(First of all, this not having the journals on the sidebar is annoying me more and more. Now I have to go to a whole other page to see what the new journals, the life of the party, are.)
Well another day, another wasted 24 hours spent anguishing over where my life is going.
High school sucked. I say it made me lactose intolerant, and I don't know if that's exactly true. I mean, I am somewhat lactose intolerant, at school, or not, but at school, my gut was in pain. All day. It was stress. It still happens sometimes when I get stressed, when I go to work, for example. I suppose I have a very expressive gut, which is an interesting problem.
But I spent the whole winter of school in anguish, wondering where my life was going. Fall certainly didn't help. I worked as a sign shaker for Value Village, and every day was school, then directly to shaking signs on a scummy city street, then home, after the sun went down, doing homework and going to bed. Weekends were just 8 hour shifts, a veritable heaven.
Winter I worked making pizzas for Garlic Jim's, which at the least gave me some time to walk home through a nice forest and get in an hour long bike ride between school and work, if I worked hard. But applying for colleges and everything, and spending all day sitting in beige rooms, I began to question the value of anything I was doing with my life, I stopped caring, and my grades slumped to D's and F's, which never happens to me.
Finally, I decided I might as well apply myself, and worked in a whirlwind of activity throughout all of February, doing not only the work for all my 5 AP classes and work and exercise, but doing all my back homework.
I edged my grades up to B's and C's, still far and away my worst ever report card and a shitstorm when it got home, but doable.
But I was still stressed and unconvinced of the value of anything I was doing all the school year, waiting for summer. And then summer arrived.
Color leeched back into the world, greens and blues, seeping like magic into the gray world of the Washington winter.
It was really nice at first. I worked, hung out with friends, climbed mountains, life was all good. But plans fell apart, friends flaked, and last of all, they all moved away to university.
The first (to NYU-Shanghai) in mid-July, the last in mid-August.
But I'm still here. I'm going to the University of Washington, 25 minutes away in North Seattle (with no traffic, which there always is), known universally around here as the UW, pronounced "U-dub".
First of all, except for one close and a few other friends going to UW or satellite colleges, most of my best friends went to other states. Minnesota, Montana, California, China.
And UW, being one of the few left on quarter system, still doesn't start for another 3 weeks.
So I'm going to UW, perhaps the most obvious, least interesting university to choose where I live. It's certainly a good school, and of course it's a good price. And having been there for orientation, it's definitely more palatable and chill than high school, I'm excited.
High school was, more often than not, a waste of my time, honestly. I happen to be really good at Biology, so while I had to sit for an hour in Biology class every day, doing literally nothing, I got an A in the class and a 5 on the AP test, no thanks to anything we did in class.
I could have just read the textbook, not taken the class, and it would've been at least as effective and wouldn't have wasted everyone's time and money.
College, in many ways, lets you do that.
So UW isn't unique or anything, but at the same time, I love Washington. I don't give up my nationalism easily. The US doesn't hold much of a special claim on my loyalty. Sometimes the government does good things, sometimes bad. I'll support them in the good and work against them in the bad. But I won't mindlessly support them in any conflict with any other government or group just because I live in this country. If I don't know, I'll tend to give the US the benefit of the doubt because I live here and might as well, but nothing more than that.
But I do love Washington. We were the only state to vote for both gay marriage and pot in initiatives. Seattle is a great city, to the extent I can stand cities at all, for a host of reasons that I won't bother explaining.
Washington also has excellent mountains, and this is very important to me. Of the lower 48, we have by far the most glaciers. Glacier National Park in Montana might be famous for its glaciers, but in 15 years, thanks to global warming, they might no longer exist.
That goes for every other state. Washington has lost glaciers too, and in 50 years we'll have fewer and smaller ones, but they will still exist and even in relatively good health, if reduced size.
We have wonderful forests and lovely rain to nourish them, and all sorts of other stuff.
And the UW is an archetype, just like Starbucks or the Space Needle, if less internationally known than those others, of the super chill culture of Seattle.
So those are things I'm excited for.
But for now I sit and I wait.
"Seems like the roads stretch out like veins, but there's no heart.
Nature's haircut is concrete now, and we played our part.
So we sing...
I've lost my taste for modern things. They're not for me.
I want mundane: a quiet place, where time is free,
And I can sing...
Climbed from my bed, to collect the thoughts that'd fallen from my head,
And you watched me sink, through the carpet, through the basement, and beyond.
And you didn't blink.
On the glass, I traced the sun with my thumb. It sank into the ground.
And then the stars were blinking, like kids who were staring into the wind.
So I climbed through the window and walked until I lost my name.
Now I can play the victim. It's fine. I've seen it on TV.
But if there's one thing I know, it's that I never really know enough.
Our heads, our hands, our brains, our lungs: they're just machines.
These hearts are all that we've got left, and they don't beat."
My problem is, I'm not satisfied by so many of the things other people are often satisfied by. The new iPhone, I don't give a fuck. I spent a half hour the other day trying to explain to one of my closer remaining friends about apps. He's into computer science, which is all well and good, but he seems too often to only see the good in technology without its drawbacks.
I tried explaining that I don't know how to get apps on my phone, and I don't want to learn, because I'm entirely content in my largely app-free life as it is. (Occasionally I use the pre-installed maps app, for example delivering pizzas when it's sometimes essential.) Some apps might bring convenience, but convenience doesn't make people happier. It brings novelty, a quick hit of joy, quickly blunted by having rather than getting new things.
My mom, for example, didn't have a smartphone for a long time, didn't think she needed one. Now she has an iPhone, and claims she couldn't live without it. Looking her, she doesn't look any happier in any obvious way, she was content in her life before the iPhone, only now she has one more thing she "can't live without".
These tools can do many wonderful things, but they're always either things that really don't need doing, or things that are probably good to know how to do yourself. As much as technology commercials try to show the good, people enjoying family and capturing it all on pictures and film on tablets and phones and computers, to anyone who actually looks at the world that exists, smartphones are almost always something that take people, even people right next to each other, out of the world, shrink their world to a tiny screen.
Or take cars. We couldn't live without cars. The convenience and speed they bring is essential to modern living, to the modern economy.
But besides those obvious benefits, they have many downsides that are often overlooked. Half of our land area in developed areas, areas for humans only, are designated as "no human zones". Cars are so unwieldy they travel best only on smooth hard surfaces, and since those don't exist we go to terrible expense to re-engineer the entire world to fit around our cars. Pedestrians, real humans, have to tiptoe around the machines that dominate our spaces, fill them with great noise, stink, and a general eyesore.
Take LA. A large area and the availability of cars let the city explode horizontally to accomodate its growth. But of course, because cars were available to allow the city to explode like that, they became essential for getting around the city. The city simply got too big to walk or bike around. Everyone had to drive. And because this caused huge traffic issues, they had to build huge roads all over the place, which further discouraged walking and biking by making it, in many locations, simply impossible. And because all these huge roads made it impossible to not own a car, everyone drives a car, which means even these huge roads aren't adequate anymore. LA has the worst traffic and car pollution problems in the country. Because cars were available, LA leaned on them until it couldn't stand on its own anymore, and had to take the bad of cars with the good.
Which is a general fact. They're another umbilical cord. One we can't cut. We can't live without them, but we're rapidly discovering we can't live with them, either, and the huge pollution they produce, a fact unknown when humans in modern countries built their lives and their worlds around these machines.
I try explaining this to people, most of them don't get it. But basically, a lot of modern life doesn't satisfy me. There's work, which anyone would admit sucks. And then there's consumption, which doesn't satisfy me. I have no urge to buy practically any of the things all my peers are always spending money on.
So I'm left with nothing. I hate the bad, and I don't even like the good, which leaves me just floating around with nothing.
I'm honestly not sure how to resolve this. There are things I enjoy doing. Frisbee, climbing and bike riding are all high on the list. And to a certain degree, I've already started gearing my life around these things.
Just today I joined a group of regular frisbee games, played by Boeing engineers on their lunch break 3 times a week, and I remembered how much I like Frisbee.
And in the future, I'd totally like to somehow engineer a life that requires working as little as possible, probably dirtbagging it a lot of the time, and gives me time for climbing and the rest.
My profile name is swimmerguy, but it doesn't really apply anymore because I haven't swam much in years now. Instead I read and I climb. I climb rock, ice, glaciers. I'm doing Mount Rainier this weekend up an ice route, I'm pretty stoked.
Yet still most of my time is spent in anguished wondering what I'm doing with myself. Instead I divert myself to various sidetracks:
- I was going to meet with some Mormon missionaries, but then I flaked. Because I'm curious about Mormons. I can understand the attraction, certainly. The certainty you're doing absolute right, the lack of need to think, just to follow, etc. Honestly, though, it's kind of sexy. Sex is all about power relationships, and Mormons of all groups of people make the ultimate bitch.
But I flaked because then I realized Mormons aren't the ones to ask. Yes, I would like to ask them "Have you ever wondered how dictatorships survive? Certainly, most are more popular than people in the West would like to believe they are, such as China and Russia, but how do systems that benefit such small groups of people survive for so long? Well, for the same reason politics always get enforced. Because behind the old men who argue and decide are the young men, the military types, the bureaucratic and administrative guys, pragmatic and self serving, all willing to execute the prevailing political will, no matter what it is. The guys who believe they're doing better for doing other people's work. How could you possibly be so certain that what you're doing is right when you haven't, aren't allowed to, experience or even read about and study other kinds of lifestyles, the reasons people do some of these things the leaders of your church label "evil"?
Perhaps your leaders and your books claim they're given to you by God, but how do you have evidence of any of that besides that your leaders and books claim it? Would it really be so bad to do some discovering of life on your own, rather than having it "revealed" to you by others, if only to discover that you enjoy what you left the most? Who that believes in justice could forbid that?"
That's what I wanted to ask, but then I didn't. I don't know what the response would be. Maybe I'd change their minds, maybe not. It wouldn't matter either way and would simply destroy the comfortable assumptions some young men make that don't do any bad, don't hurt anyone.
(Except the one real beef I have with the Mormon church is that they forbid so much, which is fine, but they have no problem with consumption. Sure, Mormons pay a 10% tithe, but being very disciplined people they tend to make bank, and boy are they not shy of spending it. In what way is coffee a destructive and imprisoning habit when consumerism of material things is not? Coffee at least can be used to lubricate other experiences, make a sunset that much more beautiful, a conversation with a friend that much more relaxed. Coffee is the best thing in the world, I can say without hesitation. Electronics have never done any of those things. They draw people out of the world and away from each other. And the environmental destructiveness of consumption which hurts others besides.)
- Porn goddamn sucks. I spend hours watching it. I watch it till 3 in the morning, and since I can't bear to get up any later than 10 AM, I end up fucking sleep deprived, in summer!
Sex really isn't so great. It's just a constant urge that feels absolutely wonderful to fulfill but leaves nothing behind afterwards but the feeling that time could have been better spent.
And, at the risk of offending or corrupting any number of people on this site, I like bareback porn. Porn is a fantasy, and let's be honest, no one fantasizes about condoms. Certainly not me.
Does this make it more likely I won't use them? I don't know, but I could certainly believe it.
You know, based on what I know, most STDs really aren't an issue. The bacterial ones resolve on their own or can be knocked out with a round of pills. The viral ones stick around sometimes but never cause issues that would be life-altering (the exception is HPV, and that's only for girls, whom it sometimes gives cervical cancer.)
Even syphilis, which used to be the scourge of STDs, has evolved to be not nearly so deadly or unpleasant as it once was. It will hang around for decades, however, and while it usually doesn't cause symptoms, sometimes it does, and might kill you. The remedy is to get tested every few years, and the disease can be knocked out with an extensive drug regimen, taken over months or years.
But then there's fucking HIV/AIDS. It's true, the disease is incredibly hard to catch. Even the most risky behavior short of blood transfusion, namely taking an infected cock up the ass with no condom, exposes you to only around a 2% risk of transmission every time, on average.
But, of course, for now, there is no cure. And this makes things difficult still. HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was, thanks to new and better drugs every year, but it still fucking sucks.
Of all communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS has a unique horror for me. Because rather than causing something like liver damage, like Hepatitis, or heart failure or any other number of things, it kills slowly, and its effects are very general.
If humans had a health bar, like they have in video games, a measure of general health, it would probably be our immune system. Breaking that down causes all sorts of general effects, and comes with potential problems that can strike all over the body. AIDS causes exhaustion and wasting (rapid weight loss), as well as things like constant low grade fever and headache, constant diarrhea, constant all sorts of stuff.
That would be terrifying to experience such symptoms, to feel tired one day and not be entirely sure if it's HIV or just a bad day, but to know that this'll keep getting worse.
And then you have to wonder where the other infections will start hitting you.
Now, all that I described is without treatment, most of the time, but that doesn't mean you're scot-free today either. Medications are expensive and with big side effects. You'll still suffer the effects of certain HIV symptoms like swollen lymph nodes and diarrhea.
And though the medications make acute death less likely, HIV is just generally bad for your health, no matter how much you have, and it will generally make you weaker and less able to handle other stresses.
As well as the medications basically tying you down, like having a kid or something. Anywhere you go you need your medications, so it's difficult to do something like pull up roots and move to another country, especially one with a health system that's not so good, if that's your thing.
So really, I would have no problem with barebacking, if it just weren't for fuckin HIV/AIDS. And most people seem to have no problem with it either. Surveys have shown that somewhat more than half of gay men report not using a condom during their last anal sex. Hm.
- Booze is life-changing.
Anyway, I've used up way too much of my life writing complaining about said life in a journal few people will ever read (Elph, I can imagine, will).
Have a good one, my friends.