Anniversary. We’d gone out to a comedy show, watched two groups improv-battle it out over dinner and drinks. I remember the guac–partitioned from the salsa, of course– cheesy enchiladas, peering at his eyes, room erupting with peals of laughter, looking towards the stage to see funny girl #2 in pink toppling backwards. I felt buttery, warm, happy. The show was pretty good–the first group was a little awkward; the second group, phenomenal. Things might be funnier when you’re tipsy, but the second group was funny. A duo of pros oozing comic chemistry on-stage. Hilariousness in their own right.
Relief, relief, relief now that midterm season is over. Like a weight lifted from my shoulders, my head, my mind, I feel lighter and happier and more myself. I mean, I don’t know, but I just feel so happy. For the first time since, well, I can remember, my professor sent a kind little message saying ‘good job on your midterm!’ At first I thought she’d cc’ed it to a bunch of others, but then I saw that it wasn’t. And that made me feel a little like the toddler who’s given a thumbs up on her underwater sea-life drawing.
I did my presentation yesterday, which my professor also messaged about saying I’d done well on 🙂 The presentation itself was an analysis of a poem, a slightly morbid one, but packed with beautiful imagery. A boy in my class with a nose ring who I’ve never talked to complimented me on it briefly after class. Sometimes I feel paranoid about people who tell me that I’ve presented well after I’ve gotten off-stage/away from the class spotlight–are they just saying it to be nice? so they don’t actually hate me or think I talk too fast? Then, this afternoon, I led the class discussion, which really wasn’t all that bad, and people were fairly engaged, as engaged as they might be after a midterm.
Now I’m breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing. When it comes to school or work, there is a certain degree of intrinsic motivation that pushes me–the feeling of getting shit done, churning out something intelligible, accomplishment. But there is, of course, also the extrinsic motivation, like the notes, the grades, the comments, which doesn’t get in the way of the intrinsic motivation. Instead, they sort of build upon each other, so I move forward on my own with an external push.
On the down side, I’ve pushed socializing to the wayside, as I often do during testing. I have been seeing my best friend regularly, or at least did the past week. Last Thursday we went to the annual mini Oktoberfest, stuffed with free beer and apple cider and food. We reminisced about how time’s passed, how we’ve stuck it through the entire time, then chatted with a mutual friend and his friend, etc. But work loomed over my head, and after a few hours, I ducked out to work on my paper. Then lunch with a friend from class, a late-night tea hang-out, but otherwise things that got sandwiched between one round of work and another. After 14 hours it became difficult to mask the exhaustion, which showed as I talked dryly on the phone.
Now I feel myself becoming more, well, myself. In about two months I’ll have to go through this whole process again for finals, but it’s okay. Taking life as it comes.
I think it’s absurd the extent to which people can make things that are not about themselves about themselves. And then when they funnel themselves into the victim mentality of taking things extra personally because how could it not be personal? Somebody didn’t say hi–not because they didn’t see you, but because they have a secret vendetta against you. Somebody didn’t not text back–not because they’re busy, but because they hate you and everything you represent. Anything somebody else does isn’t because they made a choice of their own volition, but revolves around you, and how they feel about you, because it’s entirely about you.
Then there’s the defensive myopia characterized by the self-victimized self-absorbed. The last thing you want to tell said victim (of taking things personally) is that not everything’s about them. It’s too meta. Uncomfortably accusatory. Even if you put it gently–hey, hey, this was never about you, but somehow you’ve pretzaled it into being all about you, but it isn’t! It just comes across as brash. You don’t understand me! is a likely response. I know it’s not about me; I never said it was! But it is. Because xyz–is yet another defense.
Even though it’s pretty damn hard to follow, there is a nugget of advice I like to follow: don’t take shit personally. Even when it is, somehow, about you, because this girl actually does hate your guts, it most often never is. People live in their own words, their own mental constructions housed on foundations of belief, justified or not. They understand their own truths and motivations, are mired in their own flaws and idiosyncrasies. We’re all stars of our own shows. And the shit that I do, or you do, or your cousin does, is reflective of our own personal realities, not you. It is not about you. It’d never been about you.
But somehow, as the egocentric-leaning humans we are, it always ends up being about ourselves, because everyone somehow gives that much of a shit about us. News flash: they don’t. This might be disheartening to realize. This might be liberating to realize. And, for what-I’d-assume-is-the-vast-majority-of-people, this might just be too far-fetched to realize. That’s fine; you’re allowed to take everything as personally as you’d like. But then–and I don’t mean to sound like some lecturing glasses-adorned finger-wagging owl–who suffers in the end? You do.
Life, at least around other humans, gets a lot easier when you stop taking shit personally.
….was insane. In the past four years, I’ve gone to Six Flags thrice. Of all the times I’ve gone, this time was the absolute best, hands down.
As my friend once said, “the faster, the bigger, the scarier, the better”. We rode the 2nd scariest ride three times, the scariest ride twice, a moderately scary ride three times, and basically any other extreme thrill ride that didn’t just spin around. To make things infinitely better, there were no lines. So on each ride, we either rode at the very front–for the view, the incline, the steep regret as we swooped over metal criss-crossed beams-or the back, for the whip (It’s a physics thing: roller coasters feel fastest in the back, mildest in the middle).
My favorite moment was probably when, at the top of a vertical ride, we paused, stopped screeching, looked to the 90 degrees below–right at that moment, the full-bearded man behind us look threw his hands up and bellowed, “take me down, Jesus!”
And down we went.
The eight and a half hours flew by. Drenched in sweat (and fun!), we rode each thrill ride on my list with time to spare. This time around, unlike the past five times I’ve been at amusement parks, I memorized the map, marked out must-go rides, then made a mental path, so we wouldn’t waste time wandering back and forth. On the walk to rides, we stopped for Giant turkey legs and funnel cake, Six Flags cllllassics.
Ironically, I probably felt the most terror on the seemingly delicate swing ride. Much to my dismay, I had confused it for the miniature version. Instead of being calming, it turned out to be terrifying, hurling us up 400 feet in the air. Toes dangling hundreds of feet in the air, above lakes, coasters, Lego-like cars and buildings, with nothing but chains to connect us to the structure, we bellowed for dear life: “oh god, you said this was supposed to be calming!” Plot twist: it wasn’t.
After the swing ride, we got onto yet another ostensibly calm ride. This time, we faced a terrified five year old gripping onto her youngish dad, with whom we shared regular “oh!’s throughout the ride.
Turn. “Oh–” Shift. “Oh!” Dip, swivel, glide. “Oh?” Another dip. “Oh, haha!” It was delightfully awkward.
To end the night, we trekked across to the other side of the park to where we began: at the scariest ride. I think, though, that after time, you get used to the stomach-drops, steep dips (when I dip, you dip, we dip), barrels of regret and fear coursing through your veins. At any rate, we left the park at closing time feeling exhausted and exhilarated.
The past weekend was wonderful–GH, AC’s best friend from home, flew up for her birthday. Upon hearing that she was coming to town, I cleared my calendar and spent whatever time I could hanging out with them. Mostly we ate and talked and relaxed–enjoyed the weather, went downtown and ate at a Mexican restaurant for AC’s birthday dinner. The weekend passed by so quickly it felt like she’d just arrived by the time she left.
On the first afternoon, after we talked at squirrels, I looked through GH’s sketchbook. Forgot to take pictures, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say she has mad skills. I feel like I learned more from GH over the past two days, in terms of art, than I have in months. Later, on Friday night, the three of us were sleepy and full and watched Black Mirror and drank wine.
On Saturday, we made cookies; they danced to music in the living room while the cookies baked. By the time they were done dancing and talking and I skimming some texts, it was already 5. Dinner reservations were at 6. We headed into the city to show GH the park and the bookstore. I rec’d Quiet by Susan Cain; GH bought that along with some Harry Potter-themed items and another book.
We grabbed some more wine and went to dinner, which was really fun. Mostly we were just super wild and boisterous in a tiny Mexican restaurant for, oh, four hours.
It was incredibly fun–here’s to good food and better company. So yay to life. Lifts wine glass: here’s to AC, happy birthday.
Things I might be certain of:
We’re swimming in norms no one person decided. Maybe the sky is blue. This may or may not be a dream. I like writing incoherent text posts at one in the morning. I deeply suspect that a part of me secretly enjoys–thrives on–the stress of procrastinating and the last-minute headaches of: oh God, oh God, I have an essay due tomorrow and I’ve no idea what the prompt is; I didn’t pay attention any of the times my professor touched upon the paper so now I have to ask around for the prompt and I really should have done this sooner.
Oh. I did fine on the last paper, the one I wrote the afternoon before. The fictionalized one. I don’t write fiction, I haven’t written fiction, not since it got squashed out of me in HS. But when I was eight I liked writing fiction, fiction about girls with blonde and blue hair (all those Mary Kate and Ashley books getting to my head) I never wrote about aliens or dystopias but I guess I’ve been thinking about that a lot (all this data mining getting to my head) so I wrote a paper about it. My TA said he’d have liked me to elaborate more on the story, which I don’t think was even included… Was there a story? Mostly it was like an excruciatingly drawn-out description. I did this my first semester, too. I came up with some drawn-out fictionalized character reading from a book I hadn’t read and then–then what? I did fine.
This is a cycle. I procrastinate, do fine, grow lax in my ability to churn out last-minute papers, then get headaches the day before. I think it’s part laziness, part perfectionism, part I-just-want-to-do-it-because-I-can. I mean, I don’t know.
I keep wishing it’s Christmas. Yesterday I went downtown. Twice, actually. First to wander around the city, second to celebrate my roommate’s birthday. On the car drive back we passed by bars and clubs and concert-cafes and it was so odd catching glimpses into people’s lives–like the city equivalent of peering into brightly-lit homes in suburbia. To see some of the things/hear some of the sounds/feel some of the vibes these other people are experiencing, it’s like witnessing something that isn’t yours to witness or feeling nostalgic for lives you have not lived. God, it’s so unnerving, so mundane at the same time. I can’t explain it. Something to do with seeing. Living, if just for a moment, vicariously through so many people you might never see again. Maybe it’s like the concept of scopophilia we learned about in my queer politics class, just the sheer pleasure of looking, of seeing. Maybe.
Also, ah. Like the happy drunk who cries oh I love you, you know that, right? Totally. I feel exhausted-quiet-grateful for the people who’ve been in my life for years. Raises glass. No, but really. I think sometimes I have the tendency to drift like driftwood, tumble like tumbleweed, forget incessantly to respond and get back to people. (By sometimes I mean always) People come and go. So do roses, foxes, and Little Princes. But in the past few years, a handful haven’t left. And so Oct 17th 2016 1:14 AM I’m going to be grateful for that. Yes, yes, this is my puddle of gratitude.
Like Jesus’s face on the painting in the kitchen, like the bird’s beak as he climb up the wires. Like the piece that falls in the stove splintered open and my face is chalky caked with make up and even though my camera’s hanging from my neck I haven’t touched her in eons. Continue reading