Friday, August 29

Part Three of a Very Long Discourse

(Link to Part One of a Very Long Discourse and Part Two of a Very Long Discourse)

About the same time I became disillusioned with Holden Caulfield, I became enamored of Alex James, the bass player from Blur whose hair also resembled my sixth-grade boyfriend's:



I don't know if Alex started it, but every Britpop band had at least one member who had this hairdo. Pulp, Lush, and Suede all had members with the lopsided skater cut, (as did all of Elastica), and I can't say if this hairdo is the reason I became so obsessed with Britpop, but I think it was part of it. Also, Britpop music is good. According to this article from a very reputable source, Alex now makes cheese. He also has an extremely high IQ and is a prolific and creative swearer. Truly a man after my own heart.

Britpop led me to a short-lived but powerful obsession with the band Belle & Sebastian and their lead singer, Stuart Murdoch.


What I learned from this is the fact that the Glasgow dialect of the English language is the most beautiful spoken language my ears have ever heard, and that Glasgow has produced really kick ass bands like B&S, Sons and Daughters, Franz Ferdinand, and many others whom I haven't listened to. If I'd known about the Fulbright Scholarship program years ago, I would have gotten good grades and gotten through school and applied to go to Glasgow (yeah, right).

Let's omit an unproductive and boring number of years whence I was enamored of Orlando Bloom, tool extraordinaire, and fast forward to today. My ideal man is some sort of cross between Clive Owen, Jemaine Clement, and Mikhail Bulgakov. With a Glasgow accent.
(There must be something fantastic just to the left, as they're all looking over there).

Thursday, August 28

No more hateful updates, please

You know, I don't want to sit here and complain, but the internet invites and supports certain annoying behaviors that I have a hard time ignoring.

I was recently reading
Natalie Dee's blog (thanks for the recommendation, Meggers), and Natalie wrote about how boring Twitter is. I couldn't agree more. I also know that Natalie would make fun of me for blogging about a blog about a website, but I strive for postmodernity in everything I do. Anyway, Twitter is pretty stupid. The only reason I have a membership to it is so I can update my Facebook status from my cell phone—just like a teenager, I know.

I like to update my Facebook status when I see something interesting, like a guy walking down the sidewalk dragging a giant cross that says "Jesus is Lord" all over it. Or, I was on the bus the other day and a guy behind me was trying to hit on a girl by telling her about his eating addiction, and all she could do was tell him how much she loves to drink and ponder whether drinking is what caused her to gain seven pounds in the last two weeks. Then, the guy got really judgy and started preaching at her and asking her what makes her like to drink—“So you like to feel numb?”
("No, I like to feel good," was her vapid response). Their respective words would have been funny in a vacuum, but it was really disturbing because the guy seemed at the same time both harmless and creepy, and the girl was too na├»ve to recognize that giving away information like that about yourself—loudly, on a bus full of strangers—isn't the safest thing for a girl to do.

So I send info like this to my silly Facebook status update because I find it interesting and I think others may find it interesting. It’s just a way to pass the time. Or, when a horrible freak accident claims the life of one of the most wonderful teachers I've ever had the privilege of taking a class from, the seemingly-shallow status update helps me to share my grief with others, as corny (or ridiculous) as that may sound.
However, I’m not fond of being subjected to the hateful whims of my friends. If I want to read someone complaining, I can read blogs where people complain. I don’t really like to be bombarded on my Facebook page by bitchy comments about how all the girls on the BSU campus are dressed like stupid little whores, or about how proud someone is of all the things that she hates. And I really don’t like it when people have this updating thing hooked up to their text messaging via Twitter so I get texts about this crap all day long. Because I am enough of a dork that I get a little thrill when I hear the beep-beep-beep of my cell phone and I will usually drop whatever I’m doing to see what the text says.

It’s really disappointing to see some extremely bitchy comment about something I don’t really care about; a comment that doesn't want a response from me but exists merely to hit me with negative energy. And maybe you feel the same way about this whole blog post, but you can choose not to read a blog. You can’t really choose not to read a text message, because—hey, there it is! You’ve already read it! And sure, Facebook isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s an indulgence that some people find fun and use to talk to their friends. It kind of ruins the fun when you have to be subjected to hateful messages every time you log in.

Tuesday, August 26

Sad.

BOISE STATE NEWS RELEASE/August 26, 2008
Boise State Community Mourns Loss of Beloved Professor
The Boise State campus community is today mourning the loss of a beloved professor and colleague. Mary Ellen Ryder, longtime associate professor of linguistics, died last night in the tragic fires in Southeast Boise. Ryder, 56, began teaching at Boise State in 1988 and was well loved by both her students and colleagues.
In a statement to the campus community this morning, President Bob Kustra said the following, “As a teacher, she has spread the joy of learning and discovery to countless students. She will be missed as a vital member of our campus community. Our thoughts are with her husband, Peter, and their families and friends.”
In spring 2007, Ryder took a sabbatical to work on an article with colleague Linda Marie Zaerr titled “A Stylistic Analysis of Le Roman de Silence.” She often traveled to Britain to give presentations at universities in that country and was believed to be one of the only linguists in the state who specialized in psycholinguistics. She regularly added extra seats in a class that was required for all English majors, to accommodate students who weren’t able to register.
Nineteen homes were damaged or destroyed in the fire, displacing a number of other families with Boise State connections. University counseling services are available for anyone by calling 426-1601.
There are several opportunities on campus for Boise State faculty and staff to help those affected by the devastating Southeast Boise fires.
  • A student scholarship fund has been started in the name of Mary Ellen Ryder. Contributions can be made through the Boise State University Foundation located in Capitol Village or by calling 426-3276.
  • Financial donations can be received on campus for the Red Cross, Idaho Disaster Relief Fund set up to assist families. Red Cross donation canisters are located at the Student Union Information Desk, Registrar’s Office on the first floor of the Administration Building and the Parking and Transportation Offices. Collections will be taken until Sept. 3 during regular business hours.
  • Clothing, blankets and linen donations can also be received at the Student Union Information Desk, Administration Building first floor and the Parking and Transportation Offices. Donations collected through Sept. 3 will be given to the Firefighter’s Boise Burn Out Fund.
  • Finally, any students who may have lost their Boise State textbooks due to the fire are asked to contact the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs for assistance at 426-1418.

What I Eat for Breakfast Every Other Day...

natalie dee
nataliedee.com

Sunday, August 24

So Not Cute

A woman came into my office the the other day to make a loan payment. She had her two-year-old son with her, a cute little guy who wandered around the hallway in front of my desk while she chatted with my coworker and me. I told her that I thought her little boy was cute.

She laughed and said, "Yeah, I know. How many two-year-olds do you know who call people 'homos?'" and chuckled delightedly.

I'm still appalled.

Thursday, August 21

I Will Not Pull Hair

(Here's one of my favorite high school writing assignments, which I found during a recent declutter-a-thon. I wrote it when I was 15. I've edited it for some minor punctuation and grammatical errors, but otherwise it is unchanged.)


I Will Not Pull Hair
It was a gray day. Well, actually it was a confused day—gray one minute, sunny the next. I’m not sure when it was, sometime in the early spring when it was warm enough for the brave kids not to wear their coats at recess.

It was lightly sprinkling at the time. Sort of spitting, not really rain. I don’t remember what Sherry said. I think it really went in one ear and out the other. I forgot it immediately. But before the words were even out of her mouth, I made the stupid mistake of pulling her hair.

I didn’t pull it hard, just enough to make the sausage curl a little less springy. I think that’s the real reason she got mad. Not because I pulled her hair, but because I had dared, had the audacity to ruin her perfectly curled hair.

Ten minutes later, I was dragged up to the front of the classroom to be shamed by my teacher. I felt so betrayed; I had always thought Mrs. Bogart was a nice old lady. Now she was just a big meanie along with everyone else in my Kindergarten class. I remember looking at the brown-flecked turquoise carpet and wondering how they put the brown in it. Anything to get my mind off the present situation.

“Class,” she said, “we will be gone for ten minutes. Jenny was bad and has to be punished. We are going to the Principal’s office because she has to be spanked.”

What a sensation that caused! All the other kids were just amazed. Nobody, I mean nobody ever got spanked by the Principal! The entire subject was rather taboo among the children in my class; the scariest thing that could ever happen to you at school, possibly in your entire life. Getting spanked by the Principal was a thought so feared, so hush-hush, that it had only been mentioned once or twice before by my classmates. They couldn’t stop looking at me. They just sat there, staring, shocked beyond words. I started crying.

Mrs. Bogart turned me around and marched me down the hall to certain doom. As soon as we left the classroom, I hear the gale force winds that had erupted behind us from the whispering of all the other kids in my class. Nothing could have made me more miserable.

That hall to the Principal’s office always seemed so long, eternal, endless before. Now it was only a trifle larger than nothingness.

Were there really only three bulletin boards between Kindergarten and the Principal’s office? Surely there were more! It had always seemed that I spent hours wandering from one to the other, reading what they said to my other classmates who weren’t so bright.

Now I tried to stop and read the orange paper announcing parent-teacher conferences next month, and the green advertisement for school shirts and jackets.

I stopped at each of the three bulletin boards to try to make my teacher not want to punish me because I could read and the other kids couldn’t. I thought that this fact should seriously outweigh the need for a spanking.

But she just pulled me along, telling me that I should read them later, that I’d read them all before, how proud of me she was that I was so gifted. Still, she said, I had to be punished. It wouldn’t hurt. I certainly didn’t believe that.

Whit is it so quiet? I kept thinking. Why can’t I hear the other classrooms and what they’re doing? I usually can. Even our footsteps seemed to be unreal, as if we were walking in a ghost world instead of on a tile floor in a hall that usually magnified sound a million times.

The green door opened before we got there and that’s when I really got scared. The secretary looked at me pityingly and said that the principal would see us shortly.

The office smelled weird. It had that Bible smell that all churches have. I always thought that churches smelled that way to remind people where they were, even if it was just a Christian school and church services were only held on Sundays.

Under that musty smell was the smell of authority. Not just the authority of the principal and the school, oh no, the authority of God was there too.

The principal was available now and escorted us into his office. I wondered if he was going to tell me that God was going to punish me too.

We walked past his olive green metal desk to a shelf with the Almighty Paddles on it.

“You see this?” he said, looming over me, holding a new-looking Ping-Pong paddle, “we use this paddle to spank the Kindergarten through fourth graders when they’re bad.”

He then picked up a board paddle with holes drilled in it.

“This is what we use when the older kids are bad. Sometimes even the really big kids like the eleventh or twelfth graders need discipline. Do you think you’ve learned your lesson today?”

I nodded ferociously.

“Do you know why you’re here?”

“I was bad. I pulled Sherry’s hair.”

“Why did you pull her hair?”

I wiped my nose and tried to stop blubbering. “She made me mad.”

“Well, sometimes people make us mad, but that doesn’t mean we can just go and hurt them, does it? Do you understand what I mean?”

“Yes. But you don’t have to spank me; really, I’ll never do it again. I promise! Just—just make me write it a whole bunch on the chalkboard! ‘I will not pull hair. I will not pull hair!’” I was getting frantic. Crying and sniffling all over the place, looking at his puke green carpet and cream-colored walls. Anywhere but him.

“I’m sorry, but you can’t take it back. This won’t hurt, just teach you a lesson. Be a big girl.”

I still wouldn’t look at him, “I’ll try-y-y…” At that point I completely lost it.

Mrs. Bogart led me over to a chair. “Stand here, dear. You’re really crying about nothing.”

I looked at the chair I was standing in front of. It was one of those cheap metal chairs with a vinyl padded seat and back. The kind that was never comfortable.

The principal pointed to a black speck on the white vinyl, “Just look at this dot here an be a big girl.”

A huge tear fell on the spot exactly where he was pointing. “Just look at this big tear here. You don’t need to cry, this really doesn’t hurt.”

What I thought. Why was he being so nice about everything? He was the Principal after all, the most intimidating, frightening person in a child’s life—the embodiment of terror to anyone under ten years old—and here he was telling me that a spanking wasn’t going to hurt me.

It was like being at the dentist. You always knew that he would hurt you—probing around in your mouth, drilling your teeth, making you gargle that disgusting fluoride and spit it out just in time before it gagged you—yet he was always feeding you lies that you desperately wanted to believe. “This won’t hurt a bit” was always the first bad omen.

But you know, it really didn’t hurt. The actual spanking wasn’t what I really felt; it was the humiliation of it that really wounded me. Now that I had survived the spanking, I realized that I was going to have to go back and face my peers. And I thought that I had been terrified before.

Sunday, August 17

On Graduating

Wednesday was my last class of college ever. I don't really feel like I've graduated from anything. I had predicted that I'd feel sad and start to cry as I walked from class, got in my car and drove away, but it wasn't as exciting as all that. I exchanged phone numbers with a girl I'd had several classes with throughout the year and made plans to go to coffee, then got in my car and drove away. I did not feel verklempt in any way.

I did have a bunch of homework to email to my professor by Thursday, so I did one assignment Wednesday night (in which I had to revise an academic article to make it sound cleaner and clearer. It was fun. I got to feel like I was really sticking it to this Cambridge professor whose style of writing includes too much metadiscourse such as "What we have here is" and "Very well, let us have another look at" that just makes me cringe). On Thursday I had to email one more essay to my professor and that was it. It was all pretty anticlimactic.

I did learn some things this year that weren't taught in class:
  • Getting straight As at BSU is not difficult. There's really no reason I didn't have a better GPA for my college career than utter laziness.
    • Course loads are supposedly easier and more manageable there than at more "difficult" schools. I think this is probably a crock, but seriously, three papers and a presentation is not too much for one class.
    • Professors love me. Except for one I had several years ago; but I was very lazy in that class and she is notoriously difficult.
  • If you can never hang out because you always have homework, some friends might lose interest in you.
    • I saw this happen a few years ago to someone else, and I was one of the scoffers who couldn't understand the idea of having too much homework even to hang out on weekends. But it does happen, especially when you have to read 30 books in one semester. I apologize for any former scoffing I may have done to people about this.
    • One night of socialness during Spring Break may be all the socialness you can manage in a semester. And at that point, you may just have a few drinks and talk everyone's ears off about the 20 or so books you've read so far in the semester. Especially The Master and Margarita.
    • I also discovered I can't hang out on weeknights. Not when I have to go to work at 7am. No way. Not even when I have to go to work at 8am. It really sucks when all social events take place on weeknights.
    • I don't like be out all weekend, and I can't stay awake past 11 when I do go out. I used to go out every weekend night when I was younger, and the idea of a night home made me ridiculously depressed. Now I only like to go out on Friday or Saturday, but not both, and I don't really like to do much on Sundays other than have breakfast with someone. My condo is pretty and I like to be here.
  • I will probably never find another book that I love as much as The Master and Margarita.
    • I think reading it was one of the things I had to accomplish before I die. I don't mean that everyone needs to specifically read The Master and Margarita before they die (though they should), but I do think everyone probably has at least one work of art that they need to come into contact with to make their life complete in some way. That's really vague, but I think I will save this for a later blog entry.
    • M&M has introduced me to a whole new genre of literature and period of history to be obsessed with (writers oppressed by Stalin/Stalinist Russia).
  • Don't publish things to your blog and then think nobody reads it. They do.
To celebrate my graduation, I invited some people to join me at the Modern Thursday night and the plan was to end up at the Neurolux later. I got to the Modern at 6 and met some friends and started drinking gin and sodas in the hot, hot sun. Gin and sodas in very large glasses. Round about 10:30, I felt sick and threw up in the trash can around the corner from the Modern's patio, right next to the ice machine. I had to call a cab and go home. My friends went on to the Neurolux where there were other people whom I wanted to see. I got home and started sending them embarrassing text messages about someone who was there with them and whom I have a crush on. In short, I behaved much more like a 20-year-old than a 30-year-old. Then I was sick all day Friday, which was my body reminding me that I am 30 and not 20.

I learned some things from this as well:
  • It is not a good idea to drink a bottle-plus of gin in 4 hours. Especially when you hardly ever drink otherwise.
  • Don't eat browned-butter and mizithra pasta before you go out drinking.
  • Expensive drinks exist for a reason: to keep you from overdoing it by not allowing you to afford very many of them. In other words, drink expensive drinks.
  • 9 pm is a much better time to start drinking than 6 pm.
  • Foreign guys love me.
  • If you celebrate something important to you like graduation and some of your friends are really enthusiastic for you while others can't be bothered to respond to your invitation, then you should probably focus on building friendships with the people who are happy for you.
  • Mad Men is really good and makes for good hangover watching.
So, maybe I will feel more like I've graduated when I actually get my diploma in the mail. Or if I decide to walk in December. Anyway, woo-hoo graduation!

Thursday, August 7

Anxiety

You know that feeling when you just get anxious for no reason? Well that is how I feel right now. It went away the whole time I was in school, but now it's back, and I think it wants to make up for lost time!

I hate you, anxiety!