April 23rd, 2002

pod

This will all fall down like everything else that was

Wow. This has not been a good day. In fact it's been a mixture of constant pressure mixed with spikes of fairly major discomfort and irritation. I have work to do tonight but I really want to get some of my thoughts down on magnetic media before my nose hits the grindstone.

First of all I have this essay on Crime and Punishment to write and it's been stressing me out. That book is far too long to read considering how much other stuff I have to do. I've gotten through a decent amount of it and I'll do more before I get to writing but I really wish we could have had like 2 weeks to do it or instead at least get the chance to write the essay for the second day. Lit-Hum is really set up with way too much focus on speed and not enough on depth. It's impossible to take this class and do all the reading (LITERALLY impossible, I don't think anybody does it) and if you do you're just frustrated because we tend to skim through the books without probing them in real meaningful ways. Very frustrating.

Anyway the paper's been weighing down my mind all day but it's really not that big a deal since I know I can easily pass it and if push comes to shove I don't HAVE to do it. It's just been a stressor. The REAL issues that have me mired in hopelessness right now are my session with Jeff and my Post Abnormal Psych info session on clinical psychology grad school. I will proceed to expound on them in chronological order.

As usual Jeff and I talked about a variety of things but the two that really struck home and upset me were his references to my body image and his accusations of bigotry.

His first statement about my dislike of my body was pretty accurate I think. I don't agree with his assesement of it being the engine behind all the other "rationalizations" I make. I see it as more as one of a number of horses dragging the cart, it's just the one that I don't like to talk about. I don't like my body. I'm fat and it just doesn't jive well with my self image. If I had been given proper nutrition I probably wouldn't be fat but the fact of the matter is that when your mom tells you to order out or cook for yourself every night it's hard to actually do healthy foods. No excuses though, I had control over this thing and I fucked up. Still I don't think of myself as the sort of person who would be fat. That's strange I guess. Anyway, Fat jokes are ubiquotous in our culture and fat people are easy to make fun of because it is seen as being a character flaw unlike many other problems/issues people have (Because overeating is so obvious it is in many worse for people's perception of you than drug addiction, nymphomania, habitual lying or numerous other activities that are seen as being defects of character. It is also harder to kick because it's absolutely impossible to go cold turkey from food. But I'm not going to waste time whining about all that) and I don't like being looked down upon because I invest a lot of effort into being an intelligent and moral person. So yes my body image does bother me greatly, increase my shyness, make me a bit more sour towards the world than I might otherwise be, etc. But that's a fact that's not hidden from me and It's something that I'm working about as hard as I can to fix (In this last month or so I've shed double digit pounds and at least a couple inches) and it doesn't underlie all the other points which I'm more willing to talk about because they're less embarasing and I don't consider them to be transient things (I've never planned on being fat forever, I'm not into that ludicrous fat acceptance movement or even judgemental towards people who judge me based on my weight, I just didn't have the resolve to go about fixing things until recently) I always figured I'd get rid of the fat some day, the other things are not going to be so easily dealt with.

I also didn't want to slip into the fallacy that I was losing weight to be able to "make it with chicks." I thought that way in the eleventh grade and it proved disasterous. When I still couldn't make any connections with females despite having dropped over 55 pounds I got discouraged and put the weight back on. That's not going to happen this time. I'm not going to rely on external validation to motivate me, rather it's going to be my desire to be healthier, have more energy, gather some much needed confidence, and open up possibilities including study of the martial arts or a possible stint in the military. So I don't want to even entertain the concept that what I'm doing with my weight could be related to women because if I do it'll come back and bite me on the ass. My lack of desire to talk about that aspect is a measured and intentional move.

As for my being bigoted towards women, well that's just a giant crock of shit. Not that the ideas I've expressed in this journal have been bigoted, cause they have, but that anyone would think that I actually believe those ideas. They are mental masturbation pure and simple. A fun little thing to write up in a state of anger or irritation. In the part of my mind where my true rational thoughts lie my feelings towards women are much less extreme than I make them out to be. I write in angry incindiary tones because it's entertaining and because defending outrageous and untrue statements is a fun intellectual enterprise. Defending tenable positions is not that difficult for me, I'm rather accomplished at it, but defending entirely untenable bigoted ones is an exciting challenge. It was an interesting experiment both in that I had some entertaining conversations and I was sort of surprised at how INTO my own rhetoric I got at times but frankly I'm bored of it now and I'm going to retire it alongside my pro-wrestling obsession and operation Jingdate as little lifetyle hobbies that were fun for a time but have outlived their usefulness. I don't hate women, never have really. Well I've hated INDIVIDUAL women but I've also hated individual men. There were some personal truths that I discovered during what I am going to dub "The Winter/Spring of Woman Hating" such as that I do identify quite strongly with masculinity (something that I wasn't sure of since I don't like the objectification of women and the agressiveness/irresponsibility of a lot of males) and that there ARE issues with women that I hadn't really fully thought out lurking beneath the surface (Not to mention the danger of advocating a ludicrous position so strongly that some part of you starts to believe it).

I think that I should mention here that these issues DO stem from experience and this experience is not going to be something that can just be talked away. A lot of my childhood memories are of female unfairness and powerful anti-male sentiments. I can remember many parties at my parents where the men would go out to the grill and the women would sit around badmouthing them in the kitchen while the kids played around and listened to all the angry feminist rage. I can remember being forced to give girls special treatment and hearing long diatribes against masculinity from just about every friend's mother etc. I can remember my mother wanting to give me Barbie dolls when I wanted G.I. Joes and my father having to sneak me out to buy me an air rifle because my mom didn't aprove of guns or soldiers or any other sort of masculine play. The repression of masculinity by angry women was a constant theme of my childhood. There's one other vivid memory that I have and that's of playing with a friend of mine and another younger boy in a sandbox. The younger boy's mother called him a couple times but he wouldn't come because he was getting a chance to play with the bigger boys and it was very exciting (He was probably 3-4 and we were not much older, although a little too old for the sandbox which we were just playing in out of altruism to this little kid whose jib we liked the cut of) His mother then came up to the sandbox and without warning told him to get out because they were going home and he was going to be spanked. He went with her and my friend and I filed behind half out of curiosity and half out of fear. The kid was dragging his feet a little and his mother told him to hurry up or she would pull down his pants and spank him right there in front of the whole playground. I can remember the intense frustration and sympathy I felt for the little guy who my friend and I in our 7 year old grace had taken under our wing. We may have been able to protect him from some of the bullies but we couldn't save him from the biggest bully in the place. His mom. That was a very formative experience for me and one that I remember very well. I still feel a combination of intense frustration and anger mixed with a nice side dish of embarasement for the kid when I remember that day and the experience probably went a long way towards reinforcing my impression of women as capricious and cruel authoritarian creatures who underhandedly abused boys when their fathers weren't watching or were busy doing other things. This view was reinforced all over the place by my parents friends, although there were some good ones like Jo-Ann who was always friendly and fair or Sam's mother Cynthia who seemed about as detached and laid back as his father did (My next door neighbor Ben's mom Jane was also a good sort although a bit high strung.) So I can't say that ALL the women that I encountered in my childhood were bitter and mean. But a large number and virtually ALL the single mothers were.

You should also remember that my father pretty much rasied me until I was 12. For much of my childhood my mother worked at Rutgers which is far from where we lived so I barely saw her except on weekends. In terms of skinned knees and elbows, dinner and homework the one who was there was my dad, brilliant, competant, short tempered and neurotic, but ultimatly loving. After my father died my mother fell apart so I never had a really nurturing and caring female parent. I guess my experience is the opposite of most in that way. That played a part in things too. I learned at an early age that if you need help or love you go to Daddy because nobody knows when mommy will be home (I can still remember falling asleep on the pillows in the living room waiting for her to come home).

Elementary school there was a girl I liked but she hated me quite passionatly and we ended up with a rather formative rivalry which turned soon to hate. Pretty traditional elementary school crap I guess but still a bad experience. After I moved to high school things got worse. There were a pair of girls in my grade who used to beat up boys and tell the teacher if the guys fought back. I can still remember Duk-Yung knocking the wind out of Jeff and stealing his bagel chips (well I wasn't there but Jeff told me the story). (Side note...does anyone know what happened to bagel chips? Eh never mind I can't eat them anyway) I never had a romantic relationship in high school and my interactions with girls were limited and mostly negative. Of course that's true of my interactions with mostly everyone but at least I found some males I could relate to. My search for a replacement father figure after the loss of my dad also lead me to idealize the male teachers somewhat so I ended up having a lot more respect for them than I did the females although once again there were a few good/kind ones among the ranks of the longhairs. College...well I think we've gone through that enough. Anyway that's pretty much a history of my interactions with women which explains, I think, my issues with/around them. I could throw in a few things like my anger at the lack of sexual virtue in modern women (Fueled by my chivalric fantasies of my teens along with my drive for uniqueness and specialness which causes me to recoil at the idea of "sharing" a mate with numerous other men the majority of which were almost certainly not worthy of the honor she shared with them before choosing to share it with me) frustration with the postmodernist movement intimatly connected to feminism that I feel is responsible for irreperable damage to the concept of standards in our universities schools and business and the continued anti-male rantings I am exposed to from certain people around me, but you've heard all of that Ad-Naseum.

All of that stuff isn't to excuse bigoted actions towards females but rather to explain that and why I just don't know how to interact with them. I have been conditioned to think of women as basically imperious nasty judgemental bitches who need to be tiptoed around and are best avoided altogether. That's not to say that I'm not open to interaction with women, I always respond when they speak to me and I am courteous and will continue to speak to them for as long as they still want to talk, but rather to say that I can't START conversations with them and that even if I wanted to date one I'd know fuckall about how ot go about doing that. Not that that would stop me, but there's also the fact that I am exceedingly picky when it comes to women and only one since that girl in elementary school has set off my alarms. For me She-Of-Who-I-Keep-Promising-To-Stop-Bringing-Up was truly the "Last Beautiful girl" in a way (The Matchbox 20 song that I STRONLGY associate with her.) Girls that really appeal to me are not at all common and when they do come they're often quite inappropriate options. Such is life I guess. I don't want to date a girl that's humdrum or average (if I wanted to date at all which I'm still not sure about). I promise that if I ever feel electricity like that again I will put myself in harm's way and make sure that I get shot down and spiraled into depression all over again. Okay? Will that get you off my back. Oh and for those who think I'm being shallow and only after incredibly beautiful women, that's not so at all. What attracts me most is a combination of intelligence and awkwardness. I like women who don't seem comfortable in their skin and who are curious, far from socially slick, and capable of saying things that I can't understand without effort. Unpack that style of attraction if you dare.

Shifting gears entirely the other thing that upset me today was after Abnormal class when the professor held a question and answer session about careers in clinical psychology. The thing is that she made getting into Grad school seem like this huge imposing mountain that you'll never be able to climb if you didn't start in your freshman year. I suspect that this was a bit of an exageration but probably not much of one. School has changed so much and now it's all about research and what you can do for the university rather than how good a student you are. I don't know if I want to do psychology but I can't wait any longer to find out. I'm already in the troubling position of having to play catch-up to people who have started doing research and volunteer work already. *sigh* I'm 20 fucking years old I have NO clue what I want to do I've never even kissed a girl why do I have to be deciding the direction of my life ALREADY. I never figured on college being so fucking rigid but I guess the sciences are more vocational than mind expanding. Oh well. Maybe I should scrap psychology and go into law or something even LESS empirical but I'm afraid that my contributions in those spheres might be non-existant while in science I would probably at least add SOMETHING to the realm of human knowledge. I also don't want to be seen as intellectually weak and incapable of making it outside easy humanities stuff. But on the other hand I don't want to make a decision yet. It's all very frustrating. I left the Q&A before it ended because I didn't want to hear anymore. I know I need to get cracking on that stuff but frankly I don't WANNA. Maybe I should drop out of school. Maybe I SHOULD delay graduation awhile. I don't know. It's all very conflicted. I need to figure out what I want to do but where do I start? I also need to start SELLING myself but I absolutely suck at that. I'm pretty good when I'm told what to do and how to do it but I need to start talking to individual professors and saying "Hey I'm smart and competant pick me pick me." I wish there were a beauraucratic application process.

How do people manage school, work, extra-cirriculars AND a social life? I'll never know. Maybe that's why the average GPA is so low. Is it worth it to do that many different things? Interesting question I think. Damn I need an internship.

Anyway nobody is going to read to the end of this MAMMOTH entry but that's okay. I got some stuff out there in the open and I feel a little better. We learned today that catharsis can improve physical health. Now I better write my paper and hope it doesn't suck bigtime. I wish I could afford to take a real summer vacation but I gotta learn me some spanish. No rest for the chubby and all that shit.

Did anyone read all 3,100+ words of this post? If so I really gotta ask why.
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Make sure your calling's true.

I am so disgusted with myself right now. With my whole attitude and lifestyle and just WHO I am. I handed in a rather bad essay about Crime and Punishment today but that wasn't the worst part. During class the professor mentioned something that didn't seem to fit with my essay and I had reason to believe that one of the main points in my essay was just flat out wrong. After checking through the back of the book (I hadn't read to the end which is why I wasn't sure whether the fact was right or wrong) and not seeing any evidence against what I wrote I decided to hand it in anyway. Even though I didn't have to. Even though I knew that it might just be flat out wrong. I cannot believe that I actually did that. Of course it turns out that I was NOT wrong, (The title was actually a bad reference but I can excuse that easily as a bit of cleverness) but the fact that I handed it in disgusts me. It's one thing to write an essay based on incomplete knowledge, it's another to allow your name to be affixed to something that you know might be COMPLETE bullshit. Of course I DID tell the professor flat out that I was unhappy with the essay and I'd rather not turn it in but the way time was working out I pretty much didn't have a choice and ask if I could do an EXTRA essay if I turned out to have the time (he said no) so at least I know I won't disappoint him. Still I can't believe I actually did that. It's so not me.

Taking 6 classes was a mistake. That I admit now that it's far too late to do anything. I can HANDLE it but it's just not conducive to good thinking or good work. I shouldn't have done it. It's too late to do anything about it now though. Much more troubling has been my slide towards grade obsession from my once affirmed stance of Learning above all else. I've been corrupted by the system to the point where I'm selling out the joy of learning and accruing knowledge for what amounts to material gain (Grades aren't REALLY material but they are like academic currency...you use them to get the things that you want.) I was really frustrated by how poorly true learning is reflected in the grades that you recieve and so I dedicated myself to trying harder to earn grades that reflected my talent but in the process I somehow started to let the learning slip away until at this point I seem fixated on the little letter that shows up at the end of the semester and is supposed to encompass everything you did during the course of that class and how much you know about the subject and how good or bad you are as a person and whether you're going to heaven or to the burning depths of minimum wage hell where you will boil in a boiler room stoking coal into a filthy furnace for all eternity. Okay I'm exagerating at the end there. Slightly. In the process I've cheated. I don't mean cheated as in commited an act of academic dishonesty, no my morality is far too strict for that. I mean that I cheated myself. Cut corners, put things off until later, played a zero sum game of juggling assignments and focusing merely on the immediate outcome rather than the process or longterm gains. It was foolish and stupid and quite possibly immoral. The thing is that good grades and praise are ADDICTIVE. They are validation which I DESPERATLY need and they ARE useful in achieving future success as maddeningly frustratingly unfair as that may be. There needs to be a balance between idealistic love of knowledge and pragmatic seeking of grades. I just have no idea where such a balance might lie.

One thing's for sure, when I was sitting there in that class knowing I was going to hand in that ROTTEN essay I felt guilt like I haven't felt in a long long time. My stomach dropped, the world went cold and prickly and I felt about as nervous and vulnerable as I did during You-Can-Figure-It-Out. I'm not going to go through that again. This was a wakeup call and I'm going to change my ways next semester (this semester's already done for. I need to keep focusing on grades so I don't COMPLETELY let them slip). I'm going to focus on taking fewer and better classes, doing more and better work, and not worrying so much about the mark the instructor makes on my paper as compared to the mark that the learning makes on my psyche. I'm not sure how to change yet but I'll find a way. I didn't know how to lose weight and I am. I'll lose this materialistic view of grades and learning as well.

A few other points about the situation:

One of the reason that the paper wasn't very good was that I spent a lot of time last night typing out all that stuff that I simply HAD to say. I don't know how I feel about this. It was something that I really wanted to do but in order to get it done I had to sacrifice something else of value. Time is a limited resource but I need to figure out how I can balance my emotional need to express myself with my need to do good academic work. Or I need to admit to myself that right now journaling important parts of my psyche is more important than doing well in school and I need to accept that. I don't know, it was just a case of prioritizing and I'm not sure I made the right decision.

Two things I am happy about are that A) I didn't look at the sparknotes until after the class to check the plot point I thought I might have fucked up. At least I lived or died by my own work and didn't fall to relying on someone else. That I can take SOME solace in.

B) Even though I was under tremendous pressure and was extremely tired I didn't overeat. Instead of fueling up with empty calories and carbohydrates I made some coffee and took it with minimal milk and some non-calorie sweetener. This is the sort of decision I am going to have to make if I want to keep losing weight. One of my major problems in the past was that I'd justify eating crap because I was under pressure X or Y and I couldn't handle it without the food. The thing is that there's ALWAYS going to be SOME sort of pressure and I can't use that as an excuse. If I want I can allow myself one meal a week where I eat junk and use that whenever the pressure's greatest but I can't binge for weeks on end just because school's getting rough or I'm feeling down. It's too detremental to my health and my goals. Also I found a flavor of Balance Bar that tastes like a snickers when frozen. That's not so much a thing to be proud of but it does make me feel like I can stick to the diet better since I can now replace the peanut butter bars. Even if this semester has been learning anemic and poisoned by my anti-female rhetoric I can at least take solace in the fact that I made an improvement SOMEWHERE in my life. I'm not very happy at who I am right now but I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I guess living a good life requires constant vigilance and maintainence and tremendous focus. Okay. I can deal with that. I will learn from this experience, I will grow stronger, I will make better choices. No excuses and limited regrets. I'm 20 years old, it's unsurprising that there's room for improvement. Time to break out the metaphorical hammers and nails and reinforce the important sections of my life. I'll let the bad parts collapse themselves and be washed away by the rain.
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