Tag Archives: firsts

A Badger Tradition

Football is a long-standing tradition for any college campus. Historically, a college football stadium exists as a sanctuary for students to unite under a single common goal: to kick the other team’s ass. And as a Big 10 (14) Conference Member school, this tradition was all the more important to the growing body UW alumni, students, and Wisconsin-born citizens.  Saturday, October 17th, 2015 I entered the ranks of the Wisconsin Badger football student section alumni. I jumped around, ate chips and fondue, did the wave, and cheered for the UW Badgers (and I actually did have fun, surprisingly). So as far as I could tell, the tradition hasn’t changed much. I will try and recount to you some of the observational notes I made during this particular field study of Homecoming 2015: Purdue vs. Wisconsin.

First, I should describe what a standard game day can look like to anyone that hasn’t had the opportunity/ever wanted to come close to attending a Badger football home game.V__D97C(1)

Badger Football group picture! Check.

For those of you wondering, Badger Game-Day was not just one day. Sure, the game might have been on Saturday, but UW football did not claim only one day of the week. Preparations were needed for this most holy of days. Some would travel for miles, determined to stand in the bleachers and emphatically cheer their favorite team whilst simultaneously jeering the opponents. Others were up last night stockpiling brats and alcohol for tomorrow’s crowd of Badger crazed fans that would flood the streets of Madison. I would normally be sleeping at this time, because it was the weekend and the only time that I had the option to sleep. But not this weekend. I would sacrifice one day to have an authentic Wisconsin Experience.

Brats. Beer. And football games. That is all we cared about in Wisconsin. And it was evident on Game Day. As a precursor to the game, the innumerable masses of die-hard Badger fans would eat brats and drink beer like it was life support. Every bite brought them life. Every drink made them livelier.  And their spirits would soar, each fan ready to embrace their inner Badger. They would slowly meander (drunkenly stumble) out of the pre-game parties and tailgate picnics and towards Camp Randall stadium as the clock ticked closer to start time. Every minute, more and more students would gather ready to witness the spectacle they had been waiting for all week. They were gathered by the masses, clad in the symbolic Badger red and channeling their thoughts into the only conceivable outcome for that day: the bombshell defeat of the opposing team. The crowds would chant and cheer and scream and it wouldn’t make a difference what noise we made because it was lost in the roar of the crowd. It didn’t matter what we said because we were all saying it. We were all there for one reason. We would play hard. And we would win. There wasn’t any other option.

“Brats. Beer. And football games. That is all we cared about in Wisconsin. And it was evident on Game Day.”

Before knowing all this, I struggled to find a compelling reason as for why I should attend a Badger football game. It just didn’t appeal to me. Every Saturday I would walk out into a sea of red, swimming against the current with my dark black & blue wardrobe. Purposeful opposition to the inexplicable phenomena occurring around me. I was immune to the solidarity of student body around me. Nothing could have swayed my decision at that point. But something changed this year. I wanted to experience something different, something new, something that I could only do as a UW-Madison student. So I thought I might try it this once. I would give the football game a shot.

And I am glad I did. And I am glad we won (24 – 7). But even if we didn’t win, there was something about standing in that massive crowd, so large that I felt insignificant. It wasn’t a time to be special or be different or be anything. We were just supposed to watch our team, rally hard, and have fun. It was about being a part of something (even if I really actually wasn’t because crowd-standing is not that inclusive and anyone else could have been there). It was about continuing a tradition. Without the support of the students, the game would not mean anything. Something that can bring 80,000+ people together had to be special. There was no doubting that. And it helped that we were victorious that day! I am glad that my friend extended her hand outward and asked me to be a true Badger. I came along with her that day blind to the spirit of the Wisconsin tradition, but I emerged with a new perspective of UW sports and what it means to be a Badger.

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Jeez Louise! We look darn fine, don’t we?

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The Incomprehensive List of Freshman Taboos: A List of Do’s

I was tasked to come up with a presentation for the incoming freshman to prepare them for the year they are about to experience at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. What began as merely a discussion with the new students about life as a college student became an opportunity to reflect on everything that has happened to me since I have been in college. This is one half of a list that I have compiled detailing advice to heed for the fresh kids on the block. Enjoy!

Do Explore the Campus and the City

UW-Madison is much more than just a campus. The city of Madison has a vibrant population of free thinkers, humanitarians, and life-long learners to match the attendants of the university. Find your favorite coffee shop. Take a walk in the arboretum. Visit the free local zoo (did I mention that it’s free?) And discover the hidden history of the city – most notably the tunnel system! Adventure awaits you! You just have to go out there and find it.

Clearly Russell is a Badger! Follow in his footsteps and explore (or follow him and eat his trail chocolate)!

All rights to this video are owned by © Copyright Disney

Do Ask For Help When You Need It

College is an adjustment period. Everyone is transitioning past the awkward stage of pubescent hormone misbehaviors and into a semi-realistic introduction into the inner workings of the “real world”. The shenanigans do not stop. There will be times where you get yourself into trouble. You bomb a test. The love of your life dumps you. A family member passes away. Emotions run high in life the same as they always have but college intensifies those feelings. Whatever issue you encounter, do not be afraid to ask your friends or family for a little guidance. And the campus community provides a long list of people – from residential to medical – that are dedicated to helping you navigate your way here. Everyone feels these hard times. And we need to help each other get through them.

Do Be Present for Class

Being present for class means more than just showing up. Although showing up – on time I might add – is a good place to start. When you are in class you put away the phone, stay away from internet black holes (Facebook, Twitters, all dat other good nothin’ web space), and zip your lip and your friend’s lips as well. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Especially the professor. You are a student at a university. You pay to be here. So pay attention and your work will pay off. And if you are feeling like an overachiever, let some of those behaviors continue past the classroom. It can’t hurt, right?

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The picture says it all… Don’t do that!

Do Join A Club

It is tremendously easier to make friends if you have intersecting interests and joining a club will help you find people that share those commonalities with you. You might think that you are the only one harboring a guilty pleasure behind closed doors, but chances are – and the chances are high with an undergraduate pool of 29,000+ Badgers – that you aren’t the only one hiding that dirty little secret. So step out of the shadows and into the light with your freakish obsessions. Be loud and proud weirdos together!

Do Be Yourself

You could be downing doughnuts or other sugary sweets, busting some embarrassing moves to your favorite songs, geeking out over your favorite childhood cartoon or even if you see that she’s wearing short skirts and you’re wearing t-shirts, there’s one thing you should always do: Be Yourself. People appreciate the authenticity. And you will too when you find the group of people that accept you for all your weirdness.

Let’s get weird!
batman

Because it’s Batman

Flying, Falling, Freeing

I don’t know how this happened. I just know that it did. I remember earlier this year after watching “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, I wanted do everything that they did. For three weeks, I had new idols and new life ambitions. My focus on becoming a Kingsman faded with the initiation of finals week, but I still relished the idea. When my roommate mentioned it was his lifelong dream to sail through the skies at terminal velocity, my mind was made up. We were going to do it. On nothing more than a whim, I gathered information, identified cheap tandem skydiving sites, and coerced my closest acquaintances into my psychopathic fantasies of this potentially fatal pastime.

During the ride to the Wisconsin Skydiving Center, I was so psyched to be doing this. Skydiving?!? This was in my wildest dreams. And I would be doing it with my best friends. It was pure excitement. It was uninhibited joy. It would fulfill my thrill-seeking, adrenaline-crazed, sense of adventure quota for the month! Probably… But this would be a highlight of my summer. A highlight of my life.

Unlike them, we will all knew that we had parachutes… or at least we were attached to people that had them

Scene from “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, uploaded by Steve Hubbard

When we arrived at the Skydiving Center, my enthusiasm skyrocketed. We were here! I could see the hanger, the planes, and the instructors donning obscure jumpsuits. My objective was sitting right in front of me and I would waste no time to completing my mission. My roommates and I quickly signed the papers and completed the training. I didn’t really pay attention much though. I was too focused on the end result to pay attention to the basic life-saving maneuvers and standard operating procedure for basic skydiving survival skills. Talking about the experience wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t continue living vicariously through brochures and pamphlets. I want to create my own adventures.

Naturally, I volunteered to go first. I would tribute myself to appease the skies. The wind wanders aimlessly, searching to release unsuspecting travelers from the Earthly chains that bind them. We must sacrifice our Earthly natures in order to ascend. The sky has something to teach us and I was about to discover the secrets that it held most dear. Guru Laghima said it most appropriately:

“Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty and become wind.”

zaheermeditating

FAVORITE LoK Villian right here #trueflight

We would soar ever higher, above the cloud layer and over 9000(ft). But as we continued our slow ascent to the heavens above, the reality of the situation began to register in my brain. We were 10,000 above the ground. Two months ago I could only dream of the possibilities of floating among the clouds and observing the atmospheric processes that directed their movement. But now that my eyes – along with the rest of my body – could view the masses of clouds and feel the direction of airflow, I wasn’t so sure that this was what I wanted. But it did not matter anymore because we had arrived at our destination. The sky was the limit and we had reached the end of the line.

The end of the line meant that we were supposed to be ready. The instructor unlocked the latch and opened the door to my demise. My initial excitement immediately melted into a distressful terror. What was I doing at this height?!? 10,000 ft in the air? How did I get here? Before I had not questioned the sequence of events that led up to this moment, but now that was the only thought on my mind. I grabbed the rope with my hand. My mind was racing, but my heart beat faster. I put my foot on the step outside the plane. My inner being was telling me to choose life. And I was in the perfect position to fall.

But that’s why I was doing this. I wanted to live.

The time fell upon me. We were here and there was only one thing left to do. I longingly stared down to the Earth, remembering the comfort that solid ground beneath my feet gave me. I did not know what was going to happen, but I knew I had to do this. I took one last breath.

And then I began to fall.

We first fell backwards and I could only stare at the sky and wonder how there existed anything above our current altitude. But then we flipped and I was tumbling though the air, swirling in endless loops in all directions. We stabilized. I felt a rush of air blasting upward, cutting through me. Into my body and into to my soul. I tried to scream. I couldn’t hear any words. There was air all around me, but I couldn’t even breathe. I was shaking. There was no weight to my body. I didn’t exist anymore. But when I made the strange realization that I was nothing more than a disembodied conscious, it was then that I was free.

I looked towards the ground knew that I was flying. –Er, well falling. Plummeting more actually. But I was in the sky and I was the wind. I felt the acceleration of my body, falling faster and faster. And I extended my limbs to their furthest points so my entire body could capture this moment. My mouth was wide open trying to take in the experience because I knew that any attempt to gasp for air was futile. I had released my Earthly tether. I had entered the void. I emptied and became wind.

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A vicarious viewing of my socially deviant behavior

But then I was pulled upward. Yanked back into my body and out of this otherworldly experience. The parachute had deployed. Our freefall was over. We began our leisurely descent back down to Earth. And it was in these moments that I learned the most.

Now that the most exhilarating moments had fleetingly left us, it was time to reflect. My instructor told me to sit in silence and observe my surroundings. I looked across the horizon and down to the Earth, in search of new insight for my fatigued state of mind. I could see everything from up above. The organizational layout of the cities, the plots of land dedicated to agricultural production, the thin strips of black road that transport people from one location to the next. But none of the people below even knew that I was up there or that I even existed. I was an inactive participant, removing myself so I could observe the story unfolding before my eyes and the people creating it. As the wind guided us gently to the ground, it gifted me with the experience of flight and a new perspective with which I could view the world.

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7/10 for the landing – Didn’t quite stick it…

When I landed I was breathless. Partially because my heart still had not stabilized, but mostly because I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened! It wasn’t until afterwards, when I sat and reflected on the experience that I began to feel more down-to-Earth (likely because I had Earth to stand on now). But in all honesty, I did learn the power of sky. The power it has to see what others cannot. The immense beauty that it contained. And the potential for danger that it held.

Skydiving provided irrefutable evidence for my next step in life. It showed me that I should not be afraid to jump head-first into the unknown. It is where we can learn the most about ourselves and the world. It is completely necessary to push past the boundaries of our comfort zones. And sometimes it is the only way. We can move forward by being in the moment. We can welcome our journey into the uncharted lands of the future.

“… And once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci

EDIT 08/24/15 Changed quotation credit from Zaheer to Guru Laghima – newb mistake, I know…

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Wausau, WI

As I stared off into the distance, the bus made no efforts to disengage from its predetermined path. It continued to incrementally separate itself from me, simultaneously sabotaging both my sense of security and any plans I had of seeing my friend this weekend. The situation was slipping outside of my control and Wausau was slipping outside of my grasp.

These were desperate times, but I could not afford to look desperate. No one would help a hysterical hitchhiker. The situation demanded a calm, cool, and collected state of mind. The rules of supply and demand dictated that I should have an ample reserve. I could not lose in this market. Too much was at stake.

Fortunately the transfer point was located at the local restaurant in town. Instead of sinking my teeth into sub-par sustenance, I should have been devoting my time to figuring out a way to ensure I wouldn’t spend my entire weekend at Olympia Family Restaurant. I tried to vocalize my predicament to the restaurant staff, but without a purchase I would be outside of their concern and then promptly escorted outside of their establishment. Left with no other viable options, I sat down in moderate defeat to decide on my main course for dinner alongside a more pressing new course of action.

While I sat in solitude at my own little corner of Olympia, a concerned family overheard my pleas for help and offered a simple solution to what had become a complex problem. They would drive me to Wausau. I had found Southern Hospitality in the Upper Midwest. From that point forward good food and conversation were abundant, as our shared stories and exchanged laughter wafted though the air of the small town restaurant. The evening continued to drastically transform from dismal to blissful as my unfamiliar associates substantiated their magnanimous demeanor with monetary value. I was told before that there was no such thing as a free lunch. But a free dinner was never out of the question. In fact, it was right in front of me. And with my wallet still full and my stomach even fuller, we left the diner behind as we set our sights on the final destination.

The hitchhiking had commenced, complete with continued conversation from my benefactors. During the ride, they explained why they felt so compelled to help me. One night during a winter snowstorm their daughter had broke down on the side of the road. The conditions were too harsh for her to stay inside her car, but the tow truck driver took it upon himself to take care of this random stranger. They had to pay this kindness forward. They told me it was the only way humans could make it through life. I had a “no-good-deed-goes-unreciprocated” policy and the good fortune I had been blessed with was no exception to the rule. One day I would pay it forward. But for now, I would enjoy all the perks of being on the receiving end of random acts of kindness.

If this was the standard package for a person engaging in the art of hitchhiking, then I could endure a day of being pampered and protected from the hardships of the traveler’s life in exchange for the student price and the routine recreations of the local charter bus. Although it was an untimely and inefficient mode of transport, it was the far more spontaneous and exhilarating option. It was something to remember. And if I wanted this memory to last, then I had to savor it while I still could.

In short, hitchhiking had accomplished my mission. Their kindness extended not only to the inside of their vehicle but to the inner lining of their wallets. They left me in Wausau, WI – directly in front of my friend’s house. I left with words of wisdom and a Karmic pledge to pay it forward in the future.

With the help of these strangers, I had successfully hitchhiked to the promised land. And nothing else mattered.

Reckless Abandonment

Before the completion of my junior year of college, I had promised my friend that I would spend a weekend with him in his hometown. Given the condition of my mind during the ritualistic mental torture of finals week, no one should expect the fulfillment of this promise. But a promise was a promise. Besides, I could not turn down new opportunities. Even if I was clueless as to what we would do for an entire weekend in Wausau, WI, one thing was certain. I trusted my friend. I knew he would be a good host and try to make this weekend a memorable one. No matter the circumstance, I knew that I would enjoy my time there.

It was decided. I printed my ticket, packed my bag, and used mapping software to survey the new territory I would visit. Although I digitally explored the local surroundings and gathered all necessary items, nothing could truly prepare me for the journey I was about to embark on. I would learn that the hard way.

The ride to Wausau should have been simple, tame, and uneventful. While past bus trip experiences instilled a sense of adventure and romanticized the potential for life-long friendships among total strangers, this bus trip destroyed any previous notions of idealized traveling tales. They were replaced with stories of woe and strife and many other exaggerated vocabularies to overdramatize the reality of a bus trip.

Bus transfers were supposed to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience, but this transaction of precious cargo proved to be more than just a bump in the road. I hadn’t known that we were supposed to wait for the transfer point. I decided to preemptively remove myself at the stop before the transfer location. I asked the bus driver for the location of the transfer point and I began to walk in that direction.

Little did I know that I discarded my only form of transportation and sent my dreams for a weekend retreat to the graveyard. It was reckless abandonment with the roles reversed. I had recklessly abandoned my guide. And it was time to suffer the consequences of my foolish actions. The run-off-the-mill transfer point capitalized on my less-than-average capacity for common sense and resulted in the pursuit of a bus. My happiness would have to wait.

To make matters worse, my friend’s phone would be inaccessible during the time that I was scheduled to arrive. He would not see my frantic distress signals. I might have had more luck sending smoke signals than text messages. My misfortunes had accelerated from bad to worse in a manner of seconds. Honestly, at this point I was willing to try anything.

And suddenly, the events of the day led me to a stark realization. The ticket that I had printed was obsolete. The amount of items I packed was insufficient for my extended residence in Stevens Point. The aerial photography I viewed would be the only glimpse I would ever see of Wausau.

It was plain and simple. I was stranded.

Hello World!

Although the term “Hello World!” is traditionally associated with the launch of a newly configured computer program, it now marks the inception of my own dark corner of the interwebs: “A Slice of Kai”

On this online data source you will gain insights into my life, personal thoughts, erratic behaviors, rambunctious laughter, unorthodox lifestyle and so, SO much more.

Beware of what you might see. You have been warned.

Hello internet. Hello.

– “The Sly Kai”