Thursday, February 26, 2004

Though it's a little late to do it, I'm adding this blog to my list of forbidden lenten activities. So I'm gone for nearly 40 days. I may write at some point to let people know I'm alive, though that's not entirely in keeping with the lenten tradition. Maybe I won't write. Maybe I'll forget this blog exists by Eastertime. More likely, my readers will forget this blog exists. It's all right, no matter what happens. In any case, farewell, good luck, blessings and love and all that.

I'd like to start off the morning with a hearty: "Screw you, Sprint!"

Then, moving on, I'd like to follow it up with a nice: "Screw you, the Ohio State University!"

Yesterday, our local newspaper was giving out free papers at school if you'd fill out a survey. I hate our local paper, pretty much. So I mostly just mocked the survey. For instance, the first question was: "What do you like most about the News Journal?" But they'd crossed out, in red ink, the word like and replaced it with dislike. So I wrote: "I mostly dislike the typographical errors." Then I signed a fake name to the survey just in case, through some sad circumstance, I ever try getting a job there. I really wouldn't want the proverbial computer screen flashing red with "Smart Ass: Don't Hire" when they filed my resume in their database. Yes, so that would never happen. In fact, I anticipate that they'll just throw my survey out. But it's good to be precautious.

The other best moment of yesterday was when April yelled, "Holy Balls, hatman!" By way of explanation, my friend Jason is often referred to as hat man, because he almost always wears a hat. And for some reason, someone had scratched the words "Holy Balls!" into the wall in the coffee house at school. On noticing the etched words, April put two and two together, and it was really quite brilliant. Another highlight was when I realized that Jeff had seen Octa-nipples.

Anyway, it's nearly 11:40 and I'm not nearly ready to leave for school. So I must.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Life is kind of nice right now. Everything’s calmed down for the most part. I have only two lingering complaints. The first, my car was not fixed by our $20 cure, in spite of initial evidence to the contrary, so now I have to actually take it in to the mechanics. The second, it seems that one of my two remaining wisdom teeth is in the process of impacting, and is giving me annoying headaches. I’m not scheduled to go to the dentist until April 1st, which I consider a lousy day to go a dentist anyway, being April Fools Day and all that, so I may have to move the appointment up.

I was going to try to write something funny about dentist appointments on April Fools Day, but as nothing particularly clever is forthcoming, you’ve been spared from having to read it.

So today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season. I always find this time of year particularly depressing. Never for any of the right reasons, of course. Usually I just feel bad because I ought to be more spiritual, and I really never am. But maybe this year will be different. I’m going to see The Passion of the Christ this weekend with Angela, and that ought to be interesting. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.

Ach, I just glanced at the clock, somehow I’ve managed to pass half an hour without noticing it was gone. I have to leave for school in a minute.


You're Siddhartha!

by Hermann Hesse

You simply don't know what to believe, but you're willing to try
anything once. Western values, Eastern values, hedonism and minimalism, you've spent
some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in.
This makes you an individualist of the highest order, but also really lonely. It's
time to chill out under a tree. And realize that at least you believe in

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Not a hell of a lot going on in my life. I've busied myself mostly by taking care of some of the nagging details of life that I couldn't take care of while I was so busy. For instance, yesterday I finally got around to making my bed for the first time since the second week of school or so. I've been catching up on my non-essential reading (note: that doesn't mean I've had the chance to read anything for fun; I'm just reading stuff I was required to read before, that I knew I could get away with not reading). I finished my paper up yesterday and turned it in. I've gotten some old papers and exams back, finally. I have an A- in Russian History, an A in African History, and an A- in Astronomy as of the seventh week of the quarter; but all that means jack of course, when finals average 40% of your grade.

I'm reading a book for school that I rather like called Novel With Cocaine. The novel is partitioned into several parts, and I've only finished the first two. But it seems almost like a Russian Catcher in the Rye. That is, imagine J.D. Salinger on a Dostoevsky kick. I'm chopping at the bit on finishing it. It's what I want to be doing right now. But instead I'm going to head back to school. Meh.

On the bright side, my dad may have fixed my car today. If the fix sticks, it's only cost me $20. That's freakin' awesome.

But, anyway, back to school I go.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

My very favorite saints are nearly always named John.

"The long-suffering of God is unchangeable and His mercy is kind…How many criminals are there who go out to kill and rob that He conceals in order that they may not be captured and placed under tortures? Pirates sail the sea and God does not order the sea to drown them. How many falsely swear by Holy Communion and He tolerates not repaying them for that with evil? Robbers steal on the road and He does not give them over to the beasts to tear them to pieces…Libertines go off with prostitutes and He tolerates them. Why all of this? Because He waits for repentance and conversion. Truly, God does not want the destruction of a sinner…That is why, brethren, let us be ashamed before the most lenient Lord God." – St. John the Merciful, patriarch of Alexandria, 616-620AD.

This day promises to be a whirlwind of stillness. The fact remains that I'm busy. But somehow, I'm not very busy. That is to say, I have to write a paper today, and I have a lot of reading to do today, and I have to drive to Columbus and back. And yet, there isn't a hell of a lot of activity in any of those activities. Today is going to be one of those days when I end up stiff and sore and think: "How the hell? It isn't as if I've been doing anything!" But I'm in no position to complain about a more relaxed pace.

I wish I had something better to write about. But I haven't. I'm always a boring kid; but sometimes, I'm profoundly boring. It's effort enough keeping myself entertained, much less entertaining my masses of readers.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Today has been the answer to how much everything in my life has sucked recently. It's been a really nice day.

We're redoing my mom's room right now. It actually looks nice, which is rare for a room in my house. My mom's kind of color blind, though she won't admit it, so usually we end up with jacked up color schemes. But my sister-in-law helped this time and it's much better. Also, it was kind of fun.

I forget sometimes how much I like my family. Sometimes your family are the only people who share enough of your experiences to really understand your outlook on life. My family are really the only folks who get my sense of humor. For example, it's probably only my brother and I who could laugh so hard at my mother's remark on seeing a begger: "I don't understand why people like that don't get jobs. It's got to be easier in the winter to just get a job instead of standing out on the cold streets all the time." My mom's sort of like Archie Bunker sometimes. She says these really messed up things that end up being much more right, in their own way, than what anybody else is saying.

Anyway, I spent the day with my mother, brother and sister-in-law. Brett and I treated mom to El Campesinos. And then Brett treated mom and me to milkshakes afterward. We went to stores and things too, which, I'm not exactly big on. But it was fun because Brett's good to go to stores with. We have similar interests. We were looking through dvds when I saw Monty Python's The Life of Brian. I picked it up to look at it because it's one of the only movies I actually own; VHS form, anyway. But it was taped to another dvd, on sale. That dvd was Time Bandits. I busted because that's actually the only other VHS movie I own. The movies are basically unrelated; one of the Monty Python guys did work on Time Bandits, but it wasn't a Monty Python production, so it's strange that they were put together. I guess somebody, somewhere, has a sense of humor like mine and thought that coupling could actually sell well together. It was only $17 and I came very close to buying it. But I just paid off my credit card bill today and thought maybe it'd be nice to try conserving the old bank account for once. Especially with my car acting up.

My family's trying to convince me to go into nursing. It's almost tempting because nursing pays so damn well. But I don't know that I'm cut out for that sort of thing. But then again, it pays so damn well. Who's not cut out for that?

Friday, February 20, 2004

I haven’t been much for blogging recently. It’s partially how busy I am; partially how much of what’s on my mind is unbloggable material; and partially a nagging nihilism that’s so integral to my mindset currently.

I’m just feeling like a bit of a punching bag right now. I’m feeling a little betrayed.

It’s not that I’m not going to be okay. I am okay already. In fact, there’s nothing so essential about virtually any of my affections that my happiness won’t outlast them if they pass away.

It’s just that it seems that so much of my life has been threatening to pass away for so long. It seems like I’ve been forced into uncertainty for much longer than can possibly be just. All I want is a little stability.

I have to run. There’s never any time for writing. There’s never much time for anything. I’m late as it is.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

So apparently there's no certainty in this universe. Or that's what my lack of posting last night would indicate. I blame the paint fumes permeating my house currently. I just crashed last night instead.

I'm already behind today, but less so than before. So I'm feeling pretty good. Though this can't be long because I really do need to be going.

I can't say much about my life right now. It's been a dizzying array of studying and feeling like hell whenever I wasn't. I've been going through a lot of emotional weirdness. And I've been letting certain people get under my skin than perhaps I shouldn't.

I hope to do some fun things this weekend. But I don't know how it's all going to work out. My car died on me again the other day. So I sort of have to watch that. I don't need to be stuck out on the roads at three in the morning. I don't think the old man would wake up to come get me if I called that late. But I really am in the mood for something fun.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Damnit. I just typed a really long blog and lost it. This is indicative of pretty much everything in my life right now. I'm too busy to fix the problem. It's not a serious enough problem to really complain about it. And yet, it's damned annoying.

Anyway, I promise more blogs more frequently from here on out. The blitzkreig of exams and papers has finally passed me over until this weekend. I will write again tonight for certain.

Monday, February 16, 2004

I swear on everything I'm going to be able to blog soon. So incredibly busy and tired right now.

Friday, February 13, 2004

I’m kind of depressed right now. It seems like all of my relationships are becoming adversarial and stagnant. I think it’s my attitude that’s to blame.

It’s sort of strange, but I don’t feel like I’m really anywhere anymore. My heart isn’t at home, and it isn’t in Mansfield, and somehow I know if it’s not in either of those places, it’s not going to be anywhere else either.

Where can you go to escape from yourself?

I know the answer to my problem. But somehow I can’t kick myself into action. It’s frustrating to see such a glaring weakness in my own character. I worry that other people can see it too. I worry that if anyone else knows my weakness, they’ll resent me as much as I do.

I know that I’ve been really selfish lately. I know that I’m being self-indulgent by even writing this blog today. It isn’t as if this thing is introspection. I don’t even know why I write at all sometimes, when I know perfectly well that no one’s really hearing me. It’s useless, and all I want in the world, is to be just a little useful to someone or something.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

My procrastination is coming back to bite me in the ass. I have to go to school quickly this morning, but I plan on skipping class today so I can write a paper. I'm really not ready for this. It's really pretty bad. And it's just getting worse, what with having an exam tomorrow, and exams Monday and Tuesday, and another big paper due Wednesday. I wish to hell I wasn't in the most undisciplined mood I've been in since...well, a long time, anyway.

The only thing that's keeping me afloat at this point is this very strange friendship I've been developing recently. It feels strange to tell someone so much about myself so quickly, and to think that maybe it's okay to do so. Knowing that I'm equal parts listener in this thing is interesting as well. I feel like I've made a lasting connection with somebody. The cynic in me is just waiting for it to fall apart.

But unfortunately, that's the way I think. I'm uncomfortable with happiness. I have this belief, straight from the gut, that happiness doesn't last. And if happiness starts to last, I'm quick to squash it. I can be completely self-destructive sometimes. It's only in the context of some longterm relationship with someone that I'm going to learn to allow myself to be happy; because, it's only in that context that I ever remember not to be so hard on myself. Maybe that's why I'm so ambivalent about longterm relationships, really. I don't even mean exclusively romantic relationships. Just relationships in general.

Anyway, I'm thinking about graduating next quarter. I can if I want to. I'd not been planning on it because I don't really want to put down roots here in Mansfield. I want to be busy doing something unpleasant here, so I can remember that I want to leave. But on the other hand, I could get by next year, working two days a week if I wanted to. Or maybe I could just go part-time to school, or maybe I could just take language courses or something. I don't know. I'm starting to hate this place.

I don't have time to develop any of this into a good post. There isn't time for anything at all. I have to run.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Yesterday was kind of short. I went to sleep at like 10:00 yesterday, and woke up really early this morning. It feels like I've been awake longer already today than I was in the whole of yesterday. I did some reading. Not enough of it though. In a minute I'm going to leave for school and do more reading. Noticing a theme of my life recently? Sleeping and reading. That's the only theme I've got going right now.

Tonight I pay my taxes. Wee!

Monday, February 09, 2004

So this was an eventful weekend, in a quiet way.

Friday my car broke down and I had to call my mother, during her eye surgery, to come and pick me up. It killed about an hour, and I was late getting Brittany. But my car is okay now, so I can’t complain very much about it.

Saturday went so fast that I don’t even remember very much what I did. I know I worked on homework, and read quite a lot, but that’s all I remember doing. I know I slept a lot that night.

Sunday was spent on more homework. Homework, consequently, that I’m nowhere near done with. But still, I managed enough of it I guess. And on the way down to Columbus to drop Brit off, I got pulled over for the first time in my life. It was pretty annoying, though I guess I’m lucky. I was pulled over for “speeding.” But unless my speedometer is about 15mph off, I wasn’t doing what the cop said I was. I think they were probably looking for someone with a car like mine or something. Cause the cop followed me for a while, and I saw him clearly, so I was doing like five under when he pulled me over.

It was kind of funny because he asked for my license and registration, took them off to check them out, and then came back and cleared me to go with a “warning.” I actually had to ask what the warning was for. He said something about “I clocked you doing 8mph over the speed limit, so I hope you’ll slow down.” And of course I did because I was afraid somebody else would pull me over, looking for whatever it was they were looking for when they pulled me over. It was annoying; I got pulled over, with cars passing me on both sides.

Well, anyway, nothing lost. So once again I can’t complain. Life is full of a lot of little inconveniences, but you can’t complain when you break even, except for the loss of a little time.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

To borrow an expression, I've spent a lot of time recently kicking against the pricks.

But in happier news, last night was spent pleasantly tipsy, as this picture testifies:

I was actually more tired than drunk, but that picture is so gloriously hideous that I had to share it. This one is a bit nicer:

Anyhow, back to hideous:

Consequently, April really enjoys booooze:

Friday, February 06, 2004

Mike's only happy when his mouth is busy.

Here starts another weekend, replete with its own issues and troubles. I don't really look forward to them anymore, though I can't say that I look forward to being in school either. I've felt kind of dead inside lately, as if it didn't matter whether I'm here or there. There are only a few things that make me feel alive to the world, and I find those things in equal measure in either place.

I've been thinking lately about all my lies. The big ones that I convince myself of because I need to lie to live. Complete honesty seems like too much a burden for any individual to bear. And yet, it's our calling to experience Truth. Jesus said that the truth would set us free, and I can see that all my lies are bondage. They're chains which keep me attached to my own self-limitations.

I've really been asking myself lately just how much we can ask of individuals on earth. Human life is so fragile, and people get so knocked around by the circumstances of their life, that it seems like we just can't ask that much. But nevertheless, is it asked of us to sacrifice much. My temperament is such that I naturally have sympathy for the devil. I mean the metaphore literally. I remember writing poems in favor of Judas when I was a kid growing up. But it just may be that I need to toughen up my outlook.

The primary point of my theology is free will. I don't dispute that it's a problematic point, but I consider the alternative far more problematic. I am not a determinist just as I am not a Marxist, and its not only because I ideologically have decided on these things, but because the practice of living has led me against them. I know that choice exists because I choose. The variety of choices and paths that human beings can take are so vast that free agency is necessary to direct our actions. Environmental factors alone do not settle for me the question of human personhood.

Life is so complicated. And people are so complicated. I have this natural love for both that I can't explain. But sometimes I feel it just overflowing in me. One of the happiest moments of my life was being jammed in the Metro in Paris on Bastille Day, pressed tight against all of the people, feeling what it was to be human. I can't explain it, but all of those people were like beams of light, of warmth, that filled me with this inexplicable joy. It's a strange thing for someone who hates casual touching as much as I do to consider that one of the happiest moments of their life when more practically it ought to have been a terror; but, in a sense, it wasn't "me" experiencing it. We were experiencing; we, whose energy flowed together and apart, within and without; not so much we, but It was experiencing, and we were its parts. The It which is Other, but somehow, whose body we are. The words lose meaning when I try to write about them.

The every day habits of life are cumbersome to me. And every day interactions with people leave me drained. That's how I know that I'm not a mystic. I have a tendency toward mysticism, but my soul isn't ready to contain the mysteries of the universe when it hasn't yet learned to tolerate its neighbor. To really love them; to really love myself; to really love the Other. Only for a split second did I become aware of the other reality, and I will never be able to forget it. But in practical life, I find weaving that knowledge in almost impossible. We humans ate the apple and now we have only our logic to guide us through; I'm utterly choking on that damned apple.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Yesterday was a good day. We managed to forstall getting yelled at in Russian by having an abstract conversation on what it means to have a revolution; the nature of political instability; the moral justifiability of Bolshevik action; whether or not human beings have free agency in the universe, etc. My Prof. enjoyed it. I didn't get as much out of it as I might have liked to have. I'm not really in a class of debaters. But My Prof. seemed to have the issue at the throat: In the end, it all depends on whether or not you believe in God. That's a very Russian opinion, I think. Or maybe I only think so because I didn't figure it out myself, systematically, until I read Dostoevsky.

Other parts of yesterday were equally strange. I was violated by a vibrating cell phone; I spilled Mt. Dew all over the Union in an attempt to hide my goods; I was axed on the stairway by two boys, screaming "Hold her down!" So that was strange. But after school I was talked into going out for a beer. It felt strange to be in a group of my peers, that I didn't go to high school with, doing that sort of thing. I don't know why it felt so weird, but it really did. I enjoyed it though. It was good times and all that. Actually, I didn't drink though. I have to not be nervous around people before I think it's a good idea to start sucking down alcohol. I guess I don't like the idea of being out of control very much.

All in all, a strange and varied day, of the order that I could probably use more of.

On a more philosophical level, I was thinking about how societies really are organized around basically shared values. And I was thinking about how American shared values are a rapidly decreasing phenomenon. There's a growing schism in American society that is rapidly changing the landscape. The reason that our last election was so tight is that the schism is so poignant. Encroaching liberal secularism, of a brand more common in post-Christian Europe, is incompatible with the American system we have experienced thus far. If it wins, and historical precedent tells us that it will, the America of 20 years from now will be as utterly foreign to us, as the America of the pre-student uprising 1950's are foreign to us. And in a hundred years, there may be differences in society which exceed even the changes we've seen over the course of the last century; and this is no small thing. Schisms in traditional gender constructs, to use one example, have been so radical that they utterly fly in the face of everything that every human society since the beginning of time have sacredly held to be true. Changes in social constructs since the Industrial Revolution, I think, are even more vast than our advances in technology and science.

Anyway, Russian reading. Must do it now.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Having no justifiable time in which to write this blog, I shall make it quick.

I'm desperately behind on my reading for Russian History. And I am not alone in it. As we are all behind in our Russian reading, and as my prof has no desire to ease the workload, I am really in a spot. To quote that fine movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," I should say, "Damn, we're in a tight spot!" And so we are.

Yesterday was a brilliant day though and I really had quite a lot of fun. It didn't start off terribly well. My mood wasn't particularly exceptional. But things went uphill anyway. At school, my Russian teacher was talking about societal norms and all that, and how hard it is to bring about a true social revolution. She said: "Even in a society as progressive as ours, we find it really disturbing when we can't figure out what someone's gender is. Even when we don't care if they're transgendered, we still have the burning desire to know what they really are, just so we can categorize them." Meanwhile, sitting beside her, apparently unbeknownst to the good doctor, was the local campus transgender. I could hardly contain my laughter, and I wouldn't have been able to had Jasmin been there. Thank God for pink eye.

But after that, I was going home to desperately try to catch up on my reading when Jasmin called and convinced me to take her to see my grandmother's house, which is being sold. So I went to her house, and she had to pick up her son from school, so she drove. We went to gran's, and upon leaving, she got stuck in the yard. It was about an hour's worth of good times. I mean really good times. It took all our cleverness to get her out of there. Being stuck on ice, we looked for anything that could give traction. We had no sand, or salt, so we used ancient moldy bird seed for traction. I had to go all secret agent man into the garage to get ropes and whatnot. Jasmin finally figured out how to rid herself of her car's traction control feature, and out we went.

Ach, best time I've had in a while! Though, Jasmin's poor boy hates me now because I dragged him out into the country and froze his ears off for an hour while we were stuck in my grandma's yard. Also, because I don't know the sum of 3000 and 2224. Apparently, this makes me "unthinkful." Poor boy doesn't realize I'm probably the most thinkful person he knows. 'Twas his mother, after all, that was driving.

But no more time for stories or observations, back to reading, reading, reading. How I loathe you, Russian Revolution!

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I'm pretty tired of life in general. It's not that I'm depressed. I'm just kind of tired. School has a way of dragging on far past the point I'd like it to.

But I'm also kind of happy. I've been having a hard time lately accepting my eccentricities. On the whole, I'm happier about being sort of strange than the majority of strange people are. I've always felt like an alien in this world, but I never felt like that was a bad thing. Sometimes it was a very lonely thing, but on the whole, I was always convinced that it was my destiny to bear that cross. Nevertheless, lately it's been a burden. I want so badly to identify with people sometimes, but somehow I never seem to be able.

Last night I was having a conversation with somebody about all the ways I could have potentially grown up. And I remembered all over again why I'm happy to be strange. It was only through being such a social reject that I ever managed growing up at all. Had I been more sensitive to criticism or praise, acceptance or the lack thereof, I would have been quite a different person. Or had I been even a little less sensitive to any of that, perhaps I would have lost my humanity. Had I been different, I probably would have been a person more like a lot of people I know in my family; kids with kids, kids with drug problems, kids with no futures to speak of, unless, God willing, they find a miracle that turns them around.

It isn't that I'm feeling superior; I'm most decidedly not. But I am feeling thankful. The road to salvation is easy, but sometimes making yourself walk that road is hard. My life has never been easy because that's the nature of life on this mortal coil; I don't know anyone who's had an easy life, regardless of the specifics of their situation. But somehow, I was guided to keep on the straight and narrow, almost entirely in spite of myself. And I'm glad for it, even as I resolve to discipline myself more severely and change my mindset more zealously.