My name is Jennifer. Jennifer Susan Raymond, to be exact. I live in Los-Angeles, in one of those nice neigbourhoods that they always show in movies. I am in my high-school senior year now.
Let me tell you some things about myself. The first thing is that I'm a honour student. I especially like Math. Its high school exercises are easy and fun and the difficult ones, which can be found in puzzle books and Maths competitions, are very challenging. I'm also good in other subjects, but math is really my passion. Only my closest friends know this about me, everyone else things fashion is my passion ( I do live in LA-LA land!). Other than that, I'm blonde, have a cute face (I don't really consider myself beautiful, but guys seem to think so) and have and I'm trendy but with my own style. For a secret math geek, I sure have a social life! I'm very popular.
Finally, I should tell about Taylor, Taylor Lawrence. He's my best friend. We became friends when we were in the fourth grade and we both had detention for 4 weeks. We instantly became friends. When we were 12 and we started having, eh, sexual sensations. Naturally, we started dating each other. Then we both had a crush on different people, and we were relieved when we found out. We decided exploring our feelings would not be a worthwhile goal, and we dated other people since.
Taylor is probably even more popular than I am. Even though he wears prescription glasses, he looks great, and girls almost always agree to go with him on dates. (and sometimes ask him themselves.) One thing he seems to like, and I don't, is computers. He spends hours on end gaming and gawd knows what on his computer at home. Mine, on the other hand, is almost always turned off. I turn it on only to listen to audio files, do some random browsing in the Internet (either for research, or to kill time or whatever) or play Freecell or Tetris. I think computers are impersonal and boring.
It all started one day when I was attending guidance class, paying attention to the teacher detail what college admission boards look for in a resume, when suddenly it hit me: I don't have any special talents and have never really done any community service. Apparently, no prestigious college will prefer me over someone else? This has worried me so much that for the rest of the day, I just wrote down what the teacher said in my notebook thoughtlessly, as my apprehension about the issue grew.
I really wanted to graduate from somewhere prestegious and have the entire world at my disposal. My parents have always tried to impress upon me the importance of going to a good school. But my entire life I've been concerned only about myself and my friends, trying to be happy (and having a pretty good success at it), and just doing what school required me to do. I've never really been involved in any sort of voluntary work. Having always been cute and popular I never found it necessary to develop any special talents, unless you call hitting the gym twice a week (with Taylor), jogging and biking special.
I was relieved when I met Taylor that day, when we both finished school.
"Taylor, I'm worried about college." I told him.
"Why?" he said.
"I don't have any special skills and I haven't any community involvement."
"Jenn, you're sweet, intelligent and the kindest person I know. Every college will be glad to have you."
"So are most of the other candidates they get, but as opposed to me they do have some special skills or have been doing some sort of volunteer work for years. How am I going to get it by the end of this year?..by the end of this year!!?"
"Well, you might as well try."
"Learning a special skill", he said.
"A special skill? Like what?"
"You could study Sumerian!"
"Sumerian? What on Earth would I do with Sumerian?", I said, unamused.
"Talk to native speakers of Sumerian, of course."
Now I was annoyed. "They're all dead!"
"OK, ok. How about Latin or Hebrew or Greek?"
"I have enough problems with Spanish, thank you."
"Si, comprendo." Taylor said. "OK, OK", he continued. "I know - why don't you help the poor or whatever. Tutor kids with difficulties."
"Well…", I thought for a moment, "No, if I start now, that's just going to look like I did it just to impress the admissions board. Taylor, you're just making up random suggestions now, aren't you."
Taylor thought for a moment.
"How about if you do something I can help you with and you can relate to and will also be knowledgable. Jenn, what do you think about becoming an open-source hacker?"
From talking to Taylor, I already knew that hacker did not necessarily mean a criminal with a computer. Rather, someone who could forge into unknown worlds and passionately learn to create wonderful things . So I told him:
"Open-source hacker? You know perfectly well that I'm computer-phobic."
"Jennifer, you're a computer phobic now, but you can grow to like computers. I mean what are your options? Become an Electronics hacker like Jonathan is?"
Jonathan is my boyfriend, and has been since the start of the eleventh grade. He's the best boyfriend I ever had. He also likes to build machines with wires, batteries, and many other components I can't remember now. He and Taylor have become good friends.
"Electronics? You know I have two left hands, with these kind of things."
"Jenn, but you're left-handed!"
I was beginning to get more annoyed.
"So I have two right-hands! Taylor, are we going to argue about semantics now?"
"OK, but Jenn,", and he looked at me seriously, "I want you to better relate to what I'm doing".
"Hmmm…." I said. I started to realsie that I didn't really have time to pad my resume any other way. "Alright. ", I said releuctantly, "I'll be an open-source hacker. "Or at least try to. So… are you going to give me private lessons and stuff?"
"Sure, why not. " he said, "Wait a second! Hold that thought - I think I have a better idea. Come with me." he said, and he went down the hall.
I followed him for a few hallways and then entered with him into a computer lab. There he walked to some figure (looked like a girl) with purple (!) hair.
"Hi!" he said.
"Hey…" I heard an enthusiastic female voice. "Whatcha doing here?"
"Jenn, please come here. Jenn I'd like you to meet Eve Siegel, who likes to be called 'Erisa'. Erisa, I told you about Jenn."
I looked at this Erisa character. Her hair was dyed purple, her face had too much makeup, and her facial expression was horrid. Remember that episode in "Sabrina - The Teenage Witch" where Sabrina transforms herself into a punk? She looked only a bit better than that.
"Hi" I said reluctantly.
"Hmmm… " said Erisa, "a bit too over dressed for the computer labl, aren't we. She made quotation marks with her fingers as she looked directly at what my v-neck cami blouse exposed. Let me guess: you are a honour student, right?"
"Yes, actually I am" I told her.
She looked at me deadpan "that was rhetorical, marks are only refective of how well you go along to get along"
"You exercise a lot". She continued her profile with the drabness of a doctor reading a patients chart absent mindedly
I was becoming worried, "yeah".
"You listen to these girlie bands like NSync, All Saints, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and…"
"Well,", I wanted to say that I did not like NSync much.
"Yeees, Atomic Kitten!, the worst."
How does she know that I have all their CDs?
"Furthermore, you're a goody two shoes, never violated any rules, your parents are proud of you, you watch shows like 'Friends' and 'Seinfeld' and 'Sabrina'. Eukh… I hate Melissa Joan Hart so much…"
The entire time she was looking past me and directly at Taylor with an expression on her face as if to question why he thought even stepping into the computer lab with me was a good idea.
I could not take it anymore. She seemed to know everything about me, I started crying and left the room to the hallway. I hardly even noticed that everyone in the lab was looking at me.
I don't know why I cry when things get to much. I just do. If I can't deal with a situation, theres always someone willing to fix it for me. I've had good friends since I was little and crying always works. Today, Taylor was going to be a good friend. I hoped with all my might he would tell that horrible looser bitch to get a life. She was a waste of space and knowing her wasn't helping his image any.
Taylor went out and came to me. He hugged me and calmed me down.
"I am not as superficial as she describes!". The words came out of my mouth as an assertive statement, but it was really a question.
"Jenn, don't take Erisa so seriously. She seems to have a grudge against the world at large and pop culture in particular."
"Yeah, because she can't accept her place! I mean really, just because she's got awful hair doesn't mean it has to be purple, like somehow it's going to blind people from noticing that horrid double chin!" Words like that have come out of my mouth many times before. It's not mean, or cruel; it's the truth. It's always bothered me how we grow up believing that we're all beautiful. We're not and people like Erisa would be better off realising that this world belongs to me and people like me. it's the law of nature. Still, the words rolled off my tounge sounding far more defensive than I intended them. That shocked me momentarily.
"Why do you want her to tutor me in hacking..why her?"
"Because she is a girl, so you won't have prejudice."
"She might be female, but she's not a girl!"
"Trust me, she is once you get to know her better. And she gets to know you."
"Can't you find another hacker to tutor me?, or what about you?"
"Jen, remember when we did that biology report together?"
"Who did the majority of the work on that?"
"I had a ski trip, you knew that! Also, I'm horrible at biology" I was getting annoyed at having to defend myself against one of my best friends
"you wrote your name on the title page" He said it in the same dead pan way Erisa had just spoken to me. I was a little confused, but feeling more betrayed.
"Jennifer… she's the best girl hacker in a 10-kilometer radius and one of the best hackers I know, female or male. She's also going to TEACH you. She's the best person I can think of."
"Fine," I told him, "boot camp it is".
The things you do to get into university.
We entered the room again, and Taylor and I approached Erisa.
"Erisa, Jennifer here would like to become an open-source hacker."
"She?" she made a fake laugh, "what for?"
"To get into a better college.", I said.
"You want to engage in a purely altruistic activity for a selfish cause? Well, I see."
"Hmmpff," I said.
"Anyway, if you want me to tutor you, it will cost you. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. My software is free, girlfriend, but my time isn't.You are going to have to pay. 20 bucks an hour. And trust me, I'm almost never this cheap. I'm just doing it as a favour to Taylor here."
"20 dollars is fine, I guess." I told her.
She opened her bag, took out the school's students list, said "Jennifer?", (I said "Raymond"), and checked my address. "Heh", she said, "a couple of blocks from my house." She took note of my name in her smartphone that lay on the computer's table.
"Now for some homework. Go to the Internet and read 'How to become a Hacker' by Eric S. Raymond. I'll drop by in two days, and guide you through the installation process of 'Ubuntu Linux'. " She tilted her head and raised her voice in the same way people do when making blonde jokes. "It's tres chic!". I bit my tonge and thought of Harvard.
"Thanks, I said." I took a mental note of the resource, shook Erisa's hand, and left the lab.