awhyzip: (Default)
I'm reading excerpts from Hannah Senesh's diary. Reminds me of Anne Frank's diary (unsurprisingly), which I also never really read. I'm thinking that maybe I should decide to read more of them.

about what she writes )

Last night I had a walk in the evening. The night had mild-ed up and I was glad to be out in it. I don't set off on walks as often as would be good for me. I need a reason that requires the destination, so having a distant parking spot was a good thing. I was in smooth motion and carrying no burden, but I couldn't find quiet. Always a new house's noises would rise up out of the background sound as the last point-source's faded down to indistinctness.

I wished to be away -- by Fitzgerald Lake, or somewhere else in the woods. There was some place out in Concord the Jason took us once. This is just not something one can expect Cambridge to provide.
awhyzip: (Default)
The proper way for awhyzip to make broccoli:
  • Get broccoli in steamer (rinse it, chop it up into big pieces, get water to boiling, put broccoli on steamer above water, turn down heat, cover)
  • Set timer for 8 minutes and leave the room
  • Go read LJ, or something
  • "beep-beep-beep!" --- check on tasty broccoli and have dinner.

    The wrong way to make broccoli:
    > Chop, boil, cover, etc
    > Stand by counter and wait.
    > Stand over by stove and wait.
    > Circle the kitchen table.
    > Whip off lid! Stab fork into floret! --- it's not ready yet :-(
    > Admonish self that I know it takes broccoli longer than 1:30 to cook.
    > ... Repeat all but the first step 2 more times. Broccoli is still too hard. It's only been 3 minutes. I have bad patience!
    > Now go read LJ, or something.
    > Eat floppy over-done broccoli. :-/

    Exacerbating factors:
    Discovering that the pot of your roomate's you hoped to borrow and cook ziti in at the same time was used for her dinner and is unavailable. (Taking down & opening a cardboard box from the cupboard only occupies so much of an 8-minute lull! Is it cooked yet?)
  • awhyzip: (Default)
    Well, I've finally gotten myself re-hooked up. Cable internet at home. Should lead to more internet-reading and posting. On the other hand it is now no-weekend season again (first day of school was last Sunday).
    One of the reasons I delayed for so long in getting home high speed internet, was that lacking this was, in a way, free-ing. I didn't have to consider if/how/what I would present to my audience, as I worked thru my own life for a while; and I got to prove to myself that I am *not* dependent on my online comics, really! Then it passed beyond "freeing" into "annoyances that would have been easier if I weren't continuing to make my life more difficult"+"man it's been too long since I emailed certain friends, but I don't want to do that at work even after hours", but by then I was getting ready for the Israel trip and let internet slide.
    Once back, tho, I wasted no time in getting my service set up as the penultimate acessory to my sweet new pretty. (Remaining item: lens-cleaning cloth or kit -- not wearing glasses, I don't already own appropriate wipes)
    Now I am back, and, as I said, hooked up, and I've already left home for work in the mornings a whole hour-bracket later than intended EVERY DAY FOR THE WEEK.
    awhyzip: (Default)
    It's almost my birthday again.
    Yay. I like birthdays.

    I'm going to spend the actual day flying back from Florida, after a friends' wedding. So, with that day out of consideration, I'm not sure what, if anything, I will do for formal celebrations.

    Other observances for my birthday: I have set 25 as the age by which I must have begun retirement investing. Also, I'd like to have my "important shit" enough in order that I can function without having to call up my parents and ask *them* to tell me the things I should know. I have made significant progress on that front by tackling my "box o' 'important' shit" -- ie Bank & Credit Card Statements, Insurance Policies, Notorized Name Change Documents, Car Titles, etc -- and sorting it into those above-mentioned categories :-). At this rate I can have a [hopefully]-sustainable organization system in place before before the last-year-to-be-on-time countdown begins! (That means I am turning 24... not 25 yet, in case this was confusing.)

    The other observance for a birthday is to pull together a list of things that would be happy gifts, for the edification of those inclined to give me things. I'm behind on that one. (Super-short version: "Socks.") But i feel great about the Box.

    When I was going thru the Box, I found a expired check for $600 and was able to get it re-issued -- YAY!
    Also, I heard back from potential new employer that I should recieve a formal offer from them by Wednesday.
    awhyzip: (Default)
    Think about what cities or towns you've lived in (not just visited) in your life, and post them in your journal:

    Northampton, MA (since birth)
    Jerusalem, Israel (year)
    Waltham, MA (brandeis campus)
    Watertown, MA (summer)
    Canberra, Australia (semester plus a couple weeks)
    Cambridge, MA (summer)
    Arlington, MA (two years and counting down)
    Northampton, MA (perhaps someday again...)

    (seen from [ profile] gilana)
    awhyzip: (notext)
    Interesting discussion at the Torah study group last Saturday, as always. Reading the part of the Joseph story where he reveals his identity to his brothers after Judah challenges him. We got onto themes that I would *not* have previously thought connected to the story.

    I took from the discussion the idea that the story can be understood in the framework of illusion. There are illusions, and worldviews, and false stories. Illusion is also a conceptual key for thinking about "exile". That's in this story too, metaphorically and actually. One of the most significant aftershocks of revealing a truth from behind an illusion is the realization that there are *other illusions that you cannot see past yet*. Sometimes you might be aware that there is an illusion or a block in some area, but most of them are fully invisible beforehand, right?

    When you possess a veiling illusion but you know that there's something beyond your limitation, somthing that others are aware of, I would call that state beyond a "Mystery." Yes, the kind with a capital "M" but no levity in the tone-of-voice. And no matter how much you are told about it or read or whatever or think on it, you cannot understand the Mystery with your illusion in place. You can know a lot, but there is a level of understanding at which you are not operating.

    I was not expecting the discussion to move to conception and the experience of birth. It did. The connections that interested and drew the other talkers to the subject weren't salient for me. I would never have taken the discussion in that direction, but it was clear that for several or most of the people in the group, the act and experience of birth were very connected to this story. I listened and I followed the lines of the conversation, but to me this was Mystery.

    It used to be this way to me when our havurah or books or poems would discuss personal spirituality. Connection to God, or to other sources beyond yourself. I knew there was such a thing as a spiritual life, and I could say words to talk about it, but I knew I didn't understand it. This was a source of sorrow to me until Valerie Gorbulov taught me yearing for spirituality is also a stage of spiritual awareness. You recognize a lack. Or in other terms, you are aware of the presence of an exiling illusion.

    I've been reaching past this spiritual illusion, and making this connection more and more this year. More fulfillment from rituals. Thinking of ways to bring that to more practices. Overwhelming images that come to me occasionally when I pray. Often, a sense that someone/thing is there when I direct words to God. The many names of God in my siddur (Kol Haneshamah) no longer seem silly.
    I'm just beginning, but at last I know that I'm not merely a-spiritual.

    Another example of an illusion/Mystery is sexuality. I've been past that veil for much longer, but I remember, from before, a time of a-sexuality. Developing spirituality from aspirituality reminds me of developing sexuality from asexuality. Someday I imagine I will develop whatever aspect connects life & birth & deliverance to the Joseph story for the other men and women in the torah study.

    The E. Ch. community is deeper than I yet am. I greatly value what I can learn from being a part of that.
    awhyzip: (Default)
    I have a plan.

    It's coherent enough, and fitting enough, and it's something that I actually want to do. I believe in my ability to accomplish this plan, and I know how to start actively doing that. This is quite a welcome surprise to me. It will take effort, it will be an achievement, and I *want* to put that effort in.

    I'm talking about a plan for "what I want to be when I grow up."

    Its 2:30 am, so I am not going to describe the plan, or the next few years of steps, right now. This is just a marker-post. A day on which I describe my next-few-years plan to two separate friends -- and believe myself both times -- is a good sign that I am on to something.

    This is VERY good. I will post about it later.
    awhyzip: (Default)
    Must post LJ about being such a damn youngster. OK to hear Pup say it, cause it's true. But at post-Iolanthe dunkin donuts w/ Gilly and her friends Lauren-I-think and Matt-from-Amherst-in-the-kitchen, I wasn't enjoying the sensation.

    I'd like to get postcard from my forty-year-old imaginary alter-ego saying "Don't worry sweetie! You're doing fine!" Although I wouldn't trust that she's really paying attention, she's probably right.
    awhyzip: (Default)
    I am sitting here at home in Northampton. I am accidentally here; I was meant to be in Cambridge teaching right now, or else still at the Retreat, doing I don't know what with my Havurah. But, I am at home and I just finished reading a book by Jonathan Rosen: The Talmud and the Internet. The book is about 130 pages long. It is light in the hand and small sized. The cover illustration has as a backdrop a reproduced page of talmud, smudged just enough that you can see the words but don't read them. In the book, the author muses about his place as inheritor of two cultures, both Jewish, one American, and one Holocaust European. He reflects on the stories of his grandparents, of his literary heros, and of Talmudic sages. Rosen writes that this book began as an elegy for his grandmother. As I read the book, I could listen to him explore issues that are important to him, issues that are also important to me and on my mind. There was no sense of a finalized argument being put forth; this was not a monograph. There were some passages, where the voice I was reading on the page could easily have been mine, rolling forth from my mind as if I had thought the words directly to paper for the next paragraph.

    Rosen is clearly an educated Jew, familiar with Jewish sources as well as modern liberal higher education. The respect he expresses for the traditional texts of our people parallels mine. Neither of us live in the halakic, traditionalist, world, nor do we want to, but our modern lives naturally are and must be informed by Jewish as much as by the "Western" canon. To contextualize our lives, we draw on a collection of stories, value statements, and associations, such that I believe we share, of course enriched by family experiences.
    Rosen describes his first trip to Europe. In one passage he half-jokingly explains that the symmetrical layout of a page of Talmud exists that if you should, God forbid, drop your Talmud in a puddle, Rashi would at least be farthest from the mud. As Rosen describes several sections earlier, a page of Talmud has a special and distinctive, almost mandala-like, layout. I recall walking in to a friend's house not seven nights ago, and recognizing instantly the wide, black volume spread on her coffee table atop a small pile of books. The content of our evening had nothing to do with the strictly Judaic, being filled with performance art on queer marriage rights, shoulder rubs, and Indian spices (just as Rosen's trip was filled with pilgimages to Chartres Cathedral and a dissertation on Milton). Nevertheless, there is for me a... a... an indwelling presence of Judaism then. I describe it as this, making the association to the Shechina, "in-dwelling presence" of God. For me, this is the awareness is at the heart of my spiritual life.
    The indwelling presence is elusive. It is also flexible and wide-ranging. Everywhere? I could riff on each topic's Jewish connection; they would range from joking to quiet moral imperative. Judaism covers all my moods. Nowhere? Everything had some other sufficient reason for which it was done. I live a modern life. I struggle to describe what contemporary Judaism is.
    In my Hebrew School class, I am yearning to pass this on. I want to give as assignments non-particularist books like The Giving Tree and Amos and Boris and Could be Worse! so that the families can learn to read all books with Jewish eyes, even if the protagonist is not named Moishe!

    Yesterday evening, I discussed with my mother the plans I am passionate about implementing at E. Ch. Lower School. She knew that a curriculum has been written that approximates my idea of the books. I am lucky and grateful to have such a perfectly-tailored professional resource in my own mother. And my father, too. In fact, it was from his bedside stack of books that I took this Talmud and Internet book. And surmounting the 15-book stack, a wide, black volume. (If this were a short story, I would say it was a Talmud, for the parallelism, but as this is Livejournal and real life: it was a Tikkun, whose two-column bold-and-pale layout was just as distinctive at a quick peek.)
    awhyzip: (Default)
    It's clear that my audience is restless for more updates. I apologize, but I warn you that the frequency is unlikely to improve swiftly.
    There are four reasons for this.

    • One: I have been working a lot and being busy in mornings and evenings. As I do not condone posting from work, this limits my opportunities to post.
    • Two: When I do have an opportunity that I could post in, I simply haven't been feeling like it. I've not been percieving events in my life as the suitable bite-sized chunks that are best for posting. I really dislike posting 1/2 a story -- or worse three lines, apropos of nothing posted, followed up by nothing posted, from the middle of a long plot-arc.
    • Three: Synergizing with the previous reason, I have not posted/felt like posting because most of what I am feeling these days are not things that I would want to commit to pixels&bits. If it's unresolved in my life, I don't put it into the LJ. I am sure you can understand this.
      Of the little dramas that have resolved, they all turn up as such very little dramas that it would be petty or boring or both to bother posting them after.
      This leaves day-to-day work stuff which I could post about after I get home, but that falls under "I don't feel like it" and also "boring detail".
    • Only reason Four is going to work in your favor: My laptop had been non-functional for a couple months due to lack of power cord. I am now on powercord number 3 (bought on eBay! ... my first purchase therefrom, awww mazl tof), as of last week. We'll see if having my own computer to nestle on my lap and call beautiful and be warmed by improves reason two.

    Of course I still want you all to keep reading and re-reading my lj to post comments. And don't you slack off on yours! ;-) (And, you, Xanga, come back to lj so you can get on my friends list!)
    you all know who
    awhyzip: (Default)
    I know I haven't posted much recently. I hope you miss me.
    I regret not posting, because it has been frequent that odd little vignettes happen to me. I like to share those in a livejournal. Also, there have been several events of great enjoyment. They deserve mention.
    But overall, for the past several weeks, my average mood has been an less than happy one. First just a vague stressedness, which could probably be explained by "all work & no play...". I guess it's a matter of interpretation then as to whether I am happy or not. I'd feel positive or negative and change rapidly between them. But in the past week & a half or two, it's crept up into being a real problem. I've been feeling ignored by my housemates, incapable of making outside plans, annoyed by noises, and too-easily flaring into temper.

    Look, this may not all be true. I've had dinner over two friend's houses, I've spent one, nearly two, nights at Valerie's. My darling BethAnn hosted me for a weekend in NYC, and I absolutely enjoyed seeing Scribner, his show, and the other people I met. I reached out, attempting to help an even-more-stressed out friend out for an evening. I spontaneously wandered Harvard Square, found a Cambridge festival, gave tzedaka cheerfully (but skimpily -- only level 2!). I saw my cousin (and he has an adorably funny rabbit). My cousin gave me two books for a present. I treated myself to extraordinary Udon soup in an attractive new restaurant, and a superb bracelet at Filenes. My brother hung out with me at the wedding, and we even talked a little bit (about our hopes for the family reunion to follow). Speaking of which, I attended a wedding that was just beautiful and appropriate in every way. Having the Nintendo etc game systems in the living room allowed for some quality time with the reclusive Mike. I held a cozy party with just my friends, and felt liked. Rebecca didn't let the distance between Northampton & Boston keep her away. My mouth & stomach were delighted by Afghani cuisine. A sunset down Mass Ave delighted my eyes equally, while I had someones to share it with. Dave Reynolds surprised me by offering willingly to help on something I was expecting him to be reluctant to bother with. Plus Mike & Dave got my car for me when I fell asleep waiting to head out for it. And another thing, the mechanic that I take my car to lets me pick it up and pay for it later, when I can come by again. I don't think this kind of personal trust is common any more, but it is so precious because the absence of it sucks. (Today, something similar: I went to a vegetable market after work, for eggplant, but they were closed already. I was on the verge of being hugely & impotently angry at them, irrationally focused on the fact that they were still piping music outside... Then I noticed that the eggplants were outside, among the root vegetables and garden plants. No one had put them away, and I was already wandering among them as I tried the door and looked for posted hours.
    This is the cusp. Where I see obnoxious rules quashing me by not recognizing that *I* should be an exception. *I* should get to do it without all the checks & balances, because I would do it right -- by the rules -- anyway. Because I am reliable. That's how I see me.
    My mechanic lets me do that, by trusting that I am good for the bill if I say I am, and letting that be enough. Then I can get on with picking up my car after hours, even if I'm not sure how many days before I'll be back.
    My high school let me do that, by knowing me by first name. And not sending hall-patrols that would have turned me up in the Little Theater during lunch hours. I could walk by the pot-head skippers fleeing from the school's police officer, and know no one would bother me, because I was on my way to an off-campus class.
    Even Brandeis provided a bit of this necessary trust, via the encoding on my card to allow Patch/Upper Volen access.
    I respect rules, I even honor them. It's a fact about me that at times I value arbitrary rules too much, which I imagine makes me a pain to put up with over too long. I know there are other values beyond being predictable, but I don't want rules contravened without reasons.
    In this case, my reason was the desire for a roasted-eggplant sandwich.
    So I selected a purple local-grown, weighed it myself on the scale I knew was in a corner, and estimated its price. Then I left the money by a cash register, and added a note recording what it was for. Now I have an eggplant, and the good feeling that comes from asserting my "special" status and not having been shot down and restricted. )

    awhyzip: (Default)
    This Friday night, I went to the big Shabbat Dinner because Noam was with me as a pre-frosh. Afterwards we stayed on for the Oneg, which was a speaker about the Holocaust, a survivor. The man was an interesting speaker, and he basically just told us a section of his lifestory. He began just as the Soviets were taking Riga, the capital of Latvia and his hometown, and told up to when American victory reached them. At the end of the story he answered some questions that people asked.

    The questions were, in a way, the most interesting part of the talk because nearly every single one hinted at a moral in either the asking or the answering. For example, the last question was asked something along the lines of "since you've seen how vulnerable we Jews can be, you support Israel, right?" -- but he turned his answer into words about de-humanization. The Holocaust survivor warned that the de-humanization of Arabs in the eyes of Israelis is as dangerous as the de-humanization of Jews in the eyes of the Nazis. I was impressed to hear him say that, because I believe that too.
    He also commented that of all the countries involved in WWII, it is only Germany that has made any national effort to reconcile and own up to its behavior. The Latvians, and other European nations, all cry that they were forced into any actions by the invading Nazi Germans, painting themselves as helpless occupied volitionless victims -- which he insists is counter-factual. He did not press the point about Germany's behavior, but the suggestion that they have, alone, attempted teshuvah should give pause to knee-jerk anti-germanicy.
    He answered the inevitable "What do you believe God was doing then?" question in a realistic-to-me way. There was one more question that may, in its way, have been equally inevitable: the question was "Why did you decide to stay in your village when things were starting to look bad?". This question bugged me, and once I thought highly of his response. He had, as it happened, already explained the reason earlier in his story. But it is very possible that the questioner had come in after that part, so it would be a fine question to ask. Except for one thing: this speaker did not come from some little village in Eastern Europe, he grew up in the capital of a country, quite a genuine city. Even if the questioner had missed the very beginning, how could they have missed the fact that all the action took place in a city, that he survived in a ghetto which obviously entails a larger urban matrix, the repeated references to the work crews walking into the city for their jobs, as well as that the place suffered bombings unlikely for an isolated outpost.

    I would have bet my shoe that the question-asker did not bother to stop and think before coming up with their question. Their words gave it away. I see this as a result of the standard Hebrew School unit on Life in the Shtetl. Everybody has it, and we young American Jews are trained to think of all old European Jewry as consisting of "Fiddler on the Roof" Tevyehs. In my Hebrew Schools' curricula (both the one I attended and where I teach), we learn of insular ancestral societies, with no mention of the mixed-Jewish/non-Jewish villages that also existed, let alone of major cities with a significant Jewish populous. Lodz for example -- if I recall correctly -- was half Jews before the war! That's a lot of people who are not all small-time tailors and Torah-scholars. There were seriously elaborate Rabbinical courts of the sundry regional centers. There were Jews who were Reform, even before America! And yet all of this is overshadowed, breezed over, to give a simple image of dark-robed shtetl life, that doesn't even include all of Ashkenazi reality let alone the invisible Sephardi -- or Mizrachi --- histories.
    This gets my goat quite a lot.
    Why bother to bring a real man, a person who can speak of personal experience and who can lay out for you every point where he feels raw chance saved him as others, even with more passion to live than he, around him were destroyed, why bother inviting him to speak, if people aren't even going to listen!?

    The speaker took this question admirably, I thought. He paused a moment, and made sure to calmly point out that he is not from a "village" at all, before going on to re-tell why they decided to risk staying
    awhyzip: (Default)
    Yesterday, I moved back in. Wanted to call back Andrew, and decided to use cellphone as it was a weekend and my dorm phone was acting obstinate. Probably because it hadn't been plugged in for a month. We'll see how well my 500 weekend minutes cover that sort of long-distance! Andrew says it's going to be wildly expensive, and he's probably right.
    Also spoke with my parents, which was good. Their trip sounded even better in description than it had in anticipation. mmmm

    Today, got up at 8, went to work. I discovered that my sub last week had been competent and even had left me the notes I'd requested -- for which I am mightily grateful. She actually was there again this week subbing for another class; I chatted with her, and got a good feeling for what had happened.
    This week's class went very well, and I was happy. I even managed to get them to like another Hebrew review game. We'd been playing the same game every single week because they loved it so much, which is great and all, but I was starting to get tired of Ultimate BlackBoard TicTacToe...

    Staff meeting after class, then I set up our room for the play they'll do Jan 26, drove home and got into bed for my nap by 5:30 after an hour of email-reading and mailbox-cleaning. Here's a moderately funny thing that happened: I was debating calling Mira about dinner Wednesday, but decided I was too tired to invite her yet. Just as I was drifting off, the phone rang, turning out to be Mira inviting me to dinner!
    So I got to make happy plans with my friend, then slept until the phone woke me again around 8:30. This time it was my mother, calling for tech support. After that, I got in another hour of half-assed sleep. Sundays make me so tired! I've got plans to go home this weekend.

    Things are looking good. I'm feeling decently pleased to go to classes tomorrow.

    Also tonight, I finally cleared out the SouthPac card, the 2 Action bus passes (one student, one standard concession rate), the film soc pass, Medibank card, etc from my wallet. I hadn't realized I'd kept them in for so long --- no wonder the thing wasn't closing right! haha
    I ate the last "Melting Moments" biscuit/cookie that I'd brought back from Australia. Here's what they taste like: it's a sandwich cookie, with lemon frosting, basically. The cookie parts are like shortbread, but not quite as grainy. The filling is mildly lemony and without the overwhelming sugar flavor that too many frostings have. Giving the last bite a few seconds in the microwave on half power helped a lot.
    I would call it a goodbye-to-australiana evening, because I also sorted my Aust coins from the New Zealand ones, and now both kinds are no longer mixed in with my T-tokens where they don't belong.

    For so many years I have based a significant part of my self-identity on my life in Jerusalem. Recently, by which I mean over the last month and a half, I've noticed that Australia is starting to fluff out into a somewhat-comparable mythic position in my thoughts. It's a bit unsettling. I am starting to wonder 'what did it all mean?' And what should it all mean to me?

    This is reminding me of something I read the other day in a book that was about using guided imagery in education. It said that leading guided imagery sessions without providing a way for the participants to "ground" their experiences is a bad thing. That the participants may even end up feeling angry or frustrated, instead of the positive outcomes desired. The suggestions they gave for 'grounding' were so simple that the warning sounded hoaky. Examples: in pairs or triplets, tell groupmates what you saw. Draw a picture of what you visualized. Or, write it down. That was it. That's a profound pedagogical insight? Well maybe it is... that every activity has its siyuum.
    Perhaps getting around to making some scrapbook of my photos would help. Only, I don't know how I want to be framing the stories. I've been putting off doing it until I get my alleged black-page scrapbook, the one that I've been requesting as a birthday present for about a year, but haven't yet managed to find for sale in a store. I'm making an effort this semester to plan in more scheduled personal-time and less unscheduled loafing, so perhaps I will get this done.
    When I was getting ready to leave B&G, I passed around a notepad and had most of my friends give me their addresses, but within a week of getting back home, I lost it. The sadder fool I.

    To wrap this up on a funnier note:
    Following headlines on New York Times's online edition, I found this lovely quote
    "Intelligent creative girls want to do larger-scale programs that actually do something. They don't want to look at a logarithm that deals with a math thing and how we're going to apply it."
    from "Where the Girls Aren't". The joke of course is that Mr. Schleunes, head of the mathematics department an the all-girls high school -- or more likely, Karen Stabiner, writer for the New York Times -- must have mean "algorithm," but I think it is funny because I am an "intelligent girl" who has indeed been turned off to studying cosci in college and you see I dread logarithms! :-


    Oct. 15th, 2002 01:25 am
    awhyzip: (Default)
    What an unsettling day this has been in terms of my mood.

    I kept myself up last night finalizing my portion of a big programming assignment from Cognitive Modelling. The course is really interesting and I actually do enjoy the projects for it, but they take so much effort. This one especially I have been allowing to consume huge portions of my life. Before I knew it, I saw the sun lightening the horizon. Because I had been working in fornt of the panoramic window of the hall lounge, I had a gorgeous view. I stopped to watch the day break over a skyline of downtown Boston and forested hills, then put myself to bed.
    When I woke up the next morning, I expected to be incredibly groggy, but instead everything felt vivid and good. Admittedly, I slept right thru my classmate's helpful wake-up call, but once I was out of bed I felt alert and happy.
    The happiness was a surprise. Low-key happiness used to be my default emotion, but I have been missing it this year. I blame that on having 5 courses, 3 of which are extra-heavy loads, and on my serious attempt to live life by a schedule. So far I have been able to keep almost up to date with all my work. But I have not been happy. I don't know if it is really the classs' faults. Also before the semester really began, I was feeling anxious rather than happy. At that time I blamed it on fear because I had an arbitrary schedule and was scared that I wouldn't be able to find courses I would like by the end of add-drop. So it's always school's fault, no?
    At the mandatory "re-entry" meeting for study-abroad students, one of the speakers talked to us at length about reverse culture shock. She warned us of depression and forced everyone to share in small groups. At the time I thought it a total waste of 2 hours of my life. I still think that meeting was useless, except that now I have the idea that maybe the fact that I had a semester abroad and now am returned may be causing me psychological issues. I wasn't worried about that before this meeting! But, I do not feel any sort of culture shock (reverse or otherwards), and to be honest Australia didn't feel that shock-y.
    Back when I was attending that meeting, what I was feeling was simply a lack of the excitement I ususally felt at being back at Brandeis. By now it has gotten worse. Most days I am not happy. If I am in a good mood, there generally needs to be a specific cause for it -- and they can dissappear scarily fast. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the issue of "anger management" has been concerning me. Little annoyances flare me into rages. When I can calm down, the good mood is pretty well irretrievable because I hold resentment at loosing my tranquility!
    (That was when one of my older friends lent me a couple comic books after I told him about how I was feeling angry: Transmetropolitan; he said I might like Spider Jerusalem, the main character. Spider's rages are so much worse than mine it worked like a reverse shock -- I realized I don't hate people as much as that guy does. I wish I had more Sandman's to read.)
    But back to my story of today: today when I woke up, I felt happy. I went to most of Developmental Psych, and felt happy. I sat thru Discrete Structures, and only felt bored. I busily did work until Anthropology of Writing Systems class, and was still in a good mood at the end. In Anthro, we spent the end of class organizing upcoming presentations and suchlike. Despite the fact that we were focusing on student scheduling responsibilities, I managed to avoid the despondancy that making plans often brings me to. I have a group now, for the presentations in two weeks. All thru doing homework in the after noon, I was feeling happy -- until abruptly at about 5:30pm.
    Nothing had happened, but I realized the happyness was fading away. I responded to some group members about our project (due yesterday). By 20 minutes later, I was back to the unpleasantly blah mood that has been oppressing me for so long. I debated if I should push on, or try to cheer up. Decided to take a short break, and stop by a pal's room. He lives in the same building and I though maybe a chat with him would be good for me.
    I caught him when he was just on the way to the shower, so I took a seat on a box at the end of his hallway to wait for him to come back. As I was waiting, two tall guys came by. One of them suggested that I was sitting on someone's property, and the second one was the roomate of the first guy and the owner of the box. Box-owner seems put out to find me sequestering myself in his box and tells me to get off of it. This box was left out in a corner of the public hall and contains what is apparently a comforter or down jacket, visible thru the gap between the top flaps. It was remarkably comfortable to sit on.
    I got off of the box, and told the guy that if he wants his box to be inviolable, he probably shouldn't choose to leave it in a public passageway. Guy seems mildly defensive and volunteers that it wasn't in anybody's way. This is true, the box was in a dead-end corner, which is what had attracted me to it already. I go on the offensive in order to avoid being the apologetic defensive one, and magnamiously assure him that he did alright at not having his box block the passage, then walk to the nearest other corner and collapse into tears.
    Ten minutes before, I was perfectly stable and decent!
    If you understand how important my sense of location and freedom of exploration is to me, this overreaction will make more sense, but even to me, I knew I was overreacting. I stayed in the corner by the ladies bathroom door for about an hour, weeping uncontrolledly.
    Within half an hour from simple happiness, to hiding in a corner, to tears!

    Eventually, two girls from the floor above stopped by, and sat with me for several minutes. They lent me some tissues, and assured me that I am not crazy. The most unsettling thing about the whole incident was how suddenly I fell from one mood to the other -- even though nothing had happened. They understood that. Bless them.
    I got their names, and it turns out we have mutual friends.

    As a final explanation, there's the old stand-by of lack of sleep. That's been hitting me pretty hard, these last few weeks. I'm not going to be able to really catch up until the end of the week, which seems so far away. Today was a Monday. I have confidence for my two midterms, but it is mostly confidence based on wishful thinking. I'm not sure what could help most.
    All is not bad, but I wish it were better.
    awhyzip: (Default)
    I spent last weekend in Richmond, VA for a cousin's wedding.

    As for work: first significant programming project handed in last Friday, first of three exams last Wednesday, one giant supply-closet cleaned out and organized over 4 hours, and big scary test this Saturday at 8am, plus innumerable less-memorable commitments. Definite shortage of rest.

    On the positive side, one of my friends held a Buffy-watching party for the season premier and I had a happy time there. That's about it that has been relaxing.

    I am really stressed this week. Oddly, Transmetropolitan, lent to me by my *favorite* sysadmin has been helping me hold myself in check. See, I read it and go, "Violence? No, maybe I don't want violence....eww, gross!"

    Take care of yourselves out there, and remember: 3 gratitude points will be awarded to anyone who calls me between 6 and 7:15am September 28th.


    awhyzip: (Default)

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