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 We don't have holiday traditions in our house as such--we have things that seem like a good idea every year as those key holidays approach.  For Christmas, almost every year that I can comfortably remember, we've done fondue bourgignion.  It's a fondue pot filled with oil, heated on the table burner, and you skewer pieces of raw meat or vegetables and cook them in the oil, then dip in various exotic sauces--this year a cocktail sauce, some kind of raspberry wasabi mustard, a tomato-pesto aioli, a medicinally strong lemon-ginger sauce, and a custom-built teriyaki sauce of my own construction.  Dinner goes on for hours, and it's fun and easy and special.  

For New Years, we do hors d'oeuvres, which I think are thematically appropriate for ushering in the New Year.  I made these too.  Our neighborhood has finally acquired neighbors who are really quite sane and normal, a first since we moved here in, what, 1991?  Their names are Chuck and Teresa, who just recently got engaged.  Chuck is 63, Teresa is 50, and they're both great (and enormously entertaining) people.  They came up and spent New Years Eve with us (with me and my parents, because Keegan had another party that he needed to go to).  

I could have gone somewhere for NYE, instead of spending it hanging out with these stodgy old folk, serving them food, and turned down a couple invitations to other goings-on. Both my parents were working yesterday.  Dad was working from home, and Mom had to stay late at work, so it was a good thing that I did stay, because there was no way that my mom would have been able to prepare as much nice food as she wanted to with the little bit of time she had between coming home from work and entertaining guests.  

So instead of stressing out, she had a relaxing evening with friends, and everyone ate well.  Plus, she's been working so hard the last couple days that she wouldn't have even been able to keep track of what ingrediants she needed for what dish, such as the bruschetta that she was planning in her head to make, somehow, without cilantro.  

So I did spinach-feta quesadillas, potato-cheese bites, tomato-pesto mini-pizzas, red pepper hummus, and krab salad served up in an overly cute way that I saw on Sandra Lee, where you take a pretty stemmed glass and fit a leaf of lettuce inside so that it wraps around nicely, and put the salad inside of that.  

My resolution for the new year is to write, and to be more conscious of what the people I love need.  And to get my thesis started in the next week.
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Today, I retired the Brick and adopted a new portable music device, one which weighs maybe one-twentieth of the brick and is as cute as a button. It's an 8GB Zen Mozaic.  I have dubbed it Phil, for no clever reason save that it looks to me like a Phil.  I spent two hours today pruning my music collection of the frizzy punk-pop that I liked during high school, and downloading two Belle and Sebastian albums (Catastrophe Waitress and If You're Feeling Sinister).  I have about 4 GB left, one to be reserved for an audiobook.

So if I may submit a humble request:  what else should I be listening to?  What are your favorite and most highly recommended albums?  I currently favor pleasant lyrical chipper sounding music, but obviously if I knew what was good for me--well, I wouldn't be asking other people for recs.

Please and thank you!

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For Christmas, my Mom got a shiny new Electrolux oven. I suspect that it is more intelligent than I am, and accordingly have christened it "Lux Luthor."

My gifts were perfume, a make-up case, two shirts, and an hour of professional massage. Massages, by the way? Amazing. When I have enough of an income to afford a regular vice, they will be mine. I can live without restaurants and movies and (probably) booze. This is maybe the first time in seven years that I've stretched without the knots in my back clicking together.

We've been snowed in for the last week, and it just started thawing today. It's been nice, knowing that not only do I have nowhere to go, I wouldn't be able to get there even if I tried. We play boardgames and shovel snow. Does anyone else have a family that conscienciously removes snow from their trees and hedges to protect them from the weight? Our foliage is better maintained than some peoples' children. Not to imply that some parents let snow-accumulation crush their offspring.
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I would have written this last night, but I was hovering around 36 sleepless hours, and not in any shape to string coherent sentences together. Unlike usual.

Spokane has around two feet of snow shutting down the city. I had a train ticket home for Wednesday night, when there was about a foot and a half of snow. Getting to the station was the worst part, since there was only one cab company still open, and they were swamped. I was an hour and a half late getting to the Amtrak station, but that was fine, because the train was six hours late.

Thank God for audiobooks. I've discovered that the medium is ideal for listening to teen fiction--books that I would love to read, but am too embarrassed to be seen reading. Plus, the writing tends to be nice and simple, so that you aren't trying to follow a page-long sentence with your ears. Of course, as I discovered, this can be a drawback for certain romance-oriented stories. There's only so much gushing over the romantic interest's handsomeness and perfection the gag-reflex starts to win. I'm looking at you, Meg Cabot.

So, five hours waiting in the station. I was afraid to sleep, in case the train came and I didn't wake up in time. I still managed it, a few times, sitting with my head in my hands and my elbows on my knees, I would close my eyes, have a weird 30-second dream, and wake up five minutes later to find the station looking exactly as it had.

I only had three apples and some gatorade in my backpack, which I ate during the first five hours. Hungry, hungry Jessie.

At 8:30, we finally boarded the train. It was a commuter train sent over from Seattle, since the train headed west got so bogged down in the Dakotas that it would have taken more time for it to get here than it would to simply send the eastward passengers over from Seattle on the commuter, transfer them to the train that was supposed to take the westward travelers, then put the Westies on the commuter to take them to Seattle. This got harder to explain to people as time went on, and my brain got foggier.

That said, it was probably the best train ride of my life. Usually the whole trip takes place in darkness, but we saw the entire span of Washington in brilliant daylight and covered in snow. It was fantastically romantic. Since the commuter isn't meant to turn around (they simply take the engine off of one end and attach it to the other), and since they didn't want to waste time by turning the seats around, we all sat in backwards seats, facing east while we traveled west. It was very whimsical.

I sat next to a 12 year old boy who was reading a gun catalog. That aside, he was a great seat buddy, in that he hardly took up any room. Two black men in the seats behind us spent the first couple hours of the trip discussing the relative merits of various cinematic adaptations of comic books in Ebonics, which was fun to listen to. And the Amtrak staff were very eager to try to make us all happy, which translated into free food.

And nothing makes me happier than food.

We got a breakfast box and a lunch box, filled with all kinds of organic crackers and fruit and cheese and applesauce. And coffee, and water, and later, our choice of sodas or drinks in the cafe car. And when the train rolled to the stop in the middle of the Cascade mountains, they actually told us what was going on (the freight car ahead of us had a part broken by the cold and the wet and freezing, and they had to fix it). And everything was gorgeous. The snow had fallen heavily in the mountains, and since the train runs alongside the rivers and creeks, we could see where the water had sculpted past snow-covered rocks. And there were glittery icicles, and since we were facing backwards, we could see the bridges behind us as we past over them.

Which isn't to say that I wasn't happy to get off the train, since it was still pretty cold and I was incredibly tired. But I wouldn't have traded the experience for, say, 12 hours of sleep and the chance to miss the awful wait in the train station, which was cold and damp and destructively boring.

And I have a jar of blueberry jam in my purse, which came with the breakfast box but I couldn't open. I was too embarrassed to ask the boy next to me to open it.
jookitcz: (bang)
First, a riddle:

Q. What's the difference between a Professor of Finance and a Professor of Mathematics?

A. A Professor of Mathematics will not schedule ten 8-10 minute presentations in a 75 minute class and force it to actually happen.

My group went second to last, and we had to do a ten minute presentation in only five minutes (Dr. Xu gave us the one-minute warning a quarter of the way through our slideshow). That left two minutes of time for the last group, and we ended up staying late to watch all eight minutes of their presentation. Honestly, I feel insulted. I put a lot of time into that fucking slideshow. Fifty slides, regression analyses for each security, not to mention all of my hypotheses about portfolio performance that I wanted to discuss--and I did it all. I spent a good ten to fifteen hours putting the presentation together, and the other two people in my group contributed, all told, enough to save me an extra hour of work.

All to click through in thirty seconds.

I'm going to email the Powerpoint to Dr. Xu with a passive aggressive note asking that she look at it, and express my hope that our truncated presentation will not similarly truncate our grades. By which I mean my grade.

Now, an etiquette question:

Pretend you live in a house with six of your friends, and brought a set of pots for everyone to use, but submitted them with the caveat that they be used only with wooden or plastic utensils, because metal spoons will scar the Teflon and cause their usefulness to deteriorate. You brought this up early, and offered the option of someone else bringing less cherished cookware, but found no objections.

Four months later, you find your skillet on the stove, waiting to be washed, with a metal tablespoon inside. The tablespoon is encrusted with the same food residue that is coating the skillet. There are distinct scrape patterns left in the food residue, that could have been made with the spoon, but to be fair, could also have been made with the edge of a plastic spatula. You wash the skillet. The inside is scarred. It may have been from last night, or from some other night since you started sharing it. But it definitely wasn't from before then, because you and your family have been psychologically programed to preserve your pots.

Also, you know exactly who was using it last night.

Do you say something to your friend, in hopes of preserving your other cookware from a similar fate? Or let it go, because you love the girls that you live with and don't want to look like a bitch?
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The instructor for my online probability seminar noted today that much of modern mathematics was developed in the Soviet Union, where the independence of variables would be expressed by the symbol for perpendicularity, which makes sense when you depict the support for the joint density via picture.

But it is also funny to me.

Because of course, in the oppressive USSR, independence would be expressed as perpendicular.

Do--do you get it? I have no idea how to tell this joke to make it funny to anyone else.
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I wish someone would ask Sarah Palin why Wasilla, under her direction, charged rape victims for $1000 examination kits if they wanted to gather evidence to convict their attacker.  I want someone to ask, and then lock her in a room until she answers.  The policy disturbs me so much.  Logically, she either had a reason, or is some kind of monster.  I just--can't imagine what the reason could possibly be. 

I'm a little relieved that I was only able to watch the first 45 minutes of the debate before mock trial called me away.  When she said, "Drill, baby, drill," I felt a little sick.

Kudos to Biden for articulating meaningful policy decisions.
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For some reason (and who knows what it might be), political philosophies have been roiling in my brain for the last few months. Side effects include obsession over political minutiae and frequent bursts of outrage. But I've been trying to distill into words why I believe that liberalism is, as a whole, a more effective and beneficial philosophy that conservatism. It's something I believe whole-heartedly, although I can't really endorse all of the bureaucratic manifestations of liberalism (Welfare System, I'm looking at you).

And first, I hate the rhetoric that paints liberals as irrational feel-before-you-think fuzzy socialists, especially since it comes packaged side-by-side with rhetoric that depicts liberals as effete, out-of-touch intellectuals that also do not live in the real world.  I am neither, thanks.

What is the role of government? There are a few things. Government needs to do that which is necessary, but which is outside the inclination of individuals or corporations (which can also be treated as individuals, since they have in common the tendency to act in their own self-interest). They organize to protect public goods, whether the good is the environment or national security or infrastructure. They organize on a time-frame that is beyond the consideration of an ordinary person--they are not looking to insure prosperity over the course of a human life, but over the course of future history.

The role of government can be boiled down to investment. The government invests in public education to ensure a future yield of skilled, globally competitive workers. It invests in environmental protection to yield a future in which we can continue to benefit from natural resources. It invests in long term projects that couldn't possibly look profitable to any single entrepreneur, like public universities, libraries, roads, positive international relations. The government invests in the future on the behalf of the people it governs, and will govern.

Conservatism, at its core, is a risk-averse political philosophy. The traditions of the past will yield the same positive results into the future. Military force is expensive, but it will force interactions with foreign powers to a more controlled outcome than will diplomacy alone. Money should be channeled to those actors that have proven themselves to be most effective at turning a profit, because they will continue to invest it wisely into the future. The ideal financial situation for a conservative is to have zero deficit. Why? Because borrowing money increases risk. In finance, debt is referred to as 'leverage,' for a very obvious reason. If you invest borrowed money and reap a profit, it will be a bigger profit than if you had invested only what you had at the time. If you borrow money and suffer a loss, you will lose more than if you had just invested your own funds. Like physical leverage, debt exaggerates outcomes. It increases risk.

Risk aversion makes sense in short term situations. It's common wisdom that the less time you have to invest, the safer bets you should take. But government is not looking at a short term situation. It's the government. It doesn't exist in life-time terms, but historical terms. It has a much longer time frame than human investors, and a smart government would take advantage of that time frame. It would make risky investments.

Better than that, it would make lots of risky investments.

I'm not talking about hedge funds, to be clear. I'm talking about investments in public goods. I'm talking about deferring the gratification granted by tax cuts so that we can invest in education and technology and things that will benefit the next generation. And why lots? To maximize the return on an investing game, you need to diversify. Where one investment might fail, two others will bloom. That is how a nation will thrive. That's how people--not just a person, but the long-term evolution of thought and culture--will prosper.

Liberalism endorses risky investments. It endorses crazy ideas like feminism and gay marriage and government-funded early-childhood education and public libraries and industry regulation.

And yes, regulation is technically an investment, even though it takes the form of hedging against the risk of a public-endangering disaster. The win-or-lose aspect is there: if we win, regulation staves off a potentially cost-justifying loss; if we lose, we sink money into regulating some industry that would have been fine on its own.

Some liberal investments won't pay off. But observe any long-term portfolio--it out-performs the risk-averse choice of government-backed securities three- and four-fold. That's the way the world works.

When it comes to the future, we need to be bold. We need to accept that deferred gratification now (in the form of that liberal scourge, taxes) will pay off long into the future.

Except for in the case of Medicare and Social Security. Investment in the future doesn't mean we have to keep propping up a dead animal in the hope that it'll do what we thought it would do. Having a long-term philosophy doesn't preclude critical thinking.
jookitcz: (Default)

The bill in question would implement "age-appropriate" sex education in schools. It intended to teach kindergartners about 'good' and 'bad' touching, to help to protect them from sex predators.

So, basically, John McCain supports child molestors.
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The Requisite Semester-Load Low-Down:

1.  Intermediate Finance:  I know, you're already bored of reading this entry.  Among the upsides to the class are that I've taken Principles from the same professor, get to use the same book, and have dulled my dislike for him to a bemused tolerance of his condescension and bad jokes.  The downside: ninety minutes of finance lecture twice a week. 

2.  Investment Analysis:  Last year, I had to bring my red face and tears to the professor before she would let me into the class.  Possibly, I shouldn't have bothered.  The class takes place in the computer lab, and my seat is right in front of a fan.  Combining the hum of the computers with the buzz of the fan, the professor's heavy accent, and her quiet voice, I count myself extremely lucky that she posts the lecture notes online.

3.  Linear Algebra:  Easy, so far!  The professor definitely spent thirty minutes today talking about how planes and hyperplanes could intersect, and then covered the same methods of Gaussian Elimination that we learned last session.  I like doing the math, so far.  I think it could be fun, save for Dr. Van der Beek's monotonic (and again, condescending) lecture style.

4.  Advanced Calculus:  The hippie mecca of math classes.  We are instructed to 'let go of direction' and 'rely on only our inner resources'--which is awesome, because I don't need to pay for a textbook.  There hasn't been a lecture yet; instead, we work on proofs, present them in front of the class, and critique each other on everything from concept to execution and brevity.  I like it, strangely, although it's meant to prepare us to be 'real mathematicians'--something I never intend to be.  I prefer my math to be purely that of practical application, thank you.  But it's a good way to stretch my brain after the stifling non-rigors of finance.

5.  Music in the Humanities:  I needed an art credit.  They told me it was Jazz History.  Our first assignment was to find five songs that demonstrate how silence is used in music.  It's actually a pretty cute class, but our teacher is going to spend the next couple weeks covering some basic music theory, apparently, which doesn't bode well for my attention span.  Six years of piano lessons probably got me through whatever he might throw at us.

6.  Studying for the goddam actuarial exam.  I try to spend at least an hour a day watching the lectures and doing practice problems.  I spend a lot of free time hoping desperately that I won't have to explain to my parents that I failed a second time.  

7.  Mock trial.  Being an officer isn't all that it's cracked up to be.  I spent five hours yesterday at the bureaucratic wind-fest that was the Club Summit, and was ultimately denied the information that I really needed, and am required to spend another hour or so at the "Financial Information Seminar" tomorrow.  Then Information Night on Wednesday, when I give an opening that I wrote yesterday, then try-outs next week.  The case this year is super entertaining, though.  Simmering grudges, ambition, murder, and defamation.  Please, God, let me play a character witness this year.  Surely someone else on the team can fake expertise?

Free time is spent making cinnamon pancakes for honors students, watching Buffy with my housemates, and trying not to watch Gossip Girl with the guys.  Classes aside, it's going to be a good semester.

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I was lying in bed last night, taking recourse from the ills of the world with an elaborately plotted daydream starring myself and Bruce Wayne (and developing my own character with the right proportions of ingenuous and competent which is in itself some kind of comment on ingrained feminism). 

It was the usual comforting dichotomy of rescue and safety and the brilliantly daring heroine, but try as I might to visualize the (sensitive-charming-considerate-clever hero), the only image available was:

Exactly that.  I am in no way exaggerating or literalizing.  I couldn't summon any other image to my imagination.

It didn't matter how determined I was or how compelling the drama.  My mental eye was occupied.  I wanted romance.  I wanted the illusory, satisfying happiness of a really good daydream.  What I got, was math.  Dry, desperate, immovable math.

And now you know me better. 
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When I read news sites like, the most addictive part of any story is the comment section (and I get terribly disappointed when it isn't offered.)

Today's issue was whether or not the government should impose a nationwide 55 MPH speed limit, as they did in the seventies. Now to me, this seems like a wise choice. Because air resistance increases exponentially, there's a huge difference between fighting the drag at 45 MPH and fighting it at 75 MPH. That's why "drafting" is so effective. It's just plain science, so I'm going to go ahead and discount all those who outright denied the reality that driving slower on highways will improve mileage to the tune of 10-30%. This was maybe 5% of the commenters.

Slightly less than half of the commenters think like me. If everyone drove slower, it would be a lot safer, easier, and we'd save an enormous amount of energy. So it's fair to say that slightly less than half of the commenting readership of the New York Times is sane.

The reasons cited by the opposing half are just... bizarre to me. Some disguise their frustration with slowness by blaming everyone else--"No one would follow the speed limit, it's just and excuse to hand out more tickets." Some say that it's a stupid idea because it didn't work in the seventies, by which they must mean that no one liked it in the seventies, which is probably true. As a matter of fact, it lowered national gas consumption by 2%, so I'm not sure what the definition of "work" would be there.

Some say that the government should not interfere with the market forces, which will encourage conservation all on their own. To which I might reply, "And maybe Paul Bunyan, that other great American myth, will save us all by making Babe give us rides to and from work." Some have no idea how their idolic free market works, and at least one thinks that somehow the speed limit change in the seventies resulted in the long lines for rationed gasoline. Which is wrong, for pretty obvious reasons.

Some people like going fast, and admit that they like going fast. They either defend this by saying that their time is worth more than what they would save on gas (which assumes that the law is just trying to save American citizens some money, and not try to improve the economy and energy independence), or they claim that the law would compromise human freedom.

I kid you not. It's the missing Amendment to the Constitution, "Preservation of the Right to Move Fast:"``For example:

"It's a terrible idea that's completely at odds with the concept of individual freedom that America is allegedly all about. It's an idea based upon the same phony argument that communism is based upon --- if everybody has to do a certain something that somehow makes it "fair" to all concerned. Jeez! If Americans had that attitude back in 1776 we'd still be singing "God Save the Queen."

I should point out that this commenter's least absurd argument is his last one. And I think it's fair to surmise that no one sang "God Save the Queen" in 1776.

Further down the devolution of human thought, we see the 55 MPH speed limit compared to monarchy, prohibition, and revocation of women's sufferage, I kid you not.

Every now and then, someone points out that this half of the commenting population is doing little to reverse the idea that Americans are unwilling to make sacrifices for their country.

How does one handle the idea that many, many people have died to protect a country full of people who don't care enough about its future to drive a little slower?

Now that people have been forced away from their disturbingly blind infatuations with SUVS (and now that all of my dire warnings, admonishions, and angry raging sermons of the last several years have been brought to smug fulfillment) I need a new campaign against destructive self-indulgence.
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The more I study for the P/1 exam, the harder the test becomes.  It's one of the most disconcerting phenomena that I've ever encountered.  I finally broke down and bought a study guide, which will be super useful, you know, in the nine days between now and the test.   It's a classic tale of hubris, I think.  Gorgeous, talented young girl decides to take a shot at a real profession and thinks, "Oh, there are barriers to entry, how quaint.  But it's just a test on probability.  Jeez, I studied that in like, three different classes over the last few years."

Then Mr. Chebyshev introduces her to his inequality.  She also encounters Gamma, Beta, Weibull, and Pareto distributions.  She is now, far from enamored with her own brain, wallowing in the knowledge that she has been a blithering imbecile blinded by her own high self-opinion, doomed to spiral into black failure.

Where black failure is not passing on my first go, having to shell out another $175 (and probably sign up for an online seminar), and joining thousand of other victims of the test's 30% pass rate.  I guess I can live with that.  In the future, I will be wiser, and when it comes time to take the FM test, I will be ready.

Besides, I am convinced that anything that is this painful to get is almost certainly worth having.
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Post- having my hair cut down to about three inches long, I can't imagine why anyone would prefer to have long hair.  Everything is better with short hair.  My hair is softer, because it's no longer composed of a year's worth of dead cells.  It's easier to style.  The back of my neck doesn't feel gross.  I can run my hands through it and not end up with a web of loose strands twisted around my fingers.    And it just plain looks cuter. 

Meanwhile, Keegan has mono.  Apparently while he was hiking around southern France, he was also fighting one of the suckiest diseases that don't kill you. 
jookitcz: (l'essential)
God.  I could just eat peaches and nectarines until I got sick.  Nothing feels more like summer, than when they're so ripe that you can't hold them without a bruise, and so full of juice that you'll never get thirsty again.  Peaches and cream always seems like a stupid concept to me, as if there's some bizzaro-universe where you could eat so many peaches that you'd get tired of them, but you'd be forced to eat even more peaches, and so you might try to cut the taste with some milk or something.

Yeah, right.
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The heart-stopping bad news:  When I arrived at the testing center, twenty minutes early, it was closed.

Five minutes before the test was to start, it was still closed.

Two minutes after the test started, it was... still closed.

At which point I called my mom, who looked up the center's website and called them, and informed me that they had an A site and a B site in the same shopping center.  Which didn't help me, because I was staring (helplessly) at the A site, which is where I'd be slated to take the test, a la my confirmation notice.

The B site, which I located a half-block away, was open.  They were concerned and confused and soliticious, because the information on my confirmation letter did not match the information on their system for today.

Until the manager noticed the date on my letter.  25 Jul 2008.

Which is not today.


So, the rest of the bad news is that I feel painfully stupid, yet less stupid than I would if I had taken the exam today and failed.  The good news?  I have a whole month to study up on the test, which means that I am all but assured a passing grade when I return.  In a month.  So I figure that this puts me ahead--yes, I feel silly for stressing out over a test that was scheduled a month earlier in my brain than it was in any other reality, and yes, I missed two days of earnings to study for and take said imaginary test, BUT I am saved the $175 that it would cost to take the exam a second time, which I would all but assuredly need to do had I taken it today in my misprepared state.  So I'm actually down $25, but since that's $25 that I didn't earn (rather than $25 that I earned and then lost) that's more like... losing $13.  And not failing a test is worth $13.

Of course, had the correct date been in my head the whole time, I would have passed and earned that $200, but I choose to ignore that fact.

It's like waking up an hour earlier than you need to, and being able to go back to sleep.  Only by sleep, I mean studying.

jookitcz: (bang)
As soon as I sat down in the stadium seats to watch my brother graduate, I felt the snark creep back into me, like a much-despised old friend, like Theoden's Grima.  I thought it had been a part of my personality back then, a depthless compulsion to mock everything and everyone, to reject the conventions of my limited world and to mock the people to whom those conventions meant something.  To dismiss platitudes like "Your future is now," and concepts like "school spirit" as empty, mass-marketed opiate-substitutes.  I thought maybe I had "emerged from my shell" in ninth grade only to become a Mean Person.  This was my conclusion after a few years of distance, after forgetting the thoughts that actually were going through my head at the time.

They all came back, as soon as I was in the least bit exposed to the trappings of high school, and I realized that I hated it.  I liked the learning and the teachers and my newspaper, but it's like the bricks of education had to be mortared with bullshit.  God.  The pecking orders, the favoritism, the lip-service, and always the frantic scrabbling to assign qualities like unification and dignity to a body of students that, for the most part, couldn't be bothered to care.  Nowhere is it more evident than at graduation.  For all the speeches about how hard "each and every" student worked to get that diploma, as if the pomp and circumstance were a just culmination instead of a motion to please parents and let teachers feel their accomplishments as part of a movement to mass improve the world, I doubt more than a handful really cared.  Some of us don't care about school, period.  Some of us care about the things that we are doing within the school--we aren't working towards a diploma, but just trying to absorb any education we can, in the same way that we do sports for the love of the game, and not for the letters.  Some of us could have ignored graduation completely, because the real goal is so much further away--college graduation, doctoral programs, real dreams--not something that just about anyone can manage with a bit of determination and support.

I think I was supposed to have been a snob, in high school, thinking this way--that it isn't hard to meet the minimum requirements to graduate, and the whole thing is blown out of proportion.  I'm not proud of graduating high school.  I love my brother, and I'm glad he's out of that pit of artificiality, but I'm not proud of him for graduating, either.  He could have done much better than he did. 

Maybe I am a snob.  But it isn't because I think that all these people are less capable than I am in some way.  Heck, they probably are more capable than I ever was in high school, if you award points for social flair.  I just don't understand why, with their capabilities, they would fool themselves into thinking that the high school curriculum is a difficult one to pass, and an achievement to overcome.

I did enjoy my ex-principal's speech during the ceremony.  It was a refreshing break from the usual blather about achievement, and it was the perfect combination of grudging praise and genuine affection.  I just wish the parent sitting behind us hadn't been talking on his cell for the whole thing.  Kind of ruined any semblance of respect that the ceremony was hoping to pull.
jookitcz: (Default)
I also want to mention how much I'm reading.  I'm reading a lot.  Not counting my re-reads of the last three Harry Potter books, I've read four books by Charlaine Harris, two books by Jasper Fforde, two books by Anne Perry, two random pieces of brainy chick-lit, one of the Temeraire books, and Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay.  Most of these have been in the last week.  I have nine more books sitting on my dresser before I head back to the library for a refill.

It's very refreshing to be someone else.  I have never understood people who have never read for pleasure--and there are an unbalancing lot of them.  I read books like people of the Future play VR games.  I come out the other side of a four-hour novel exhausted and triumphant from the perils of the heroine, and if I'm lucky, it'll be a serial novel, and I can jump back into a new and familiar story.  I have used a bookmark only a handful of times in my life--if I'm taking a break from a book at all, then I will flip through the pages in the middle until I recognize the shape of the words on the page.  And Real Literature is--not wasted on me, entirely, but I enjoy it in the same way that I enjoy thorny calculus.  I'm happy about it only awhile after the fact, when I've sloughed off the cloying sense of realism and dismay.

There's a duality about reading too.  Reading is a profoundly private activity, where your eyes act as the go-between for your brain and a page, but it's a page and a story that thousands of other brains have experienced.  And a book is extemporal, in a way that movies are not.  You give up time for a movie, and sit there, and it moves through you on its own time.  A book is always there, and the story is even more always there, and so when you are reading the story that thousands of others have also read, you pretty much may as well be reading it at the same time.  It is private, but not lonely.  And for your symptomatic introvert, that's a sizeless blessing.

I am explaining these things out only because I feel so darn happy about them.  Exultant.  It doesn't matter how dismal or isolated the reality of my summer might become, because there are books
jookitcz: (Default)
Spencer thinks I'm crazy because I feel guilty when I take time to exercise.  But I worked eight hours today, came home, tidied up, retrieved the mail, and then changed into my exercise clothes and took an hour to exercise and shower.  Ten minutes after I finished, my parents got home.  I said, "I was exercising," to explain my unseemly damp hair. 

Mom looks me up and down, and asks, "And where did you find time to do that?  You couldn't have made dinner instead?"

I should clarify that 'dinner' tonight was leftovers, revived with a bit of fresh salad.  It takes all of five minutes to prepare a salad, which I did next, and washed the dishes, desperately wanting to ask my mom why I felt guilty for doing something that all other people in the world would call healthy.  But I didn't, because she was tired from work and taking care of Aunty Teddy, and if I got 'uppity,' she'd be entitled to start to dress me down.

Other things that both require me to discipline myself and, contradictively, induce guilt:

  • Writing, which benefits no one but me.
  • Studying my brains out at college, which benefits no one but me.
  • Defying the conservative ideology of my parents and trying to sanely discuss policy decisions with them, which inevitably devolves into my dad denouncing the evils of the Welfare State, which apparently is the ultimate destination of all liberal lines of thought.

I was homesick, why?

ETA: You know, I'm going to exercise every day this summer, and I am going to do this by working 7.5 hour days, going to work early, and not telling my parents.  I can't argue with them, but it doesn't mean that they are right.


May. 27th, 2008 07:25 pm
jookitcz: (bang)
My first day of work was soul-destroying.  Put a serious dent in my soul stockpile.  There were lots of folders of rejected resumes that no one will probably ever look at again, and I had to alphabetize them.  Ah, yes.  I'm back.

And with God as my witness, after this summer I will never alphabetize for money again.