Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The last night of spring break, we decided to go to a park, something we had not done all week, which is strange, because it tends to be what we do when we hang out.

So after an hour of playing tag, Kimberly decides to show us her pole dancing moves on the firemen poles on the playground. (If the cops had come by at this moment, it would've been amazing. And awkward. But mostly amazing.) Janelle and Katie and Maureen trying out the pole dancing moves is to be expected, but when Mikko and Brandon and Elliot went for it (and were all surprisingly good at it), well, that's just one of those moments of discovery that gives you new and valuable insight into your friends.

Then, for some reason, Maureen asked why girl push-ups were called 'girl push-ups'. And I answered, without thinking of being more specific and less innuendo-y, "Because you're on your knees."

Yeah. It was definitely that kind of night.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Can you hear that?

It's a rare moment of silence amongst us, because we are never quiet. Not because we have something important to say, but because the meaningless things you say in life are usually the most fun. But for once, no one is saying anything.

We are lying on our towels at the beach, completely silent. I do my best to sear this moment into my brain, because I feel like it's possibly the only time it will ever happen. I listen to the waves crashing and feel the sun and wind and occasionally a seagull caws and I consider that they are rallying their battle formation to close in and attack our picnic, but not even that can make me open my eyes and let this moment go. Because for me, this is a moment of clarity, where everything is perfect and I'm not going to worry about seagulls or sunscreen or school.

We never shut the fuck up. But we're quiet right now, if just for now. At this very moment, we don't need to say anything. But just for a moment.

Can you hear that? Laura asks.

Yeah, Kimberly says, it was the sound of silence. But not anymore.

And she jumps up, energetic and rambunctious once again. And we resume talking, not saying anything important, but enjoying the hell out of it nonetheless.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

100% organic

Yesterday I was hanging out with an old friend who I haven't seen in forever. She's been vegan for two years, and we went to Whole Foods to pick up some vegan desserts. Because there's no way you could get me into a Whole Foods otherwise. I'm just way too cheap.

Anyway, the whole point of this story is that we saw someone in Whole Foods who wasn't white! I swear, it's a good thing 2012 is coming soon, because the world is clearly turning upside down.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack

Laura's 21st birthday was on Thursday. Her parents left for Death Valley for the weekend on Friday, which Laura thought must surely be a trap, but we had a party and they did not pop out from behind the sofa or show up at 4 a.m. to bust us.

We had an excellent time. We almost finished the giant bottle of So Co that Elliot gave Laura as a gift. Maureen, our resident lightweight, fell off the couch and got herself stuck between the couch and another armchair after only two drinks. I had many a heart-to-heart with many a person. The only remotely embarrassing thing that happened was Elliot, who is the MOST awkward-turtle person I know, telling me and Brandon that we needed to get ourselves some more confidence. And it's only embarrassing because IT'S SO TRUE.

Mikko left around 4 a.m. for work, but came back around 9. I was asleep in the living room, and his knocking woke me up, so I decided to just get up. He saw me and said, "You look like Kesha*."

"Yeah," I yawned. "And I feel like P. Diddy."

*I refuse to spell her name with that stupid dollar sign.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Frightened by the bite though it's no harsher than the bark

I am so addicted to the Arctic Monkeys right now. This song is leading my current obsession.

I adore the line "In my imagination you're waiting lying on your side with your hands between your thighs". I think it's so straightforward and one might even call it perverse, but I think it's beautiful and almost haunting in its honesty.

So I'm going to keep listening instead of finishing my Spanish composition.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In the sun, sun having fun

The weather this weekend was so nice. It was sunny and relatively warm, so I took full advantage by going on a three-hour walk with a guy I met at swing dancing, who I am going to dub Nerdgasm because he's a nuclear engineering major and has a major Jew fro and wears Transition lens glasses. He took me to this rose garden waaaay up a hill on the north side of campus. I might be a little enamoured.

Today was, as all true nerds know, Pi Day. Hana and I went to dinner and got pie to celebrate.

I am still slightly sunburnt, but it was well worth it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mentally stimulating

We were having a debate in my Brain, Mind & Behavior discussion today. The resolution was "A legitimate use of pharmaceutical stimulants such as amphetamine and methylphenidate should be cognitive enhancement for 'normal' individuals." Basically, people without any diagnosed medical condition should be allowed to take Ritalin or Aderall or whatever other drugs to help improve cognition and focus and decrease fatigue.

Despite the affirmative's assertion that these drugs do no have negative side effects when used in the proper dosages (even though, logically speaking, artificially stimulating your brain to work when it wants to sleep can not be good for it, and while the damage may not be significant in the short term, there is no fucking way that it can be good for you in the long term), I still think it's a bad idea. Aren't we, as a society, already in a cut-throat competition with one another? Do we really need to encourage further drastic measures to make ourselves better than our competitors?

And sadly, I think we do.

When I say 'I think we do', I don't mean 'I think we should'. I mean that with the way our society operates, we have no choice in the matter.

I've read plenty of shallow, half-baked articles in teen magazines about how 'Ritalin abuse is on the rise among high school students; oh dear, it's dreadful, isn't it?'. All these articles love to espouse horrifying statistics about how many more girls admit to taking amphetamines or other stimulants to help them study because if they don't get good grades, their parents won't give them a car for their sixteenth birthday, or whatever. While these articles are probably good at scaring the shit out of parents, they never seem to even try to explain why this actually happens. And I should preface this by saying I'm no expert, and this is all speculation, but I feel like I'm on the right track: it's all Adam Smith's fault.

Okay, not capitalism, per se. I have no desire to see the One True Communist Revolution go down any time soon. But consumerist capitalism, specifically, seems to be the impetus behind this cut-throat competition.

Our current consumerist economic model is based on growth. Each quarter, companies are expected to hire more people, sell more products, and make more money. Once population growth wasn't enough to sustain these growth expectations, marketing companies invented planned and perceived obsolescence. Everyone bought more stuff they didn't need or didn't even want. And they needed more money to buy this stuff. And to get more money, you have to work harder and do better in school so you can get a better job, etc. It goes on and on.

But there are more and more people vying for a proportionally smaller pool of opportunities, so it's getting more competitive, and sooner. For example, when my mother was a high school senior in the early 1970s, she had only taken one Advanced Placement course in her entire high school career, and she took it because she was interested in the subject. I, on the other hand, took nine AP courses throughout high school, and most of them only because I was convinced I needed them to be a viable candidate for college admissions.

All the competition doesn't stop once you get the well-paying job: no, companies also want their workers to be more productive, get more done in less time so more shit that no one actually needs can be produced. So this is what the (Western, industrialised) world has become. Work harder and harder to get less and less.

The biggest problem with this system is that it relies on the assumption of infinite growth, which relies on the assumption of infinite resources, both of the physical and mental varieties. The fact is that even as we keep trying to get more for less, there is still only a finite amount. Each person only has a finite amount of mental faculties before they drop dead because they haven't slept in ten days.

We are so concerned with living up to this impossible standard of infinity that we've stopped listening to what our bodies know, because they've been perfecting it over the past 200,000 years: when to stop. When your body is tired, it's telling you it needs sleep, because it has things to repair and cells to regenerate. Drugs fucking with your neurotransmitters, flooding them with signals to give you an extra five hours of energy, is not going to change what your body really needs.

What's the point in living if we're just going to become automatons, working so hard to attain that idealised success if we have to sacrifice at best, the time we have to enjoy those things that make us happy or at worst, our health and humanity? Why should I put so much effort and hard work into trying to make myself as the most qualified when ten other people are doing the exact same thing, only they have a bottle of Ritalin, making it impossible for me to compete? Why should I do all that work to get the job I've been told I need so I can buy stuff I wouldn't have even thought about needing forty or fifty years ago? Am I going to be fitter? Happier? More productive? (Okay, actually, yes. I guess these Radiohead lyrics aren't the perfect allusion.)

Apologies for the Durden-esque digression. As nice as the idea of starting over and blowing up all the bank buildings so everything goes back to zero sounds, I have no illusions that it would make things magically better. I know practically anything and everything I say is going to sound like a wannabe-revolutionary cliché, and I hate that, but that's sometimes the very (not) difficult struggle that I, as a middle-class college student, have to contend with.

Regardless, at risk of sounding like an unoriginal asshole (which is, after all, in the URL), I do often wonder if we as a society need to take a moment to stop and look at our priorities, to see where things are headed. Because I don't like the fact that people who think encouraging people to take "mental stimulants" to get an edge is a good idea. (All three people on the affirmative side of the debate said they ended up agreeing with the resolution.) I don't want to feel (or ultimately cave into) the pressure to take drugs to perform better because I have no choice if I want to keep up. I just want to live my life in a reasonable way and to give to future generations the same opportunity to live comfortably. I just want to be happy.

And this is how I wasted two hours instead of doing my Spanish homework. Maybe I could use something to help me focus...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Deep relaxation

I actually dropped this class weeks ago, and I meant to write about it but never got around to it. So I'll write about it now, even though the topic has, for all intents and purposes, expired. The class was called "Yoga: Gentle and Restorative".

It was not a class I needed for anything, but I figured it would be good to take a gym class, just for a way to force myself to go to the gym more often (because nothing forces me to do something like the threat of a pass/fail grade!), which turned out not to be necessary because I've actually been going to the gym three days a week consistently, yay me! Anyway. I thought it would be like regular yoga, with the breathing and the holding uncomfortable positions to build strength and flexibility, but it was not.

It turns out that the "gentle and restorative" part actually means "meditation bullshit" part. And I don't mean "bullshit" in the casual, hyperbolic way I usually use it.

The teacher constantly used the words "gentle" and "restorative" and "relaxing" and "deep relaxtion", which, yes, is actually two words. I realised, on the first day of class where he just showed us the "equipment" (I'll get to that in a minute), that this class was not going to be the yoga I thought it was. But that's okay, I thought, Why not take two hours out of my week to relax all my muscles and my brain and get all those great zen-ish benefits he's rambling on about?

I should've known better. Because part of our "equipment" was blankets.

The next week, when we actually started the "yoga", I quickly discovered what it really was: glorified nap time. We sat in "poses", sometimes for almost twenty minutes at a time, usually laying down on our backs, covered in blankets. And you know what I did in that first class? I FELL ASLEEP.

"Didn't that feel great?" the instructor (I refuse to call him a professor) asked.

"That felt like a nap," I whispered to the girl next to me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On the other side of the universe

I've felt really distant this whole weekend. I worked Friday and today covering shifts for people in addition to my usual Saturday shift, so I didn't really have time to do much or talk to anyone other than Bernadette Samson. Probably didn't help that half my roommates weren't even here all weekend. But I was walking to a meeting this evening and my legs were carrying me but I couldn't even feel them; I was just gliding down the street, completely disconnected from the lower half of my body.

I just want to watch Dead Like Me and not go to class tomorrow.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's late and I'm feeling poetic


La luz que de tus pies sube a tu cabellera,
la turgencia que envuelve tu forma delicada,
no es de nácar marino, nunca de plata fría:
eres de pan, de pan amado por el fuego.
La harina levantó su granero contigo
y creció incrementada por la edad venturosa,
cuando los cereales duplicaron tu pecho
mi amor era el carbón trabajando en la tierra.
Oh, pan tu frente, pan tus piernas, pan tu boca,
pan que devoro y nace con luz cada mañana,
bienamada, bandera de las panaderías,
una lección de sangre te dio el fuego,
de la harina aprendiste a ser sagrada,
y del pan el idioma y el aroma.

Pablo Neruda

A poet that loves food as much as I do.

Bernadette Samson, Hana and I just had an hour-long discussion about science, god, and the nature of the universe. And that one episode of Futurama. You know, the one where Bender has a civilisation on his ass.