11/2/2001

Wow, it's really been a long time since I last wrote...for a variety of reasons. I just became incredibly swamped, and then I got really sick :-( And then I was busy over the weekend, and I remembered tonight that I haven't written in a long, long time, and I want to! But I'm tarred, and I have to organize everything, because it's a new month, even though the month started two weeks ago...oh, well. I'm sitting here listening to Bruckner's Eighth Symphony, which I picked up off of napster, and it's quite wonderful--I went looking for it because, on the spur of the moment, I decided to buy cheap tickets to the symphony here, because, darnit, I'm in a city with a real symphony, and I'm going to go at least once. And they're cheap, so I can sort of justify the expense. I also want to go hear Dvorak's Stabat Mater, but I'm working on that one...but now I have seats, front row center (of the balcony :-) for Valentine's Day, of all days. I don't believe I've ever really had a great Valentine's Day. Ah, well...

And I may have to drop my bio seminar, because my professor is incredibly anal about attendance, and made a point of reiterating the first class that we can't miss more than one class and expect to get a decent grade, and now I've missed two with sickness, and he's impossible to get in touch with...arg.

And I'm highly amused that traffic to this journal is in no way dependent on me updating at all, it seems. Well, that's what the evidence of the last two weeks suggests :-) Since I continued to average 5 hits a day, having no new material whatsoever. Interesting. I sometimes wonder if anyone I don't actually know reads this regularly. I doubt it, but I wonder nonetheless...I just figure that this can't really be that interesting. And to reinforce that, I go through dry spells and make it even more boring! Or something.

I may be keeping a cat for a friend of mine next week, which could be neat. I'm bitter, though, because she's going to Florida. :-P And I'll be up here, freezing solid...oh, well. I'll get over it...I just need to clean my apartment some, so she doesn't trash anything while she's here. But she's a cute cuddly cat, so she'll be good company while everyone else is gone to exotic locations.

And I'm only now starting to decorate my apartment fully...I finally put up all the cheap prints I picked up at the National Gallery when I was last there, and I'm beginning to develop a relationship with the tulip lady, on the next street over, because tulips are so pretty, and last for two weeks, and are only $1.50 each! Woohoo! So I can always have one or two, or at least, I have for the past month or so...

Hmmmmmmmmm...running out of energy. Must...sleep...darnit. I have to get up at 9 tomorrow. I am so determined to make it to my class *on time*, mainly because, well, I haven't, in weeks. Which is no good. I am going to get there on time tomorrow. Or something. Okay, time for bed...


12/2/2001

Surprise! I was five minutes late for class. Well, I was fine until I hit the snooze bar the third time...that sunk me. And now I really want a nap. I think I'll take one in just a minute. I'm just eating some cereal and listening to music...I was digging through mp3s and playlists and stumbled across one I made for T months ago, and I really love all the songs. And it doesn't cause pain to listen to all them any more, which is good. Right now I'm listening to a Chicago song I hadn't heard for a while, and I added a song that a friend of mine sent to me, which is, as he claimed it was, one of the greatest love songs around--"If I were free," by Jesse Winchester.

If I were free, what I would do
I'd run and lock myself away with you
And turn a ring, into a key
Oh, I know that's what I'd do
If I were free.

If I were strong, I would be so mild
I would be strong enough to love you like a child
I would turn a cry, into a song
Oh, I know that's what I would do
If I were strong.

If I were wise, then I would see
What makes you love a foolish man like me
I'd stand by you, just like a tree
Oh, I know that's what I would do
I would chain myself to you
I would never leave this room if I were free...

A line of birds, across the sun
Darling it's my fate to follow on the run
But girl this running is not for me
I would never run again if I were free.

Of course, this song came from the guy who, well, he's a great guy, he just hasn't managed to have a long-term relationship, ever. Women seem to have problems seeing him as more than a really good friend. And, wow, I really like this song, too! Such a simple song, but so sweet...

Well the sun is surely sinking down,
but the moon is slowly rising.
So this old world must still be spinning 'round,
and I still love you.

So close your eyes;
you can close your eyes, it's all right.
I don't know no love songs,
and I can't sing the blues any more,
But I can sing this song,
and you can sing this song when I'm gone...

James Taylor, by the way...I can't remember at all how I stumbled upon that one. And I have absolutely no idea why I'm sitting in my apartment, eating Shreddies and listening to love songs. Amusing. I'm not in a bad mood or anything, actually, as would usually be the case if I were doing something. I do want a nap, but I want to hear this song one more time...

And after listening to Bruckner's Eighth last night, I am really looking forward to going to the symphony on Wednesday. Really neat stuff...too bad I have an economics midterm on Thursday. Oh well, though--I can study before it, or something. I'll cope, I think. And now I believe it is nap time.


Ah, that was a nice nap. I feel much better now. Of course, I still haven't started studying for my econ test, which I desperately need to do. Oh, well. I'll do that in a few minutes.

I was just having an interesting discussion with a guy online, in a room of people back at my "real" University. So, a lot of articles are hitting the presses about the data gleaned from the Human Genome Project, and he mentioned a few new papers about the genetic basis of race, and, while I haven't read it, I am somewhat dubious of geneticists writing papers finding no genetic basis for the social construct known as "race." As I see it, well, "race," insofar as it comprises groupings of physical attributes, is about as genetically based as anything can get, certainly moreso than, say, intelligence, when is inarguably behaviorally based to at least some extent. The thing that's so peculiar about race, though, is that it's socially interpreted to an incredible extent, and not as a gradient, as most physical or behavioral attributes are, but as distinct groupings. Whereas, say, there exist social constructs defining someone as "more intelligent" than someone else, the social constructs that define race don't inherently work on a gradient, but rather on somewhat of a system of thresholds: you either have enough "white" characteristics to be "white" or you don't, in general. It's far less important "how white" you are than that you "are white." And it's in that sense that race is so ridiculous--it's the concerted effort of humanity, over so many years, to make this group of genetic attributes which happen to be most obviously physically manifest, and attempt to classify them into distinct groups. It's somewhat amusing, in an objective sense, and quite depressing, in another sense, but it is somewhat interesting to note that, well, it is all, at root, genetically based, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is only manifest as a ridiculously farcical social construct. It makes little more sense, from an evolutionary or genetic viewpoint, than classifying people by the size of their little toes. Both are "genetically based," and yet both are nonsensical.

But it just struck me as odd to hear of another paper finding that "there is no genetic basis for race," which is true on one level, but not on another. Nothing genetic gives any basis for racial grouping, but to deny that physical attributes are defined genetically makes little sense. It's all in the interpretation, and that only takes place in a fully social context.

And the point that I made earlier, about race being peculiar even as a social construct by consisting of distinct groupings rather than gradients, has an intriguiging corollary. If, at present, boundaries separating nations and "races" are gradually disappearing, and the "races" are ever so slowly mixing, which would I propose is the case, then the concept of "race" as we see it will become less and less relevant to society. If most people become "not white enough" to be white, while at the same time "not black enough," and so on, then the social construct loses all meaning. Many posit this as much more of a "solution" to race than, say, arguing that race has no real basis. But, I don't know...it would seem to me that most people realize that race has no real basis as anything more than a social construct, at least in the U.S. and Canada. I certainly can't speak of anywhere other than the U.S. and Canada, though...But I don't see much of a solution other than more and more of us not caring about race and other stupid social constructs, and hoping that things can gradually improve...


Wow. I was just about to go to sleep, but then I peeked in at salon.com on my way to bed, and saw a column written by Garrison Keillor, and it happens to be relationship advice, of all things. Responding to letters, it seems. Anyway, one really struck me for no particular reason except that it just seemed to be an apt response, and so I'm going to reprint it here, copyrights and such be damned. And then, to bed I go...


Dear Mr. Blue,

I fell so deeply in love six years ago with a guy whose marriage was on the rocks. As our love grew sweeter, the stress at his home lessened and the upshot was, the wife gave him an ultimatum. I had to go. Without a fuss I disappeared. Nine months later he called again and we resumed. The deal is this: He calls, I respond. I can't not. Everything I ever felt emerges fresh. I'd go through fire for him. And then I do. And as soon as we come together, as soon as we reach ecstasy, he begins his rapid descent into guilt, anger, depression. Then he's gone again ... until? This has been going on for four years, hundreds of times. The only thing that changes is the speed with which he deserts me anew. I know, I know, my children, friends and therapists all have said the same thing. Just say no, goodbye, see ya 'round, unless you have something to offer. It doesn't change a thing. I am totally rational unless he speaks to me, writes to me or is in my presence. I don't want to get over him. I want to break the cycle. Maybe I just want someone to tell me what I want to hear. You are my only hope. A new angle. Light my tunnel.

Drained of Hope

Dear Drained,

You're still hopeful and so who am I to extinguish your hope? You know what's going on. The guy is a lousy lover. If you measure these things by the pleasure given, this guy is in the sub-basement. But you don't want to give him up. That's OK by me. It's easy for me. I'm not there. You're the real person here and you are suffering. It's easy for me to say, "Go ahead. Wait. Maybe next time it'll be different." I'm writing to you from a dining room table downstairs from a bedroom where my wife is sleeping, next to the room where our baby daughter is asleep. I wish you were reading this column in a house where someone was sleeping whom you are devoted to and who is devoted to you.


And it was just that last sentence that struck me...I wish you were reading this column in a house where someone was sleeping whom you are devoted to and who is devoted to you...


25/2/2001

Yeah, yeah, it's been a long time, again. The week before my break was busy, and then, well, last week was break. And for my Study Break, the only real break I get all year, I...had an emergency appendectomy. Not what I expected, and it wasn't all that pleasant...and now I'm still sort of trying to recover and attempting to learn everything I had planned to learn over break for my massive organic chem. midterm tomorrow. And I'm scared beyond defecating, to be sure. Sigh. But everything will work out, somehow. And as usual, I'm avoiding work, listening to music--currently, Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid, Collective Soul's first album, which is basically entirely done by Ed Roland, the lead singer.

Once, I was down, and couldn't see, but love lifted me--
Yeah, love, it was love, I believe--and then love lifted me . . .

It's just a fun album, full of sorrow, and hope, and life . . .

In a moment, it could happen--we could wake up, and be laughing
In a moment, it could happen--we could forgive, and be happy . . .
In a moment, we could change . . .

And my apartment's quiet again, because the kitty that I was cat-sitting for the week is gone, so I'm back to being all alone, singing to myself and not particularly caring if the neighbors hear. And I just had a silly, irrational thought, one of those that hits me every now and then, and I try to tell myself it's not all that important, but right now--right now, I really want someone to sing to. I don't particularly care who. Just someone to be in the same room, to hear my voice--and this is making no sense at all now. I would sing at the cat if she was still here. But, no--nobody's here, just me and the walls. And I should get back to studying, but I'm not doing a very good job of that right now. But, I really must go...

Should I thirst for meaning, can I beg you for some water?
Should I fight your battles, or can I rest upon your shoulders?
I hope I'm able to find love today--or can I ask you just to light my way?
Yeah, come on, reach, reach out to me--can't you see, I need you to save me?
Reach, reach out to me--can't you see, I need you to hold me?


28/2/2001

ARRRRRGGG. I am so tired of this pouring nonsense. Let's see. Surgery last week, recovery, lots of work to do, and NOW I get fired from my frickin' job. Yes, I am pissed, because it seems to amount to little more than that my supervisor was in a bad mood and didn't feel like giving me work to do, so, rather than dealing with it for another two months, continuing to give me the most menial tasks available, he completely screwed me over by "letting me go." Never mind that I need this job to frickin' pay the grocery bills. After all, I was only a "casual employee," and we only really had a verbal agreement that I would work until the end of the school year. So yes, he can screw me over if he wants to. Sure. But why bother? I don't get it. The secretary was trying to figure out what was going on, too, since the reasons she was given made so little sense--something about how I wasn't enthusiastic enough, or something. OF COURSE I'm not enthusiastic about pouring media and washing tubes! But I still did it pretty well, better than anybody else in the lab, and yet...I guess that wasn't good enough, or something. But none of the reasons I was given make any sense, so it just seems like my supervisor wanted to screw me over. I wasn't there last week, of course, but that's because I had sort of just gotten out of the hospital. So I walked in today, only to hear this, and five minutes later, I was walking back home.

Luckily, the career placement place was on the way home, so I stopped there, and now I have one decent lead on a job, but if this falls through, there is *nothing* else. First of all, I need something on campus, because that's all my visa will let me do, and second, I'm only here for another two months. Who wants to hire at the beginning of March, for two months? ARG, this pisses me off.

Okay, but this could work out. Somehow. I'm just scared to death now that I won't be able to pay for groceries, or my phone bill, or anything, and I'll have to tell my father, and he'll blame me--of course it's my fault that I was let go, obviously...and since nothing was really explained, there's nothing to tell him to the contrary. And I'm screwed. So I'm hoping against hope that this job will come through, and everything will be fine...hopefully.

So, I spent all afternoon working on my CV, and then I finally sent it to the secretary person I was supposed to send it to, and hopefully I'll hear tomorrow. Or maybe I'll go by and ask if she got it. I don't know. I'll have to figure that out. But, anyway...I think I'll go now, and stop worrying about this.


Shades of Gray