Wednesday, January 27, 2010

People, People, People!

Today I had an epiphany in my Sociology 100 class. Well, one spurred on by my professor's notes anyway. I'm not sure why I've never realized this (as I seem to realize every other "unthinkable" thing) but now that I have I must jot it down. Today I learned that "self" is socially negotiable. All those years of building up who you think you are (while, ironically, still questioning who you are) is determined by - you guessed it - society. In other words, PEOPLE. So, you think you're "fun," "hard-working," "nice," "outgoing," etc.? Well it turns out you might be. Depending on who's around you. How many of us label ourselves as such because PEOPLE tell us we are? How many of us label ourselves as such by comparing ourselves to other PEOPLE? Well I'll be damned. All of us. If you grew up alone on top of a mountain you wouldn't be any of these things. You'd just be. Which is what we all end up as if we take away everything that surrounds us. Obviously. But this leads me to say that if our lives were different, say, we were all prison mates (my professor's example) controlled by guards, our so-called "personalities" would diminish into nothing. If this all sounds familiar then you're thinking of the Stanford prison experiment conducted in 1971. Twenty-four undergraduate students were selected to play out roles as prisoners and guards in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford. The result was so traumatic that two students chose to quit and the whole experiment came to a complete halt in only six days. Students were becoming so engrossed with their roles that the guards would punish prisoners by taking away their mattresses or making the room colder. To avoid these consequences, prisoners would obey orders, thus diminishing their personalities, their "self." I use this example to exemplify the huge effect our environment plays on who we think we are. We think we're one way but as soon as we're thrust into a different way of life we turn out to be the complete opposite of what we thought.

Another example is from the current book I'm reading, "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich (which I highly recommend you read.) Ehrenreich took it upon herself as a journalist to do an undercover story "on (not) getting by in America." Working at such fine establishments as Wal-Mart and a nursing home, along with several restaurants, she sees if she can get by on low-wage jobs. She goes from living in trailer parks to motels and eating fast-food to eating out of donation bins. The result is that you honestly can't "get by" by having a low-wage job, though people inhumanly manage to do so. The point of bringing this novel up at all is that while working at Wal-Mart, Barb, as she's known there, gets into an argument with a fellow co-worker. Her co-worker being quite short and unable to do "returns" needs a ladder to reach the higher shelves. Barb, examining her, then writes, "And you know how I feel when I see the poor little mite pushing that ladder around? A surge of evil mirth. I peer around from where I am working in the Jordache, hoping to see her go splat." The point is that even in more minor situations such as this one, personalities are apt to change because of environment and those you're surrounded by (temporarily or in the long run.) Later she concludes:

"What I have to face is that 'Barb,' the name on my ID tag, is not exactly the same person as Barbara. 'Barb' is what I was called as a child, and still am by my siblings, and I sense that at some level I'm regressing. Take away the career and the higher education, and maybe what you're left with is this original Barb, the one who might have ended up working at Wal-Mart for real if her father hadn't managed to climb out of the mines. So it's interesting, and more than a little disturbing, to see how Barb turned out - that she's meaner and slyer than I am, more cherishing of grudges, and not quite as smart as I'd hoped."

Now looking at all that I've collected on the subject, including socialist Charles Cooley's theory which is a longer version of what I explained using the Stanford prison experiment example, I wholeheartedly agree that who we are is strongly influenced by people or society. Taking a more "positive" approach though and knowing that we can change so easily based on those around us, I encourage that even in those uncertain times we remember that, in the end, we're the ones who make the CHOICE to better or worsen ourselves or remain as is.

I really felt like I needed to write all this down. I'm not even sure if this is all making sense but it makes me feel better to have realized such an "obvious" part of everyday life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coachella 2010.

This is the line-up for Coachella this year and I am EXCITED! Although I won't be able to go all three days (boo!) I have decided that I'll be going on April 17th. It highly appeals to me (as it would anyone, clearly.) Looking at April as a whole, it's going to be a busy month. Un: I'm going to visit Vanessa in Maryland and from there we're going to make our way over to New York City for her birthday. (This is all happening during spring break.) And deux: COACHELLA! I've never been to Coachella, but I've been wanting to go since my sophomore year in high school so the fact that I can actually go this year is HUGE. Last year, Santa Barbara and lack of funds got in the way. This year...Zip! Zero! Zilch! Anyway, I wanted to make note of this since it's going to be epic.

Other than that, I finally had my first official day of PT (or physical training) for the ROTC. And I SUCK. I'm so out of shape it's pathetic. Today we ran to the indoor auditorium and proceeded to do stretches. Not too bad. Then...we ran 200 meters (or two laps around the auditorium for you civilians.) Okay, not too bad just got worse from there. In total I ran 1800 meters today and I would have ran another 200 if I hadn't made up the excuse that I had an eight o' clock class. PLUS we did excercises between the 200 and 800 meter runs. I couldn't even finish my last run all the way. I skipped an entire lap due to the fear of blacking out. Granted, I only got 4 hours of sleep. But, regardless, I feel horrid. I was the SLOWEST of the bunch. This is why I've made it my goal to run EVERY DAY. I need to get in shape so I can get that scholarship. Which is something else I'd like to discuss. I guess it's not a guaranteed-for-sure thing. You have to be CHOSEN. They look at the group of 100s (or first years) and pick those they think are worthy. Seeing as I'm a wimp when it comes to PT I'm getting kind of worried, not that that is the only thing they look at of course. But I refuse to quit. They have to give me an honorary discharge if anything - but the ultimate goal is to get that scholarship and hopefully become an Officer and go to field training. Leadership is big in the Air Force, as with any military branch, and that's another thing I'm not necessarily accustomed to (like running for more than 5 seconds.) But I'm going to try my best. Also, I'm in my very own flight. Or Charlie Flight. I was in Echo Flight with Daniel but we got separated. Which is lame. But alas...Also, I have to mention that I HATE that the AFROTC doesn't tell you ANYTHING. An analogy would be as such: not knowing how to swim and having your instructor push you in and FORCE you to learn. Maybe that's why they're called the Air Force. Just kidding. They expect you to learn FAST and, for the most part, on your own. I guess that's just the way I have to do it. The ROTC is no joke. I have gained an appreciation and respect for those in the military. It's such a giant commitment. Like I said before, I'm going to try my best.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's a bittersweet symphony this life.

So, wow, 2010. Just typing that down is hard. I honestly can't believe it's the year 2010. It seems far too futuristic, and yet, here I am on a Dell PC writing these thoughts in what is called a "blog." Microsoft Word hasn't even recognized it as an actual word. Looking back on the last decade, I can't even begin to write down how much has happened, how much has changed. This past year alone has been jam-full of change. It's mind-boggling to realize that just one year of life can shift so drastically for the individual. And for the world. 2009 was a tough year for America. And therefore for me as well. But besides the semi-depression it was a tough year personally. I won't get so much into that because my entire blog goes into it at least a dozen times. But with that in mind, I'm really looking forward to starting a new year off fresh. Well, as fresh as possible seeing as it got a little muddled at the very start. I'm still coping with losing Daniel. The Daniel I knew and loved. Recently, I've made a few regrets in regards to him. Basically, the "friends with benefits" thing instead of helping me (which was my initial theory) completely bitch-slapped the fuck out of me. It wasn't my intention for my old feelings to rise up and scream out in desperation. It was my intention to realize that my old feelings were dead and that doing intimate things and feeling nothing would solidify my theory. But something unexpected happened - in those moments of pure intimate bliss I was with the person I had loved most and missed every day. The first time it happened, I was completely confused. One, what was I doing? And two, what was I feeling? I had to try it again to make sure. And then....

After awhile I started building up hope. It wasn't just me who was feeling this, was it? I knew it wasn't. Then...maybe...? I battled with myself constantly. I never made advances towards Daniel. He was always the first to do something - like always. But he supposedly knew me. He knew I wouldn't have casual intimacy with someone I had no feelings for - even someone I did! Surely...there was a chance. A chance to make things right again. But, as I found out on New Year's, there wasn't. I can't express the filthiness I felt for doing the things I did - I felt used. I felt foolish. Stupid. And I was. But I'm glad it happened because now I couldn't be more over it. I'm honestly glad it did happen. I just regret the way in which I had to finally get the picture. And I'm sorry that the way I look at Daniel now is forever different. I know we can be really good friends but I don't know if I can ever forgive him or myself for what transpired. In this, I know time is a factor.

That's the biggest thing that has happened so far this year. And it was a huge deal. The way I see 2010 - it's all going to be downhill from here. I don't think anything this year will be so hard as the lesson I recently learned.

I also have to mention that I've been hanging out with Josh a lot lately. I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not since I'm not sure if he still likes me or not - hoping not - but I can't say it isn't a blast to hang out. I'm just going to roll with the punches on this one and hope for the best but I'll be updating about this most likely.

In addition, I'm at school at the moment. Bored out of my mind. I have a three hour break between classes on Mondays and a five hour break on Wednesdays. Lord help me. I'm taking five classes. The first of which is Intro to Sociology. Which, so far, looks dreadful. The second is Kinesiology (which is a requirement here at CSUSB) and I have no idea how that will go. Next is English 311, which is all about the English language and phonetics. I know this is going to be my favorite class already. The fourth is Math 80 (because I am inept at anything involving numbers) and lastly Aerospace Studies (which is for the ROTC.) I'll probably report on my ROTC class later on. I have no clue what to expect.