Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grad school update

After that last rather introspective post, here are some more up-beat particulars on life :-)

Made it through my first sets of classes. I think I'm going to like the graduate school deal - classes are more predominantly based on a "learn it yourself based on your own interests" with "teachers as facilitators" philosophies, which I really like/prefer. And, 9 credits is hardly a killer load.

I still haven't been able to settle into a regular schedule yet, due to a partial week last week, a long weekend, fighting with a sinus infection (boo), and now, prepping to leave for a small, several day conference, starting mid-day tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it quite a bit, although I wish I wasn't sick, and that I'd been able to prepare better for it before hand.

Still only slowly getting to know other students and people in the area; there are some good people around. Probably I should be patient.

Annnnd, I made an awesome pizza for dinner! almost close enough to my fav. italian pizza to ring familiar taste buds.

Theo out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Meaningless words

I think this is the second time in my life this has happened to me, and I don't really understand how it happens, or if there is (or should be), any cure. About all I can do is document the phenomenon itself.

One of the fundamental gifts of our species is language, allowing us to communicate ideas and most importantly aspects of ourselves, our identities to each other. Language relies heavily on symbolism - a word, an image, a sound or a gesture is given meaning when two or more people recognize it as a true symbol of some action, thing, or relationship. For language to be a successful means of communication, it is essential for both parties to believe that a certain symbol truly stands for this one other thing. In other words, to communicate, at a certain level we have to trust that what someone is saying to us really means what we think it means.

If this linguistic code of honor is broken by lies, and by the twisting of words and phrases to mean something other than they were originally intended to mean, the ability to communicate through language begins to decay. The words themselves are still there, but their meaning(s) are lost, either because we no longer believe in their meaning, or we stop listening to their message. (Humanities flash-back: An old Greek Dude named Thucydides documents this phenomenon, and attributes the rapid collapse of an entire society to its effects).

What can happen to ancient Greek societies can also happen at smaller scales to friendships. It happened to me first several years ago, when in a bewildering couple of days I went from having what I thought was a really good friendship with someone, to the point where this person barely, and begrudgingly will even recognize my existence. I still don't understand how things went the way that they did, but somehow, my friend decided that I saw all human relationships as a game and friendships as an intellectual, but not emotional, connection. (not at all how I see myself). Somehow that also got entwined with a deep mistrust in anything I said. After that, I could see a good friendship going down the tubes, and I had no way of even trying to save it, because anything I said was mistrusted; my words were rendered meaningless. Pushed over the cliff, and no way back up.

I haven't really thought about this in quite some time; I couldn't explain it, I couldn't understand it, and it hurt, so I put it away.

But I'm slowly realizing that a similar thing is developing in another of my friendships, where our interactions have grown almost formulaic. Pretty much any response on either side is predictable. Conversations inevitably feature the same topics. Each person shares the same frustrations and challenges, and gets the same, expected, customary responses. It's not that the words are being deemed as lies (so far as I know), but if you know what will be said to something before you even ask it, then it's really easy to stop listening to the words, and to let the meaning behind the words leech away, until only brittle skeletons of meaning remain. If communication, and hence language, is the glue that binds people together in friendships, and this language gets a severe case of osteoporosis, what's left of the friendship?

I don't know what to think here. This is certainly not the case with even a large majority of my friendships, but I think it is very real, and occurs most commonly with very close friends, the ones I communicate with practically daily. Is it just the result of too much communication cheapening the value of words? Wear and tear due to over use? Is there any panacea for this weakness, or is it the case that the only solution to an unavoidable conclusion is to let the dissolution occur?

Right now I'm frustrated and tempted to think that I should make my excuses, shove off, and be content in later times with good memories from earlier days.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tired of nagging.

I've only been living with my cousin for about 2.5 weeks now, and I'm starting to get rather frustrated; hopefully not unreasonably so. Sorry for blurting this into cyberspace, but I need to get it off my chest.

Rent for September was due, well, Today. Prior to this, I personally have paid for both the deposit on the house (sometime back in, oh, April?), and rent for the portion of August that we've lived here for. It made sense, it was easier at the time, and I figured it would be no problem, I'd get paid back his half relatively expediently. But somehow it's still in the works. Ok, whatever, I'm laid back and I've got some cushion, we'll work this out. Now September has arrived, and as per my conversation with him, I've only paid for half of the rent as he wished to pay the other half independently instead of going through me. I took care of my end yesterday. You probably see where this is going... I reminded him at least twice yesterday to do something about it, and again this morning, and in an email from during the day while I was on campus.

I get home at 8 pm, and he hasn't checked his email, and he hasn't taken care of the rent payment. GRRRRR. He doesn't even have the right password for his account, etc, can't do anything about it tonight. So now, half of our rent is going to be late. I can handle tardiness between my cousin and I, but I feel terrible that now it's affecting our landlords, who I really like and have had a good relationship with. And, I feel like a nag because I've been bugging him for several days and nothing has happened. I'm glad that almost all of the utility bills are in my name if he's this bad about taking care of things on time. I'm not paying for late fees if he screws up. I hate nagging, and I don't want to feel like his parent. I know he has the money, that's not the issue. He just needs to open his eyes and realize that his parents aren't taking care of everything for him anymore, and I'm not going to step in and fill up that role.

And it just all makes me really frustrated. I hate money, and I hate making a deal about it, but this isn't right and I don't want to be taken advantage of unreasonably.

His gf has been visiting for almost the last week, and all they do is sleep in late, make messes, put recyclables in the garbage so I have to fish them out, eat my food, and go out for dinner and drinks. I, of all people, certainly appreciate the desire to spend a lot of quality time when a long distance girlfriend comes to visit, and so I've been trying to cut him a little slack, but I've about had it.

I'm dying for classes to start so that I can finally meet and regularly interact with other people, 'cause I'm going a little crazy right now after feeling like a cross between a third wheel and a parent in my own home for almost a week now.

Grumpy Theo signing off.