Archive for April, 2008

The Paradox of Hedonism

I find that I am always falling victim to the paradox of hedonism. I see a group of people enjoying something so I go out and try that thing, thinking it will make me happy. I don’t end up getting any pleasure from it because I’m not doing the activity for love of it, I’m doing it so it will make me happy.

It’s clearly reflected in the way I look for a relationship. I’ve been looking for a relationship under the assumption that a relationship will make me happy. I’m not sure what it is about the relationship that is supposed to make me happy, but I keep looking for one anyway. I think that’s one of the primary reasons that once I’m in the relationship I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Do I even need to be in the relationship?

I’ve never been able to determine what makes a relationship different from other interactions people share. You hook up in a relationship, but you certainly don’t need a relationship to hook up. You go out and spend time together in a relationship, but you don’t need one to do that either. You’re monogamous in a relationship (unless it’s an open relationship, and then I don’t know what the heck that means) but that seems to apply on the physical level much more than on the emotional. Is a relationship a really good friend that you are monogamous with? I don’t really want an answer, I’m just thinking out loud.

So I sat here for 15 minutes thinking about my past relationships, close friendships with the opposite sex, and one night stands. I’m having a hard time figuring out what I was looking for in each instance. I suppose I could think about it forever and never reach a consensus.

It’s time to take a pledge: no trying to meet girls online this summer. No craigslist, no MySpace, no Facebook, no Yahoo Personals, no Stickam. If I’m meeting people it’s going to be in person.

This is about nothing at all

This is a meandering post about nothing in particular. I’m supposed to be writing 5 papers. I’ve kinda written an outline for the first one, but I just don’t seem to care enough to get it written. I don’t want to hand in something atrocious, which would be very easy to do, but I also can’t afford not to hand in anything at all. It’s a horrible conundrum.

I learned a new word last night: valediction. I found it while looking up the meaning of “yours truly.” See, in Snow Crash one of the main character’s names is YT, short for yours truly. It’s cute, but I wanted to know if it made sense by the formal definition, or if it was only acceptable in common usage. Not that it makes much difference, I just wanted to know.

New paradox of fun: “Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation,” yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation.

I know this blog is mostly noise and not a lot of signal, but I just don’t think I have anything interesting to say. I know it isn’t true, but that hasn’t made me write anything of substance yet. I just ordered parts for a new computer on Friday. My old computer doesn’t seem to want to start, so it either means the motherboard has gone bad, or the power supply has gone bad. My options were to buy a new power supply and see if that fixed the issue, or to buy all new computer parts. I’d rather buy another motherboard, but this computer is 3 years old and they don’t make this board anymore. I suppose it’s also worth noting that 2 of the PCI slots don’t function correctly on this board, another reason to get rid of it.

So I spent $650 on new parts. There’s a $40 mail in rebate, so I’ll get a little bit of money back, but I really didn’t want to spend this money. If anything I would have bought myself a kindle. Actually, maybe I should just ask my family to pitch in together and get me a kindle for my birthday. I’d like that.

It’s a sweet new computer, I don’t really feel like talking about the specs right now. Maybe I’ll take photos of putting it together and then write a post about how awesome it is. Yeah…

So I started using twitter again. I’m also more noise than signal there, but what can you do. I just like to put stuff up about what I’m up to. Like right now. I think I mentioned using Remember The Milk and pimping out my Google Calendar. It’s awesome. I feel organized and I like completing things. Whoo.

I’ve run out of steam at this point. I’m sure I’ll have something to write about later.

Morning revelations

As I stated in my last post, I’ve apparently been “…looking for a girl who is a locked box. [I] want to be the one to open it up and be privy to everything inside.” Every relationship I’ve been in I’ve pushed the person I’ve been with to open up. Not that they’ve been particularly closed off, but I’ve wanted to be in their head so badly that I push them to say things they don’t want to say, things that don’t really help anything, and in the end I just make things harder for them. I don’t know if they’ve ever realized it, I only just realized it myself, but looking back it’s clear that it has been the major cause of problems in a number of my past relationships.

This is most relevant in my most recent relationship. I have been bemoaning the way things went since it ended, and I wrote a number of private posts trying to figure things out for myself. She was going through a really rough time and asked that we go back to being just friends. It was the mature thing for her to do; it wouldn’t have been fair to me to keep me in a relationship that she couldn’t handle. I was too busy trying to understand what she was going through and trying to make her tell me everything she was feeling to look with my own eyes and see the way things were.

At first I tried really hard to honor her request to just be friends. I wanted her in my life, and so I didn’t have a choice but to soldier on and be just her friend. I immediately felt like a second-rate friend. She had other friends that she told more things to than me, I felt like I wasn’t getting all the details of her life. I didn’t know how to reconcile this, and I got angry. I became a really shitty friend. I felt that I deserved some of her time as her friend. When I didn’t get it, when I wasn’t privy to what was going on, when I wasn’t the person that she told stuff to I felt really hurt. That was what hurt the most, and I couldn’t find a way to come to terms with it.

She gave me a lot of chances to be her friend, but I wasn’t ready to be her friend. I couldn’t see what I was doing wrong, or how my naive view of the relationship had placed a wall between us. This went on for a couple months as I followed her on LiveJournal and tried to talk to her from time to time. The more things I saw her doing without me, the more hurt I was and the more angry I got until I couldn’t follow her anymore. I stopped following her a little over a month ago. I don’t think it has made me think about her any less, but I’ve been less angry.

Over the last week or so I started talking to people about how things went, how angry I felt at her, and how I couldn’t figure out went wrong. The more I talked to people, the better I felt about things and the more I felt that things would be okay in the end. This morning I woke up and it was as if someone had climbed into my head in the night and placed this little nugget of knowledge at the forefront of my thought. Since I’ve been thinking it through and talking to my friends, and in the process of writing this post, I’ve come to see how this misconception about all of my interpersonal relationships has adversely affected things.

I don’t need to go into details here, but I’m going to wait for things to settle in my mind before I contact her and say I’m sorry. I really want finals to be over before I start talking to her because I don’t want to be a distraction from school. I want to know that I’m ready to be her friend before I try to do it. I don’t know that things will ever go back to the way they were, but I don’t want things to end the way they did. More updates will follow.

Reading, Theater, Management

It’s been nearly a month since I posted anything, and over a month since I posted anything that wasn’t private. I went to London and had a great time. I saw a ton of stuff and took photos of some of it. I can’t wait for my friends to come back to the states. Most of them are going to be on campus for the summer (like me) and I am very excited.

I got my butt kicked by school work when I came back, and then show week was going on, and then there was the show itself. I basically took a month-long break from the internet. I’ve been easing my way back into it, but I’ve been having a great time reading books. I’ve read some personal novels as well as books for class and I should definitely write about them.

While in London I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence. When I got back I dove into book 11 of The Wheel of Time: Knife of Dreams. After, I started in on other books on my shelf that I hadn’t read before like Snow Crash and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Now that I’ve finished those I’m starting Stranger in a Strange Land.

For class I read Hamlet, Prince of Denmark for the third or fourth time. Now we’re in the middle of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. I’ve been reading some poetry as well, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens in particular. I don’t have any favorite poems, but a couple stanzas always stick out. From “Sunday Morning”:

VI

Is there no change of death in paradise?
Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
With rivers like our own that seek for seas
They never find, the same receding shores
That never touch with inarticulate pang?
Why set pear upon those river-banks
Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?
Alas, that they should wear our colors there,
The silken weavings of our afternoons,
And pick the strings of our insipid lutes!
Death is the mother of beauty, mystical,
Within whose burning bosom we devise
Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.

Or from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”:

V

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” I especially like the epigraph:

S`io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocchè giammai di questo fondo
Non tornò vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

It comes from Dante’s Inferno (XXVII, 61-66). Allen Mandelbaum’s translation of the Inferno reads:

“If I thought my reply were meant for one
who ever could return into the world,
this flame would stir no more; and yet, since none—
if what I hear is true—ever returned
alive from this abyss, then without fear
of facing infamy, I answer you…”

Outside of all this reading, I’ve been doing the usual programming homework and keeping busy. I had this great conversation the other night about relationships, “jump offs”, racism, music, and art. He articulated what I seem to be looking for in a relationship so articulately that I have to write it here. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “You’re looking for a girl who is a locked box. You want to be the one to open it up and be privy to everything inside.” It’s very close to the truth. I don’t really want to spend any time analyzing what I think I’m looking for, since that will always be in flux, but I felt that I needed to record that for posterity.

In other news, I decided that I am going to finish my degree in English literature and write a thesis; I’m running for vice president of SDS and I’m working hard on my speech so I give myself an earnest shot; and I’m looking into taking on more managerial roles in projects and within SDS.

I think that last thing is important. I’ve been ASM (assistant stage manager) several times in the past, and each time has been a learning experience. Understanding your responsibilities and getting better at them is a rewarding experience. This last show I was props manager. This was my first time as a designer for a show and it presented its own set of challenges. I found that not only did I have to design, but I also had to communicate with an assistant and with other departments to make sure that everyone was on the same page.

This experience reminded me of attempting to manage my group project for databases. My job was to be organized and to have concrete goals in mind for where the project was heading. I was supposed to lay a framework and assign deadlines and mini-projects to members of the team. I failed to do that effectively and it reflected on the project as a whole.

One of the problems with being in power is the feeling that you need to exercise that power. This isn’t the case at all, but many people who are placed in this sort of position for the first time (or couple times) try to exercise their power and react poorly to others trying to usurp any of their power. This is detrimental to the entire process. The real job of a manager is to serve as a moderator between different parties and to give the project direction.

I’m just starting to see this now, and now that I’m starting to understand the purpose of a manager I feel that I can be a better manager in the future. Of course my focus is in technology, but having good managerial skills is a benefit no matter what environment you’re in.

This has been a long and far reaching post. I didn’t mean for it to be like this, but I think I said a lot of the things I needed to say. I know there’s probably another post rattling around in my head but I need to think about it some more before it ends up on here.


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