On One Hand

February 25, 2005

Protected: Unsettling

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February 24, 2005

Protected: Relationship

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February 23, 2005

I promised myself I would never post any more quizzes on here…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:05 am



You’re Alaska!
You’re big, bulky, and extremely wild. At the same time, you’re rather
cold and standoffish, even a loner of sorts. Taming you may be one of the last great
quests of the people who do manage to find you or even seek you out. So many of them
just want to plunder you for what you have of value, but there are a few, the ones
who will stick with you, that truly value your rugged remoteness. As long as no one
is spilling stuff on you, you are truly beautiful.


Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Aw, ALASKA? I wanted Oregon or Washington. Actually I cheated, the first time I got Nevada and was like WTF and did it again, this time being more careful to think about the questions and be completely honest.

February 22, 2005

Toothpicks

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:11 pm

I often talk about my great grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and about how she views the world. Well, she had a stroke the other day, and a day later told my aunt “maybe I should just die now.” My aunt replied, “it’s your choice,” and then my great grandmother immediately quit eating. Now, within a week, she has partial kidney failure, a bladder infection, labored breathing and an irregular heartbeat. They let her leave the nursing home to be with her family, and her daughters are staying at my aunt’s house for the next few days so she’s not alone. It isn’t a leap to say that she’s dying.

It’s hard for me to grasp how the old people in my family always do this. The idea of dying at will carries a profound, almost magical connotation, but I find it disturbing as well. I’ve seen this happen many times: the person is always doing so well, in good health and high spirits, and then one day he or she decides to kick it and has massive organ failure only a few days later. The first time it happened I thought it was a fluke, when my great-grandfather announced that he wanted to die when I was twelve and then actually did it about two weeks later. But now I’ve seen it several times. Another great-grandmother, the most devout Catholic I’ve ever met, always wanted to die on a holy day and then somehow died of a stroke on Easter morning, the holiest day of the year according to Catholics. It happened again with another great-grandparent, and now a great aunt, who is 97, claims she could die at any time if she wanted but that she’s afraid to. It’s happened on both sides of my family, between completely unrelated people, so this must be something that all old people can do. Does this mean that all natural deaths are, in a sense, suicides?

I want to say a little about suicide. But I want to make clear that I am not a sick depressed person, I am just trying to think rationally about a very emotional topic. I want to talk about all the conditions under which I would kill myself. Mind you those conditions are not present right now. I want to see this in the most rational, honest way, without the illusion that I am somehow immune to this phenomenon that has taken the lives of so many others.

There was once a time that I didn’t have many friends. That stretch of about eight years of my life, starting third grade and ending after sophomore year in high school, is a huge influence on who I am today. I am a more loyal person because I saw how many people abandoned me for being strange, and I realized that friends are good for nothing if they can’t stick around even through the times when you aren’t fun to be a friend to. I recently had a friend who abandoned me when she found out that I occasionally cut myself, and it brought back that old realization from grade school. That’s why when I make a friend, I commit to him or her completely: even if I come to hate the person later, I will still be loyal, still choose to love, because I would want the same done for me. God knows I can be obnoxiously annoying when I’m emotional and depressed, yet I expect my friends to stay. I’m not perfect, but but I try to be loyal to my friends whenever I can. I have a very deep aversion to people who are petty and judgmental, who self-righteously criticize others over things that are stupid, and perhaps those are the only people I’ve abandoned before, because I didn’t like them and I knew they wouldn’t be hurt if I left the situation (I am not talking about the people who are critical because they are insecure). Those judgemental people are very strong people, who don’t understand what it is to hang from rubber bands and toothpicks. Aside from those people, whenever one of my friendships is broken, it’s the other person who made the cut. And I’m always the one left in pain. It’s not that I’m some great, wonderful benevolent tolerant person who appreciates everyone. I’m not. It’s just a choice that I make, or that I try to make. That’s all.

Anyway, there was once a time that I didn’t have many friends, and I didn’t kill myself. Somehow I maintained hope through all that, without becoming cynical and jaded. But I can say that if my life went back that direction, and if I were to realize that I was going to feel abandoned forever, I wouldn’t want to live anymore. I suppose I’ve been spoiled by my circumstances: more love didn’t satisfy me, it just led me to raise my standards. I think I’m going to be something someday, some sort of writer or influential reformer, a father, a husband, a leader, something, and it has given me the impression that I have a purpose. If I were to lose that, I wouldn’t want to go on.

I was once living under desperate circumstances, and I didn’t kill myself because I knew I could get through it. But if those circumstances came back, I don’t feel like I could get through them again. Knowing happier times has caused me to cling to happier times. They say that people who commit suicide often seem very happy in the days and weeks before they die. I think the reason is what I just stated: when they’re depressed, they numbly burrow through it, but when they improve they begin to desperately fear going back. Living through hell one time sucks, but living through the same hell twice is not an option. I know that’s how it is for me.

Let’s all be rational here. We treat suicide like it’s an unconditional evil, an insanity, a universal stigma. We all act like we would never do it under any circumstances, but that’s an attitude articulated in ignorance, because we’ve never lived the circumstances of someone who has done it. And those of us that don’t see it in a negative way seem to alternately worship it, like it’s some sort of beautiful candle flame to dance around and get close to but never touch; so many teenagers pretend like they want to do it but they know they never would. I don’t know if that hype is compassionate or if it’s patronizing to those who do it or try to do it. I don’t know which attitude I fall under. I do think suicide is selfish sometimes, and at other times I think it’s romantic. I guess in these confusing positions it’s best just to suspend coming to a conclusion, which I do.

Protected: Playlist 1

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Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:47 am

My boyfriend and I have different tastes in music, and I am trying to burn him a CD that would reflect what we can share. He likes a lot of 80’s music, and basically anything with a very upbeat, excited rhythm that you can dance to. I like music that is mellow and lyrical, though I can enjoy high-energy stuff if it’s original and has something unique or subversive to say. I just realized that most of the pop rock songs I have are still not the right type: Third Eye Blind and Stroke 9 are good bands but they aren’t danceable.

Stuff we can share are songs like “Bohemian Like You” by the Dandy Warhols and “Jonathon Fisk” by Spoon. I suppose I have to go for some more.

February 18, 2005

Seedpod

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:04 pm
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I was walking a girl to class, and we were talking about schitzophrenia, about how all the good poets have it. And we reached the front steps of the building, and she paused and exclaimed “oh look,” picking up a dried, opened seedpod that resembled a flower. How me of her, I thought, and accepted her gift. I said goodbye, and as I turned I reached to my pocket to put the seed pod away. But before I could tuck it in, the stem fell off, and the dry shell broke into four small heart-shaped pieces, each cupped twice like a teardrop-locket left hanging open. The thought was typical of a preson falling in love with someone who isn’t there. It reminded me of the impermanence of things, of transformation, and I had to think of poetry. But then I remembered that I don’t have schitzophrenia, from which all good poetry is required, and so instead let my poem fall to the ground to scatter, soft like the petals of a dead flower.

February 16, 2005

Apples

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:11 pm
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The most natural lifestyle for human beings is in the woods. It is to be where everything we need is available around us, where we can spend all our time doing good for each other because we’ve already got our own needs met. We are born, we grow up, we enjoy the most beautiful part of the world, we spend our lives in love and the progress we make is of wisdom, medicine, companionship and individual spiritual advancement.

We can’t live that way anymore. We had to take the Apple, to reach for the forbidden fruit, glistening with dew and sunlight, and embrace all that it had to offer. In it was the knowledge of frailty, of materialism, of personal ambition and a lust for wealth and glory. That first rivulet of golden juice that dripped off Adam’s chin would mark the place where a million men would die in a bloodthirsty conquest, hating each other, pawns to those with even more ambition than themselves. And on the flanks were miles of gorgeous plains of wheat, emerging cities, canals, roads, and smoke of burning ransacked towns to evolve to smoke of burning coal in factories. The apple would spawn romance, lust, unfathomable beauty and unfathomable ugliness; a whole new world where the humans would always wander, always crave, seeking “progress,” unknowing how to be satisfied, because they can never again go to their true, perfect home in the woods.

Each person, though forever changed by the apple, still has the same basic needs he had before: he needs food, water, shelter, freedom, love. He has the same needs and wants that he had in the forest, and does well for himself in achieving the first four in this Brave New World of car horns and fortresses. But the fifth want is much more elusive. Every man craves love most, because it’s the one that is hardest to keep, ever since that last day in the woods. So he strives for love by striving for what society says will win him love from all: wealth, power, fame, status, glory. He builds himself up in business, in politics, in academics and in sports, so that all will admire him. He competes aggressively with his fellows, hoping to win the love he deeply desires. But in doing so he works to his own detriment; he creates the very conditions of mistrust and cynicism that make love so hard to achieve in the first place. He’s willing to kill for his ambitions, so must defend himself against others who would kill him in the same way. This is the curse of the Apple: to be blinded by that one beautiful, untouched fruit hanging from the forbidden tree.

Look, said the serpent, seeing the future and knowing what would pass. Look, he said, come here and sssee what I found for you. Lucifer smiled, ear to ear, flitting his forked tongue at the timid, trusting humans. God sssaid you’ve got everything here; food and water, shelter, freedom, love. But you want more. Look at you all, ssstanding there barefoot in the dirt. Unkempt. Naked. Equal. You’re equal here, ssstanding in a line with no one higher than any other. Look into your heartsss and tell me the truth – doesssn’t each one of you sssecretly want to be firssst? Look at thisss apple. At its color. Feel its firm body and tassste its crisssp, sssweet flesh. You can rule all men with the knowledge in thisss fruit. Look at the apple, reflections of bright lightsss of great sscities and wars. Look at your facesss reflecting in its shiny ssskin. Look at you, at what you can have. Look at the apple. Look! And as the first one, Adam, reached out, Lucifer lept with joy. Yesss! Take it! grinned the serpent. Tassste it! Sssee it glisssten?

February 15, 2005

Salman Rushdie

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:40 pm
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Salman Rushdie came to speak at CU today, so I went with Sarah and a few of her friends see what the famous author had to say. Salman Rushdie is the famous Indian-born novelist who wrote The Satanic Verses, a novel discreetly critical of Islam (according to some), and the Ayatollah of Iran issued a fatwa on the writer’s head in response. For ten years Rushdie was forced into hiding, even where he lived in Great Britain, until the Iranian government withdrew support for the fatwa in 1998.

The main speech was a bit too much of a creative monologue, covering only a little about what I actually wanted to know, but the Q&A section after his speech made up the difference. Rushdie said something that I took note of, and I think it was one of the most profound and poignant statement of the evening, even in spite of its intellectually simplistic sound-bytish quality. He was talking about writers and politicians, explaining how they both appeal to the same general audience. “They’re always competing with each other,” Rushdie said, “because they both do basically the same thing, with one small difference. Politicians claim to be telling you the truth, but they’re really just telling stories and lies. Writers claim to be telling stories and lies, but inside those stories are fragments of truth.”

The comment resonated with me mostly because of frustrations I have with the political world, where people runing for president demonstrate their utter lack of understanding of science when they claim global-warming theories have no merit because they “haven’t been proven,” while all science is based on theories, not proof. Gravity hasn’t been scientifically proven, for Christ’s sake. Or politicians banter on about pseudo-sociological nonsense while the vast majority of those who actually study sociology completely disagree with the policy of three-strikes or personal and wide-scale retributivism. Yet the politicians ramble on with their dumbed-down ideas and half-truths, patronizing the public by assuming that to be honest about the complexities of reality would cost them votes. And based on the results of the last election, perhaps there is some validity to that popular assertion.

I guess I just get put off when people try to argue about something they don’t know. Politicians do it, columnists do it, and one-trade specialists do it more than anyone else. Like when economists try to tackle the environment, without studying environmental science, or when religious people base all their faith on the translated Bible without studying its origins, understanding neither the different connotations of words in the Bible’s original languages nor the different cultural contexts in which the Bible’s sepereate books were written.

Which leads me to the second poignant thing that Salman Rushdie said. A student asked Rushdie what he thought of the Ward Churchill debacle, and Rushdie replied that he can’t comment about Churchill’s statement because he hasn’t personally read the article it was taken from. It was the most respectable political statement I have ever heard in my life. I can say with confidence that it was. If more people in society had that kind of integrity, so many of our social problems would be eliminated. Rushdie went on to say that he doesn’t support terrorism or the idea that victims of 9/11 deserved to be bombed, but insightfully added that “there may be something deeper that Ward Churchill was trying to say, and I can’t address that possibility because I haven’t read the article.” He compared it to his own experiences with people attacking his books when they haven’t read his books, and then Rushie went on to give examples from his life. He supported free speech, saying “freedom of speech begins when someone says something you disagree with. It doesn’t end there, it begins there.”

STD Scare

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:24 am
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Everyone has at least one STD scare in college. Or so I assume that everyone does, since statistics show 80% of sexually active college students to be having an STD, and I would hope that all the the students with all the STDs are scared of it. But I think that many college students go through their fits of worry only to find out that they simply had a “stress rash” or something equally benign, not nearly as stigmatized as the problem they were imagining while in the midst of an irrational panic.

I’ve had a few STD scares, and to be congruent with most of my thoughts, all of my STD scares have been overreactions. As for memorable STD scares, I’ve had a few, beginning before I ever did anything sexual at all and continuing up to just about a week ago. My most recent scare happened a few days ago, when I noticed a strange sore spot on my ass. Now when I say “ass” I know everyone thinks of a certain unmentionable area that would be used during certain unmentionable forms of sex, but I am much more liberal with definitions. By “ass” I mean my tailbone, exactly as high as my “ass” goes before I have to call it “lower back,” in an area I could show a friend at work and be reprimanded, perhaps, but certainly not fired. But in any case, I found a sore spot there on my skin, which grew steadily worse over time, and my concern was enough to warrant further investigation.

After the soreness had been getting worse all day, I went into the bathroom, dropped my pants a few inches, twisted around and looked in the mirror to find a small, deep pink patch on my tailbone where the skin had been completely stripped off. It looked … gross. Concerned, I imagined what the sore spot could be, and thought of worst-case scenarios. If you’re gay, and sexually active, which I am, this is an area where STDs will likely occur. I thought of herpes, HPV, or some mysterious tropical flesh-eating bacteria, and decided that my symptoms were inconsistent with those diseases, meaning I probably had some rare form of one of them that is ten times faster and ten times more resistant to treatment. Then I thought of syphilis, knowing how it enters the body with a small, painless sore before going dormant for a while, and felt my heart rate accelerate as I wondered if syphillus was what I had. My sore spot was in a perfect place to be resulting from contact with a genital area, exactly where a guy might shoot his cum or rub his pubes against my skin while fucking me, and syphillus would be a perfect candidate to explain the symptom.

But then I realized something that I should have realized before thinking about getting an STD from anal sex. First of all, syphillus sores are painless, and this one hurt. But more fundementally was that it would be impossible for me to have gotten syphillus there in the first place. You see, I’ve never had anal sex in my life. I’ve never had another person’s genital areas anywhere near my back or tailbone, and I’ve never had any kind of sexual fluid there either. I’ve never had my own genitals near that area on another person. My tailbone was utterly virgin, and defaultedly clean. The strange spot, though painful, was probably something less serious than syphillus.

And then I looked at the pants I’d been wearing. They were cheaply made blue jeans, and had large, hard clumps of cloth and stitching where different seams came together. One of them was right under the beltline, on the upper part of the rear, in an ironically perfect location. I put the jeans on, and noticed that the clump ligned up exactly, exactly with the strange blister, and that place was exactly where I put all my pressure when I slouch in my chair in class, as I often do. I sat down for a moment, to experiment, bouncing quickly to my feat again as a jolt of pain shot from the hard seam intersection against raw skin. I sighed with relief as I called my problem solved.

I quit wearing those pants for a while, and sure enough, the blister healed. I guess I have to remember either to quit wearing those pants or to not slouch. In this case an embarrassing trip to the doctor was avoided, though I’ve spoken freely about extremely embarrassing doctor encounters before. The important thing to remember, that I can learn from this whole ordeal, is that I’m probably much safer than I think I am.

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