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Some of my heroes:
Henry Gioroux thinks well and for all the right reasons.
Paul Weiss runs the best lab I have ever seen let alone worked in and loves everyone in his life.
My mother and her mother are the strongest women I have ever known.
Sacha Brown (a close 3rd) keeps me out of trouble and is way bigger than the mess we’re in.
Sarah Thomas is a superstar.
Beth and Ralph for reasons I can’t put to paper.
Erin Luhks, Kirstin Milks, and Dennis Powell will all be unstoppable once they see what I see in them.
Sandel’s advice on dating and things:
Be honest with friends about your sexual orientation and your current love life. “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer.
Don’t lose your virginity to a jerk.
Remind yourself of how attractive you are constantly.
Be naked like it’s going out of style.
Try not to inbreed too much! Date outside your circle of friends.
Don’t be jealous or intolerant of people’s feelings.
Act out of love.
Don’t ever trust someone who tries to control you.
Kiss only deserving people.
Make sure you can trust your partner enough to fart in front of them.
I was going to write something sweet and sincere, but the mood has passed. I want to understand why the things fall apart around you, why you feel responsible. You shrug it off when I ask and warn me when I don’t. Maybe it’s bad luck to talk about it in too timely a manner. Everybody leaves a mess now and then. One time I left a train wreck. I’m just trying to avoid another one. I want to know everything, even the ugly stuff. The bad dreams, the terrible stories, the things that make you hurt. When you’re ready
At a party one night last semester, some poor freshman pre-med was stupid drunk and getting out of control. He was running around yelling for joints and generally creeping a lot of people out. When someone finally quieted him down enough to scold him, he defended himself by ranting about the fact that he did work at the Hershey Medical Center. As I walked past him, I was an inch away from looking him in the eye and saying, "Get a good look at this face, man, because I'll be calling the shots in a couple years."
I meant it, too.
Scrabble is a stupid game, but it’s fun. It’s a word game, yet it rewards you for letters. I’ve put some beautiful words on scrabble boards for less than 15 points, and “ox” on a triple word score is thirty-three. I can say with absolute confidence that “balefire”, “baleen”, and “revere” are far better words. Hereafter, I shall never keep score in scrabble. I will merely strike at the heart of the problem with “bebop”, “pleasing “, and the unforgettable “shoddy”. I hope that the worthy opponents, Steve, John, and the like, will recognize my transcendence and join the revolution.
I think I may have accidentally gone on a date last night. Before you snicker, admit that it’s not as hard as it sounds. I’m so dopey that it’s not even awkward. It was kind of fun after awhile, though. My first clue: it was ‘sposed to be a lab thing, but it was only she and I from the lab and a whole bunch of people I didn’t know. Then one of these people assumed it was a date. By the end of the movie I decided I had better linger for a drink, just to see for sure.
When I get done talking to her, I always end up wondering how it is that any woman gives me the time of day. It’s full on psycho-ex mode, granted, but I just can’t imagine anyone would want to talk to me after I hear about all the horrible, insensitive and foolish things I’ve done.
I only did one thing wrong. I said, “I love you,” one hundred times too many. I meant it, but not the way I should have, and now both of us are conditioned on some level to associate compassion and trust with misery and pain.
She got on the bus today, but I wasn't too sad. I think we both reached an understanding. I was a bit sluggish with it, which strikes me as odd. I had already known where we were going but I wasn't as well prepared for it as I had hoped. Anyway, I'm not afraid of what we have, and there's no reason to be scared.
Lunch with Kate was a trip. That girl is so much fun. I forget how great it was to live with her. I would find her thick, red, rock star hairs everyplace- even at lab.
After she beat my ass in darts, Robin and I hung around talking for like two hours about all sorts of stuff, her time in Senegal, politics, why she doesn't shave her legs…. She is unbelievable. I'm glad that I know people like her.
I found myself in the presence of beautiful, intelligent, and captivating women four times yesterday. Lucky me. When you couple this with the fact that I've realized that I'm attractive and single, I'm doing alright. I just need to grow out of the middle-school boy awkwardness that I've had around girls for the past 9 years.
Ten is a pretty great number in the most arbitrary sense of the word. Nature hooked ten up. It could have just as easily been 8 or 12 or some other number. There are animals with that 8 fingers. If we only had 8 fingers, the whole universe would look a whole lot more mystical. 8 would be represented as 10, and also 2-cubed. Stoners would stare at their fingers and say “Whoa!” with at least twice the intensity.
In that case however, poor 5 would be more like 7: an awkward prime number, a curmudgeon of the multiplication tables.
I think teaching is in my soul. I do it best when I’m not thinking about it, right when I’m in the thick of screwing around. Not ten minutes after being chided for making fun of a 16-year old for being worried about a lab safety exam, I engaged him in a “lightning round” of quiz bowl, where the “scores could really change”. I’d like to believe that the way he handed my ass back to me was a big help to him in passing, but it wasn’t- he would’ve done fine without me. This time it was my lesson.
It’s when you sit down to come up with the big ideas that you realize you’re not so bright. I mean, I have a couple of cool things on the back burner, but right now I want to do something with the microscope sitting in front of me and the vesicles dangling from electrodes in 434. It would be nice to think that some obvious, elegant experiment could spring to mind, but so far none have. There’s a few things humming round: adding proteins, using them for nanofab… maybe I’ll read some more until it jumps out, but who knows.
Insecurity is perhaps the most human condition. I say that because my own insecurities are the most irritating and damn near constant thing that I face. My emotional response to these lurking dreads can run from self-pity, to shame or even a rueful chuckle here and there. I think this comes from how painfully self-aware I can be one moment, and then totally out to sea the next.
One day I hope that these twain shall meet and I will be aware, but not on guard; in the moment but not controlled by it. Until then, I’ll write lawyer novels.
Or Sing! Singing is the solution to yesterday’s puzzle. When I’m doing anything alone- walking working, whatever- I’m usually humming something at least. I’ve been blessed with an ear good enough to know that I’m no Ella Fitzgerald (Kermit the Frog maybe). But when I’m out on my own where nobody could hear me, I really put some muscle behind my songs. Out there at full bellows, I’m pretty good- at least I think so. Do me a favor and let me sing sometime. Hand me the microphone and only tease me gently; I’m not as tough as I appear.
For my birthday I want: 10 things friends have written (not necessarily for me), a lovely party, a chance to hear Steve say something insightful, a camera, books, a visit from my siblings, a nice interview suit, piano lessons, a million kisses from beautiful women, John Mac photography, 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields, a visit from Gil Wilson, lots of new albums, to stay awake through my whole party this year, a chance to start my 22nd year right, a smile from Beth Auman, a night at the bars, one night that everybody leaves their baggage at home.
Tick tock. I have lately grown impatient. I need things to start happening. I need to make things happen. I need to make the coming week superior, make sure the party is good, get home to buy an interview suit. All that vaporized and deposited as a thin film on a razor’s edge. I feel like somebody’s asking me to lick it. At least work is going well. I feel like I’m getting a grip on everything that’s been asked of me and I’m also starting to stick my nose up in the air and sniff for project ideas.
“Welcome to my life.”
“I go through speakers like most people go through socks.”
“Yeah, English as a second language rock.”
“I don’t want to listen to the Clash, I want to hear more Butt Rock.”
“I hate Mick Jagger on nearly every song.” (He loves the Rolling Stones.)
“I want to make a shirt that says, ‘I love the Black Crows.’”
He said all of this as we smoked cigarettes, drank Miller in his bedroom, and listened to one amazing song after another off LPs from one speaker (he blew out three that year and apologized for the monaural.)
People see me as arrogant. I doubt they’d say I’m not thorough. Crossing my mind is running the gauntlet. I’m not claiming to know everything or anything, but I’m pretty good with hunches and I’m neither forgetful nor shortsighted.
I called this one. It’s disheartening to think that people can be so absolutely predictable. It was too easy to call. I’m a little upset. John owes Dean $10.
I should say I don’t care what they do, just as long as they make the effort to think as hard as I do about the people they claim to care about.
I must apologize, because this is definitely my attempt to put people into little boxes: I think everybody has a Belle and Sebastian song. Or rather, many of my relationships have been aptly summed up by those wacky Scottish teens. I know "A Century of Fakers", an "Expectations", "The Model", and certainly a "Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner." I think it's for the best that it's Belle and Sebastian since even their nasty songs have a sort of empathetic edge to them. It keeps me aware of the fact that nothing has to be perfect even if it's beautiful.
I need somebody to kiss me soon. None of that halfass crap, I’m talking about a throw- yourself-on-me-like-we’re-wrestling, not-sure-if-eyes-stay-open-or-close kissed. It usually takes a few tries to get used to that. I have to learn somebody’s style before I can really be comfortable with their kisses. As far as I know I might be the only person in the world like that. I’m perhaps too good at self-exploration for my own good. But it’s beside the point now. It’s go time.
Who am I kidding? It’s been go time for a few weeks and I haven’t been doing so hot.
I worry that a lot of people in my life are not quite so good at falling in love with the right people. Maybe it's for the best that a few of them just seem to follow my lead.
Sure, they can be a little loopy at times, but all the women I've fallen for possess some unstated grace that I could never imitate. I‘ve been pretty lucky in matters of the heart. Sometimes one of us doesn't realize what it could've been until it's way too late to do anything about it. That's the only down side I guess.
Before I let go of all my expectations, my birthday was the second most disappointing day of the year behind Christmas. Christmas was always worse because other people seemed like they could be so much happier with their presents than me. It took me 18 years to realize that things don’t make me happy.
This problem is not really just limited to toys, though. My brain seems to operate in a double-or-nothing regime. Either it is a total victory or a loss. There is no in between. At least with entering grad school I’ll be pleased with an acceptance offer.
So in an indirect way I got my birthday wish: I did leave the party with someone. We slept on top of the rubble heaped on my bed, because I didn't have time to organize all my crap before the distributors closed. Sleepovers are what I want in life in the long run but right now I'm just too damn greedy. Even tree branches know it, so they smack me in the face. Nonetheless, I am determined to have a rewarding "dating" relationship with someone this summer. It's so much like last summer, except this time I like my odds.
When I awoke this morning, their clothes were strewn about the living room. Like old times, only now it’s painfully clear that it’s wrong. I will not deny that the glass of water I drank made me want to vomit. Our worlds are tiny and inevitably circular. We seek explanations and closures instead of openings and acceptance. People will go on making their same mistakes. We will settle into our old ways and do what’s easy. What’s right is too hard for us to even see as possible most of the time. I know I feel that way right now.
When he called me, he claimed to be with someone else, and expected to hear someone else’s voice. Oh man. He woke up in an empty fraternity wearing only one shoe. He was fine, I was not surprised, and he doesn’t remember being upset at me for holding Sarah. Man, there’s a few people in my life who ought to realize that snuggles are just about all it takes. I’m glad doesn’t remember how mad he was. Like I’d ever hurt any of these people. I’m sometimes scared to hurt them with words before they hurt themselves some other way.
Being naked in an alternately tepid and chilly man-made lake sure puts the shine back on life. Being naked does that in general, but this was particularly special. We started out, as I imagine people often do, with boys on one side, girls on the other, and quite a bit of nervous laughter. We got over it. It's strangely satisfying to know that although I may never get to kiss certain parties at this little swim meet, I've seen them nude. This isn't a vindication or a small consolation… just a subtle variation on an old theme in my life.
What a party. I sat around and talked to the handful of women in my life that I wouldn't have minded waking up next to on the 23rd. It seems like jealousy was the name of almost everybody else's game. I also saw two individuals go systematically down a list of old flames, putting on their "moves". I suppose they were looking for some sort of go-ahead.
Get over it. Everything's changing in a few weeks and all you can think about is that first or last game of doctor that you might never get to play? I don't understand.
I think the only person who might remotely realize what it means to think things this far through is Steve. We talked about it once. We’re both lawyers’ kids, which means we’ve never once won an argument at home even when we should’ve. Even before we bring it to the table, it’s already on a sound thorough idea that will be stated as ultra-rationally as is possible. It’s spinal after all these years.
What’s not obvious is that for every time this is let out on someone else, it is visited tenfold on my own ideas and ways of being.
Erin Luhks, it was awfully low of me to say that to you. I apologize. Cynicism is definitely a virus I have.
What made me happy today was talking to some 4 year old for about two minutes on my walk home from Ed’s. We exchanged introductions and pleasantries and then he demanded to know whether or not I would recognize him when next I saw him down the street. He refused to accept my grown-up excuses- I don’t live around here, I’m not around that often etc. He just wanted to know. Now it’s pretty safe to say yes.
Well, suit shopping with Big Dave didn’t go so bad. He has good taste and he’s certainly a minimalist, which I appreciate. The tailor was as incredulous at the length of my arms. I’m built funny.
Lunch with him was strange and stilted. Then again, his unwillingness to talk about anything in his life on any serious level might have been him telling me to fuck off as discreetly as possible.
He paid for all of it. I felt bad until I realized that even at a dollar per day with no interest, he owes me way more than that.
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