30 November 2009

the Internet is for distraction

i'm not interested in my homework. i have a major presentation to do tomorrow that i'm not anywhere near ready for, and a project due that is so stupid and irrelevant to my life that i must be in graduate school. i'm remembering something that someone else wrote about how most of the things you have to do to get into a profession--the specific situation there was acceptance to med school--are designed not because you need to know anything you are supposed to learn in the process, but to prove that you are willing to put up with whatever shit they throw at you, and sometimes, when you're lucky, to prove that you can think logically and independently. it's like that everywhere.

i realized this semester that there is a very simple secret to being a grown-up. all grown-ups ever do is pretend that they know what they're talking about. the trick is to find that thing you can pretend very well about, and spend a lot of time on it. the further i go, the more i realize that everybody does this.

the purpose of this post is really that it's the last day of november, and i want to post once more before the month ends. also it's been 4 days and i like to keep some semblance of an update schedule.

things i'd like to be posting:
-something about how it's been one year. i didn't even notice until most of the way through the 29th. i still miss you, but i've learned a whole lot this year. i still think it was an incredibly selfish decision, and even though i still get angry sometimes, i might be able to say i've forgiven you i understand. (not that that was what you wanted.)
-an open letter to somebody else's mother.
-anything creative.
-an update on personal issues that are only sort of related to me.

-something about family--my own, or the archetype.

-something about that time i had the option and decided i was too tired to build any more walls, that it was more worth taking the risk that somebody wouldn't reach back than the risk that i'd miss the chance to make that human connection.

26 November 2009


this seems appropriate for my 300th post. i've been wondering what it would be.

for a long time i've thought Thanksgiving was a stupid holiday, because i have a problem with the American habit of eating to excess and producing shockingly irresponsible amounts of waste. but it can be a powerful opportunity, if you take it, to sit down and really think about what you're thankful for.

i am so thankful for this life.
for the way things always seem to fall into place.
for the fact that i've never had to worry about having food in my stomach, a roof over my head, or medicine when i need it.
for a body that works the way i want it to.
for literacy.
for the chance to do things i believe are important.
for the best friends i've ever had in my life.
for a family who are so incredibly accepting, no matter what i throw at them.
and most of all, for tomorrow, and the chance for things to get even better.

23 November 2009

[the cynicizing of a poet]

this is the stuff you don't write about
because you want to believe it isn't happening
and to set words down would make it too real
and you don't want to admit you were even awake
at the hour those words hit the page
and suddenly i understand
that maybe the reason grown-ups don't write like i always have
isn't because they're too busy
but because the shit that used to seem too important to deal with
any other way

is now too important to deal with
this way.

21 November 2009


"boyfriend" feels easier every time i use it.

17 November 2009

why i will eventually become a radiologic technician instead

gender is so embedded in our culture that we don't even know what to do with the idea that it could be unimportant.

watching 2 videos in class on teaching personal pronouns to kids with autism, especially the difference between "he" and "she," starting with "Is it a boy or a girl?"
...why is this so important to treat in our children? why does it matter if the figure on a card is "a boy or a girl," and who are you to make that judgment? what is that child supposed to do if they see a person and they've learned to ask "Is that a boy or a girl?" but they don't know? (and why am i of all people stuck working in a language that has no third option, which facilitates a culture that all but forbids a third option?)

the [androgynous] Taiwanese woman in the front of the room explains how second-language learners [can] have trouble with English pronouns because there are no gendered pronouns or verb conjugations in Chinese....the professor asks how you know from context if you're talking about a male or a female, and then doesn't understand when the student explains that it doesn't matter unless it's of particular interest, in which case you ask...."the important thing for me is that the person is washing the car"....the girl next to me whispers, "that's crazy," and all i can think to respond is, "why?"

...i get so distracted by gender theory that i can't concentrate on what i'm supposed to be learning...

13 November 2009

DC sniper execution

At 9:00 PM on Tuesday, November 10, the state of Virginia executed John Allen Muhammad, who was convicted in connection with the "Beltway sniper" killings of late 2002. this is something i have rather mixed feelings about, and i feel it deserves my written attention.

first, let me state: I unequivocally oppose the death penalty.
i don't believe it is any human being's right to choose that another human being should die, even if the human being in question has caused the deaths of others. i also know that the death penalty doesn't deter crime, and it costs taxpayers more than does sustaining a prisoner for the rest of his/her natural life.

that said, i was a resident of the DC area when all of this was going on. i attended high school 5 minutes across the Maryland border, and the sniper shootings took place early in my sophomore year. i approached it much the same way i approach anything that makes a large group of people very nervous: i laughed at it. while my mother was ducking and weaving through parking lots, i told her it was the most ridiculous thing i'd ever seen, because even when more than half a dozen people had been shot, there were still hundreds of thousands in the area and the chances that any given person would become a target were, although unpredictable, pretty slim.

then a 13-year-old kid at the middle school in my neighborhood got shot. on the front steps of his school.

the kid survived, and i heard he's an asshole now. regardless. you don't just go around shooting kids on their way into school in the morning. a person might have to be completely soulless to find that not utterly reprehensible. schools across the area cancelled extracurricular activities and kept their blinds closed--not just annoying, but also pretty damn scary.

Muhammad maintained his innocence until his last breath, giving no final statement and never any admission of guilt or remorse. if the accusations against him were correct, he brainwashed a teenager named Lee Boyd Malvo into joining him on a rampage that terrorized the residents of (at least) three jurisdictions for three weeks. he was tried in Virginia because that state has a reputation for executing convicted murderers. he was also sentenced to six life terms in Maryland, and is suspected in murders in states as far flung as Alabama and Arizona. not only did he end the lives of 10 people, but his manipulation of Malvo irreversibly changed the life of a young person in an indescribably negative way.

the governor of Virginia refused Muhammad's bid for clemency, which is not out of character for him. i don't really have strong feelings about that, but i wonder if i should. yes, he had the opportunity to prevent the death of another person and didn't take it. but i also think public officials should put the wishes of their constituents before their personal views. this is tricky, and i remember arguing about it in high school religion classes. if your constituents are religious conservatives and you are elected on the basis of your conservative religious views, then to vote accordingly is all well and good. if you run on a platform of strict adherence to any given constitution, then your religious beliefs should have nothing to do with your political actions. if you're a Catholic, like Governor Kaine, and you are personally opposed to the death penalty but the judicial system of your jurisdiction sentences convicted criminals to death, you should probably work through legislative means to change that practice, or allow it as the will of the people.

i lean toward the former. killing a violent criminal serves no purpose other than to affirm that killing is acceptable--which, ironically, is the very point we attempt to disprove in the act. i have never been one to support the status quo simply because it is the status quo, so maybe, instead of saying "this is the way it has always been," we should recognize that there are other, and dare i say better, ways of addressing violent crime. Muhammad killed no one else during his seven years in prison; thus, his execution was redundant as a means of protecting the public.

i won't make the argument that everyone deserves a second chance. i don't know that everyone does. but even if a convicted criminal doesn't choose to approach a life sentence as a second chance, never reforms, never shows any signs of remorse, at least the rest of us won't have the death of another human being on our conscience.

10 November 2009

Letter to the Mayor

To: askpgh@city.pittsburgh.pa.us

Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

City of Pittsburgh
City-County Building - Fifth Floor
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

November 10, 2009

Dear Mayor Ravenstahl:

As a university student and registered voter, I feel a responsibility to express my disapproval of your proposed tax on college tuition.

For years, Pittsburghers have expressed concern that young people do not remain in the city after graduating from college. We have envisioned young voters as disillusioned and uninvolved. At the same time, we have stressed the importance of higher education to the stability of our city's economy and attempted to make Pittsburgh more attractive to recent graduates. Obviously, Pittsburgh's universities--and therefore its students--are very important to the city.

Instituting a tax on tuition would completely negate any competitive edge Pittsburgh may have with prospective college students. The idea of having to pay even more for the "privilege" of paying tens of thousands of dollars to obtain a meaningful education will drive qualified, motivated students to other cities. This decision is unprecedented in any other jurisdiction.

Additionally, taxing college students, many of whom already struggle to pay their tuition and fees in attempts to make themselves employable in an uncertain economy, will only serve to further alienate you and your administration from young voters. Recent college graduates will become even less likely to remain in a city they believe is not concerned with their interests. If any of them do remain in the city four years from now, they will certainly vote against the incumbent mayor who proposed such insensitive legislation.

Mr. Ravenstahl, had you exercised any measure of fiscal responsibility in your prior term, perhaps you would have already begun to repair the monetary problems Pittsburgh is facing instead of contributing to them. There is no reason a trash can should ever cost over $1000, especially to increase visibility of your name in neighborhoods that already had public waste receptacles.

Thank you for your time.

09 November 2009

a conversation, part 4

"is this it?" she asked me, hands on her hips. she stared off into the distance; what was there, i may never know.

"of course not," i answered. "this is never it."

"then what is it?"

"something else."

"that's a cop-out answer," she protested, after a moment. i couldn't tell if she was pretending to be frustrated. she may just have been tired.

it started to rain. a drop here, a drop there at first. then everything opened up. we raced back to the car, but neither of us won. we hadn't even gone that far, and we were soaked.

"ugh, my feet are filthy," she griped. her toes were caked with the gray from the gravel's bed, her flip-flops more of a hazard than an impediment to injury. my sneakers were wet, and dirty from a couple years of more-or-less constant use, but i had escaped that fate.

she wrung out her hair. "so what do we do now?"

i watched the rain run in rivulets down the windshield. "i don't really feel like going anywhere, do you?"

"i've got nowhere else to be."

"that's not an answer to the question i asked."

"no." i couldn't tell if she was merely agreeing with my statement, or saying she didn't want to move. i decided to let inertia do its work.

"then what do we do?" her voice startled me.

"i don't know. whatever."

another sigh. "it's like getting caught with the wrong shoes."


"it's like when you're out somewhere, and you get caught with the wrong pair of shoes. you can't do anything about it, or it wouldn't make sense anyway, so you just keep doing what you're doing. even if your feet are wet, or your toes hurt, or you look completely out of place."

"are you saying we're like a fashion mistake?"

"no, but i'm saying we're not above making one."


"usually, you fit me like an old pair of shoes, the ones you wear every day. but sometimes, you need to dress up a little. it's not throwing away your old shoes, it's just wearing another pair . . ."

"this metaphor is quickly becoming useless. it could mean too many things."

"i'm sorry." a breath. "i just think, we don't always know what to do with each other, y'know? we usually do, but sometimes we don't. it happens to everybody; it doesn't mean anything."

"everything means something."

"but it doesn't have to." she put her feet on the dash. "sometimes, things just are."

my pause was cold. it's a truth about reality that i don't like, so i resist admitting it. "so what are you saying we should do about it?"

"i haven't said anything, yet," she pointed out. "i think we either need to work harder, finish figuring things out, or learn to forgive each other for not being perfect. probably both."

"i think we need to forgive ourselves, more than each other," i offered, hesitantly, knowing my own medicine is the most bitter.

"either way," she said, "we have a lot of learning to do."

i turned the key in the ignition. "that," i said, "sounds like the essence of every problem. milkshakes?"

"sure," she answered, and put her feet back on the floor. we drove back the way we'd come.

07 November 2009

rant, abridged

it's amazing what being employed by a university can do to your willingness to say things on the internet. i'm so fucking pissed right now i don't even know what to write.
this game is getting really old.

04 November 2009

fun question of the day:

"are you still with your girlfriend?"

02 November 2009

realization & question:

yup. it's november.

how is it that one part of this semester seems to be moving so fast while another seems to be moving SO SLOW?