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February 1, 2002

Yes, here it is again, the month of love. At least the month designated the most romantic is also, mercifully, the shortest.

I don't have to hate February. Other than the cold, snowy weather, it's a fine month, like all the others. It's actually the perfect month in one respect, since it is exactly four weeks long (except in leap years).

But somehow, February always seems to roll around when I am completely unattached.

Of course, I shouldn't complain too much. I mean, if my last relationship had lasted into February, I'm sure I'd be a lot unhappier right now. But still, it would be nice to experience a Valentine's Day on which I had more to do than bemoan my lack of a boyfriend or of even just a guy with a hidden crush on me.

To any such men out there: I would like to find my door plastered with hearts and roses in my room come February 14 this year. Any gesture of the romantic sort will score you major points. But I'm sure you already knew that, so I merely intend to nudge you toward acting on the idea.

Go ahead -- I'll love you for it!

All right, enough begging. Time to move on ... it's finally snowed out here in Evanston. I mean, big snow, not just the inch or so we had last month. Snowball-fight snow. Over the past couple days, I've been in two snowball fights. Wednesday, we had a late-night fight in front of PARC and the University Christian Ministry. We tried challenging two other residential colleges, but they decided they preferred sleep to defending their honor, so we just sculpted an obscene object on the lawn in front of our most bitter rival, took lots of pictures for posterity and in hopes of convincing the former PARCer who heads the student newspaper to plaster our triumph on the front page, and left.

It was a moral victory.

The second fight wasn't really a fight but more of an ambush. Matt and Kim lay in wait for me as I was walking home from my writing lab, and as soon as I came in site, I got hit by a volley of snowballs. I was absolutely soaked. I only wish that I had better aim and could have even come close to striking back.

The definite downside to that last fight was that it not only got me all wet, it soaked the new Chronicle I had brought back with me. Why so excited about the Chron? Well, the paper actually published Kim's response to the column it ran last week characterizing her Amish ancestors as terrorists.

Seriously.

She is Amish.

Well, a few generations back, anyway. Since everyone likes to make fun of Northwestern's incredibly bad conservative newspaper, she had sent them a tongue-in-cheek e-mail to curse them for offending her faith ... and to insult Charlton Heston. For her efforts, she got an amyl response characterizing her as a "damn dirty Quaker" and she got published for all to see in the "news source" we all love to hate. And laugh at.

Speaking of Kim, I think I'm going to go back and insert your name into random entries from past months, just so that you feel the need to go back and search them all again.

And again.

And again.

And let me not neglect to mention before the final sign off that I am in great pain as I type this. I fell again, not on the ice this time but on the slippery steps in Annenberg. I hit the floor hard, but at least I broke my fall with my now very bruised arm. Though, come to think of it, I don't see how I could possibly have been hurt worse, short of breaking something. My butt still hurts and currently sports a couple of black and blue spots, and my back hurts where I must have landed on The British Polity. On top of all that, I seem to have jarred every other muscle in my body, which are now all as stiff and sore as they were after the first floor hockey game.

Ouch.


February 2, 2002

I am happy to report that my muscle aches from my fall on the stairs have mostly dissipated. I can walk without the urge to limp again.

I think I dropped more names in yesterday's entry than in the entirety of my diary. I realize that my policy of generalizing sensitive situations may confuse my readers, but since I don't know exactly who all my readers are, I fear certain information falling into the wrong hands. Like all those "evildoers" our country's fighting out there. So for national security purposes, I will strive for relative anonymity.

Did you get that you were implied there, Britt? Oh yes, I love getting responses to my site!

We've tried to bring one of those situations to an end today. I didn't really need the closure, since I thought it was over and done with without any extra conversations, but certain others felt differently ... well, I went along with it, anyway. It was a weird conversation because, like I kind of feared, there really wasn't anything to say. Oh well, at least everything's out in the open now. Among some of us, anyway.

This is definitely turning into another talk-centered weekend. Only this time around, the focus is less on plotting and scheming and more on confessing. I wonder what I'll hear -- or say -- next. I'll have to start examining my conscience now, so I don't get left out. Confession is good for the soul -- and not just on a religious level. People need to talk about things.

Talk, talk, endlessly talk. It's surprising how many different ways there are to say the same thing. The characters change, the plots stay the same, the whole remains forever interesting.

When it's not interesting, maybe we die.

I know that's kind of depressing, but that's just how I feel. I have so many new thoughts floating around in my brain right now that I haven't really had a chance to sort through them all yet. They need to be processed and synthesized into the whole of my life. Thoughts precede action (with most people, anyway). Right now, I have a glut of thought, and action seems pretty remote. And when I am not acting in the world, I feel rather detached from it.

Does detachment explain depressing statements? Not really, but I don't care to dwell on the question.

I'm not depressed. I'm actually pretty happy. I'm just ... thinking.


February 3, 2002

I have a paper to write. I should be reading now, but I thought I'd take the last four minutes of the day to make an update.

I really don't want to write this paper. It requires research. I hate research. Therefore, I've put the whole thing off until now, which means I'm going to have to find several sources besides my textbooks between now and 12:30 Tuesday. It seems like I have a lot of time when I put it like that, but God knows, I'll do my best to waste most of it.

I have been working quite a lot today, and I feel kind of socially-deprived.

Uh oh, midnight.


February 4, 2002

Okay, I can continue now.

It's really getting really bad. I'm almost incapable of being by myself these days. I've lost pretty much all interest in work. When I hang out in my room alone, I waste time ... like I'm doing right now working on my site. Oh well. Up until now, I haven't really had much work to do besides reading, so I naturally didn't feel all that motivated to do it ... well, except for my journalism class, which I strive to keep up in since it is, after all, my major. Though the work for that class isn't terribly difficult. Lots of grammar stuff, not much thought involved.

That's the real problem here. I don't want to make any mental effort. The very idea makes me feel tired. Of course, I always feel this way before a paper, and I always seem to pull it off in the end. It will somehow work out that way again. I hope.

In other news ... that just sent a shiver down my spine. Broadcast. Scary.

February continues to oppress me. Although I am very happy that Matt has found someone (and the cutesy "call me!" away messages are sweet, even if they do sometimes induce a rolling of the eyes), it does tend to remind me that I have no one. I have ten days left to find someone now. I think I'm going to start crossing them off my calendar to track my lack of progress.

Come on, guys, don't make me have to celebrate an anti-Valentine's Day! Black is not my color! Don't you want to see me wearing a smile instead? (That is, a smile with clothes -- I'm not that dirty. Despite wicked rumors to the contrary.)

I want a kiss. Maybe all of Emily's talk about her "kissing sprees" has finally gotten to me. It frustrates me, since it's such a silly thing, but there it is. I am human, after all.

And I'm looking for you, man of my dreams (or guy who is available)! Show yourself soon -- your time is running out!

Be my savior -- write my paper!


February 5, 2002

Check it out, this is five days in a row!

I cannot possibly express how glad I am right now to be writing about something other than British politics. That paper I just wrote has to be the most awful thing I've ever written, but I really don't care, because it's done! Now I just have this little problem of determining when I can finally sleep ... I have a calculus quiz in four hours, and then I have class until two (with a short lunch break). Considering how awful I felt last Tuesday, I seriously doubt I will make it until this afternoon without collapsing.

At least I might not suffer from sore muscles now. Not having slept means that they didn't have a chance yet to stiffen up on me. That's a plus. And my bruises from my horrible fall on the steps of Annenberg Hall are starting to heal nicely.

Ah, but to heal a bruised ego! That's a problem. PARC lost yesterday night's floor hockey game, either 8-0 or 6-0 depending on whom you ask. That gives us a disheartening 0-2 record. But there is some good news ... our strategy of pretending to be Canadian seems to have paid off, at least as far as our gameplay is concerned. We actually put up a really good fight last night. I actually didn't perform all that badly on defense this time. As for the whole team, we managed to keep the puck on the other side of the floor for more than a couple seconds, and, on top of that, we made several shots on goal. I am proud of us!!! The PARC team rocks!!!

I hope that it warms up a little before I leave this morning, though. It's bitterly cold out here. I hear that the weather is perhaps worse back home, where they apparently got a ton of snow yesterday. But still, walking to class yesterday in the intense cold was torturous. Everything has iced over, too, so not only is it frigid, it's slippery. I even felt the need to zip my coat up walking home from the game, despite how flushed I was.

After the hockey game, I came back to my room and settled in for what I was sure would be a very unpleasant evening spent writing that stupid paper. Happily, it was not to be. I had visitors up on the fourth floor! Perhaps, to the outside observer, this is not so amazing, but since my friends all live downstairs, they generally find it more convenient to tell me to come to them than for them to climb all the way to the top of the building. Plus, the fourth floor tends to keep to itself, so it rarely gets visitors anyway.

But my wonderful friends all decided to come visit me while I was struggling through my six pages of British politics, and I had more people in my room than I have had yet all year. And it wasn't even just one group of visitors but instead several, all staggered a bit through the evening as I wrote. Thanks, everybody!

I feel so loved!


February 6, 2002

I was tempted to remove the last three paragraphs from yesterday's entry later that day. My "friends" decided to wake me up from my nap that afternoon by dousing me with water! I certainly won't be leaving my door unlocked while sleeping anymore, since that apparently leaves me vulnerable to attack. Must be on my guard now ...

But then I decided to leave it all in, since they seem to have appreciated the compliment, and I have gotten more visitors in the past few days than I have all quarter. I think I should start keeping track ... maybe I could give a prize to the one who makes the most treks to the top floor this quarter. Of course, seeing me ought to be its own reward ... well, at least it provides some quality stair-climbing exercise.

I pretended to be a journalist today. I forced myself to go out to the student commons and pull over random people for interviews. It was absolutely as horrible as I thought it would be, but at least it's done. Until next week, anyway.

I really need to get over this paralyzing fear of talking to strangers. The thought of someday having to speak up at a press conference terrifies me. My shyness is going to kill me as a journalist. It's not as bad as it used to be, I guess -- I managed to repress it my first couple weeks here while I was making friends, anyway. Of course, everyone was lost then, so we all had something in common and it wasn't too difficult to be outgoing. But now that I have a secure group of friends, it's becoming hard to reach out again. I can't say I lack self-confidence -- or arrogance -- but feeling good about myself doesn't always translate into a feeling that I should be automatically accepted. It's hard for me to read other people, and I tend to automatically assume the worst. Thus the stumbling over all my questions today.

At any rate, people seemed to pity me in my awkwardness today. I did manage to get some quotes. Not quite enough, but there's always tomorrow.


February 8, 2002

Ah, yes, it is February 8. I have broken what has been perhaps my longest streak of diary entries ever -- and that includes all previous attempts at keeping a journal. Six whole days ... but now it is behind me. I will have to move on, a little sadder, true, but also a little wiser.

I'm not sure why I'm a little wiser, but it's not something I would deny, for sure.

It's really too bad I missed February 7, of all days. February 7 was going to be the big "Halfway to Valentine's Day" entry, in which I would track my progress (or lack thereof) and perhaps fantasize a little more about the wonderful day I will likely not experience. Though not everyone reading this will realize that. My friends from home would never be the wiser if I made up some fantastic story about my amazingly romantic Valentine's Day. I should start planning it out now ... I not only need to impress them, I need to make them insanely jealous. Hmm ...

I would like to clarify the rules of my stupendous "Visit the Fourth Floor!" campaign ... visits from last quarter absolutely do not count. I was not keeping track then, and I have no way to verify your number of visits. Plus, the number of visits I received last quarter was negligible. There will be no "point hawking" in this competition.

However, you can bribe the judge if you so desire.

All right, I really need to sleep now. I have to go to calculus in five and a half hours ... not that I'd really miss anything if I skipped it. Maybe I'll do what Kim did on Wednesday and just walk in ten minutes late ... awww, but I can't hurt my poor prof like that. He's already so nervous all the time anyway, it would probably destroy what little confidence he has.

Oh, but before I sign off ... cheer up, Kim! Don't let the stress get you down ... life is good, so don't worry about things you can't help.


February 10, 2002

I still can't help but admire the symmetry of the year when I look at it.

It's around 3 a.m. Sunday, and now is the time when I must turn contemplative. Usually, I try to avoid this time by finding people to hang out with until the moment passes, but tonight, I was not so lucky. So here I am, alone with my computer, isolated on the fourth floor, the quietest part of the building at all hours.

When it gets so quiet, you can hear thoughts. Thoughts so loud you can't imagine how you've ignored their screams all day.

I can't sleep now, because if I sleep, tomorrow will come. And I'd like to avoid it for now.

I have a lot of studying to do. I don't feel motivated to do it. I have three midterms, one Monday, two Tuesday. I shouldn't be too worried, I guess -- two aren't essay tests, and the third is open book. Still, it's a series of unpleasant tasks that I must face in the near future, and I've convinced myself that if I can concentrate hard enough, it will be 3:10 a.m. forever.

I shouldn't be feeling so down now. I've had a great weekend so far. Friday, my friends and I had a terrific chase going through the whole dorm, as Matt, Scott, and I played keep-away with Kim's keys. We ran up and down the stairs, through just about every floor, and finally locked Kim out of her room while she locked us out of mine, and we then continued the epic battle by making threats to each other over AIM. We also managed to get in a round of euchre, PARC's favorite card game, in which Matt, as Kim's partner, purposely lost. It's always funny to see someone throw off an off-color ace in the first trick. Definitely the best game of euchre I've played in a long time. Kim got a little annoyed with us after a while, though, so we returned her keys and made nice. Later that night, we played Cranium, this game Kim brought back after break. It involves a combination of trivia, Pictionary, and charades. That was pretty fun, too, since we got a huge group of people to play ... and my team won.

We wrapped up the evening with even more card games ... I won the word game again, which made me happy. We also played the storytelling game I've been hearing so much about, which I didn't have such a great time playing, because -- and perhaps it was due to the late hour -- I couldn't keep track of the story. But then, that might just have been due to the convoluted nature of the beast. It would have all been hilarious, but the game can get rather competitive, which puts a damper on stories featuring, say, mysteriously-appearing pet wolves that wear glass slippers.

The fun continued on Saturday, when a bunch of us went ice skating downtown. Millennium Park is a outdoor rink on Michigan Ave., and since there's no cost for admission and I have my skates here, all I had to pay for was el train fair. For that, I got to spend hours enjoying the unseasonably warm weather as I wove my way through the crowd and tried not to fall. I was very successful in that regard, especially considering that the ice was really more like snow when we arrived and so was somewhat bumpy. Not that I generally fall when I'm skating ... but there was that time over break, when I had on those nasty rental skates and both my legs came up from under me and I suddenly found myself sitting on the ice while all the people swam around me. But I managed to stay upright, this time, and the whole experience was lots of fun.

Well, except for that sketchy Dunkin' Donuts we ate at afterwards. But I'd prefer to forget that part.

While we were skating, the speakers around the rink were blaring those cheesy old pop songs that you hate to admit you know all the words to. But Britt and I admitted we did, we came to terms with it, and we started singing along. Katie joined us when she ran into us after doing a lap around the rink faster than we could ever dream of at this point, and we started incorporating some freestyle hand movements. Impressively, Katie managed all this while skating backwards. We picked up a fourth singer, Kim, when we had to leave the ice at zamboni time. We then decided to not let our prodigious singing talents go to waste and thus to form our own singing group.

A Cappella on Ice! Coming soon to an ice rink near you!

Run while you still can!

When we got back, I attempted to study but mostly ended up dozing. We later watched Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and laughed at the clever Britons. So clever, that they have developed an extensive unwritten Constitution based on statutes, common law, works of authority, and convention ....

It's 4:01. My plan to freeze time has failed miserably. I can't hang out in the past anymore. The past few days ... few weeks ... were fun, but it's time to move on. Everything must move forward, marching on endlessly ... including my classes, including everything else.

I need to go sort out my many thoughts now before they all dissipate with the night.


February 11, 2002

One midterm down, two to go.

I plan to spend most of today studying ... I can get in a good two hours before dinner, an hour and a half or so before hockey, and then from nine until I collapse from exhaustion.

I hate Tuesdays generally ... I have too much class on Tuesdays ... and now that I have a quiz and two midterms this Tuesday, I hate it even more. This day needs to be dropped from the calendar.

Of course, this Tuesday is Mardi Gras, which might be fun ... assuming I don't want to crawl into a hole and hide from the world after my comparative politics exam. I will be missing out on the feast at home this year ... no jambalaya or muffalettas for me. And no bananas Foster! What is Mardi Gras without singed eyebrows?

It's nearing registration time again, and again, I am wondering what subject area I should concentrate in. I have the sneaking suspicion that I ought to be an English major, and I cannot tell you how much that irritates me -- as evidenced by my previous rants against the field in this forum. I don't like it, I think interpreting literature is so often pointless ... but I'm good at it. There, I admit it -- I shouldn't turn my back on literary analysis the way I do. I can take as many math courses as I want, but I cannot escape those stupid novels. If I don't find something else soon that really interests me, I'm going to be stuck in literature classes for the next three years. And I refuse to enjoy it! Ahhh!!!

I'm going to have to enroll in statistics to spite myself now.

All right, I've wasted enough time ... the longer I put studying off, the more painful it's going to be when I do it.


February 12, 2002

I hate Tuesdays!!!

But at least the day is almost over. I made it through my three back to back tests today relatively unscathed. Well, I can say that now, anyway, since I can only estimate the grades I received, and right now, I am inclined to boost my projections by a few percentage points in celebration of them just being done.

I just got back from Valentine's Day munchies, at which I made an insane number of cards. I don't know, once those creative juices start flowing, they're hard to stop -- or, if my fingers are already covered with glitter and glue, what's the harm in making one more? Among the munchies tonight were some of those conversation candy hearts, and reading them, you'd think that the makers must have been pretty burned by love in the past. "To Each His Own"? "As If"? It was pretty harsh. And then there were the ones that just made no sense: "Rising Star" and "Odyssey," for example. After running out of glitter glue to attach the silly hearts to our cards, everyone just started throwing them at each other. Ah, yes, love hurts.

I had a strange dream during my post-exams nap today. I was in a convenience/DVD store with Matt, and while we were shopping, the store was held up. The robbers, obviously quite insane, demanded that we each take a free DVD. If we did not, they said, they would kill us. Easy enough, right? Well, I couldn't convince Matt to take a DVD! He refused to steal one, even to save his life. Before I could find out whether the robbers then killed me or I killed Matt, though, I was awakened for dinner.

I was going to discuss something else in today's entry -- I had finally come up with another rant. But in the midst of all my studying, I completely forgot what it was. So now, I will just leave you in suspense for tomorrow.


February 13, 2002

I still can't quite remember what was on my mind the other day, but I've come up with a reasonable replacement, I think.

I wonder if life is dramatic inherently or if we only perceive it that way. I can stand back from situations and realize I don't care how they resolve themselves; I can be objective and take the long view. Yet I still find myself constantly embroiled in conflicts that take an obsessive hold of my mind. I always overanalyze these situations and often cause myself a depressing amount of stress.

I'm generally an easygoing person. I take events in stride, always moving on because I figure that things will move on without me anyway, so I might as well keep up. However, conflicts start to pile up after being kept on the back burner for so long, and by the time I notice the backlog, it threatens to overwhelm me.

Right now, my friends all seem to be dealing with personal crises. Perhaps some of these crises can trace their root to a certain holiday tomorrow, but generally, they all run deeper than that. People are dealing with issues of insecurity, loneliness, and alienation, and I have to shake myself out of my complacency and help combat these problems. And of course, the more I get involved, the more I start to question myself and the role I may play in creating these conflicts, however indirect.

I wish I could make everyone feel better. I'm doing my best to understand and to make things right, but though I strive to overcome it, I feel inadequate to the task. I want right now to just let everyone know that I love them and that I hope they find the happiness they are looking for.


February 15, 2002

Have you ever been on a roller coaster, and you approach the crest of the first hill, feeling giddy with excitement or fear, and finally, your train slips over the tops, and suddenly, instead of rocketing down several stories, you slide, liquid-smooth, down a gentle hill and straight into a loop? It's unexpected, disconcerting, and gives you a more subtle pang of nervousness than screaming as you freefall to the ground.

Probably it's a tired metaphor, but I thought I'd use it well for once (or twice) while it was on my mind. It's hard to explain in more literal terms how I'm feeling right now at the end of an emotionally draining week. Dead might be a good term.

It's like when tension has been building for so long, and then it is suddenly released, and you realize how much it has been holding you up. You feel lost without that focus.

And perhaps it was gone long before you even noticed. You reached into your reserve one day only to find it unexpectedly empty, and now you must face the world vulnerable and defenseless. You gave all you had away and so have nothing left for yourself.

It's hard to tell if I've just reached a limit of sympathy or if I'm feeling independently "off." I feel exhausted, and I don't think there's much left for me to give at this point. I'm trying to feel love for everyone, but I need to recharge my supply.

I've spent a good deal of the day sleeping, trying to re-energize and to avoid having to be giddy or excited. If anything, feeling so internally quiet will help me do some writing I have long put off. I've gotten in touch with some part of me that has been long neglected, and I need to explore it while I can.


February 16, 2002

I'm glad to say I'm feeling a lot better today than I did yesterday. After just having some quiet time, I was gradually able, through the encouragement of friends, to open myself up again. I hope that people just understand that how I felt yesterday had nothing to do with them personally, that I hold nothing against anyone, and that sometimes, I just reach a point of exhaustion and become a bundle of exposed nerves, sensitive to even the slightest touch. I get over it as long as I am given some time and space, and perhaps a few patient, subtle reminders that my friends care.

Someone told me recently that they read my diary entries "religiously." I'd like to think that this perhaps means that my words are at the center of some exotic faith, which would be pretty cool, but I'm not really that delusional. However, this was certainly a compliment I enjoyed, and I wanted to clarify some statements I make regarding my site. Yes, I want people to read all the Writing stuff, but I understand that it's not the main draw, even if it is first on my navigation list. Besides, some of it's bad or boring and doesn't deserve to be read. Also, the purpose of the section is more to publish myself and to preserve my work. I obsessively archive everything I write. I have many, many journals full of stories and poems that have not appeared on this site at all yet. It's somewhat of a problem for the site archive that I'm here at school now, since that means I can't access all of my stuff, but I work with what I do have, and I have a lot that still hasn't made it up.

But as for my diary, it is an important collection of writing, too. It's more to me than an account of my daily life -- generally, this page does not give accounts of specific events; those accounts, in fact, have been a recent phenomenon. My diary is my sounding board, my willing ear, and my constant confidant. It's the world's window into my brain, necessary since I often find it hard to verbally articulate what's on my mind. I put my heart and soul into these entries, and I appreciate that it has found such a loyal audience.

I never really addressed Valentine's Day in yesterday's entry. I hope people didn't come away from that update with the impression that I had a horribly depressing holiday. On the contrary, other than being stuck in writing lab for three hours, it was a pretty good day. My friends came through with lovely valentines for me -- I'd like to thank Britt for remembering to put one outside my door, that was a nice touch. Kim, Matt, Shannon, and I went shopping in the afternoon for lots of assorted goodies, which we ate at our "Anti-Valentine's Day Party" that night. Mmm, pecan-chocolate chunk cookies with coconut-pecan icing were a marvelous idea. I also got to see Scott douse Laura and Kim with water, and then vice versa, which was lots of fun, especially since I did not get wet myself (Britt and I eventually just hid behind the couch with the food to avoid any flying water). Of course, I became concerned later on when I found out it had not been such a nice day for one of my friends, but I made my best effort at cheering the person up, hopefully without being too much of a pest. This did mean that I was up late again, which I shouldn't do so much on nights preceding my 9 a.m. class, but oh well, I guess sometimes there are more important things than sleep.

So no, there were no flowers waiting for me on Thursday, nor were there prodigious amounts of hearts taped to my door and walls. But that was always kind of a joke, anyway. I would have been highly surprised had any such things actually appeared. That's not to say I wouldn't have been absolutely delighted, but I wasn't disappointed with reality, either. Reality is pretty sweet once you come to appreciate it.

Finally, since it's obscenely late and I ought to have been asleep many, many hours ago and so I can't really form coherent thoughts anymore, I'll just mention one more thing: Being told people love me always makes me feel good inside -- whether it's in a very nice letter or perhaps scrawled as a weird message on my white board.


February 19, 2002

I just got back from my first big campus protest activity. It was pretty cool, a bunch of students rallying together and marching to the administration building to demand student input into how the university is run. The university recently revealed its plans to fill in four acres of the Lagoon to make room for more buildings -- and more parking. God knows we need more cars on campus; I don't know how we could ever get along in this world without more pavement.

When I first read about the plan to fill in the Lagoon in The Daily, I was annoyed, not only at the lack of concern the university showed for student opinion but also for the hit the landscape would take. I mean, with all the eyesores on campus (the library, the administrative building, and the student center, for example), we need to protect what's left of the nice-looking part of campus. I love how this school is situated on the lake, I love visiting the beach and the Lakefill, and if they start replacing grass with asphalt, I will be seriously depressed.

I like naturally beautiful places. I mean, seeing the products of civilization is nice, and humanity has created some incredible monuments. But sometimes, I just feel like sitting and staring into the distance someplace less influenced by people's vision of what the world should be. There aren't enough places where you can go and just feel like you are shut off from the world. Sometimes, I want to go somewhere and feel small and yet part of the larger whole.

I've felt like that a lot lately. I haven't updated my diary in a few days because I just haven't felt up to the task. It's been a rough couple of days, and I couldn't bring myself to talk about it online until I had sorted it out in my head. So many good things have happened this quarter, but the bad stuff looms large and often makes me forget how lucky I am. I'll be glad when this quarter's over and I can start over again. My classes have been lackluster -- I calculated the other night that out of 15.5 scheduled hours of class per week, I learn in only about 2.5 of them. On top of academic woes, all of my friends seem to be stressed, having personal problems, or both, and when my friends have problems, I have problems. Everyone here needs a break desperately.

I've had trouble recovering from the mental exhaustion I wrote about in an earlier entry. I mean, just when I think things are okay and I start to relax, some sort of crisis occurs and I'm back at the beginning. I just can't deal with it. It makes me withdraw from people. While I'm not quite a hermit, I find it difficult to interact with lots of people simultaneously when I'm at a low point.

Recently, I've just felt like burying my head under my pillow and shutting out the world completely. I try to hide this feeling, try to rise above my frustrations for others' sakes, but it's hard. I know that I'm not the one having significant problems right now, but somehow, everyone else's problems seem to be affecting me. I'm constantly afraid of losing my patience and saying things I'll regret.

I really don't know exactly what's going on. All the issues floating around just confuse me. I never know if maybe I'm doing something wrong or if I'm not doing enough. I don't know what part I play in everyone's lives or if I am contributing to their problems.

Perhaps this whole entry doesn't make much sense. I'm not really sure what I'm talking about, to tell the truth. These are just general feelings, possibly disconnected ones. I hope I'm not concerning anyone now. I just needed to air the thoughts haunting my mind.


February 20, 2002

Okay, there's only three minutes left in the day, so I must type quickly! Today has been pretty good day. I finally got more than seven consecutive hours of sleep, which was nice. I meant to get up earlier than I did, but I turned off my alarm and dozed off again, unintentionally, of course, but it meant I slept through lunch once again.

Uh oh, time to switch dates.


February 21, 2002

I don't know why, but I just enjoy doing that. It makes it seem like I write here more often than I do, which, admittedly, is a bit deceptive, but I'm sure my readers will forgive me. Because you love me. Come on, you know you do.

I'm definitely starting to feel like myself again. The happy buoyancy I had up until a few weeks ago is coming back.

I have been interrupted by visits for the past hour and a half, but now I am back and ready to continue avoiding working on my chocolate article. I hate that stupid editing class. I feel no desire to write all these articles. I do not share my lab prof's journalistic fervor. I aim to get my work for that class done, with no concern for doing it exceptionally well.

I enjoy having so many visitors this quarter. According to the contest standings, I have had 67 visits from my friends so far this quarter. I don't know what's more amazing, that people have been willing to climb up to the fourth floor so many times to see me or that I know exactly how many times they've done it.

I have to stop checking Instant Messenger. It's distracting me from my writing. Besides, it's 1:45 a.m., people are going to sleep now. People have class. I shouldn't bother them.

You know, that's right -- yesterday was 20/2/02 -- and therefore, wonderfully symmetrical. It could only be better perhaps if this were the year 200 ... then I could write the date as 2/20/200 -- that's a beautiful pattern there. Ah, yes, quite excellent.

You know, I think that people really ought to write the date with the year first. I mean, I don't get all that putting the date first stuff. The number is completely out of context put out there first, all alone. Hey -- 21 -- what's that? Twenty-one cars? Twenty-one dollars? A jack and an ace? I don't know. But if we started with the year, the reference would be immediately familiar, since we'll be stuck with that number for a pretty long time and it will be imprinted upon our brains. Ah yes, 2002, that's this year. And then comes the month, then the date -- yes, it makes perfect sense! It moves from the general to the specific. It lures our tired, overtaxed minds with the easy information, wakes us up a bit with the less familiar, and then, when we have been sufficiently seduced, springs that difficult figure. It's a system we could all grow to love.

I found out today that my readership is expanding. That absolutely delighted me. I also had an idea today that I ought to add a page explaining who all the people mentioned in my diary entries are. That way, even people who don't know me very well can follow along. Plus, I could link everyone's name to their description, which would be a stupid web trick that would make me happy. Ooh, I even see applications for JavaScript here ... uh oh, this could rapidly become a frightening dialogue with myself, at least for my nontechnical friends out there, so I'll shut up and just feel the joy inside.

I just feel like writing silly things tonight. I'm feeling pretty restless. Earlier, I wasn't sure if I wanted to jump up and rapidly pace around the room, probably making many dramatic gestures as I did so, or sprawl on my bed with the lights out and stare out the window at the sky. Perhaps I can still do both. Perhaps I will.


February 23, 2002

Patience, people, patience. Major site updates take time, and naturally, the diary entries will slow when I have to fix other stuff. Trust me, the wait is worth it. Now, every name mentioned in this section has an associated pop-up box with a mini-bio. This way, my readers unfamiliar with the people mentioned herein -- either friends from home or from school -- can acquaint themselves with these various characters who play roles in my life.

Hmm, that sentence sounds kind of pretentious. You know, just using the word "pretentious" makes me feel pretentious.

Yesterday was pretty eventful. I slept through calculus, but that was okay, since Kim slept through it on Wednesday, so we just decided to give up for the week. Who knows if we'll make it to any but Tuesday's class next week. Wish us luck!

I got up in time to go to my comparative politics discussion, in which I learned a lot more than I generally learn in lecture, so that was nice. After that, lunch was awful, as usual, but what could I expect?

I finally had a big discussion with one of my friends yesterday afternoon. It was something we should have done for a while now. Everything seems to be out in the open now, though, so I'm hoping things can only go up now. Already, the evidence seems to favor that conclusion.

I'm really not enjoying all the dramas that have cropped up this quarter. I don't really know where things took such an intense turn. I came back from break feeling excited and happy, and for the first several weeks, things just seemed to get better and better. I made some more friends, I got involved in some more activities, I had lots of fun just acting like a kid. Then people started feeling bad for various reasons -- mostly, because stress started to settle in. Plus, my classes turned out to be less than inspiring. Things just seemed to snowball out of control for a while. But I'm hoping that things will be better now. I also hope that problems resolved are not replaced by new and unrelated ones.

To all my friends: I love you! Have faith in that.


February 25, 2002

Kim and I have decided to completely give up on calculus. I happily slept through my hated 9 a.m. class and then barely avoided sleeping through sociology in the afternoon. Yes, I realize it's rather pathetic to almost sleep through a 12:30 class, but I just did not feel all that motivated to drag myself out of bed, out into the cold, and up to the Technological Institute. I had set my alarm for 11:15 a.m., but I naturally hit the snooze button when that went off ... and I just kept sleeping from there until I finally had to get up to avoid missing class. But I did make it, so you can all be very proud of me.


February 26, 2002

I hate Tuesdays. Writing this at 2:25 a.m., I have a calculus quiz in six and a half hours, and I'm sure I'm going to do miserably again. My only hope is to be able to at least guess on all of the problems this time. I seriously dread seeing my grade on the last midterm. I keep telling myself, I just need to work now and do my best to succeed on the last few tests. If I do relatively well, I should be able to get a reasonable grade for the course, maybe better if there's a curve. If I hadn't stopped caring about this class after I did well on the first midterm, perhaps I would not be in such dire straits right now, but oh well.

I can't really concentrate on this entry right now, since I really need to at least try one more homework problem and, with luck, get at least six hours of sleep. I'll add more this afternoon.

9:55 p.m. -- I've been meaning to continue with this all day, and finally, I have gotten around to it. I feel I must add something to this entry because I don't think I've written a decent entry in several days. February has been pretty taxing for me as far as my online diary is concerned, though. I have never updated this page so much before, and I worry I will run out of things to write about.

Things have definitely been looking up lately (well, not so much on the calculus front, but that's another story). I got my midterm back in comparative politics, and I feel I have redeemed myself for my somewhat lackluster paper. Editing lecture has not been so bad lately, either, mostly because the guest lecturers we were promised before we signed up for the class have finally started to appear.

People generally seem to be feeling better, too, though certain friends have suffered some disappointments. Matt, I feel for you. I wish I knew some way to make up for this unwanted turn of events, but I will do my best to help cheer you up until things work out and you find what you're looking for.

As for myself, I'm feeling much more cheerful than I have been. I've decided to focus on what I absolutely need to get done and concentrate on doing it. I won't let the thought of all my work overwhelm me anymore; instead, I will break it down into manageable portions. Well, I hope I will, anyway.

Okay, this was a fine attempt to write an entry, but I'm just feeling too distracted by everything going on right now to continue. Soon, I will find a quiet couple of hours, do some thinking, and articulate everything on my mind. Might not be until spring break, but at least it gives me something to look forward to.


February 28, 2002

Here we are, at the end of the action-packed four weeks known as February. I've made a total of 20 entries this month, more than in any other month before. In fact, that's only one less than August, September, October, November, and December combined.

I've realized from trying to update my site daily that it's pretty difficult not only to find the time but also to find the the stories. Sure, there's lots of stuff that happens in my life every day, but it's probably not all that interesting to most readers. I also have trouble remembering everything that has happened to me throughout the day, anyway. When I'm confronted with this large, blank space, my memory tends to become a large, blank space as well. The problem often is that I don't devote a lot of time to writing these entries anymore. I write whatever comes to mind first and leave it at that. I don't do much editing or planning in the way I did in previous months. Still, as the daily updates seem to keep people happy, I will do my best to continue them.

I talked to my mom online today. She e-mailed me pictures sometime last week of the car my brothers and I share, which had been attacked by vandals. In the middle of the night, someone apparently came and smashed one of the rear windows. Apparently, my car was the victim of a drive-by in the middle of suburbia. Don't we all feel vulnerable right now.

The window got fixed last Friday, my mom then told me. But my car's travails did not end there. My brother Dan, fearing a future attack, decided it would be safer to park the car in the driveway instead of on the side of the road. Was he ever wrong. He made the profound mistake of parking behind my father's SUV.

Now, my dad is not the safest of drivers. He's probably had more car accidents than the rest of the family combined -- I got to experience one when I was much younger. He's also a creature of habit. He doesn't look behind him very carefully when he pulls out of the driveway. We found this out last spring when he backed into the driver's side door of my aunt's new convertible. He came in and told us about it as we were looking online for plane tickets to Paris. We thought he was making some sort of joke, of course -- I mean, it was her brand-new car, only arrived a week or two ago, and she was intensely proud and protective of it. No, Dad must have been making a joke to play off her fears of even losing that new car smell.

But it was true. And it's also true that he backed right into my car -- his former car -- that was sitting in his own driveway, just after the window was fixed.

The irony abounds ... but my dad doesn't really see it. It doesn't seem that my car was damaged, but his taillight did break. All I can say is I'm just glad that I'm not home right now to hear why it's my fault or Dan's fault that he hit our car.

But back to those reflections on the past month. I've made several new friends within these four weeks. It's strange how a month seems like such a long time here at school. I suppose it's because we all live together, and so we see each other a lot more often than we could have in high school or something. Friendships that took me a semester or even a school year to build before can form in as little as a couple weeks here. Every day here is full of interactions with other people in a variety of settings. From meals to classes, from dorm events to late-night conversations, there's always something going on involving friends and potential friends.

Another great thing about February has been our return to childhood. My friends and I do all the things we wished we could have as kids here. Almost everyone has now experienced a watery wake-up call, snow in their beds, decorated doors, or all of the above and more. Sure, maybe it's a bit immature to play monkey-in-the-middle with someone's keys ... but that doesn't make it less fun.

February was also the month of The Great Visit the Fourth Floor Contest. It has been a smashing success. Of course, the contest still continues, but looking at the sheet, Kim is still holding the lead pretty well. I enjoy the ridiculousness of the whole thing, I also enjoy seeing that my friends care enough about me to indulge such a silly idea.

February started out as the month of looking for romance, but I think it grew beyond that narrow goal very well. It became less about feeling morose and lovelorn, as is the traditional February mood, and more about having fun and making friends.

Perhaps my goals for next month should be having fun, making friends, and doing work ... but we'll see

 


Copyright © 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated October 7, 2002