Saturday, November 6, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Throughout my life, I've consistently found that disliking and ultimately complaining about my distaste for a variety of things- people, places, activities, movies, food, etc.- has kept me thriving. I don't know what it is, but sometimes I simply love hating something. For example, in my junior year American Literature class there were a number of kids who had an either cynical or erroneous opinion about every novel, poem and short story we read, and it drove me mad! I would literally knock about papers and pens on my desk in exasperation, exhale rudely and loudly and give the teacher a look of utter disgust. But then I would jump into the discussion and do my best to disprove every point the previous speaker made, often to no avail, as some students were exceptionally mulish. The point is, though, complaining about anything is what drives me to maneuver past obstacles and succeed.
Occasionally, however, I will take a leap off my pedestal up in the clouds and admit that I was wrong in my opinions about any one of the aforementioned subjects. As a result, I have been able to take what used to be anathema and accept it as part of my identity at this point in time. Of course, my current tastes are apt to change in the future, but I'll worry about that fork in the road when I get there. Anyway, here's a list of things of love now, but used to hate:
I can distinctly recall several dinner scenes involving me staring in horror at the green menace that was invading my steak and potatoes: steamed green beans. Just looking at them literally caused me to recoil in terror. The hot, thick, malodorous steam wafted into my nose and triggered the gag reflexes at the back of my throat, as if I had just witnessed someone vomiting and subsequently smelled their vomit. As my parents prodded me into cleaning my plate, and in those final moments in which everything else was consumed except the green beans, I sometimes began to tear up in desperation. In order to alleviate myself of the taste, I would frantically drown the green beans in A1 steak sauce and reluctantly lift the fork to my mouth and drop. After I chewed up the disgusting mush, I was forced to do nothing else but swallow it. A couple times my throat closed itself up and I sort of pathetically choked on my green beans a bit. I still don't really care for steamed green beans, but since childhood I've developed an appreciation for many other types of vegetables. I like the way onions add so much flavor to French Onion Soup, or the way broccoli tastes when it's steamed and mixed into a cheesy sauce, and I've always been a sucker for potatoes. I don't really know why many children hate vegetables so much. Some suggest that it is the unappetizing color, but that's never what bothered me. I think my problem, at least, has been one of texture (i.e. diced celery, diced onions, mushy green beans).
While I'm on the subject of embarrassing childhood dinners, why don't I go ahead and discuss my previous aversion to milk? I used to drink milk like a fiend, like any other toddler. But then once I grew up a bit and began attending grade school at St. Agnes, I was subjected to the atrocities committed daily in our cafeteria. I won't even begin to discuss the food situation, but one of my biggest qualms was the awful stuff that was cafeteria milk. You know, the kind in the paper cartons, which, when you opened the tops, got torn paper mixed up with the milk so you wound up drinking 3/4 milk and 1/4 wet paper. Made for an interesting milk mustache. I couldn't stand to drink it, or to watch one of the cleaning volunteers drink someone's half-consumed carton of milk after they disposed of their tray, and therefore went on the milk wagon for a number of years. For the entirety of the rest of my grade school years I brought a plastic bag containing a juice pack and some candy to lunch everyday to make up for my lack of calcium intake. And when I'd go home and eat dinner, I was forced to drink at least a glass of milk, which usually warmed up in the time I spent avoiding drinking it. It wasn't until about the end of junior high that I finally had myself a super cold glass of milk. And man, was it delicious. Milk is literally the most natural drink in the world (it comes from mammals!), and when it is served in a frosty glass with wisps of cold air emanating from it, I go nuts.
Three. Getting emotional During Movies
I was never a hard-ass or anything, but in my youth I rarely let a movie affect me to the point where I broke down and started crying or anything (except for the climactic bridge scene in Annie- I really didn't have any hope for her. I hid behind a chair, never looking away, but cried my eyes out the whole time). Even when I completed the tear-jerker eleven-season finale of my favorite show, M*A*S*H, I didn't allow myself to shed a tear (though I damn near when Col. Potter broke down saying goodbye to Klinger). Or even when millions of viewers lost it completely at the end of Season Three, when (SPOLIER!) Radar reports that a beloved character has been killed on his/her flight home. But as of late, something inside me has happened, and my rough exterior has been cast aside for a softer one. These days, movies kill me. Even the cheesiest ones, or those devoid of anything emotional in them. My mom says I'm a true Irishman. I think the first time I've cried during a movie in a long time was when I watched Ordinary People (particularly from 2:38 - 3:43 of this scene).
This is almost a lie because I fell in love with girls in first grade. A lot of other guys ran around and hit girls or lynched their beanie babies or avoided them like the plague, but not me. Sometimes I took part in the gym-wide girl chases because for one, I wanted to fit in, and secondly because it gave me a chance to interact with them. But I thought I'd just throw this in because nobody really thinks about girls til grade school really, and so technically I didn't like girls at one point. What a turnaround, eh?
Nyquil, like vegetables at one point made my throat close of its own volition. I detested the stench, which like the ubiquitous color of all cold and flu relief liquids, I can only describe as "red." My sister (I won't say which), unfortunately, still can't drink Nyquil. It's kind of humorous and sad to watch her prepare for an hour, ultimately holding her nose and tipping her head back in order to force the stuff down most efficiently and without much pain. But like with Number Three, something happened in my genetic code that has made me, as of late, fall in love with Nyquil. Having a cold can really take it out of me, but there's honestly nothing better than submitting yourself to sleep at the end of the night, by dabbing a little Vick's Vapo-rub on my chest, squelching a heavy amount of Bag Balm (yeah, that "Cow Stuff") out of the tin can and rubbing it under my sore nose, and topping off everything with a quenching 30 ml of Nyquil. I kind of like the taste. Then I'll lie in bed, suddenly all cozy and warm under my covers, and listen to some music as the Nyquil suddenly takes on the effect of a mild psychedelic. Music is much more palpable and heavy, and bursts of color cloud my fuzzy dreams. This has led me to determine that I have a cold when I probably don't have one.
Six. Black and White Movies/Widescreen
Nothing pissed me off more as a kid than a black and white movie. There was nothing inherently wrong with the film, except for its discoloration. I could pass up movies like Casablanca or Citizen Cane in favor of The Master of Disguise, simply because Dana Carvey had a little more tone in his complexion. Crazy, I know! And then if a movie was in widescreen, ugh! I couldn't even watch it. Eventually my tastes in cinema became a little more refined and I began to appreciate films for their intrinsic value and their quality rather than their color. And once I got used to more and more movies being released in widescreen on DVD, which I figured out shows more of the shot than fullscreen, I got over it.
What can I say? I'm a man now.
Nine. Cleaning My Room
Until about a year or two ago, you couldn't make me fold my laundry for all the money in the world, until I deemed it a necessary time to do so. And my desk was always cluttered with little toy figurines and magnets and papers and graphite smears, the products of my incessant experimenting and cartooning. Nowadays, however, I like everything in its place. I like to have more room in my room. I sort of feel like a cluttered room is a cluttered mind. Unfortunately, my roommates never learned that. I feel like I'm slowly dying of asphyxiation as my roommates laundry piles up, and they leave their books and papers and rock-climbing gear and yoga mats and prized collection of pizza boxes, which we discovered to harbor rancid ranch sauce and cheese that could grow its own sweaters. On the contrary, I'm in the most organized and cleanest shape in my entire life. It'll be nice to have my own place someday. I'm going to have the least amount of everything and the most space. Think of all the activities I could do!
Thus concludes another one of my myriad lists. I'm sure everyone has a number of things they like to eat, watch or do that they used to deplore. It's a natural part of growing up- we constantly adjust our personalities in the attempts of discovering our true identity. And even then, identities can always use some readjustment.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Today i called my sister around 3:45 and asked her what she was doing. She said she was sitting at our dining room table petting the cat, eating candy and talking to mom and dad. She had come home to vote since she's still registered in Springfield. Well for some reason this sounded like the absolute best thing in the world to me and I was extremely jealous. "Then come home" was Allegra's advice. What an irrational idea. I can't go home. For one I have class at 4. Then there was the three hours of homework to which I had planned to devote my night. Also, what was the point of going home for just one night? One school night, no less. And how was I supposed to get there? I considered these reasonable questions for about 3 more seconds. Then I realized that I didn't really have any desire to go to my next class, I could call my oldest sister to borrow her car and the point of going home for one night was to live my life however the fuck I want. So I quickly turned around and headed back to my dorm to pack.
I got to Springfield, hung out with my sister and parents, ate Halloween candy, went out to eat somewhere that didn't serve dorm food, visited Jake, and now I'm going to go find my cat to annoy. This was absolutely a great idea.
If I have learned anything in my eighteen years of existence, it is that life can get pretty effing mundane. You do the same things every day, you get stressed over nothing, and you never get enough sleep. The way to fix this is to sometimes do something illogical. Like drive home on a Tuesday. Or go to an orchard. Or decide to go to taste of Chicago at 2 in the afternoon and don't think about the fact that it means eight hours of driving for four hours in the city. IT'S WORTH IT. There's always time tomorrow, you can always catch on sleep this weekend, and you can never get back today.
Monday, November 1, 2010
The disclaimer you should have here is that I'm awful at parties. Remember that post I wrote about parties a long time ago that I linked to up there? I'm the guy who doesn't talk to anybody or make any friends. Anyway, despite this, I love a good party just as much as anybody else. But that's kind of what I'm here to talk about.
The last party I went to was huge. The music was so loud you couldn't have a coherent conversation with anyone. The beer pong room was designed to accommodate many games in a condensed and efficient space. It was, by all college standards, a grand party.
And, for me, it was just about the least exciting thing I can imagine. It was impossible to have a conversation with anyone. If you took away the music and the mass of people, you still wouldn't be able to have a conversation with anyone; they were too drunk to say anything coherent.
Now, I'm not that naive. I know that most of the people who go to these parties only care about hooking up and the like. But man, let me tell you, it's pretty vicious. There are girl who are too drunk to be understood when talking; there are guys who walk around and try to press their lips against any girl who looks too drunk to protest.
It's all basic economics. Frats provide the beer in exchange for women; but it's not really that straight forward. There are a couple of points I want to make about the cultural impact here. Let's start by talking about a guy I know.
His parents wanted him to have everything; they send him packages of food regularly because the worry about him. He was quiet and shy. He used to make his bed every morning. He would study diligently, for hours a day. And now he ends most of his nights drinking at frat parties. This culture is hurting people. It's become a norm; it's not even thought of as irresponsible or unusual among college kids anymore. How else are you supposed to make friends? It's hard to find parties that focus on anything other than excessive drinking. It sucks people in with social pressure.
That's the kind of effect this is having. Now let's think about the cause for a moment. Again, this drink-till-you-drop culture is all focused around hooking up. This seemed really strange to me for awhile; if people want to hook up, why don't they just do it? Why is the drinking necessary? But I think I understand.
If you just have sex with guys, you're a slut. Why? I don't know, we decided that it's that way. "But," we say, "if you're drunk, you weren't in control of yourself; you weren't really responsible." It's become more than an enabler; it's become the only means of expressing sexuality without being judged, because our culture isn't cool with being open about sexuality.
And I wish I had more to go on, but that's the end of the paper trail. I don't agree with you, partiers, but I understand why you're doing what you're doing, be it because of social pressure, the lack of alternatives, or the enablement that alcohol gives you. And I guess to a degree I pity you.
p.s.: I'm not trying to imply that drinking in itself is bad; it definitely has it's place. I'm just discussing the scenarios in which it is abused or dangerous.
EDIT: I wasn't clear enough about what my point was. There's nothing wrong with drinking. There's nothing wrong with partying. The point I'm trying to make here is that drinking culture here has been taken too far; beyond the realm of fun parties or just making connections at fraternities. It's become a serious problem for some people and it's become difficult to get into the fraternity scene without involving heavy drinking. I'm stating that our culture, specifically at U of I, has a drinking problem, and it's seriously capable of hurting people and encroaching on the rich culture that we could have. While drinking at parties can be fun, it has been so overblown that people are encouraged to drink a dangerous amount.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Monday night was a late one. I didn’t get down until 1:51 am, which is late because I have an 8 am class every morning of the week that I have never missed. Just before I switched off the light, I informed my roommate Dylan of my plans to end my Iron Man streak. I did. I slept in the next morning, apparently putting a refreshing end to what had so far been a short, shitty week. Until, that is, I found out the next day we’d had a quiz that morning, one of four so far. The highest potential grade I could now have was a 75%, raised slightly by the few compositions I’d gotten 80s on.
It’s really weird how one little event can become a nutshell for your week. I keep coming back to that one absence as the turning point of it. The kind of turning point where a downward slope becomes an even more downward slope. In fairness, I didn’t really have that bad of a week. It was just a typical downer period where your happy hormones are under temporary maintenance and you focus on the bad things and the stress builds and every day is cloudy and you can’t wait for another turning point to reset your footing on life.
Besides that stupid French quiz, I had a huge journalism test to worry about all week, with no study guides or knowledge of any readings or lectures to go off of. There’s been the frustration of a creeping dry skin problem on my face that refuses to moisturize quietly. It had been months since I’d seen anyone from home. I had a three-day internship lined up for the paper I work for that would consume a couple weeknights. College was beginning to get to me. The one thing I had to look forward was a magical Halloween weekend ahead visiting old friends at the University of Illinois. But life would not have it that way.
I discovered Wednesday morning that my internship was slated until Friday at 5 pm. My ride to Champaign, Illinois was leaving at noon. Noooooooooooooo, right?
It’s really weird how one little event can make you hate everything forever. I keep coming back to that discovery as the moment I decided that the life of the next person I saw was going to end. If I wasn’t going to Champaign for the weekend, someone was going to die, be it my roommate, my RA, or more likely my journalism and French grades. As soon as I reached into Dylan’s chest with my bare hand to rip his beating heart out, my newspaper editor emailed me, saying that my hours on Friday were cancelled. I could leave! Sorry, Dylan.
It’s really weird how one little event can make the sidewalks feel like pillows. I keep coming back to that email as the one that probably saved Dylan’s life.
It’s really weird how a week that was somehow more horrible than the horrible things that happened in it can spin upon itself and right itself. My weekend was as magical as magical can be. I bonded with Sunday (Classic) Brian, rebonded with Monday Nick and Wednesday Eliot, and ran into tons of old friends, some entirely by chance. Hell, the weekend’s not even over. I’m going out again tonight.
At the moment, though, I’m still on the ride back to Mizzou from the whirlwind of Ghosts of Friendships Past. I’m reflecting on how happy I was to see everyone I’ve missed so much. Or how excited my younger brother was to talk to me when I stopped at home on Friday. All my brother and I do is fight. Or how every day I was away from Mizzou I got texts from my new friends telling me how they missed me. Or how I have a very lovely ladyfriend in Springfield who I was lucky enough to see this afternoon. Her eyes are hazel. Or how this cop we’re passing pulled over that guy, and not us. All of these things would have applied to my life on Wednesday, when I was on Cloud 2, or any other time lately. Except maybe the cop. But nothing like them was on my mind on Wednesday.
It’s really weird how life is often more of a cliché than I ever expect it to be, as much as I sometimes want to fight it. I’ve never had anything against clichés, but I usually wish there’s more to life than some little quotable phrase – “Count your blessings.” Sometimes, though, when you focus on the bad things and the stress builds and every day is cloudy and you can’t wait for another turning point to reset your footing on life, it’s pretty comforting to have it a little more simple.