Friday, December 19, 2003

Remind her 

M. and I have been talking quite a bit recently about trying, desperately sometimes, to remember the first time we met certain individuals. As easy as this sounds, it has proven to be not only one of the most challenging thought games I've ever tried, but it has also become a genuine obsession.

Initially I went for the easy acts: people I've met in the past year or two. I usually met these people through friends at very specific locations so I could associate names, faces with places. Simple task.

Along those same lines fell people I met in college. If I met you between '98 and '03, chances are that it was in class, through a scholarship program, or in some study group. Again, all personal details are (in this time frame) attached to very specific places, times, and events, so I should be able to remeber everyone with similar precision.

But I can't. I assume this is my brain's way of eliminating non-essential information and freeing up some synapses for more, uh, 'necessary' details, like residue group solubility rules or the steps required to avoid fucking up an expensive phage ligation. It seemed more important at the time, but now I realize how little emphasis I put on social shit during school and I'm no better off: all those details that took precedence over remembering personal history are dissolving as well.

There's a third, more interesting category of meetings I'm trying to remember: the soulmates, the dearest of dears, the friends with whom I hope to communicate until we die. These people span the entire scale of my life, from infancy (I suppose) to present, but with each of them I find the same strange trouble: I can't, for the life of me, remember exactly when I met a single, goddamned one of them.

This doesn't surprise me in respect to certain friends. For instance, B. and B., brother and sister, lived in the house across the street from where my parents raised me, and the two of them chronologically frame my own birth. We don't remember when we met because our brains were putty, social interaction was at that time a set of observations and experiences no different from watching people feed us or listening to ambient sounds. Or pooping for that matter.

Others, however, baffle me. M. is the case in point: we met met sometime between the tenth and eleventh grade as she was switching schools. We both kind of think we first spoke at one of the many science symposia that we would go to as nerdy high school folk (although M. just went, like most of us, to get out of school for a few days and to get to stay in a hotel with all of one's friends). Sometimes, though, we seem to remember a formless high school hallway conversation (I remember her formerly long hair, she remembers my formerly extant goatee). But still otehr occasions find us with nothing, no recollections of what we talked about when we first met, what exactly brought us together, how we ended up joined at the hip while other relationships waxed and waned. It's a frustrating process, colored by the same desire to know and understand that I would expect one experiences when researching geneology.

M. went out of town yesterday, so I went to feed her cat after work. At one point I was playing with the kitty in front of a dressing screen that M. has converted into a frame for art and photos that she has accumulated over the years. Near the bottom there is a picture of she and I dancing at our high school prom. At some point a cascade of sensations washed over me in rapid succession: pulling up my droopy argyle sock, I heard a song, R.E.M.'s 'Nightswimming,' coming from the television, which was behind me, but I looked into the reflection of the t.v. in the dressing screen, noticing first the reflection of the song's music video, then, with almost-crossed eyes, my field of vision fell through the reflection and onto the prom photo. Goosebumps pricked up in a sudden explosion across my arms as I had one of those visceral sense-memories triggered by some odd pattern of sensation: M. and I are in a darkened movie theater with our legs up on the chairs before us, pant legs rolled up to show our clashing pairs of kick-ass argyles, and for some reason I'm humming 'Nightswimming.'

That was it. That was the tiny window into our past, a forgotten-but-not-forgotten memory, one of those odd anomalies of human perception that amazes me. How is it that this information is stored somewhere but I cannot access it at will? Was it supposed to have been overwritten or erased? Had it been misfiled under "R.E.M., argyle, prom" instead of "Megan, movies?" Why can't I get to it on my own, intentionally?


Tonight, Juanita's, 10 p.m., $?, Runaway Planet.


Monday, December 15, 2003

Take 107 to 89, interchange onto 5 until you get to 25 and you're there 

I'm a self-confessed winter person. I prefer shivering to sweating. I'd rather wait on the heater than the a/c to get going. My gringo heritage shows itself in tartan red sunburns.

But I love the lake. And the sun. And tanned legs. I can't help it. I came across* this photo of our spot at Greers Ferry and I'm already over the novelty of cold weather... when does summer happen?

I'll probably change my mind when it snows a quarter of an inch.

*Note to self: this phrase has filthy potential... use more often, esp. when horny or in the company of fun older women/giddy gay men.


Everyone forgot to remind me that I would be unemployed from the twentieth of December until the fifth of January.

When I began working for this university (as hourly labor), it was under the premise that, somewhere, someone was trying to get my status changed to a salaried position. That was seven months ago. Damn them. Damn them for making me leave a steady job under false pretense. My only recourse is a passive-aggressive one: I use the computer facilities to browse/apply for state jobs, grants, and other universities.


I still need cash, though. Any ideas on what to do for two weeks during the holidays to make money? Allow me to refer back to my previous statement that my new figure for the Price At Which I'll Do Anything is now approximately $400 (US).

In the meantime, it's back to Ramen noodles and an apple per day supplemented by as much graciously appetite-supressing coffee as I can handle.


Sunday, December 14, 2003

Weak bid against daisy Kuhn 

During my first year of college I was required to read Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which has since become something of a legend/bible to operating scientists today. After about the first third of the work I had made my decision: Kuhn was an erudite asshole taking advantage of a philosophically flimsy bunch of people whose intuition had led them away from religion leaving the space occupied by an urgent spiritual neediness. I was only eighteen at the time, so last week I gave the book another chance.

In respect to my opinion of this book, five years of aging saw none of the maturation or lucidity that one would expect from a latent re-read, an in fact I'm convinced now that this book is the esoterically literate version of the antichrist. Well, that might be a bit too strong of a comparison, but I'd rather be safe than sorry in my recommendations of ideology.

My first read brought some standard complaints: Kuhn has no trouble looping his material multiple times for dramatic effect/Condemanations of obfuscating jargon are ushered in with lots of new obfuscating jargon/Kuhn's great concept of paradigms and how they are forced to shift is used as tender to support or even justify his other arguments/etc.

Five years has made me much more succint. After my second read I'm left with a one word commentary: bullshit.

Of course, I can say all of this because it's a blip of dissent swimming amongst a sea of ass-kissing. Any search on Google or Amazon will reveal the amazing amount of material out there that exists as critical commentary and appraisal of the smartly-nicknamed Structure. I can say that Kuhn is a dick for transmuting the psychological angst of accepting the agnosticism of science into a worshipful, stoic kind of Faith-for-Nonbelievers. I can pointedly accuse him of singlehandedly establishing the impenetrable public image of the sciences. I can even , because all this booing fury is muted by a capacity audience of screaming, crying fan scientists.

If you want a far more realistic account of the impotence of modern science, humanity, and where it all needs to go, I highly encourage Michel Houellebecq's fiction Elementary Particles. It reads better and doesn't throw altars to god around everywhere to make people more comfortable.


Give me a few minutes of empty time and a beer or two and I'll come up with a list. Since we are nearing the biggest commercial holiday of the year, I thought I would direct my documentation anxiety into compliling a tally of expensive/difficult to acquire things that I want to have bought for me. Here, in a very specific order, is my wish list. If it won't fit under the tree, I'll also accept cash, personal check, money order or a credit card payment of equal value.

1) Admission into the George Washington University School of Public Health
2) Tuition for the George Washington University School of Public Health
3) Roland MC-303 (a used one would be okay)
4) Airfare, one way, to Paris or Amsterdam
5) Pecs

I've been good, I swear.


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