Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I have to disagree with that

Remember how, a couple of posts ago, one of the reasons I was upset about prematurely dropping the writing class was that I thought the people in it were more interesting than the people in my other classes? Turns out that isn't really going to be a problem.

There is a battle a-brewin' in my literature class, and I'm just happy to be there to watch.

Remember the kid I mentioned before, the tool who speaks even when he clearly has nothing to say? Well, he is in fine form. For example, just today the subject of "gender" versus "sex" came up, and the instructor asked us to define what we thought the different implications of using either term were. Well, Larry, (you know how much I like to give them names), raised his acne-covered hand and declared, post-nasally, "To put it in really crude and basic terms, 'gender' refers to between your ears and 'sex' refers to between your legs." This was followed by complete silence, which is notable because, as a small literature class led by a grad student, the room is usually pretty animated. And, Grad Student earned her paycheck/stipend/cafeteria voucher by moving us past this little comment with a scholarly and measured, "Oooookay...anyone else?"

Anyway, suffice it to say, Larry is getting on everyone's nerves, but no one more than Bruce, the chatty, effeminate best friend of Bumper Sticker Girl. Now, Bruce indeed has valuable comments to make, and at first I thought I'd like him. But just as a yin needs its yang to fully realize itself, Bruce's true colors didn't fly until he was faced with Larry. And it's really a shame that they're at odds, because they're actually so very much alike -- each completely preoccupied with proving how smart he is. But while Larry would lecture to a brick wall just to hear himself speak, Bruce has made it his mission in life, (or at least his mission in class), to disagree with everything Larry says, and it's excruciatingly entertaining.

See, #14 on the list of 59 things I've learned in life so far is this: Even complete tools are right sometimes, and arguing with them when that happens is like holding up a mirror to your own douchebagginess so that you are twice the asshole. But Bruce clearly hasn't yet had this realization.

I don't blame the guy for trying, honestly. I mean, this Larry kid is seriously horrible, and should rightfully be taken down a peg. But the thing is, if you just let the schmuck talk, he'll destroy himself -- he's a self-fulfilling prophesy of moronicity. And to pick "intellectual" fights with him just draws it out more. Today, it might as well have gone like this:

LARRY: It's really raining out there.

BRUCE: I have to disagree with that.

TEACHER/PATSY: Why's that, Bruce?

BRUCE: Well, "really" is a relative term. To the people of India, the summer monsoon season surely encompasses the term "really raining" far more accurately and graphically than this mid-winter Philadelphia drizzle.

And that's the point where I stab myself in the eye with my pen.

But at least it's a show. The only real problem is that I've clearly put myself on the anti-Larry team with my not-so-subtle facial expressions when he says something stupid, (can your eyebrows be judgmental? Because if they can, mine are going straight to hell), and so now Bruce looks to me for reassurance when he argues with him. And as much as I can't stand pimply, phlegmy Larry, I do have to give him credit when it's due. After all, I've been that kid in class who everyone laughed at because they were too damn happy with their own vocabulary, and I guess some part of me identifies with Larry's "struggle."

Well, whatever. Bruce doesn't really need me on his side, anyway...he has Bumper Sticker Girl. They can just sit there and be wrong together. Which means that, again, I'm right and alone. Which is exactly where I like to be.

Friday, January 27, 2006

one day, bumper stickers shall no longer divide us

I believe I've mentioned my interest in bumper stickers before. At times, the back of my car has been positively covered in them, but I find that bumper stickers tap into one of my great internal conflicts: The Desire to Piss Off Republicans vs. The Desire to Avoid Disapproval. Therefore, the most inflammatory statements that I've slapped on my fender have only remained there for short periods of time, as constantly looking in the rearview mirror to see if your fellow drivers are sneering at you because you tell them "If You're Against Abortion, Have a Vasectomy" is kind of distracting. And the police don't really buy "political persecution" as an acceptable excuse for running into a tree. Believe me.

Of course, this quasi-reluctance to agitate was back in my misspent youth, in a pre-9/11, pre-G.W. Bush, pre-Iraq disaster world, when my righteous liberal anger often had nothing real to anchor itself to. Now, though, I wouldn't have any problem proclaiming "Regime Change Begins At Home" or "I Love My Country, But I Fear My Government", because these thing are pretty hard to dispute in 2006 America, and I've also gained a wee bit of self-confidence since I was 17. So I would put these sentiments on my bumper now, except that these days I have a much nicer car. It's really a shame when your ideals clash with your ride.

Anyway, political statements aside, I'm always on the lookout for funny or thought-provoking bumper statements. And I will never cease to be confused by those stickers which people have gone out of their way to place on their cars -- risking paint damage and an altered fender-aesthetic -- but don't really seem have a point to them. That's why I just can't get the sticker I saw yesterday out of my head.

On an otherwise un-sloganed car, driven by a very normal looking young lady, was a simple sticker stating "Someone I Love Was Murdered."

Um, okay. That's a shame, I'm really sorry to hear it. But, uh, why is it on your car? Is it supposed to make me think twice about murder? Am I supposed to look at it and say, "Well, I was about to bash some guy's head in just for the hell of it, but then I thought about that bumper sticker and I decided not to, as it appears that murder is actually wrong and hurtful."

Do you think it was a cheaper, ready-made version of those window decal dedications people put up in honor of someone who's died? I don't really understand those things, either, but at least they're thought-out and personalized. Maybe this woman wants people to tap on her window and ask her about the sticker, so she can tell the story of her deceased loved one and therefore honor their memory. I don't know, but it did get me thinking and I suppose that was the whole point.

Anyway, yesterday morning I got to my class a little early and was talking with a couple of other students, and I mentioned the sticker to them. This one girl, who seems perfectly nice and intelligent and everything, responded by saying of the person driving the car, (who I hadn't described at all), "Were they also wearing colors?"

Colors. As in gang colors. Yeah.

Clearly, she assumed I had seen this car in the city (which I hadn't) and therefore the driver must have been in a gang, because who else gets murdered? I was really annoyed. I mean, I get it, little girl -- you're young and white and go to Penn, which probably means that you come from something of a privileged background. And I get that, while attending this school, you are likely living in West Philadelphia, (albeit the safest, most cloistered part of West Philadelphia), and that probably scares the WASP-y shit out of you on a daily basis. But I kind of think that assuming someone's a Crip because they know a murdered person just reinforces why the people who live in the rest of West Philly think Penn students are stuck-up assholes, which in turn makes you feel uncomfortable when you walk down the street in your $200 jeans and people look at you funny.

But I didn't call her on it. Why? Well, for the same reason I don't put provocative bumper stickers on my car anymore -- I just don't want to fight. I want to hate you in my head, so you can't say anything mean back to me. Some may call this cowardice...I prefer to think of it as "choosing my battles." It's all about self-preservation people, and if I could find a bumper sticker that said "Ask Me About my Inner Loathing...Or Rather, Don't" I'd slap that puppy on the back of my car in a second.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

reason #46 why my life is okay

You know, there are a lot of things you can do to cheer to yourself up when you're feeling like a loser.
  • You can eat a big bowl of ice cream while watching Judge Judy, (admittedly this seems like something a loser might do, but it's not).
  • You can take a walk around the neighborhood, pausing to giggle at the children, pet the puppies and literally smell the flowers, (which the puppies have probably just peed on, but go with it).
  • If you have the right kind of mom, you can call her and listen while she rattles off the reasons why you are not, in fact, a loser, (these may or may not include Magnificent Hair and Good Taste in Movies).
  • You can compare yourself to someone who is -- objectively, inarguably, empirically proven to be -- a loooooooooooooooser.

With that in mind, please join me in bolstering my self-esteem and validating the choices I've made in life by watching this video of Kevin Federline rocking out to his new single, PopoZao, (which is, I believe, Portuguese for "compared to me, you're a genius with clearly defined goals and intrinsic value as a human being.")

And yes, Kevin Federline is putting out an album. And no, that is not unfair. If we didn't get to make fun of him it would be unfair, but there are cameras with film in them, so there is justice after all.

Now watch the video already.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Slowly, yet surely, the dream is dying

My enrollment in Music Theory has gone the way of the dodo and my ability to see my feet. She's gone, ladies and gentlemen, and there ain't no bringing her back.

I knew it was going to be hard. I knew that my lack of a musical background was going to count against me, but I didn't think it would be a disqualifier, (especially since they tell you on the first day of class that you need no prior knowledge). The first few readings and assignments were difficult, but I can count to 8 so they weren't impossible, and besides, most of this crap boils down to memorization, right?


See, when I got to the part where I had to identify notes by ear, that's when the harmonious shit hit the melodic fan. I kind of have this rule for myself: If you spend the entire class period desperately trying not to cry/shake/vomit, and then you go home and become physically distraught over your lack of faculty with the subject, and then this in turn not only finally does make you cry but also causes you to scream new and improved combination curse words like "shitdamnfucker" and "motherdickass" and pound on your computer hard enough for it to shut itself off in fear, well, then, it's time to drop the class.

As you know, though, I also dropped the Creative Writing class and I can't add it back. So now I'm down to one class, too much free time, and a familiar and devastating sense of failure. I suppose I could look on the bright side, as in: "Now I have the time to...
... write that novel!"
...lose dozens of pounds!"
...put a new roof on my house!"

In reality, though, what it most likely means is: "Now I have the time to...
General Hospital!"
Days of Our Lives!"
...watch my life pass me by!"


So, this is just the way it worked out. I should have kept the writing class until I had figured out that I just wasn't going to be able to cut it in Music Theory, but as a result of poor planning and unrealistic optimism that the latter would surely get easier, I didn't.

And yes, I understand that, objectively speaking, one class is still better than taking none at all, but my brain is hard-wired to think in all-or-nothing terms so I'm feeling like this is pointless.

But don't worry -- you're all still invited to my graduation party on June 10, 2011. It's a Friday. Save the date.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

written off

Right now, I am "supposed" to be reading my Music Theory assignment, but I just popped a blood vessel so I though I'd better take a break.

Well, my friends, the class count has gone down by one. I have dropped one of my English classes -- the Creative Writing. I know, I know, it's the only one I really liked, but taking three classes, plus working, plus my abundant extra-curricular activities, (horseback riding, Hebrew school), was just too much for my easily-frazzled ass to handle. And, for reasons too boring to go into detail on, dropping the writing class made the most sense.

I am sad about it, though, as it had the most interesting cast of characters, (no pun intended...okay, it was totally intended), and the teacher was amazing, (check out her website -- she's like a legitimately literary Oprah). And I can't say I don't feel a little defeated. But, I suppose the old adage is true: Better to Succeed at Two Classes Than Be Driven to Murder-Suicide By Three.

Anyway, at least American Idol is back on. Thank God for small blessings in the form of square-headed, man-boobed British "judges." And this girl, too.

Okay, back to harmonic intervals. Low-down, dirty harmonic intervals.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Theoretically, I'm screwed

I think my lifetime of academic bullshitting may be catching up with me.

First of all, I realize that I never updated my school plan since the first post I wrote about it, so just to let you know, (and I think most of you already do), I ultimately decided to remain at work part-time and attend school part-time. Which leaves me with three classes; two are English classes, (my major), and the third is Music Theory, which actually satisfies the math-like "Formal Reasoning and Analysis" requirement I must meet in order to get a degree.

I chose Music Theory because I suck at math like no one has ever sucked at math in the history of math-sucking time. The other choices for "Formal Reasoning and Analysis" were, essentially, Calculus and Statistics, and they weren't really an option. Thus, after some informal reasoning and analysis of my own (hardy har har) I concluded that, based on the fact that I sing along to the radio while driving, I was totally qualified to breeze through Music Theory.

Well, I've been to two classes so far, and read the first chapter of the textbook, and, um...I'm going to die.

There is a damn good reason this class satisfies the math-y requirement. Actually, it should also satisfy the Foreign Language and Rocket Science requirements, since when I look at the page, it appears to be written in Hukkabrip-9, which, as we all know, is the dialect of southwestern Pluto. (And yes, Penn does have a Rocket Science requirement. They're very committed to the idea of a well-rounded education).

Anyway, I have decided that if I can get a C in this class, it will be a hard-won victory, (and I'm not the kind of nerd usually satisfied with a C). But it just makes me realize how much I've fudged in my life so far.

See, at various points throughout my childhood and early adolescence, I took lessons in the following instruments: Piano, clarinet (shut up), guitar and voice. And yet, I have no idea how to read music. None. I never bothered to learn. I just hobbled along over the years, never committed to the idea of learning to play music as much as I was committed to the idea of one day being a rock star. Seems like neither angle really panned out, and now here I am, sweating through Music Theory.

There are plenty of other things I never bothered to learn, either, and they haven't really been a problem. For instance, I honestly don't know my multiplication tables, but when do I not have a calculator? I mean, there's even one in my cell phone. Also, I don't really know too much about proper grammar and punctuation -- I've always just fallen back on my writing ability to pull me through. The sad thing is, these methods work. It's a Spell Check world, my friends, and I am purfektly happee to live in it.

So, as for Music Theory, I still say it's better than Calculus. I'll just have to study my ass off, complain a lot and never forget that Paul McCartney can't read music, either, so that rock star thing might just work out after all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oh, Dover Post, what would we do without you?

Do click to enlarge -- you won't be sorry. Well, actually, you probably will. I've taken the liberty of underlining my favorite parts.

Also, here's a little gift from another glorious local paper, The Leader and State Register, (which was clearly formed when the time-honored Leader merged with the acclaimed State Register). I find the combination of poop, Wal-Mart and grass-roots community activism irresistible:

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Day One





It has begun. School, that is, in all its pounding-the-unforgiving-West-Philly-pavement glory. It was a long-ass day, people, begun with over an hour of sitting in rush-hour traffic to get to campus, and then parking in a commuter lot located in some godforsaken back alley behind the Underwater Basketweaving/Eastern Philosophy building, and then attending classes, and in between, running to the three different bookstores where my texts were allegedly located, only to find out half of them were on backorder. And then, of course, coming home and weeping for my very soul.

Yes, it was a long-ass day, indeed.

But I did realize a few things that I've learned in my 8-plus years of sporadic, often half-assed college attendance that may possibly help me get through it this time around:

1. I know I'm smart, and I don't give a shit if anyone else knows it. I do not need to make useless comments every time there's a pause in the lecture just so everyone remembers I'm there, and that I have functioning vocal chords, and that I got into Penn for a reason, motherfucker. This kid in my lit class? He hasn't quite figured any of that out yet. And perhaps I'm just projecting my own virtually instant hatred of him onto others, but I think everyone else thinks he's a tool, too. He must be destroyed.

2. I also know I'm crazy, but I would prefer to keep it to myself. That woman from my creative writing class? She didn't get the memo. As an "older" student myself, I understand the desire to explain one's presence to the youngins when the professor does that obligatory "go around the room and tell everyone your major and something interesting about you" crap. I get that she feels preemptively alienated because she is clearly not 19 years old. But the thing is, Crazy Lady, you may actually be alienating yourself by doing the following:
A: Painting your nails in the hallway before class
B: Eating corn chips throughout the three-hour class period
C: Freely offering that not only are you in your mid-thirties, (no big deal), and that you already have a Master's degree, (interesting), but that you're also out of work due to a chronic illness, (I'm sorry to hear that), and that you just recently went through a divorce that you're having a hard time accepting, (uh...er...ha?), and that your writing interests tend to spring from Bible-readings and focus around a spiritual/mental illness theme, (actually, I have some pills that might help you).

3. I know I have a goal. At the end of this shit-smeared rainbow is the pot of gold that is a college degree from a great school. And yes, I do believe my bitterness is useful, so stop telling me to look on the bright side and enjoy myself, you perky bastard. I made it through Day One, and that's the best we can do for the moment.

More to come, dear readers. (Unless, of course, I get nostalgic for the old days and drop all my classes, deciding instead to devote the rest of the semester to my independent study project, "How Much Daytime TV Can One Person Watch Without Turning into Jell-O?")

Monday, January 09, 2006

I know, I know...

...I haven't posted in ten years. I know. I'm sorry. I love that you keep asking me to, and I realize that I'd have more 'fans' if I posted more often, but these goddamn holidays really did throw me for a loop this year, and I didn't want to write daily "fuck the world" posts. See, anger is funny when it's at least a little bit rational, but my anger lately was kind of hard to explain. Let's just say that about a week ago, I was ready to burn Santa in effigy. But I'm fine now. A little drowsy from the meds, but fine.

Not that there weren't amusing things that happened over the last few weeks. My best accomplishment? I fell on the dishwasher. You may be wondering how that is possible. I'll leave it to your imagination, but will tell you that after an ice pack and a $79 service call, everything's back to normal. The silverware basket's a little bent, but you can't turn back time.

I did come across a beautiful little nugget in the Middletown Transcript last week that I'm pleased as punch to share with you. The scan might be a little hard to read, but you can click on it to enlarge. Nevertheless, enjoy: