Wednesday, December 31, 2003

A month ago, I would have been pretty damn proud of the exercise habits I'm keeping now. I mean, after all, I went to the gym almost every single day during finals week. As I said earlier, my physical therapy graduated to weight training and some light aerobic exercise and stuff, and when I have a good reason like that to get to the gym in the first place, it's easy to work out. I haven't been as good as that over vacation, but it's vacation - and besides, it's harder to get to the smaller and worse-equipped gym in this town than it is at college. And even so, I have gone a few times. A few days ago my sister mentioned a leg press weight that's about THREE FUCKING TIMES what I usually do and she said it like it was casual and easy, but when I thought about it I realized that's nothing to be ashamed of - that's exactly the muscle group I'm doing physical therapy for in the first place.

See me again in two months and I'll be as buff as the professional kickboxer who made me look bad over the summer.

Tae Kwon Do Monday night was fun, by the way. Master Randy Rotta's casual brutality and slight sadism is more rough than many Tae Kwon Do schools (but still quite a bit less rough than many schools of other martial arts) and a watcher might be intimidated or something, but it just made me nostalgic. I mean, Wow - I haven't had the wind knocked out of me like that in months! :)

But I can't help wondering, just a little bit - why am I doing this again? I mean, sure, Tae Kwon Do is fun, it's good exercise, it's just the kind of sport for me, the art of Tae Kwon Do and Mr. Rotta's class itself have taught me a lot of valuable life lessons, and in theory it's a useful skill... but there's that "in theory". I haven't been in a fight since ninth grade. There have been one or two times I've talked my way out of one, and a couple times I was wrestling around with friends and neither of us wanted to hurt the other, but really, my black belt has got far more use as a conversation piece than as a defensive weapon (well, not the belt itself - oh, you know what I mean.)

I don't know. I'm glad I do it, of course. If things were any different at all - no other responsibilities OR other clubs OR a better TKD club - I would go to TKD at college twice a week without fail. It's a great skill, a great sport, and a great art. But what it's been for me just seemed funny for a minute. I spent last night practicing various ways to take a knife away from someone, and I have a collection of weapons that range from "keep away from small children" to "illegal in most states", and I have a five medals or more from statewide tournaments, and I've spent almost half my life studying a martial art from some of the best teachers in the world. (That's literally true - Mr. Rotta may seem humble but some of my classmates used to win trophies in national tournaments regularly, and in France I took classes from Lee Moon Ho, 8th degree black belt and former French Olympic trainer.) And despite all that, the only thing I've ever used it for without warning was to criticize bad fight scenes in movies and a short story one time.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

I got my Christmas shopping done in the nick of time, as always. I got dad a bull-shaped corkscrew (but dammit, I forgot about the photo album he asked for, didn’t I… I’ll just have to remember it for his birthday) and a Christmas tie, I got Zoë a – well, I ordered Zoë a purse she wanted, and I got mom a Clive Cussler book in addition to the blender I chipped in on. As for me, I got the X-Men 2 DVD I asked for, some more clothes, and some cash and gift certificates.

We spent Christmas at Laurie’s with her and the twins and Mops, Marc and Susan and Kady, Leigh, Kenny, and Sky, and their new Jack Russell terrier. The puppies were hilarious to us, but Mops didn't like them so much.

(Sorry, a relationship guide: Laurie is my dad's older sister, and her twin daughters are seniors in high school, just like Zoë. Mops is their old dog, who is some kind of lapdog. Marc is my dad's older brother and Susan is his wife. Kady is their new dog, a bichon frisé just four months or so old. Leigh is... er, I'm not sure exactly how she's related to me. She's my dad's cousin once removed, or my dad's step-cousin, or something. But whatever she is to me, Kenny is her husband and Sky is her son, a senior like the three girls. And they too have a new puppy dog, just a couple months old.)

Dinner had a Mexican theme. I don't know why they - we, I should say - do that. Maybe it's just yet another way my dad's family is so liberal and non-traditional. For me cooking is just a way of giving food flavor rather than being a hobby or a fun challenge, so if they change the nationality theme every year then I don't get it. But it's success record doesn't seem that great, though of course I'm only going by my immediate family. My mom didn't like the dinner this year. Heh... when I was a kid, I remember being criticized all the time for being a finicky eater. But after a year of not-bad-at-all-just-very-different French food, it seems things have reversed completely.

This afternoon we all went down to Burlington for a little shopping to spend some gift certificates. The shopping went well. I got a book, a graphic novel, and a cheap computer game. Dinner was at Perry’s or whatever that seafood restaurant was called. It could have been better, but then again it’s hardly fair to compare it to Capt. John’s, and at least there wasn’t an hour wait like there would have been at the Olive Garden. Then Zoë went to meet some friends at the Return of the King. I tried to join them because the movie was so good that I wanted to see it again, but there was a mix-up on who was driving, and I had chosen the wrong night to be optimistic… to make a long story short, there was no room for me in the truck they were going home in. So mom and dad came all the way back to Burlington and got me. Yeah - stupid of me.

Monday, December 22, 2003

What Type of Villain are You?

Gretchen and I broke up... wow, almost a year ago now. My feelings on the matter have ranged from "Aww, this is so great, it's almost like we never broke up," to "I'll kill that fucking bastard Nick." (Despite the fact that, when you get right down to it, he didn't do anything I wouldn't have done in his position.) Sometimes in the same day. And we've kept in touch pretty regularly since breaking up. Partly because we, after all, do have stuff in common and are friends. And partly because I've needed her company sometimes. Of the relatively few friends I have, sometimes she's been the only one I could talk to - the only one in this time zone who had the time to spare and who I wasn't hoping to get together with, for example. I really hated that. That I would need, actually need, anyone at all, and most especially that it would be my ex-girlfriend.

Clearly, talking to her has been hard sometimes. And every single time it's been in person, it's been very hard. But this evening was great because for the first time since breaking up I saw her in person and it went well. We laughed and listened to music she's downloaded and stuff. I saw her yearbook for the first time. And her blue hair is a different shade from the blue I'm used to, so it was an entertaining surprise.

Maybe because this meeting was completely impromptu - I basically found myself in the neighborhood and she was free so I dropped by. I didn't have anything planned that I would have been pressured to accomplish, I hadn't driven all that way just to see her so I could leave whenever. Or maybe it's just been long enough. Who knows? But I'm not complaining.

Earlier, when I was thinking about sitting down to write something, I was thinking about how things haven't been great. Why haven't I seen any of my friends at all yet this vacation? (Or so I was saying before tonight, of course.)Don't I have any? If I'm not buying many presents, does that mean I'm an uncaring guy who doesn't know how to treat the people in his life?

And so on. But as I was getting ready to write this, it occurred to me that even if things right now aren't the best they've ever been for me, they have been a Hell of a lot worse. Right after the aforementioned breakup? I spent three hours crying on the shoulder of a girl I at the time barely knew. The summer after I graduated from high school? The girl I'd had a crush all through school (though I never had the balls to do anything about it) was pregnant, and when I got over the initial shock (an hour or so later) I called a friend and tried to get drunk since it seemed like it might help - and failed completely, since I didn't even have the experience necessary to choke down rum and coke. And don't even mention the first month or so of my freshman year, when it seemed like every single friend in my life was in another time zone.

By comparison, this past week or two has been wonderfully amazing. What am I complaining about? I mean, don't get me wrong, I still really wish I had sex or at least love in my life, and I'm annoyed that I have no better prospects there than "wait and hope". But I can keep it in perspective - the past couple weeks have been pretty damn good, on the whole.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

If you don't see nine dolphins here, you are a sick, perverted bastard. Or bitch, as the case may be.
Turkey is a soporific, isn't it? FUCKFUCKFUCK, I wish I had thought of that before having that wrap.

If I manage to get a C or better in Applied Data Analysis and my dad ever gives me a hard time about not taking enough math in college again, I swear I'll punch him in the face. It's not that the math is hard, especially since it's all being done on a computer program. The hard part is trying to figure out which column of which graph you want to look at when there are about twenty graphs, each of which has between two and six columns, and you haven't been able to find a relation between a dozen other... waaah.

Monday, December 15, 2003

I'm slowly making progress on my "Proud to be a Robot" short story. I would be thrilled by my progress and enthusiastic about the final product - it's an interesting idea, and I'd love to see an halfway competent writer take it on - if it was all I had to work on. But I'm sure either the quality of this story or the duration of my sleep over the next few days will take a severe hit to make time for the two other papers. *Sigh* why does the most interesting class have to be the most low-pressure one? I wish I could devote even more time to this thing I actually care about than to the extremely hard statistics class and the incomprehensible philosophy class.

In addition to Katye and my bargain with her, and also my ex-girlfriend who was opposed to it while we were going out, several other people on the hall have encouraged me to stop smoking. It's unsettling that so many people care about me and my well-being. It's touching and humbling that people are expressing true interest that I stop a self-destructive behavior, especially considering that, when you get right down to it, I barely know some of them. In fact, it's a little sad that I'm so confused by a simple heartfelt effort to help me.

Then again, maybe they're just being annoying and meddlesome. I haven't decided yet.

Friday, December 12, 2003

I am proud and impressed. My knees haven't hurt a bit today.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Uh oh... it feels like my knees might be hurting tomorrow. Today my physical therapy moved up to weight training, which was quite a bit of work. Now I wish I had been more diligent and regular and stuff about doing my exercises this past week. If I don't wind up even a little bit sore tonight or tomorrow, I'll be proud and impressed.

Only eight days before I go home for Christmas. I can't wait (big surprise). Unfortunately, that means there's less than eight days before I need to write two papers, rewrite a short story, and do a take-home exam. Those, I'm not so thrilled about.

Tuesday in Uncertain Inference, the professor mentioned some sample exams he had given out to help us prepare for the final today. No one had them, so we asked him to e-mail them out. (I thought he had just imagined giving them out or something, but it turns out he gave them out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving - even if we were organized enough to be able to find it, I and apparently others weren't there that day.) Yesterday, when several of us got together to study, we noticed something odd: the day and date on the practice test were today. Not last semester or last year, but today. Did he really e-mail us the exam we were going to be taking? Well, it turned out that he did. So that one... wasn't all that hard.

However, the Applied Data Analysis was hard. Realistically, I don't think I did too bad because more than half the class was there until the last minute just like me. So I'm far from the only one who didn't finish, and the teachers grade on a curve so I will almost definitely pass. Still, though... it would have been very nice if I had got even one of the math problems right.

In a few minutes I'm off to my first meeting about what it's like to be a news editor. Cool.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Grrr... I tried twice to write a long and involved post. Both times it failed on me. And for some bizarre reason, the format of this editing page has become completely different.

Well, I'm not going to waste time rewriting that post a third time. I have much more important ways to waste time. So I'm afraid you're going to miss out on my brilliant prose and diction and rapier wit and lightning-fast intellect and I'll just sort of summarize what I was going to write.

First, go to Google and type in "miserable failure" and hit the "Search" button. Or even better, hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button. Hilarious, isn't it? The best part is, this isn't because of a glitch or some joke played by the people who run Google. It's because Google finds pages by looking at other pages (to greatly summarize something I don't entirely understand myself) and so many people have called him a "miserable failure" and linked to that biography that Google thinks he is the miserable failure. George W. Bush is a miserable failure! (I know it's pointless since Google already has the search, but I couldn't resist jumping on the bandwagon.)

Second, on a less cheerful note, I'm glad I don't live in Louisiana. I first found out about this while reading Jay Grant's blog, who is famous for writing a comic strip that's irreverent and twisted and just plain fucked-up. Now, since he's not an incredibly reliable source, I thought it might be a joke or a hoax. But no; search for (Go Google! :)) Marcus McLaurin and you'll find articles about it by much more reputable sources. Here's one. At first I didn't believe it, but now I just wish it wasn't true. I really think it's time those fuckheads - teachers and principals and elementary school administrators! - figure out what year it is.

I just got a paper back. I got 20 out of 28 on it. Considering there was an important part I completely left out because I couldn't manage to get a working answer for, I think that's a decent grade. Considering someone who had the same problem as me got a 12 out of 28, I think I did pretty damn good. (yes, too bad for him better luck next time i hope he's doing ok in the class, etc.)