Thursday, September 30, 2004

Went to dinner tonight with Alan, Hank, and Rudolf, who is a German exchange student living in the German house. He and Alan are acquainted so he came along to the UC with us and he and I got into a general political discussion. It was very even-tempered and thoughtful; we discussed American perceptions of Europe and vice versa, and what he and I saw as misunderstandings between the continents. We also talked about the War on Terrorism and our different views on it, and debated whether it was possible to do it without alienating allies (or "allies," in some cases). At any rate, it was a nice discussion--he thanked me at the end for being the first Republican he'd met with excellent arguments, and I told him I always like a reasoned debate. Although I didn't correct him that I stand apart from the Republican party on several issues (and "conservative" sounds so much better to my ear). :-P

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Oh man do I hate colds. They're always worse for have a cough to begin with and the cold turns every slightly physical exertion into a brush with death. It's always funny how a cold and a rainy day make it seem like it's the middle of February...even when it's only just turned to Fall.
By the way, everyone should visit Danny Schmidt's website (at the right in the Links) and, if possible, download some of his music. (It's in the "Listen" section.) He's an incredibly talented guitarist who is ten times as gifted as I am lazy. I would suggest "Cleopatra" and "Sad Songs Walking"--and "Already Gone" is a good, although very moving and sad, song done in memoriam after September 11th. It contains one of my most favorite lines:

"There’s a hole in Pennsylvania where the White House might've been
'Cause bad men learned to fly grenades but good ones pulled the pin..."

I think that says it better than any ten page paper I could write on the subject. He's not that cut-and-dried throughout the entire song, but really, that one line more than redeems anything else he could have put in there. Good men will pull the pin only when the moment of truth is at hand, and most of the time they will be presented with that moment by the actions of evil men. Pray God we all have a little bit of Todd Beamer in us should any such occasion rear its head...

Monday, September 27, 2004

This speaks for itself. Hat tip: Eden watchdogs.
On sort of a related note...I saw "Pulp Fiction" for the first time (yeah, yeah, I know) this weekend, and there was one part that really resonated with me. It was the semi-monlogue that Samuel L. Jackson gives right near the very end of the movie, after a failed robbery, in which he tells the robber that he's going to let him go:

"There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. 'The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.' I been sayin' that s*** for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherf***** before you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some s*** this mornin' made me think twice. Now I'm thinkin': it could mean you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9-millimeter here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or is could by you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that s*** ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin, Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd."

That's how I feel, too. Except...that I was trying to be the righteous man. And failing. I never realized that one never gets to righteousness by trying. Whatever it is I was doing, it's starting to dawn on me that maybe being the shepherd is the best thing to which I could aspire at this point in my life. I guess Holden Caufield felt that, too...

(And is it just me, or is that dialogue something straight out of an Elmore Leonard book?)
Oh man, is it good to have my computer running again. Apparently my hard drive failed at the same time that I lost 64 MB of ram, which would explain a lot about the recent performance of the 'puter. Thank God for my brother Joe and sister-in-law JoLauna, who have forgotten more about computers than I could ever learn.
And it was nice to spend the weekend at their house. My niece Geneva is adorable and I really like spending time with her. She's amazingly articulate for a kid who isn't even three...I'd like to think my communication skills were that good at that age, but even my memory tells me that I didn't even come close.
Not that she's good at complex or abstract ideas--but when it comes to, say, giving directions or explaining where she put something or where she found it, she rivals some adults I know. And she doesn't get flustered or angry with me when I don't understand right away either. (Which is most of the time.)

To various people in my life...I'd like to offer an apology. I let stress and classwork and my computer failure get the better of me and it resulted in some behavior that I'm not especially proud of. A lot of you are helping set me straight and I'd like to thank you for's good to know that people have my back, and I hope I am returning and can return the favor, both now and in the future.
I know that an apology would be mostly worthless without some sort of I suppose I shall resolve to keep things in their proper context from now on. After all, trouble only means as much as the situation under which it occurs--and I'd hate to end up flying off the handle at the least provocation.
So thanks to everyone who forced me to stay in reality. *grin* I owe you all quite a bit.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Fall comes early to Williamsburg?

Wow, it was cool today...maybe autumn got here ahead of schedule. I went around in long sleeves all day. Speaking of which, I watched a video on emo kids...I guess I qualify as one in how I dress. Jeans, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, belt, glasses, Converse Hi-Tops--though the hat I'm not really sure about. Don't emo kids usually go hatless?
Anyway, it was rather nice out. It was the kind of day that makes you realize that you have a lot of things to enjoy before winter gets here--and for some reason, the two things that stick out in my mind about fall are the smells of the smoke and the taste of apple cider. One of things I miss about home is going out, raking up leaves, hauling them away and then burning them. It's one of those activity/pleasures, like polishing shoes or cleaning out the coffeepot, that I somehow enjoy even though it's probably more work than fun. I wish that I felt that way about making the bed, but...I guess I'm particular in my likes and dislikes.
But sometimes I think that the only thing missing here in Williamsburg is the smell of wood smoke on autumn days...I guess sometimes I do regret not being in the country.
On another note, I met a girl I knew from outside William & Mary. She's the friend of somebody I knew in EYC, and she's pretty cool, though she's having a tough time with freshman year (even 12 credits will be rough on you, if you aren't used to this kind of stress. Some people are, but meh). Anyway, I found out she knows the Ex-Roommate through Skiffy and various other things. Let me make it clear that I know I can't control who people like, and whom they don't. There is a lot about the Ex-Roommate to like, especially if you don't really care about how he treats you--but at the same time, it's a little uncomfortable for me. I mean, I do my best not to talk smack about him, but I'm afraid one of these days something will slip out. *sigh* I was never trained to deal with this kind of situation...suggestions, anyone? Comments are welcome--I'm really not sure how to deal with this. Perhaps just ignoring the fact that she's friends with him is the best idea...
No alarms and no surprises please...

Well, as you might have guessed, I've been really busy lately. Went out on Friday night for a Sons of Liberty (Libertarian group on campus) party, which turned into a Remnant business meeting. The Remnant is the Conservative newspaper here at W & M and I'm now a member...supposd to have an article written by Friday. Eeeeek. But the party was fun--we hung out, drank a lot (I personally didn't get tanked, but a lot of people did), and met this freshman named Kelly who's an extreme libertarian from Louisa County who likes 80's metal. Interesting find there.
Saturday I didn't do much at all. I hung out most of the day just goofing around, and in the evening I went over to Danny Brother's room. Dave and his friend Nathan were over there and had lit up two joints, so I sat as far away as possible. I'm still not sure what the effects of second-hand marijuana smoke are and I don't care to find out. Anyway, a bunch of frat guys came in and starting singing along to country music, so I vamoosed as quickly as was possible.
And then yesterday I finally buckled down to work and studying for this hideous week which is now ahead of me. Ick. I can't wait till it's over...I have two quizzes, two tests, and three labs due this week. What fun this semester is looking to be...

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I talked with my friend Becky about that dream today...I can't get the images in it out of my mind. I remember this feeling of love, in a way I've never felt before. It was a familial love, to be sure...but it had something else too, a touch of the Divine, I suppose. When I woke up there was also a sense of great a shadow had not only lifted, it had been replaced with something soothing.
So when Becky and I talked about it, I mentioned the twin sisters (who don't exist in real life) and we talked about what they could mean. She suggested that they were the dichotomy that exists between romantic and familial love, and how they are complements of each other and stem from the same basic place in one's heart and mind. I agreed but wondered how that fit in. We finally decided that perhaps it was meant to tell me that romantic love can't exist if I don't acknowledge and value the familial love I have--but on the other hand, familial love can exist without romantic love, when it isn't there, and strengthen it, when it is. (The whole dichotomy thing again). What I'm wondering twins have other significance in dreams as well? Anyone? I'm curious here...I don't think my mind made up a pair of twin sisters for Gracie out of nowhere. Considering how wrapped up I am in symbols.
At the risk of sounding maudlin, I'm going to post my thoughts on this matter...

My brother Jamie had a messy divorce from his ex-wife, Cynthia, some years ago. Because of the residual bitterness of the post-breakup fallout, we have been unable to see their daughter, Gracie, for the past several years. She's six now--I haven't seen her since she was two. However, this past summer, I called Cynthia and asked her if I could meet her somewhere, maybe for coffee, and get to see Gracie and her daughter Cassidy (she was my stepniece--we became close while Jamie and Cynthia were married). She agreed, but due to the fact that I called her near the beginning of school and how busy she was, we're putting it off until a later date--maybe Fall Break or even Winter vacation.

However...last night...I had this dream. (In case your warning bells aren't going off by now--they should be. You've been warned.) Instead of just Gracie and Cassidy, there were, I think, four girls, all of them Jamie's daughters. They were happy and lighthearted and sweet, and all of them were glad to see me. I found myself crying at one point, not only because I was finally meeting them, but because they brought such light into my life.

The thing is--what I'm thinking--perhaps they weren't just facsimilies of people I want to see...perhaps they were concrete representations of abstract things that I've been missing for so long. Hope. Laughter--true laughter at the comedy that is life. Joy. Happiness. Perhaps they came to bring me a message of deliverance, that there will be release at some point. I'd like to think that the nieces in my dream were there to say, "We've been away a long time...but this time, we're here for good."

Saturday, September 11, 2004

So yeah...what can I say that hasn't been said before? You've all read the words of people much more eloquent than I--how could I possibly add to that? The only thing I can do is advise you to go here. I'll never forget seeing this right after 9/11 and hearing the sweet strains of 'Only Time' and thinking that I never would feel a greater sorrow or emptiness within me.
So what am I going to do for September 11th, 2004? I don't know. I'll never forget that day, that week, the long months afterwards as we watched the crews clean up Ground Zero. But at the same time, sorrow has to be tempered with determination, hope, and a willingness to live on for those since fallen. So I'll watch the footage, listen to the songs, and hope beyond hope that no other date is allowed to enter the list of "dates that will live in infamy." We will never forget, and perhaps we will never fully heal--but America was born to transcend the extraordinary tragedies of this world. Let's Roll.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Well, this has been a busybusybusy week. Chem Lab on Tuesday was exhaustive and intensive--and I still haven't finished the take home part. Mainly because I was busy with ROTC Lab on Wednesday and Physics write-up today. And man, was ROTC Lab fun. We went out to Lake Matoaka and did high crawl, low crawl, and 3-5 second buddy rush. The low crawl is where you do push-pull along the ground like you're climbing a cliff, with your head to the side and your helmet "digging a ditch" in the ground. This is for when you're recieving direct fire. High crawl is what you do when you're recieving indirect fire. You have your head up and your rifle cradled in your arms, and you used your legs to propel yourself quickly along the ground. Buddy rush is the "cover me while I move" thing you see in movies--basically it's a way to leapfrog around using cover and concealment. It's tricky,'re up and down and up and down and it gets pretty wearing. You have no time to rest.
So yeah, we got horribly muddy. It had just finished one of those wonderful Williamsburg windowrattlers and the ground was saturated. We were completely covered and our faces were all messed up with camo grease paint. We looked a real sight by the end of it. And it felt great.
And today I had the ultra-exciting Physics lab. Woo hoo. I'm getting kind of tired of it already...just graphs and charts and stuff like that. Nothing like chem, where you actually get to see things take place. In physics, you watch things go up and down and talk about what makes them do so. In chemistry, you blow things up and analyze how qualitatively cool it is.
And tomorrow I hopefully get to eat lunch again with my new friend Ariel from MiliSci class. She and I are in the same group in class and in the same squad during Lab so we see quite a bit of each other. She's a freshman, an army brat who I guess is going for term (as opposed to career) in the Army. We eat lunch after class on Wednesdays (before rushing off to change into our BDU's). For some reason, cadets find it really hard to wrap their minds around the fact that I am NOT going into the Army. I guess I'm somewhat of an anomaly, no?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Just a quick note to people at W & M who happen to be unfortunate enough to read this blog...leave comments! There are some of you I don't get to see as often as I'd like, and I want to hear from you--it brings me hope that you read my random scribblings. So leave me messages. *grin*

Sunday, September 05, 2004 I picked up my ROTC kit on Thursday. I never realized I needed so much stuff. Boots, pants and shirts and jackets, dress uniform, dress shoes, pistol belt, ammo pouches, canteens--all this stuff goes into a duffel bag which I then have to carry from Sorority Court to Pleasants.
Which is a long way. I haven't clocked it but I'd guess it's only somewhat under a mile, especially considering the roundabout way I took. (I was on my way to Physics discussion, but halfway there I decided to just head back to the dorm. Screw physics.)
Anyways, yeah, I've been trying to integrate the various ROTC stuff into my room. Thank god for wardrobes...most of the stuff went into there, in varying degrees of neatness. Putting all THAT away made me want to organize the rest of my room as well--with limited success. At least it's neater than last year, but that's because this year's roommate doesn't strew his things all over the middle of the room.
Of course, this year's roommate is better in so many other ways too. *grin*
And wow, I really have the weeks from Hell coming up. It all culminates on the week of the 20th, in which I have this schedule:

Monday, 9/20: Archaeology Quiz
Tuesday, 9/21: Algebra Quiz
Wednesday, 9/22: Physics Test
Friday, 9/24: Chemistry Test

So yeah. This is going to be the semester that tries my soul. Let's hope things go better than last year. Then again, how could they not?