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It wasn’t their fault that the 6’ Super Bowl sub they ordered contained sentient ham slices. Nor can I blame the meat. For sliced ham, this was nothing personal. Just business. Once I stopped pondering the odds, I realized that things were simply set in motion.
During the game, Flip snuck out to the kitchen to grab a second slice. The ham wasted no time. Swiftly, it wrapped itself around his neck in death’s embrace. By the time everyone started to wonder where he went, the ham had locked all the doors from the outside and cut the phone line…
After two decades of silent, stalwart, service, my eyeless teddy crawled up onto my bed this morning, and demanded an explanation.
“You,” he hissed, “will explain… my eyes.” I could here a gurgling sound through the hole my dogs’ chewed in his neck.
“It wasn’t me, bear, it was my dogs and my negligent family. I saved you.”
He understood well enough that I was powerless; I had no idea how to replace what my dogs had eaten. So he just sat on my bed, cradling his furry brown head in his stuffed arms, choking back tears that couldn’t come.
Someone wrote that of course the falling tree makes a sound.
As a student who takes an interest in quantum physics and neuroscience, I might argue that the accident of perception is the real cause of sound, and that the observer is the judge. So, false. But that's not the point.
The meaning of a koan is flux, never real but for the instant it is spoken. Now, the tree will never fall. Tomorrow it might be the sound of a buzzsaw or someone crying over an incomplete exam.
Once, the glass of water wasn't- a young student spilled it.
“If I said I wanted to fuck, would you put down your work?”
So far, today has been pretty good. There is the threat of a presentation of thesis data, but I should be able to cruise through. Just need to take care of little things, like printing overheads. I don’t think it’ll take too long.
Also I have to write a three-page paper for a stupid class I don’t have to take. I think I’ll drop it if I can’t fake it, so here’s the litmus test. You’d be surprised how easy it is to ruin Shakespeare.
Today I was cut off, or cut free or whatever. I was a Helium atom in a vacuum. Not a damn thing that makes me interesting at all. I can’t even care that I fucked up my test last week, that this is more the rule than the exception lately. My brain has ceased to function, and it’s keeping me on a need to know basis.
I was a particle in a box- poked, prodded, and resolved as psi-squared. I’ve been identified, and the infinite barriers have been lifted. Now there’s nothing left but for my wave packet to disperse.
Yesterday, out of nowhere, I saw Sacha. We walked, talked and ate peanut butter sandwiches. She’s much braver than I am to take the time right now to sort things out. I respect that. I at least need the shelter of a degree. “Not long” is all I can tell myself.
Today, for no apparent reason, I nearly let down twenty-five people, including the closest thing I have to a mentor, because I couldn’t find the motivation to get out of bed.
As it turns out, all the mental rehearsals can’t stop me from defeating myself, only dumb stochastic luck.
Today was positively beautiful. The sun was out and I could think; I had the presence of mind to go look at apartments and hand in my pay stubs so I'll be rich at the end of the month. And then I got to lab, and ran out of moxy.
Someone unzipped my soul bag and poured it out on the tile floor. THey're all there (explanations as to why I should be scheming and studying), but I have to wade through it, sort it out, and stuff it all back in before I can actually get down to work.
Today, I failed in an attempt to convince myself to see a therapist. It's not that I'm scared to go through with this; I've done it before and it really helped.
I'm absolutely terrified to go to a counselor and tell them all of my problems- that I can't communicate with my family, I'm more detached from my friends than I ever have been, I sleep through things, I can't study, on some days I'm so distracted that I walk into traffic or spill a nasty chemical- to hear them say, "sorry, you're not a priority," like the last time.
My girlfriend and I broke up this morning. All I can think about are the freckles on her eyelids. I knew that a change was bound to happen; we were drifting into a long-term relationship and you can't have a healthy one without really talking about your situation. But at the same time, I was caught totally off guard by the break up, especially because of how good everything in the relationship was in contrast to the rest of my life. Also, I really do love her. I can't really do anything about it but be sad at this point.
One day in mid-October after a particularly depressing night, a few friends of mine started making really eviscerating Personal Ads to cheer themselves up. Because most of them were really funny, John Mac put together a web page showing a picture of everybody and their ad. It really worked. In that same spirit, here's mine:
CALLING ALL VIRGINS
Portly, snide, bearable 6'4 230lb. SWM 21. ISO tall, passive-aggressive, patient SWF, 16-35. MUST tolerate insecurity in all relationship issues, on and off smoking, vocalized inner monologue, occasional tirade, and trademark public arrogance. Wealth and extensive record collection BIG PLUSSES. Box #0616
Last night I ate tacos with the Sunday night crowd and saw a stupid movie. My motherfucking ligation didn’t work again. I hung out with Kate Dailey.
I woke up in the vacuum. There was nothing in the void to draw me into any actions, impulses, moods or mindsets, so I just went to Chemistry. Everybody did really badly on the exam. Now they’re acting all ridiculous about it, I’m sure. I wonder if they hate Paul. The young woman I helped out did particularly bad. Normally, this would make me feel like a crapsack, but WORSE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED.
Last night I finished my second draft and went to the bar. Bar Talk seems to be the only life skill I can practice these days. We went to Wal-Mart to play GameCube and break stuff. It was pretty liberating. We TP’d Chad Barbe’s car before we drove home in it.
I’m going to the Weezer tonight with Beth. It will be strange to stand next to her for a whole concert. I’d like to pretend I could be sweet open, honest and sincere with her, but I’m fairly sure I’ll just end up lonely, distant, and still in love.
The Weezer concert was awesome. But, brownies always make me fucking useless the next day. I am pretty useless. But I did manage to accomplish something. The rooms I saw today convinced me that I will pay an extra thirty dollars a month to live next to john mac, have a big window and a bedroom. Also, I’m hosting another cocktail party this Friday. I am happy that we get to celebrate dennis’ birthday with some big drinking. We’ve gone well over two months without a party at my house. I’ll keep my resolution firmly in hand at this one.
Valentine’s Day: the most annoying holiday of the year. There is no other holiday that so obviously celebrates reactionary values. And I’m not just saying that because I’m single.
It is also a Consumerist Nightmare- a pitiful dress-rehearsal for a shitty way of living your life. A man's love manifests in terms of material goods and nice dinners? Love is not getting dressed up and exchanging expensive gifts- it’s inexcusable that we’re told to think that even one day a year. I hate being told to do anything, especially, “Buy things.” Presents shouldn’t be required. Fuck presents and fuck hallmark.
Tonight, dozens of people will come to my house to party. I think when people drink, they let some other aspect of themselves of which they’re ashamed in some way emerge. I know friends that become gluttons, guys who become aggressively suggestive towards other straight guys, girls who become cuddly, wallflowers who become loose and very open.
I become evil. While I can always be loud, boastful, and crass, I’m an openly cruel drunk. I snicker and scowl at people. I feel bad when I’m caught acting like this, but usually not until the morning after. Evil me doesn’t care.
I guess the one day a year you’re allowed to drink half of a bottle of scotch is your birthday. But it was just that kind of party. I had a really good time, and the only thing that I regret is Erin’s freak out.
This morning I was awakened by a phone call from Dave. He said I'm going to see Belle and Sebastian in Philadelphia and Boston. Beautiful. That’s the best double header I’ve ever heard. The only way this weekend could properly cap off is if I get to see Corey, who is apparently in town.
A lot of what I saw this weekend isn’t worth repeating. Ironically that’s the stuff I keep repeating. My cocktail party made me realize how much I miss my friends, and at the same time how I can’t blame John Mac for not missing them. I worry that some of the women in my life spend too much time compromising and pleasing and not being the people they want to be. I worry that all of us are becoming grown-ups we hate. I think too much of sexuality is exhibitionism. I don’t think I’m trapped, but I might be resigning.
Last night I used my cell phone for a practical reason for the first and second time in rapid succession. Thus far it had just been a cool toy and a way to make sure I had a free phone line at all times. As of yet, I have never used Instant Messenger for a useful purpose, and that’s been in my life for almost 4 years.
I really wonder if these things alter your neurochemistry in the long-term by lobotomizing Frontal Areas, making it impossible for you to ever have a real conversation again, or giving you emotional ESP.
His father was a different matter: loud, crass and remorseless. His voice would boom down the dorm halls the one time every month he came to visit while on business.
He had hoped and prayed that his son would grow into the role of businessman, that school would groom him into a fine CEO. Yet the Fates, crooked as any Houston whore, had other things in mind. His son was obsessed with those damn books. The boy was always burying his nose in them.
He wondered if the kid or maybe his mother, God rest her soul, was on drugs.
The family made their millions in a dusty little town in the panhandle of Texas. In the ‘60s the father had recognized the growing market in the sexual revolution and the movements of the left and so had created a plastic molding factory to manufacture a line of vibrators.
His best seller had always been the “Hung Like This”. This particular dildo was a 7-inch, waist up caricature of the Lord and Savior with his hands clasped in prayer (batteries not included). When activated, he would gently thrum about and wiggle his hands against the edge of the desired orifice.
The glow from the desk lamp filled out his quadrant of the room. He sat on the corner of his bed, hunched over his desk. He heard his roommate loudly snoring over the glassy music of the scotch on the rocks. He paused for a moment, sipped on the Cutty, and softly chuckled. It would all reduce to the first fundamental frequency. The solution was just a pure sine wave. He carefully drew the plane’s coordinate crosshairs and then slowly sketched in the slope. Up and down like rollercoasters. His roomed snorted, grumbled something, and turned over.
“Punkass.” He muttered.
So much for putting faith into that particular vat of chemistry. The ligation didn’t work. Rather, I can’t say the ligation worked, because the control worked. And when the control isn’t supposed to work and it does, that’s a red light.
It’s really got me down: this reaction has occupied enough of my time.
To cheer myself up, I’m deleting people from my buddy list. It’s gratifying in the same way as killing ants. Just some little aspect of the universe has ceased to be because of my whim. I can only enjoy it when I’m in a bad mood.
If I wrote my medical school admissions essay about a personal battle with cancer, I would be lauded with praise and considered a fighter, a survivor, and a model human being.
If I were to write an essay about life as a teenager, the way I was taught to think I was good for nothing and the long-term problems that have taken me years to even start to come to grips with, all I would receive are some tight-lipped smiles and puzzled looks.
If I wrote about a disturbing family history of psychological problems, they would show me the door.
As funny as it sounds, my 15-year-old little brother is one of my heroes. He has this way about him that is completely untouchable. I think we have a lot in common, too. Maybe it’s our Y chromosome. We understand each other a lot better than we let on. He’s the only person for whom I would jump in front of a train. I hope he knows that.
I have a busy week ahead of me: the big appointment on Monday and an exam that will decide whether I drop the class that ensures my status as a full-time student.
Last night Beth told me she didn’t want to get back together with me. Damn.
Today, I ate lunch with her in Central Parklet. It was breezy and pleasantly warm. Once the gaggle of preschoolers left there was only a little white noise in the background, the two sandwiches, the picnic table, and us. That was still too much for me, so naturally I stood on the table after she finished eating. While I was looking down at her, my hair tangled itself up in some still-bare branches. Everything besides the trees seems to have decided that it’s spring.
Today I began to prepare for what looks to be the most important exam of the semester. It covers roughly 15 chapters of material on the control of movement, audition, and the brain stem. It’s fascinating material, but I loathe taking tests on it. It’s just memorizing the same crap over and over again for different systems. However, if I don’t get at least as far above the mean on this test as I was below on the previous exam, I’ll be forced to drop this class, at the risk of being a part-time student. Anything for the sacred GPA…
Today I learned the most depressing factoid ever:
Many babies are born without a forebrain. This is particularly hard to diagnose, because the afflicted infant behaves in virtually every way like a normal baby. It kicks, screams, gurgles, coos, grins and fusses.
While I feel terrible about brainless children, I also feel that human grownups have been taken for suckers by evolution. We are in tune with these simple automatic responses. They generate oohs, ahhs and warm fuzzy feelings. I can’t imagine how it feels to know you’ve been fooled by these responses into thinking you have a normal child.
What an exam! In mid-sentence I almost put down my pencil and left. My semester depends on the results of three pages of definitions and short answers, which required roughly 70 minutes to complete. The test was really poorly written. In my opinion, if you’re going to waste my time by evaluating me, at least make me learn something in the progress. I didn’t learn a damned thing. In fact it was just a crappy rehash of a few arbitrary facts among the 300 or so pages of material I crammed into my brain over the past week. How stoopid.
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