an adrenaline junkie. I felt like crying but nothing would come out.
I checked out my unofficial transcript and the 0.89 GPA ripped my eyeballs out and dug me deeper in the hole I was already in. I gave up. I didn’t know what to do. That semester I was doing well in calculus. Due to the great disappointment in myself, I stopped going. I stopped caring. I left my education behind me to start a new financial situation for myself. I started to work full-time at the Oakland airport to make enough money to pay for the dues and have a roof over my head, which resulted in dropping out of college.
I was not happy with my life. There was a fear that unconsciously existed that began to show itself from which the space it was hiding in. I was afraid of changing from my comfort zone. My ego didn’t want to die. I was misguided by the greed from that ego; the very thing I trusted to guide me through life has failed me. The ego wanted to exist through me. And since I found the bastard, I won’t let it live.
How can I be such a fool?! I am not a kid anymore. I am in charge of my life. I am the one who chooses to conform to society. I am the one who decides how to respond to the situations presented before me. I am the one who chooses. I am my own observer. I am me, not that ego, not that voice inside my head. It is all me. The main ingredients of working at a dead end job, with a number of disappointments, and a dash of failed attempts in my education led to controlling my reality which harnessed the newfound strive for success. The fire was still burning inside me and stayed lit for to join the U.S. Navy. I was ready to leave my comfort zone and I accepted my reality. I became a seeker for knowledge.
My experience in the military opened my eyes and opened my mind. It taught me to drop out, and tune in. It was not about being happy; it was about being content. It was not about being the cool guy; it was about getting the job done. It was not about quitting when it gets hard; it was about manning up when it gets tough. It was about fixing the things jacked up. It was time to fix myself because I was in all kinds of jacked up.
As much as the chain of command wanted me to reenlist, I knew I was destined for when I made ranks of leadership. From all my disappointed experiences, I wanted to fix the only thing jacked up from my past: that sneaky 0.89 GPA I couldn’t hide from. I rolled the cosmic dice before I got too comfortable in the military.
Now I am here ready to learn and to do what is required to be successful in school. I now have the toolbox, just waiting for class to add more in it. Now, I am back in school to fix my grades with the drive I should have had from the beginning. Once again as I sit in a classroom, the cosmos is clear and blue. And that alone is a success.