Here we go……

Yes this is true. Yes I’m ashamed

Here+we+go......

Six foot, slender like a liposuction patient but in a good way, funny, charming, and actively able to complete a sentence in the presence of a woman who is not my mother. I was none of these things in ninth grade. In a way, I am also not any of these now, except maybe the lipo patient, but I think I pull it off. I came into West Bloomfield High School in 2010, a five foot nine awkward dweeb, recovering from a black hair dye inedent, buck teeth, the same shirts I had been wearing since fifth grade, and a hunch back that puts Quazi Moto to shame, all wrapped into a nice little box with a ribbon of “Couldn’t talk to a girl If he tried.” Still, I was a day dreamer. I dreamt of ridiculous stories for myself. Sure sometimes I found myself flying in Iron Man’s suit or living in a mansion bigger than Rhode Island, but most of all I dreamed I was a different person. The person I saw was confident. He could go up to a girl and say “How you doin’” like Joey from Friends. He could act his way out of a box and wrote the world’s greatest scripts and books. His friends adored him and everyone he met had an unmitigated desire to talk to him and learn who he is, somehow knowing that they could never understand it all. I wanted all of this, and I like to think if ninth grade Jason saw what high school has left me as now he would look at me and say “It’s a start.”

Freshman Year: Christ, this one is tricky. This one hurts. Not because I found myself in a deep and complex emotional vortex of sorrow that no one could possibly understand. I was not some lost soul floating in a pool of CONFORMITY! I was just….. I was just awful (see description above). I usually like to give myself the benefit of the doubt. I look back and say “Well, I was younger. We all make mistakes when we are young.” Still, when I think of freshman Jason I just want to hit him. In the face. Hard. He was just so painful. I often have a dream, when I think of my past, where I have developed a time travel device. Using this device I go back to these painfully awful moments. I grab Jason by the shoulders, throw him to the side, and say something better. Yes, this is my dream.

If you can’t tell by now, I think I’m a comedian. A notable trait of all comedians is a lustful craving for attention and admiration from those they are close to and strangers alike. When I was in ninth grade I wanted to step in front of everyone and go “look what I can do!” The only problem was, I would just stand there. I was a magician who would go on stage, do nothing then yell “TA DA!” I wanted attention and love but I had nothing to show. I would inject myself in conversations of others and try to swing it in my direction.

Student 1: Did you read the Hunger Games? I love that book so much!

Student 2: Oh yes, I loved it so much!

(Enter Jason from somewhere)

Jason: Suzan Collins is so great. I try and mimic her styles in my book “The Wearhouse.”

What I wanted to hear was:

Student 1: Oh my god, you write? That’s so interesting and cool and attractive. Do you have a girlfriend, I hope you don’t!

Instead I hear.

Student 1: Oh…. Yeah, she’s great.

I always classified myself as a writer, and not even in the sense of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Instead I would, and I kid you not, introduce myself as “The Writer, Jason Pauli.” At theater I would approach people I kind of knew and push my book on them, desperate for admiration.

Jason: Hey!

Student 1: Oh… hey Jason

Jason: Listen, I was just in a writing coma, where I block out all of reality and enter into the world of my book, and I wrote a character that I think was kind of inspired by you. Would you like to read it?

Student 1: Um… I don’t kno….

Jason: Okay I’ll go grab it! One second!

I envision that I step out of my time machine and find myself at the scene of the crime against social communication. Freshman Jason, like a lion to an innocent gazelle, stalks his prey, pencil perched behind his ear to signify to all that may not know that he is a writer. I stand near a door and yell “Hey Jason!” The young lion looks to the call. “Check it out! New Green Day CD!” I yell. The lion then shifts into a common house dog, sitting on his hinde legs, panting with his tongue out. “Go get it boy!” I yell as I toss it down the hall. The pup barks loudly and runs on his four legs down the hall chasing the tennis ball metaphor as he runs into a large dog cage. The room, and humanity cheer for hours.

 

Sophomore Year: At this point I was on my way to becoming a human being. I always do phrase it like that. This may be a little controversial but I don’t believe you are really a person until at least your second semester of your sophomore year. Now I’m not trying to say you are not a biological, fully formed human being until then, I mean… Well it’s hard to explain, you just sort of know what I mean or you don’t. Granted, that isn’t the world’s greatest argument. I wouldn’t expect to hear it in a political debate.

 

Moderator: Mr. President, what is your stance on sending troops into the Middle East as a counter terrorism effort?

President: Well, I really don’t think you can describe it really. It just sort of… is, you know?

When I say you’re not a person I mean you’re not done learning what not to do yet. Granted, you will always learn what not to do as you keep messing things up, but at that point you tend to have a pretty firm sense of “Well, I shouldn’t do that. What I should do, is something else” and then you do something else. I don’t think I was at that point yet. In my sophomore year I would see a situation and be like “Well, I shouldn’t do that. What I should do, is something else” and then I’m like “Or, I should do that, because..” And then I just do it. This is why I was not considered “fun” or “likeable” or “not awful at everything.”

Still, sophomore year was one of the biggest years of my life. I didn’t win any awards and I didn’t change the world at all. I got a date. I got a date, and then didn’t have another one for another year and a half. This was a major turning point for me because I had always subscribed to the idea that “If I act really distant and cool girls will flock TO me and ASK me on dates!” If anyone is reading this and is thinking “Yeah, yeah that makes sense” please realize that DOES NOT WORK! IT DOES NOT EVEN KIND OF WORK!

For the girl’s sake (yes it was a girl) I will not use her name. Instead I will substitute it with a famous celebrity. So I had a crush on Anne Hathaway for a little while there. She was a series of adjectives that I can’t say here, as to not describe her, but they were awesome adjectives! I had tried everything in the past to get girls to go out with me. I would pout, I would wear the same raggedy hoodie every day, I would listen to music and look deep. The thing that never occurred to me was to ask her out. And guess what, IT TOTALLY WORKS! Almost one hundred percent of the dates you go on will have been achieved by actually proposing the idea of a date to them! WHO KNEW!

So I went up to Ms. Hathaway in the atrium one morning and I said “Hey.” So far so good, but you’re on thin ice Pauli, keep cool. My palms began to sweat so I made sure not to touch her, because if I did she could drown.

She responded “Hey”. That’s good, that was the response I wanted. I asked her what she was doing that weekend. She said nothing, which was good because now she can’t back out and say she’s busy. So at this point things are going well, except for the monsoon in my hands but that was a problem for another time. Here’s where things started to go wrong. What do you think is a great date movie? The Notebook? Nahh. A Romantic Comedy? Child’s play! The Avengers: Earth Mightiest? Uhh, yes please.

So, for my first date of my dumb little life I took Anne Hathaway to see the Avengers, and things were going okay. I waited outside for her, I bought her ticket, bought her popcorn, engaged in conversation. We got into the theater, and I made sure not to sit too far to the back, because that’s where people make out, and I don’t even like my own tongue, why would I want someone else’s?

The movie starts, I’m sitting next to Anne, and I’m freaking out. I never thought I’d get this far so I never addressed the question: Do I put my arm around her? I found myself sitting there, not able to enjoy this MASTERPIECE of cinema because the whole time I’m wondering “Do I do it?” I sit in my seat and the monsoon starts in my hands, but then there’s a shift and it moves to my pits and forehead. I couldn’t bare it anymore, I had to try right? WRONG! I slowly move my right arm around the back of Anne’s chair, placing it gently on her shoulder. For a moment I feel relief. I think to myself “I did it, I am awesome! I should do this more often! Now she’ll be my girlfriend, and we’ll get married, then before our wedding we have a falling out but it’s okay because one day we meet up in the rain and meet up and kiss and live happily ever after.” That was the plan, except none of that happened. Instead, she takes my hand, gently grabs it, moves it back the way it came, and places it gently on my thigh, ending with a polite double tap on the top of my hand as if to say “And here it shall stay, forever.” It didn’t feel like a tap, it felt like a kick in the groin.

I never got a second date with Anne Hathaway, I figured about as much, and it destroyed me for years. When I look back on it I envision myself stepping into my time machine and finding myself in the hallway outside the theater just as the movie starts. I slip on my Batman costume and sneak into the theater at a hurried pace. An orchestral score accompanies me as I sprint up the steps. I catch past Jason in my sights, but he can’t see me, because I’m Batman. He only starts to move his hand when I jump across the aisle and in one quick swoop, stab his hand into his leg. He tries to scream but I cover his mouth and whisper “You’ll thank me one day.” I run toward the exit and he stands, blocking the projector behind him. He yells out “Who are you!?” And I stop, turning slowly towards him. The audience looks and listens as they stand as well. I look to him, his eyes wide with wonder and hope and I say “I’m Batman.”

 

Junior Year: Now if I told you this, you would probably think “He’s lying” or “He can’t possibly telling the truth! This could never happen, not in a million years!” Well as I always say “Some dude from Egypt parted the red sea (presumably) so crazier things have happened.” But Junior year the impossible became possible. I got my first girlfriend. CUE THE ANGELIC CHORAS AND BLINDING STROBE LIGHTS! Yes, Junior year some girl was blind enough to go out with me more than once! It was indescribable! We went on dates, we hung out, we did all that stuff that happens in movies! She would introduce me to people I didn’t know as “My boyfriend Jason” and I’d be like “wait. THAT’S ME!” I would reach to hold her hand, and she wouldn’t pull away! I would put my arm around her and she wouldn’t take it off her shoulder. I kept waiting for Leonardo DeCaprio to bust down a door and be like

Leo: Come on Jason! We need to get to the next dream level to plant the inception.

Jason: What? Leave?

Leo: Yes come on we have to go!

Jason: Actually I kinda like it here. Oh sorry, how rude of me. Sweetie this is Lenoardo DeCaprio..

Leo: Nice to meet you. JASON WE HAVE TO GO!

Then he’d shoot me and I’d wake up, but this time I didn’t. I stayed asleep in my weird world and it was awesome!

I remember how I met her vividly. It was late in the summer before my Junior year. I wanted to go see my friend Brian Baylor do a show over at a small theater called the Starlight theater. It was a really small place between a Lowes, a washing machine repair shop and a cat. I went to see him but I also wanted to hang out with this one girl. Her name was Kaitlyn and I thought she was gorgeous. I would describe her to you but I later found out she was significantly younger than me.

So I went with some friends to see the show late that summer. My friends went to pick up Kaitlyn to grab dinner before the show. She was rehearsing a show there so we walked in to pick her up. I was in a blue Doctor Who T-Shirt and jeans because how were people supposed to know I was a nerd unless my shirt told them. Once her rehearsal wrapped we began to exit the theater, but as I leave a voice cries out from the back “DOCTOR WHO T-SHIRT GUY!” I looked around for him until I realized that the “guy” she was referring to was a boy named Jason (That’s me!). I turned around and saw her, Lucy, and she was gorgeous. Slender, spotless face with fantastic eyes, a great pair of legs, beautiful brown hair and the most spectacular smile you have ever seen. If you looked up pretty in the dictionary she wouldn’t be there because pretty didn’t do her justice. She was the girl of my dreams that I thought I’d never meet because I didn’t think girls like her were real. She wasn’t a girl, she wasn’t a woman, she was an angel. She, was, perfect………. So I dated her friend Abby.

Abbie was also gorgeous, she was a little shorter than Lucy with redder hair. She was actually standing next to Lucy when I met them. After the show I talked to them both but really I was just talking to Lucy while some words fell to the side and Abbie caught them. I got both their numbers but I didn’t remember Abbie’s name at the time so I saved her in my phone as “Pretty Girl’s Friend”. I thought it’d be funny to tell her that after we dated, and it was. Abbie had an amazing sense of humor. After things never really worked out with Lucy I did a show over at the Starlight with them. This is when I started to have feelings for Abbie.

I had such a hard time of understanding everything that was going on. I asked Abbie on a date one day, and she said yes. That wasn’t that hard to grasp, I had done that before (see above). But for our date we went bowling, and it went well, which was weird. I did everything right and when I asked her on a second date she said yes, which really through me off so I said “Really?” and she laughed, which was actually the best way that could have gone down. We went on anther date, this time at my house. I cooked her dinner then we watched a TV show called Sherlock. I held her hand, and she held mine back.

Not long after she became my girlfriend, which you know was legit because it was Facebook official… which is actually where things started to go downhill.

I want to make a note here for the sake of anyone who might misconstrue the events that will follow. This was my fault, I messed up… because I’m an idiot (See above). Nothing that happened was in any way her fault, and I’m hoping that will be made pretty clear when I tell you what happened. And what happened, was I got paranoid.

So I had the girl. That was a goal I had since the fourth grade when I had my first crush on my next door neighbor Illyse. I had the girl and things were going well, I was seeing her a few times a week for the show and after that once every week or two. She wasn’t overbearing with text messages or constant communication, which I guess was the problem. I think my brain hates me. I would have dreams where I talk to my brain. It would say:

Brain: Jason, things are at a really bad place right now.

And I’d go

Jason: What are you talking about? I have a car, I have a girlfriend, I can go to R rated movies. Things are great.

Brain: Actually things are awful, but you can’t see it because you’re dumb.

Jason: Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Well what’s wrong?

Brain: Abbie doesn’t actually like you.

Jason: What?

Brain: Yeah she doesn’t even kind of like you. She thinks you’re weird and boring.

Jason: Weird and boring? I thought she found that endearing.

Brain: Well she doesn’t. She is really not happy about dating you. Look at your phone right now. Do you have any texts from her?

Jason: Ummmmm. No why?

Brain: A girlfriend who was into you would be texting you 24/7!

Now, a rational person who was having a rational discussion with their brain as if it were a person would say:

Jason: Nah, she has her own life. We’ve been dating all of a month why would she need to text me all the time?

That’s what a rational person would think, but keep in mind I just had a conversation with my brain, which is not a common trait of a rational thinker as much as it is that of one on acid. So instead of that, I thought:

Jason: Crap, you’re right, SHE HATES ME!

The next month was brutal. Anything that could bother me in the slightest was blown up and made to be the end of the world. She goes to a different school so I didn’t get to see her during the day. One day I met someone from her school who apparently knew her. I said “Hi I’m Abbie’s boyfriend Jason” and she replied “Oh I didn’t know Abbie had a boyfriend.” I never considered the possibility that Abbie might enjoy her privacy and not tell her common acquaintances details about her boyfriend making her spaghetti and playing laser tag. I did however think “Oh crap, she’s too embarrassed by me to tell her friends.”

I broke up with her, and to save any lasting dignity I will leave the story of the breakup for another day. That’s not the important part though. The important thing is that I had a great thing going for me and I let my paranoia take advantage of me.

I imagine myself going back in time to Jason, asleep in his room. My and Leonardo DeCaprio break into his room and sedate him. From there Joseph Gordon Levit comes in with a small metal briefcase. He opens it and hooks IV’s into Leo and myself. We all go under and wake up in the dream of past Jason. We find ourselves in the middle of a building lobby, both wearing suits, though Leo’s looks much better than mine. We make our way into the elevator and press the “subconscious button” but that triggers an alarm. Leo and I look to each other and as the elevator door opens we find ourselves being fired upon by dozens of guards. We open fire, me shooting like James Bond and the guards shooting like the bad guys in a James Bond movie. We run to the back where the vault is kept. Leo shuts a door behind me and yells “Hurry up, we’ve got the plant it!” I enter in code after code, but nothing works. I bang my hand on the safe and yell “Come on, COME ON! Think!” and then it hits me. It had to be the code, nothing else is as funny, simple and dumb at the same time. I punch in the numbers. 8. 0. 0. 8. 5. The vault swings open, revealing a large empty space with nothing inside expect cobwebs. “His rational thought” I say. Just then, the door is kicked open and Leo opens fire.

Leo: We have to get out of here man! They’re on us!

Jason: I just need to plant the idea!

Leo: We don’t have time! They’ll kill you and if we die here we go into limbo we don’t wake up!

I turn to him as the world becomes slow motion. Bullets whiz around our heads and his eyes lock with mine. “Save yourself” I whisper “I have to do this.” A single tear rolls down Leo’s perfectly sculpted face as he dashes into an air duct just above us. “Be strong old friend” he says as he climbs away out of view. I quickly pull out my pen and scribble a few words onto a piece of paper.

The guards start to rush in, firing blindly at me. Bullets fly into me, and I fall to the ground. The world becomes out of focus as I look towards the safe. Leo’s words ring out in my head “Be strong” he whispers “be strong.” I crawl my way towards the safe as the bullets continue to fly. And as the last bit of light escapes my eyes and last drop of breath escapes my lips, I place the note gently inside the safe, like how you would put a baby… inside a safe. And shut the door. Light leaves, sight, sound and all fade away around me, but I die with a smile. The idea has been planted, and Jason is safe. For in his mind lies one thought that will save him: She likes you, idiot.

 

Senior Year: As a write this, I find myself at my kitchen table on Friday, May 23, 2014. I just got back from our Senior breakfast and I’m hungry as crap. My cap and gown sits to my right, no doubt I’ll look gorgeous in it. I look out the window to my left and see a bright and sunny day. If I were a literary major I would write how this is symbolic for my future, but I’m not that kind of artist. I like poop jokes, not literary symbolism (Sorry Gatsby). My senior year was a challenging one, but also the best year of my life.

Whenever people would say “This is the best year of my life” I would look back on the year I had just had. I’d think to myself “Nope, not this one.” I would do this every year because I don’t like my reality. I have always lived in a fantasy world in my head. I live in a world where everything always goes my way. I don’t make mistakes. I don’t put my arm around the wrong person. I don’t let my paranoia stop me from having a healthy relationship. I don’t fall, I don’t stumble. I live in the world where I never fell off my bike, I just rode like Lance Armstrong without the steroids. I never acted like a freak in elementary. I never went through an overly depressive emo stage in middle school. Everything went my way all day every day. I have lived here every day for almost all of my life. It’s safe, it’s calm, and you know what? I don’t wanna live here anymore.

I don’t wanna live in a world where I never struggled. I don’t wanna live in a world where I never made a mistake or acted like an idiot. If I lived there, I can’t look back on how far I’ve come. I used to look back on my life and cringe. I’d wish I had never done those things, but now, I’m glad I did. I am thankful for every mistake I ever made because now when I look back on my life I’m not sad, I’m happy. I think back to all these mistakes and I laugh. I laugh out loud and go “Look at him. He has so much to learn.” And he will learn.

My mom thinks the world of me, many people I know think nothing of me, I think of me as somewhere in the middle. Could I be better? Sure. Could I be worse? See above. I know I can get better, and I have every intention on it. I hope I never get to a point where I say “Well, that’s everything. I’m fine right here.” I want to grow until I die. I want every day of my life to have at least one mistake, one thing I can look back and think “I should not have done that.” Because then I can learn, and I won’t make that mistake again.

People misunderstood Matthew MChabduiwdbaw’s speech at the Oscars. They thought he was just saying that he is his own idol. They thought that he was so arrogant that he probably has a bust of his head next to his bed for him to kiss before he goes to bed at night. That’s how it came across, but that’s not what he said. He said the man he wants to be ten years from now is his idol. He knows he can never be that great but he wants to be, and he will try to get there every second of every day. And when he doesn’t get there in ten years he’ll set a goal from himself, ten more years down the line and say “That’s my idol. That’s who I want to be” and then he’ll go. He will go and he will try, and he will fail, but he’ll still be a better man than he was at the start, and that’s all we can hope for.

I sometimes wish I had a time machine. I could step inside and go back to when I’ve made mistakes. I’d correct them by putting myself in a cage or going into Inception or even becoming Batman just to stop myself from making those dumb mistakes. Right now, I’d go into my time machine and I’d find that Jason, the one who’s about to stop me from making my mistakes. I’d grab him and say “Don’t do it. You look now and you see something that needs correcting, like a problem you got wrong on a test. Every mistake you made is what makes you who you are today. And who are you today? Well, you’re not perfect that’s for sure. But you’ll be able to walk up to a mirror, stare at your reflection and say with a smile on your face…”

It’s a start.

Jason Pauli
Remember that Lucy girl? I went to prom with her. Go figure.