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Had a revelation, walking alone and inadvisably through the thin small-town dusk. I do not have to explain my whereabouts, outside of class (analogous to work) to anyone. I do not have to check in, sign out, let anyone know where I've gone. Safety puts its limits on this, of course, but I am essentially at my liberty. I've never tried independance before. It's kinda fun.

I was walking to try to figure out how much time I should alot to get to church tomorrow. I'm thinking a little over an hour walk, so I'll alot an hour and a half, pack nice clothing, and sneak into the bathroom there to change.

Walking through the hallways - girl with christmas-tree ceiling perched on the edge of her bunk bed playing steel guitar to an attentive audience. Constant stream of opposite-gender peoples headed in and out of a door three down from mine. I swear they're waiting in the halls, and I try not to laugh watching them sneak out in the morning. The girl who doesn't like me was cooking pasta in the kitchen while I was making my solitary repast of Nature Burger and canned oranges.

I just learned from the orientation guru across from me in the lab that the kids in my program do indeed have a reputation for destroying things, and that we're essentially in a fishbowl this next year as far as self-policing goes. Good to know.


  posted by Alex @ 9:39 PM

Saturday, August 23, 2003  

incredible day.

First of all, this ain't a college, it's a big building full of people Alex used to know. If there aren't any second chances, I don't know what you'd call this. It was freaking me out, but I just ran into someone from my old Outward Bound group (one of the few good things in a terrible phase of my life) and now I'm excited. I know these people, or did. That's cool.

I woke up at 5:45 and never went back to sleep. At seven thirty, I got up to go walking on the trails (previous entry) and then came back to eat an excessive amount of granola and figure out the logistics of a shared bathroom. I got my mailbox, went to my program's convocation (we did an egg drop! Lee, our director, held one particularly artistic specimen of egg insulator off the ladder and said, "Beauty is truth, and truth beauty. That is all we know in life, and all we need to know" and let the egg go. The prismatic triangle of straws and masking tape bounced once, twice - the egg popped out and rolled away, landing intact on the newspaper. Ours, of course, crunched first try. But it was good fun. being in a room with my program's people felt like being in a really spiffy high school, one where everyone's acting like teenagers but in a funny, cool way. That doesn't sound like a ringing recommendation but consider how much familiarity is worth to me right now.

Oh! Somewhere in here (I really don't remember) I went to the Big Sale, which is the selloff of discarded dorm junk. It really is junk. Cracked ziplock bowls, trash cans with scorch marks on the side, you know. But I needed a trash can and a recycling bin, and a bookshelf, and cereal bowls and water glasses and a cutting board. This sale was at the campus nightclub, which is as far away as possible (i.e. at least eight substantial flights of stairs) from my dormitory. Yes, I did. Luckily, I bought gimpy cheap furniture. I hauled two trashcans and a bookcase across campus on my back. All told, I have probably walked ten miles today. That makes me proud.

Then we had orientation - why do I always end up with the gimp group? We did play "Never have I ever". But I'm supposed to be eating with them right now, and I seemed to have misplaced them.


Yeah, me and this girl - (you know quiet clean-faced horseback riding types? maybe it's the posture that makes the simularity) broke off to go get our textbooks. Turns out they're only giving me one before class starts, though I saw an Oxford Annotated Bible lurking under a sign with my course number. After that we went to the student union and split off, and I bought a lemonade (Minute Maid! bad!) and sat to get the weight off my feet. It was at this point around 3 pm, of course. I went to the food court and was charged $5.30 for a small bowl of grapes and another small bowl of refried beans, salsa that tasted really bad, and chips. The main cafeteria better be better then this. So far it's only open at really awkward times, and not for dinner.

And then we had the general convocation. Some official people talked to us, and the student body president, and this motivational speaker who told us to save ourselves for our future spouses, also that marajuana is sprayed with arsenic. Why can these people never be reasonable?

After that, we were supposed to go to dinner with our orientation group, but since I really geniunely can't find mine and am full of the jelly beans I bought to supplement the terrible food court food, I am here in the computer lab. Where I just met a person I slept next to under a tarp for the rainiest eight nights of my life. I will go upstairs now, and wash my face, and possibly watch a pointless movie (my roommate has an excellent stock of these) but I think not, and go to sleep. At 8 pm. The swingin' life of the college freshman.


  posted by Alex @ 6:30 PM

The luxury of walking thin-morning Appalachian trails! I'd forgotten - the air is very cool, and despite the fog almost dry against the skin. The tadpoles in the pond are un-frogged, the size of a baby's fist with the pubescent bumps of legs beneath their tails. But the weight of the bowed rhododendron is oppressive, early in the morning, and my legs have forgotten the trick of going up and down mountainsides without jarring.

hungry. I think I will email my mother, later today. If I call her, then I will be homesick, and that is not good.


  posted by Alex @ 7:45 AM

Well, I'm here. Right now I'm really ecstatic (my parents finally left! woo!) but I can feel homesick lurking right around the edges. Tomorrow we start doing stuff.

First, damn, are the boys here determined to get some as s. Second, freshmen males do not look like grownups. Third, everyone here is from my town, I think.

I think one thing that helps me is I sort of take possession of a space and act like I have the right to live there. It's something I learned traveling, especially in situations where the only plumbing you'll see for the next day is a Wendy's restroom. It makes me less tenative, because in my mind, I already live here.

You know? I am panicked about the demands on me. I miss my dog. But still, when I sit quiet and alone in a room, I feel at peace with deciding to come here.


  posted by Alex @ 8:15 PM

Friday, August 22, 2003  

Yesterday: woke early. The family friends came & visited, gave me muesli, hugged me, went. My mom and I went on a sprinting run of all the places I dislike (Costco, Bed Bath& Beyond, Walmart) which lasted for five hours and left me extremely cranky and sad. I went out with Scott & wandered the main drag of our little town. Scott can identify about a fourth of the residents by car, and about half of those by sound. I am not a car person but I think I find this impressive. I left my mother to do the tail end of my packing (I feel bad about this, but the fact is things get done a lot better if I stay out of her way). My friend Erin came by this morning. And then I went out to breakfast with Youth Group Leader Extraordinare. Mom and Dad packed the van. And we're off!!!

  posted by Alex @ 7:06 AM

This time yesterday, I was terrified. Now I'm just really excited. I'm ready to go.

love to you all,

  posted by Alex @ 10:40 PM

Thursday, August 21, 2003  

I am avoiding the stage of panic where I start obsessively counting _every calorie_. Which means that I'm in the stage of panic where I get chubby instead. I can feel the little layer of fat under my chin, just sitting there being fatty and uncooperative. I'd better loose weight with all the walking on campus. I typically do when I'm walking a lot and busy.

  posted by Alex @ 8:17 PM

Wednesday, August 20, 2003  

Can you imagine sitting in the middle of a bus full of children, looking around at them all, and deciding, now I'll blow them up, now, with that other bus passing that I could maybe hit? Can you imagine? I am sick. There is no explanation, and while I will call it hate I will not dismiss the causes as 'evil' because 'evil' doesn't mean anything besides 'wrong', and I don't believe 'wrong' is an explanation. A valid classification, but not an explanation. More complicated words - fanaticism? some complicated combination of racism and siege mentality?

I think this is the worst yet. Yesterday is the worst yet.

Shallowness break. I can only handle so much:

I've decided I'm taking the wrong tack as far as packing. I want to have my things around me - but what happened to simplicity? Shouldn't I be able to stuff my belongings in a backpack and go? So I am going to take only what I think I need, instead of turning my dorm room into a sort of life raft for possessions I don't want to let go. That means the clothes I have unpacked now (plus some socks), fewer books, limited food (enough to make breakfasts, not three meals a day) my cd-player alarm clock, and my computer. And school supplies.

The thing that's getting me is, if I don't need something in my dorm room, I just plain don't need it ever. My room is getting boxed up so that my sister can move in. If I don't need to take something with me, I am essentially qualifying it as unnecessary and removing it from my life. I will never need it again. So, in essence, I'm getting rid of it.

_Why_ have I stopped meditating? I need disattachment! Badly!

  posted by Alex @ 12:46 PM

I didn't mean to write that. Instead, I was going to link to a sad sappy poem that I actually found quite excellent. Some day I will be able to write like that.


  posted by Alex @ 9:57 PM

Tuesday, August 19, 2003  

I think sometimes I come across very shallow because I resist hyperbolae. The fact is, for an estadounidense of my age and culture, sometimes understatement best captures the feelings involved. They are never as strong as they could be.

I don't like this. I don't like this bombing, the voices on the radio shattering into explosion and static and stay calm, everybody stay calm. I remember too well the other dust-clouds, a camera held backwards as someone runs away from the blast. My first catastrophe was children trapped in the rubble of a daycare in Oklahoma. I remember this too well.

Sometimes maybe it's better to assume that there's no mercy, that to die means to die in pain. It's too hard to convince myself that the people under the rubble have some respite, that some force of God or nature blots out the pain and fear and thirst. I have spent so long trying to blot out that suffering in my mind. Facing it is almost a relief.

It's no longer try to love the mutilated world. I do love the world, the world that is perfectly willing to blot me and a thousand people like me out of existance by coincidence of day and time, politics or weather. I know that dying means dying in pain and I will not stop taking elevators or try to get my friends to give up their motorcycles. I love the world, and death is bad. Well, there are worse things.

terrified, for all of them


  posted by Alex @ 9:55 PM

I don't like this war we're in. It was supposed to be over, and for the gods' sakes cameramen are dying. It won't be over for a long, long time. I'm not sure this war could or should have been prevented, though I am very sure that history will look back on it as a mistake.

Isn't it sad that I'm so much more striken and sickened by the deaths of journalists and UN aid workers then soldiers? I know that 'soldiers knew what they were signing on for' etc. etc. but I don't believe for a second that that makes their lives somehow disposable. (a position, by the way, that several conservatives I've talked to seem to disagree with somehow) Maybe I'm just used to hearing about soldiers dying. That's how we measure whole decades in history, after all, number of US soldiers dead.

  posted by Alex @ 9:02 PM

They blow up a government building, and what do they blow up? The UN headquarters. They kill an official and who do they kill? A powerless administrator who had devoted his entire life to human rights.

I am tired of people dying under rubble.

And I don't think it's preventable. At all.

I know that this is a stupid republican question, but where were all these explosives five years ago, when they could have been useful? I know the last head honcho had better security, but blowing him up would have accomplished quite a bit more.

  posted by Alex @ 5:20 PM

I wonder if it might be better to marry someone you're not in love with. So many marraiges break up because people fall out of love, but is love - at least starry-eyed walking-on-clouds infatuated love - a prerequisite of making a shared household and family work? Marrying for other goals might be settling for less. It might make infidelity more likely. But if your goal is raising children and creating a stable home life, not living in some romantic (/romanticized) bliss, aren't there more important things then whether someone makes your toes tingle?

Of course I'm wrong. Maybe.

Dear God, I'm not just turning into a conservative, I'm turning into a 15th-century conservative.

  posted by Alex @ 8:32 PM

Monday, August 18, 2003  

We always debate the difference between religion and spirituality. I thought of a new angle on it today. Maybe spirituality gives you something, and religion expects something in return. Think about it. All religions require a sacrafice - from the God of Abraham in Exodus, expecting pidgeons and honey cake, to the God of Jesus and "love thy enemies" who expects you to give up both anger and vengeance. I think that'd be harder then the pidgeons. Islam _means_ submission, as in giving up a part of yourself to God's will. Buddhism goes straight for the self - okay, the ego - and expects you to wipe it out entirely. I am liberal to the core, but I wonder about this in reference to today's culture. We're 'spiritual, not religious' -

that sounds a lot like we want to be given the benefits without giving anything back.

  posted by Alex @ 5:03 PM

This morning I went to church for the Last Time (well, obviously not really the last time, I'll be back for breaks etc, you know what I mean) and then I came home, squabbled with my family, and went and lay down on my bed. Two hours later, I got up, made myself nachos, banged my head on a cupboard and cried for ten minutes (you know that kind of crying where you're just kinda sitting there watching your body carry on? does that happen to anyone else?) washed the kitchen floor, and went and lay down on my bed. I just got up for dinner (the relatives are here) and I'm debating going back to bed. The only respite since I got home has been a bit of swaying around my room to Enigma.

  posted by Alex @ 7:16 PM

Sunday, August 17, 2003  
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