Sunday, March 29, 2009

08.

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." -Anaïs Nin

I was re-reading Facebook notes I've written in the past. I do that often, not just with notes, but with old journals and blog entries. Whenever I look back on them, I remember why I still keep them around: Because they always teach me something. It's the same reason why I go back to my Philosophy journals and papers too. Our wisest teachers can often be our past selves. As strange as that sounds, I learn something every time I go back to a moment in time.

Originally written: May 27, 2008:
I remember a year ago around this time, we were all sitting around wondering what college would be like, and now with this first year coming to a close, I've come to truly understand what Alanis Morissette meant when she sang: "You live, you learn."

Through the ups-and-downs, the silly arguments, the stress of school, and experiencing "firsts," we've lived in ways we never thought we could, but in learning, what I've realized is that the world can crumble but there will always be best friends to pick you back up. I don't think I could have made it through this first year without those connections and knowing that we are all living and learning.

When I look back on this year, it almost seems unreal - Did all of that really happen? I've learned that you need to talk, without communication everything can crumble. I've learned that life really is all about compromise, but that doesn't mean you can't stand up for your beliefs. I've learned that friendships only work if the effort goes both ways, and no matter how hard you try, those who refuse to leave the cave cannot be forced. I've learned that just because you live with people doesn't mean you need to force friendships with them either. I've learned that some people choose to be unhappy. I've learned that 2 a.m. is when you find out who your true friends are - the ones who go on walks around campus or spend minutes to an hour on the phone or have the most random AIM conversations with you. I've learned that for all of the racists, prejudiced people, and Atheists, there are still shining examples of hope out there. I've learned that love is not abuse, and with that, you can't be afraid to speak up to the people who know you best - no matter how much it scares you. I've learned that no matter how far you travel and no matter how much you take in, you can never let yourself forget where you came from, because the moment you forget that, you lose so much of yourself that it's only easier to spiral downwards.

I've noticed a trend in myself for most of my life to often fall down that spiral, and I let myself be taken advantage of by others. Only when I realize this do I force myself to stand up, cut ties, and move forward. I'd always been afraid to ask for help, and up until now I still was. It took something terrifying for me to finally realize for the first time in my life that some things just can't be fought against without help.

At the same time, there are things that need to be faced alone - I need to motivate myself to go out there and take control of my future. We can't always just sit around and wait for people or opportunities to come to us. Chances often pass us by, and I lucked out with my job, but I know I couldn't have taken it and grown if I was still held down by the drama.

And with that, I have learned that through it all, life keeps on going, whether you're prepared for it or not. The best we can do is to just keep rolling with it, stringing together the pieces of the puzzle we pick up along the way.

"Have some fire. Be unstoppable. Be a force of nature. Be better than anyone here, and don't give a damn what anyone thinks." -Grey's Anatomy

Friday, March 27, 2009

07.

"When my horse is running good, I don't stop to give him sugar." -William Faulkner

I'd like to say that explains why I sometimes forget to eat, but I think it's only part of the reason. When I'm on a roll--writing, reading, etc.--I don't want to interrupt it by petty things such as food! As ridiculous of a reason as that may be, I think it adequately describes my workaholic tendencies. But I might as well work hard now while I can, I think.

My second year of college is almost over, and more and more I've been thinking about life after school. I'm not sure where I'll end up or what will happen when I end up there. "The dream" was always to move to New York and dive into life there, but often times that's something that only works in movies and TV. I don't think I want to stay in Southern California unless I have a damn good reason to. As much as I love home, I don't think I could move back there either.

I know it's "the future" and I shouldn't worry about it now, but before I know it I'm sure it'll creep up and I don't want to be caught off guard. --And of course as I type that sentence I think about Philosophy class and everything it taught me. It's an odd place to be at and I'm not sure quite where to go from here. I feel like I need my sisters because they always know what to say.

Ah, life. "Where do we go from here?"

Monday, March 23, 2009

06.

"Endless conflicts. Endless misunderstanding. All life is that. Great and little cannot understand one another." -H.G. Wells

People kind of confuse me. I don't understand - You try to be a decent human being and make up for certain errors of your way, and people will continue to misread and misunderstand you. I think that's rather frustrating because I've never been in a place where so many people encounter so many misconceptions about one another. Maybe my world was too sheltered before, I don't know, but it surprises me that I have found more negativity in the past year and a half than I have encountered...really, ever. Maybe California is just divided up into two very different zones? I don't know.

I asked somebody a little while ago what she liked about UCI and Irvine and her response was, "I like being here because it reminds me how much better Norcal is." I laughed, but when I think about it, it's true. I don't know what it is that separates the two so much. When I'm down here, I feel like a different person, in both good and bad ways. I've finally gotten to a place where I feel as motivated as the person I was in high school, and I'm starting to gain respect from people (granted, not my peers, but it's still an improvement). I don't think I'm as strong or confident as I used to be--much of me was broken down and I've yet to find a solid way to recover--but I will get there because I know I still have the support and love of my best friends, even though they are miles and miles away.

Life is odd and full of misunderstandings and confusion. I guess surviving through it is what makes you stronger. I think when we get out of college, we're all a hell of a lot stronger than we ever thought we could be.

05.

"There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either." -Robert Graves

I love learning. I love gaining new knowledge and sharing it with others. I don't, however, enjoy the price tag accompanied with learning now. What makes me hesitant to take 21 units? The real answer is the price of books. I think nearly $300 for books is a bit excessive. I spent about $60 last quarter on books, most of which were barely touched in class but bought because the instructor/professor required them and then changed their mind halfway through the quarter. By then, it's too late to get a full refund from the bookstore. I sold my books back last week and got $10 for them. That's about a -$50 profit.

I would like to take summer school so that I can get my foreign language requirement done so I can spend my next two years at school taking classes for my majors and that I will enjoy - but the extreme raise in tuition for summer school has stopped that from happening. That, in my opinion, is a problem with both "required education" and with money.

Would I like to go to graduate school and pursue a higher education? That would be nice, but the price tag is not so pleasant. I hate that I am being overcharged for my current undergraduate education--and yes, I do feel I am being overcharged, because when I look at the bill I am being charged for ridiculous things and facilities I may or may not use.

ASUCI fees? What am I paying you for exactly? The shuttles which I don't use?

And what is Measure S and why am I spending $8 a quarter on it?

$136.50 on Student Center fees? Is it so UCI can finally pay off those building expenses even though there was nothing wrong with the old Student Center? How often do I use the Student Center anyways?

$23 for the Bren Center which I have never set foot in once - why?

$70 for the ARC, which I go to maybe a few times a quarter. There's no parking anyways! Another fee for the athletics facility? Isn't that the ARC? Or is there another one around here, one that I DO NOT USE.

And what? What?! $33 for "Campus Spirit" fees??? WHAT IS THAT?!

In short, I think this is as ridiculous as my obnoxious upstairs neighbors, and yet these fees must be paid in order to continue my pursuit of education and further my love of learning. Oh, the irony.

Friday, March 20, 2009

03./04.

"Saying what we think gives a wider range of conversation than saying what we know." -Cullen Hightower

Though quite the conservative man, I like this quote from Cullen Hightower. I often say that I wish I could read minds, but only for 24 hours. I think it could get quite frustrating, always knowing what everyone thinks and feels. It would also take away some of the mystery in people, which would make life too predictable.

Rather than being able to predict a person's next move, I am more interested in hearing what people think. What goes through your mind? Conversations filled with simple facts are never as engaging as an exchange of thoughts.

* * *

"Storytelling is healing. As we reveal ourselves in story, we become aware of the continuing core of our lives under the fragmented surface of our experience. We become aware of the multifaceted, multi-chaptered 'I' who is the storyteller. We can trace out the paradoxical and even contradictory versions of ourselves that we create for different occasions, different audiences...Most important, as we become aware of ourselves as storytellers, we realize that what we understand and imagine about ourselves is a story. And when we know all this, we can use our stories to heal and make ourselves whole." -Susan Wittig Albert

Self-explanatory, I feel. I had more to say about that first quote, but while watching this re-run of last week's Tyra Show on dating abuse (aired after the Oprah episode mentioned in a previous post), I can only find myself back in contemplation.

I had said I didn't have much to say about the Chris Brown/Rihanna incident. I still don't have much to express, but to honor the first part of this post, what I think about it is that the whole situation is frustrating. It's frustrating to hear about any abusive relationship - whether it be physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, etc. It's frustrating to be in it too.

Some think there is a thin line between arguing and abuse, but I think there's a pretty well-defined line. Simple arguments don't leave one person physically injured or emotionally cut in half. When you're left questioning your self-worth because you're told you're not good enough for anyone, I consider it abuse. When you're pushing and screaming to defend yourself, when you're using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, when you're being threatened - it's time to walk away. And sometimes you don't recognize it right away because you're blinded while involved, but it's there.

It's easy to say, "It'll never happen to me" or "If it happens to me, I would never let it slide." It's surprising what you do though when it does happen.

I don't like to think I hate. I don't believe I do. But I don't think I'm strong enough to forgive. Many say they still love or care about the people who have hurt them; I've learned to cut people out of my life who have done that. It's surprising how easily you close up when one person doesn't believe you, but it's also empowering when you find somebody who does. "I'm done."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

02.

"It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them." -Isabel Colegate

In The Importance of Being Earnest, the concept of journaling is of extreme importance to Gwendolyn and Cecily. Growing up, it was to me also. In some ways it still is, though with the fast-paced world of "do, do, do" it is almost as if the simple things we once loved have become a chore: Journaling, free reading, lying in the sun, etc. And even when we do journal, it's in the form of Facebook, Twitter, blogs...

I've gotten in the habit in the past quarter of carrying around a reporter's pad and a tape recorder. It's become a security blanket for me in some ways, or maybe that's just me developing into a journalist. That role already takes precedence to some.

I think that's why the written word is so powerful. Because even if you're just typing to empty space, your thoughts are still out there and maybe someone will catch on.

I'm working on something right now. I don't know how far it will actually go, but that's the beauty of spring break: Time to think, time to write, time to breathe.

01.

"Stories are living and dynamic. Stories exist to be exchanged. They are the currency of human growth." -Jean Houston

I believe words are very powerful. Conversations are powerful. They further growth in ourselves and in our relationships. When people stop talking, things slow down and life gets put on hold. Having said that, I believe that the written word is equally as powerful as the spoken word; in fact, it can be even more powerful because there are times that the spoken words are those that go unnoticed or unheard.

For me, it's always been easier to write or to type out my feelings and thoughts. I was never much of a speaker. Not that I don't enjoy it, but my thoughts feel more put together if they're not coming out of my mouth. Maybe it's because some things are better left unspoken, because I have a problem with emotions. I guard my emotions and deeper layers because I'd never expressed them before (another story, but for another time). So when it comes time to say something aloud that will bring out all sorts of emotions, I choke it back. It's a self-preservation thing.

With that being said--however much of it made sense--I still have no full comments on Chris Brown and Rihanna. I just watched last week's Oprah show about the issue and it's more thoughts to add to that compartment of my brain. That part of me, that story, has yet to be as alive and dynamic to me as it was when it first occurred. I don't know if it necessarily lives to be exchanged for my own self-preservation purposes. I believe there will be a time and place for it (preferably when I'm not drunk and being grilled for the information in a more public place than I'd like) but until then it sits with me as a reminder of the past I need to learn to let go.

I share the surface, but leave it there. Truthfully I have never shared more than the surface level details and with very few people, and only once have I ever gone in too deep to the past. Don't feel offended when I guard myself though. I surprise myself every time the words somehow manifest themselves into reality and I find myself sharing more than I thought I would and I apologize for the candidness. One of these days, I will learn to speak.