This project was a rollercoaster for me.

I hate roller coasters.

But after I ride one, I brag to every one of my friends about the magnificent personal feat I just achieved. It serves as a reason for me to walk around the amusement park, holding my head up high.. No matter how much stress it caused me at first, no matter how much I hated being pressured to ride one, I wouldn’t have changed the experience in any way.

I started sweating over this project about two months ago. And I mean literal sweating. It was August, and it was hot.

I had just watched one of my favourite biopics of all time, “the Aviator”, and I couldn’t believed how one man managed to squeeze so many identities out of his short life. But above that, I couldn’t believe how similar we were.

For those of you who don’t know me very well,  I have dealt with OCD since I was about 3 foot tall, and under 70 pounds. Not once in the movie did it explicitly tell the audience that Howard Hughes had OCD, but I knew it the second he came onto screen. I was shocked to see somebody have their brains wired so similar to mine, and I empathized with every seemingly strange impulse he had on screen. A trait that is more apparent in Howard Hughes, is his hearing loss. This was mentioned several times in the film, and Leonardo DiCaprio did an awesome job of portraying it. This also really hit home for me, since I’ve been affected by the same problem for the majority of my life. As some of friends and family know, my left ear is virtually useless (for a lack of a better diagnoses). Covering my good ear (my right ear) is practically indistinguishable from covering both of my ears. This has been case since I was born, and its taken about 9 years of ear nose and throat appointments to properly identify the problem. Its not as serious as it sounds, but it is a slight burden not knowing how music sounds with both of my ears. With the similarities mentioned above, I felt every emotion Howard did on screen. Especially the angry ones. I was so into the film that I started acting out scenes in my bathroom at 1 am in the morning. I started rambling on about the angers and frustrations I (he) had on the world. It was quite intense. After that night (morning), I knew exactly who I wanted to do, and how wanted my speech to be for the eminent person project in November.

fast forward a few months, and I’m writing about my second roller coaster experience, reflecting upon the night.

My speech… was everything like I imagined. I still can’t stop thinking about the faces in the audience, smiling, laughing, and sympathizing at every moment I planned. I’ve never been more comfortable on stage. I was surprised that I didn’t feel a single jitter in my stomach. After months of preparation and stress, I couldn’t help but get the “feels” on stage, which only added to my performance. I’ve never walked off any stage feeling as confident as I did. I was congratulated several times that night by peers and parents, which made the stress all the more worth it.

I received a ton of praise for my learning centre aswell. Yeah, building paper airplanes was fun. Yeah, socializing with my peers was cool. But you wanna know my favourite part about my learning centre? How talented it was at starting conversations for me. I think I did a fair job of spreading the “emminentness” of Howard Hughes, and passed on quite a few facts. But no one at my station learned more than me (not in a bad way I assure you). Many of the adults I spoke to lived through the same era as my EP, so it was quite an insightful learning experience for me. These conversations revealed public opinions about my EP that I otherwise never would’ve known. In addition to that, I also learned how to craft the longest flying paper plane that I’ve ever seen!

Composition wise,  I felt that my centre was a happy medium between minimalistic and flamboyant. Behind me on the wall were pictures and new-papers I designed for my LC. To give a more vintage feel, I added a few paper airplanes. But the wall wasn’t the only place I had paper airplanes. I had them scattered on the ground (tastefully) to portray the filth my EP lived in during his mental decline. This is quite ironic because the popular conception of OCD is that people who have it are neat freaks (a topic I discussed with my visitors). To symbolize OCD, I lined up lit-up bottles in an even and symmetrical fashion in front of my LC. The bottles also portrayed the ones my EP heavily relied on during his reclusive retreat into his studio (a pg-13 topic I discussed with my visitors). On my table laid a two stacks of papers. The first stack of papers had the achievements of my EP on one page, but had something negative about him on the flip-side. The second stack was just blank paper, where participants would write something they’re proud of on one side, and a flaw on the other. This was to show that no matter how influential you are, you will always be flawed. We then used these papers to make paper airplanes while we discussed my EP (as fun as it sounds).

As much of a success I felt like after the night, there was something that still weighed on my conscience; I didn’t get an eminent interview. I initially prioritized relatives of my EP, and wrote an email very early on.

Dear Mrs. Vanderbilt,

My name is Jason Liao and I am a secondary student in Coquitlam BC, Canada. I have recently started an “Eminent person project”, which consists of researching a significant figure I relate to. The eminent person I have chosen is “Howard Hughes”, and I have been assigned to conduct a conversational interview with someone with first-hand information about him. I understand that you were very close with Mr. Hughes during his prime, so I thought I would shoot a long shot and ask for your assistance.

If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like to interview you about Mr. Hughes flavourful personality, lavish lifestyle, and mental condition. As I know your time is valuable, this interview will not take longer than 30 minutes to complete and will consist of 5-7 questions. It can be conducted in any way you prefer, whether it be via email, phone call, or web call. 

If you have any questions about our assignment, feel free to contact my teacher at nmorris@sd43.bc.ca. I thank you for your time, and will be wishing upon my lucky stars to hear from you.

Many thanks,

Jason Liao

Unfortunately, I made this email before I learned that Howard Hughe’s never had children.There have been multiple people claiming to be related to him (likely because they wanted to be apart of Hughe’s will), but none were ever confirmed. Hughes did date a countless amount of women during his time, all being award winning actresses. Unfortunately, there are only two that are still living (Gloria Vanderbilt at 93 years old, and Olivia de Havilland at 101 years old). One of them did have fan mail service, but it was based in London, and only accepted letters written on paper.

gloria_vanderbilt_1959

I decided to contact the president of Synergy Engineering, somebody my dad is close with. I asked him for an interview (informally), since he was a business man. I didn’t receive a yes, or a no because he had a business trip coming up soon, but he didn’t know when. I made the terrible mistake of holding onto this “maybe”, and got bitten in the end. He was on a business trip, and I was panicking. I had less than a week left to get an interview, and I was desperate. I decided to try contacting a financial advisor at Edward Jones, since my EP was an investor. Since they only accepted emails through their website, I don’t have a saved copy of the message I sent. I got no response. In the end, I was unable to get an interview.

All in all, this was an amazing opportunity. One that I took advantage of, and used to study entrepreneurship, theatrics, business, and even building paper planes. It’s weird to say that eminent is over now, since I’ve spent so much time stressing over it. This is not an experience that I will be likely to forget. A big thank you to all the teachers who made this experience possible, and the people who showed up on the night of. As to the nines? Good Luck.