Midnight Flight to Washington
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            Gladys Knightís ďMidnight Train to GeorgiaĒ was always one of my favorite tunes. She sang of the escape of a man from the chaos of Los Angeles back to his hometown in Georgia. I was listening to it the other night thinking about it. I wonít be on a train, nor will I be going to Georgia, but very soon Iíll be escaping this life here in Honolulu to start a new one up in the beautiful city of Seattle.
            Iíve been counting down months, weeks, and days, and itís finally (almost) here. On Tuesday night, Iíll be on a 757 making a beeline for Seattle Tacoma International. Given, my flight times arenít exactly ideal (I leave Honolulu around 9:45 in the evening and arrive at 6:15, Wednesday morning), but the very fact that Iíll soon be on my way is enough for me.
            The last few weeks have been surreal. For the last thirteen years, I have been bound (and gagged) to the Hawaii Department of Education public school calendar. I dragged myself out of bed and went to school on the first day with all the other kids; I started at seven thirty and ended at three. I cannot tell you how good it feels to finally be free of the clutches of the public school system. Although, Iím quite sure theyíre glad to have gotten rid of me too.
            School was not an easy task for me. Some of my friends had shining four point zero grade point averages throughout their entire school careers. My grade point average could usually be figured out by dividing theirs by two. I was a candelabrum missing a few cups, so to speak. While I was an excellent (okay, descent) pupil in my history, English, and art classes, when it came to math and science I might as well have been a vegetable hooked up to a life support machine.
            Art was always my strong subject, my passion, if itís not a clichť. Iíve always been a right-brained person Ė I have a theory that someone dropped me on the left side of my head as a child and killed off most of the cells in my left-brain. Art has always been of interest to me because I see things visually. My father is an accountant who sees everything in black and white, rows and columns of numbers on a blank sheet of legal paper. I think seeing the world like that would be incredibly boring. I like shapes and round edges and things that donít conform.
            For the first three years of my high school career, I was unsure of what I wanted to do. My art career didnít start out with photography or writing at all. It started out with the cartoons that I (still today) enjoy creating. They gave me an outlet to speak my mind and be as rude and sarcastic and blunt as possible before I discovered my voice as a writer. My art teacher, fellow Spectator writer, Mr. John Nippolt, picked up on that. One thing that you have to understand is that my style, opinions, and way of expressing myself are not very well understood by others. It takes a certain type of person to really connect with what Iím thinking and what Iím saying. For the first three years of my high school career, I drew cartoons and that was it. It wasnít until senior year that I really began exploring the other forms of art.
            It came with having to prepare for college, figuring out what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, all that stuff. Having lived in Hawaii for the last sixteen years, I knew I needed to get off the island for good. Here in Hawaii, the general statistic is that ninety-seven percent (give or take a few) of students who stay in Hawaii for the full four years of school end up spending the rest of their lives on the islands.
            Well, to be quite frank with you, that scared the hell out of me. Iíve been very fortunate throughout my life. I was able to get off of the island frequently. My parents took me traveling as often as time permitted. Many summers were spent on the mainland, mainly in northern California where we have family. In 2007 I was afforded the luxury of taking a trip with a school group to the eastern seaboard, a weeklong tour starting up in Boston, traveling down to Philadelphia, New York, and finally Washington D.C. That trip changed my life. Iíd seen San Francisco and the Bay Area, but it wasnít until I got to walk through the cobblestone streets of Cambridge, eat my way through Reading Terminal Market, stare up at the neon lights of Times Square, and stand next to Abraham Lincoln that I really knew I wanted to move to the mainland. Everything is so different, so much bigger, with so many more people and so much more to do. That's not to say that I don't love the Bay Area, though. In the next ten years I hope to be a resident of the state of California with a nice place in the city of San Francisco (finances permitting).
            So I made up my mind and started mapping out my options. My grades didnít permit me to apply to the big names like UCLA, USC, USF, or the like, so I took advantage of my artistic ability and applied to art schools in Los Angeles and Seattle. Staying at home was not an option. The chances of getting in were semi-slim, but in early April, I got my green light. I was accepted into Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, penciled in to earn my BFA specializing in photography Ė why I want to change that in a bit.
            My career aspirations, I guess you could say, are to be the creative director and a contributing writer at a high profile lifestyle magazine, as well as the head of an ad agency. Now for why Iíd like to change my major. As much as I love photography, my college program is analog only. Thatís cool and really great; Iíd love to dive into the dark room, but, as you can probably tell by the content of my columns, I live in the digital age and love digital gizmos, and therefore digital photography. The other reason Iíd like to switch is that when it comes to career opportunities and the salaries offered, a career in graphic design, visual communication, opens up so many more doors and many more bank vaults, so to speak. Visual communication is what ad agencies are all about. Creating the commercials you see on television to drawing up the layout for the billboard in Times Square. I love that stuff. I like to convince people to buy things that they donít need (there goes my credibility) and I love to put together ad campaigns and work with visuals and graphics to create short films and all of that fun stuff. It seems like a perfect fit (weíll revisit in a few years and see if Iím still on that track).
            Getting back on topic, though. Immediately after receiving acceptance to Cornish, I scrambled to get my high school academics in line in order to graduate and attend. I was not going to blow the chance to get to move to beautiful Seattle and go to art school (where, by the way, math and science are not required courses). Earlier this summer, I graduated with walking colors (as opposed to flying colors) and have since been making the final preparations for my departure. And with that, Iím booked out on a flight bound for Seattle on Tuesday night.
             There are so many people that I owe my thanks, teachers for helping me throughout the years, counselors for giving me guidance on personal issues as well as academic issues, friends for being there to listen to me scream and rant, and my family for paying for my college tuition.
              And last but certainly not least, I want to give a big huge thanks to all the readers out there who have praised (and criticized) my writing, I owe each and every single one of you a great deal of gratitude. Donít think that just because Iím going off to school Iím going to stop writing. Iíll be on these pages for as long as theyíre around. Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the last few months that weíve been friends. Thank you to Ron Cruger, The Spectator, and its crew for welcoming me and my words, bringing me on as a contributing writer. I look forward to continuing to contribute my thoughts and (strong) opinions to these pages and to reading your feedback. My e-mail address is listed below (joshlee008@gmail.com); if ever you have questions, comments, concerns, or just want to shout out, please donít hesitate to write me. I love getting to connect with all of you, the real people of the world.

Thank you again, all my best regards,

Josh Lee
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