February 27th, 2002


You ain't special so who you foolin? Don't try to give me a line. But I can't stop thinkin' bout seein' ya one more time. But I already left you and you're better off left behind

This semester is probably the first time in my life when I've known what it's like to come home from working and be REALLY tired just from the activities of the day. I started at 9:30 working on my Stata homework in the Lerner computer lab and with the exception of an hour and a half break in between classes for lunch, I didn't get a chance to relax till 8:30. Even taking away the break that's still a 9 and a half hour day and school is generally more stressful than actually working a job because it requires constantly shifting mental gears depending on the class, not to mention absorbing scads and scads of information. I really feel it now, my eyes are unfocused by mouth is dry and my joints are are a little sore from cramping into seats too small for me and running around campus trying to make it to all my classes on time. It's funny, this type of mega activity is both stressful and somewhat satisfying. I mean when I look at myself in the mirror I don't feel like "Well I'm just a lazy ass mofo with nothing to offer the world." I feel like I'm actually out there DOING. That's pretty cool.

I got a 10 out of 10 on my statistics problem set #3 which gives me confidence going into the test. That's 29.9 out of a possible 30 I've gotten so far. Not too shabby. It's an easy class but considering that I have to cram it in among all my others and it requires a fair amount of work at home I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping up.

*12 hours later after collapsing into sleep*

Okay I feel a little better but now I have to recover in time for class in two hours. The only things I really wanted to add to that post were that I am starting to enjoy my GED class again now that the troublemakers have stopped comming. Yesterday the class was both fun and energizing. I went in exhausted and run down wondering how I could survive 2 hours and I came out somewhat refreshed and in a better mood. Maybe it's because when I'm teaching I actually get to engage my mind for two hours rather than letting it moulder and absorb whatever information the professors decide to hurl at it. Apparently my students actually like me (or at least SAY they like me) because I have a sarcastic easy going attitude and make a lot of jokes. Of course they're PROBABLY just playing some sort of angle on me like anyone who ever says anything nice about me is, but hey a guy can HOPE he's making a difference can't he? Even if the class isn't helping them as much as I'd like it is certainly helping me because it's helped me understand where a lot of people are coming from and to understand what it's like to be on the other side of the teacher's desk. Both of those are useful bits of info. Not to mention it gives me some confidence and stress release (It's much less stressful when you don't need to worry about being tested later)

The other thing I wanted to talk about was how this journal has colored my interactions with other people. Since most of the FOB Five (Jing, Aaron, Paul, Kawah, and their mascot Yingbo) looks at it at least occasionally I have started to get used to people knowing at least something about what I'm like when I'm not out there playing highstrung weekday warrior. The fact that this is very much a product of the journal was displayed quite clearly in statistics class when Diana (That's the name of the girl who sits next to Adam, or at least that's the name on her binder) commented that I was lucky when I was able to answer a problem that had the rest of the class stumped. Now answering the problem required remembering a formula not taking a stab in the dark so I'm not sure how luck could play much of a part in it, but the only other way one could take the comment would be to assume she meant I was lucky for being able to remember that stuff. Later she commented that I probably wouldn't need to study for the test which seems to back up that theory. I wonder if people percieve me that way, like some dude who just leads a charmed life where academics come easy and the world is coated in a delicious lump of honey soaked milk. Don't they see the vulnerability? The fact that in class full of people chatting with eachother I'm the dude who sits around by himself before class/during the break/after class? After class I was talking to Adam (yeah it's a direct contradiction to what I just said but that's just 3 classes out of six cause I talk to Derrick after class in the two we are in together) and he said that I worked my balls off...but that's not true either. It's like I somehow don't fit into any convenient catagory so people just ignore me and hope that I'll go away. On a side note I think that Adam's a pretty interesting guy and he has the most positive view of Columbia I have ever encountered since I've been there. He basically says that in other schools, from SUNY Albany to Cornell, he would just fuck around and cheat his way through (He described a scheme where you paid $20 to pass a psych test) but here the professors have "cracked his mind open" and he feels pride in his work and like he's actually learning stuff. Maybe there IS something to Columbia's rep. Anyway it just made me think about how I feel like this Journal has opened me up a bit, even to folks like Chuck to whom I was never particularly closed, and ruminating on how it's a much more specific effect than it feels. I guess that's a good and bad thing (I certainly wouldn't want people I'd just met to read it) but it's a thing I hadn't thought about. And now I have. Woot.
  • Current Music
    Guns N Roses- Use Your Illusion 1

Burning up inside, no-one seems to tell.

Today in justice I started thinking about a bunch of things, most of them unrelated to the class.

- In class the professor mentioned how certain rules can be "Fair" but weighted, like how if you had a team of tall soccor players and a team of short ones and you installed a metal bar at about 6' height in the center of the field it would be equal treatment (because both teams would have to contend with the bar) but clearly weighted to the advantage of one group. Well that, as most sports metaphors I hear these days do, got me thinking about Jeff and the NBA. Jeff, if you haven't picked this up already, was a pretty good basketball player back in high school and college. In fact he says that he probably could have played in the NBA and probably WOULD have had he been 5 inches taller. I'm not sure if I believe THAT but I do believe that he loves the game and probably could have at least had a chance at being (more) successful in it if he had had a few more inches of height. So is it unjust that he's 5'7" and I...who have never been serious about sports...am about 5'11"-6'. I would say it's not unjust because nature is neither just nor unjust, but it does bring home how unreasonable NBA salaries are and how far divorced from reality sports are. I mean here's a guy who loves the sport as much as anyone else but can't play it professionally and is almost margainalized as a fan because he's not into the pro game. When did games like basketball etc go from being diversions on a field or court to a well honed business built purely on winning at all costs and margianalizing the rest of the game. I don't think pro sports were always like this. I think at one time they were sort of extensions of the suburban games...on a grander scale with professional participants and higher stakes but still fundementally tied in to the lower levels. Now they're so far divorced....how much was lost when money reared its ugly head?

-I think I want to start listening to a discman again on campus and before and after classes. This was a practice I engaged in during my first semester back at school and one that carried over into the summer until "She" appeared. After that I stopped because I would sit in the corner talking to Ian and hoping against hope that she'd come over and chat with us as she did from time to time. Then I stopped wearing them on the street and on my way to class because I thought I might bump into her and didn't want to seem unavailable. But that's all moot now. And I'm finding myself missing the other effect of headphones which is the music. In fact I am quite often late to my JUSTICE class becuase I'm sitting at home listening to music not wanting to leave it. So since there's not really any reason why I should prize social availability and there is plenty of reason why I'd want some music to listen to...maybe it's time to go back. Of course I've changed a HELL of a lot from the summer in MANY many ways (you can see for yourself if you go back to my earliest journals which were at the end of the summer anyway) and I don't intend to slide all the way back, but maybe music would be nice. Plus I need to get one anyway for my oral surgery. hehe...I said Oral. hehe.

I know that I write a lot in this journal but I've thought about it ever since Jeff, on Monday, said maybe I should cut down and I think it's important. It's a freeform method of self expression where I can theorize and ponder anything and everything. One of the things I don't like about school is how constraining it is. Think about X from 10-12, think about Y from 6-8 etc. I don't like having my thoughts regulated like that. I don't like it at all. The journal allows me to explore things in my mind and then get them down and out there in the world as they come to me. This is a good thing I think as it will prepare me for the day when my job is not quite so self-contained and specific as school is (Maybe I'll be thinking about one thing for a set period of time but it won't be one small aspect of that one thing, at least I hope it won't.) Plus I enjoy it and it lets me be intellectual without being resentful.

Later Today: A treatise on intimacy and trust as some lady requested

Random Note: I was just thinking about how much Jeff has meant to me over the last couple of years and how he helped steer me in the right direction when I took a leave from schol and was really floundering. He's helped me with things like direction and confidence and all that other crap that people need to survive. And he's proven no matter how much I might deny it that at least at times he does care and is willing to go beyond the demands of duty (although he does this for ALL his clients so it says something about how willing to care he is not that I'm worth caring about) so thank you Jeff. Thanks for all that shiznat. You money grubbing Jew.
  • Current Music
    Goo Goo Dolls- A Boy Named Goo

So scared that I'll never get put back together

Wow...talk about a metaphorical punch in the stomach. In anthro today I was actually interested in what we were discussing because it was sometthing that could more easily be understood on a macro level than a lot of the other stuff we've talked about. So I made a couple of comments one of which was said to mirror the reading and another to be a re-iteration of what the professor had just said (although I don't think that I was exactly repeating what he was saying, more asking for a clarification) and seeing that they weren't getting good or useful responses I decided to shut up and wait the rest of the class out. So there I was sitting around listening to the discussion and waiting for the class to end so I could come home and play Jet Set Radio Future, when suddenly professor Gregory's voice booms "MR. _________! STOP LOOKING AT THE CLOCK" I froze like a deer in headlights. The thing is that I had sort of gone into internal invisible mode where I am unaware of my physical existance and only focusing on my thoughts and sensory inputs. So when professor Gregory boomed that at me I wasn't ready for it. Suddenly I was back in Ms. McNally's classroom dealing with a smallminded instructor who was extremely disinterested in education and only focused on her own smallminded bullshit. In the land of the cruel and the arbitrary. I reacted accordingly.

"I...I can leave."
"I can leave the room if you want"

Everyone stared at me and then a few started snickering. Professor Gregory muttered something and went back to teaching and I sat there wanting to bolt but knowing if I did I would not be able to return to the classroom. So I sat there as quiet and small as possible for the next 30 minutes with my eyes fixed forwards until I had a chance to bolt. Except I couldn't...Derrick beconed me. I waited outside the classroom for him and then listened for 15 minutes while he lectured me on how to take a joke etc. Meanwhile some girl was yapping at his heels about the study session that he's putting together and he was telling her to hold on because he had to finish stroking my ego. It was very nice of him and it did make me feel better but it definitly established us as unequal and not in that good "Ben's Superior" way that I like so well. I guess he's 35 so it would be kind of pathetic if he didn't know more about social interaction than me (plus he owned a dance company and dance can be a social business) but it's humbling to be...well...humbled. Anyway we will all be doing the study group, I will probably apologise to professor Gregory for over-reacting, and I guess I'll have to search for friends more my age/equally neurotic. I wonder if there's a young adults ward at bellvue.

Until then I will just soak in the humiliation. Ahh it's good to be a social reject. Don't strain your back picking up the mail on Christmas.
  • Current Music
    Matchbox 20- Mad Season

You still want love, love's ugly smooth and delicate. But not without affection. No not alone

Alright, well I was asked to define my thoughts on intimacy and trust so I guess I will. This will probably segue into a clearer definition of my thoughts on love since the last once elicited a good deal of whining from a nameless party because they thought that I was too focused on explaining why promiscuity is bad bad bad and not enough talking about love. Friggin critics.

Trust: What is trust? I think it's a combination of reliability affection and respect. Some would say that reliability is the only neccesary component but I disagree, at least when it comes to interpersonal relationships (If I say that I trust a brand of antifreeze I don't need much affection towards it) I mean if someone's behavior is predictable but offensive would you say that you trust them? I don't think I would. Maybe it's because one doesn't attribute positive traits like reliability to people you don't like, but I think that it goes a little deeper than that. See trust implies, I think, that whatever behavior the person operates with what are, by your lights, generally good intentions or at least not bad ones. That's where the respect comes in. To trust somebody you have to believe that the choices they make and the actions they take are both rational and motivated by a desire to achieve something worthwhile. It doesn't have to be something you think is GOOD but you have to at least understand how it could be seen as good.

Affection is the hardest aspect of trust to talk about. It doesn't seem inherent in the equation like reliability and respect might, after all we've all heard lines like "I don't like him, but we can trust him" etc. Ultimatly I think it comes down to comfort level. To REALLY trust somebody you have to feel comfortable around them, and I think comfort is part and parcel of affection (perhaps you can have affection without comfort but is the opposite really possible?) You don't need to have a STRONG like of the person, just a general feeling of "Hey he's a pretty good guy, I like him" or something vague like that. Your general disposition has to be positive for you to really trust them.

Okay you say, that's nice, but what exactly does it have to do with love? Well I think trust is neccesary for love and is perhaps THE fundemental component. Trusting somebody means that you can rely on them, you respect them, and you have affection towards them. Reliability is important because if you're planning on making this person the rock in stormy waters on which your life is built you need to know it won't sink or float away. Respect is important because it allows one to take the other party's point of view rather than dismissing them as "overemotional" or "insensative". Affection doesn't really need to be explained because people often mistake raw affection for love (affection is a large part of love, the main part of the raw emotional ingredient, but I think love has a cognitive aspect too.) Trust combines three important traits for any sort of romantic relationship and wraps them up with some additional implications.

Intimacy is the sharing of private information/merging of experience and worlds. When you are intimate with someone it means that you have a connection to them on a private level. They know things about you that few others do and you reveal information to them that you don't neccesarily want them to know just because of the bond knowing eachother's secrets creates. Likewise when you are in an intimate relationship your perception of events/people around you is colored by your partner. You understand their thought patterns and personality well enough to automatically think of what their response to a joke or opinion towards a piece of art might be. Intimacy is connection on a very personal level.

Now intimacy and trust aren't the only ingredients for love but I singled them out because I think they are the hardest to achieve. The fact of the matter is that it's DIFFICULT to find someone who is reliable and respectable (many reliable people tend to be easily pushed around, which is WHY they are so reliable) and it's tough to find someone you can feel comfortable being intimate with. Affection is pretty easy, all it requires is that you accentuate the positive. Trust and intimacy force you to confront and deal with potential negatives...I think they are usually the last pieces to fall into place during a budding relationship but they are essential.

So what is love then? Well I'm very tired and this entry is not entirely coherent but basically I concieve of love as a combination of a lot of things. Trust, Intimacy, Affection, Attraction, Understanding, Exploration (even though people in love understand eachother they are not bored by each other, there's always some other aspect to probe and explore) and mutual need. A lover is someone who makes you feel better by their mere existance let alone presence. They provide shelter from the storm and safekeeping for your secrets. They give both physical pleasure and intellectual stimulation. They are satisfying to please and painful to hurt. I could say more but you get the gist. Lastly a lover must be unique, she must be special and neccesary to your continued happiness. She can't fill a void that another could fill just as easily.

Or so I think...I really wouldn't know.
  • Current Music
    Matchbox Twenty - Mad Season