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"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve wanted to start my life over. Well, not really over. I’m just always looking for that new beginning. I’m always looking for that opportunity to modify my life, that defining moment I can look back to and say that’s when everything changed. For me, there’s almost no greater feeling than those moments when I decide I’m going to take control of my existence. Lately though, I’ve been having too many of those moments.

The trouble is, I keep promising things to myself and then letting myself down. Tomorrow, I think, there’s always tomorrow and that’s when I’ll really begin. That’s when my life will start to come together and everything will be just as it should be. Of course, tomorrow never comes. Tomorrow is always in the future, and so my present begins to be ignored and forgotten. I’m not tending to the now the way I need to be. My mind is always on what should be or what could be and never invested in what already is.

Today I changed my blog, switching from the My Space template back to blogger. I just decided that I needed a change. I decided to clean most of my room, although there’s always more to be cleaned, and decided I’m going back on my diet. Having not had a cigarette all day, I’ve decided they’re disgusting and I’m quitting. Having no more days of work, I’ve decided I’m really going to buckle down at school. Having made all of these decisions, I’ve decided that today is the first day of the rest of my life. Today is a new beginning.

I know, however, that it will only be a matter of time before I fail at all of these resolutions for myself. I know that no matter how much I may convince myself that this time will be different, it won’t be. I’m doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. That sounds so pessimistic, but I’m not sure if I can get past this pattern unless I’m honest with myself. I will never be the person that I’d truly like to be, so maybe I should try and be content with the person I already am. That is, after all, the ultimate goal for myself. Happiness. Happiness is everything.

I know that accomplishing these things will make me happy, but I also know that attempting to accomplish them and failing will make me miserable. Is it better then, to not try at all? Should I simply accept that I’ll never be the person I long to be? I know that’s not right. I also know the high risk of being disappointed in myself yet again. I can’t even stop talking in circles let alone living in them. Sometimes it just feels like I’m doomed either way. Misery is painful and contentment is unsatisfying. Denying myself things makes me unhappy and indulging in things makes me feel guilty. Being an over achiever stresses me out as much as the idea of being a slacker. Everything has pros and cons. Everything has repercussions. Everything is a choice. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Perhaps I should just begin again......tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Two Monks

Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind.

One said, "The flag moves."

The other said, "The wind moves."

They argued back and forth but could not agree.

Hui-neng, the sixth partiarch, said: "Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves."

The two monks were struck with awe.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, And I Feel Fine

I’m 20 years old and I’m still scared of the news. I wish I could be one of those people who got up every morning and read the newspaper or raced home to watch the evening news, but I’m not. I avoid it. I know that it makes me seem uneducated about current events and the world around me, and I know that it makes me seem immature and apathetic. The problem isn’t that I don’t care. The problem is that I care too much.

I’m not trying to sound noble here. It isn’t noble at all. In fact, it’s horrible to be this way and I wish I wasn’t so scared to feel. You’re supposed to feel, after all, compassion and horror and anger and happiness and all of the emotions the world evokes. Instead, I avoid it. I can’t listen to the stories of violence and misery. I can’t handle the pain. It’s hard enough to deal with the emotions of my life, let alone feel the emotional trials of the rest of the world. I know how selfish that makes me, but if I allowed myself to cry for every troubled soul I read about and see on tv, I would never stop crying. Why must I be such an emotional wreck?

These hurricanes haunt me everywhere I go. I guess they’re supposed to. I get equally worried when I think about them and when I realize I’m not thinking about them. It’s so strange and sad that my life continues onward completely unaltered with the exception of having to pay a little more for gasoline. I swallow down tears every time I hear someone complain about the increasing prices, which happens an increasing amount each day in my house alone. I do have a Jewish father after all. It’s not that I think anyone who complains about it is unsympathetic, it’s just that they can’t seem to make the connection that it could be so much worse. I think gas prices are the least of this country’s problems, but like every situation, America is more concerned with it’s finances than with it’s people.

I think the worst part of my emotional condition is that I tend to get equally annoyed by efforts to help victims. So much of it just seems fake to me, as though it’s more important for people to assume you’re giving than for you to actually be giving. It’s so important obviously to help your fellow man, but that in and of itself should be the reason for helping, and not because you saw your favorite celebrity talking about it on tv. I know that this is neurotic, as the reason behind it really isn’t as important as the victims need for help. I’m sure they really don’t care why you made the donation. It just feels more and more that we exploit these traumatic situations. I’m having trouble believing that anything is genuine, that anyone is selfless, that any of us are safe from corruption. Nothing seems real.

These hurricanes seem surreal. They seem millions of miles and years away from my everyday life. I’ve distanced myself from them as a means of feeling ok. I know it’s awful. I know that I’m a horrible person for it and there’s no justification for ignoring it. I’ve been trying so hard to push the world out of my mind that I’m beginning to internally deteriorate from the repression. Imagine having to leave your home knowing that it will probably never be there to return to. Imagine being separated from your family, not knowing whether they’re dead or alive. Imagine not knowing what your future holds and having your entire past destroyed. How can the world just keep moving?

But it does. Which is why I know I’m not the only one guilty of intentional ignorance. We push these things out of our mind because they’re painful, but it needs to be painful. That’s what it means to be a member of the human race, to feel the pain and beauty of the world. It seems wrong to me to discuss how terrible the condition of the world is the same way we discuss how unseasonably cold it’s been. I would rather weep together, hold one another, grieve for the loss of members of our human family. I would rather grieve for our country, subject to an appallingly inhumane government who continues to fail us time and time again. Was it really a surprise to everyone that George Bush doesn’t care about black people? Could people really not see that until Kanye West pointed it out? Don’t get me wrong, I adore Kanye, but what about the millions of people who have been fighting for years now to prove this very point? Somehow without the exuberant glamour of celebrity status, their opinions become insignificant. I just think it’s sad that we live in a world that has it’s priorities so fucked up. I think it’s sad that I’m guilty of falling into that pattern. I think it’s sad that while a part of me wants to cry and scream and yell, a bigger part of me plants a smile across my face and walks through each day happy in my ignorance. I think it’s sad that I feel fine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Few Favorite Zen Quotes

"When a fish swims, it swims on and on, and there is no end to the water. When a bird flies, it flies on and on, and there is no end to the sky. There was never a fish that swam out of the water, or a bird that flew out of the sky. When they need a little water or sky, they use just a little; when they need a lot, they use a lot. Thus they use all of it at every moment, and in every place they have perfect freedom." ~ Dogen

"When you are deluded and full of doubt, even a thousand books of scripture are not enough. When you have realized understanding, even one word is too much." ~Fen-Yang

"Soon the child's clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines, and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and stange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day...we become seekers." ~Peter Matthiessen

"The only zen you find on the tops of mountains is the zen you bring up there." ~Robert Pirsig

"When I dance, I dance; when I sleep, I sleep; yes, and when I walk alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts drift to far-off matters for some part of the time, for some other part I lead them back again to the walk, the orchard, to the sweetness of this solitude, to myself." ~Montaigne

"Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox. Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form." ~Buddha

"Barn's burnt down -- now I can see the moon." ~Masahide

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition

I’m thinking about the constructs of education as the light turns yellow. For an instant, I’m unsure of what to do. There isn’t time to hesitate about the pros and cons of each choice, so I instinctively put my foot on the break. I say instinctively, but lately, I think I’ve been instinctively drawn to the gas more often, racing through on the brink of red lights as if my time were too valuable to waste sitting in a car for a few moments. Maybe I just like the excuse to go especially fast, to jam my foot all the way down on the peddle. Nevertheless, today I stopped.

Which turned out to be for the best, as it gave me a few moments to sit and consider my decision, my pause. Had I gone for it, raced through the impending red light, my whole life could be different. It’s like the movie Sliding Doors, which is certainly worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet, where we watch two versions of the protagonist’s life; one in which she catches the sliding doors of the subway home, and one in which she doesn’t. That single second between catching the train and missing it changes everything. Likewise, although it would be too much for a movie plot, every second to follow does that as well. It would drive anyone mad to think about it on a regular basis, but every once and a while, I like to ponder what my life would be like if I had made that red light, if I had stopped to pick up that penny, if I had bothered to yell hello across the street to him. Maybe I’d be a completely different person.

It’s all speculation of course. There’s no way of knowing what life would be like if I had done those things any more than if I hadn’t done those things. It’s just so funny to think that every instant we are making decisions that change the direction of our lives. We are constantly shifting our paths of existence without even knowing it.

There are of course the bigger decisions as well, the ones that seem more life defining such as where to go to college, what to major in, who to give our heart to, when to say goodbye. These things tend to torture us, especially if we feel like we’ve made the wrong decision, but here’s what I’ve come to realize. There is no right decision. There is no right or wrong in anything. Even those things that we know to be right and moral and good, well, why do we know them to be that way? Do you ever think about that? We know things as absolute truth because we are taught to know them as truth. We are taught what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is criminal, just as we are taught that green means go and red means stop.

But maybe life is completely yellow. Maybe that ambiguity between slow down and speed up is what life is all about, those choices we are faced with daily of how to act and react to the world around us. In reading the blog of someone unhappy at her choice of school, I found myself being transported back to my freshman year, remembering feeling the exact same way. Often, I still wonder like she is now, how much easier it would have been had I just picked the right school to begin with. The thing I know now though, is that I did choose the right school. It felt right at the time, and in being the wrong fit, was still in it’s own way right. That’s what I mean about choices. I learned more about myself in my discovery that I knew less about myself than I thought I did. Yes, it was painful at the time, but I am who I am because of that pain, because I was forced to reevaluate everything I knew to be true.

I don’t know what it would be like had I loved a typical four-year, dorm-room, job-free college experience. I don’t know if my life would be better or worse. All I can really know is that my life is what it is, and it is that way because of the choices that I’ve made, both big and small. Had I put my foot on the gas this morning instead of the break, everything could be different. We can’t ever know what would have been or what will be. After all, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Wish I Could Be, Part Of That World

I’ve been feeling so uninspired lately. Not necessarily lazy, although I’m sure that’s part of it, but more just unsure of how I would like to be spending my time. Nothing seems very appealing. I’ve already started to feel pretty apathetic towards school despite my interesting classes. I’m having trouble keeping my mind focused on any topic long enough to want to write about it. I have a two page "to-do" list, but am more interested in making the list than actually accomplishing anything on it. I’m just very restless and unmotivated all at once. It’s a really dreadful feeling.

In truth, I just want to scream. I’m sure that sounds really rather insane, but sometimes I think it’s the most helpful way to get over things, to just yell as loud as you can. I can’t though. Somehow, I can never really allow myself to scream or cry when I need to. I can never allow myself to just be free with my emotions. Right now I’m just feeling trapped. Trapped in my house, in my life, in my skin. Do you ever wish you could just escape yourself?

Often I think that if I were braver, I would run away. Not really from anything or to anywhere necessarily, just away from here. I would just go for the sake of an adventure. There’s been a real lack of that in my life lately. Everything’s become so routine and I guess I feel as though I’m twenty years old and not ready yet to settle for such a mundane existence. There’s so much I want to do and try and I feel stuck in this stagnant waiting place between college and the "real world." I like school, but I would give it up in a second if something more exciting came along. Well, exciting and practical.

Therein lies my trouble. I’m too practical for adventure. It’s a really horrible place to be in, this head of mine. Everything in me is ready for something new and mysterious except my head which keeps me planted in school. I spent a lot of my life criticizing my brother for his life choices, but truthfully, I wish I was more like him. I wish I could just say "fuck it" and follow my heart the way he does. I wish I didn’t care what people thought of me. I wish I could be more confidant in my instincts and not second guess every move I make.

I’m not like that though, and all of the wishing in the world won’t get me any closer. Kurt Cobain said "wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are," and I suppose that’s true. I suppose sitting around dreaming up the adventures I could have if only I were different is a complete waste of time. If anything, it only distracts me from the adventures I am having just by being alive, just by being me. Still, I can’t help but want more.

I used to think that the Little Mermaid was so selfish when she said that. Seriously. Even at five years old, it seemed so wrong to me that she had all those "gadgets and gizzmos a-plenty" and "whose-its and whats-its galore." You want "thing-a-ma-bobs?" She’s got twenty. But who cares, no big deal, she wants more. It seemed so wrong somehow, but more and more I’ve grown to understand Ariel. Somewhere out there is a world full of mystery and wonder. It seems the bigger my world becomes, the more I begin to crave more, the more I want to make it even bigger. It’s never enough is it? Life. Why is it that so many of us can’t ever seem to be content with what we have?

I don’t mean for that to sound critical necessarily. I don’t particularly think this is negative. It’s just an observation about human behavior. We set goals for ourselves, our lives, and then work towards them. If we fail, we feel bad about ourselves and either give up, or try again, or spend years in therapy trying to decipher why we failed in the first place. If we succeed, we then set new goals to either fail or succeed at, and we continue to work towards these higher aspirations, but where does it end? I wonder if there is some sort of means to an end or if we all just keep dreaming of places and things beyond our reach. I wonder if I’ll ever stop yearning to be part of that world, that mysteriously grand world filled with adventure. I wonder if I’d even recognize it when I arrived. Perhaps I've always been a part of that world, but have been too practical to notice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Old Switcheroo

Sunday was the first time we had all sat in a room together since the night my mom told us she was leaving. It was a strange sensation, to say the least, to be in a situation that had once felt so normal, feeling completely awkward. I knew it shouldn’t be awkward, especially not for me. They say that there is no such thing as an equal balance of power in a relationship, and more and more I’m finding this to be true. When my parents split up, the power shifted, and Harry and I suddenly found ourselves in control. We know it too. We know just what to say to get what we want from our parents, to hurt them, to make them feel guilty. I’m not proud to admit it, but we both use their failures to our advantage.

Which is why on Sunday when they came to us with questions about our living arrangements, we knew our responses would weigh heavily on the decision. I guess I felt so awkward because I really didn’t know what I wanted. I still don’t really know. I guess what I want is impractical. If it were up to me, we would sell this house and each parent would find a new place to live. I hate the idea that this house has come to have a different meaning than when I was a child. So much has changed within these walls. I hate the idea of it changing again.

Of course, that’s exactly what’s happening. Within the next two weeks or so, my dad will be moving out and my mom will be moving in. It’s ironic that this is the way I had originally wanted it to be. I wanted to, and still want to, live with my mom over my dad. Maybe it’s horrible, but I’ve always known which parent I would choose if I had to. I’ve always known it would be her. So when she left, it was difficult knowing she wouldn’t be there to come home too, but I got over it. I settled into the house with it’s new feel as my father’s home. I adjusted to the isolation that comes from living with a distanced father and brother, and now I almost prefer the opportunity to be alone. It won’t be like that with my mom.

There will be more rules, but which I mean, no more smoking pot in the living room. It’s not as though my mother is by any means strict, but she’s more aware of things than my father. She’ll notice the empty bottles of liquor lying around the kitchen and the bongs scattered around the house. I’m sure this will be a positive alteration, but it will take some getting used to. The house will just feel different.

Maybe it’s for the best. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I am kind of excited for the new living situation. My mom and I are very close and it will be nice having someone around to talk to. I think it will feel more like my home again, and less like I’m living in someone else’s house, less like I’m an intruding guest. Plus, the idea of spending more time with her children is making her so extremely happy, and that makes me happy too. I’ve even missed being around her stuff. My life somehow feels incomplete without her various insane purchases such as the giant wooden fish, the pez dispenser collection, the 1940's war pillows. Funny how you don’t realize how important these material things are until they’re gone.

Yesterday my dad sold his baby grand piano. It’s gone. I have never lived in a house without a piano. NEVER. I can’t say I don’t already miss it. The house feels so empty without it. So imagine, two or so weeks from now, how much more empty it will feel.

The transitional phase scares me, the few days or weeks in between my dad’s departure and my mom’s arrival. It’s during that time when the house becomes just a house, just walls and floors like any other building. This is no longer the place where I spent my childhood, where we were a family. Somehow I think that leaving it would help preserve those memories, help separate these new beginnings from the old. I wish they would just sell it and move on, but these things take time, and soon my brother and I will be too old to get away with living with our parents. I understand my parents desire to stay here for now, to hold on to this place, hold on to us. Still, understanding it and liking it are two very different things indeed, and I’m afraid I’m just not ready to embrace the change. I’m afraid for the future within these walls.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Everyday Is A Winding Road

Life is crazy. I don’t mean for that to sound like any great revelation or original idea. It just needs to be said sometimes. Life is a never ending roller coaster of uncertainty and insanity, and just when you think you’ve got the structure of it all figured out, it curves and sends you reeling into the unexpected. In an instant, everything can change.

In my boredom tonight I was searching through blogs. First of the people I know, and then strangely, through some I didn’t know. I just kept hitting that "next blog" button, as my computer screen displayed the thoughts of one after another stranger. There was something so intriguing and almost beautiful about it. One woman spoke of her troubles with infertility and her fears of never having a baby. A man posted pictures of his twin boys at their first amusement park. One 33 year old woman, I kid you not, writes entirely about star trek enterprise episodes. What a funny world we live in.

I’m currently watching the Saturday Night Live special on NBC about the first five years. As old black and white pictures of the cast members smoking and dancing together parade across the screen in that formulaic documentary way, I’m wondering if the average person remembers their life in such a way. Yes, it’s somewhat fake intensity and sentimentality created by artistic photos and sappy background music, but maybe life is like that. Maybe it’s just as intense and sentimental as we want it to be, we create it to be. Maybe we’ll look back at our lives as a series of photographs as we play a sappy song in the back of our minds.

I started thinking about us. Ten years from now will I be reading about your children on your blogs? Will we still say hey every once and a while on AIM and through emails? It’s strange to have friends in my life that were on the exact same track as me not so long ago suddenly be somewhere so completely different in their lives. I mean, we’re all different. I wasn’t expecting us to stay the same or even to move in the same direction, but I suppose I hadn’t really realized just how many directions there were to move in. Anything can happen, and what we expect our blogs and lives to look like ten years from now will most likely be nothing like the reality. In the words of Gilda Radner, "Mmm delicious ambiguity."

That’s what life is, deliciously ambiguous, and I am endlessly anxious and thrilled by the uncertainty of it all. The future is filled with such limitless possibilities, and I’m excited to think of how I’ll look back on my life, what pictures I’ll choose to display, what sappy song I’ll play in the background, what I’ll remember about the girl I used to be.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I Am Such A Sucker, And I’m Always The Last To Know

My biggest flaw is my desire to be liked. No, it’s not a desire, it’s a need. It’s a deeply rooted, horrible, pathetic need to have the constant approval of everyone around me. I know that it doesn’t sound like much of a problem, and certainly not anything original. Everyone wants to be liked, even the most misanthropic of mankind. There is, however, a difference between wanting to be liked and needing the approval of others to feel validated, to feel even slightly alright.

Last Friday, I went out for drinks with some of my coworkers to celebrate my last day of work. After about an hour, everyone had gone except me and Ed. We sat and drank and talked there for a good five hours together, and I began to wonder why it took me so long to actually like him. It wasn’t until today that I realized it was about me. I was the problem. I’m getting ahead of myself here though. After a while, his girlfriend came to join us and we all sat around and drank and talked some more. Eventually, in a drunken mess, we went back to Ed’s. He and I sat in his basement and smoked as I listened to him play guitar. It was one of those situations that probably would have been sufficiently strange and awkward had we not been so fucked up, but fortunately, we were. It was surprisingly fun, and for the first time, I really felt like we were friends.

So that’s how I started treating him. The next day he called to make sure I got home ok the night before, and we talked for a while about everything. On Tueday, I IMed him and he joked around (well, half joked) about how I was going to hell for abandoning him and how miserable he was having to do it all himself. On Wednesday, we talked again. On Thursday, I went to pick up my last paycheck. Everyone noticed right away how much happier I was, which is true. Not having that job immediately sparked my spirit, reminded me of a time when I was a happier, more care free person. I have really been glowing since my last day there. Ed, on the other hand, looked at me with hurt and pain in his eyes, in that pity-me kind of way. I’m such a sucker for that look.

Needless to say, I went in today to help him out, and told him I would come in every other day for the next two weeks until his replacement is available. The second I sat down at the computer, I regretted it. I got that lump in my throat that the job always gave me, that "I would rather be anywhere but here" kind of feeling my stomach. Ed joked, "I knew you’d be back Zelnick, you just couldn’t stay away," and suddenly, I hated him again. How could he not understand that I hate this job, that I would do anything to never have to enter another appraisal again? How could he not understand that it wasn’t about the job, it was about helping him? So here’s where we arrive at the aforementioned epiphany moment. Why? Why the hell am I doing this to myself? Ed didn’t do anything wrong. He really hasn’t all along. It’s me. It’s my need to have his constant approval, and the less he reacts the way I would like him to, the more I want to gain his approval. How did I get so messed up?

The worst part is, I get mad at him and I get mad at me, and then I’m unlikeable. I can feel it happen. It’s this horrible transformation that I’m unable to stop. All week I was so excited at the prospect of being good friends with him, sharing our inside jokes, talking about life outside of work. I should have just left it at that and things would be fine. We would have ended the work relationship on that fun drunken Friday night. Instead, I ruined it by wanting him to first realize he needed my help, and then for me to swoop in and give it to him. I wanted him to thank me for being a good friend. I wanted to be the one who got to save him from his pity. I am such a sucker.

Then, of course, I was angry with myself and I acted like a bitch. I couldn’t be the friendly, fun girl I had been at the bar on Friday or on the phone all week. I was back to Frankie, the employee who resented everything about her job, most of all her boss. I wanted so desperately to laugh and joke and I simply couldn’t. It’s a horrible feeling to be so trapped by your emotions, and now this is how I’ll most likely leave Ed for the last and final time. I hate myself for wanting his approval so badly and I hate myself even more for feeling like I’ll never have it. I think there’s some definite "daddy issues" playing a role here. I worry it’s a pattern I’ll never escape. I worry I’ll always be a sucker for a pity-me look, and I’ll spend my life regretting the actions it causes me to take.

The real problem is, even knowing all of this about myself, I would still do anything to make him like me. Even a simple thank you would suffice.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What Happened To Education?

Where does the time go? One second I’m making all of these promises to myself to blog daily, and the next thing I know, four days have gone by without a word. I get so distracted by my daily emails, that all of my writing energy is absorbed into those, and by the time I have a few moments to blog, I’ve run out of things to say. I have so many things I’d like to write about, I hardly know how to contain them within a single entry. Maybe I’ll be inspired to write a few all at once. We’ll see how it goes.

Sitting in the hallway outside my anthropology classroom on the first day of school, I overheard two boys taking about their classes. Both had apparently managed to sleep through their first class, which generally I wouldn’t find odd on a regular morning, but really, who sleeps through the first day? I don’t know, maybe it’s more common than I think. One of the boys then proceeded to follow me into the classroom where he walked straight up to the oldest looking person in the room and mumbled "yo, are you the teacher or whatever?" I was immediately wowed by his poignantly articulated intelligence. As she giggled a little in her nervous graduate student way to say yes, he took out a piece of paper and nonchalantly held it up to her. "I’m gonna need you to like sign this or whatever, cause like I already failed this class once or whatever." Again, I was wowed. She laughed and said ok, asking who his previous teacher had been. He, shockingly, hadn’t a clue.

It was funny, yes. We all laughed, partly with him, partly at him. It’s good to have a class clown, and even better to have a class screw up, knowing that no matter how poorly you may do, you’ll always have a partner in crime. Sadly, these are the kind of kids I’m usually drawn to and want to have around. I like people who can make me laugh, who don’t take things, especially school, too seriously. I like the goofballs of the world. Probably because I know how to connect with them, because I don’t have to worry about sounding sane or intelligent around them. I don’t have to worry about being me the way I generally do.

It wasn’t until later that I began to get angry about that boy’s behavior. Well, not just his behavior, but him as a representative for all his kind. While it’s fun and funny to have these kids around, at the same time, I wonder how they can handle being such a waste of space. It is a waste. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but it seems to me, if you don’t want to be a student, then don’t be. Stop wasting everyone’s time and resources simply because you don’t know what else to do with yourself.

What happened to education? There was a time when going to college was for scholars, for people interested in learning about the world around them. I have friends like that, smart friends, who deserve the opportunity to sit around with other intelligent individuals and discuss politics and art and the deeper philosophical meaning of it all. If I was a little smarter, I too, could be one of these people. I certainly have the desire, but suddenly, the desire for that kind of education has become insignificant as no one seems to be looking for it. The desire to become an educated person is no longer a requirement to attend a university. Isn’t that kind of sad? College has become just the next logical step in the order of things, a kind of waiting room where we each sit wasting time until we are called in to be assigned a profession. I just feel like it should MEAN something.

Then there’s the other kind of education, which is often the more desirable option. Somewhere along the line, it became a societal view that to be educated means to be able to have a conversation at a dinner party. To be college educated means to speak well and to know something about politics and art and current affairs. Perhaps that’s enough. It is certainly an accomplishment in itself to be articulate, but at the same time, people settle for the conversation. People are content knowing enough about a few popular topics to speak about them, without needing to feel passionate enough about anything to want to take action. It seems to me, a person can know all the facts and figures in the world, but without passion, without the desire to seek more than just facts and figures, none of it really means anything. So many wasted minds...

Really, what happened to education? When did it stop being about understanding the world around us, and start being about grades and facts and dinner party conversations? People go to college because we live in a world that takes you more seriously if you have a degree. People go to college because it seems logical and an important step to get the better job, make the most money. People go to college because the alternative is a scary, unknown, real world which we’re not prepared for, and probably never will be, but luckily, we’ll always have some dinner party conversation. Or, you know, like, whatever.

Monday, September 05, 2005

So This Is Odd, The Painful Realization That All Has Gone Wrong

Before I even get into this post, I’d like to say sorry for being MIA to anyone who reads this or cares. I managed to break my internet right before school started (when I of course, actually NEED my internet), and have only now gotten it back. It’s been hard to blog. I have so many wonderful things to post on here, stories about my phenomenal classes and fantastic nights out. Life’s been really lovely lately. This blog however, is unfortunately going to be a bit sadder.

I think everyone feels somewhat let down by their parents in some way or another. I have yet to meet a person who is so completely in love with their family that they can’t see any flaws in the way they were raised. I think lately I’ve been seeing them more and more. I used to think it was easy to blame my shortcomings on my parents, but I’m beginning to think that perhaps it’s so easy because it’s right. I am a product of my mother and father, and of all of their successes and failures. I am who they raised me to be.

I had a long talk with my mom this weekend about everything, about who I am and how I got this way. I’ve actually never had such an honest talk with anyone. It was nice and very therapeutic. If I could afford it, I would see a therapist as often as possible. It’s so nice to confirm that I’m crazy enough to be normal and normal enough to be crazy. It’s nice to confirm that there are actually things that I like about myself, including my ability to understand the things that I don’t like about myself. It all sounds sort of insane, I know, but really, I am sort of insane.

I don’t think my parents failed me. There are certainly a million other scenarios far worse than growing up with my family. I was never abused or abandoned or anything worthy of a lifetime movie special. There are however, things I wish my parents had done for me. There are however, things my parents wish they had done for me. There are however, regrets about my childhood.

I was raised to be independent, but so much so, that I was left to fend for myself. There are times when a child screams "back off" or "fuck you" or "leave me alone" and is actually saying "I need help, please help me." My parents never really heard the underlying message. They wanted so badly for their children to like them, that they failed to step in and be the unlikeable parents.

This is why I don’t know how to eat and Harry doesn’t know how to study. This is why I never really learned the proper way to cook and clean and take care of a household, take care of myself. This is why I am so fucked up about so many things. We all are. The four Zelnick children are bright and fun and have strong, deep souls, but the four Zelnick children are also extremely fucked up. We’ve all turned to drugs and relationships that we’re wrong for us. We’ve all searched for reasoning and absolution in our lives. We’ve all desperately tried to escape this utterly painful independence that was forced upon us. We’ve all failed.

Yes, I would rather be like this than be overly dependent on my family. There’s no way of knowing who I would be or what my life would be like if my parents had stepped up to the plate a bit more when I was growing up. There really isn’t much use in sitting here analyzing every moment to figure out how I got this way. The point is, I am this way, and so where do I go from here? Well, I’m not going to make the same mistakes with my children, and I’m going to take it upon myself to fix the mistakes my parents made with me. I’m twenty years old. I can teach myself to eat and cook and clean. I can teach myself to be the person I’d like to be, and I know who that is, because my parents raised me to know what’s right. And for that, I thank them.

Posting Some Secrets

I knew about the party because I secretly read your email.

I wish my father would talk to me about something real.

Sometimes I wish I was dying so that I wouldn't have to worry about the future.

I feel better when other people feel sorry for me.

I was the one who told.

I always assume beautiful people are shallow. I always want to be one of them.

I still think smoking makes you look cool.

I hated you until the moment I realized I was in love with you.

I believe in God more than I let on.

I hate your boyfriend because he stole your time and attention.

I hate your girlfriend because I wish it could be me.

I'm sorry for being a bitch to you, but I know if we made up, I'd do it all over again.

I'm afraid of getting my eyes poked out by other peoples umbrellas.

Sometimes I wonder why we're friends.

I miss seeing your name on my caller ID.

I don't feel like I deserve happiness, friends or love. That's why I'm afraid to get close to you.

I cheated.

I only wrote it to look tough in front of the "cool" kids. I'm sorry.

I love you, but I think you're kind of dumb and immature.

I revel in feeling lonely and depressed.

I danced barefoot in the rain in the parking lot of the grocery store. Everyone stared at me like I was crazy. It was one of the best moments of my life.

The only time I feel free is when I'm with you. Now you're gone and I'm scared.

I eat my feelings.

I only left so that you would realize you need me. Now I'm worried you'll realize you don't, and worse, that you never did.

My biggest fear is ending up like you.

I never realized how much I wanted to live until you died.

I love being the one people turn to with their problems because it distracts me from my own.

I have so many more secrets to share.