Monday, March 29, 2010

[575] pants? what are these 'pants' you speak of?

Has it really been a week since last Monday? Where on earth have I been?

As you may have deduced from the title of this entry, I'm not wearing pants. I'm sick, and when I'm sick, I do not wear pants. I also don't exercise any form of discretion in my movie viewing when I'm sick.

Calm down. That doesn't mean I watch a bunch of filth and blame it on the illness. On the contrary. I watch A LOT of Disney and kids' entertainment. Today I've watched Space Chimps (really, really terrible), Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars (surprisingly true to the book), and several episodes of Hannah Montana (yeah, it wasn't just the one time when I couldn't sleep). Before you completely stop respecting me, I also watched the three episodes of Southland I've had waiting on my DVR for me. I'm totally hip, guys. F'real.

I've spent a good portion of the day downing cold medicine, sucking on lozenges, and inhaling some sort of chemical called levmetamfetamine - which sounds like a hardcore drug but smells suspiciously like Icy Hot. Kyo calls it "leave-me-alone-amphetamine." I have high hopes that I'll be on the up-and-up by tomorrow, but that could be my cold med cocktail talking.

In other news, I found out the other day that I got into Cal State Fullerton for grad school. That's right. I am going to master the arts - the arts of American Studies, more specifically. I'm excited that they like me. I like being liked. I also like learning, so I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

For now, it's time to watch a few episodes of Pawn Stars and take some Nyquil Nite Time (Rite Aid FTW!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

[567] the frustration of the impoverished procrastinator

I'm sitting at the OCC library right now, where I should be studying for my Ethnic Studies exam. However, in the short five minutes in which I was NOT pestering the circulation desk to see if the textbook had come back in, the book was, in fact, checked in and checked back out again. That's what I get for trying not to be a nuisance. Next time I'm just going to sit there and stare at them until the book comes in. It will be uncomfortable, but I'm gonna get that book.

This all stems from two basic problems. Problem number 1 is my pathological inability to do things ahead of time. Could I have taken this book out and studied last week? Sure. That would have been a fantastic idea. Is there any chance in the whole entire universe that I would ever do that? No. Why? Because even if I physically had the book in my hands, I would have Facebooked instead. If there is no sense of urgency, I do not get things done. I need pressure. I'm useless without it.

In college, I took an English course in which there were no due dates. You heard me. No due dates. As long as everything got in before the end of the course, it was all good. By the end of the course, I'd turned in one really good paper and one atrocious paper, and I didn't turn in the last paper at all. Somehow I managed a B+ in the class, about which I still feel kinda guilty. There was no way I earned it, and I sometimes think that maybe the professor confused me with someone else.

This is why I'm not great with blogging either. There's no urgency in blogging. Nobody is hovering over my website at midnight, waiting for me to post my next ramble. I finished NaNoWriMo ahead of time, against the odds, because I had a deadline (and a healthy sense of competition, if I'm being honest).

The other issue here is the exorbitant cost of textbooks. For this particular class, we're required to have the newest edition of the book. It was just published, and therefore nobody is selling it for cheap. I believe $89 was the cheapest price at the beginning of the semester. I've paid more than that for texts before, but after four years of college, I'm over it. If I can't get it for $20 or less on, I'm not buying it. I don't have the money or the interest in doing so. "But you have a husband who'd gladly pay for it," you say. True. But it's the principle of the thing. I don't want him paying for it either. It's robbery. I pay a bajillion dollars for my education, and THEN you want to gouge me on the cost of the textbook? I will say good day to you, sir! It ain't happenin'.

I realize that when grad school time rolls around, I will not be able to get by without the books. It will be a necessary evil and I will take part in it grudgingly. Let me have my rebellion now, while I still can. I'll be better in the morning.

Monday, March 15, 2010

[560] home alone

I'd be lying if I said I don't become a little bit paranoid when left to my own devices for too long. I blame my mom (sorry mom) for instilling in me fear of just about every situation as a child. Going into the ocean above my knees, playing outside after a thunderstorm, handling any form of small, round object in a moving vehicle (y'know, 'cause it could roll under the brake peddle, hindering the drivers' ability to stop the automobile); these are just a few of the activities that, even now, give me pause due to years of warnings.

It's no surprise, then, that an irrational fear of home invaders (both human and animal) plagues me in my adult life. After all, my mother used to claim that if I did not do some chore that she had asked me to do, gypsies were going to come steal me in my sleep. This one wasn't so much an actual warning as a really good threat, but it all sounds the same when you're five. I've grown out of thinking that gypsies are out to get me, but I'm not sold on the idea that some guy doesn't want to steal my crap. This one's partially based on multiple experiences with my friend Ben, who has had his stuff stolen from his car on numerous occasions upon which I was present. Maybe God just doesn't like Ben - or thieves really do - but it freaks me out nonetheless.

I check that everything's locked at least five times before going to bed. My memory's not the greatest in the world, and I'm perpetually terrified that my memory of locking the door is actually a memory of doing it the night before, leaving me completely vulnerable to attack. I don't even want to go into the anxiety that bubbles up in me as I approach the front door to lock it. Irrational fear #572: Looking out a window and seeing someone else looking back. If it weren't for the pane of glass right next to the door, I could go about my evening business with relatively low stress (not to mention the fact that I could look through the peephole to check for door-to-door salesmen and JWs when the doorbell rings, while simultaneously keeping up the guise of not being home). I wonder if anyone sells long, thin curtains... or wants to make me one.

Anyway, the past several nights have been tricky. Falling asleep when you're in a constant state of fight-or-flight mode isn't all that easy. As it turns out, brainstorming your various escape routes and locating all household items that could be used as weapons actually makes you MORE on-edge than resigning yourself to an uncertain fate. File that one away under "good to know."

The dog has been helpful. He has foregone his usual favorite sleeping spot on the other side of the room for the blanket under my bedside table. I'm pretty sure he's protecting me, and I love him for it.

The TV has also done its part. I am not ashamed to admit that I watched the final three episodes of Hannah Montana last night as I drifted to sleep. Or at least I thought I watched the final three. Turns out they lied to me. There's another season coming in the summer. Why must you toy with my emotions, Disney Channel? Okay, but secretly, I'm kind of glad. I was really going to miss Miley and the gang.

But despite Gaucho's and Hannah's best efforts, I'm counting down the minutes until that knight in shining armor of mine comes home and gives me that warm sense of security we know as "safety in numbers."

And Buzz, I'm going through all your private stuff. You'd better come out and pound me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

[557] racism's last stand

I'm a somewhat black person living in America. And when I say "somewhat," I don't mean 'cause I like, totally act like a white girl and stuff. I mean because I'm half white. But we all know that if you have even a little bit of black in you, the white is canceled out in the eyes of most. See Harry Reid's comments regarding Obama and the negro dialect as exhibit A.

That said, I've also had the good fortune to grow up in areas that were pretty unconcerned with the whole race thing. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I grew up in northern towns that were made up almost completely of white people, and therefore having a black person or two around wasn't really a threat. People tend to get a lot more racist when they feel that their power is threatened. See where I live now as exhibit B.

Southern California is racist. One of my professors recently claimed that SoCal did not have ethnic enclaves like that silly ol' racially divided east coast. I didn't know how to respond to that, because it is categorically untrue. I mean, not just kind of a stretch, but blatantly false to anyone who has ever been to Irvine, Santa Ana, L.A., or anywhere else in this part of the state. Up until my freshman year of college, I couldn't have told you a single stereotype about Mexicans. I didn't know that Asians were supposed to be bad drivers. I had never seen someone get pulled over for being the wrong color in a white neighborhood. Needless to say, my eyes have been opened to all of these things.

I'm not trying to say that Greenfield, MA or Mill Valley, CA are completely without racists. I remember being in the cafeteria when I was in third grade when a girl who I was barely acquainted with said to me, "No offense, but my dad says you're a n*****r." Um... none taken? But really, I don't even think I knew to be offended. I'd never heard the word before. I remember thinking something along the lines of, "Gosh, her dad's stupid. He can't even pronounce the word 'negro.'"

So, sure. Racism's all over the place. But it's the places that think they've got something to lose by accepting the minority that really know how to dish it out. I think we're seeing that more than ever right now, with the whole black president thing we've got goin' on these days. With the tea partiers making all kinds of fun, racially charged statements, and political figures - both Republican and Democrat - saying some pretty ignorant stuff, it is incredibly apparent that there are those in the white population who are beginning to feel a bit threatened. We see a lot of it happening amongst the poorer and less educated whites because, well, being white is about all they've got going for them. They may not be high up on the totem pole, but at least they're not [insert undesirable racial background here].

Most Americans have some skewed views of other races buried somewhere in them. These things come out in jokes or in their surprise when someone doesn't live up to their preconceived stereotypes. It's more a product of our socialization than an active desire to discriminate against people who are different from us. As such, most Americans also have come to a point where they don't harbor ill-feelings toward people based on their race. They may think that you should stay off the road or that you enjoy Kool-Aid more than you do, but they don't think you're going to mug them or that you should sit at the back of the bus.

Thus, a part of me wonders if we're seeing racism's last stand; the desperate attempts of those who are seeing power slip away from them to say, "Hey, wait guys! Remember how we're inherently better, and other races are stupid and invasive and stuff! C'mon!" It looks dire. We're hearing nasty things being said and seeing ridiculously bigoted acts carried out by individuals all over the country, but the mere fact that these incidents are a big deal says something about how far we've come. Where once we wouldn't have batted an eyelid over Reid's statement, we're now tearing apart Dan Rather's completely innocuous comment about selling watermelon to find some sort of racist undertone.

As I've said before, I'm not so naive as to grab hold of this "post-racial America" thing that people like to dream is happening. I don't know if that's ever going to happen. I do think, though, that the recent burst in racism is a reaction to the fact that racist people are seeing their power slip away. Americans aren't standing for it anymore. The social order is being challenged, and, despite our silly prejudices, as a collective group, we don't accept that anyone is inferior based on their race anymore. Yeah, there will always be racists. But the time in which we let them get away with spouting it in public without consequences is coming to an end.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

[555] well, color me embarrassed.

Forgive me, bloggers, for I have sinned. It has been 190 days since my last confession. That's what these things are, right? Confessions?

I have tweeted, I have facebooked, and I have even begun paying attention to the long neglected paper and pens that have been so faithful to me over the years. I had almost forgotten how good it feels to write - hand cramps and all.

On this 555th day of the rest of my life, I'm pondering authenticity, among other things. I'm thinking about what it means to live without cynicism, to love without stipulations, and to have my thoughts and actions line up with what I know and believe. I'm 24, and, while by no means am I old, I'm old enough to put childish things aside. And by childish things, I do not mean watching kids' shows or rolling down grassy hills. Those things I will never give up.

By childish things, I mean prejudice, procrastination, pride, and many other things that do not start with "p" ... and perhaps a few more that do. I've recently enrolled in a couple classes at Orange Coast College, a community college here in Costa Mesa. If you want a reality check on your own judgmental nature, try hanging around 18-year-olds for a few seconds. To even talk about it is to put on display my own intolerance of others, but I feel like I need to illustrate my point.

For one, everyone smokes. I didn't know people under the age of 40 still did that, given the knowledge we now have on its ill effects, but they do. And they cuss, too. Boy howdy, do they cuss in creative ways. I did not know that I was such a prude until I found myself nearly gaping at groups of students punctuating every pause with profanity (What is with me and the letter "p" today?). Little known fact: An f-bomb can be used in place of a comma or the word "um" in any sentence. The more you know.

On several occasions, I have passed by students discussing their fake IDs or how hard they partied the night before, and I've rolled my eyes in disgust. Teenage rebellion, I'd say to myself, because I have no friends other than myself at OCC.

And then it started bugging me that I did that. Like I wasn't a teenager once. Not that I was a rebellious teenager, but I'm sure once I got to college, I felt like a big bad grown-up and wanted to show off that I was no longer under the rule of my parents'. I'm sure the need to prove that would've have been exacerbated had I still been living in my parents' house after graduating from high school. I get it. Why am I so annoyed by it? What right have I to be annoyed? If anything, I should feel sympathetic. Those in-between years can kinda blow. You look for meaning in your life in the stupidest places, and make all of the most important mistakes in that time; the mistakes that will actually count toward the rest of your life. 'Cause Lord knows for all the drama we make in high school, it rarely counts for much after graduation. It's not until we're legally considered adults that most of us really start to screw ourselves.

It's been grating on me ever since I first caught myself silently judging my classmates. I don't want to do that. It's no good to them, and it doesn't really benefit me either. I mean, if Conan O'Brien, who makes a living off of the appearance of being cynical, is telling me that cynicism isn't going to get me anywhere, maybe I should listen. It's not like I've always been this way. Heck, prior to my senior year of college, I was about as happy-go-lucky and nonjudgmental as you could get. But, like a lot of people, I let circumstances get the best of me, and I shut myself off to the love and trust I usually freely gave in order to build a wall between me and the hurt that certain others dole out equally liberally. That's stupid. It's stupid to decide my own attitude based on something someone else does.

I'm done, I'm done, I'm done. I hope. I want to be, anyway. Down with cynicism and all the childish things I've wasted my time on to this point. Day #556 shall be different!