July, 2006, friday night, around 1 am, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I'm bored in my bedroom doing useless stuff on internet. The phone rings. A friend (who was clearly out of options to go out with) asks if I want to go out. "There's this dance club that we always go", he says. "It's a little bit underground, but I like it a lot". I never used to go out in Rio, don't ask me exactly why, but since being at home was terribly boring, I took a very quick shower, picked a cab, and went with my friend to "Casa da Matriz". It was my first contact with "indie music". After that night, not only that guy who called me became really a friend, but also that type of music would in some sense define who I am now, and I would go pretty much every week to "Casa da Matriz" until I moved from Rio in July, 2007. Funny that when he called me I didn't have a clue about that...
March, 15, 2007, Rio de Janeiro: Sunday afternoon and I'm watching a movie at a local theather. The phone rings. My roommate (an old brazilian woman, very nice, btw), who speaks English well, tells me that a guy from New York University just called looking for me, and that I should call him when I have the chance. I knew well what that meant. Acceptance in NYU! Of course, I didn't finish the movie (funny that I don't even remember which movie was), I ran to home like my life depended on it. You know, just like in the movies, when someone is very excited or anxious (or both) about something. Up to that point, I had only rejections from big schools like Berkeley and Yale. also, just two days earlier I went out to celebrate my friends's acceptance in Harvard! I was devastated because, among other things, I had better grades than him. I knew that he was going to do better than me because, oh well, he is better than me, but I didn't expect so much. I mean, he gets in Harvard, and I get just medium schools? How is that fair? I thought at the time.
So it was really a big relief to be accepted at NYU, the first top school that I got in (I would be accepted also in UPenn and Chicago, other schools at the top of my list). Anyway, I got home that Sunday and called the professor and confirmed that I was accepted. Next day, monday morning, around 11:30 am, I'm back at home, my roommate asks me if I was happy with the acceptance and I say: "Well, I'm just back from the celebration, what do you think?". I was more relieved than happy, like letting a big burden go away. And at that time it was pretty clear that I had learned how to party hard...
I don't know why I brought these events here. I was just thinking it's funny that some days become special when you're not really expecting them to be. I mean, at that Sunday, I didn't expect a call from NYU because, among other things, "they don't work on sundays", I thought. I was very miserable and that basically saved my week.
Some day last year, Bobst Library, NYU: I was there for god knows so many hours. Suddenly, the prettiest girl ever walks to me and asks: "1994 is, like, the twentieth century right?". Paralyzed by how gorgeous she looked, I just said: "Yes". Then she did a face like she was thinking: "Oh, such a stupid question" and walked away. I never saw her again. Later I was thinking: "Oh, you could that used that as a conversation starter, maybe that was the point, or you could have said how stupid she sounded, so she would be pissed off, and you could have used that as a conversation starter, but you should have said something better than just yes!" But then it was too late. I missed the opportunity.
What I'm trying to say is that life is about expecting the unexpected, taking the opportunities when they show up. you never know when you're going to have the chance of your life, something that could completely change your destiny... or not. The important thing is to be prepared and for most of the time I think I'm not, so I should make an effort regarding that.
All of this philosophical talk was (feel the irony...) motivated by 'Family Guy'. The irony is that I was watching 'Family Guy' in a saturday night just before going out (and getting ridiculously wasted...), and I am NOT a fan of that cartoon. On the contrary, I agree with the 'South Park' view that 'Family Guy' has random (and pointless) jokes and that it's just a cheap rip off 'The Simpsons'. But, mysteriously (or not), 'Family Guy' makes me laugh sometimes and even inspired me to write about it...
Anyway, the episode was about 'Peter' (the 'Homer' of 'Family Guy') getting nostalgic and wanting to go back to when he's was 18 years old. Then, in a ridiculous, yet funny way, his wish was granted by 'Death' (you know, the guy with the black coat and the ax...), and he was able to go back in time, but just for one day. But it turns out that he decided that he didn't wanted to go out with his girlfriend 'Louis' ('Marge'?) . Instead, he spent the night with one of his friends. The problem is that, at that night, his girlfriend, being abandoned by Peter, fell in love with another guy, changing the whole future.
When Peter came back to the present, he realized that everything was different and he no longer was married to Louis, and no longer had kids. Then, after some reflection with his talking dog (ok, Family Guy, I gotta admit, dogs don't talk on 'The 'Simpsons'. Am I being too hard on them? I think I am. I'll stop now...), Peter concluded that he should never have left Louis on that night. Thank god that in the Family Guy world things are so easy, and 'Death' can make Peter go back in time again and make things right. And, then, if he screws up again, he can go back again and again, until he does the right thing. The point is: an apparently small thing turned out to be vital for Peter's future, and he had all the chances to blow it, but he didn't. The same thing goes for my life.
What if I didn't go out with my friend at that night in 2006? He called very late, and I had every reason to turn him down, but I did not. Would I be listening to MGMT if I had not go out that night? What about the interesting people (by people, I mean girls) that I knew directly or indirectly because of that? Would I still be listening to emo stuff spending my saturday nights at home? Maybe not. Maybe I would be into "Indie rock" anyway. The point is, I'll never know. In real life, there is no 'Death' to make you go back in time. so I should stick to every opportunity, no matter how small or uncertain it may look like.
This really resonates on my actual moment, not only on personal grounds (that I'll not talk about here, I don't think that would help me...) but also regarding school. I keep thinking that "there is still a long way to go, that my PHD is 4 or 5 years in total, that is like forever, right?" But it is not. It's true that what ultimately matters is my job market paper (google it, if you don't know what that is!), but maybe the courses that I'm taking right now will lead to events that will determine what kind of job I'll get. Or maybe the courses are all useless and the network connections that I make now will make a real difference. Or maybe it will be an internship. The point is, life is too short and I cannot, and I will not, let things pass by.
Wow, a simple 'Family Guy' episode led to this. I gotta give that cartoon more credit! What happened to Peter in the episode that I was talking about? I do not know. I didn't finish it because I was so eager to go out. Last night, the episode was just a way to put me in a good mood, to get psyched to go out. Only after 4 hours of dancing, sleeping, having a small hangover, and going to the gym, I gave it more thought and decided to write about it. And maybe I will watch the entire episode now... See, my life is full of small ironies.
PS: I had a great time clubbing last time. They played kids, by MGMT. That, alone, makes half of a night.