Thursday, May 26, 2011

Northward Bound

I thought for sure that I was doomed to failure.

I'd been scanning Craigslist for days, trying to find the elusive apartment that fit within my price range but was also located in a neighborhood where I wasn't likely to get stabbed on a grocery run. The City of Fate is an expensive place, and $500.00 a month is roughly worth an unfurnished four-by-ten-foot bedroom on the second floor of a crack house.

At least that's what I thought.

I had just come across an apartment that was only $700.00 a month (a bit more expensive than I would have liked, but still workable) and was asking Gay Writer for advice when my situation suddenly changed.

"Hey, do you know if this is in a good part of the city?" I asked in a Facebook message in which I included the address.

"The Land of Empresses?" he responded. "No."

He seemed to take pity on me, the clueless 23-year-old from Southern State, because several minutes later another e-mail came through.

"Look," he said. "Worst case scenario, you can just live with us."

"Seriously?" I asked. "How much would you need for rent?"

Gay Writer is thirty years old and the son of one of my father's best friends. His successes as a magazine contributor and small business owner have given him the financial wherewithal to live on the Island, the exclusive and upscale center of the City of Fate. The Island is an icon of American innovation, a powerhouse of economic might, a nexus of fashion and taste and art and entertainment.

As of June 3rd I will, for the price of $600.00 a month, call it home.

"You're only paying $600.00 to live on the Island?" Beautiful Cousin asked. "I can't believe that."

"I know, right?"

"That wouldn't even be a lot for an apartment here."

"Their place is gorgeous, too. They're super gay, so it kind of figures."

When I arrive in the City of Fate in a little more than a week, I will be the guest not only of Gay Writer but also of his husband.

The idea of two men being married (and, what's more, of their marriage being legally recognized) is still a bit strange for me, not because I have any objections to it (obviously) but because I've simply never seen it before. I just hope that my presence in the home of a married couple isn't awkward.

I would like to be out a good deal of the time on weekends, but I know nobody in the City of Fate save Beautiful Singer, whom I met last year while on the set of a television show.

Speaking of which, now is probably as good a time as any to confess that I did not have an exclusive audience with a record company last September. The truth, just as unlikely, is that I was a contestant on American Idol.

Now, I know that I deceived you. I know I was dishonest. My only defense is that I was pretty much compelled to lie. I went to the audition with every intention of blogging about it, but I held off because I didn't want everyone to get excited only to be let down if I were rejected. Once I made it past the first round I should have been clear to celebrate all over the blogosphere, but I'd scarcely taped that plastic number to my stomach before they had me locked in a confidentiality agreement so tight that I could have practically been sued for saying the words "American" and "Idol" together in public.

I still wanted to share my experience with you, though, and so I thought of a plausible deception of roughly equivalent significance.

I'm sorry.

Anyway, Beautiful Singer and I met at the first audition and stayed in contact until we were both eliminated in the fourth round. Just in case you're thinking of rewinding to earlier this season and looking for a massive head of blonde hair, don't waste your time; I never appeared on television (though my father, for reasons I cannot begin to understand, did). What goes on behind the scenes is much different than what is seen on the screen and many of the contestants are not featured on air at all. I'll have to dedicate a post to it some time.

So, hopefully in Beautiful Singer I'll have a friend. Literary Agent also assures me that there will be plenty of interns for me to mingle with and I'm looking forward to that as well.

That's pretty much where I am right now.

Thomas and I are leaving for Grand Ma Normal Family's home in Native State tomorrow that I may take advantage of the one likely opportunity I'll have this summer to visit with her. We'll return to Southern State on Sunday or Monday, and then next Friday I'll board a train and head for a world different than any I've ever known.

It's something I await with great excitement.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Between North and South

Not knowing where you're going to be living in several weeks' time can make life invigorating.

I thought about that yesterday evening as I packed what remained in my dorm room and prepared to leave Major University for a summer whose trajectory remains uncertain.

"So," said Patrick, who's been my roommate since I returned to Student Town in February. "When are you going to be in the City of Fate? I'll have to try to come up and see you."

Patrick and I have grown closer than I've ever been with any other roommate, a fact reflected in our decision to continue living together next year. I'd be happy to see him over the summer, but I'm not sure that any reunion will take place in the metropolis he mentioned.

"I don't really know if I'm going to be there," I answered. "But if I am, it would be from June to August."

He rolled his eyes.

"Well, let me know," he said. "We can meet up in the city or at your parents' house."

"The city or [my] parents' house" pretty aptly sums up the two radically different paths my life could take over the next several months.

The road upon which this unique fork sits began, as so many things concerning me do, with anxiety.

You see, I happen to be a very good journalist. I also, as fate would have it, happen to despise journalism.

Back in 2008, bereft of any concrete career aspirations and gnawingly aware of the slow march toward graduation, I made the decision to add a journalism minor to my degree and actively pursue employment in a field where my writing ability was a huge asset. In many ways this strategy proved wise.

I quickly accumulated both experience and praise, beginning as a lowly reporter at Major University's student newspaper before moving up to the senior correspondent position at the school's political news site one semester later. In 2009 I was made an assistant editor at Student Newspaper and this year became an editor in my own right at Student News Website. Along the way I interned in a public relations department and a newspaper and freelanced for another newspaper and a website, winning accolades from my superiors at each step.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could be hired as a reporter tomorrow if I so chose. That is not what I choose, though.

Interview-based journalism would seem like a natural fit for me. It's writing- and people-intensive, its foundations built on two areas in which I thrive. Yet as any laborer will tell you, doing a job well does not mean doing a job happily.

I am quite good at journalism. I just don't like it.

The harried pace, coarse realism, and base mundaneness of it has never appealed to me, nor has the meager pay that, in a field to which my heart was dedicated, I would probably be willing to accept.

Once I came to that realization, I was tasked with finding another goal to work towards. Somewhere in the search for a career that would allow me to combine my knack for writing with my love for creativity, I stumbled across the idea of entering the publishing industry. Naturally, none of the professors, academic advisers, or career counselors at Major University, all of whom are supposed to guide students towards viable post-college lives, thought to mention to me a job that involves reading books all day and then selling those books for obscene amounts of money (the closest anyone came to it was when a faculty member advised me to remember that I was unlikely to get paid for "being creative").

Major University, which extorts thousands of dollars from me every year, proved similarly useless at helping me make any connections once I decided to seek out an internship with a literary agency. It would be almost comical if they weren't robbing me blind.

One of my professors actually suggested that I take a summer internship class, which, once I signed up for it, would guarantee me a spot of some sort in public relations. The fact that this (conveniently) involved my spending about $1,000 in tuition money without being placed in my desired position did not seem to dampen his ardor for the idea.

In the end it was Google, and a little bit of a luck, that led me to one of the publishing industry's jealously guarded gateways. If there's one thing I've learned about publishing houses and literary agencies throughout this process it's that they're exclusive. They don't advertise openings because they don't have to; people come to them.

The first person I came to was the president of a small agency based in Marble City. Her company, she said, did not have room for an intern, but she referred me a man, Literary Agent, whom she believed could help.

I sent Literary Agent an e-mail and he directed me to the internship coordinator for the Book Agency, which is where he works. I spoke with the coordinator and was very pleased with what I heard; the Book Agency allowed its interns to work under individual agents and would tailor the students' time at the company toward specific genres. After a few enthusiastic exchanges I completed the Book Agency's extensive application and sent it in.

About a month passed and, preoccupied with another application, I didn't think about the Book Agency as much. When I was rejected by a different house, however, I sent an e-mail to the Book Agency's internship overseer to inquire as to my status. She never got back to me. I contacted her on three separate occasions, waiting to hear one way or the other, and I didn't receive so much as a peep in reply.

"Dude, if they're not e-mailing you back then you didn't get it," Patrick said. "Let it go."

"Oh, I know I didn't get it," I said. "But damn it, I am going to make them tell me no. I refuse to accept their just not responding. I'll be a pain if I have to be."

"Whatever, man. I think you're being dumb."

When yet another missive to the internship woman went unanswered I once again contacted Literary Agent.

"Literary Agent," my e-mail began. "This is BrightenedBoy, the student from Major University. You may remember that I contacted you earlier in the spring regarding a possible summer internship. I have not yet heard back from Ms. Doesn't Answer and was wondering if you knew when internship decisions would be announced. The Book Agency remains my first choice for this summer and I would be thrilled to be selected. As the school year draws to a close, however, I must make a decision so that I can set up living arrangements, employment, etc. BB."

Literary Agent responded to me within fifteen minutes, asking that I re-send my resume and cover letter. Twenty minutes after that I had my internship.

"You can intern directly under me!" he said.

His tone indicated that he was conferring some kind of privilege on me, and so I looked him up on Google to see just exactly who I'd be entrusting my professional life to this summer.

What I found genuinely shocked me.

Literary Agent wasn't just a reader at the Book Agency; he was the president. And the Book Agency wasn't just an upstart company; it was a major industry presence, one with New York Times bestsellers on its current roster of represented works.

Through persistence and my inability to take a hint, I've secured for myself a truly amazing opportunity.

Almost right after I got it, though, I was faced with a significant decision. The Book Agency is based, as most such agencies are, in the City of Fate. Literary Agent, however, by a ridiculous twist of fortune, owns a home in Southern State about twenty minutes away from me and divides his week between the two locations.

"It honestly doesn't matter where you work," he said. "If you want to stay in Southern State you could do that, and if you wanted to go to the City of Fate you'd be welcome to do that. I'll find something for you to do wherever you are."

The logical side of me echoed what my parents were saying: that I should stay home, remain where things were familiar and safe and where I could save huge amounts of money while still doing the exact same internship.

The other part of me, though, the one that houses my passions and my dreams, knows that foresaking a chance to live in the City of Fate would be unthinkable. It's a place of magic and mystery and opportunity, a cosmopolitan island of the fantastic and the impossible, a beacon of the Northern life to which my Southern heart has always been drawn. If I can go, I must. If I don't go, I fear I will regret it the rest of my days.

So I'm trying.

Another lazy Southern summer is on the horizon, but for the first time in my life I may miss it. I'm striking out as best I can, and the fear that causes tells me it's the right thing to do.

Friday, May 6, 2011

So Drunk

Because I am.

I so want to bang my Chinese roommate...and he so is 18, and so not fucked as I am.

But I am...yipee...

So gone right now...

Love you to death...

Bye bloggers.

So obliterated.

Love you, too.

(Even fucked beyond my limit, I insist on being grammatically correct)

Friends are calling...

Bye, fuckers.

Love you.

What's my real name?

Just kidding...BB.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Selected Entries: January, 2004

In January of 2004 I was fifteen years old and, though I did not know it, embarking on a year that would profoundly change my life.

As Christmas Break ended and classes resumed I began to learn about my birth-mother's ancestry, demonstrated the germ of what would become a deep interest in politics, continued to obsess over grades, and documented a week of epic snow.

I also hinted for the first time that we might be moving to Deep South State, and, accordingly, contemplated with fear all the mysteries of the future.

January 1, 2004

Another year has passed. It seems like just yesterday that I was standing in this very house ringing in 2003 and wondering what the year would bring. It’s incredibly difficult to imagine that twelve months have passed since then. 2004 seems unimaginable to me. I wonder if I’ll be here again to welcome 2005? I hope not.

January 3, 2004

The Bush Administration continues to press its fascist legislation onto Congress. Bush, who campaigned on a pledge to support states’ rights, is now the subject of a headline that reads, “Bush, allies, continue anti-states’ rights push.”

I wish that everyone could’ve seen that headline in September of 2000. Well, now it’s 2004, so we have a chance to boot the lying double-crosser out of office.

Surprisingly, Howard Dean seems to be the most viable candidate for the Democratic nomination.

It’s now nearly noon, and so the U.S. unmanned spacecraft “Spirit” should have by now landed on Mars. Hopefully it didn’t crash. I have some homework to do. My United States History teacher gave us some.

January 4, 2004

Well, tomorrow we go back to school. Although it’s been more than two weeks since I set foot in BTHS, I’m still not too eager to go back.

Personally, I could do with another two weeks of winter vacation. These last sixteen days of no school and no worries have been pretty darn fun. If it were up to me, we’d get off December 15th and not come back until January 15th. [I was clearly anticipating university attitudes on this subject.]

January 14, 2004

Today I began considering trying to get a scholarship from the Sons of the American Revolution. My great-great-great-great-great grandfather was Revolutionary Ancestor, an aide-de-camp to General Washington, who would become our nation’s first president.

It was this ancestor's suggestion to cross the Delaware River. This gives me such a feeling of pride; without my family it is quite possible that there would be no United States of America.

My grandmother was delighted that I was interested in this and referred me to some things to read. I did read some, and I learned that my ancestors on Anne's side were complexly intertwined with the Revolution. Knowing this makes me happy. That’s so cool! Someone in my family got to hang out with George Washington!

January 16, 2004

We spent second period in the computer lab due to testing. The juniors and seniors in that class can be surprisingly nice. A junior boy told me all about the different parties he goes to. We both spoke extensively about our parents, parties, different styles (aka, my hair), sexual relations, and a multitude of different things.

Teenagers are uncannily open with one another. I can’t believe how many people I’ve known or know who’ve had sex! Lacrosse Boy even tried marijuana once, and First Twin's mother caught him, but didn’t tell his mother. I’ve never had sex or done drugs…but, secretly, deep down…there’s a part of me that’s excited by wild, dangerous parties. I wouldn’t ever actually do anything, though; there’s too much at risk.

I found out today that I made Select Choir (so did another boy I know) and that I’m ranked in the top 25% of my class. I’m so excited! I start work tomorrow.

January 20, 2004

The president’s State of the Union Address is this evening. I plan to be watching (and, from what I hear, I’ll be one of sixty million to do so. It’s absolutely frigid outside, 19F I’d wager. In a shocker, Kerry won the Iowa Caucus! I wonder how he’ll do in New Hampshire? Hopefully well.

January 22, 2004

Today was the last day of the semester, and, for me, the last day to attend three of my classes. Now, only United States History and Chorus II remain left as constants.

As far as the final exams/midterms go, I got an A in Business Law, an A in Biology, an A in U.S. History, and not an A in Geometry. I’m not exactly sure what grade I’ll be receiving in Geometry, but it can’t be too good; I’d be downright shocked if I pulled a C on my final.

I came dangerously close to a nine-week average of 89% for Business Law, but today I turned in a load of work that raised my grade from an 89% to a 90% and it raised my final grade from a 90% to a 91%. I got a C on my U.S. History midterm, but that really wasn’t entirely my fault.

January 24, 2004

It’s snowing like crazy outside! It’s been doing so since a few hours ago, or, in other words, late last night. The weather forecasters called for only a small bit of snow today, but I suppose they were wrong. Their track record hasn’t been all that impressive of late anyway. The last major snow storm that we were supposed to get left us with a whopping 2” of snow.

It really is pretty outside, though; what I would call “snoe.” Well, now, I’m going to pray. I find it incredible that I can speak directly with the Creator and Master of the Universe.


The snow continued much longer than expected. Its lightest flurries had not entirely disappeared until sometime, I’d guess, in the early afternoon.

Powell was assigned to shovel the driveway, and I the walk, but he did such a poor job that I went back over his sporadic, uninspired work. I think that I did it quite nicely. As a matter of fact, Mom was later so furious with him for it that she paid me ten dollars and bought me a Starbucks frappuccino.

Well, I thought that we got some snow today! Tomorrow evening and into Monday morning Beautiful County is expecting more than eight inches of accumulation, followed by, at approximately 7:00a.m. on Monday, a nice coating of sleet. And all of this means…no school on Monday! I’m treating tomorrow just like a Saturday!

January 25, 2004

Mom is making her delicious chicken noodle soup today. It’s perfect for winter days like this, though I wouldn’t fancy it during the summer. Well then, I guess we won’t be having it too often if we move. Oh, that’s right, I haven’t told you yet. We could possibly be moving to Deep South State within the next few months.

Mom was promoted last week and now she’s been recommended for a job there. If she gets the position it is highly likely that we'd be moving before my sixteenth birthday, which is only in April! We won’t know for a little bit whether or not she’s been accepted to fulfill the position, but I must say it looks very good for her. We were originally supposed to move to New England State, but we kind of did an about face, I guess.

I’m naturally excited that we might be moving; I mean, what a change! Dad said our house there will be much bigger, with a hot tub and a pool built in standard. He’s also discussed the idea of hiring a Spanish nanny. At first I thought that this sounded unrealistic, but given how much Mom and Dad will be working when we first move, it’s actually highly feasible.

I can’t believe that this is all even happening! Things have changed so much since my childhood! In my view, I have the perfect life, anything I could ever want and more. I mean, I do well in school, I have many friends, and I come home every day to a beautiful home and a wonderful family. I have a job, but I’m sheltered and supported. If I were to live like this forever, I really don’t think I’d mind. I only wish that this great existence hadn’t started so late (high school), because soon it will all be over.

In two years I’ll be a senior! I swear, there are some days when I wish with all my heart that I could have this life but reverse my age to that of a seventh-grader. I mean, I’m still sheltered now; it’s just that that period is coming to a close. And I’m sure that in January of 2006 I’ll be looking back two years and wishing I could be a tenth-grader again. I thank the Lord for the time that remains.

January 26, 2004

Well, as expected, no school today. I heard it on my alarm radio this morning. And Mom and Dad expect that we won’t have school tomorrow either. It’s supposed to be raining sleet and an inch of ice this evening. Added, my best friend Lacrosse Boy says that we’re supposed to get more snow as well. I hadn’t heard that one.

Just because we had off of school today doesn’t mean that we were spared any work, though. Oh, no. Powell and I trooped out into the balmy 18F weather to shovel the foot of snow that had accumulated in our driveway overnight. By the time that we had finished (and, given the conditions and our haste to be done, it wasn’t a very good job) all that I could feel of my feet was an icy, cringe-inducing unpleasantness.

I won’t say that it was painful (at least not too painful), because it wasn’t. It was just a very uncomfortable sensation. You know the feeling that you get when you hear someone scratching their nails against a chalkboard? If you could feel that in your feet, that’s what it was like.

As soon as I was inside I fled to the bathroom, where I took a nice, hot shower. Because my feet and hands were so cold when I got in, the water, which felt normal to the rest of my body, seemed scalding to them. That type of hot, though, the sort of comparative hot that seems hot only because you’re so freezing, doesn’t really hurt. You feel like you’re showering in boiling water and that it should be very painful, but it’s not.

I hope that we’ll have off of school again tomorrow! After all, we are supposed to get an inch of ice! However, I’m just not completely sure it’ll happen. Once again, I hope. I’ll have to get a good look at the weather this evening.

January 27, 2004

There was no school today either. I must say, this is awesome. And, we’re supposed to get four to eight inches of additional snow (and ice) later today. All of this is something I’ll miss desperately if we move to Deep South State, where it’s normally 70F in January. Oh, boy. I sure can’t wait for that!...not. I will really miss winter.

January 28, 2004

We had off of school again today, but it is almost certain that we’ll be in school tomorrow.

January 29, 2004

Today was wonderful. Excluding Algebra II, I love my classes, and the change is nice. Survey of American Literature and Composition (or Survey and Comp., as it is called) is a wonderful class. The teacher, Fat English Teacher, is absolutely crazy, but in a good way. He’s very hyper, and especially for such a large, middle-aged man. He makes strange noises and is very quirky.

By the way, we had a two-hour delay today.

My Algebra II teacher is a freakishly tiny woman; Thomas is about 4’5” and she can’t be too much taller than that. She comes to below my chest cavity, and I have to look nearly straight down when talking to her. Her size is misleading, though; Short Math Teacher is a tough little midget.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Caught in the Act

The bathrooms in Major University's student dining hall are designed in such a way that a person walking in cannot see the people who may or may not be standing at the urinals about five feet ahead of him.

Because of that unique (and, in retrospect, ill-advised) feature, the young man who entered just as I was finishing up had no idea he wasn't alone in the room.

I pulled the flushing handle and walked around to the sink to wash my hands, whereupon I found myself face to face with a student a year or two younger than me who had his shirt pulled up to his chin and was clearly examining the profile of his own abdomen in the mirror.

His eyes went as wide as a raccoon's and the white cotton tee was pulled down so quickly that his torso became a flesh-colored flash.

I started laughing and he shrugged with embarrassment.

"Hey, I gotta check myself out," he said as we passed each other. "I just ate and I feel like I'm fatter."

"No judgement," I said from the doorway.

I looked back and smiled.

"I thought I was the only one who did that."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

In the Family

Yesterday afternoon I found myself in the unusual position of methodically identifying all of my own university's flaws and discussing them before an audience of prospective students.

"This is my favorite school so far," came the enthused proclamation. "I like this way better than Famous Southern State University."

"Famous Southern State has a better social atmosphere, though," I cautioned. "A lot of people here commute."

"Man, this dorm is so nice!"

"You'd be an underclassman, though. The area where you'd be staying is way crappier."

"Whoa, is that any astronomy tower?"

"You're not even majoring in astronomy."

"BB, do you not want me to come here?"

I looked over at him.

"Thomas, of course I want you to come here," I assured him. "I just don't want you to rush into anything."

At quarter after nine on Saturday morning my fifteen-year-old brother and I hauled ourselves out of bed, hopped into my car, and drove the hour and a half southeast to the Goldlands campus of Major University.

Thomas is only in tenth grade but has toured two other colleges already, and I figured that now was as good a time as any to show this possible music major around a state university that happens to have a respected music program.

Of course, the lofty academic goals of the trip were at some points obscured.

"You know everyone is going to think you're on this tour, right?" my brother asked me as we walked into the admissions office.

I shot him a severe gaze.

"That's not true," I replied shortly. "That's just ridiculous."

He smirked as we approached the desk.

"Are you here for the tour?" chirped a receptionist before I'd opened my mouth.

Thomas made ready to laugh at me, but I cut him off.

"He is," I jerked my thumb at my brother. "Just him."

"Okay," the receptionist smiled. "Last name?"

I gave her our surname and, after consulting her computer, she pointed back towards the doorway through which we'd come.

"Okay, great," the woman beamed. She turned to Thomas and handed him a small green bag. "You get this free Major University tote, and you guys can just wait out in the hallway. The tour will start in about twenty minutes."

We thanked her and took our leave, Thomas peering over the balcony.

"So," he turned to me, a dirty grin on his face. "No one's going to think you're on the tour, huh?"

My expression would've growled if it had had a voice.

"That was one person," I said. "And that was only because we walked in there together."

His expression of smugness was almost unbearable.

"Sure it was."

At around eleven-thirty an admissions coordinator came out to lead us to the school's movie theater, from which the tour would officially begin.

We'd not yet reached the stairs when she turned to me and asked, "Honey, did you get a bag?"

After a briefing that ran for about a half hour, the admissions coordinator turned us over to a student guide.

The Freshman was adorable, a petite, rosy-cheeked eighteen-year-old who talked about "boys' floors and girls' floors" in student housing, expressed her happiness that the gym was located across from the dining hall, and assured the parents of potential students that she'd learned a lot because she'd been on campus "almost a whole year."

Thomas saw a lot that he liked on our inspection of the school, and my obvious efforts to temper his enthusiasm seemed to confuse him.

"Dude, I like it," he said at one point. "If I like it right away and decide it's my favorite right away, what's wrong with that?"

"Nothing," I replied. "I'm thrilled that you want to go here. I just think you should consider many different schools. This was my first choice and I got in on early admission, so I never applied anywhere else or even toured anywhere else. As much as I like it here, I regret not looking around more."

A lot of this came out of my not wanting to unduly influence him in favor of Major University. Still, all my exhortations to caution aside, I was just tickled at the impression the school seemed to have on him.

After our guided look-through had ended we met Laquesha and another friend of mine for a late lunch in the student dining hall. Once we'd finished eating, Laquesha and I showed Thomas the Student Website offices, the primary Freshman housing area (where I lived in 2006), an on-campus diner, one of the gyms, my dormitory, Laquesha's dormitory, and a university cafe.

"This is awesome," Thomas commented as we looked through the floor-to-ceiling windows in Laquesha's fourth-floor dormitory and took in the whole campus. "The view alone is worth it."

"Well, trust me, she pays for it," I put in.

Laqeusha nodded.

"I try not to think about it," she told him. "It's like three thousand dollars a semester."

Thomas looked at me.

"You think there's any way Mom and Dad would pay that for me?" he asked.

It was the kind of question that needed no reply save the laughter I gave it.

On our way back to my car Thomas and I swung by the art building, which is where he'd be spending a good deal of his time if he entered as a Freshman music major.

We'd arrived at Major University at eleven o'clock in the morning and didn't leave until nearly seven o'clock at night, but after eight hours on his feet Thomas was still excited about all he'd seen, if a bit tired to boot.

This is not by any means a done deal; Thomas has two years of high school left, and I've encouraged him to sample potential universities widely in that time. Even if by his Senior Year he still sees Major University as his top choice, though, other obstacles will remain.

Major University is, for example, one of the best post-secondary institutions in the U.S. for certain fields of study, and its competitive entrance standards reflect that status.

Then there's the problem of cost: when he shared how much he liked the school with my parents and I asked them where else he should visit, my mother responded, "Western County Community College."

Their aversion to financing higher education does not appear to have relaxed with regard to Thomas, but that will likely be an issue no matter where he decides to go.

The important thing is that this is doable. Major University may be hard to get in to, but Thomas already has a sibling there and his grades are good enough that, with hard work, he could graduate high school boasting a solid GPA.

The money will be there, too, somehow. I also struggled with parents whose abundant ability but near total unwillingness to pay my tuition made college a constant fight.

I hope Thomas will never experience the nasty double vise of parents who refuse to help even as their high income makes him ineligible for government aid. Maybe our mother and father will have learned better by then. If not, he'll have loans and Grand Ma Normal Family, who's saved for all of her grandchildren. Assuming I've done well enough, he might even have me.

There's still plenty of time until then, of course.

Yesterday may one day be looked back on as my brother's first step toward university. For now, though, until those important decisions are made, it was just a nice Saturday.