LevGrossman

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Why I Went to Harvard and Then Yale Part I

After I graduated from college I had a publishing internship for about three months. I was the worst intern in the world. I have a truly humiliating proof of this, but fortunately this introductory paragraph is too brief to contain it.

About the only thing I learned during my short career in publishing — besides that I sucked at publishing — was that the trade lingo for the About the Author page is the “Ab Au.” (Pronounced “ab aw.”)

(Though I’ve never heard anybody actually say that besides the one editor who told me about it. Now that I think about it it’s possible he was yanking my chain. I was “that” intern.)

I have long been aware that the only interesting thing in my personal Ab Au is the weird fact that I went to both Harvard and Yale.

And it is weird. The other day I was watching the trailer for The Social Network, that movie about the founding of Facebook, and I was watching the scenes where Mark Zuckerberg is at Harvard and thinking, wow, yeah, Harvard, I bet that was some heavy shit. And then I stopped and thought, waitaminnit, I went to Harvard!

And Yale. Why did that happen?

The thing about me in high school was that I was a nerd. Which yeah, I know, but see, not that kind of nerd. Not the fun and/or cool kind of nerd. Not like Val Kilmer in Real Genius. Or even Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon.

I wasn’t amusingly eccentric. I definitely wasn’t the smartest kid at my high school,* not by a hell of a long chalk.

What I was was really really frightened. Essentially my high school years passed in a climate of terror, and the terror was of not getting into a good college. As a result all I did during high school was work and study, pretty much without interruption.

It wasn’t especially fun, and it definitely didn’t make me an especially fun or pleasant or interesting azithromycin 250 mg generic person to be around. Au contraire. I shudder to think about it now.

Here are three things I didn’t do in high school:

— skip a class

— dance at a party

— have a drink

What was I so scared of? It’s almost hard to remember now. I think I hadn’t figured out, or it hadn’t been convincingly explained to me, that in Reagan-era suburban America there were other ways to be Good and Happy besides impressing people with where I went to college. I had so little sense of who I was, and I felt so utterly  worthless, that I had to artificially prop up my worth, like some failing third-world currency. Some people go to Harvard because they’re really confident, other people go because they’re so completely lacking in confidence that they think they’re going to die if they don’t.

I was that second kind.

(Also, I didn’t get into Yale.)

It seems pathetic now. No doubt there are rich, complicated, interesting psychological reasons why I was this way. I hope so anyway.

I’m not saying it was a bad idea to go to Harvard. I’m definitely not saying it hasn’t been useful sometimes. I’m just saying that my reasons for doing it were pretty incoherent, and I am so damn glad that that period of my life is over.

Maybe one day I’ll write a post talking about what Harvard was actually like, if anybody’s curious about that. But first, stay tuned for Part II, in which I’ll talk about why I later actually did go to Yale.

That’s an even worse story.

*God, when you look at the Wikipedia page for my high school you realize that it is just a breeding ground for power nerds. I knew that Scott McCloud went there (which is why all the high school scenes in Zot looks eerily familiar to me), as did Eran Egozy, who co-founded Harmonix and basically co-invented Guitar Hero. But so did Amanda Palmer. And Kurt Busiek. Jeez.


27 comments on “Why I Went to Harvard and Then Yale Part I

  1. Jen says:

    Interesting! I’m SO glad that part of my life is over, too.

  2. “Maybe one day I’ll write a post talking about what Harvard was actually like, if anybody’s curious about that.”

    Yeah, could you? I kinda forgot freshman year.

  3. Nicholas D. says:

    Ah, Harvard. I went to a state school undergrad, worked hard, and found myself at the H for law school. Rebellion ensued.

    I do miss it, though. I love the institution.

  4. Dags says:

    Look at it this way: I was amusingly eccentric/interesting/au courant/insert-random-positive-yet-geeky-descriptor-here teen. Wasn’t even all that terrified (all right, there was that Latin teacher… but she would’ve made Caesar himself pack up the dice and run from the Roman hills!), and I actually had a pretty good idea where I’d land academically right from the start.

    It didn’t make me any happier to be there. You see, I loathed most of the unimaginative idiots I was forced to spend my time with… which, in turn, didn’t make me an especially fun or pleasant person to be around. Au contraire. Where did you think the “cynical bastard” bit came from?

    Get yourself two brain cells to rub together at that particular age, and there’s just NO WAY you can win.

  5. […] I explained about the Harvard part here. Now I’m doing the Yale part. […]

  6. […] Why I Went to Harvard and then Yale Part I and Part II Parental warnings: depression, fear, high school, extreme boredom […]

  7. Détails sur ANCIENNE COUVERTURE DE LIVRE EN CUIR VINTAGE 1950 60 PONT DE VEYLE

  8. Pasquale says:

    The Toys R” United States videos are extended commercials that occur to be on YouTube,” said Josh Golin, the
    executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Youth.

  9. Howdy! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  10. A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you ought to publish more on this subject, it may not be a taboo matter but usually people don’t speak about such issues. To the next! Many thanks!!

  11. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My website is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from some of the information you present here. Please let me know if this alright with you. Many thanks!

  12. Hi would you mind letting me know which web host you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a honest price? Kudos, I appreciate it!

  13. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  14. There are numerous prospects for traders with forex
    no deposit bonus, in the forex industry.

  15. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been doing a little research on this.
    And he in fact bought me lunch because I discovered it for him…

    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But
    yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your web site.

  16. Curt says:

    Showing your free Fortuneteller just how the cards they drew play out in real
    life … so tell them specifically how the cards connect to your scenario after the reading.

  17. An individual of my co-employees did this not long ago and I eventually confronted him about it.
    To learn more about Ways to Earn money with Twitter, visit Twitter Secrets and Tactics today.

    There are a lot of factor to learning how to sell well on Twitter and there is still a lot
    of research taking place to find the best methods.

  18. Hola tengo 24 años y mi nombre es Ángel Daniel Cazares.

    Vivo en Athus.

  19. We used the software through the raining working day, specialized climatic conditions moment. It creates myself look and feel type and classy, I bought the particular rather long a particular, Smart Balance Wheel http://www.fashionhoverboard.com kind of exorbitant for me considering that I have got brief supports, but it really functioned correctly.

  20. hey there and thank you for your information I have definitely picked up
    something new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical issues using this web site, as I experienced to reload the website many times
    previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK?
    Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage
    your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Well I’m adding this RSS to my email and could look out for much more of your respective
    interesting content. Make sure you update this again soon.

  21. How’s that for something will definitely consider as teachers. Many educators (especia . Do men demand different supplements than women? Men and women

  22. Hi everybody, here every person is sharing such experience, thus it’s nice to read this website,
    and I used to visit this web site everyday.

  23. Many thanks, this site is really useful

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *