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Asking for a friend

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For my 25th Grind article, I opened up to an “ask me anything.” Thanks to everyone who submitted a question. With friends asking about music, climate change, self-help and sex toys, I know I must be doing something right.

Favorite Spotify playlists?

I made one called “Mongo Smash Dubstep Workout,” with songs by Excision, Skrillex, Knife Party and Miley Cyrus. I would say it ages me, but it was already old when I made it, so … I’m a heavy metal-er at heart though, so if you take nothing else away from this article, check out these old school songs: “Ride The Lightning” by Metallica, “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden and “Kickstart My Heart” by Motley Crue.

What major has the most interesting people?

Computer science, obviously. It has the most students, and most Stanford students are interesting, so CS has the most interesting people by quantity. But if you’re looking for where the people are most interesting, I’m guessing you mean “Where are the people with the coolest stories?” I can’t answer that for you. There seems to be a bias that only tragedy or the exotic is interesting — that going through shit or being from somewhere different is the only story worth telling. I disagree. Glenn Kramon, who teaches GSBGEN 352: “Winning Writing” at the GSB, would tell us to “show them you’re one in a million, not one of a million.” He’s right, of course, but here’s how I see it: Everybody is one in a million, one in seven billion, actually, if they’re not afraid of their own story. The most interesting people, to me, are the ones who have failed, been humbled or come face to face with their shame and are brave enough to talk about it.

Rank the sex toys at SHPRC?

Depends what you’re looking for. Want to improve your posture without going to the gym? Get the medium-sized “Naughty Plug” with “tapered base.” Need a coat hook but can’t risk damaging the walls? Grab the upturn-curved suction cup “Lovehoney Dildo.” Backpack repair? We got you. No-stick-to-your-skin “Bondage Tape.” Finally, for use in Green Library, there’s “Doc Johnson’s Pocket Rocket” with “strong but quiet vibration.”

What do you think is the most effective way to tackle climate change?

Hugs, maybe? Climate negligence is greed: We want more oil, more diamonds, more land, more space to dump all the trash from our more things. Greed is insecurity: We’re not sure if we’re worthy of love, so we try to prove it by flying in G6s, putting our names on skyscrapers, driving circles around the block in Lamborghinis (I’m talking to you, guy from two weeks ago in Palo Alto). Climate change is what happens when those insecure, unloved people are put in charge of countries and major corporations. I’m not saying showing more love is the end all be all, but everybody needs way more hugs than are currently in circulation. It can’t be a bad place to start.

What’s your hot take on Stanford’s dating scene?

I’ve never understood what ‘dating’ means to Americans, but it seems that in college people either have too many prospects to be content with anyone, or think they have none and are miserable. Here’s the thing: No matter what Instagram and “sex sells” capitalism would have you believe, the vast majority of people, at Stanford and in the world, are not getting laid tonight. If you are, enjoy it. If you’re not, who cares. That said, there’s plenty of dating to be done after college, and without the risk of running into your exes in class.

What’s something that irrevocably makes you happy?

Having the only broom on field day in the barracks. Just kidding — even that gets taken away. Look, I’ve tried drugs, alcohol, chocolate, skydiving, concerts, sex, cheese and other stuff. Everything ends. Every high crashes, everyone you love will let you down, and one day we’ll all be dead. It’s absurd to think we’ll find some holy grail of unicorn-fart sprinkles — that one thing we can count on to make us happy no matter what.

Take dessert, for example. If I’m sulking about something, the first bowl of chocolate mousse might help, maybe even the second. But somewhere around the 37th, all that sugar and cream becomes its own problem. And people can’t always be it, either. I talk to my mom about relationships, my dad about writing, my brother when I want to yell in Greek, but all of them get under my skin sometimes. There’s just nothing outside of us that is guaranteed to always make us happy, and our mood is no one’s responsibility but our own. 

The closest thing I’ve found to a panacea is a quote from Vonnegut. He talks about his uncle, who would sit under the shade of a tree, sip a glass of iced tea and say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?” What I love about this mindset is that we’re relieved of the responsibility of “feeling happy,” which we have frighteningly little control over, and were never promised anyway. Instead, we’re reminded to just stop and appreciate. 

Right now, for example, I’m sitting in an empty classroom in Building 100. I have a 20-page project due on Thursday, a midterm and a presentation next week and a list of unopened emails longer than my arm. But the sun is shining outside and a humming fan is keeping the room cool. My jeans fit nicely, there’s a cute puppy sticker on my water flask, I’m meeting a good friend for dinner later and I’m writing an article for The Stanford Daily. If this isn’t nice, what is?

Contact Nestor Walters at waltersx ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Nestor was born in Bangladesh and raised mostly in Greece. When he was nineteen he moved to the United States to join the Navy, where he served for ten years. He is now a junior at Stanford University, where he is rumored to be the only person in the math department with cut-off t-shirt sleeves. He also dabbles in creative writing.