Legacy & Evolution

The TwentyEleven Project was established back in 2010 to capture the “senior year experience” before, during, and after; authors who wrote for this blog posted from their perspectives as juniors, seniors, and college freshman. The goal was to capture this unique period of time in life, and the changes that come with it.

TwentyEleven ended May 2011, when the seniors on the blog graduated that year. Now, the old group of authors has come together again, six years later, to write and share how their lives have changed since this blog ceased to be active. The new blog is aptly named The TwentyEighteen Project.

Much has changed in the six-years that have passed since this blog ended. If you were a fan of this blog when it was active, I hope that you will join us on this new endeavor.

Thanks for being apart of twentyeleven, and we hope to see you on twentyeighteen.

-Will

P.S. Outside of twentyeighteen, I’ve also been active on my personal blog, The Final Summer. Feel free to check out that blog if you want to know what I’ve been up to since twentyeleven ended.

2012.

Well, it’s official. Class of 2011: our year is over.

Yes, it did technically end way back in May, at graduation. But now, it’s finally the class of 2012’s year. They finally are near the end.

Meanwhile, we are still very near the beginning of our new lives. I wish you all the best in 2012, and hope that your endeavors in college, trade schools, work, the military, or anything else are successful.

Keep in touch.

– Will

P.S. I finally get to tag this post as “The College Perspective”…. How exciting.

The Senior Sign-Off:

Bear Bash, a.k.a. the annual school lock-in for graduating seniors, was freakin’ amazing. There was always something to do, and there never really was an awkward “well fuck, this is boring as shit”-moment (except for the slideshow— something about seeing pictures of the same people over-and-over again for thirty-minutes straight isn’t exactly “fun”). The hypnotist was hilarious, and seeing people do some crazy shit was awesome.

ANYWAY, getting back to the original point of this post, I wanted to give you a breakdown of the swag I managed to leave with. You basically get prizes for having a pulse at Bear Bash, but you can also make some cash off of the various games they have scattered throughout the gym.

Here’s what I left with:

  • $25 in cash. I probably could have made more if I kept playing “money pong” (it’s beer pong, basically, but instead of someone drinking after you make a shot in the cup, you get a dollar), or if I went up to the blackjack tables though. I can’t really complain though— leaving with an extra twenty-five Washingtons is better then nothing.
  • a $25 gift card to Wal*Mart (everyone who was at Bear Bash got one of these)
  • a $25 gift card to Conoco for gasoline. (I won this from a raffle.)
  • a pair of cheap sunglasses with “Class of 2011” printed on the side

…and that’s it. In reality, that’s a pretty decent haul, but there were people who left with over $40 in cash, and much, much better prizes from the raffles. They raffled off a laptop, two 19” flat-screen TVs, Blu-Ray players, and other awesome stuff. They also had some pretty odd prizes too (seriously, who wants a gift certificate to a floral shop? or a random plant?) that seemed completely out-of-place. I realize that most of these prizes are donated, but maybe the people donating things could choose more relevant prizes (read: electronics, electronics, dorm stuff, electronics).

Awkward prizes aside, it was an awesome night. I had a lot of fun hanging out with my entire class for the last time. And while I’m semi-consumed with a feeling of bitter nostalgia, I’m also excited about what the future holds. College is a much bigger and better place then high school could ever be, and I would gladly skip over my summer to be living in Bozeman right now if I could. But time, like always, passes at it’s own pace, and we must live in the present regardless of our wants.

So let’s enjoy this last summer before the real world hits us, class of 2011. Let’s hang out with our friends who are moving away for one last hurrah. Let’s tear up Billings for everything it’s worth before we leave the city lights behind. And most importantly, let’s leave for college without regrets, because this new beginning is the mark of a clean-slate; your independent life begins now.

Use it well.

– Will

No Regrets.

It’s 5am. The birds are singing morning melodies outside my window. The night is aging and the stars are slowly losing their dark mystery to the morning haze. My mind is at ease and my thoughts are collected and calm. Unusual for me after being at such an amazing party (Bear Bash!) But instead of drowsiness, worry, anxiety, or the countless list of “things Anna MUST do” running through my head, I am filled with peace and a sense of security. Sure, my future is uncertain and a giant leap from my former way of life, and yes, in only two and a half months I will be driving to California, my new home. However, I have no fear. No worries. And strangely? No regrets. I look back on my high school years fondly, with warm memories and even failures that have aided me to be stronger.  If you knew my back story and the things I went through, you might ask “How can you look back and feel so… good?” The truth of the matter is, I think I’ve realized something very important about life. Through these four years if teenage drama, massive piles of homework, hectic schedules, and personal tragedies, I’ve learned that every bad situation is not the end of the world. Every time it seems like I had fallen too far to get back up,  God proved me wrong. He reached out His hand and said, “Let me help you with that.” I look back with a smile on my face. With warmth in my heart. I hit a lot of bumps in the road and accumulated a few bruises, but for every bump, there is joy, for every bruise, there is healing and love. High school has taught me to be my own person, and not to define myself by who hated me or who enjoyed my company. Rather, it taught me to define myself by God and His unending love. High school was a time for everyone to figure out who they were, and that journey continues into college, the work force, or the armed forces. Our lives are all connected and everyone has a story. Everyone has something you don’t know about them. And everyone is on similar journey’s. No, we don’t lead the same lives, but we all struggle, we all hurt, we all dream, and we all love. We aren’t as different as we would like to think.

Despite the many bumps I hit, I don’t regret a single one. Because each bump has a story. Each bruise has a lesson behind it. And if it were not for those specific lessons and stories, my life would not be the same. I would not be on the path I am today. God has a plan for each and every one of us. He isn’t some kid sitting on an anthill holding a magnifying glass (I love that movie…) Rather, He uses those bad situations for good, and He uses them to mold us into people of strong character, integrity, charity, and people of God’s love. God is a huge part of who I am and of my life experience thus far. He has shown me my errors, corrected my perceptions, and taught me how to love. My patience with people has grown exponentially, and my love for myself and for God’s Creations has followed suite.

Although this chapter of my life is over, a new one has begun. I plan to take the lessons I learned in high school and apply them to my future goals. I dream, I imagine, I create. I strive to succeed, and strive to live every day like it could be the last I’ll ever have. One very important lesson I learned from high school is that you never know when another curveball might come. You never really know when your life could be turned upside-down. So instead of defining yourself by what you do (sports, music, activities, academics), define yourself by who you are (loving, kind, generous, strong, honest, etc.) Don’t waste your time trying to be somebody else or please someone else. Don’t try so hard to “fit in” if the mold you are attempting to fill will harm you and compromise who you are as a person. Look ahead to the future, but don’t wish your life away waiting for the next step on the “ladder to success”. Live in the moment, and make every second count. Living in the moment does not mean try to party and live recklessly, but it means to live your life fully. To fulfill yourself and others. To love, to laugh, to learn. To truly live. Pour into others. Create long-lasting, strong relationships built on firm ties that are not shrouded in lies, petty envy or deceit.  It is NEVER too late to mend a broken relationship, or to apologize for a wrong that happened years ago. It is never too late to forgive or be forgiven. It is never too late to love those who did not treat you well. And it is NEVER too late to say yes or no.

Life is a journey. Take it one step at a time. Keep your goals in mind, but remember that today only happens once. Strive to live your life to the fullest. Remember to live, laugh, and love. But most of all, keep positive and try to live life with no regrets.

Signing out, listening to the bird sing me to sleep,

I am yours truly,

Anna

Sometimes I wonder…

You know, I may never see most of you after high school. I may never know what you become, if you thrive or just survive. If you succeed or fail. If you marry or stay single. I wonder how your lives will be shaped. I’m curious how you’ll all grow, who you’ll become and what you will do. I wonder what each of us will contribute to the world and somehow become Generation J (Justice) or just flop like so many people think we will. I pray we prove everyone wrong. I pray that this generation has something to contribute. Something to offer and something to explore, expand upon, and change. Life doesn’t end nor does it completely change after we graduate. College or whatever you see next in your life is not something to be partied away or squandered. The next leg in all of our journey’s is not going to be easy. We have a responsibility to this world and to ourselves to make our lives matter. To make a mark on this earth before we depart. How will we leave that mark? Will it be no more than a carbon footprint doomed to eat away at our planet? Will it be nothing but a money trail that will soon disappear as our offspring consume it for themselves? Or will it be something more? What are we going to leave behind? Will it be worth it? I just have been puzzling and puzzling. I want my life to matter. However, I see kids who really could care less. All they want to do is survive and maybe make a lot of money one day. They give up hope and would rather coast on by and die a small speck on the universe than make their life count. I urge every one of you to be determined, be responsible, and defy the low expectations put down on us. We are more than capable of drastic, life-altering change and improvement.

Just something to chew on.

Yours truly,

Anna

The Prospect of Time

As the final days of my senior year pass by, I pause for a moment.

I am going to be in school for another seven or eight years.

In that time, I hope to learn as much as I humanly can to, well, leave my mark on the world. I know it sounds excessively idealistic, and that I’m sort of “talking big”, but I know I have never said anything more true in my life. Living in mediocrity and having any association with commonplace character, actions, and dreams is something I wish to dodge with all my might.

My fixed and assured belief is that all the inhabitants of the world (eh, we can go ahead and say the universe) have a definite purpose. Truly, a purpose that does not affect the history and future of mankind is plain, dreary, and unfortunate. In a different light, look at our life spans–so short, so fragile, and utterly mortal. And yet…If one gives a bit of themselves into the equation of the common welfare of humanity, immortality is very much possible. I’m not going to sit here and say “WHY YES, I am going to be Dr. King Jr. or invent the light-bulb”, but that I have thought long and hard about what I am here for. It’s not for myself.

My future education and career choices will prove to be one of the most difficult tasks I might ever face. I’m not exactly certain what I will specifically spend my days painstakingly making my life’s meaning, but I have an idea. My life will mean something, and I’m not going to simply be living in a cubicle (think the office). =) I’ve thought about the fact I haven’t made it into a dramatically high ranking school in the nation. Would you like my opinion? I will pay less, and law school offers an excellent graduate education. Done and done.

Furthermore, I am not too certain I will stay in the great state of Montana after college. Because my counselor has even suggested it, I have seriously considered studying “abroad” elsewhere–likely domestically in a larger city–yes, people actually can in the same country. I just feel as though if I cannot find enough opportunity solely with my current choice, I will find others. Whatever it takes, I intend to become someone significant: regardless of how much work, tirelessness, pain, and time, I will win. I have a feeling if one offers their entire being to something, only good can ensue.

The Joys of Working in Retail

This post was originally scheduled to be published way back in November, but I never got around to it (or totally forgot about it). The message/content is still relevant though, because I still deal with the same shit whenever I clock in at work. Ah, the joys of working in retail…

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Work sucks. Like, a lot.

Ironically, when this post appears on the blog I will have been working for one hour of a four-hour shift. I will probably be at the top step of a ladder, dangerously reaching for some stupid shirt that somebody bought at some point during the day. Eventually, after grabbing several other items, I will take a cart filled with tons of shit out to the sales floor and begin restocking the items.

At some point during the night, I’ll get a page to assist a customer at one of the cash registers. It’s usually a stupid question that I will immediately respond to by saying, “No, I’m afraid we don’t carry that item in our store…” At other times, it’s just a ridiculous question that no teenage-male should ever be expected to know the answer to– even if he happens to work on the apparel side of a major retail store. For example:

Customer (female): “What is the biggest waisted pants you carry in the store?”

Me: “Well, what do you mean by “biggest waisted”? We carry pants in various waist widths, ma’am, and we also have a plus-size department…”

Cashier (also female): “No, she means like pants with the loosest-fit in the waist-area.”

Me: (Thinking: How the hell am I supposed to know that– I’m a dude! I don’t know shit about ladies pants– they never trained me about this stuff!) “Um… Well, I would probably try these pants, they have a special-fit waist… I would also try these pants over here… If you would like to try anything on the fitting rooms are over there.”

——————–

Along with awkward questions about women’s clothing that I haven’t the faintest idea of what the answer might be, I also get questions about bedding. I find these customers to be especially stupid– honestly, if you as a middle-aged consumer are confused about whether or not a style of sheet will fit your 17-inch deep mattress, do you really think the 17-year old sales associate will have a clue?

NO! He won’t have a damned clue, but he’ll read the packaging and give you his best guess and a reminder of the awesome return policy.

I believe my most memorable encounter with a customer occurred last weekend. A lady was looking at some stainless steel cookware and asked me to bust open a box so she could see the coloring outside of the packaging. We didn’t have a display out, and I wasn’t really aware of our policy on opening boxes for customers to examine merchandise, but I figured that if I resealed it appropriately, nobody would notice.

So we broke open the box, pulled out a single pot, and discovered that it was, in fact, not the same color on the box. Major disappointment. I quickly put everything back in the box and sealed it back up when the lady asked me to grab her two sets of another cookware set (red, like the original set was supposed to be). She then had me grab a red toaster. And a red coffee pot. And a red can opener. And a red toaster oven. And a red crockpot. And a red blender. And a red food processor. Essentially, if it was red and it was in our small appliances department, she bought it. She was buying all of this kitchen stuff for a friend for Christmas, but the friend was shopping with her and would be back soon. She then asked me to put the items on hold and quickly move the three carts of kitchen appliances out of sight. I hastily moved the few thousand-dollars worth of merchandise back to the hold room, wondering in my head whether or not it was “legal” for me to allow a customer to place this many items on hold. I assumed that because she had said she was coming back the next morning AND that she had left a business card that it really didn’t matter that much.

I also knew that I wasn’t working the next day, and that I really didn’t care whether or not it was against the rules. That’s just another reason why it rocks to only work on the weekend.

– Will

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Ironically, I had another customer ask me one of these “ridiculous” questions last weekend. I mean really, would you honestly expect a teenager to know anything about f***ing draperies?!? GAH! People are stupid.


The Boss-Man Returns…

As the unofficial “boss-man” of the twentyeleven project, I find it a bit disappointing that I have neglected to post on here regularly during the past few months. Life, or rather senioritis, overcame me during the past couple of weeks, and I was just too damned lazy and unmotivated to post anything on here.

That, and I was also “cheating” by posting stuff on another side-project blog. (I know, I’m disappointed in myself too.)

LOLcats give depth to emotion like disappointment, ya know?

Fortunately, you can still read the stuff I was posting on my side-blog when I was away from twentyeleven. There’s a bunch of stuff there that only a select few people have seen, so consider it bonus material. It’s like the extra features part of your favorite DVD, without the shitty ads for other movies that are “coming soon.” Where should you go to see these posts? Behind the Scenes: the official blog of OP13 productions. The most recent posts on BTS are mostly about my new camera, the Sony a390, and a few pictures that I’ve taken with it. If you dig back further, there’s other random stuff– some of it more personal, others about “behind the scenes” info involving The Final Summer and even the blog you’re currently reading this on, the twentyeleven project.

( ^ Hurrah for shameless plugs.)

There is no legitimate reason for why this should be here.

That’s all for now, folks. Look for a legitimate, ad-free post soon.

– Will

P.S. Yeah, I totally stole the lolcats thing from Joshua, aka The Professor. This was also done shamelessly.

P.S.S. LEAVE US SOME COMMENTS, DAMN IT! It’ll help us to shape our content to what you would like to see.

Forgiveness is a process. It doesn’t happen instantly.

Time for a rant/vent post. Apologies beforehand…

Does anyone else see this ever growing problem in society called instant gratification? Only, it’s not just with material possessions. This virus has somehow trickled into our emotional, mental, and relational lives. We don’t think we should wait out the given punishments our actions may merit. Our ability to take consequences and responsibility is dwindling and deteriorating. It’s a difficult thing to process and watch as it unfolds and devours our society. Instead of taking responsibility for our actions and accepting the consequences, we want to be forgiven and have every action looked past NOW. People don’t care if your life was ruined by what they did. They don’t care that you may not particularly want to be their friend again. No, all they want is to instantly be forgiven and their deeds forgotten. So they can do it to you again three weeks later with little to no consequence. Forgive and forget. Forgiving is a wonderful thing, yes, and we should never hesitate to do so. However, the problem arises when forgiveness merits normality. A situation cannot become the same as it was after an injury is inflicted. Your skin will never be the same after a scar has formed. Sure, it doesn’t hurt anymore, and you are able to live life normally, but the skin remains changed. Sometimes situations can be fully mended, but usually it takes time. LOTS of it. I’m afraid we are forgetting this. We are forgetting that time is the best medicine, that time is the only way some things can be rectified. Not everything can happen INSTANTLY. Not everything will go back to normal after you make a huge mistake. And we have to learn to live with that. To accept that. You will grow and become better for it if you allow situations to heal like they are supposed to. A scar that heals too quickly will eventually need to be ripped open again to heal properly. Same with a bone, or a broken relationship. We need to slow down, take a deep breath, and learn to wait.

Okay, rant over. Have a good day!

Yours truly,

Anna

Oh Captain, My Captain

So, apparently, there’s a big deal coming about, maybe you’ve heard of it (and no, for once it’s not me). There’s a new Captain America movie coming out soon, and you can watch the trailer for it here. Now, like his goody-too shoes DC compadre Superman (who Harrison Cooper talks about very eloquently at his blog The Hummus Offensive) the Cap gets a lot of flak for being an evidently simple character that is easily summable: America, fuck yeah; and you can’t beat my invincible shield. I think that this line of thinking is, as the Chinese say, wei wong (I’m going to Hell for that…) Captain America is my favorite superhero. Albeit, my view may be skewed because I’ve yet to actually read a Cap comic, but I’ve seen plenty of excerpts, read through plot lines, etc. I’ve done my research on the guy. And I love him, more than any other. But let’s get back to the purpose of this post, of which there are two primary lines of thought: to discuss how the character is incredibly deep, moving, and dynamic in comparison to static and simple; and my hopes, dreams, and fears about the movie that will come soon.

First, allow me to do this – the Captain is dead. The entire “time sync” shit Marvel is throwing out there is dumb and I believe (though have little evidence other than the author who killed him intending him to be dead forever as a statement) that it is a simple marketing ploy. Which is a shame. If the Cap solely belonged to the author, then he could kill him, and it would be terrible but it would give the final message. Instead, he and everything he stands for is being raped for a profit because why sell a superhero that is just going to die (see the whole movie thing and all the revenue it will generate from ticket sales and merchandise alone). Please keep that in mind if you read on. In fact, that arc (as well as his founding) will be the basis for my argument (as it is probably the best arc of his, from what I can tell).  What matters is his potential, which I feel typically has been underutilized.  Anyway, off we go.

So the Captain started as a skinny white kid who just wanted to kill some Nazis.  But in the end, he was just too small and frail and wasn’t allowed to simply enlist.  But then he was allowed to participate in a program that would make him stronger, faster, bigger – in essence, the perfect soldier.  Which he became.  Obviously, that is what he became, but I’ve heard some flak because he sort of just “got” better.  I would disagree.  Steve Rogers was a man with a goal, with a mind-set – to help people.  That’s why he wanted to enlist – not because Nazi’s are anti-American or fascist or whatever, but because they were hurting people (most famously the Jews, but don’t forget the large number of blacks, gays, gypsies, and basically anybody in Europe who wasn’t a German) violently.  They were waging a war of domination by any means necessary, especially if inhumane.  And he wanted to help stop it.

But he can’t.  He was, for all intents and purposes, bound to a wheel chair.  Imagine being Doctor X, but without the mental superpowers.  But instead, this was a metaphor, for finding that one opportunity.  Over and over he enlisted and he tried again and again and again to help, but he simply couldn’t.  And finally, he got his chance, his one chance, to be able to do what he felt he needed to do.  It’s as if somebody had offered this normal Doctor X the powers he has (which, I might add, anything with the mind is more metagming than anything physical (unless you’re the Juggernaut, but then, fuck you, cuz HE’S THE JUGGERNAUT!!!))  I won’t even cede the awesome shield.  It too is a metaphor, and a simple one at that – his code.  The morality, his ethics, his driving nature than inspired him to become the Captain protects him.  Nothing can stop a man driven to help people – be it bullets, lasers, or even death itself.  His shield allows him to accomplish the impossible, or at least attempt it without fear or hesitancy.

That in and of itself makes him more than just a guy who found his powers.  I’ll also note that he actually loses a considerable amount of the time (though I don’t want to take the time to find sources or whatever) in that he gets incredibly wounded or really just holds on, especially against his betters.  For example, take Captain America and imagine that we’re in a UFC of sorts, only of other superheroes.  Let’s put him against, say, Doctor X.  He’d lose, the guy has crazy brain powers that render his physical abilities essentially useless.  Wolverine – the guy is a mutant and would simply need to stab him in one of his many squishy spots, whereas the Cap would have to essentially break an unbreakable metal to kill him while outpacing the super regeneration.  Gambit, same outcome, he’d lose because Gambit rocks.  Thor, he’d probably lose because Thor is a God on Earth with the thunder of the Gods behind him (also a metaphor).  Spiderman, he’d lose because of the webs, really.  The Captain is not super.  He is a man – a strong and powerful one, no doubt, but still, just a man with the same limitations as any.  He can still die easily.  So what is his only defense against everything, be it bullets, explosive cards, or sharp pointy hand-knives?  His shield.  And we’ve already talked about what his shield represents.  And once he loses his shield, loses his conviction (look up the Civil War plot) he is a weak man again.  In fact, once he surrenders during the Civil War arc (which I’ll go into more detail in a second) and gives up his shield, his ability to be Captain America, he dies.  He is shot on the steps of a courthouse and dies there (again, fuck the time warp shit).

Obviously, he is not simply a flat character, or at least his origins aren’t.  Like Spiderman is a metaphor for puberty (which one could also take this a similar way, really) he is a metaphor for standing behind your beliefs, which are more than just “America, fuck yeah.”  My favorite excerpt I have seen from his comics is something I’ll link to right about here. In it, he recites a Marc Twain passage that he has memorized from his childhood and that has influenced him ever since. What I like a lot about it is also how he’s talking to Spiderman, it gives off this great feel and I can’t really explain it. My summation of the passage is: Every person must speak, must stand behind his convictions: to not do so is cowardice. To simply side with the majority is cowardice. If you feel something is wrong in the world, even when everyone else says it is right, you must stand, even if alone.

This is the Captain. He’s not the government’s poster boy. In fact, if you look at the link, he is the exact opposite, saying that the government is merely a puppet of the people. he is the embodiment of what I feel it is to be at least an American, if not a human being. Combine that with the story of the Civil War arc, and it’s like a great novel. In it, the government is making superheroes register themselves so that the government can use them, and the Cap stands against it. He feels that it needs reform, though he is not actually against the idea. Quite simply, it’s too much too soon, and he starts a resistance (against Iron Man, I might add). And he fights, quite valiantly and almost to the point of victory – until he realizes that he what he is doing is hurting the people he so loves. He sees paramedics, firemen, regular, ordinary people fighting and dying alongside the government forces, and it horrifies him. He so cares for people that he must stop fighting them – he physically can’t allow himself to continue. He drops his shield and is arrested. He throws aside his convictions for his love, and in the end, he pays the ultimate price for it.

It’s astounding, really, to think about it. How intense, how provocative everything is – one comic should be required in any American literature class (guess who I would like to be the protagonist). And now, in a gear shift that might kill most transmissions, picture the movie capturing all this. I know that they want to – it’s why the movie is titles “Captain America: The First Avenger.” It’s going to lead into the Civil War with Iron Man and Thor and everything. They are all related. But I sense that this movie won’t be able to fulfill my lofty goals for the Cap. I fear that they will simply make it a display of CGI and explosions, which would ROB the character. There’s so much they can capture with him, but I don’t trust that they can. If they do anything right, it’s keep him in WW2. That’s his time, it’s where he NEEDS to start – Iron Man can be elsewhere because the character allows it (it actually makes more sense in the present). I don’t know, I’m just… wary. I will see it, without a doubt. But will it be good is a totally different question. The trailer showed me explosions and spec effects, along with bad jokes. The actor, though he’s good, just doesn’t seem to fit the bill quite right – combine it with the fact that he’s one of the Fantastic Four and you see my issues already.

But I guess only time will tell. I know that I will see the movie, and I know that I love the Captain. I still want to get a tattoo related to him somewhere, simply because of what he means to me. But that’ll have to wait. For now, I’ll just keep my wall poster of him up and try to find that clock that was at Hastings again. And yes, there are this few pictures on purpose – I don’t want to litter the message with them. There will be more in later posts, though I promise you that.