Monday, November 29, 2010

The Beginning of the End

I'm experiencing the last few minutes of possibly my last Thanksgiving Break ever. It went by so quickly, but it seems as if I never really left to go to college at all. It's fascinating how my memories blur together the way they do, in a way that makes my last year and a half at Mizzou seem like a dream. I suppose it feels that way because I haven't done very many things that would create strong memories since I've been going to Mizzou. I keep to myself, just go to classes, numb myself as much as possible with mindless internet browsing. I find myself guilty of over-generalizing about my life at Mizzou in an effort to convince people that I'm lonely, or that it's otherwise unpleasant in some other way. Meh meh meh.

Anyway. I just have a few more weeks of school in this semester. Then I'm home again. Then I have one more real semester, plus some summer courses. I'll be graduating in the summer. I'm okay with graduating in the summer. My high school graduation didn't exactly leave me with high expectations for the sequel. And I've been to at least a couple college graduations. I really don't feel it's a memory that I will treasure in any way. Considering how disconnected I feel from most of the students at my school, and how much I like to talk about disconnected I feel, I predict that I would feel inappropriate sitting through a ceremony exploding with pride for the University of Missouri. I've offended quite a few people at school while explaining my dissatisfaction with the institution. Really though, there are much worse schools, and I should be content about the whole thing. It sucks that I have so much less social interaction, that I have trouble relating to people...and all that. I need to learn how to cope with all these little things now, while I still have fairly cozy financial support from my parents and my youth. God, no one is going to want to read my blog if I just dribble on like this in every entry. Haha. I guess I'm okay with that. For now anyway.

I'm trying to figure out how to get a little website for myself up and running. I'm a total amateur when it comes to website design. I've been trying to figure out a domain name, who I want to buy it from, who I want to host the site. Also important: what the hell am I going to do with it? I guess I could put a blog on it. Blogs seem like a popular reason for getting personal websites. Though I feel like this would make it even less likely that someone might "stumble" upon my blog. At least with blogger, someone could theoretically click that button at the top of the page and be taken to my blog. Half the time when I do that, the blog isn't even in English. ha. I suppose also I could upload pictures onto my website. That would be fun, eh? And an "about me" section. And a Resume. Ha. Resume. That's a joke, by the way. I think part of the reason I want to make a website is so that I can include it in my contact information, you know, to draw attention from my lack-luster resume, if you can even call it a resume: a handful of random part-time jobs, none of which lasted longer than a few months. I figure I'd write this new blog with a pen name, to make it extra fancy. Already have the pen name picked out. But I'm not telling you. You might already know it. But if you don't know it, I don't want you to know because I don't want people I know to read this new blog. I'M GOING TO BE BRUTALLY HONEST ABOUT EVERY. THING. I might step on some toes. Eh. Probably a case of "it sounded better in my head." This pen name is the same name that I will legally assume should I somehow experience a dramatic increase in wealth. I've got it all planned out.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A few years at least

I couldn't pin it down exactly. Maybe if I reread some of my old journal entries I could give you a rough estimate. I feel emotions. I can be pretty happy. What I feel more so than anything is loneliness. But I live alone. People expect you to be lonely when you live alone. When I tell fellow college students that I live alone, they usually seem a bit shocked. I am envious of people who have fun relationships with their roommates, almost like they're best friends who've always known each other. Right now I can't think of anyone else, any of my facebook friends or twitter friends, who live alone. I hate living alone.
I lived in a dorm room for my first two years of school, before I transferred to here. I didn't care much for the company of my roommates, so I spent most of my time with the girls next door, talking about celebrities or complaining about school, talking about places we'd rather be. Those girls were the only thing that kept me sane during my time there. If it hadn't been for them, I probably would have transferred out much sooner. I also had some twisted drama with a boy there, which ultimately left me exhausted and numb. I felt stupid. I felt impotent. I felt ugly. I felt old. I felt like I was falling apart. And even after I transferred, the recovery was slow. Spending so much time alone interferes with my sense of time. Time evaporates at a disgusting rate. I wonder maybe if it's because I'm forced to do monotonous maintenance-oriented tasks more so than I would if I lived with another person that I seem to have less time. But more than any specific reason, I think that it's simply unnatural to be alone on a regular basis. Our brains crave social interaction. I've shared my thoughts about this with some of my friends/acquaintances. Of course, they suggest that I should join a club or two. Not a bad idea. (I know how contrary this is going to sound.) But I just don't feel like it. Putting myself out there and ...all that. With the smiling and the introductions, and deciding how I want to present myself...and caring what a new group's perception of me, while not even knowing if I should care what their perception of me is...

If you've read this far, you're a fabulous person. Definitely a people person, you are. Congratulations. Really, some would have already given up.

The point of this entry is that I haven't really been happy about being me for a long time, a good chunk of my life now. I've spent the last 7 years experimenting with different levels of angst, depression, and burn-out. And I don't really know how to get out of it. It's just a matter of pulling my entire self up at once... I mean, it isn't as if I'm not TRYING. I am definitely trying. I just feel alone in it. Like there's no one who really understands how weak I feel. Certainly I know someone who could relate to feeling like they don't have control of their life anymore, though I'm not sure I should characterize what I'm feeling as "out of control." (Psychiatrists love that shit.) I feel like no one really remembers a version of me that was stable and reliable. It really puzzles me when someone describes me... and it's obvious that their impression of me is weak, impertinent, bitchy, narcissistic, unstable, flamboyant, and...dumb. People think I'm dumb.  Just typing that makes my chest tighten up. I have done some really dumb things, some in the pursuit of "knowing."And there's not exactly an abundance of evidence that would support the contrary.
People think I'm incapable. I'm not even the third place ribbon. I'm like the "Good job!" ribbon. The last time I got a "Good job!" ribbon was in the 4th grade at a Cub Scouts function. I threw it in the trash on the way out. One of the moms picked it out and handed it to my dad. I told him that she had a lot of nerve, and he agreed. We one first place the next year.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Step 1

I bought a book yesterday that's all about making the most out of life, by working less and setting different kinds of goals. I love self-help books, but this one has me scratching my head: some of the advice is a quite nonconformist. I'm only 50 pages into the book, but so far I assume the target audience is the middle-class because he assumes that everyone is able to survive on reduced income, while still planning fantastic trips to South America. I have no personal income, and any income that I might be able to obtain would be quickly depleted by day-to-day living, so a lot of the advice regarding vacations isn't currently useful to me. But other advice he gives, concerning life goals and such, could be useful to me, especially because I'll be graduating college next year.
I should also explain how I heard about this author. I follow several travel info accounts on Twitter, and a couple weeks ago I clicked on a link about "Round the World Tickets." The author of the book I'm reading is an expert on them. I didn't know that RTW's were real, but apparently you can just call American Airlines and ask for one and they'll set you up. They're not cheap, starting at $10,000 or so, but for the amount of travel and flexibility that comes with them, it sounds like a nice deal, if you have a month free and an extra $10,000 lying around...not to mention a few thousand more for hotels/food/ground transportation.
Okay, here's a few of the questions he asks on page 46. I thought they'd make for good blogging material. I've paraphrased liberally.
1. Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you were considering.
Being ugly and poor. I'm not sure what I'm planning on doing. 
2. What could you do to make things better, even if temporarily? 
Work a minimum wage job and exercise? I guess this applies to a point in the future when I'll have already been graduated. 
3. What are the probable outcomes or benefits? Have less intelligent people done this before and pulled it off? 
Having a comfortable living and not being ugly? YES. 
4. If you were fired from your (hypothetical) job today, what would you do to get things under financial control. Run through questions 1-3 above.
prostitute myself Get a different job?  Move in with someone? Donate plasma. Possible outcomes: shame, humiliation. Pretty intuitive stuff. 
5. What are you putting off out of fear? (What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do...A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one more thing every day that you fear.)
Improving my writing and sharing it with people. Getting in shape.
6. What is it costing you - financially, emotionally, and physcially - to postpone action.
Well, never developing my talents. Having progressively less confidence in my physical appearance. Probably accelerated aging. Less money than I'd have were I published. Less money than a person who's doing the exact same thing, but who is more attractive than me.
7. What are you waiting for?  "The right time" is a bad answer. 
Good question!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Professor: Any announcements? Questions? Concerns?
Student: Tonight the university is hosting Temple Grandin whose research and inventions helped reform the livestock industry and make it more humane. It's at seven o'clock in the life sciences building, in the Monsanto Auditorium.
Professor: Well that's debatable as to whether her ideas actually improved the industry. What time is it again so everyone can hear?
Student: At seven in the Monsanto Auditorium.
Professor: Ha! That's ironic that it's in the Monsanto Auditorium.

What a bitch.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nothing much.

Just feeling pointless.

Today

Today was pretty average.

I went for a walk in the park. Me and a bunch of senior citizens. I listened to really gay music on last.fm the whole time.

I rode my bike to school. I liked my outfit so I shard it with my twitter followers. I took my leather bag. I always feel like people judge me for toting around all that leather, even though it always get compliments. I also wore my Ray Bans and my "Hey dude, I rode the luge!" hat from New Zealand. I don't think other people find my too-small hat as cute as I do, which makes me want to wear it even more. My hair is thinning on the top, and I've tried to start wearing hats if I'll know I'll be outside for a while in hopes that it'll prevent further damage to my precious follicles.

I missed Geography Lab because I planned my time poorly. I had time before Peace Studies to get some Starbucks. At Starbucks, I immediately realized that I had forgotten my cards (ID, credit card, debit card, etc) at home. The last time this happened one of the girls at Starbucks who sees me regularly just let me have my Pellegrino, on the condition that I'd pay her the next time. That was the day that I had had the drama with my Peace Studies professor, so I was very thankful. (Afterward I went to one of the journalism school buildings and locked myself in an oversized single-occupant bathroom, so that I could stare at myself in the mirror while drinking the Pellegrino.) She let me have my coffee for free today. Sorta free.
It made me happy. Probably the highlight of my day.

Peace Studies was awful. Boring. Awful. Just awful. What did we talk about? I'm trying to remember. Oh, she took a fifth of the class just reading a newspaper article about a high school in Indiana, which had decided to break tradition and feature the Star Spangled Banner and Christian prayer before its athletic competitions. Somehow the article was supposed to fit into a discussion of socialization. Every thing we talk about in that class, I feel, is stuff that people, by living in the United States and being of average intelligence, should just KNOW. We don't need to break down all these basic parts of society: we know what racism is, we know what socialization is... we don't need to spend 15 minutes developing a single definition. Such a waste of time, that class.

I should probably have done more with tonight. Did I get anything done? I tried to learn how to play a song on the piano and failed. I watched a couple episodes of Buffy. I had a good Twitter discussion about sex. And I played around a little more with a crush I've been developing. Like all/most of my crushes, they will probably never even know that they are being crushed upon... and probably wouldn't care anyway. They're probably too busy having crushes themselves.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Peace Studies

I'm an international studies major with "peace studies" as my concentration. In order to graduate, I have to take a course called "Introduction to Peace Studies." I was actually really excited about this course; I figured it'd be easy, but I also thought that it would help me develop a sense for what it really means to have peace studies as a concentration. The description on MyZou (the university site that students use to manage their bills and classes) was true to my expectations:
Interdisciplinary overview including theories on the nature of aggression and war, case studies of contemporary conflicts, consideration of various peace proposals, conditions making war or peace likely.  Prerequisites:  English [ENGLSH] 1000, sophomore standing.
Based on that description, I expected there to be at least occasional discussions of conflicts (just take a random sample of countries recently scarred by war: the Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Mexico, Palestine - I would LOVE to have a mention of any of these countries in class) and peace negotiations, or explanations of peace negotiation failures. Case studies of various conflicts though would have been the minimum of what I was expecting from this course.

The reality is that we never talk about any of those topics, or come close. A couple of weeks ago, the class got into a discussion of the Revolutionary War. She seemed quite peeved that we had gone so far "off topic." I know I have comrades, judging by things people have said to me after class, and also judging by the annoyance on people's faces after the prof cuts them off mid-sentence (a frequent occurrence when she doesn't like what you're saying). I chose to take the road less traveled and challenge her a little... I argued that the American elites really did have more to lose in the American Revolution than average citizens, obviously because they'd all executed for treason, but also because those elites were more cognizant of what it meant to again be dominated by the British Empire. In this case, by elites I'm referring to our founding fathers, fun characters like Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton. Not only did she cut me off before I could finish, she didn't allow me to correct her when she oversimplified my (kinda trivial) argument to "wealth is worth more than someone's life." I actually was so nervous to begin with that I just broke down into laughter. It was awful. I'm already uncomfortable with the class because of the way she approaches us (like we're completely ignorant of the topic being discussed), and because of her rules: no laptops, no multi-tasking of any kind, no food (she's eyes my Starbucks cups like they're rabid dogs), and if your cell phone rings, you not only get marked absent but you have to write a 3-page paper on classroom etiquette. If the class decides to protect the horrible class room disrupter, everyone will have to write a paper.

What we do talk about is SOCIOLOGY. Her favorite phrase is "Where's the sociology?" I groan every time I hear it. We talk about racism and sexism and ageism. Interestingly, homophobia hasn't come up, even though it's in the text, but I won't hold that against her. Speaking of the text. The first book we read was about privilege in American society. I already had the book. A sociology professor (for Social Inequalities 2200) I really enjoyed gave it to me last year. Other book topics include two books on animal rights; one on the Holocaust; one on the Vietnam War and another on American history textbooks. Except for the books on the Holocaust (which I feel, even with its huge importance, has already gotten its fair share of attention throughout my education) and the Vietnam War, I don't really understand why those books are primary readings in a Peace Studies class. And after accounting for the the group poster project creatively titled "Picturing Peace", the message that I'm getting is, "Welcome to 9th grade sociology."

So basically she's a huge bitch.

And this is what happened in class today. We were talking about mascots: college mascots, professional mascots, elementary school mascots. The Indian ones. They're offensive, or so I've been told...for pretty much my whole fucking life. This isn't news by any means. My elementary school's "team" was called the Chiefs. My friend Hannah goes to the College of William and Mary where the school used to have "Indians", but now they have "Griffins." Perhaps this matters more to people who enjoy sports? (She tried to get us to discuss reasons for displays of patriotism at NASCAR events, but no one took the bait) To me, this discussion should last 10 minutes tops. They find it offensive, so do we change it or not? Why do they find it offensive? They just do. Okay, then change the names. END OF DISCUSSION. Now we can talk about Palestine!

So, people are totally eating it up. I'm annoyed. One girl suggests to the prof that she thinks the en vogue term is "American Indian" not "Native American." My teacher devours the poor girl, and then corrects her, maintaining that "American Indian" suggests Columbus-era racism. I'm pretty fucking sure that the girl was right. ...and my teacher was a total bitch about the whole thing. I whisper "Shoot me in the face," to the pretty girl sitting next to me (she has no choice in the matter because we have a SEATING CHART) and she laughs. This is about when I work up the courage to vent my frustration. I raise my hand. She calls on me. I look around, everyone's eyes are on me. I swallow hard, my muscles prepare for fight or flight. I felt like the silence was trying to talk over me.

"While I can see how what we're discussing loosely relates to peace, I want to know if we're going to be talking more about actual conflicts. When I signed up for this course, I was expecting discussion of actual conflicts and peace negotiation. What we're discussing now - people being offended by children wearing Indian makeup and college mascots - though I can see the significance of this discussion - it seems like a luxury that we have in the United States. There is so much more we could be talking about: the Sudan, Algeria, Serbia, Afghanistan - places where there's actual conflict. We could be talking about so much more, and look, *looks at watch* we've already wasted 30 minutes on this."

I don't remember at what point she interrupted me, but I did manage to get all of that out. She was visibly annoyed by my use of the term "actual conflicts." She said something about the conflict being rooted in hundreds of years of Native American suffering, which is true of course. I replied "But people are dying today....[something something something]," but she had already walked past me up the center aisle of the auditorium. She didn't like it. God, it's all so blurry! I could feel my face turning red. Her final words to me were,"If you don't like what we talk about in this class, then leave." Intense classroom whisper action. So, she didn't tell me to leave outright, but I felt like she was disappointed that I offered her no response. Still pretty dramatic, with a few people staring at me with their mouths open. As a peace studies professor, you'd think she would at least partially validate my desire to discuss modern conflicts. Eh. She went on to read an excerpt from a book that subbed in modern cuss words/racial slurs for antiquated sports team names...this allowed her to say cunt, nigger, and kike several times, along with some other slurs I had never even heard before. It just kinda further emphasized the reasons I'm so dissatisfied with our class "discussions."

After class, a girl came up to me and said "What you did was brave! I was afraid she was going to eat you alive!" A boy high-fived me, and congratulated me on saying what he had been wanting to say. Another boy shook my hand, telling me that I had bigger balls than him. It was pretty awesome. I think most of them feel that a 1000 level class doesn't warrant much passion, but it's my major. It's supposed to be the foundation of all of the following peace studies courses I take. Sorry I couldn't remember the exact quotes! Usually I'm better about that. Ugh. Hopefully this is mildly readable and I haven't completely robbed my story of it's humor/drama.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tony Blair says that we should see Palestine for ourselves

I was just looking at an article on Politico about Tony Blair's recent interview in Conde Nast Traveler, in which he suggests that we think of Palestine more as a travel destination. He thinks that tourism to the area will help the peace process. He assures us that he never felt unsafe while traveling in Palestine. Granted he probably had a team of body guards with him, but based on personal experience I'd have to agree that Palestine is relatively safe compared to some destinations in South America and Asia, which Americans still flock to despite known risks. There were two commenters ahead of me.

Conservative #1 says that we need peace BEFORE travel, not the other way around, unless we want a bunch of American hostages. There are more than enough travelers visiting Palestine already. If there was going to be a hostage-taking epidemic in Palestine, it would not be a consequence of increased tourism. Palestinians would be thankful for the extra income.

Conservative #2 says something about terrorists killing infidels. Brilliant stuff. 

Anyway, here's what I added to the discussion:


Just last year I visited Israel and Palestine with a group of students from my university, all of us enrolled in a Biblical Archaeology-focused course. I don't think most Americans realize that some of the more important locations in the Bible, like Bethlehem and Hebron, are actually important Palestinian cities. We stayed 3 nights in Bethlehem. Even though the environment was noticeably impoverished (my hotel room was painfully 1970's, however comfortable) I felt like I was treated more nicely in Palestine. And I never felt endangered. I saw far far less guns in Palestine than I saw in Israel. And actually, most of the guns were Israeli snipers stationed around Abrahamic holy sites. We were had to go through 3 checkpoints to get into a certain mosque. We were told a 6 year old boy was gunned down the month before because he ran through one of the checkpoints on his way to prayer.
There was only one time in the entire month that I felt threatened and that was during a monthly (fairly large) anti-Islamic parade held by a conservative Jewish group, where they openly sing songs about taking back the Temple Mount and destroying the Dome on the Rock. We were staying with with a group of nuns on the Via Dolorosa, which happens to go through the Muslim Quarter. The paraders graffittied the doors to our building as they passed and the nuns warned us that they might spit on us. Americans should visit Palestine more to see what it's like for themselves. 
Certainly, as an American, (wearing shorts and holding a camera) I have never received more resentful looks than I did when strolling through the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. 
Ridiculous. Anyway, I need to blog more. I think I feel like because this blog is just completely public, that I'm hesitant to use it unless I have some reasonably good material (not that every thing I've written about so far has been ground breaking by any means). But I should just write. And hope for the best. I'm not going to live forever and I can't keep waiting for brilliant words to pop out of my subconscious. And damn it Blogger, you suck at formatting! This paragraph should be normal size font. And it keeps inserting weird spacing...wtf.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Almost Twenty-four Hours

Almost twenty-four hours.

    This last weekend I went back to Saint Louis to visit everyone. The Saint Louis Pride celebration was happening in the city, which was my official reason for deciding to get away from Columbia. I was also running out of clean clothes, and I was very much looking forward to spending more time with Jeff. He must really like me. There is, however, a chance that he’s just really desperate and adept at feigning excitement and arousal. It’s hard for me to judge physical attractiveness because I’m drawn to different features in different people, so I’m not going to say that Jeff is any more or less attractive than other people I’ve been with, but he is certainly more intelligent, which I find incredible sexy.
    I think I mentioned before that he talks more than I do. I still sometimes feel overwhelmed during our conversations because Jeff seems to possess an intellect that’s able to jump from subject to subject, seemingly able to converse endlessly. I like to listen though, so unless he finds my lack of conversational input off-putting, I’m fine with the imbalance, as long as it doesn’t fall into a professor-student dynamic. I’ve wondered perhaps, that as a result of having spent so much time alone, that I’ve trained myself to trim my thoughts so that I’m able to share my viewpoint before the person I’ve managed to corral into conversation with me loses interest and moves on with their day. Perhaps that explanation has less to do with reality and more to do with my insecurity. Okay, that’s definitely what it is. I’ve long known that my verbal abilities, keen as they might be normally, are pathetic the day after a night of drinking. Jeff has had the pleasure of witnessing this a few time now. However charming I might have been before and during my nocturnal drinking session, the next morning I will barely be able to offer a comment on rather normal subjects, or even on subjects about which I would normally find myself spilling over. There were several times I woke up from a daydream with Jeff still talking, wondering if he noticed, if he was wanting me to say more, or if he way happy just talking to me. I wonder if he just talks to everyone, like that’s just his personality. He has repeated a couple of things to me already, so maybe he’s not having someone who is good at listening. Haha. Last night I tweeted “Half the fun of having a new boyfriend is lying awake in bed analyzing our relationship. not.” It isn’t fun at all. Is Jeff thinking about all of this too?
My biggest point of tension with Jeff is the huge amount of experience he has regarding men. I know he’s had sex with many more men than I have; besides Jeff, I’ve only been with four guys. And I knew all of them before I had sex with them. I think my anxiety is justified: having sex with that many men exposes you to more risk. I wonder how many of the men are more attractive than me, more intelligent than me, more interesting than me. That has to be a normal question. I just want to know who I’m competing with. I wonder, too, why he did have sex with so many people. Was it all just for fun? How many were one-night affairs? How many did he think he was in love with? How many of them were just like me, expecting to enter into a relationship that had the potential to last more than a few months? I think he said that when he was in New York for his year of graduate school, he had three boyfriends. Three?  At least one thing is certain: I’m not the only one who finds him sexy.
I got back on Friday night, spent most of Saturday with my parents. I met Jeff at a gay bar on Manchester Avenue in the city. Before Jeff showed me them a few weeks ago, I had no idea there was an entire street of gay bars in the city. Jeff was already a little tipsy. He introduced me to a couple friends of his, both of whom didn’t seem interesting or attractive enough for him. It probably wasn’t even a minute after walking into a bar called Just John’s that I got a heavy touch from a man the same age as my father. There were more young guys of course. Jeff and I stayed at the bar the whole time, talking about ...I don’t remember. Jeff told me that my eyes were glowing under the black lights. I acted like I had no idea what could be causing it, knowing full well that I had put on Aveeno cream all around my eyes earlier that day, having no expectations of being examined by my boyfriend under a black light. Ha! It didn’t help that I had spent time out in the pool earlier, wearing my sunglasses, so that all of my face was slightly red except for my eye area, making them seem to glow even more. At one point I went to the bathroom on the opposite side of the bar, and I was so impressed with the cleanliness of it. A single-style bathroom for a couple hundred men and the place was spotless. In a regular bar, especially with that many people, that bathroom would have been a mess, complete with a urine-covered floor and broken beer bottles, and most likely a faulty lock.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Taking Off Headphones

It's extraordinary, the way it feels when it's just me. I take off my headphones. I turn off the TV. I force my self to stop thinking about what other people are doing. And it's just me. Suddenly I remember what I'm supposed to be doing, the kinds of things I wanted to see myself doing when I thought I was on track to be one of the most distinguished people in the world. It could have happened. If I had lived in a suburban paradise. If I had had no resistance in my life. I was smart, I had resources, it could have happened. STOP

Wait, how many entries have I written on this blog that sound EXACTLY like this? This isn't what I wanted to say.

Today I went for a walk in the park. Halfway through the walk, I took my headphones off and was amazed at the difference it made to the rest of my senses. I think the music was keeping my mind tied to thoughts outside the present. Sure, when I was listening to music, I could see and smell, but just the absence of that music that was continuously pulling me inward enhanced the experience like I wouldn't expect. It isn't the first time I've experienced this, but lately I think I've just been numbing my mind more than usual. I'm constantly watching TV, show I've watched countless times. Or listening to music. Or jacking off. All of those things have their own merits, but when you're doing them constantly, so as to prevent your mind from creating original thoughts, it becomes a symptom of a disease, which fits itself somewhere in between Cabin Fever and Depression. That moment when I take my headphones off, or close my laptop, and take a deep breath and really, REALLY, look at my surroundings, it's like I'm really waking up. I think my brain gets more action during my dreams than in my waking life. Obviously, if I'm really numbing my mind that much, and my brain is doing its normal brain activities, it probably is getting more action at night. Typing is fun. Reading is fun. Thinking about myself is fun. This is productive. I can spend 4 hours a day looking at myself in the mirror and have nothing to show for it. But if I spent 4 hours a day typing about myself, even if I were just bitching and over-rationalizing every pathetic decision, I would still have a heck of a lot more to show for it. Who knows? Maybe eventually, something brilliant would arise out of my chaos.

Starbucks opens at 5:30 on weekdays. My class starts at 9:50, although the professor doesn't start class until 10. I've been thinking that (because I never seem to get anything done at home) that I could just come here at 7, buy a coffee, nurse it for a couple hours, and just get stuff done. I would turn this little Starbucks on Ninth Street into my personal office. That sounds like a reasonable idea, doesn't it? Getting stuff done. Nothing wrong with that.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Promise

I promise that I'm going to start writing more. I don't know who I'm making this promise to. Myself? Blogger? I have a lot to talk about. I definitely have some more material for a Jeff entry. Coming soon. I promise.

Monday, May 24, 2010

In Light of Jeff

I'm kinda assuming no one will read this.


My goals for the last 6 or 7 years remain mostly unchanged. I don't feel any closer to attaining them. If anything they seem more distant than ever before. I have a feeling of not knowing which way to go. I'm wondering exactly what it is that isn't going to plan. My brain, my body, my habits. I feel that unlike in the beginning, when it was just small things, like the frustration I got from having to spend more time on math exams than my friends, and not having clear skin, that now my frustration is more all-encompassing. I'm talking about myself. I'm not saying that I'm frustrated with the economy or day-to-day life. I still function rather normally. I'm extremely reluctant to admit to having any sensation that could possibly be called depression. That's not what it is. And I'm not satisfied with saying that I'm burnt out because I long to be in an environment where I would be able to have the chance to become burnt out. I feel so inactive. *looks through thesaurus* "Listless" might be the extreme of what I'm feeling. Perhaps "impotent" would work. I feel impotent, mostly in an intellectual/emotional way, though considering my recent sexual history, I might as well include the sexual definition, too.

I've been seeing a guy named Jeff. He's really great. He's 25 - four years older than me. He's going to medical school at St. Louis University. He got his bachelor's degree from the same university I escaped from after my sophomore year. He went for free. He got his graduate degree from Columbia in Manhattan. He lives on the 8th floor of an apartment building in the Central West End. He's good at having conversations. I've only seen him four times. The first time was coffee. The second time was Thai in South City. The third date was mostly spent walking around the Delmar Loop talking constantly. We kissed in a parking lot, but I suggested we continue inside a car. And then we kissed more in his apartment. The fourth date we went bowling at a place on Delmar, and then he introduced me to Ethiopian food. We talked so much! I'm not used to talking to anyone that much. We went back to his place and kissed more. And a little more, too. I felt a little bit of my dignity slip away because of it. I promised myself I would never start out a relationship so quickly...again. It's probably because I hadn't been with anyone since last September. I hadn't kissed anyone since November. I don't think it's healthy for someone my age to go that long without human intimacy. And I'll be starting my summer classes next week two hours away...chances are I won't have another chance to do it anytime soon with someone else. And I felt like I could trust him. I can trust him. And though I wonder, I doubt he thinks any less of me for what happened (though I had told him the previous day that I wouldn't let myself go further so soon). I also believe that it's important to check for sexual chemistry before you spend too much time with a person. What if they can't stand to look at you naked? This paragraph is looking a little cluttered, but I really needed to write something down about what I've been thinking in light of my time with Jeff. I haven't been writing much at all lately. The bottom line is: I'm am so fucking insecure. Even though I think Jeff is great, even though I think we have great chemistry, that I'm still worrying about not measuring up to him. It's constantly coloring my thoughts about him, even though I have no reason to not think that he finds me just as charming and flawless as I find him.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Online Dating

It can be a real challenge: finding people to date. If you ask me, it's even harder for gay people because there are so far fewer of us. And trying to find an intellectual equal, an okay-looking gay male who's also into me - well, it hasn't happened yet. Okay, that's not exactly true. I've dated okay-looking guys, attractive guys who have been generally smarter than average, but ...I still kinda felt like I had to go out of my way to communicate with them...frequently. It's really exhausting, filtering my words for the benefit of others, and I probably do it much more than I should, but none of those guys would've tolerated me if I hadn't. I'd still be a virgin. There was always a point in the relationship when I felt that I could stop treading so carefully, ease up on the filtering, but as soon as that happened, every thing would implode, usually quite rapidly. I've had 3 more-than-dating guys, but only one of them could be characterized as a relationship relationship. All very different guys: none of them, or any of the other guys with whom I've gone on dates, would ever get along willingly.

A few weeks ago, I went on a date with a really nice guy. I was actually nervous, like 'going to play a concerto in front of 5,000 people' nervous. The date went well, even though my nervous flirting was probably a little over-the-top. We went to an okay Italian place, and then saw a movie at an independent theater. He and I had tons in common, so much so that after a while, I had to force myself to stop adding "me too!" kinda comments. A week later, however, he texted me saying that he was trying to focus on creating a relationship with someone he already knew. I wasn't offended - I could relate to that. Before I had gone out with Travis, I hadn't been on a date in a full year. I went almost my entire 20th year of life without seeing one person. I should probably note that I met Travis on a gay dating site. I was reluctant, as many people are, to try such a site. My first question is, what does it say about these people if they have to resort to a dating site? I assume many of them feel desperate just like me. And again, there are fewer of us, so it's a matter of practicality. I could settle for someone in town, but why settle if all I have to is sign up for an account with one of these sites? I've always had this intuition (or delusion) that I'm never going to find any soulmates close to home. Dating sites aren't too horrible after all. But I've noticed that the better you look shirtless on a particular site, the more friends you have. So yeah.

This last weekend, one of my cousins, who's in her forties, recommended a site that she uses, and I like it. It's also free, and it's really easy to use. I become so critical when I'm looking through guys' profiles though. The following things are deal breakers (à la 30 Rock):
  • smoker
  • anything in the job category other than "student"
  • doesn't want to have kids
  • more than one spelling mistake
  • overuse of quotations
  • anyone who talks too much about their art projects
  • their main activity is singing in a choir
  • their favorite music is "LADY GAGA!!!!!!!!!!!" (I like her, but not that much)
  • they "don't like drama"
  • they don't like "fems"
  • their favorite music is Lil Wayne
  • they haven't yet grasped the differences between their, there, and they're.
  • they're an aspiring tattoo artist 
  • they only listen to local bands
  • they're a manager...anywhere
  • they don't like to travel
  • they date men and women (just pick one)
  • they like to hunt or fish
  • they're married
  • they like to "watch the game"
  • they drink more than socially
  • they are "just looking for friends" (what are you doing on a dating site?)
Also a deal breaker if any of their pictures feature the following:
  •  thumb rings
  •  2 piercings (You get one. Choose wisely.)
  • Hollister
  • unflattering hair color
  • bathroom mirrors

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Break

So, I talked to one of the guys on 9th Street asking people to write letters to Claire McCaskill expressing support for green energy technology...I sat down to write a letter and was genuinely amused by the responses of other passers-by when they were asked... I at least try to form a somewhat polite response when declining to sign a petition. I at least try to throw out a calm "No thank you" and a smile. But these people could only muster rude no's and disapproving, hardly meaningful grunts. It was a wide variety too: men, women, young, old, stylish, shabby. I can see why someone might not have enough time, although it is a worthwhile cause, but at least attempt some civility. He wasn't odd looking or anything, the guy I talked to, though he did have a hippie-esque quality to him, with his tan and unkempt hair though that was probably from just being outside all day. He asked if I was writing in calligraphy. "No, just my normal handwriting." He talked to me all during the 4 minutes it took me to write a little letter to the senator. I crossed my legs and set the tablet on my right knee - the toe of my right foot touching his leg now didn't seem to bother him. I didn't want him to think this was a flirting tactic, almost sure he was straight, so I shifted a couple more inches away. He must have been thankful, with all that enthusiasm in his voice. I wanted to ask him more about his personal motivations for standing outside in the sun so that he could be rebuffed by people who think they can't afford to lose 4 minutes of their time. But I left, only returning his polite "have a good day" wishes.

This is the best Spring Break I've had in years. I went back to St. Louis for the weekend and ended up spending all of Monday with some of my cousins just driving around the city. It was so much fun. We went to the Zoo for a bit, had a delicious pizza (called Cherokee Street) at Pi on Delmar, and did a ton of exploring (being lost with me driving). Lyndsey and Sarah said it was the most fun they'd had all year. I have to say, I don't think I've laughed that much in a long time, a LONG time. They live on Olive Street now, so there's no reason I shouldn't see them more often. I just have that fear that if I see them too much, it won't feel as special.
We originally met up with them on Sunday at Chesterfield Mall. Mom and Dad had took me there to see what H&M had to offer. After the stores closed, all of us went to the Cheesecake Factory for appetizers and cheesecake(!). We had the bitchiest waitress, but we had so much fun laughing about her that I'm glad she took my plate from under me when I was still eating. Jordan, their brother, was much quieter than he was the last time I saw him a few years ago. Lyndsey and Jordan stopped going to high school when they moved to St. Louis. It seems they spend a lot of their time reading library books, which it alright by me. Sarah works as a nurse with kids in the city. Jayne, their mother, works as an RN at a veterans hospital. They have a nice town home (1400 a month), and they seem really happy.
Now back in Columbia, the weather is beautiful (85 degrees on April 1?), and sometime it feels like I have the city to myself. I've been walking all over. It's so much fun. I feel like I'm really on vacation.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beautiful Day & President Obama at My High School


This video is spot on!

Today was great! The weather was perfect and school was fun. We talked about the beginnings of WWII in American History, and we had a test in Microeconomics. And that's it! I also kinda went for a run in the park, but it was more of a walk. I'm lucky to have such a great park close to my house.

I ran into a girl I haven't seen from high school and she was kind of a douche, but that's okay - it probably has something to do with her plans to be a biology graduate student in Kansas. I don't know what part of that repulses me more. Oh, and as I was leaving I heard this conversation between a mom and her (apx.) 12 year-old son:
Mom: Andre, come over here!
Andre: I don't want to walk! (Andre's a little chubby, wielding a $300 cell phone)
Mom: Andre, you walk with me! If you don't, I'll take away your texting privileges! (I laugh out loud at this prompting a curious look from an old lady)
Andre: I don't care!
Mom: It's hot - you can't sit in the car!
Andre: It's hot everywhere!

In other news: the President came to speak at my high school today (former high school). It's hard for me describe the feeling, but I can't help detecting some irony in the idea of an intelligent public figure like President Obama choosing my high school, a place that I largely saw as a bastion of ignorance and conservatism, as the setting for his speech about progressive legislation. Simultaenously, at another St. Charles location, an anti-Healthcare meeting was being held. *sigh* St. Charles. I think it's about to thunderstorm...I love a good thunderstorm. Only a month until my birthday!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Alarm Clocks

Every one has an alarm clock. They're born with it. It's set by the universe. Some people are gifted in that they have an awareness of the alarm clock, but most are completely oblivious to it. It's quite old fashioned, the kind that actually ticks, with confident little gears inside. Tick tock tick tock. Most people's alarm go off at some point during their lives: some very early, some quite late. They wake up to find themselves a new person, and with this kind of alarm clock, it's always for the better. Some people put a pillow over their heads, which dulls the ringing, but doesn't mute it - waking up is slower for them. Others are so deeply asleep that they never hear the clock, like it's not there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 2010

Wow. The semester is going by so quickly. Spring Break for me begins at the end of March, and then a week after coming back, I turn twenty-one! Actually it's not that exciting for me. I hate getting older, and as far as alcohol goes, even if I were a regular alcohol drinker, it's not difficult to get someone else to buy it for me. Just another birthday for me. But I do plan to drink some alcohol, some fancy tequila.

I almost updated this blog several times in the last few weeks. I was going to write an entry about procrastination (really!), but I put it off and forgot about it. I was also going to write one about how my perfectionism hampers all aspects of my life.

My parents visited today. They cleaned up my apartment for me. I helped very little. It's wonderful. They also brought me a nice wooden bookshelf. Really brings my living room together. And I finally have a place to put that vase I bought in Palestine. I wish I had a story to go with that vase, like if I had met its maker in person. It was at the Lutheran church in Bethlehem - they provide university art classes. Painting, sculpture, and also things like cinematography. Documentary-making is a very relevant skill for students growing up in the West Bank who need the world to know what their lives are like. I bought my vase in the gift shop. It was like 140 shekels, but maybe not even that much. I think a female student made it, but I'm not even sure of that. Whatever the price was, it wasn't as much as that Swatch watch I bought from a watch-shop down the street. I was walking around alone. I was actually looking for a shop someone had mentioned that sold fake designer watches, but this wasn't that shop.
It was tiny, but there were hundreds of watches on display. I didn't want to buy one, but the middle-aged Palestinian man was so excited that I had walked in. Maybe I was projecting onto him an emotion that wasn't there, but he seemed extremely happy to have a customer. His wife quietly sat in the corner of the shop left of the entrance. She was very pretty, with an elegant head scarf, and I could feel her studying me as I asked to see different watches. One watch caught my eye - a silver Swatch watch. I asked to see the box. It was from several years past, though it looked brand new. I suck at haggling and I also suck at walking away. The price was too much, but I took out my Visa card anyway. I can't remember...I want to say that it was more than 400 shekels, which is around 100 dollars. While he was removing the links so it would fit my wrist I tried to talk to his wife. She smiled (again, extremely pretty) but shook her head because she didn't know English. The man was giddy the entire time: while he was adjusting the time, while he was swiping my credit card (I was half-hoping he wouldn't have a credit card machine, so that I could use that as an excuse to walk away), and while he was carefully bagging every thing. They both waved to me as I walked out. I immediately felt embarrassed and stowed the box in the pocket of my shorts. I felt like all the Palestinians on the street somehow knew about my ill-considered transaction, and I didn't mention it to any of the other people in my travel group. Back in my hotel room, I hid the box under the clothes in my suitcase and then recounted the entire experience to my mom via cell phone. That watch still doesn't fit me, but I still get happy thinking that maybe I made that man's day.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Une maison fantastique en France



Okay, one of my favorite procrastination tactics involves looking at things that are gloriously out of my budget. Recently I was looking at houses in France and stumbled upon this gem located somewhere in the Rhone-Alps region, which I take to mean that it's reasonably close to Lyon. The Sotheby's site calls it "La Tour Sarazin" or the Sarazin Tower. It was built in 1135, features 8,000 square feet of living space, 2 acres of land, all modern features (as of 2005), including a glass elevator, and also boasts 6 feet thick walls. And it's only 2,200,000 Euros. Compared to urban homes, 2 million for a mini-castle seems like a steal. I really like the kitchen. And sorry about the odd picture formatting: I couldn't arrange them like I wanted.




Monday, February 1, 2010

A new semester.

Hello world! It doesn't feel like it's been a month already since my last post. I've done so much in January, which is wonderful. I love being busy. When you're busy, life goes by faster, but when you look back, it really stretches out the time. When you're not busy, you look back and you can't remember anything! At least I can't. Like a lot of times at my previous college, when my brain's main activity was atrophying, I have no memory of what the hell I was doing, just the knowledge that I was probably bitching about some inconsequential flaw in northeastern Missouri's urban planning or watching a Stargate marathon. Thank goodness our dorms had cable. Anyway... I've been busy. My mom took me on a short cruise trip to the Bahamas, which was fantastic, but I went with the wrong expectations. I had never been on a cruise ship, so it took me the first day just to get used to every thing. It was so big! There were several restaurants, hundreds of activities, and lots of fun amenities to explore. We were still accidentally discovering things on the last day. We boarded the ship on Monday and disembarked on Friday. On Monday, with my jetlag, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep (and watch cruise ship TV, which is specially programmed for Royal Caribbean and for the most part is free of commercial advertisements), but by Friday I was wishing we could stay longer. It was a bit chilly, so no swimming or sunbathing. We actually needed jackets in the Bahamas; I got a bit windburned. Keywest was very pretty, and I would really like to go back and stay at one of the hotels. They have tons of shops and I love the buildings - they remind me of old New Orleans.

New Orleans. Pronunciation. I grew up saying New Or-LEANS. But many say New OR-lenz. But the original French pronunciation is like Noo-voe Or-Lee-Ahn... so, I'm going to say New Or-lee-enz. It sounds a little hyper-Southern at first, but it's closer to the original pronunciation.

My classes this semester have me excited. Advanced French, Comparative Political Systems, Intro to International Relations, Cultural Anthropology, and Microeconomics. I want to get A's this semester. My professor for Advanced French is actually French, which in my mind means better quality French instruction, provided they're bilingual. So far, she is the best French teacher I've ever had, and possibly also the most challenging. My teacher last year was from the Congo, and he'd occasionally rant about how kids learning English in other countries are already approaching fluency, while many of us still have the vocabulary of 5 year-olds. She's already telling us the same thing. "By this level of French, you should be able to write 2 pages double-spaced in French no problem [in addition to the 3 other assignments I've already given you all due in 2 days]. It's going to be interesting.

I've started looking at graduate school options. My parents and I can barely afford state tuition right now, so I don't know if graduate school is truly an option, without any extra support. More information on that later. And I'll be posting some pictures of the cruise.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gay Marriage in Ireland




I love this commercial. Just thinking about the spirit of modern Ireland for an instant, I'd have to say that gay marriage will become a reality for them in the near future. (via American Irish) I like the name Sinead. I was just reading about when Sinead O'Connor performed on SNL and then tore up a picture of John Paul II on live TV...and then shouted out some anti-pope statement. So, yeah, Sinead O'Connor. I wish there was a video somewhere. Oh wait, there is.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolutions for a New Year

I'm twenty. I've resisted it, but I can't ignore the feeling that my unavoidable transition to adult life (or something close) has begun. My resolutions for this new year aren't very much different from those of 2009, but if for fear of my encroaching adulthood, then I think this new year is going to be different, with a more serious approach. Bad sentence? I've long feared (since senior year of high school) that my writing has become less effective at expressing my feelings, so I'm going to factor it into my New Year's resolutions.
It seems like a lot of people focus on one big goal. This year I'm going to exercise every day! This year I'm going to give up caffeine! I'm going to read at least one novel a month! All good ideas, but when I've set those goals for myself, I've found that ...I fail. SO. This year, I'm going to make up plenty of little goals that I make a little progress on every day. If I fail at one, then I have several others to distract me from the failure. Here's my list:
1. Eat 4 fruits and 3 vegetables every day. (This is one that I'm worried about, but I did improve in 2009)
2. Drink 3 cups of tea every day. (I really don't want cancer.)
3. Spend more time outside.
4. Go to campus every day and read the NY Times. (It's free on campus, I have no reason to be uninformed)
5. Spend 15 cleaning every day. (I usually clean once a week, by which time my apartment is halfway to becoming an episode of Hoarders.
6. Use more olive oil. (It's good for you! And I have a big bottle than I never use.)
7. Take more pictures and print more pictures.
8. Be more organized.
9. Write 2 letters a week. To anyone.
10. Write more. Period.
11. Listen to more classical music.
12. File all of my receipts. (And possibly Excel my living expenses, but I don't want to get too ambitious.)
13. Think about sex less. (going to a new school and being alone has definitely kept my right hand warm.)
14. Limit myself to one latte per week.
15. Practice music once a week.