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Seniors of CPS: Jonathan R.

What’s your favorite memory from CPS?

“Oh my gosh, that’s so hard, can I think for a second? Can we come back to this one, actually? I do want to answer it.” (later) “Well, I don’t know if I can choose just one, but I have one of my favorite memories. My friends and I have had this tradition starting Junior year of going to Marin on the last day of finals and having a sleepover at [Ruby’s] house. I think it was the second time we did it, we snuck out at 2 am and went to her treehouse. Her family also brews their own kombucha, and we stole some kombucha and brought it up to the treehouse and we just gossiped and played Paranoia. It just felt like one of the epitomes of being crazy and living our youth and being in high school and spending time with friends.”

Who’s the most influential person in your life?

“I guess I would say my dad because he has taught me to do a lot of the things I know how to do and he’s always been really supportive of me, even when I do stupid stuff. Also, when my mom died he was a really supportive parent and he did a really good job taking on both roles. I feel like he’s done a really good job of supporting me. When I grow up I want to be as supportive a person as he is.”

Has someone ever saved your life?

“I mean, probably many times when I was a baby. Actually, yeah, there was one time when my parents took me to this park when I was one or two. I was on my dad’s shoulders and then there was a bee that came, and he’s really allergic to bees. The bee stung him and he got so freaked out that he dropped me and my mom ran and caught me. I don’t know if that would have saved my life because it was, like, grass but also I was a baby and I fell six feet. So, possibly.”

Tell me about your pet(s).

“I have a dog; his name is Lucas. He is half Formosan Mountain Dog, which is the fancy name for the breed of stray dog that has been overrun in Taiwan for the last twenty years, and then he’s also half Border Collie. When we got him, the pet website said he was a terrier, because it was a rescue site and they didn’t really know. We were like, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be like a little calm dog and we won’t really have to worry,’ but he’s insane. If somebody walks on the street a couple blocks away he’ll like run outside and bark, and he’s really, really territorial— if anybody comes into the yard that he doesn’t know he’ll try to bite them. He’s bitten like three people a couple of times, which is bad, but he’s also really sweet when you get to know him. He’s really cuddly and he loves going on walks.”

What are you most proud of?

“That’s a hard one. I don’t know, I feel like I haven’t really done any big things in my life. I haven’t really created things. I don’t know, maybe making it to where I am. I don’t know if that’s a good answer. I feel like I have… I don’t even know what I’m trying to say. I guess I’ve just had a really good high school experience, and I’m really proud of working hard and getting into college.”

What is something you want to leave behind at CPS?

“Being immature. I don’t know how to say that any better. Like, when I was in middle school I was really shy and introverted and I didn’t really appreciate anything. I didn’t appreciate my family or my friends and I feel like my perspective on life was like ‘Nothing really matters.’ Now, I feel like I’ve learned to appreciate… I don’t know if this is making any sense, but…I’ve learned to appreciate everything and I don’t want to be… I don’t know. You can make that better in the article, if you want to. I’m not sure.”

What’s a story you tell that no one believes?

“I don’t know if I have one. Okay, okay, I have one… My dad is a recording engineer, so he has a recording studio in our backyard, which is pretty awesome. When [I was twelve], my sister and I… were like ‘We should use the studio,’ so my dad taught me how to record in it. We’re both musicians and we wrote a bunch of really ****** songs and recorded them, which is fine and cute. We made two albums and we released both of them to streaming platforms everywhere and nobody listened to them because we were not famous and they were bad. So I was like, ‘If I stream them on repeat, 24/7, then maybe we’ll make money off of that.’ So I did that, then Spotify took off one of the albums because they noticed that we were using fraud. Now only one of the albums is still there.”

What’s your favorite place in the world?

“Right now it feels like it’s school, but I don’t think that’s like my favorite place ever, I’m just missing it. I don’t know, I guess I would say Florence, in Italy… My family and I went there on the spring break of Sophomore year for two weeks and we stayed with somebody my dad knew from college. It was just really nice to get to know… somebody from my dad’s past and it was nice to see that part of him. Also, it’s just an amazing place. I would definitely love to go back there or live there in the future.”

What’s your favorite book of all time?

“I haven’t read anything for leisure in like, four years; it’s kind of bad. But I guess… do you know Call Me by Your Name? I guess I would say that, because it’s one of the first things that comes to mind. I try to read a lot of gay literature because there isn’t a lot of representation in normal literature. I just felt like this one—first of all, it’s just an amazing love story, not even as like, a gay love story. But also I feel like he does a really good job of normalizing it. The center of the book isn’t that it’s gay, it’s just an aspect of it. The author doesn’t try to ignore it—there are some conflicts that arise because of it, to make it more realistic—but I don’t feel like it’s taking away from the love story.”

If I asked you at age 5 what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you say?

“I think I would have wanted to be a chef. When I was little, I really liked cooking—I mean, I still really like cooking, but I [used to be] obsessed with it, and I was obsessed with food. My family would bring me into the kitchen and help me cook. I don’t know, there isn’t much of a story there, but that’s probably what I would say.”

What’s something you want to do before you graduate college?

“Travel more. That’s kind of basic. Or, like, live somewhere that’s not in the United States and speaks another language. I really like learning other languages, but like I don’t really have anybody to practice with for most of them. And I have not spent a lot of time in places that speak other languages, so I would like to have some experiences like that.”

What’s your biggest regret from your time at CPS?

“I guess not realizing how much my friends meant to me for almost two years. I’ve been with most of the same friend group for my time at CPS, and I didn’t realize how much friends mean to me. In middle school, friends didn’t really mean anything to me so I would blow them off a lot, and I was an *******, and I didn’t think anything of it, I was too oblivious to notice it. Obviously, I feel bad because I was mean, and I wish that I’d appreciated the time with them more. I mean, we had a lot of time together, and we will continue to do so, but…”

Who’s you favorite musical artist?

“My favorite artist? Okay, there is this Swiss/German pop singer named Beatrice Egli, and she sings German pop music. Like do you know Schlager? It’s like—anyway, she’s a singer and I like her.”

What’s a skill you wish you could have?

“I wish I could speak every language in the world. This is kind of basic, but I feel like there are so many people in the world, and I really can only communicate with people who speak English and—kind of—Spanish. It seems like there are so many people, and most of the people that don’t speak languages that I know are a lot different from the people who speak English…just culturally. And I feel like there’s a huge part of the world that everybody’s missing out on, just because they can’t communicate with people who live in different places. So just because I’m nerdy.”

If there is one thing that you think everyone should know about you, what would it be?

“Oh my gosh… can we come back to this one too?” (later) “I don’t know, I feel like there are a lot of things but they’re all really trivial. Let me think of a good one. I feel like there’s either stuff that doesn’t matter at all, like ‘I like chocolate,’ and really deep personal stuff that probably is not good for this. Maybe, ‘I like writing music in my free time.’ Is that too trivial?”

Tell me about your TikTok fame (Jonathan Bonus Question).

“I forgot about that. This is like the week of Thanksgiving, in 2019. My dad’s girlfriend has two kids and we’re pretty close to them and we were spending time with them for Thanksgiving. Her youngest son, Silas, is a fairly prominent TikTok person, he has like 10,000 followers. He knew that I had perfect pitch, and we were just hanging out in our house and playing music together—we’re all sort of musicians—and all of a sudden he was like, ‘Can I make a TikTok of you showing off your perfect pitch?’ And I was like, ‘Okay.’ I didn’t really know what that would look like because I didn’t use TikTok and I had never really seen anything TikTok-related before. I was like, ‘Sure, but tell me what to do because I don’t really know what to do.’ He just sat me down at our piano and he sang a bunch of notes and he was like, ‘Play them,’ so I did. Then, he basically tested it and filmed it and posted it, and he was like ‘Who knows, it might go viral overnight’ and I was like, ‘Oh, whatever, probably like 200 people will see this and be like, “Interesting” and then forget it.’ Then the next day he was like, ‘It went viral,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, what does that mean, people saw it and then like I’m like mildly famous and people will forget about it in a day?’ and he’s like, ‘No, it has a million views,’ I was like, ‘Oh, ****.’ It was fun because being famous is kind of fun for a few seconds, maybe. I had never had any ‘fame’ before, and obviously I don’t want to be a ‘famous person’ when I grow up—I feel like that would be overwhelming. But, I don’t know, it was fun to dabble in that area. Then I was like, ‘This is crazy, I should probably tell my friends about this because it’s funny,’ but then they were already texting about me on our group chat. They were like, ‘Oh my God, my siblings found Jonathan on TikTok,’ and I started getting all these text messages from everybody being like, ‘I found you on TikTok!’ It was mostly just funny, because—I don’t want to sound like an ******* when I say this, so if it comes across bad you don’t need to put it in the interview—having perfect pitch… it’s not a big deal for me because, I have it. I know it can be kind of a touchy subject, but it just felt silly to have people be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so impressive.’ I don’t know, I feel like if somebody has this… I don’t really know a good analogy, but I guess if somebody speaks this foreign language and everybody’s like, ‘Wow, you speak that language, that’s crazy!’ and then it’s just like ‘I can do it, it’s not that big of a deal.’ So it was kind of funny that that was what made me briefly famous because it made me realize that people thought it was a bigger deal than I did. Then I kind of felt pressure to continue my TikTok account—actually, no, I didn’t have one at the time. So Silas, the one who got me famous, was like, ‘You should make an account and post stuff.’ I made an account and I didn’t really post anything for a while, and I had like 20,000 followers, and people were like ‘Post something!’ I didn’t really know what to do so I posted this one video that’s kind of the same and then I never posted anything ever again. It seems to have subsided, which honestly I’m kind of glad about.”


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