Random Musings

April 2002

Tuesday, 02 April, 2002: Last night's conversation with Pav mentioned that he was beginning to make plans for his future. That's been running around my head today now. He asked where I thought I would be in 30 years, and I said I hoped that I would be sitting on the porch of my house with my wife and children on a similarly warm April evening. In truth though, there are many outcomes that would be equally pleasant. I think what I want the most is not to long for days gone by. I hope to be content with the life I have chosen, whatever choices I may make.

I meet with my academic advisor to schedule my Autumn classes tomorrow. I'm only just officially transferred into the business school so after two years at university I feel like a Freshman again. At the very least I have, for all practical purposes, every general education requirement completed. Aside from a foreign culture class or two, I have only Business courses to take from here on out. One less thing to worry about. And I have enjoyed my business classes so far even if I have not been as diligence in the coursework as I ought to have been. This will change from now on, even if it will not be noticed until next term.

Ahhh, what else was it that I wanted to say...It's in the back of my head, but it's not coming to me...

Oh yeah, the "Alpha Male" phenomenon that Pav noted at one time in his writings. It is definitely an interesting observation. It seems that all one must do is be reasonably sure of himself and he somehow commands more than his share of respect among his fellows. My Sociology class is a good example of this. It's a fairly small setting (small room, not small amount of people) and I tend to harbour a more "classical" view than the professor (who is a really great guy nonetheless) so I challenge his positions and offer a decent amount of classical arguments and objections to the views presented. There is a fine line though, and one must be careful not to overdo things. Rambling becomes annoying to the other students rather quickly, as another member of that same class is unintentionally illustrating very well. Confidence is good.

Thursday, 04 April, 2002: Well, it's been a rather uneventful last couple of days for me. I'm scheduled for classes in the Autumn now. I thought my schedule would be a lot worse than it was owing to the lateness of my registration appointment, but as it stands things are quite workable. No more three day weekends, but that's not really something I can expect. Turns out that if I really want to shoot for International Business, I'm going to have to do the 5th year Senior thing. In order to get my scholarship to cover that, I'll have to pick up a second major. Majoring in Finance is looking better and better.

Only two weeks of classes remaining this year, then Exams. In a little over three weeks I'm done for the year. That means finding a job for the Summer and finding a way to make a Typ. 901 transmission rebuild fit into my budget. I'm looking forward to this Summer, if my internship plans go through as I hope they will, it may well be my last summer at home for a few years. Scary to think about. Exciting too though. It would be nice if I could pack up my friends as easily as I can pack up my belongings though. I can think of a couple of people in particular who I will miss terribly when I move away. Good think I enjoy long road trips.

A good friend's life is changing drastically right now and she's been in my thoughts a lot lately. I have not known her for very long, not quite two years, and the more I learn about her, the more I see there is to learn. Pav was talking the other night about how people adopt different personas in response to different situations, and my friend is no different in that respect. She does wear the masks better than almost anyone else I know though, I'm not even sure if she knows when she's adopting a "mask" persona all the time. Not that it's a conscious choice, but most people can see the mask unless they have worn it for a long time. Every now and again though, the personas are dropped and I'm rewarded with a look at her as herself. It might simply be my own projections, but in those moments I sometimes think I see a lot of loneliness in her. Sadness. But much potential, and much determination. She's going to be all right in time.

Sunday, 07 April, 2002: Another Sunday night, feels earlier than it really is because daylight savings time just kicked in at 02:00 this morning. I was awake for the official switchover too, engaged in a highly interesting conversation with Pav and Paige. Strange people they are, in the best possible ways. I mean, where else am I going to find people my age who find it perfectly normal that I should want a nice suite with a trenchcoat and a fedora? Also, where else am I going to hear "sorry, had to go strain some cheese" as an explanation when someone comes back into the conversation?

Reminds me of Friday night which I spent out on the town with some friends, one of whom is currently fermenting milk. Yes, he's trying to make alcoholic milk. No, I don't know why, and no, I'm not about to even think about how it would taste.

Got a Moody Blues album playing (Long Distance Voyager to be specific) and the weather is turning Spring-like finally. Life is quite smooth right now. I'll have to find a way to change that. Need some curves thrown in to keep things interesting. Things are looking good. I have a lot of writing to do before the week is out, but that's unimportant and easily enough dealt with. I missed listening to the Moodies and to Cat Stevens. Must remember to keep them in the rotation.

Friday, 12 April, 2002: OK, I know. Left this go for too long this time. I'll get used to this frequent updates idea yet.

I'm sitting here listening to the Beach Boys, feeling the warm breezes from my open window, and having a brief conversation with Paige. The world is full of interesting people if one only bothers to seek them out. The Spring weather almost makes the city bearable but there's still that "hemmed-in" feeling I get from not having my network of backroads around for aimless driving. I miss the old winding cart path that is Tontogany Creek Road. Nothing quite like getting a nice four wheel drift going through a corner and steering the car with the throttle. I definitely need to get the 914's transmission sorted out this summer, it's exactly the car for tooling around at the lake late in the summer. And since it's got an air-cooled flat four, I've now got a conversation-starter if I see that redhead who was there last year driving an original VW Beetle. (I'm human, sue me. haha)

In any case, I'm going out to the park right now. Maybe I'll revisit the journal again tonight.

Sunday, 14 April, 2002: Guess I ended up not revisiting the journal on the 12th. I suppose that I really should have though, my time in the park was more than well-spent.

So, you ask, just how was it well-spent? I finally found a place for my own lonely meanderings. Down in a ravine is a nearly abandoned late 1930's footpath that was originally blazed by the WPA. It's overgrown, eroded and hard to get to anymore. Just doesn't get any better than that. The footpath follows a babbling brook whose clear water is refreshingly cool when one immerses a hand or two in it. I can still hear the stream, feel the coolness of the water and see the ripples as the water runs past my hand, still pale from the winter.

Yesterday and today have been warm as well, even if rainy and a bit dreary. There was a nice electrical storm earlier today, nice for the city at least; I don't recall counting more than three thunderclaps. Perhaps it's just an oddity of geography, or maybe I'm simply just not hear at the correct times of the year, but Pittsburgh certainly seems to be lacking in the frequency of a good strong thunderstorm. Still, the feeling in the air is there, and things are feeling refreshed, even if I'm a little over-warm. The clouds are beginning to break now, the pink light of sunset is reaching through the gaps.

The coming week has promise, things are going well. Life is good, as it always is if I am only awake enough to see it.

Thursday, 18 April, 2002: OK, I'm letting this thing lag a lot more than I intended. Time to start putting my nose to the grindstone and developing the habit.

It's been a pretty good day today, all things considered. Sure, all the little things kind of got screwed up, but the big things worked out as they usually do. On the other hand, I could do without the big caffeinated damp spot on the floor where I spilt the litre of Mountain Dew. It's been a fairly slow week for me though, not a whole lot going on. It's the week before finals and everything is being wrapped up. Only one class left to go to before exams. In about a week I'm going to be back home. Now that I'm adjusting to things here at college, I'm going home. Interesting.

The coming week will be fun at least. Only a few finals, most of the week is free. Kick around the city with some friends. Ah Spring.

Speaking of Spring... I don't know if it's the time of year or if it's just that certain facts about myself are filtering through my thick skull at a rather coincidental time. Probably the latter. Almost certainly the latter now that I think about it. Regardless though I'm feeling better about myself and about my prospects for relationships (platonic included) than I have in a long while. It's interesting to notice just how much emphasis is placed up on the non-platonic male-female relationship in our culture though. I've started looking for instances where the ideal of the "couple" is reinforced in media and popular culture and it's amazingly pervasive. It seems that we're almost expected to be more "in" a relationship than "out" of one once we reach eighteen or nineteen. We're expected to be out "playing the field" and other such claptrap.

It's just this expectation that creates all sorts of problems in the male-female dynamic though. Heck, the idea of a special dynamic for male-female relationships as opposed to the dynamic of simple friendship among a group consisting of a single sex creates all sorts of problems for its dynamic. The idea that men and women don't usually interact without some sort of non-platonic factor eventually induces a non-platonic factor in relationships which would otherwise remain uncluttered and unconfused. As it is, we consistently involve ourselves in relationships that are complicated by our desire to find symbols where there are none and to search for some hidden meaning in normal gestures. I say, to hell with it all. Enjoy someone's company and leave it at that. Now I just have to work at de-conditioning myself so that I can get past the ideas of male-female relationships that have been programmed into me by the culture.

In all of this, however, it is important for one to realise that I do not mean to condemn the traditional view of the male-female relationship. In fact, I would be very happy to find such a relationship for myself at some point further down the road in my life. Still, I feel that there are too many potential friendships which are sacrificed because of our occupation with the traditional dynamic. There are great numbers of interesting people and many worthwhile friendships to be had, it would be a shame for us to only focus on the opposite sex as a potential mate and ignore their capacity for legitimate and rewarding platonic friendship.

Wow, that got really long, really quickly. I like it though. I love it when I write and the ideas just flow.

OK, something unprecidented has just happened. I have updated this journal twice in one day. Must be a good day.

Anyway, I got to thinking about my conversation with Paige earlier when I mentioned my curmudgeon persona. I'm starting to realise that the reason I'm considered "old-fashioned" is largely because I choose not to embrace hedonism, or, at the very least, admire those who do embrace hedonism. Also, I'm largely immovable on positions of principle. People of my age bracket (I hesitate to say "generation" since I fit in better with the values and ideas of my grandfather's generation) are interesting to observe. There are so many things with which I simply disagree no matter how much I may believe them to be pleasurable. Perhaps the best example of this is the idea of "friends with benefits".

Maybe it's just me being hopelessly outdated but I have to wonder from just where such ideas came. I'm sure that I'll look like a clueless reactionary here but to me the idea of sex without an emotional committment seems wrong. I'm not saying that marriage should necessarily be a prerequisite, but I'd like to think that if I were sharing that level of physical intimacy with another person there would also be a high level of emotional intimacy. Maybe I'm completely off base in the modern world, but I would like to think that physical intimacy is an expression of mutual affection, not just something that we do because it feels good. In short, I think it should be a symbol for an intense emotional connection and not something that's done because the two people have nothing better to do on a Friday night.

Sunday, 21 April, 2002: Well, not a lot has been going on this weekend. I've been emptying my mind in preparation for finals, let us see what comes floating back in tonight.

Ah, Home. The one thing that truly never leaves my mind. Though I may live in many other places, they will never be home. I will go back there to make my own life someday. Some are drawn to the endless buzz of the city, like moths to the streetlamps, and they see the endless bustle as somehow more "alive" than the sleepy countryside. Their choice, and a good choice at that, but it's not the choice that I can make. I just don't ever feel as though I "fit" in the mosaic of the city, the guy who picks up the freshly cut grass and inhales the scent is not generally the guy who is fitting into the city life. There's enough of a Tom Bombadil streak in me to prefer the more wild areas. Concrete walkways just don't quite cut it.

Going home also means being with my family again. Another aspect in which I seem to differ markedly from my peers; I enjoy my family. Not that we all get along all the time, but my mother and father (and even my sister) are very important to me. That sounds different than I intended it to, I don't mean to imply that other people's families are not important to them. I guess it's just that I truly enjoy spending time with them, it's not a burden on me, I don't really have any issues with my family. I am also looking very much forward to spending time with my grandparents this summer. I suppose that it's different from before, not in that I care about them any more than I ever have, but having lost two in the last two years I've been shocked into the realisation that they won't always be around. It's one of those things that we always know but never really think about until it's too late. I won't be wasting my time with them anymore.

Sometimes I wonder what the random person stumbling across these pages thinks about them. I'm sure that a lot of it just looks like the ravings of someone who's not quite in touch with things. And the truth is, that's the right assessment. I'm not quite in touch. I don't want to be in touch. It's nice being just a wee bit outside the lines, there are some fine things to be seen and some fine thoughts to be thought of.

Monday, 22 April, 2002: OK, so what happened today? Not all that much that I feel like putting up here. Had a study session that consisted (as most truly good study sessions do) mainly of normal conversation which just happened to take place in an area with a few course materials scattered around. Ah, the beginnings of friendship, when we are still trying to get the feel of the other person. Except that this time I'm perfectly comfortable. Normally I have some sort of awkward period of trying to feel the other person out, but not so much this time. It's nice to just be able to slip into something without the cover of a mask or persona.

What else? Oh yes, the plans for this summer. I'm already looking forward to driving up to New Hampshire again. The White Mountains are quite beautiful, and it's about time I broke in my new tent. I'll probably end up going to New Hampshire via Pittsburgh, spend a day or so in the city with the people I've met here and be on my way again. If I get really ambitious (or really stupid) I might even take the 'teener. Of course, trusting a 26 year old car on a 1,800 mile trip might be asking a bit much. On the other hand, my daily driver has almost twice as many miles on it so I'm not sure which car would be worse to take. In any case, I'll be making the trip.

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Last Updated:  04 April, 2002

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