Karl wrote this as a part of a senior project at Logan High School in 1999 when he was 17. Evidently this was an oral presentation and students were asked to bring items that illustrated their talk.

The Last Word

I am by nature a very introspective personality. I think about myself, I would guess, more than most. Much of my time is occupied with thouhts of my ideas and my relationships with the world, my friends, my family and my spirituality. When people ask me questions about my life or my thoughts I am, most often, brutally honest. I'm straightforward, loud, arrogant and physically in control of myself (something I consider very important). This assignment is nothing reeally new to me because I reflect on myself so often. I enjoyed hearing about the objects that hold power for my classmates as well as relating my own experiences and objects to others. I can't say I am significantly more self-aware for having done this assignment, but it is projects and thoughts like these that help me to realize what parts of my life I have failed in and in what parts of my life I have succeeded.

I lack discipliine on an unimaginable scale. It's hard for me to explain how my brain works, since I can't claim anything other than a singular insight for its inner workings. I have trouble doing anything easy and repetitive on an inflexible schedule and I also have trouble gettting things done on an extremely flexible schedule. I excel at the last minute and short deadline projects. My powers of concentration are exceptional once I get them rolling. The problem is my lack of discipline to roll. I've gotten better over the years, believe it or not, at working a long deadline. Much of this comes from having an interesting, full-time job over the summer. I hope I can find my discipline screw and replace it within the next six months so I can start my life without rattling.

For this project I examined my mind, my actions and my inclinations and found that I like me. Call it arrogance, but I would never switch lives with anyone. The odds of being born me (as opposed to being born in Somalia, for instance) are pretty grim. I remember last year in a class discussion I said that the meaning or purpose of life is to be happy. I caught a great deal of shit for that. I can only remember the horrified look on Ben's face. I think the gist of the discussion against me eventually decided that everyone's purpose in life is to be successful. If I end up a happy beach bum, businessman, techie, husband and/or father, I will consider myself successful. On the other hand, if I end up ruling the world or an insanely powerful journalist and I am happy, I will consider myself a success. I guess telling an honors class to relax and enjoy yourselves is just asking to get shot.

Role-playing games have been an important part of my life and my education. I did not include an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons book for this presentation because this kind of game is held in contempt. People see a game with no board and tons of complicated rules and it tends to scare them. I don't now if this is rooted in an ancient phobia of pretending to be smeone one is not, or just a total misunderstanding of the concept of the game. To alleviate any fears, I feel that I should say the concept of this game is to have fun. It is never taken very seriously and no one is ever killed or ridiculed during play. Now that I've given my disclaimer, let me explain what role-playing has done for me. I started playing when I was seven. Since then I have read thousands of pages of books for the various games I play hundreds of times. This, of course, fostered a desire to read and a logical brain (figuring out the damn rules) at an early age. Because playing requires several people (I tend to play with six to ten of my closest friends) social interaction becomes easier. I've always considered a healthy social life the most important thing for anyone of any age to have. One could argue that most of the people one sees playing these games are nerdy, anti-social braniacs who bathe once a week. The only thing I can say to this is that none of my friends or I fit that description and that it takes a fair amount of brainpower and creativity to decipher the rules and create a game.

I included a picture of my friends and me because my friends are the most important entity in my life. This is a picture of three other friends and me when we were in the seventh grade. It's the only picture any of my friends and I have ever taken and it does not include all of my friends, but it represents all of my friends (even those absent from the actual picture) and our relationship as males. Guys don't generally take pictures together and we haven't taken another one. We rarely talk abut friendship or its nature but everyone knows and can feel that these few peple are some of the most important people in their lives (myself included; I might be considered the mushy one of the group. Imagine that.)

I chose Teddy Roosevelt's biography because if I had to pick a hero he would be it. I read this book for Ms. Scharf's class last year because I chose TR as my meeting of the minds character. His loud and rowdy life was led with an indifference towards public opinion (strange for a politician) and a strong set of values and ideas that TR thought was the right way to do things. Whether he was right or wrong abut his actions, he always believed in them. He may be the ultimate man's man, but he is also a great role model for anyone who wants to say and do what they think. I see myself in much the same light (not necessarily the ultimate man's man). I do tend to say whatever it is that I'm thinking or write whatever I feel, rather than what I think my teacher or boss wuld like to hear. It has gotten me into trouble a good many times, but I still do it. Why? Because I dislike anything fake or half-real.

My C++ for Dummies book is a representatin of my computer aura. I had to put something in here about computers because they are, and will be, such an integral part of my life. I've got next year pretty well mapped out (and I hope it works). I'll get my Microsoft certification over the summer and go to work for my current boss at Prism Mortgage Company's branch office in Richmond. I'll be earning a living wage while going to college (most likely Chabot, but I may move somewhere else) and taking a couple of courses. The interesting thing about this book (and the skills that it represents) is that it is not the definition of me. Ask me who I am and what I do and I'll tell you, "I'm Karl, and I do lots of stuff" rather than "I'm a computer techie." The last thing I want to do is be a computer guy for the rest of my life, but at the moment this is an excellent opportunity to take a failure in high school and make him (me) into a productive member of society.

"Eye Boggling, Mind Peelings" is a chapbook from my creative writing class last year. Mr. Kass is the only teacher who has ever truly inspired me. I've always been considered a good writer, but he put the desire to write in me. Last year I wrote a new piece every week. In his class I could write about whatever I felt like. If I had been feeling introspective I could write about what was on my mind or if I was in a playful mood I could write something funny. I enjoyed a class where I could do whatever the hell I felt like doing. During the course of the class I also got much better at listening to people's comments on my work and commenting on others' work. I even got interested in publicly performing my poetry and prose.

The Tao Te Ching represents my search for the infinite. This book is what started my spiritual journey. This sounds cliche, but sometime around eighth grade I stopped thinking about religion as evil and decided that I should learn about everything religious. Reading this book was my first step. I still can't claim any affiliation with any organized religion. I don't think I ever want to either. I say that I don't worry about religion because I know the difference between right and wrong and, in general, I am a good person, so when I die it won't matter that I don't belong to an organization. This is also not entirely true since I think about religion and philosophy way too much for someone who doesn't care.

All of my items, alone and without explanation mean nothing. They are simply a collectin of books and a photograph. This alone tells a story about me. From a very early age (I can't remember exactly) I loved to read. The main focuses of my life, my power sources, are books. At first glance I doubt I look much like bookworm. I always have friends at my house, I'm always doing something, I always have an opinion and I almost always say it loud. Are bookworms not supposed to be quiet recluses? I suppose I have to say that with this project I realized how focused on literature my life is.

My most obvious failure is in academia. While I may have failed at school, I have not failed at life. I enjoy life, therefore I am not a failure in my own eyes. Everyone else in the world (those who know me, buncha' fools in China don't really care, do they?) can call me a failure, tell me I've thrown away my gift, but my life is a good one. I do feel guilty for all the heartache (and money) I've inflicted on my various parents and I wish there were a way I could make it up to them. I know that being successful later in life (my definition of successful, remember) will alleviate their suffering, but I hope a few A's and a graduation ceremony will keep them happy until I start my life.

Recording one's life, either by remembering it or by writing it down, is of supreme importance. "If one cannot remember where one has been, how can one know where one is going?" Our experiences, trials, triumphs, friends, family and genetics all make up our whole being. There may be parts of the human mind that can never be categorized but these experiences make up the majority of our persnality. Because I have a hard time remembering my past, if I had written it down I could look back on my life and see what kind of person I was and what kind of person I am. If I could remember more of my life I would not need to put pen to paper, but this is the only way for me to hang onto my memories. Our experiences can serve an an excuse for our personality, or more productively, they can serve as an explanation of what we are to people who have a hard time understanding us. I only wish that I had had the motivation to write down more of my life.