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5:43 p.m. - June 07, 2003
It's not a resolution, just some thoughts
Went to the cultural expo today to cheer on a friend – acquaintance? Not friend. – who performed a couple African dances (the Taureg marriage proposal, something from Togo, and one from Ghana). I haven’t seen her in over a year and when she came up to me and said habari gani my first thought wasHuh? which only demonstrates how out of touch I am with people as well as with Swahili. She finished her Ph.D. and is now on the faculty at UC Santa Cruz. Two years ago I was an adjunct at UCSC and today she’s Assistant Professor and I am nothing, not until June 18th when I reclaim my title: Visiting Professor or Associate Professor, take my pick. I pick Visiting Prof because it denotes I’m from somewhere else and students will think I’m qualified to lecture. Ha! What do they know, these aspirants who come to class hungover, planning to be hungover, or becoming hangover as we speak? When I left school (again) I thought it behooved me to inform the Dean of the department paying me to teach and pontificate this summer, inform her that I’m no longer climbing the ivory tower of academia, having scuttled first the express elevator to the top and secondly, the lowly servant’s entrance on the ground floor spiral staircase, thus de-qualifying myself from offices and course assistants and syllabi and sorority girls that make me cringe when they ask Like, I’ve heard, we only use 10% of our brain power, so like, what about the rest? because it isn’t a dumb question at all but a causus belli to break into tears knowing she couldn’t possibly ever understand the response. For the record, that 10% figure is completely hypothetical and has been discredited over and over, yet somewhere someone teaching something perpetuates the myth, most likely in a last-ditch attempt to salvage one’s self esteem arguing that if we’re only using 10%, then how smart we must really be, how capable we will become when the secret door is unlocked and synapses and intelligence will cascade from behind, remedying the general – and rising- tide of obtuseness that characterizes American education.

What the hell am I talking about? The cultural expo was good in the it’s-free and I-only-stayed-an-hour-and-a-half way. She mentioned an article I wrote about 3 years ago as if it came out in the current issue of MLA or JAS and while we made small talk I couldn’t help wonder if she felt as disconnected and impersonal as I did towards her but did a better job of façade-maintenance? Or maybe I too play the charade as well? Maybe everybody does. I don’t know. I’d like to think there’s a difference between the frosty we-once-had-class-daily-together and friendship, but upon reflection, all my friendships are like that: Always distant, never fully trusting, never satisfying.

So on the drive home – where else would I conceive of going on a balmy June afternoon, a mild 79 degrees Fahrenheit with brown, dry hills an MGM or Universal Studios backdrop against endless traffic that inches along? The economy must be improving because traffic is worsening and as unofficial as that is, I say suck it and prove me wrong and remember, Silicon Valley is just different. I digress. – I thought about what I could do to deepen or enhance the quality of the relationships I have in my life. I developed a topical list:

Be less hostile.

Be more open, divulge more.

Don’t judge others.

Like myself more than I do.

Stretch boundaries and comfort zones.

I’m sure there is more to follow.

But the point is, I can either sit and stew and be unhappy and develop uncurable misanthropy, or I can at least attempt to lessen, if not cease, progression. The little chances will add up but the key is to value taking the chance itself, regardless of outcome. Maybe I’m talking out of my ass, I don’t know. I shy away from, am afraid of, dread, fill-in-the-blank putting myself into situations of which I cannot control or influence resolution. For example, I keep thinking of sending an email to Tim-the-Emailer, someone whose communication I outright miss, to patch things up – but I don’t. Or call Twids more often, give her my telephone number, send an IM to Andy, get to know him better, respond to Lorster’s many emails that I enjoy so much. You know what I really want to do? I want to get to know people, people like John and Sam here at Diaryland, people like J. and Nathan offline. I want to form a semblance of community, know what I mean? And always, I’m put off by worrying I won’t be as liked by those I like, so I cut myself off from liking anybody. I did that especially with Kuinileti a while ago and more recently with the Texan-from-Montana guy. Must develop the attitude of don’t-run-here-to-stay-but-you’re-free-to-go rather than indulging the repetitive, the practiced I-feel-ergo-time-to-go. It is okay to be vulnerable to people because more often than not, they won't hurt me. Right? Right.

I’m in a good mood today.


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