Stay Curious

Staring at the yellow club bow tie resting just below my teacher's scrunched chin, I sat listening to his systematic dissection of my final high school paper. "Sentence five on page three uses the passive voice, you should know better," the infamous Clint Darling said stroking his immaculately trimmed goatee. Years earlier, as lore had it, Gus Van Sant had sat in the exact same chair, enduring similarly pedantic conversations. Inspired by these exchanges, Gus based the teacher's character in Finding Forrester after this very same English teacher.

Having been accepted to Colby a few weeks earlier, I sat pleasantly disconnected from the well-worn editions of Homer's Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn stuffed into the built-in wooden cabinets. Like a snowboarder looking down from a fast moving chair at the long lines of Camelpack-wearing yahoos waiting their turn below, I glowed with a naive sense of accomplishment having made it through the gauntlet only to wait in a similar line after a brief ride down the mountain.

As if bringing a comma splice to my attention on page four, Clint chimed, "I don't think you're going to graduate from college." Pausing to look up from my paper long enough to capture the look of disbelief on my face, he added, "You are too used to getting by on talent alone and haven't figured out how to put in the work."

Before he could continue his would-be monologue, I fired back "Why do you say that?" buying time to formulate my pithy defense.

"As I said, you have figured out how to get by by relying on talent and perception more so than genuine hard work," he asserted, removing his wire brim glasses from the tip of his nose and letting them hang loosely from between his index finger and thumb.

"Excelling in the limited range of ability of academia is barely a test of one's hard work and resolve," I said, rocking forward and dropping the two front legs of my chair back on the floor with a thud.

Four years later I sat in my last class of college at 9:15 on a sunny Friday morning. Oscillating between hungover and my default school-time daydreams (perfected after 17 years of practice), and rambunctious at the prospect of leaving lecture for the last time, I felt the minutes drag on like a seven year old boy's sleepless Christmas Eve.

Viewing college as a much needed four years of excused unemployment necessary to explore passions more than the time needed to find a significant other from a painfully similar background and hopefully make inroads on a lucrative, consistent career, I set off from the onset to experiment. Not in the 1960s, Fear-and-Loathing-at-College way but in the what-keeps-me up-at-night-scheming way.

I tried trading stocks. I tried surfing in 36° weather. I dated blond girls from prep schools. I tried running a student laundry business. I tried selling shoes through Flight Club. I even tried to be a student. I tried taking pictures. I tried rowing. I tried to get better at telling stories.

Despite getting a handful of C-'s on both my academic and extracurricular endeavors, I kept going with the stubbornness of a poorly trained Jack Russell terrier. Slowly but surely refining my area of search, I continue to explore.

These photos were taken on Friday, May 7th with my iPhone 3Gs and Canon 5D Mark II.

Mark Twain once said, "Never let your schooling interfere with your education." I like this quote not because it takes a shot at academia but because it suggests that education is a long-term endeavor, limited by curiosity, not by time spent studying at a respected institution.

Stay curious.


Out of Reception: My Last Month of College

I sat in my kindergarten classroom distracted by the other ruffians, the possibilities of the cloudless sky outside, and my teacher's shoulder pads. Idly playing with my hands, I picked at a patch of road rash from a bike accident a week earlier. Quietly ticking over Mrs. Basham's shoulder, the big hand crept towards 9 and the promise of wall ball and the creaking swing sets. The moment the bell rang, I knocked over my chair as I scrambled to the door.

Seventeen years and 3,300 miles away from the linoleum floors of my cold war era elementary school, I pass time in the final classes of my conventional education, checking my watch with the same eagerness as an ADD five-year old. Excited by the prospect of new experiences and a faster pace of life, I kick back in my chair. Instead of staring into the depths of my small hands, I flick and tap on the screen of my iPhone taking pictures of my last month of college.

Colby's woodshop in Sidney, Maine.

My last field trip, Belgrade, Maine.

Spending an afternoon in Sheep's Meadow, Central Park.

Subway maintenance, New York.

Riding my De Bernardi, Waterville Maine.

Master's weekend, Middlebury, Vermont.

Apartment searching, West Village.

Sitting by the Johnson Pond, Colby College.

Enjoying New England's oysters.

A Frito Bandito in Vermont.

Hopefully this time, I won't knock over the chair.

All of these photos were taken with my iPhone 3Gs and filtered with Colorcross from Camerbag.


One More Year Left

Today at 3:30 PM, I relinquish my title as Foster Huntington, Junior at Colby College and assume a more daunting one, Foster Huntington, Senior at Colby College. I have never liked school. In elementary school, I struggled with dyslexia and showed little promise as a student, finally learning to read and write at my grade level in the fifth grade. In order to make it, I learned to focus on the subjects where I had the potential to do well and avoid the subjects, such as spelling (I am 20th percentile speller), where my dyslexia prohibited me from succeeding. Instead of writing out homework assignments by hand, I learned to type and use a computer to spell check my work in middle school. Why fight losing battles when I can fight other battles as a favorite? My sheer lack of proficiency at some tasks and ability at others gave me a lifelong sense of humility and confidence to realize that it's okay to be different.

For the longest time, I resented going to Colby. I don't identify with many of the students blindly pursuing careers as doctors, lawyers, or investment bankers. I was frustrated by getting C-'s in my math classes despite getting an 800 on my Math SAT. I missed the Northwest's progressive attitude and recognition of passions other than the Red Sox and Patriots. However, recent conversation with my roommate Nick (follow him on twitter!), made me realize that going to a highly competitive, homogeneous school like Colby has accentuated my unique traits and forced me to pursue interests specific to my skill set.

A very smart man and mentor to me once said, "College is effectively four years of excused unemployment, so take chances and try things while you have a safety net." Taking this concept to heart, I have led an atypical college experience, pursuing many interests outside of school with the hope of finding something that I enjoy and excel at. I have sold hundreds of shoes, run a laundry business into the ground, started a website that allows snowboarders, skateboarders and surfers to define lingo, and was a signature away from dropping out of college to start a tech company with a few friends. None of them were home runs and I doubt that in my one year left on Mayflower Hill I will find my calling, but I think I am finally pointed in the right direction.

Here are some more links,
75 in Maine and a Concert at Bowdoin (Picasa),
12 PM Walk Out (Picasa).