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Summer to-do list

Jun. 7th, 2009 | 10:22 pm

  1. Make new friends.
  2. Read.
  3. Stop worrying about dying alone.
  4. Bike more.
  5. Write.
  6. (Mostly) overcome my fear of spiders.
  7. Practice empathizing.
  8. Make things.
  9. Play board games.
  10. Camp.

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On convergence

Apr. 12th, 2009 | 01:58 pm

The detection of patterns, in spite of it being the basis of our cognitive process, is usually disconcerting when you are conscious of it.


First moment:
I am sitting at the cafe and a middle-aged woman waves her hand between my face and my book.  I have my headphones on.  I'm absorbed in Habermas.  She wants to take the other chair at my table.  OK.  Go.  Take it.  Stop bothering me.  To my dismay, she merely turns it 180˚ and sits down.  Three of her friends join her and proceed to talk loudly about their lives.  They exchange mundanities at a volume that not even my earbuds can drown out: tales of the bitchy lady at work, the terrible date, the shoes that were on sale and so cute.  These are the moments that matter to them. 

Rather than wallow in my bitterness at being interrupted, I try to remind myself that this happens to so many of us and simultaneously make a mental note: Don't lose sight of your dreams, lest you end up at a cafe on a weekend feigning interest in the dullness of your friends' lives.  If you don't have dreams, borrow someone else's. Anything but this.

Second moment:
Two weeks ago, after a hiatus of roughly six months, I braved Thursday at Burt's Tiki Lounge once again.  Their Thursday night dance parties became popular about a year and a half ago and it's now the event of the week for everyone who is anyone.  It has become so popular that the truly hip hipsters have sloughed it off for something else.  Although the crowd had changed somewhat, the scene remained mostly the same: sweaty twenty- and thirty-somethings drinking cheap beer, some drunkenly swaying to the beat, everyone else attempting to have a conversation over the blaring sounds of mostly-obscure artists in an effort to find someone to go home with.  I don't recognize most of the songs.  One starts and really sticks out, though: "Time to Pretend" by MGMT.  They were playing this when I used to come regularly.  The crowd's response is the same.  Girlfriends frantically look for each other in the crowd so they can dance together.  Wallflowers emerge from the bench at the behest of their friends.  It's catchy.  A good song.  Heartfelt.  Youthful.

Then you actually listen to the lyrics.  This isn't a testament to youthful shenanigans and the thrill of finding models for wives.  It's a plaintive ballad underscoring the realities of growing up, coming to terms with the course of coping with life, and the effective loss of innocence.  It's about realizing the futility of dreaming in the face of overwhelming probability.  I close my eyes and try to remember where I am, what I should be doing, and try to forget the entropy of adolescent fantasy.


Adulthood: anything but this.

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From an email

Mar. 29th, 2009 | 08:50 pm

...you won't find meaning between the legs of anyone—girls don't have the secrets of life hidden in some deep corner of their vaginas and boys don't ejaculate insight.

Sometimes my descriptive abilities astound even me.

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Letters I will never send, part 1

Mar. 9th, 2009 | 12:06 am

Prefatory remark:

My Dear Blog Readers—
I would like to remind each and every one of you that I keep my blog for me.  It’s out there for you to view, but that’s only so I keep myself honest and not too ridiculous.  I like the thought of your eyes scouring my material, picking out bits and pieces that you can use to call me on my shit.

But it’s for me.  If it’s boring, or cryptic, or sometimes weird, I’m not really sorry for it.  Not at all.

Thank you for (maybe not) reading!

Dear ———,
Do you ever get tired of pretending?  I know I do.  Sometimes things are electric.  Other times I get my shit straight, remind myself what’s decent and what’s not.  Like, at that party.  She was 19.  Ridiculous.  I use those moments to remind myself that I have some sensibilities left, that I’m not just a socially maladjusted scholar.  But really, most of the time I don’t pay attention to conventions.  Like, I have to actively think about it.  A little voice doesn’t chime in; I have to go search for him and ask for advice.  So when I stop thinking about what is appropriate, it feels like what I imagine Tesla’s laboratory was like.  Cold, rigid with energy.  Hairs standing up.  Electric.  Most of the time things are electric.  Especially now.

I have three regrets in my life.  Three.  Maybe four.  Probably more.  At any rate, I’m tired of collecting them.  They’re heavy.  They’re scars you carry, ones that lovers ask you about as they dance across you with fingertips and a gaze, things you have to relive for them, sometimes for yourself when you look in the mirror.  No one likes these scars.  And yes, you learned—they are lessons, not regrets.  You still wish it was different.  Don’t tell me you don’t wish it was different.  No one believes that anyway.  Things don’t happen for a reason.  Sometimes things get fucked up.  Sometimes things stay fucked up.  Sometimes things, however insightful, really weren’t worth the shit you put up with to realize them.  So.  Now.  Pause for a moment and let’s just meditate on how we are responsible for the direction of our own existence.  Really.  Pause.

OK?  OK.  Now.

Do we really want to regret this, too?

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The state of the situation

Feb. 21st, 2009 | 10:54 am

I have spent the past several weeks alone. Barring the rare casual outing (including a rather unusual date with a lobbyist), I’ve been trying to come to terms with being alone. You know. Spending some time without the distractions offered by regularly waking up next to a beautiful woman. I can’t really assess whether or not I’m making any progress of sorts—I’ve never been particularly good at this, being alone. I enjoy the company of another, learning their ins and outs and having someone around who knows how I like my coffee. But I am learning about myself. And, true to form, I’ve been thinking a lot.
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Visualizing music

Jan. 27th, 2009 | 09:31 am

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To do list, winter break 2008/2009

Jan. 20th, 2009 | 09:32 pm

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Unpacking and repacking

Jan. 15th, 2009 | 07:09 pm

I was an unusual child.  Every few months I had the desire to take out my dad’s old Monopoly game and sit down with it for an hour or two.  Being far too young to understand the mechanics of the game, I would organize it instead—facing all of the bills, organizing the property deeds by color, lining up the tokens and houses and motels.  After it was laid out before be in a perfect arrangement, I would put everything back in the box.  Sometimes I would unpack it immediately thereafter and repeat the process.  When I was finished with this strange ritual, satisfied that it was organized and taken care of, I would put the lid back on the box and stow the game away in the closet for several months.

When I was older, a similar impulse drove me to occasionally organize my room.  I would obsessively go through the toys, books, and oddities that I had collected over the last several months.  After sorting them, I would rearrange them, dispose of a few, and put each kept item away in its designated place.  My room was usually quite clean.

I still have this impulse.  Sometimes I get in a very strange mood and, after enduring it for several days, remember that I have shit that I need to organize and sift through, evaluate and discard or keep as appropriate.  This time it’s not a Monopoly game or toys that are at the center of my project, though, but my mind and my heart and my self.

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A brief note on caring less

Jan. 13th, 2009 | 10:48 pm

This falls under the category of things that I’m astounded I even have to mention…

Let’s say that you’re discussing a subject that you find yourself totally indifferent to—an old friend that fucked you over once upon a time, perhaps, or maybe the impending disappearance of print news media.  Or metaethics.  Or…  You get the picture.  If you find yourself in this position, where you just cannot will yourself to take a modicum of interest in something, then you couldn’t care less about it.  You have reached the absolute bottom of the barrel of your care.  There is no care left.  You could not care less about the subject.

Unfortunately, an alarming number of people have started to claim that they could care less about subjects that they remain totally indifferent towards.  In the past, I only observed this trend in unremarkable places—people chatting at parties, for instance, or slipping up during conversation in class.  Then, last night as I sat in the bathtub with World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (yes, I realize I’m feeding my neurosis) I stumbled across the dreaded “I could care less” in the context of total indifference.  This utterly thoughtless phrase somehow wormed its way into a book—past an otherwise (seemingly) literate author and, what’s more, an (in)competent editor for a fairly major publication company.  If the book hadn’t been so damn enthralling and catering towards my current eschatological obsession, I would have probably put it down immediately and abandoned it entirely.

Instead, I trudged on, making a mental note to blog about it later, as I could care less—much, much less—about mindless phrases that imply the opposite of what they actually mean being incorporated into the zeitgeist.  I don’t consider myself a snoot by any stretch of the imagination, but when you’re actively short circuiting the langue and parole and contributing to a blatant misuse of language, I’m going to call you on your shit.  So the next time you could care less, fucking think and make sure you’re actually saying what you mean.

I can’t believe I even have to say this.

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2008 wrap-up

Jan. 5th, 2009 | 10:34 pm

I’ve abandoned resolutions altogether.  There are certain things that I wanted to accomplish before the year started; I still want to accomplish them.  I don’t see the wisdom in attaching some weighty meaning to a mildly uncommon chronological event.

The new year is good for one thing, though, and that’s the unavoidable “best of” lists that everyone and their mother produce.  I’m not going to give you a top 10, though.  Top ten lists are for indecisive individuals that can’t make their mind up and/or hope to pad their lists with obscure items to give themselves hipster cred.  Top threes are the new top tens in this, the era of information overdose.  So, here are three lists of top threes:


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