Saturday, August 30, 2003

Some days it feels the world is closing in on you. Today has not been one of those days. But it came pretty close.

I’ve been very depressed lately. I have good reason to be. The situation with my mother is deteriorating. I have concerns over my own budget and larger concerns about my parent’s budget. I just got the news that my sister’s health has taken a turn for the worse. I have no vehicle currently, and it sucks to have to beg for rides. I don’t like to rely on other people for things. I made an ass of myself the other day, in a situation I’d rather not talk about, and I really don’t want to face up to the consequences of it.

I can’t stop that nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps telling me that I suck. I haven’t felt this badly about myself since Jr. High School. And I know that, rather than alleviating my troubles, I’m just piling them on. I know I’m being unreasonable. I know that “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggonit, people like me.”

But that doesn’t stop me from being unhappy.

Some days I wake up so utterly enamored with life that I can hardly force myself from my bed. And when I do, I tip toe around, quiet as a mouse, trying not to disturb the beauty of the world around me. There are days when I’m moved to tears thinking about great saints and great sinners. There are days when I’m absolutely stunned to just be.

But right now I feel very dead. All I can think about is how profoundly stupid I am. Sometimes I find myself audibly telling the bad memories in my head to shut up because I hate them. And while in happier days, catching myself telling myself to shut the hell up would be something that made me giddy with laughter, I’m not laughing now.

I question the value of posting this. I don’t want anyone to worry about me or feel sorry for me. But I also feel like I need to say it. I just need to vent. I have this pressing need to make some sort of desperate human contact; even though it's the last thing I want to do. And while it seems unfair to burden anyone with my problems, it seems more fair to let everyone know why I've been so screwed up lately here, where they’re not faced with the terrible responsibility of actually talking to me about it.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life wanting to be an individual. Right now, I only wish I were a normal kid, with normal problems.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Today I am outrage personified. It all began shortly after I posted that last blog this morning. I went to my room, exhausted, to sleep. And what do I see but movement in a spider sac in the corner of my room? Now, to clarify, I do not allow spiders to build sacs in my room. I'd only noticed the thing earlier that day, and my dad wasn't around to take care of it for me, so I'd decided it was probably okay to sleep. So long as the bugger was all the way in the spider sac, he wouldn't be bothering me. But when I saw that freakish, bubbly, movement, that was the end of that idea. I stayed up until 10:30, when my mother woke up, and she decided to take the beast on. She got a broom, and did well enough, though the site of that damn bubbly spider sac wreathing in an attempted escape plagued my nightmares all day. The real pain of the incident though, was that my mother hit the broom on the wall on the way down, and his corpse fell behind my bookcase. This would be all right enough, except that we all know, spiders never really die. They pretend to die; they curl up their hideous little legs. They'll remain in corpse-like ecstacy for days and days even, but when you least expect it, those vampiric sons of bitches spring back to unholy life and attack. I know this from previous spider experience. And I know that no attack on a spider goes unnoticed and unchallenged by his bretheren. I was terrified to sleep all day. The entire event was horrifying.

And it got worse when I woke up. My mother had gone into town to see her parents today, because it's her birthday. My sister was there. And she was going off about my niece. My niece has apparently been difficult recently; she won't choose a school to go to. Monday is the deadline for choosing; it's her last day. And what does the kid do? Takes off for Youngstown to a friend's apartment and won't come home. My sister's freaking out, and threatening to kick her out. And I'm utterly pissed. My nephews and nieces have done an incredibly rotten job of becoming educated. Of the five of them, four have already dropped out, and Brittany seems to be teetering on the edge. But who the hell in the modern world doesn't graduate from high school? What familial group can escape the constant societal and bureaucratic pressure to graduate? All you have to do is show up, and you pass! I have grade cards which prove my case on that. And somehow, all of them have still struck out utterly and totally. And I'm pissed. I have college hopes for Brittany. Like all of the kids, she's actually quite smart. And she has the otherwordly gift of a free college education courtesy of the US Government because she's deaf. She has no excuses, and yet, the responsibility doesn't seem to be slowing her down.

I'm right unhappy today. The answers to all this are so simple. But no one wants to see them done. Irritating.


I just checked my search results, and someone apparently found my site by typing in “directions to doing your own surgery circumcision.” While this is disturbing enough, I clicked the link, and I’m ranked second out of five search results. The description of my blog reads: “I'm doing things which seem so foreign to ... But it has its own secret pleasure, too. ... their own reeking oozing body fluids. And she wasn't doing it to ...” . Poor guy thought he was getting some nice pornographic website, and instead he got a link to one of my long posts about self-sacrifice and the example of Mother Teresa, risking the scourge of leprosy to see her Jesus in the face of the dying.

Hey, buddy, in the unlikely circumstance that you actually stuck around here to read this message, go to the hospital for that surgery. Seriously. There are some things you shouldn't, erm, interfere with. And whilst your search may be all about self-interference, and some weird masochistic perversion, you should really think twice about interfering with that, erm, region. It's simple Mills, mate, if you make a bad slice, you're putting an early end to all your future fun; it's simply not very Utilitarian.

I apologize for not having written much lately. I really need to write more often. If not for the sake of retaining whatever readership I have here, for the sake of my own mental clarity. Blogging sort of normalizes life for me. Sometimes it seems like my life is out of control. But when I read it on a computer screen, I can’t help but think of how terribly domestic I am.

I don’t know how to start the diatribe I’m about to go off on. I don’t know how I’m going to translate my crooked thoughts into words. I don’t know why I’ve been thinking the way I have recently. I’ve felt very off-balance lately, and I think that maybe I really am a little unbalanced.

When we were in Europe, Jody was always trying to make me more outgoing. I got the feeling very early on that she thought I was a little freakish, to put it mildly, and being my usual stubborn self, I didn’t do anything much to try to ease her worries. Our first night in Rome, I remember telling that I could fairly easily deal with being alone for all eternity. While it would be difficult for me to part from my family and the friends I already have, I would probably be perfectly satisfied in life if I didn’t ever make a new friend, and I spent all of my time in only the company of a well-stocked bookshelf.

On a separate occasion, we were talking about the same basic subject, human isolation, in a context unrelated to my own (she’s too polite to ever say something like this about me in concrete terms), and she said something that I’ve been thinking about ever since. While I can’t quote the conversation, the thrust of her argument was that people have to involve themselves in human relationships because it keeps them “normal.” Humans are naturally obsessive beings and a solitary human obsesses over their own weaknesses and faults to the extent that they normalize, and maybe even fetishize them.

My point about human isolation had always worked on the same basic principle. Human beings are naturally obsessive. And a human being in a group continually denies the self for the sake of group unity. The temptation for the social human is to destroy any sign of their own individual goodness, and to delight in the shattering of others’ individual goodness. I’d always considered individuality a chief virtue, just as she’d always considered collectivism a chief virtue. But her argument still struck a chord with me.

I wrote a poem a while back about a Gollum character of sorts. While I hadn’t actually been thinking of Gollum, he could have easily been the archetype from which I drew my material. I wrote it at a time when I was obsessed with the concept of man being made in the image and likeness of God. Though the story of the character in the poem bore no relation to my own life, the character was, in the most loose sense, myself. The “Gollum” of my poem caught a deformed reflecting-pool image of his abused and battered human flesh, and, removed entirely from self-hood, asked in third person, in whose image the creature in the reflection had been made. There didn’t seem to be any God left in that deformed creature; how could there ever have been any God in that thing?

I see a connection between Jody’s vision of the solitary man who fetishizes his own oddities and my Gollum, and thereby, myself. It’s an inescapable fact that I’ve always been a little eccentric. I always chalked it up to an early sense of the value of my own individuality. But it’s just as fair to attribute it to my utter lack of socialization. And I can’t say which came first: My insistence on being my self, even if being myself meant doing the socially backward thing; or my own early inability to socialize properly, resulting in continued and increased socially awkward behavior, and the necessity of a moral justification for that behavior.

In the summer, I don’t see other people very often. I tend to enjoy it on the whole. I like to feel removed, to feel very much myself. But I also enjoy it because I don’t feel socially constricted; I like not having to worry about pleasing anyone but myself.

Last night, Angela and I spent hours reading over all of the notes she’d saved since Jr. High School. I drew some unexpected conclusions from reading over those notes. While I never really considered myself the tie that bound my friends together, I realized last night just how emphatically periphery I was. I think I gained fewer mentions in those notes than literally anyone else in our group. And all of my mentions were very vague; the most extended narrative that showed up regarding me were three sentences from a letter my friend Amanda wrote in Seventh Grade, in which she complained that I was spending too much time with my boyfriend. I shouldn’t feel so special, she wrote, because it wasn’t like anyone else would have me if my boyfriend would have dumped me.

While I still object to the idea that I was spending too much time with my boyfriend (in reality, I never even so much as sat with him at lunch – we went out on something like a grand total of two dates), she was absolutely right about no one else having me if he had dumped me. No one else would have had me because I was always a freak. I was emphatically freakish, emphatically solitary, and utterly unconcerned about it. I didn’t mind being a freak, if it meant that I was a freak. I viewed the vast majority of people around me as posers, and figured my own oddities were superior to someone else’s feigned normalcy. It’s a creed I still live by.

But maybe I shouldn’t. Objectively, there’s nothing superior about my own oddities. They make social relationships difficult for me. People as intentionally ugly as myself not only don’t often find boyfriends, but also have a much harder time finding jobs or even getting service at a restaurant. A phonier, more aesthetically pleasing version of myself probably wouldn’t have had to have feared getting beat up in Jr. High School.

In the past few years, I’ve realized a lot of things about my own social behavior. I’m always the most periphery of characters. I’m never anyone’s best friend, nor the person that anyone goes to any special length to be around. I’m never the funniest or the best looking or the most exciting, and certainly never the most popular person, even in the smallest of groups. But I am often the steadiest. I generally require the least personal attention, and I’m willing to give the least personal attention. In short, I’m sort of like a dispassionate safety net; on a good day, nobody notices me, but in a fix, I’ll make do.

It’s the kind of role that I’m uniquely suited for. It satisfies my need to be solitary while tempering my solitude just long enough to keep me from throwing myself off the deep end. I have a mystics temperament, and I’m very prone to thinking myself very important, and thinking that I have very important thoughts to think. And while that’s a fine enough life for a hermit, it doesn’t cut it when you have to deal with people who aren’t as convinced as you are of your vast moral superiority. My personality tends to extremes of self-aggrandizement and self-hatred. But my friends are always quick to assure me that I don’t deserve the former, and generally amusing enough to distract me from the latter.

It may be that my summer isolation is the thing which is currently causing my imbalance. It may be that, left to my own devises, I’ve begun to fetishize my own self-loathing. And without a good and proper distraction, like someone-else-loathing, I’ve fallen off track. But like a proper Gollum, I hold most dear my poison. It may be that I’m more attracted to my own distorted image than I am the image of God within myself. It may be that, just as when I was an infant, and would run to mirror to watch myself weeping, I’ve unconsciously fled from the source of my true comfort. I crave my isolation and I fear its eventual and inevitable end.

Summer is drawing to a close. School will begin soon. Formal life will resume in just a few short weeks. I’m as utterly average as usual this year; and still only just unique enough not to matter very much. But I hold out hopes that maybe this year could be better than the last.

April on 8 Rules to Dating My Teenage Daughter: "He had his fist in his mouth all Jack the Ritter, like on Three's Company."

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Network finally all up and working. All is well with the world! Many thanks to my brother, who stumbled across a miswired cord in the basement, and fixed all our troubles. Or, you know, the computer related ones at least.

The trouble with getting something new like this, is that you very quickly go from being quite excited about it, to just expecting it, and all the goodness wears off. When I first got on the internet, in fact, for the first several years of being on the internet, I used a 2400bps modem. When I think of how I used to type in a web address, leave the room and watch tv, and then come back to see that very basic webpage only half loaded fifteen minutes later, it makes me wonder why I ever kept up with the internet at all. At the time, it was all I could have expected I guess. And when I got my first 28.8, damn, I thought I had lightning fast speed. I remember those lovely 10minute downloads that used to take me hours; I thought I was a hot shot, as quick as the fastest hacker. My first 56k was a disappointment. It sped me up, but not so much; living out in rural America means having phone lines that can only handle about 36k worth of data. And now I have broadband, and over the course of the very few days I've had it, I've seen myself getting frustrated because my speed, which is, at the very worst, still twice as fast the internet I've suffered these past few years, is just too damn slow. Human beings are ungrateful critters.

I guess that most things in life are a matter of perspective. Had I had a day's access to my new broadband connection back in 1994 when I was just beginning to experience my 2400bps modem, I probably would have given it all up in frustration. But as long as all I knew was 2400bps, I was glad to have it. I remember being in the Alps this Summer with Jody, and we were joking about how bad 80's television programs would undoubtedly have used those mountains as metaphors. From the Spaghetti joint where we ate dinner one night, the little tiny town we were in looked absolutely huge. The buildings were towering. And off in the distance, were these mountains that, from that perspective, you could hardly distinguish from snow-capped, albeit slightly oddly jagged, hills. They didn't look like the giants that they really were. And we laughed, thinking about how easily that could be applied to life. How we don't see the big picture, but instead how we focus on momentary passing problems; How we tear ourselves apart over molehills when we're in the midst of mountains.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Well, I've finally got my high speed internet. I'm indeed quite joyous, and spent the majority of last night on a downloading-stuff-too-big-for-me-to-have-bothered-with-before spree. But, of course, every silver lining has its cloud, and for the moment, I'm having a hell of a time getting my network to recogize my hub computer. So for now it's only fast internet on my uncomfortable, slow computer. I offer it up as penance for my sins.

In any case, my favorite bit of my downloading spree was the trailer from The Passion. I'm really impressed by this film so far. Unlike some people who've found interest in the movie, I don't consider my viewing of the four minute trailer sufficient enough to begin to speculate on its supposed anti-Semitic elements. But having read the Gospels a time or two in my life, I can say that, if the movie is at all faithful to the Gospels, there isn't one bit of anti-Semitism in it, even if there's a lot of anti-Judaism.

There is a difference, after all. Hitler was an anti-Semite; he hated Jews because of ridiculous, made-up, propaganda about eugenics and ritual killing of Christian babies and all that. But Martin Luther, for instance, wasn't an anti-Semite, but an anti-Judaite. The difference being that Martin Luther didn't hate the Jews based on lies and mischaracterizations about Jewish genetics and what "those people" do, but rather instead because he earnestly believed that once he'd reformed the Church, all the Jews would gladly join it. When they didn't, he was right angry; and while I still call him a damn fool, I don't consider him an anti-Semite. A converted Jew was okay in his book; there wasn't anything about people born Jews he didn't like; it was the actions of particular Jews in refusing to join the Reformed Church, and in the Jewish religion which rejected Christ which bothered him, and that's a different thing.

Back to my original point, it's ridiculous to call the Gospels anti-Semitic. The Gospels were written by folks who still very much considered themselves Jews. To call Jesus an anti-Semite is akin to calling Jesse Jackson, who once stated that when walking down a dark alley at night, he would hope the footsteps he heard behind him belonged to a white man rather than someone of his racial persuasion, an anti-black racist. Now there's no doubt that a distinct Christian identity was present from very early days in the Chistian Church, but the real thrust of the distinctness movement didn't start until after the persecutions of Christians after the destruction of the temple. And when Jesus died and rose again, he was a Jewish Messiah, with Jewish disciples, spreading a religion which they all considered the true Judaism.

Anyway, why am I yammering about this? Ahh, the power of tangential observation. In any case, everyone needs to go and download the Passion Trailer now. I'm triply excited about this movie coming out since I saw the trailer.

In other news, I've been thinking a bit about some of my old friends from high school lately. It struck me the other night, that if I ran across over half of them now, I'd probably have almost nothing in common with them except shared memories. After only a short four years, our experiences, world views, goals, interests, and Lord knows our self-confidence have shifted enough that, put in a class room together now, having lost the influence of our original shared memory base, we would probably never talk to each other at all. It made me sad in a way at first, to think that I really have so little left for people I once loved.

But there's a happy side to it too. While I'm not always thrilled with my friends' life choices, it's a thrilling thing to watch us growing up. Some of us already have children, and some of us are married or getting married, and some of us haven't any more a prospect of that now than we did our freshman year in high school. Some of us are probably already working at the jobs we'll work the rest of our lives; some of us are on the verge of getting college degrees; some of us are floundering and don't know what to do with ourselves. As sad as it is to lose common ground, it's also rather a joy to think of the ground we'll get to bridge when we start having reunions.

And, I like my new friends and my new life; and I hope that my old friends from my old life like their new lives as well. While there's an endless list of things I'd change about myself if I had the self-discipline to do it, on the whole, I'm pretty sure that I'm okay. And financially, educationally, emotionally, I'm in a pretty envious position. I wouldn't relive high school for a million dollars. And I don't know many people who would. It's a good thing to be growing up.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Yesterday, Angela, Mike and I had a day on the town because Mike's new job starts Monday, and he wanted a last hurrah. We started off at the Bailey Lakes Restaurant where we drew some pretty awesome mural-y type things on our placemats (they were paper; it's o-kay). I drew my fantasy world, in which, in the form of a giant Q, I ruled cruelly over the masses, and forced them to bow down to me; Angela and Mike had been hung for tampering with my glorious rule. Mike drew a pro-anti-Goody mural, if that makes sense; complete with Angela the Angel and, the Evil Detached Head of Sarah with Bat Wings Sipping a Mt. Dew. Angela didn't have as long with a pen as the rest of us, but she did manage to scribble a rabbit who was hopping to the right, but curiously, who kept his gaze cooly out of the page, ignoring the destination of his hop.

After that, we went to Goodwill for supplies. But were quickly kicked out, typical of Goody's will no doubt, because they were "closing." To be fair, this is Ashland, where there's no reason for any store to be open after six o'clock. Angela did manage to procure a pretty wicked Paula Abdul hat.

We then tried WalMart in Ashland, which, well, erm, there isn't a lot to say about WalMart in Ashland is there? But we proceeded forth to some cheap ice cream stand. They had like gummi bear blizzards, which sounded nasty, so I had one. Then we went to Angela's sister's house to pick up some hats. And to Meijer, to pick up some musical instruments, which we ended up never buying. Then we spent countless hours taking pictures of ourselves.

Oo! I almost forgot the best part of the night again! Angela bought me "Bible Bread: the unleavened bread of the Exodus!" I so have to scan this bag later. It's freakin' awesome. More cultural than anything I saw or ventured to eat in Europe by a long stretch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I haven't had much to say lately. It's been kind of a reclusive time. I've been mostly just thinking about moving and adding the Journalism major and such. And about various nephews and nieces. Turns out my niece Brianne had her baby and it's a boy. He was born August 6th. But I don't know his name. My other niece is going to go this damn vocational school which makes me unhappy. But I can't make anyone's choices for them. Which is probably a good thing in the long run, considering how much agonizing I do over my own.

I'm a little disturbed about how alone I've found myself recently. I don't fit in in any of my old social circles anymore. The so-called intellectuals I've begun to view as rebellious children. The anti-intellectuals are almost exhausting to talk to because they have nothing to say. I think I'm purposely alienating myself.

In some ways, I almost feel like I'm retreating in order to prepare for something great. But mostly, I think I'm just getting beaten down by things.

Friday, August 15, 2003

The Friday Five

1. How much time do you spend online each day?

Too much. First thing I do every morning is check my email; it's also usually the last thing I do before I sleep at night. During school, I'd guess I spend a good four hours a day on. When there's no school, unless I have something else pressing, I probably average at least six.

2. What is your browser homepage set to?

Blank page.

3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)?

Just AOL's.

4. Where was your first webpage located?

My first webpage, way back in the day, was on AOL I think. But it was just a page of goofy looking graphics and shout outs to my, erm, peeps. That was back in 1995, I think. My first serious attempt was on Xoom.

5. How long have you had your current website?

Well, I've had this blog since last October, so nearly a year. And I've had the buddha website since high school anyway, so three years. And a mirror darkly site for umm, I'd guess like four months.

It seems that hell may have frozen over this past week. The unthinkable may have happened. It might really be true. I might really be getting broadband. Really. Soon, I may be living the dream!

Well, half the dream anyway. Technically, the best I can get is X5, which will make my downloads superfast and my uploads, well, they won't change much. But superfast downloading! ::squeals::

Of course, just as I start catching up to the broadband revolution, record companies start freaking out and suing random kids for downloading songs. ::shrugs::

Anyway, my mom's stuff at the hospital went off today without a hitch. But apparently I have to take older sister #1 (not the Valley Fever one, who I took to the hospital last month) to one of the big city hospitals (Cleveland or Columbus, not sure which yet) to get, what I'm told is laproscopic therapy or something, because she gets kidney stones terribly frequently. Literally, she's had hundreds of the damn things over the years, and she's got them again now. I feel really quite bad for her, because I've seen how painful they are. She's the only person I've ever seen in so much pain that they actually busted a blood vessel in their eye. And I've seen it happen to her multiple times.

In better news, I reread C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle last night, and The Horse and His Boy today. I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I really do. I must have read those books a thousand times when I was little. And I'll probably read them a thousand more times now that I'm an adult and my reading speed has expanded enough that I can tear straight through one in an hour; it's a little strange to pick up new metaphors from a book I've read so many times, but it's also kind of delightful. The thing that I've missed all these years, and I got last night, was Peter's closing up the door to "the Real Narnia" with a golden key; I guess all this Catholicism has finally rubbed off on me. But as I put down the Last Battle last night I had a weird thought. I thought to myself, "I can't wait to read this to my kids." And then I thought, "Holy Hell, someday I'll have kids!" And then I was happy.

All my plans about growing up have gone up in smoke recently. I wrote the other day about how I was considering Journalism, even though pursuing that would sort of invalidate my past three years of work, and my prior plans to become a history professor, and would necessitate a fifth year of college down in Columbus. I bridged the subject with my parents, who immmediately got quite excited about it. Apparently they were never all that big on my majoring in history; both thought that journalism was the right career for me, and were only too polite to say so. So they won't be mad at me if I don't graduate in four years; I guess I'm the only one who a fifth year of college bothers. It helps, of course, that they're not paying my tuition. But they're both encouraging me to go for it now, and I think that I might.

I'll finish up my history degree here in Mansfield this year, then I'll spend the entire year in Columbus, beginning next fall, working on journalism. I can maybe live with my niece; which would help both of us out. And it could be exciting and good to move out on my own. I'll graduate next year with degrees in history and in journalism, and that should put me at an edge for getting a decent job, and I won't be that far behind my age group since I'll still be only 22. God knows I'll never forgive myself if I end up at the News Journal after all that effort.

I'm stupid and slow when it comes to figuring out my future. But I feel good about this journalism thing. I'm going to think it over a little longer and wait for some more input. But it's feeling feasible and right. This is the first time I've really felt this certain about life after college.

I'm disoriented as hell as I write this.

I had to wake up early to take my mother to the hospital today, so last night we all decided it would be a good idea for me to take a sleeping pill, on account of my natural prediliction for staying up til 5am. I ended up taking the pill at 12:30, it didn't kick in until 1:30, and as I write this at 8, it seems to still be going strong. This is not a good thing.

I keep seeing the patterns in the wallpaper sort of moving around. Mom can drive to the hospital, but I hope this wares off before I'm supposed to drive her home. Elsewise, we'll both be passed out in the parking lot.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Though I know it’s hardly a brave moral stance in these ultra-liberal days, tonight I was reminded of how very much I dislike low church Protestantism in general. I don’t hate everything about Evangelicals, of course. But man, I hate enough about them.

I grew up entirely unaware of the existence of anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism in my world. I also grew up strangely shielded from the Evangelicals all around me. Unlike most of the kids I went to school with, I never once went to Baptist Sunday School or Methodist (you can bet I’m talking about the lowest kind of Methodist) Bible Camp. And so, mysteriously, I never learned to properly hate Jews and Catholics, like so many of the people around me did. In fact, I was blissfully unaware of the existence of Jews and Catholics in my community, in the same way that I was blissfully unaware of the existence of Evangelicals, until I was nearly in high school.

And then, suddenly, religion became a very, very big deal. Because after all, the Jews killed our sweet Jesus, and the Catholics worship statues of Mary in an effort to keep good Baptists from reading their Bibles. Or some such.

When I studied the Holocaust in Jr. High, I became aware of the very real presence of anti-Semitism. I remember kids calling each other “Jews,” and I remember being very puzzled the first time I heard someone use the phrase “Jewed him down.” But anti-Catholicism still confounded me. I read that the KKK hated Catholics, and I didn’t understand why. But I figured that it was some sort of weird historical thing. Something that was probably just about as popular today as hating the English for what happened in the Revolutionary war. But when I heard a teacher, a teammate’s mother in fact, making anti-Catholic cracks, I became aware for the first time that what I thought was a weird footnote in a history textbook was actually a living sentiment amongst people I knew.

It seems that in my community, and I think in most communities, it’s still an acceptable bigotry to hate Catholics. It’s wrong to hate Jews; nearly everyone will tell you that. And everybody knows why it’s wrong to hate Jews; Hitler hated Jews, and everybody hates Hitler. But it’s okay to hate Catholics. Even though most people know Catholics and interact with them fairly normally, there’s still an undercurrent of hate in every Evangelical/Catholic relationship.

This is not, of course, because Evangelicals and Catholics are really so very different on matters religious. It’s because Evangelicals are profoundly uneducated. I’m serious about this. Evangelicals do nothing to teach themselves anything even vaguely connected with Christian history. They blindly repeat lines about the worship of Mary and the priestly conspiracy to keep the Bible a secret. It’s as if Christian history somehow ends with John of Patmos and doesn’t pick up again until the Scopes trial, when good Protestants everywhere were brutally assaulted by those nasty evolutionists. The high church, consequently, isn’t a whole lot better in this arena; they seem to think that Christianity stopped with John of Patmos and picks up again with Martin Luther.

In any case, Evangelicals are profoundly confused about exactly what it is they believe. And the few very basic Christian platitudes they’ve been force-fed over time, they wield against Catholics, as if Catholics reject them. Of course, in the meantime, they do nothing to find out what Catholics actually believe, so they end up looking, and in actuality being, bigoted and ignorant. In reality, there are precious few practical differences between Protestants and Catholics, particularly in the most oft-screeched attacks.

For instance, every good Evangelical knows that Catholics think they can buy their way into heaven with good works. Meanwhile, no Catholic actually believes this. Catholics believe in grace, as garnered through right actions, the primary right action being that of faith, as the only hope of man’s salvation. Protestants hold that grace, as garnered through faith, is the only hope of man’s salvation. Protestants then scream about Catholics “working their way into heaven,” all while preaching sermons full of fire and brimstone about how people have to obey God and shun sin or face the fires of hell. There’s no practical difference between the Protestant and Catholic view, of course. Both hold that you must believe in God, and behave yourself, if you want to see heaven. But Protestants still keep fighting the straw man of good works.

And then, of course, every good Evangelical knows that Catholics follow “the traditions of men” instead of God’s own word, the Bible. Nevermind, of course, that the Bible itself was written and assembled by men, and is only authoritative because of man’s tradition. Nevermind the obvious fact that Evangelicals believe in “the traditions of men” as much as anyone; after all, how many altar calls do you find in the Epistles? That’s all irrelevant, because Evangelicals are historically ignorant, and they’re proud of it. They’ll stubbornly strut their stupidity, because Catholics are bad.

At base, the reason that Catholics are bad, in the mind of an Evangelical, is that Catholics are bad. It’s nothing to do with historical study. It’s nothing to do with the actual beliefs of Catholics. It has to do with blind bigotry. The same kind of bigotry that tells us that the Jews killed Jesus, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, and in spite of thousands of years of dogma leading us to the clear conclusion that all men, regardless of ethnicity, killed our Jewish Lord Jesus with their sins.

And so, I grow weary of Evangelicals. I don’t claim that they don’t do some good work. I don’t think every Evangelical is an anti-Catholic, and I’d be as dumb as one of the people I was attacking, if I tried to say that there weren’t some real theological issues between Protestants and Catholics. But I know where I see bigotry and ignorance. And it’s rarely on the mackerel-snapper side of things. I know where I see real scholarship and real historical and theological study; and it’s sure as heck not on the Evangelical side of things. And I’m reminded of a friend’s appeal for my conversion to Catholicism: “Convert! Because 20,000 Protestant denominations can’t all be right!”

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Yesterday was a strange day. Well, not really. A strange day would probably be much more spectacular than yesterday was; perhaps aliens would have had to have invaded, or the second coming would have had to have started. But yesterday was a sort of strange day anyway, in its own quiet way.

To make a long story short, I did virtually nothing all day until around 2am when Angela and Mike decided, spur of the moment basically, to pick me up and go to April’s house. We played the music game there for hours. And we looked at yearbooks too young for Angela and I to have owned. I almost allowed myself some small nostalgia for high school, before I allowed reason to creep in and smash it. However glossy your yearbook photo, high school is four years of misery, damned misery, and damnable misery. My life is so much happier now, that a false nostalgia over times that sucked in reality, smacks of too much intellectual and emotional dishonesty for me to continue it long.

But while I’m on the topic of schooling, I’m sort of looking forward to school starting back up. My classes this quarter shouldn’t suck too much. It’ll be my last quarter of German (yay!). And since the history club meeting last week, I’ve talked to several of my school friends on the phone and whatnot, and have come to the somewhat surprising conclusion that I really kind of miss them. I miss being in school, where there’s constant stress and intellectual stimuli and papers due on Monday morning.

I’ve also come to the somewhat disturbing conclusion that maybe I’ve pursued the wrong subject in college. The thing I might like most isn’t unrelated to history, but a history degree generally isn’t the way to go about getting into it. But I think there are probably lots of journalists who’ve started off in history, and worked their way up. However, now I’m in a fix as to working out how I’m going to become a journalist. But given my uneven temperament lately, perhaps I’ll change my mind again tomorrow.

Monday, August 11, 2003

I’m in a characteristically melancholy kind of mood today. I went to sleep sick last night. I woke up this morning contemplating the dual corporeal and incorporeal natures of God. Sometimes I feel like an ubermädchen, and then I think that I’m only Nietzschean on the scale appropriate for the Sesame Street set. Which is all right, really. I’m not so into Nietzsche as all that.

When I was in Europe, I couldn’t help but sense this sort of omnipresent existentialism everywhere I went. It manifested in so many different, interconnected ways, that I’m having difficulty isolating a specific example of it. But the mood over there is different than at home. The core values of the culture just aren’t the same.

When I was in Europe, I learned more about what it was to be an American than I probably learned about what it meant to be a European. I was constantly questioned about my government’s policies regarding Iraq, the environment, and the United Nations. I was suspect for all of the usual reasons that Americans are stereotypically suspect: we’re loud and obnoxious; we show off our money; we think we’re better than everyone else; we only go to other countries to get drunk off our asses, and we’re too stupid to even attempt an understanding of indigenous cultures, etc. The usual stereotypes didn’t apply to me, but I had to deal with them anyway. And I had to deal with my own often very off-kilter stereotypes of Europeans.

The biggest incorrect assumption that I had about Europeans was that they’re basically just Americans who live on another continent. My reasoning was innocent enough; most Americans had great-grandparents who were Europeans, and America is a relatively young country with so much of “our” history being caught up in the histories of the countries our ancestors came from. But my reasoning was very, very wrong. And Europeans know this. They do not suffer from the American delusion that we have very much in common. In fact, America really does have a very unique history and culture all our own. Contrary to popular American opinion, our embrace of the pizza is not a sign of our cultural similitude to Italy, for instance.

In Zürich, Jody and I stayed with some distant relatives of her best friend. The oldest son in the family met us at the train station, and we’d brought with us our new friend from Sweden, Eleanor. Chris, Eleanor, Jody and I walked around Zurich, talking about the differences between Europeans and Americans. Chris said that the biggest difference he saw between the Swiss and Americans, was that Americans think they can fix anything. The Swiss work hard, he said, but they also think there’s a point past which situations cannot be helped. Americans make no such distinction. We’re entirely convinced that there’s a solution to every problem, and that if we work hard enough, we can figure out whatever the solution is. Eleanor pointed out that Americans work too much, and for the wrong reasons. Swedes, she said, only worked so that they could have fun with their time off work. Americans work so they can buy more things; and they’re happy enough never having time off at all, if it means they have big houses and big cars.

I think they were both spot on in their observations. Their observations, in fact, were things that I’d unconsciously observed myself, in the reverse of course. When I was in Europe, the thing that I most learned about Americans, the thing that makes us very different from Europeans, is that we’re still very convinced of the existence of, and very concerned with the status of, our eternal souls. Whereas most of Western Europe is solidly post-Christian, America is a country in which, as Peter Hitchens recently noted in an article about Anglicanism and English separation of Church and State, religion is still considered “normal.” Even though I was walking around Zürich with two European Christians, we were all painfully aware of the fact that they were different from the society around them. But even their categorical difference from the society around them didn’t keep them free of the influence of those societies, and so they were baffled by our American insistence on our own moral righteousness and our own moral unrighteousness.

Americans still believe in saints and sinners. We believe in the American dream; the social mobility which brings George Foreman from the ghetto to boxing glory to a grill near you. We’re still outraged when our leaders fail us; we still expect our politicians to do the right thing. We talk about George W. Bush’s strong moral leadership, and we don’t blush when we do so. We believe in all of these things in spite of mounting evidence that the American Dream is not so much a fantasy as an outright lie; that all of politics is a game of power and chance in which ethics are either quickly trampled or which cause a politician’s quick trampling; and in spite of the prevailing worldview that, not only are there no saints and sinners, but as Nietzsche pronounced it over a century ago, there is no God.

For Europeans, it’s just a little different. Europeans do not put their hope in social mobility, nor is there much of a historical precedent for doing so. Some people are born kings, and some people are born paupers; such is life. That doesn’t mean that they don’t work hard, or that they don’t believe they can advance. Just that the Dream for them is a dream and not the mythical stuff of pop culture. They’re much more prone to credit situations for personal successes and failures than individuals themselves. One guy is rich because his father was rich, and he went to the best schools and had all of the advantages in life; another guy is poor because he grew up in the ghetto and faced discrimination and the temptation of drug culture. Americans, by contrast, say one guy is rich because he’s industrious and made good use of his resources; another guy is poor because he lacked ambition to climb out of the ghetto, and had a weak character that found him quickly addicted to drugs. Europeans don’t worry so much that their leaders are righteous and moral; they quite expect that they’re not, and accept it as one of life’s situational difficulties that they must deal with them. And religion is not a thing for the public sphere anyway. Mother Teresa and her like be damned, the UN is the right man for the job for distributing aid to foreign countries; saints and sinners are the stuff of history and legend, not modern practicality. People are the results of their situations, is all, and while Mother Teresa was very nice, she’s an anomaly and not to be considered part of the people as a whole.

And Eleanor was right about what drives American labor forces. But she failed to understand the underlying basis of it. It’s not that Americans are materialists, really. We are not necessarily obsessed with owning “stuff.” Americans see the owning of stuff as the visible symbols of their success. And their success, of course, is the proof of their own moral righteousness. Being the Protestant Calvinist retches that we all are, even our Catholics are Protestant Calvinists in this respect, Americans are quick to believe that we can see how much God loves someone by how much God blesses their lives. As such, Americans, even the ones who are almost entirely secular, and even those who pay a lot of lip service to a St. Francis and his poverty-stricken way of life, are quick to get “stuff” so that they can assure themselves and others of their own salvation. Americans not only believe that they’re the elect, that glorious city on a hill, but we have a secret nighttime terror that maybe it’s no so, and as such, we’re manically driven to prove in the only way that we know how, that the God we can’t help but believe in still loves us. “Faith alone” is all well and good, but Americans are still convinced that idle hands are the devil’s plaything, and we believe quite fervently in our own individual ability to affect the outcome of our soul’s judgment. And hence we work for stuff, and never have time to enjoy the stuff, and we’re not concerned with it.

For Europeans, it’s different. Europeans don’t, culturally, even believe in salvation, much less that stuff is a sign of it. And so stuff is not so inherently important to the European as the American. Additionally, insofar as circumstance and situation are believed to determine how much stuff a person can get, and individual ability and aptitude don’t have much to do with it at all, the power of the status symbol is significantly reduced. Which is not to say that Europeans don’t like stuff, because they do. They’re certainly materialists on the same order as Americans. The main difference is the moral overtone that Americans have and Europeans don’t. Europeans are post-Christian, and they’ve seen their great leaders fall. Hitler promised salvation, you know, and Lenin promised salvation; and all they brought was destruction.

Berlin was my favorite city in Europe. And I think it’s because it’s the city in which all of this was most overtly displayed. Berlin is all about rebellion and old scars and amazing hope. Berlin is very much alive. But the Eastern half of Berlin is much more alive, in my sight, than the Western half. There is nothing much in West Berlin to distinguish it from the rest of Western Europe. But in East Berlin, there’s something just a little different. There’s all the madness of years of oppression, and frustration, suddenly being lifted in a glorious revolution of the people. East Berlin is all anarchy t-shirts, and spiked up, dyed hair. East Berlin parades its pain before you for your viewing pleasure, while quietly lifting your wallet from behind. East Berlin believes in opportunity; in individual advancement. It’s tired of bemoaning its circumstance, and it’s full of entrepreneurial spirit. East Berlin is piss and vinegar. The West is green, respectable, full of grin-and-bear it.

I don’t know where all this is heading. Except to say that I see something of a tear in the American populace, almost akin to what I see in Berlin, though the specifics are almost entirely opposing. In America, you’ll find the piss and vinegar in the buttoned up, crew-cut, respectable crowd. And the “revolutionaries” are all full of whimpers about circumstance. Half of America believes in God; and, as Flannery O’Connor wrote about it once, the American South is downright haunted by Him. But half of America is growing increasingly secular. Half of American demands personal responsibility; half of America is concerned with the collective well-being as seen through the lens of the collective and with relief as administered through the collective whole. Increasingly, there are two Americas. And it will be interesting to see if these two Americas can cohere as one.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

I had a good time trying Chinese seafood today. I only thought of hurling a few times, and I discovered that I quite like frog legs, even if they do look pretty nasty. We were all in such good moods that it was really nice to be together. I can’t believe my brother is 27. He’s my closest sibling, and he’s only three years short of 30. I know that 30 is far from old, but it feels strange to see someone whose voice I can remember changing getting so close to 30. Of course, in three years, I’ll still be just shy of 25, so I know I’m not really that old or anything.

Anyway, after food, my dad and I took my mom’s car into town to wash. I, of course, did all of the work. And then he got the car dirty again on the way back; which was kind of funny really, even if did negate all my labor. We went to the new store in Shelby on the way home. I like it mostly because it’s half-decently priced, and will therefore piss off all of the local merchants in town. I bought a Sharpie and some paper for school.

Then my dad revamped the air conditioner in my car while I took the dogs for a walk. I’m beginning to quite enjoy walking the dogs, and I think that they like it too. We tromp around together in the meadow, and look for small woodland creatures to terrorize. I scared a cat out of hiding the other day, and the dogs adored me for it. I think I earned respect for flushing out prey, because now sometimes they’ll actually follow my lead instead of running around madly without me. I’d really feel bad if I flushed something out one day, that the dogs actually managed to catch and kill; particularly, if it was my neighbor’s cat.

Around 11 or so, April called and sounded kind of bored. My brother was over still, but he said he was going home in a few minutes anyway. So April and I made plans to head over to Mike’s party. I was happy to have something else fun to do, since the majority of my days are so boring. So, joyfully I trotted out to my vehicle. Or, I tried to. On my way down the steps outside, the damn dog ran between my legs, tripped me, and I fell. I didn’t get hurt or anything, I just felt like an ass. So I lay on the ground laughing for five minutes, petting the dog, and then I got up and went to the car.

But the bad luck wasn’t over quite yet. I got in my car finally, started it up, and what should appear but my Check Engine light. I was annoyed. Very annoyed. I think my dad probably messed something up when he was fixing my air conditioner. But you never know what might be wrong. It’s been kind of a hard summer for my car, what with not having been driven for five weeks while I was in Europe. And then hardly being driven for the past several weeks because my life’s been boring while I was at home.

But anyway, April and I finally made it to Mike’s. We ate hot dogs and talked for a while. It was nice. I enjoyed it really. Time passed a lot faster than it felt like it did. We left well after two, which was kind of late since April has to work tomorrow at nine. I came home and watched Cartoon Channel until I started writing this, and that was my day thus far.

I’ve been having an emotionally difficult time of things lately. And I’m just enjoying being with my friends much more than usual. I don’t know why. I think it’s because it keeps my brain from working too hard. I don’t have to be freakin’ Einstein for my friends; they generally prefer that I’m a total and complete idiot. And it’s nice to have people who don’t mind my random bouts of stupidity.

For now, I just want sleep.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Today, my family is celebrating our slew of August birthdays (my mom, brother, sister-in-law…). I have to go and eat Chinese seafood. Now, I don’t like Chinese food generally, and Lord knows I loathe even the scent of seafood. So, if I’m not vomiting in the parking lot by the end of this, we’ll all have a pleasant birthday surprise. Happy birthday, various family members!

Friday, August 08, 2003

I’ve had a good couple of days. In the midst of my usual summertime slumber, I’ve actually gotten out of the house a little.

The other day, I kind of can’t remember which one it was, April and I had a day out on the town. We went to Paul’s and had banana splits. We did roundies. We went to the County Fair. We ate cheese and mayonnaise on pumpernickel sandwiches; and Nutella. We had a rare car chat at my house.

Then yesterday, Angela and I went to Columbus because we were bored. We went to this placed called Dave and Busters, which is like a Chuck-E-Cheese for adults. We won kazoos and played the mothas all the way back home to Mansfield. We went to Denny’s and ate fries (hers were seasoned, mine were just plain French). We watched About Schmidt, which was a movie I very much liked, and think I’ll rent to see again.

Today I went to El Campesino’s for an apparently impromptu history club meeting. We accomplished precious little of course, but we did have a hell of a good time. I forget how much I like people when I don’t see them for a while. And Nikki is maybe going to hook me up with exactly the kind of job I like; the short-term project kind, in which I can do something just long enough to not get bored with it, and then be done for good and walk away with money.

On the opposing side of things though, my mom's oxygen tanks came today. That's pretty depressing. But I guess we've been through it before.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Among the lesser known facts of my existence, is the fact that I’m technically, in that very loose high church sense of things, an Episcopalian. And being an Episcopalian today, and living in a family which is also loosely Episcopalian, means hearing about the newly elected gay Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson.

Like all conservative types, I’m hardly pleased over his election. The Episcopal Church is supposed to be a Protestant Church, meaning that it’s one of those churches which draws it’s authority from the Bible, or at least that it claims to. The gay thing is only the most obvious way in which this guy violates obvious biblical command. He’s also a divorcee, with two children, who left his family to live with his partner. He’s not only a “gay” priest; much more disturbingly he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t mind leaving his flock, if it means a little pleasure. The Bible requires that a bishop be someone of strong moral character; the kind of guy with a family that’s in well-order at all times. This guy does not fit that description.

Let me get this straight first: I don’t dislike gay people. I am not a bigot, nor do I spend my time picketing funerals, nor do I believe that “God hates fags.” But anyone who’s ever read the Bible knows that homosexual sex is kind of a big no-no. You can try to semantic your way out of it, but there are pretty clear references in Genesis, Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Timothy and Peter. I’ve seen people jumping through hoops to explain how this is “temple sex, not a committed homosexual relationship,” but frankly, I find these people full of it.

Once again, I’m not a bigot. I think the Bible is very clear on homosexual sex. But I also think the Bible’s pretty clear on gossips and gluttons. And insofar as I celebrate both sins all over my blog, I am never over-quick to proclaim condemnations on people who pick some other sin. I think it’s entirely possible to be a homosexual and a Christian. I don’t think homosexuality defines you as a sinner; your status as human being does that for you. Calling ones self a homosexual merely means defining a particular tendency toward sin in the individual. The actual sin is in the act of copulation, not in the identification of the tendency, nor in the tendency itself.

I’ll be clear on it; I don’t think homosexuality is the best way to go. But neither do I think that people really have a conscious choice that they can make about it. You can’t decide one day that homosexuality is wrong, snap your fingers and suddenly cease to be gay. Homosexuality reflects a somewhat disordered spiritual state. But a disordered spiritual state is the usual status of man. We must act according to our conscience, and according to Tradition, and become perfect in spite of our disordered states.

In any case, to return to the topic of soon-to-be Bishop Robinson. The election and ordination of this man exemplifies quite well why I am only most loosely defined as an Episcopalian (that is to say, that I’m considered one because I’ve never formally broke relations with the church, nor formally entered into relations with another church). The Episcopal Church has been being eaten away at from the interior for a long time. While I would never call the entire Anglican Community a church built on the most sturdy of theological or ethical grounds, the Episcopal Church in particular has always been quick to embrace everything liberal in the stead of anything Traditional. This is why many of our bishops, like Bishop Robinson, deny the authority of the scripture. This is why one of our bishops famously preached on Easter that the resurrection was a strictly metaphorical happening, and that a bodily resurrection was mere superstition.

The election of Bishop Robinson is not necessarily the worst thing that could happen to the Episcopal Church. We’re a church of outrage, or at least we have been in the past century, and it’s been only quiet outrage which has been broiling in the pews since our last big row over women’s ordination. The truth is that the people should be outraged. There’s no reason to be happy with a Protestant Church which shrugs off the Bible. And all of the quiet rage which has been building up among the laity, and even the honest clergy, about the growing Unitarianism of the Episcopal Church, may be about to set off. And it may be very, very good.

The Church will only send us bishops of the quality we demand; and as we’ve demanded no quality thus far, the bishops we’ve been sent have been of no quality. After this fight, we must begin to do one of two things. We must begin to demand a better class of bishop and fight the growing heresy in the ranks. Or, we must leave the church. We must become Orthodox, Catholic, Methodist and Lutheran. Either we must make the church the Church again, or we must abandon it, and let all of Anglicanism become nothing but a national church of some passing historical interest. Of course, there is really, a third option. And it’s the option we’re most likely to take. Do nothing, remain quietly outraged, and only take up bitching again when it comes to the next big public event. It’s a very English thing to do: “Grin and bear it.”

And what will the next big thing be? The Church formally renouncing the trinity, the virgin birth, salvation itself? It could be any of those things. Because once a church discards Holy Tradition, even unto shrugging off the Bible, you have no guarantees.

My Catholic friends often sneer at the state we Episcopalians are in. But I’m telling you guys, watch out. Because this controversy hasn’t seen its last day yet. It’s gained steam from its victory over the Episcopal Church, and it’s heading your way next.

Monday, August 04, 2003

I want to clarify that I haven’t not been writing much because of lack of interest or lack of happenings or anything. It’s mostly that my life’s been sort of crazy lately, and every time I try to write, just how crazy it’s been starts to leak out. And insofar as I don’t want every bad thing in the world about myself, my family, my friends on the internet, I always end up erasing the blogs that I write.

That being said, just to update: I haven’t really been doing all that much recently. I’ve mostly been sleeping a lot, and reading a little, and generally just wasting away my life. It’s the usual Summer thing for me. It’s good in a way. But I’m kind of restless too, which is a bit unusual.

I’ve been thinking about personalities. And while I don’t really buy all of the personality test business, I broke down the other day and tried the Myers-Briggs again. I was surprised that I scored the same as the last time I took it, when I was a teenager. Or, well, sort of I did. To be technical, I ended up right on the 50% line between INFP and INTP. But based on the weight of the older score, and from my reading of the INTP profile, it seems that INFP is probably generally more appropriate. Though you can understand me a little better, I guess, if you add in a little of that INTP emphasis on logical perfection.

Anyway, since none of that probably makes sense to any of you. Try this: INFP, my dominant side, and INTP, the side which isn’t far very behind.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Girth is a gift from God!

"He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat." - Proverbs 28:25 (KJV).

Amen and Amen.

Verily, bretheren, I tell ye, I am truly blessed.

A few abrupt and crudely phrased meditations on human psychology that I’ve recently been mulling over:

Humans will gleefully and painfully ruin themselves and destroy their lasting happiness for virtually any reason at all if they can convince themselves of the romanticism of their motivations.

The greatest saints, and the most evil people on Earth, are those who have the most keenly developed sense of the fragility and sanctity of human life. People who lack a well-developed sense of this concept lack the motivation, insight and skill to ever be considered particularly evil or particularly good.

Apathy is a more formidable force than zealotry because it rules over a far vaster number of human lives.

Humans secretly adore their own deformities, and will indulge their perversities, even past the point of their own disgust, if they can convince themselves that no one powerful enough to punish them is watching.

Friday, August 01, 2003

I’ve been faced with an inevitable, very foreseeable sort of problem. And it’s entirely my own fault that I’m crippled by it.

In short, what the hell am I going to do with my life?

I’ve had a vague notion for quite a while now that I want to be a history professor. But over the course of the summer I’ve realized that my vague notion is just that. And I’ve thought about how much work a doctoral program really is, and how little a vague notion of what you want to do someday prepares you for that.

So what do I want? Who am I? What’s my place in the universe? Where do I want to be in ten years?

When am I going to start to wanting more in life than a bed, food and access to a library?