Friday, January 23, 2009

You're So Money

Why can't we see ourselves through the eyes of others? I wonder what life would be like if we could. So often, it seems, the "me" that we see isn't the same as the "you" that is the view of the outside world.

Take, for instance, my Brit Lit Professor. I can almost guarantee that her self-image and the image she projects are not even close to parallel. Why am I so sure? Because the image she projects is that of a vaguely sinister, highly condescending research librarian who splits her time between stacks of antiquated literary tomes, her basement dungeon where she dons skin-tight leather, fishnet stockings, and thigh-high stiletto boots while wielding a cat-o-nine-tails as she forces unassuming men to submit to her will and call her "Mistress Kitty", and her blog where she coordinates the Dick Cheney Fan Club because, after the things she's made men BEG her to do to them, waterboarding could HARDLY be considered torture!

All too often, our self-image has a tendency of holding us back from the things in life that we want, and the things which we are capable of achieving. I've mentioned before how I used to see myself as basically helpless to the things which inevitably would happen to me in life. It was a sort of learned helplessness which came from years of being told, as a child by a mother who never won any awards for parenting, that men were only good for sex, and even then weren't that great half the time. I saw relationships as an economic transaction -- I had to spend something in order to get something that I wanted in return. Most of the time, I never thought I had anything of any value to spend. For some situations, I'd spend what money I had, for others I'd spend what sexual ability I had to trade, and for still others I'd trade my natural skills as a counselor. In situations where I didn't have enough money, sex wasn't a tradeable commodity, and counseling wasn't required, I had absolutely nothing to offer. Or, at least that's what I would tell myself, repeating things I'd been taught as a boy.

Of course, the world is filled with examples of people who see themselves in ways different from the objective reality. There are people who stay in abusive relationships because they don't see themselves as capable of existing independent of the other person. There are people who think that their attempts at humor are well-received when, instead, they make everyone around them uncomfortable. There are the young men and women who, after looking at fashion magazines and television and movie stars, feel as though they don't measure up to some imaginary "ideal" of appearance and must starve themselves in order to be accepted even though they were perfectly attractive to begin with, and their attempt to satisfy their self-imposed body image is what actually becomes the horror show. I wish I could tell everyone the truth of how they are REALLY seen by the people around them in a way that would actually make a difference.

I've referenced the movie Swingers before. In the movie, Trent, played by Vince Vaughn, is fond of telling Mike, played by Jon Favreau, "You're so money and you don't even know it!" By this, Trent means that Mike, a down-on-his-luck wannabe actor in LA who just broke up with his fiancee in order to pursue a career which doesn't seem to be going anywhere, has so much to offer the world if only he would wake up and see it for himself. In many ways, despite the cool veneer that Trent projects, Mike is the real deal, a guy with all the qualities that Trent can only pretend to have.

We all have something to offer the world. We all have an inherent value. I know that sometimes it is hard to believe it for ourselves, but it is true. And we don't need to go looking hard to find it, either. We just need to look at the people who really care about us: our family, our friends, our acquaintances. Would we miss any of them if they were gone? What do they offer us that we would lose if they disappeared? Isn't it feasible to believe that WE give those same things BACK to the people we care about? And if, for some reason, we don't, is there some way we can start? Because the value of our lives doesn't have to be measured in dollars, or favors, or sacrifices of ourselves that we make to hold people tight against us like glue. The value of our lives can be measured in how happy the people we care about make us, and how readily we exchange that joy.

Have fun, and keep living life... and remember that you're money, baby!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Days

Snow. We don't get much snow in Raleigh, these days. Usually, we get a light dusting that doesn't do much but give us an excuse to close down the city for a day and sleep in for a morning. Today we got about 2-4 inches of snow. School was cancelled, and will be tomorrow as well. That's fine for me. I wasn't really ready to go to school Wednesday, anyway. I have a stupid "reading log" due in Brit Lit I that I'm not looking forward to doing. We're still stuck on Beowulf, of which I have a 2-5 page paper due Friday. I've only gotten the critical review that I need as a source for the paper, but I haven't begun to write it, yet.

Thanks to the snow, my lunch date with Ashley had to be postponed. I sent her a text message to that effect, and I even tried to call her later in the day, but I never got a response. I'm not too bothered, really. She knows how to contact me if she decides she's interested in rescheduling. Still, it would have been nice to actually go out in public with a member of the opposite sex. I haven't done it in awhile. Of course, I expect a date with Ashley to go about as well as did my last date with a girl about six or eight months ago. She was Japanese, and soon to be going back home to pursue a job. She'd been here for several years working for the National Institute of Health. Don't ask me WHAT she was doing for the NIH, I could barely read the titles of some of the papers she had published while working there, much less understanding what the hell it was she was actually researching. I think it was something to do with immunology. At any rate, we'd been going out as friends, and I wanted to upgrade a little before she went back to Japan. I blew over $100 on dinner and a rock show (we went to see Mike Doughty, which I enjoyed quite a bit, actually) which went over with her about as well as a request for more ice in your sweet tea while sitting on the barge of the Titanic!

Since I didn't have anything better to do, I spent the day trying to do a little homework. I read a chapter in my Environmental Geology book and took a chapter quiz online that I made an A on! I visited my Philosophy Professor's Course Blog and posted a few thoughts in lieu of our in-class discussion period. I also watched the Inauguration of Barack Obama online for several hours and felt a great sense of warmth and satisfaction at being able to witness the swearing in of the first black President of the United States. As I've mentioned before, I've been a backer of Obama since his 2004 speech at the DNC, and I can honestly say that I've never felt prouder of my country, and my political party, for finally getting something right for a change. We've done alot of good in the history of the world, but it seems like it's been a while.

In other news, I've finally been seduced into joining Facebook! I won't post my page here, but if you want to Friend me just leave a comment and I'll send you a link, or look you up and Friend you there. The reason I finally broke down was because I had an invite Sunday night when I got home from the dance from a woman named Laura whom I haven't seen since the New Year's Eve Black and White Swing Ball from 2007-08. Laura is an attractive 41 year old who is currently in grad school trying to go into the same field as I. We've talked several times in the past and seem to have many things in common. In the not-so-off chance that she may read this (since I have a link to the blog from my Facebook page), I probably shouldn't admit this but, in keeping with my sense of honesty up to now, I've long had a bit of a crush on Laura. I've considered asking her out on a few occasions, but never managed to do it since I figured she probably wasn't all that interested in dating a younger guy, and why stir up the pot if I didn't have to. I did manage to kiss her once at the New Year's Eve Ball, but not at midnight. Come to think of it, I've NEVER actually kissed anyone at midnight on a New Year's Eve. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the kiss.

Oh well, such is life.

Have fun, and keep living life... and get back to work, you slacker!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Twists of Fate and Women

Life seems to take some really odd turns at times. I have a lunch date this Tuesday, January 20th, to eat pizza with a 20 year old girl named Ashley.

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

Yep, I have a date. Ashley is cute, but she smokes and she's had a bit of a wild life in her short time on Earth. I asked her out tonight at the Elk's Lodge while I was swing dancing. Her mother is one of the regulars at the dance. Truth be told, I'm attracted to her mother, too. And her mother is actually closer to my age than Ashley is. But, her mother is already dating someone and, even if she wasn't, she is unlikely to be interested in dating a guy who is in college. I'm pretty sure that my interest in Ashley is purely sexual, which isn't a good reason to ask someone out. It's especially not a good reason when there hasn't been much reciprocal sexual interest expressed.

Ashley wasn't the only girl I wanted to ask out tonight. There is a girl named Joanna who has recently started showing up at the dance whom I'd like to ask out. In fact, when I showed up at the dance tonight I actually intended to ask Joanna to lunch tomorrow, since I figured she wouldn't have to work on Martin Luther King Day. Joanna is probably around 30 years old and doesn't smoke or drink or anything like that, at least not that I'm aware. However, Joanna is apparently somewhat religious, which gives me some pause. I'm not particularly religious despite having grown up as a Presbyterian. You see, I went to a Presbyterian college after high school that pretty much cured me of religion. Ex was religious, but she was a Conservative Jew. I've long been attracted to Jewish girls (I like them even before I find out they're Jewish!) but somehow I wasn't ever bothered by their faith. It wasn't until Ex used her faith, or rather my lack of it, as an excuse for why we would never get married that I began to shy away from the idea of dating a woman who has a particular religious belief.

Joanna seems like a nice girl, and by spending most of the night talking to Ashley I've probably ruined my chance (assuming I had one) with her. The sad thing is I even spent a few minutes tonight toying with the idea of trying to date both girls at the same time, as though I somehow had the money and social wherewithal to maintain such a feat. Didn't I learn from that mistake in high school? I am so not good with women.

Have fun, and keep living life... But try to dance with one partner at a time!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Impressions Spring 2009 (Part B)

Today was pretty cold in comparison to yesterday. It definitely felt more like winter, and it looks like temperatures will stay in the 40s and 50s for at least the next week. It's about time. This whole global warming thing is really screwing with the seasons. At least, I think that's what it is.

I had my Philosophical Issues class in the morning. It was PACKED. There must have been at least 30 people crammed into a tiny classroom. The professor is one of the professors from my HUM 220 class from last semester. The course seems like it will be reasonably fun, if intellectually challenging, which I guess is the point of education, ultimately. Or, it should be.

This semester, the college is trying to cut back on the use of paper as a way to trim costs. As a result, professors aren't supposed to hand out paper unless they absolutely have to, which means we haven't had any syllabi handed out to us. Instead, we've all had to sit through a lecture on the first day as the professors explain to us what is in the syllabus and how we can go find it posted online for each of our courses at the college's website. It seems a bit tedious, although I do approve the idea of using less paper, if for no other reason than it will hopefully help the environment a little. And besides, we have been hearing talk of a paperless society for at least a decade now (I think I first heard the concept in 1990), so it's about time someone started to act on the idea!

After class I had another two hour break, so I headed back to the library for more reading. I got about halfway through Beowulf. Even though I'm sure I've been assigned to read Beowulf at some point in my life, this is the first time I've ever actually tried to read it. Thankfully, my textbook translates it into (mostly) Modern English so I can understand what it says. Surprisingly, I'm kind of enjoying it. However, I still wonder if I'm not a bit of a masochist for having signed up for British Literature I. Apparently, I could have signed up for British Literature II, which covers more modern era British authors, without having taken British Literature I. I suppose I could try to drop Brit Lit I and sign up for Brit Lit II now, but I'll stick with what I'm in. The scheduling would probably get all messed up, and so far I like this bit of having to sit around for two hours between my classes everyday. It forces me to do homework, as I've said before is my Achilles Heel.

Once the two hour break was over, I headed to my Environmental Geology class. The professor seems nice. She is probably in her late 30s or maybe early 40s. The class is pretty small, maybe 20 people at most. Judging from my professor's description of the class, a great deal of it will be pretty easy, since, as a further cost cutting measure, the majority of our work will be posted online and we will have as much time as we need to complete assignments. All our online quizzes will be open book, as well, since there really isn't a way to police that over the Internet.

So, just from the first couple of days of class, I'm expecting that I should be able to do well in all my classes, with British Literature I being the course I'm most concerned about at the moment. I shouldn't get too cocky, though, since I can easily screw up a good thing, as I've learned all too often in life. With a little bit of effort, however, I'm hoping that I can get either straight A's this semester or straight B's. Realistically, if I put forth the work, I should have no problem getting a mix of B's and A's, which I really need in order to make up for the pounding my already insufficient GPA took last semester.

Have fun, and keep living life... or some approximation thereof.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Impressions Spring 2009 (Part A)

It was 70° F when I woke up at 7AM today! The day got progressively colder from there. By noon it had dropped to 62° F. It's JANUARY! Those flowers shouldn't be in bloom in January!

When I got to school around 830AM it began to pour down a cold hard rain which lasted just long enough for me to get completely soaked while walking to class. It was surprisingly windy outside, as well, and I wasn't wearing a coat. Why would I? It was 70 freaking degrees outside!

At any rate, my first class of the day was British Literature I. My professor seemed very familiar for some unknown reason, and she seemed to think that I looked familiar to her, as well. That was kind of strange. I've never had her for a class, that I can recall, and I haven't seen her around dancing, so I can't figure out where I would have met her before. The course looks as though it is going to be difficult for me. There will be ALOT of reading. The course is going to cover British Literature from the Middle Ages up to about the early 1800s. We are starting out with Beowulf. God, I hate Beowulf. We're also going to cover some of Chaucer, for whom I also have no particular love. Why did I sign up for this class again? Oh, that's right, it was required that I take a literature course and American Literature was booked up solid. Actually, I don't mind modern British Literature, stuff like Orwell and Huxley, but anything around Shakespeare and earlier can pretty much kiss my ass, as far as I'm concerned. Why couldn't those people learn how to write ENGLISH? They were, you say? No, actually, they were writing in Anglo-Saxon, a broad term for a variety of dialects from around the British Isles during the time of the Middle Ages. Granted, it would later evolve into English, but I wouldn't exactly call what they were writing English anymore than I would call a biscuit with sausage gravy a sausage biscuit!

After class, I spent my two hour break in the library trying to read the first twenty pages of the near 100 pages that we are expected to read by Friday! I say trying since I kept getting distracted in the library by some guy playing hip hop music through his headphones which I could still hear from about eight feet away. I debated several times the possibility of going over and asking him to turn his music down, but I figure that if he had to play the music that loud through freaking headphones he was probably too hearing impaired to fully understand my request, and I never bothered to learn sign language back when I dated that deaf chick in high school because she could read lips reasonably well.

So, Noon rolled around and I headed to my Human Development class. This is probably going to be the easiest psychology class I've EVER taken, and I've never made below a B in any psych class to date. OH MY GOD, I love this professor already. He's a 30-something, thin, handsome, married, Asian-American who wants to be called "Dr. Mike"! He basically admitted that there is NO reason whatsoever to own the textbook for his class even though he is required by the school to make us have a textbook for the class. He said that the tests (there will be four and the final exam) will cover only what is discussed in class, so as long as we show up and participate in discussion we should do well in the class. We only have one paper to write, and there will be quizzes about once a week. The guy doesn't care if we leave our cell phones on, as long as they don't go off in class, and he even encouraged people to eat and drink in class if they wanted to, since he would rather we eat and pay attention than be hungry and tired and sleep in class (his reasoning, not mine).

After class, the sun began to cut through the clouds and fill the Earth with its spirit enriching light, as though the happiness and joy that was Dr. Mike's introduction was enough to call forth from the heavens and make the clouds part like the Red Sea.

Wow... I think I could totally go gay for Dr. Mike!

Have fun, and keep living life... and don't be ashamed to find someone of your own gender attractive!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to the Grind

Let's not talk about last semester.

School starts back tomorrow. I'm cautiously looking forward to getting back to classes. I know I have a tough slate of classes ahead of me this time with LOTS of reading involved. Here's what the schedule looks like:

Monday, Wednesday Friday:

British Literature I -- 9AM-950AM

Human Development -- 12Noon-1250PM


Philosophical Issues -- 930AM-1045AM

Environmental Geology Lab -- 11AM-1250PM

Environmental Geology -- 1PM-150PM


Philosophical Issues -- 930AM-1045AM

Environmental Geology -- 1PM-150PM

I'm hoping that having a two hour break between classes this time will encourage me to actually do some homework, or at least stay on top of the reading. My biggest problem with school has ALWAYS been that I choose not to do homework. Most of the time, I've been able to get by just fine without it, however those times when I have committed an EPIC FAIL has been almost exclusively the result of not keeping up with the homework.

To that end, I actually got my school books before Christmas and spent some of my break trying to get ahead in the reading. Obviously, I have no idea what essays/stories will be required in my British Literature course, since the books (there are three of them!) have a huge assortment of readings and we can't possibly cover all of them. I was able to get through the first couple of chapters in my Philosophy textbook, though, and I skimmed through the first several chapters of Environmental Geology. Again, I'm not too worried about the Human Development class (yet!) since it's a psychology class and I can usually do pretty well in those without really trying (Did I mention I got a B in my Abnormal Psychology class last semester?)

I'm going to leave it there for now. I'll get back tomorrow with some first impressions of my new professors and the class overviews.

Have fun, and keep living life... or some approximation thereof!

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