.journal 2002.06.07

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Who am I?

Now listening to: Michael Jones, Morning in Medonte
Now reading: Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
Now playing: Final Fantasy Tactics (Playstation)

Who the hell am I?

Now if that doesn’t sound that the beginning of the typical angst-ridden blog entry by a sixteen-year old on the cusp of discovering how much life really sucks, I don’t know what does. The problem is, I’m not exactly sixteen, am I?

I don’t know what happened last night. I got back from my summer class, sent some e-mails out (and got one particularly disturbing reply), and played some video games. Then all of a sudden I get the urge to go see the Wings game, miss the first period because I’m driving all over town trying to find a decent place carrying the game, finally watch the second period at a TGI Friday’s while eating the World’s Most Expensive Veggieburger, then skip out on the third period (of course, the one where the Wings actually win the game) so I can come back here to play more video games.

It doesn’t sound that productive, and it isn’t. I had about 30% of the grade for my summer course due that day, though, and I sweated over my work a great deal leading up to it, so I figured I deserved a night off. So I’m going to bed, and my bed doubles as my computer chair, so just as I turn the lights off, and I’m ready to shut the computer down, I decide to do a little last bit of surfing that winds up lasting until the sun’s almost come up.

I’m sure you’ve all had similar experiences, although I’ll admit mine started with just searching for my name online, a nasty little habit from back in the days when I was parlaying my “image” for cash, to see what people were saying about me. But then you go check out friend’s pages, and you search on friends’ names online, and you visit friends’ sites and then visit their friends’ sites, and you get taken from blog to blog to blog, until finally you’re reading what all these people are doing with their lives, and wondering what in the hell you’re doing with yours.

I wrote a little about this to a friend just the other day. It’s hard to feel that good about yourself when you’re still living with your parents, still getting those skills (although the stupid little diploma that comes with them is more important “out there”) you need to get a real job, especially when you’re constantly exposed to people your age who have their own apartments, can find decent jobs and still manage to have a social life. I don’t know how they do it.

If the fire taught me anything, though, it is that when the shit hits the fan, I know how to act. If my parents were to die in a car crash while out shopping one of these nights, I’m fairly certain I could sell the house, get a rathole apartment and a job to supplement the interest off the house to live in. Not comfortably live in, but live in. But you know me, I always need that comfort, don’t I, gotta have that security blanket with me even when it went up in flames along with half the house last year. Ugh.

After I started at UT full-time, I made the decision that school had to come before work. So I haven’t been putting in that many hours for my father’s company these past few months, instead just spending night after night studying my mind out, pounding facts into my head as tightly as I can, working and reworking papers, doing everything I can to get those A’s, so maybe I can graduate with Honours, maybe even go on and do graduate work. If that’s what I end up doing, I’m sure the effort will be worth it. But in the meantime, I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels.

I know, I just have to be more patient. Patience has never been my strong suit, though, as obviously shows from my past writing here. Ever since things went so horribly wrong last May, I’ve felt past the point of tears. I know you all have felt that way at some point in your lives; imagine going that way for a solid year. I’m not even sure that there is a solution at this point; my gear shift may have gotten stuck on “miserable” permanently.

It doesn’t help that I’m a people-watcher by nature (as scary as I find it a lot of the time), and UT gives me a lot of material to work with. UT hardly has as eclectic a cast of characters as I was used to from Antioch, but it’s still interesting to see the people there. Most notably, UT’s got a large “go with the modern flow” crowd that I’m simply not used to dealing with. I realize I’m hardly the one to talk, what with all the Powerpuff Girls stuff and all, but I’ve always seen the Powerpuff Girls as transcedent of modern fads, because they appeal to such a breadth and depth of people. That’s how I rationalize it, as least; I’m not saying my opinion is any more valid than anyone else’s. But you don’t want to know what it’s like for me to be palling around with grown adults who idolize boy bands and silicone sirens.

To each their own, I know, but it’s a lot easier to diss the vagaries of your generation when you’re entrenched in the work world with no one of your generation around. When that happens to me at school, it makes me feel like I’m out of the loop. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to go ga-ga over the latest non-singers marketed as every pubescent plebian’s masturbatory fantasies, but it still unsettles me a bit, makes me feel more out of place than I’m used to, and that’s saying something.

So if I’m not part of that crowd, what crowd am I a part of? Do I even have to be part of a crowd? Looking back at my time at Antioch, I can’t say that there weren’t groups and cliques that formed there among the students (and even teachers), but it was very much a do-your-own-thing and don’t-step-on-toes atmosphere where we all really were living free, and it worked, by Goddess. To an extent the Internet lets us all do that with our various homepages, although since I was involved in the business end of things for so long, I still have that “create community” mindset that encourages cliquing and hoarding (and repeat visitors and banner impressions and money money money — even on a non-commercial site like this). It doesn’t really feel that way at school, though. Not when I’m on campus, not when I’m outside of campus with other students. I don’t really have that sense of group identification, and without it I feel lost, no matter how many pals I have.

One of the things that gets to me is how many people my age (or even younger) are already married and have kids, while I lay unattached. I know that I’m not ready for a relationship right now, and I probably won’t be ready for another one for a year or two, but there is something about having that special someone that makes some things easier to deal with. (And others harder, but with the right person the good monumentally outweighs the bad.) It doesn’t help that I’ve been dangling without communication from my best friend for so long, either. I still have some friends and some buddies, but with everyone I am in contact with it’s pretty much “hey how you doing what’s going on it was good to see you.” It’d be nice to have more than that. (It also doesn’t help that it was my best friend that gave me my strongest sense of belonging in a group.)

This whole living at home thing is another one that sticks in my craw, in part because I spent so long in an Internet subculture where living with one’s parents after graduating from high school was seen as shameful. I’m not saying my parents don’t impose on my style, but I can deal with it. I know I’ve said some nasty things about my father in these pages before, and he’s far from a perfect man, but we do love each other and we’re fighting through all the junk in our lives as best we can. It’s due to his generosity that I have this opportunity that I’m embarking on right now, and I thank him deeply for that. Yet because I am still stuck living at home, there’s always going to be a nagging voice in my head, telling me how much of a loser I am for doing so.

And then there are my friends and pals, each of whom seems to be living lives about a million times more interesting than mine. I enjoy their companionship, and derive something from all of them; L. keeps me focused on my music and my goals there, C. and J. were helping cultivate both my artistic senses and my darker side when I was in contact with them, Ariel helps me develop my political senses and sensibility, Lina expands my cultural horizons, I’m part of a great Artist’s Way mailing list comprised of people around the world of various origins and ages that gives me artistic and emotional support, there are my school pals, there’s the nascent community of the .forum … I could go on and on. All of these people help enrich my life in a multitude of ways, yet I’m always stuck feeling inferior when I look at what they’re doing.

There’s probably a lot to be said about living your own life instead of reading about other people’s. But I guess when I was growing up, I was such a scholar, such a social outcast, that I never really learned how to find my own way. I was on my way to learning it at Antioch, but I had to leave there before I really figured it out. Each of my friends and buddies help me to figure out bits and pieces of myself, and from some of the stuff I was reading about people who don’t even know me last night, I was feeling myself tugged in even more directions.

I’m never going to figure myself out; no amount of time spent writing papers or thumbing through academic texts is going to make me smarrt enough to figure out just who in the hell I am. I’m always going to be a work in progress, and from being with people who’ve set out their ways early in life and never deviated, I’m glad I’m always going to change, I’m proud of that. I just wish I found it easier to be happy with who I am right now.

Everyone take care and be well. I’ll see you all around.

— Sean

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