Sunday

Am I Too Self-Absorbed To Write About Issues?


I write a lot about my self, my situation, my place in the world. I am motivated to provide something useful from my own experience in the hope that it will benefit somebody, something that somebody can relate to. I am best able to write about myself. My contribution is in the more personal things that I experience - the experiences that I evaluate and share, because I think they could have meaning (and maybe value) to others.

I consume four hours of news per day, more if it’s slow at work. And lately, it’s slow at work. I think I could mount a pretty decent rant on an issue if I wanted to. Maybe I’m shirking my duty as an informed citizen by not opining. Opining can repel people though.

The one thing that I can tell you about with absolute expertise is me - my experience. I can give you my little piece of the world. You can fit that piece into your world view.

...sometimes, though, I just let the fingers fly on the keyboard with my brain set to CRAZY MODE and hit 'PUBLISH POST' when it's done...and the meaning may or may not be available...

Saturday

More Notes on 37-Year-Old Me, Going Back to School:


Yesterday I went to an orientation at UCF geared for transfer students. There were 350-400 students in this ballroom getting oriented. There were powerpoint presentations that covered procedures, and there was a video that portrayed student life and so on. The video was like something you’d see on MTV or like a commercial you’d see during a college football game: cheerleaders cheering, football players colliding, students running into the fountain on campus and all kinds of craziness - with a hard driving guitar soundtrack. It was very loud, and I was right under a speaker.

At one point, we were escorted out of the ballroom in groups, by college and by major. So all of the engineers got up and walked out. All of the Business majors. And so on.

I wasn’t the oldest one there, and I was glad, because you’re walking out of a crowded-as-hell ballroom with hundreds of students lookin at you. I don’t know why I can’t get over this issue. I mean: I even had trouble looking these younger students in the face. Isn’t that weird? There were young students running the orientation: escorting us to our advisers, escorting us to registration stations...these escorts were young-as-hell. I felt so out of place. Usually, though, I don’t even need conditions like these in order to feel out of place. (It can all be traced back to some greater mental problem, I'm sure.) I don’t know why I worry so much about what people think of me. I swear, though, I know I never looked that young - not even in kindergarden. But there were a few students - very few - who were older than their twenties, older than old-ass-me even. Maybe one percent.

It was weird sitting there at the table with all these young-as-hell students - some had their parents with them. Their parents didn’t look much older than I am . . . YIKES! Enough about that. It doesn't matter. I'm taking classes online. All of them, if possible.

They almost didn’t let me register for the class I wanted. I am only tentatively enrolled, in fact. I might get dropped. I didn’t have an exact match to their requirement for freshman comp part two or whatever. I have a B.A. in English already. ODU thought I had enough classes to give me an English degree. The course numbers just don’t match. I hope I don’t get dropped!

In other college campus news, saw this article about how colleges are 'watching troubled students.' Um...yeah...good luck with that. How do you decide whom to watch? How do you administer treatment or enforce laws? How do you even find a legal path to take? How do you avoid infringing on people's rights? The article described the activities of some students who they were 'watching.' One student was found sleeping in a car. Well. That might be me if I ever decide to go to quit my job and attend school full time.

Tuesday

...you realize it's impossible not to think about people from the past. Your brain just goes there. Ghosts. You realize even the hardest people think about people from their past whether they want to or not...

Sunday

I am all but enrolled in classes. I’ve been accepted to the University of Central Florida, and I’m immunized and approved for an orientation session. I’ve even changed my major already! Actually what I did was I declared. I changed from undeclared to creative writing. I might change to sociology though. (Or MAYBE information systems technology or teaching or health information management OR...OR...OR...)

I’ll start out this summer with just one class, I think. I don't want to strain myself. My first class, hopefully, will be a creative writing class, creative writing for English majors - it's a prerequisite for some other classes I want to take. If I can’t get in that one, I’ll take one of these terrific and fascinating sociology classes.

I earned a B.A. in '96, and I’ve gone back to school since then, and I've made false starts. I took some drafting classes around ‘98-'99, some AutoCAD. I never did anything with it. Back in 2002 I was looking into University of Maryland and George Mason - when I lived in metro DC. I even sent in a financial aid form. I never did follow through on that however.

Friday I went to the UCF campus to run an errand, and as I walked around, I felt pretty old. I'm almost twice as old as the incoming freshmen. I felt pangs of absurdity. But. Whatever. Age is just a number. It's how you feel, right? Your spirit. All ages are allowed. You can only feel humiliated if you let yourself feel humiliated, somebody once said. It's not like they all stopped what they were doing to stare and point at me and laugh. Not yet anyway. Any humiliation I would feel would be self generated.

There were other older folks there. A few. I studied them carefully. I don't know if they were faculty or staff or old-ass geezers like me re-entering college or entering for the first time or what. Some of them looked like they were trying to look or act young. Some of these oldsters looked like they were trying to dress or accessorize like the kids there. Or they arrived on scooters or or bicycles or those big-ass skateboards they ride now a days. For a second I thought, wow, now that's pretty pathetic. Man, be yourself. Wear your no-logo clothes, and wear your comfortable, affordable shoes and be old with pride. But I quickly corrected my thinking, I quashed the ridicule working up in my head. These snap judgments occur to you, you don't necessarily summon them, and you gotta ignore them. Who the hell am I to judge? I don't want people looking at me and thinking I'm ridiculous. I don't know, you know? I wanted to walk up to my fellow old dudes and talk to them. Hey, fellow old...dude! How are ya holdin up? How are your bones? Getting enough calcium? What's it like around here? Don't let these youngsters push you around!

I'm hoping I can take most of my classes online. I'll need to go on campus some - to go to the library. I'm not incredibly uncomfortable going to the campus - I don't know. I don't know how I feel about it. When I went to ODU, there seemed to be a lot of people in their thirties, forties, fifties, plus - especially in the evening classes. ODU was a commuter school. People from all over Hampton Roads went to school there - people looking to change careers or improve their skills or whatever. Back then, when I was around twenty, and I was taking classes, and I saw people in their thirties and forties and higher in my classes...I used to follow them to their cars after class and strong-arm rob their asses. Ha ha, nah, actually, the observation of their apparent age went no further than any surface observation like hair color, eye color, height, whatever. It didn't mean anything to me. Universities are supposed to be open places, right? Open to anybody who wants to learn or teach or both.

Wednesday

It’s time for a normal post because lately I’m just too dramatic and whacked out - I’m always too dramatic and whacked out - so here goes: Um...what do I do?

I work for a professional association. There is a particular type of certification out there - if you want this type of certification, you have to take our exams and go to our seminars and conferences. I ride a cubicle. I scan documents in and I approve them and index them. That’s it. I am an administrator. I push paper. I make frequent errors and apologize rarely.

It’s really slow right now, so I take frequent breaks outside. I hang out with the smokers. I used to smoke. I actually miss it. I smoked ten years and quit. I quit in 2001. I miss those breaks outside the various buildings I’ve worked in and the chatting and all the smokin buddies. I think the smokers where I work now are suspicious of me, they look at me...hanging out next to them...maybe eating an apple...or asking them questions...or just generally being a pest...refusing to court lung cancer, flipping off fate and all that. Ha. Nah. One of the smokers pointed out that each of the smokers in the organization seems to have a nonsmoking friend - a sidekick who sometimes comes outside with them to hang out and fool around and look cool or whatever.

# # # # #

Man. I wish I was back in DC.

Saturday

I was following links around in WIKIPEDIA, and I found this list of performance artists. Then I started searching the names of some these performance artists at You Tube and found quite a lot of amazingly creative stuff. The following video is a mixed-media installation called Bang-Bang Room. It is by Paul McCarthy.



Another video at You Tube by Paul McCarthy is called called WGG Test. If you watch it, you are one brave soul.

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In other news, I have been writing on scraps of paper and stuffing the paper into my pocket all week (as usual). Here's what is written on the paper:

1) I experience each design flaw

2) Sudhir Venkatesh

3) I was in a fight with my girl, and I was driving around looking for a motel. I pulled into the parking lot of a poorly lit pink motel. I swung my legs out of the car, and the first thing I saw laying there was somebody's piss bag...laying there on the pavement...an actual piss bag - a clear, plastic bag with a hose and a plug/connector thingy - laying on the asphalt. Somehow it was worse than seeing a used condom (but really, it was just as bad). It wasn't completely empty either(edit: really there's no comparison - It saddens me to imagine a handicapped person, frustrated with life and circumstances, says fuck it and yanks the damned thing out and drops it right there and speeds off - it's terrible that I've even mentioned it--sorry). Rooms at this motel cost $85. I drove on.

4) ethnography

5) CAN YOU GET FIRED JUST BECAUSE THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU DON'T LIKE YOU?

6) The way that I perceived my dad - his clothes, his after shave, his golf clubs, his cars, his shoes, the change on his dresser, his mints, his pocket comb - the way that I viewed all of that stuff as a kid...nobody will ever look at my stuff like that. Not as a son or as a daughter. Nobody will ever look at my car and think, that is the perfect car. It's daddy's. Or, that is the perfect sweater because it is my dad's. That is the ideal golf club, it belongs to my dad. Nobody will think that or say that about my stuff.

# # # # #

And in closing, I have been tapped to write a six word memoir by PoisOn CoAtEd ELiXir or Seraphic Girl

Here it is:

Long walk day dream word count.

You should write a six word memoir too!

Saturday - I had nothing to do, so I ended up here. I had been in the book store, but I became bored there. I decided to leave, but I had nowhere to go, so I decided to walk all the way around the mall. I ended up in front of this sealed off storefront. I don’t even know what store this was. I just stood there for a while. For some reason, this situation seemed to have meaning...or...anti-meaning.



I started to wonder: What difference does it make where you spend your Saturdays?


I don’t know why my brain stalled on this question. I have plenty of things I like to do on Saturdays. I could go to a park. I could roam around some more. I could go to the gym. I could start an early drinking binge. I could call somebody. But I kept asking that question: What difference does it make what I do? Really! Why does one activity have more value or meaning than standing right here in this spot? Why do I need to do anything? For some reason, at that moment, I could not answer that question. I was frozen.


Did standing in that spot make me happy? Not really. Would hiking in a park, drinking, exercising - would any of those make me happy? Maybe. I started to wonder whether it mattered if I was happy. Would my pursuit of happiness be a waste of time. Is time mine to waste? Am I an eligible judge of what is a waste of time and what is a worthwhile use of time?

Some day I’ll die, I reminded myself. That seemed relevant at the moment.


Then I thought, wow, this is kind of dumb. People are using the entrance to JC Penny nearby, and I’m taking photos of an entrance to a store that isn’t even open anymore. (I had to go get my camera and come back - to illustrate the true absurdity here). So I got back in my car and drove home. I changed clothes and went to the gym.

Wednesday

Your twenties versus thirties: A continuation of a great conversation developing in the comments window below.

One thing that did seem to change from my twenties to my thirties: I seemed to gain credibility. I'm not sure why. I honestly don’t feel any wiser. Maybe it's because I look older. Or maybe it's because I am a lot more likely to admit it when I don't know. I doubt that I am any wiser. That simply can't be it. Maybe I learned how to be more convincing. Maybe I seem more confident. Maybe I was full of you know what back then and it was obvious to any observer.

My twenties were tough: A lot more of the back breaking and teeth grinding and stress - a lot of it unnecessary. I had anxiety that felt like physical pain - like I was on fire or something.

I felt like I had to prove myself all of the time in my twenties. I felt the need to TRY to fit in everywhere. Instead of finding a situation that suited me, I tried to suit myself to the situations I encountered.

I don't know. I guess I have enjoyed my thirties more, but I have gotten a little lonely. I lost touch with a lot of the friends I had from my college days and my partying days. I don’t go out much anymore. I’m somewhat content with that, but sometimes I do get a little lonely - sometimes you just want to be rowdy with a crowd of people who know you and all that stuff. My thirties are definitely more chill.

I guess I am in my element - a lot more aware of who I am and what I want out of life. I’ve learned how to give myself a break from the demons and the neuroses and the guilt and the regret and a lot of that stuff.

I don’t know. Maybe I just off-loaded one crew of demons just so another crew of demons could climb onboard.

Saturday

There's so much happening in the world. It seems like all I can do is watch and listen from my stupid little cubicle.

Somebody asked me how old I was the other day. I told them, 37. And then I fell into this trance or intense inner session of calculation or a construction of the timeline that led from my high school graduation through my twenties and now almost through my thirties. Finally somebody snapped their fingers or something to bring me back to the conversation. Where did you go?

Yeah. Where did I go?

I've been submitting poems to journals lately. And I'm hearing back too. Rejected. But, whatever.

Hopefully something will shake loose when I start school at UCF this summer. Maybe I can get something published in the journal at UCF, The Florida Review. Maybe I'll just wander the country enrolling in classes at various schools. I'll just keep taking classes there and submitting stuff to their journal until they accept a piece. Then I'll move on to the next college, the next journal.

I'm taking a creative nonfiction class at UCF - if I can get in before the class fills up. I'd like to take some kind of writing class there - - or literature or sociology or . . . there I go . . . that's how I got here - 37 and aimless . . . being such a scatter brain.

Anyway they don't even want me to set foot on campus until I get all my shots! They had a crazy bacterial meningitis scare over there at UCF (maybe I should do the UCF online classes - from the bacteria-free safety of my home). I have to provide proof of vaccinations before they'll even let me do an orientation there.

I should just show up, and right before I walk in the registrar, I'll take a bunch of whip cream and smear it all around my face and start flailing around spazzing and shit. That shit would be funny. Great first impression.