Henry on Henry

Its spring 2010 and while preparing for his college applications Henry ruminates about his life and his passions in his typical stream of consciousness style:

Well, lets see. I’ll just go down this list.

Background: I’m not too unusual here, my family is a mix of Spanish, English, and French, and I was born in Madrid.

Work: I’m unusual in that I have not had a job ever. I did apply for a summer camp counselor once, but I was put on a waitlist because I had too much hair and wasn’t very sociable at the strange group-interview thing they had.

Travel: Well, I started out in Spain and England, I don’t remember the specifics. Then we warped to America and lived on Gregory Road, over by I’m-not-sure-where. Then, when I was three-ish, we moved to Mexico City (because my dad worked for Domino Sugar at the time) and I stayed there through K-2 (I’m still confused by this double kindergarden thing. What happened? How long was each K? Why am I still the right age?). Then, we moved back to Greenwich. I remember my dad had bought me a plastic Pokemon a few weeks before we left. I kept forgetting the darn thing’s name. ‘Charmander’ is a very advanced word for me when I am that age. (I am ‘that age’ so often, actually. More often than most people.) Anyway, I lost that in the move, which was upsetting. And then we stayed here in Greenwich, though there was a little bit of house-hopping due to the divorce.

Summer Programs: I did a lot of silly Computer Game Making camp at Sacred Heart University, until about two summers ago. Then, I did that Dominican Republic Trip, which was pretty exciting. I’ll talk about that, I guess. We went down for about a week, staying in this mission type of place. I had brought a new pair of shoes to wear on the last day, when we were to attend church at their little chapel (my brother, Alex, helped built it when he went!) So anyway, after the first day at work, we left our dirty shoes outside (but inside the wall). That didn’t matter, though, a village boy still jumped over the fence and stole a whole lot of shoes – including my old ones. So I had to wear my shining white shoes to work the next day, where they promptly turned a reddish mud color. I wasn’t really upset, it was just kind of interesting. ANYWAY. I was like the cinderblock laying champion of the world. I imagined everyone calling me LORD OF THE TROWEL, but really it was just “Henry” or “Peludo” from the locals (Hairy or Shaggy in Spanish). But, yup, I quickly became pretty good at putting down the mortar, though I was pretty useless at putting the actual block down. I’m not known for being strong. (There was one embarrassing (in a juvenile way) anecdote when I was working with a team of girls and had to ask them to put the block on. Which they did, handily, as I looked on in awe.) I built at least 5 levels of one side of the Water Treatment building we were making. (We were making one because the way they got water was either via some ridiculous political nonsense or by buying it in big bottles, I seem to remember. The treatment building would help them be independent and whatnot. We also built the second floor to the school they had there and a bakery.)

In the evenings, we would shower, and then hang around and play cards or something, and then do some general churchy activities. I remember I decided to read the bible cover to cover because I didn’t want to continue reading my more interesting book until the plane ride home (it was almost finished). Oh, one memory that stands out pretty clearly is on the last day, we went to a beach. We did all kinds of beach things there. To get there and back, we had to do part of the trip on a boat. To get to this boat, we rode on a little raft. On our way home, I was on the first raft back to the shore, and we all sat on the bus waiting for everyone else. While I was sitting there, a Dominican who I figured we had hired for the day as a translator or something (because he was around all day) popped up by the bus window and asked me something. I didn’t hear him, so I asked him to clarify! And he was asking for money to get lunch or something. I’m not sure, it was pretty jarring, because I really did not know what to do. If he was hired by the trip leaders, why was he asking? What? I guess I should say no. Things like that went through my head, and in the end I said no in my customary awkward way. Hold the phone, there is a LADYBUG sleeping in the shade my keyboard casts. How cool.

Hobbies: Making unusual art things, um, oh! Programming calculators! My calculator is absolutely jam-packed with programs. There are programs for every task! Telling jokes, solving physics mirror/lens ray-drawing problems, and making fancy images on the screen, for example.

Talents: I recently discovered I’m pretty excellent at programming. I figure it has to be a talent when I can go at it with no plan, just a general goal, and everything works out. It’s strange. My programming strategy is just to work at it. I almost magically know which functions to write next, and how everything should work, and whatnot. That’s not a very set-apartable skill, though. I can play the guitar pretty well, including some Flamenco guitar and song. I was a champ at Dance Dance Revolution, and I can whistle awfully loud. This is the longest answer. Oh dear.

Extracurricular Activities: Well, I had never been involved in a regularly meeting club in any dedicated way until I joined the Math team this year. I went to just about every meeting, even when there were just one or two people there besides me. And then, I guess something has to mean something to you if you get jittery about it. I remember the first time I went to a meet, I was buzzing or shivering, or I’m not sure what the word is as the rounds went on. It was pretty exciting, and it really helped me do my best.

I guess Fictional World History Club means a whole lot to me also. I’m starting a Fictional World History Club next year, (we got approved!) but I haven’t really started that yet. Basically, we’re going to draw some kind of map-atlas-thing, and then the club leaders will assign each member a nation! Each one will have its own problems, skills, and technologies, and that club member will have to solve the problems, develop new sciences, guide the political development of the country, and build a unique culture for it. Some of the ideas are pretty humorous, like having a country that has not discovered cloth, and instead makes clothes out of large sea-sponges or something. At the same time, since we can take creative liberties, we can have things like floating boat-cities, underground villages, and all sorts of things that would be too costly or embarrassing to occur in reality. Um. It should be pretty fun, I guess? We’re thinking of printing “history textbooks” from one of those websites online that let you publish books, but only print them as they’re needed, if all goes well.

Academic Accomplishments: I guess the moment when I most felt like a star intellectual-athlete was during the AP Statistics exam. Though traditionally not the most challenging math course, the test was quite exciting. On the open ended part, there are 6 questions. It suggests that you split your time into two sections: 2/3s for the first 5, and the rest for the 6th one. So I was taking my time and chugging along slowly, and around the third question, I noticed that the person sitting across from me was bouncing up and down in their seat and writing furiously, so I sped up a little bit. Just as I was starting number 5, they announce that there are only 10 minutes left! Needless to say, my handwriting suddenly got exponentially more messy. The first alarming part after that was that I ran out of room for the last part of question 6, so I had to flail my arms about and holler to the proctor that I needed a scrap paper. So she slowly started moseying off to get it. It was pretty terrifying. Then, I started question 6! Traditionally, this question is about nothing you have learned in the class, and is instead about applying what you’ve learned in the context of something completely different. Like, talking about skew or variance, or things we usually don’t discuss much. All I remember is drawing the worst bar graph I have ever made, and then whooshing through the next few parts. Then, I turned onto the last page and discovered a black wall of text, balanced precariously upon a never-ending table of values. In some kind of Math equivalent of THE ZONE, I saw a few words in the large field of letters and knew what to do, picked a number out of the table with lightning speed, and wrote a short paragraph, at least 50% of it in CAPS LOCK FURY, and put my pencil down as time was called. It’s a bit of a difficult accomplishment to explain. Um. I used some kind of Math Star Power? Super Saiyan Math? Math Rambo?

Future goals and dreams: Well, I subscribe to this one blog that shares interesting things happening in Japan, and a number of things have been really inspirational. I think one of the biggest ones is this Music Crew named Maywa Denki. They build weird instruments that work mechanically, and have silly performances now and then. In a typical video, at the beginning, he’s playing a glass harmonica, which is a long, oddly shaped glass tube spinning about. The player wets his fingers and rubs them on it to produce eerie sounds. (They’re in horror movie soundtracks a lot.) Then, some other things happen and there are electric mallets playing xylophone type things and little bugle-horns and something that looks like a bunch of guitars attached together at the tuning-part. So, um, I’d like to learn various types of engineering and computer programming so that I can both put together ridiculous machines and interact with them using computer software. It’s technically a bit of a hobby. I’ve been doing things relating to that already, though. I learned on the internet somewhere about Circuit Bending, which is where electric kids’ toys are opened up and short-circuited until they make absurd, dissonant sounds. I bought a boxful of various electronics parts and a few Playskool keyboards and tried it out. The results were more exciting than I expected (and I didn’t even electrocute myself). And then I’ve also made a few computer programs where you can record sounds and then loop them back and forth and do silly things with them. Um, right now you can draw a sound wave and then use your keyboard to play it. It’s pretty interesting, because you can go from a smooth, pure sine wave to a bitter, angular one during the same note. Oh my goodness, sorry for writing so much. I get carried away. Similarly, this doesn’t seem like a proper dream – more of a great hobby idea.


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