Monthly Archives: September 1997

i spent today wandering around in new york city. unlike any other place i know of, nyc tends to bring out such strong emotions in me- intrigue, fear, excitement, annoyance, curiosity, … people watching is a true gem. but in many ways it makes me sad… consider me human or whatever else you would like but i cannot help but wonder about others’ lives. do they enjoy themselves when they look so miserable? have they found something special but just don’t show it?

unlike most places, new yorkers are nothing like one another- they come from all types of backgrounds, countries and belief systems. they have so much to share and so much to take from such a community so i watch them with intrigue. but one thing is common amongst all the people walking down broadway today- they all looked rushed and unhappy. many yelled curse words at passerbyers or were rude when i politely asked a direction question. my interruption terribly hindered their day. what a sad state of affairs. cabbie drivers rush up and down the streets, won’t pick you up if you look like a kid without money and are paranoid that you are going to make their lives miserable. they looked pained and want you out of their backseat as soon as possible. they growl at you when you want change. how can they enjoy this life? do they go home to a happier one or do they go home to misery? what makes them get by? what a horrible thought!

what makes all people happy? i know that things that help me through my day and put a smile on my face are not universally positive things. are some people made happy by spending their days yelling and screaming at others? do some people get pleasure out of being rude on their jobs? do those people enjoy their jobs? i guess that i just don’t understand most people even though i would like to… i want to understand what motivates people. actually, that is a thought- what motivates me? hmm.. i will think about that for later….

i guess that my life is just different from others. should i concern myself with understanding other people or will that prove frustrating? [trying to understand peoples’ biases sure is…] how am i supposed to relate to strangers? that aspect of my life is still a muddled confused mess…

what allows me the ability to pursue higher education? what gave me the opportunity to travel and learn from other people? do others have that option but eliminate it by their lack of interest while i strived towards it? or are we positioned in society? the obvious casting of people disturbs me, whether it is intentional or just the way the world works. i know that life is not fair, but why not? these questions keep me up at nite, forcing me to evaluate myself and contantly giving me the understanding to appreciate what i do have. how can we make the world fair?

how does color perception work? physically, we are told what happens as our eyes dilate and how color is perceived by the eyes. but why can we imagine color in our sleep when we are certainly not “seeing” the colors, rather knowing what it would look like?

let’s take green for an example. i can point out objects made of green. you can too. many of those objects that we see would be identicle. both of us would point out that grass is green, as would almost anyone (except for the dorks who are being a pain and talking about the changes in season). regardless, we both see green. but what if i borrowed your eyes? would your green be the same as my green? would my brain perceive your eyes’ view of the grass as green? or would your green equal my purple?

we are trained to see grass as green and plums as purple. we accept that forever more, colors similar to that of grass will be green and that which looks like plums will be purple. it allows us to label, classify and describe objects based on the perception that they give off to us.

the same goes with all senses. we determine hot based on some past experience with hot and based on a universal reaction to hot- jumping away from the object and possible pain. maybe hot feels different to different people. maybe sound is perceived differently. an object does not give off sound; an object gives off waves of energy and our ears turn that into a sound for our brains to perceive. for that reason, a question often arises: when a gree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

does an object possess its characteristics of temperature, color, sound, etc? why do we feel it necessary to intellectualize such givens? why do we have to label things, describe them and classify them in order to accept them? why can’t we just take such givens and accept the object without thinking about the implications?

we as a society rely so heavily on words- for the most part they are the sole way in which we communicate. many other societies also use body movements and expressions to express what they are thinking. if we cannot verbally describe it, most other people in our society do not understand us. masters of the language fare well in our society even if there body language gives off evil airs. only those extremely close to us understand every little body movement we make. our dependence on words truly limits us.

for this reason, our society also has a problem with cliches and other common phrases. they are said so often that they no longer have meaning to us. most of these phrases include verbs that do not have direct meaning. one common phrase whose meaning disipates over time is “i love you.” we love so many things- parents, lovers, children, friends, chocolate… are theses loves at all similar? they are not but yet we use the same phrase for them, diluding the meaning. what is love? there is no direct meaning for it, so one person can say it to another with different feelings. lovers have to depend on body reactions to that type of saying since the words alone mean little. the first time it is said, there is a flutter in the heart and ecstacy in the head but that wanes if it is repeated daily.

why do words mean so much to us? why must we use them to communicate? how can we back away from our attachment to words? this seems like a very difficult problem to me…

i attended my first group meditation tonite. what an effect that had on my perception of everything around me. although the “lecture” sounded like what i had read, it was far more meaningful in person. first, we sat for about 5 minutes and then two masters spoke about meditations and discussed bob dylan’s reaction to the world- explaining that you must love what you do and do it because you love it. after the quick discussion, the masters opened the discussion up to questions. different students asked their burning thoughts and the masters answered them directly. it was utterly intriguing and helpful. i was entirely impressed and most definitely ecstatic!

i spent one week of august in los angelos for a convention. nothing spiritually exciting occurred until the last day. dan and i left the hotel and boarded the bus to the airport. we both knew that it was to be a long ride…

dan and i immediately settled into reading our materials of interest. the driver boarded the bus and began to sing a beautiful version of “amazing grace.” i smiled, grabbed the ani cd that i had on me and went to the front of the bus with it. i played the song for him and we began to talk.

dan and i moved to the front of the bus; he told us much about himself- that he was a drug addict, deadbeat dad, dropout and many other sad things. one day, in rehab, a pastor came and spoke to him about the lord. after much denial, he began to accept jesus christ in his life and his life rapidly improved. he made mends with his children and ex-wife, paid his bills and stayed off drugs and alcohol. even though he was “just driving a bus,” he felt as though his life suddenly had meaning. he found acceptance in the church and happiness at home. even during his hard times, he felt that he had someone to turn to.

then the conversation turned… apparently he realized that we were intelligent beings and wanted to talk to us about our generation. he asked us why so much of our generation did not believe in God. he did not understand why we needed to question such things and felt we should believe on blind faith (also noted that the only true religion is christianity). neither dan nor i wanted to battle his beliefs so we encouraged him to preach and it was rather interesting. he did not understand why someone would vote for someone as unethical as Clinton (oops…) or how society could do things on Sunday (worship day). The conversation was utterly intriguing. Apparently he had also been to a funeral that day and we discussed politics of burial.

as he figured out that we were not as religious as he (basically by our quietness), he began to question or intent in life as well as our goals. he asked how we could live without knowing that we would go onto heaven in the future. i explained my beliefs (he was appalled) and we continued discussing it. i knew that i was not going to persuade him to understand me and he learned that, much to his dismay, he could not convert me.

as we entered the bus terminal, he allowed other cars in front of him, telephoned 911 when he saw a broken down car and proceded to do other kind things. he explained that it is so frustrating being a busdriver because no one wants a busdriver to be in front of them on the highway. he said that he needed to be exceptionally kind so that people may change their minds about buses and busdrivers. he stated that he is convinced that he will die by fireshot when he “butts” in front of a disgruntled driver on the highway. what a way to think about your death…

as we left the bus, i wished him the best of luck and he wished me the same. quite often i think about him and the words he discussed. there is no doubt in my mind that religion brought to him everything that he felt as though he was missing. he wants to share that with the world at whatever cost. i too feel that religion has given me something that i could not of otherwise had. i feel empowered by my daily rituals, strengthened by my improved thoughts and peace of mind and generally happy with my days…

he did have many interesting points though- even though we disagree as to their origin. why do people necessitate intellectualizing all thoughts of religion? no, most christians don’t feel that they have seen God or know Jesus personally; they have blind faith in their religion and the fact that their destiny is set. i have blind faith in that with rituals and belief in myself, i can improve myself on a daily basis. every day is a new challenge and i wake up delighted to know that. even if i can improve myself minimally, i have done well. i believe that i will never be perfect but aiming towards perfection is not a bad goal. so each day, i wake up and try to improve one aspect of myself and my mind. that desire and improvement makes me happy. even though i do not believe in jesus, i do believe that the busdriver and i are similar. we have found what we need to help us strive towards a goal of being better people.

do you remember when you were in middle school? the cool fifth graders sat in the back and made fun of the little kids, you made faces at the cars behind you and gossiped with your girlfriends about the cute older boys. children raced to be the first one on the bus, you compared lunches and when your mom gave you tuna you were ostracized. buying your lunch was uncool (it showed that your mom didn’t care.) recess was the best time of the day- girls played hopscotch behind the building while the boys raced around with kickballs. regardless of your ability to play kickball or your interest in hopscotch, you had a position to fill. the boy with glasses who read the dictionary on the front step was cute but you could not talk to him (cause he was different).

as you grew into maturity, the bus became an annoyance (probably because while you were the queens last year, you are the newbies this year). actually, middle school caused headaches on a regular basis. you got your period for the first time and were ostracized for it. actually, you were a freak if you got your period, if you didn’t; if you had a large chest (thus requiring a brassiere), if your chest resembeled your brother’s; if you could shave your legs, if you didn’t. they laughed at the boys for having facial hair and for not having facial hair; for having wetdreams and daily erections, for not being aroused; for having a high voice, for having a low voice. everyone got mocked in middle school. it was the regular way.

middle school continued. you didn’t get enough sleep. you didn’t like your classes. your english teacher was hot and the french teacher with the heavy accent who smelled annoyed you on a regular basis (you knew it was because you could not pronouce “au revoir” correctly). you got teased for dating the boy who now has contacts and has upgraded to nietzsche; it doesn’t matter- you kissed him once during the school dance and broke up before the next weekend. ahh, middle school relationships.

eighth grade hit and you were once again the queens of the school. you protected your 6th grade brother in a fight so he got teased for being a wimp. your class held a walkout in the name of peace (although most of your class thought it was about recess). your classmate was convicted for murder. your utopia started falling apart.

high school was painful- no doubt about it. yeah, you got your liscense thus earning your freedom but along with it came the realization that freedom means nothing without money. so you still walked to places. boys vs girls and who was dating who was the conversation _every_ day at the lunchroom table. and you hated it. even hamlet was more interested (of course it was, it starred mel gibson…). dorks vs cool kids became an issue and factions broke out. fights were no longer “i hate you” “i hate you too”. now they involved knives and guns and spray cans and eggs and toilet paper and destruction. kids were having kids; you knew people with HIV; classmates died in car accident; others killed themselves; murder hit home; rape was an actual issue. although you never thought it would be, being homosexual or non-white meant social suicide. you could not wait until college where it was bound to be better. your graduation was freedom.

yeah, growing up hurt. and “being an adult” is _not_ fun. your parents were right- being young is far more fun. whoever would have thought? looking back, i realized something. no day is perfect. your environment will never be a utopia. other people will have their problems. what i know now is that i should not try to escape it, rather i need to accept it and deal with it as myself. that too is a sad realization.

me and all the kids from the neighbourhood
we play out in the street all summer long
rule was we had to go home at nite when the streetlites came on

we were oblivious to the rest of the world
we hold up the cars in the street
we always played boys against girls
and both sides would cheat

strange men would stop their cars at the curb
say “hey sweetheart, come here”
and i would go up to the window
and they would have their dick out in there hands
and a sick little sneer

i’d say “here we go again
yeah, this time you win”
i would feel dirty; i would feel ashamed
but i wouldn’t let it stop my game

we would play hide and go seek
territory would be the whole block
sometimes the older boys when they find you
they wouldn’t want to tag you
they just want to talk
they say “what would you do for a quarter?
come on, we don’t have that much time”
i’d think for a minute and i’d say
“ok, give me the quarter first. fine”

this time you win
here we go again
and i would feel dirty and i would feel ashamed
but i wouldn’t let it stop my game

i remember my first trip alone on the greyhound bus
a man who put his hands on me as soon as nite fell
i remember when i was leaving how excited i was
i remember when i arrived i didn’t feel so well
i remember the teachers who got me so sick
scared, i went into the bathroom and i through up in my hair
i could go on but you know what it just gets worse
so i should probably stop there.

girl, next time he wants to know what your problem is
girl, next time he wants to know where the anger comes from
just tell him this time the problem is his
just tell him the anger just comes
it just comes

why am i such a baby when it comes to physical pain? given, most people don’t enjoy it. do i despise it more than anyone else? do i share it more than anyone else? am i feeling more pain than most people? somehow, i think the answer to the latter is no and that is why i question this.

there are two types of pain: physical and emotional. the physical pain is aggrevating but often goes away easily over time (or else your body adjusts to it). the same is supposedly true for emotional pain but it tends to take more time and the dullness still spikes at you when you least expect it.

i can cope with emotional pain. it is aggrevating but i can deal with it. (maybe because i have done it for so long?) physical pain is another issue. even my monthly menstrual cycle drives me insane. “good pain” such as that from exercising makes me grumble even though i know the pain is there for a good reason. on the other hand, when i don’t feel pain after exercising, i feel like i did not work hard enough.

what is the relationship one has with pain? some say that pain is necessary. “it lets you know that you are not dead.” zen says that it is only natural. suzuki discussed it, mentionning that pain is a reality for every beginner trying to meditate. the sitting position will be painful for quite some time. suzuki also says that one should not give up because of the pain even when frustrated. although it hurts now, practice will eliminate the pain and discomfort of sitting. (i am still in the painful state.)

regardless, what does pain do for us?

[thoughts of today for later elaboration:]

why is beauty so imporant to people?
why is it necessary for us to label and class people?

last nite was more than interesting. after going thru the general day, attempting to do work and whatnot, jon and i went home to study. somehow we began discussing christmas and our mothers (both are divorced and single).

humans (or maybe just some) have this assumption that they will settle down with one individual and grow old together. this assumption is usually implemented in the form of a marriage, religious or not. A marriage exists when two individuals decide to live monogomously together until death. In modern times, this vow is often nullified by a divorce, leaving one or both members of the union alone. this loneliness is often detrimental, especially in situations where the solo individual was forced into such a situation (example: husband leaves wife for another lady). loneliness prevails.

why are we so dependent on other humans for solace and peace? why is loneliness so painful? how can we eliminate these pains in order to make lonely individuals happy in old age?

it is both depressing and painful to watch as our siblings leave the home, leaving our mothers alone. neither of us knows what the solution should be or how to help our mothers cope. we both got rather emotional with the frustration… the thoughts will continue…

ah, how refreshing. what ani means to me is far deeper than just the vague awareness that she is a great musician. for me (and i am certain many others), she represents what i have been trying to do all my life- fight for who i am and what i want. she does so well- stands up for herself and her beliefs, fights the odds and the anti-feminine attitude that pervades our society. sometimes, i do exactly that but other times i feel like i fail to stand up and rather give in to the horrendous pressures of society.

so, well i saw her this weekend- she performed in central park:

little plastic castles
every state line
2 little girls
letter to a john
–> the slant
most of the time (b.dylan)
loom (sunglasses song)
bug poem
independence (watching fireworks from a parking garage..)
out of habit
cradle and all
in or out (encore)
not so soft (encore)

how unbelievable! she enjoyed herself immensely. and she shared her soul. think about the lyrics [they say goldfish got no memory / i guess their lives are much like mine] some people view all of her lyrics as depressing and sad; i view them as enlightening- she is sharing her soul, revealing her view of the world. it is so reassuring to know that others have the same difficulties with the world as i do.

on another note, i came home to jon. i am realizing more and more how much he is my panacea; he fixes all my heartaches and frustrations with a simple kiss. yes, i admit i am 100% attached to him but in some silly way, that attachment has allowed me to release myself from other attachments. being with him has taught me more about who i am and where i am going then ever before. i spent so much time floating and drifting amongst the seas, scared and terrorized by the world. resting on shore, attaching my anchor for just a short while has allowed me to discover my fears and solve many of my problems. i think some momentary attachments encourage positive outcomes in many ways.

i finished suzuki this weekend. it was an excellent read. in the epilogue, he discussed the idea that unlike those in japan and china, it is far more challenging for americans to accept the practices of zen because of how we are raised and our general attitude but yet it is important that we try. he also discussed that many americans wanted to observe zen from an intellectual view. i think that the attitude of american zen in very interesting and cannot wait to read on. i think that long quiet highway will be really good for me and hope that i can learn what i am looking for…

by Ryokan:

ura o mise, omote o misete, chiru momiji
(showing front, showing back, falling maple leaf)

what makes the vision of the maple leaf so special as it gently falls from the maple tree, it shows both its bad side as well as its good. what this means for the person who follows zen is that in our lives, i should reveal both sides of our personality rather than just exibiting our positive side and neglecting that of which we disapprove. if my body is not “beautiful”, it does not matter. it is part of who i am.

this makes 100% sense to me, but i do not know how to implement it. i know that some people believe they see my negative side (they yell at me for it) but how can i show it? what does it mean to show it? no, i don’t wear makeup or try to hide my body or my physical appearance. i buzzed my hair, knowing it would make me “ugly” by many people’s standards. i also knew that it would free me of the need to look beautiful. and it did. and it angered many people, especially my mother. she felt that my making myself ugly hindered my relationships with people and made me stand out as a freak. this angered me and we had major frustrations about this.

why is beauty so important to people? or is it just americans?

shoe’s thought: beauty is what we see without effort so we rely on that as our impression of people. getting to know someone takes effort (and thus time and frustration). possibly, this is also due to our desire for instant gratification. we want to know things fast and beauty (or lack of) can be quickly viewed.

back to my thoughts: shoe is right. we enjoy judging and labeling people.. but that is a thought for another time…

rather than just seeing an object, imagine its texture on your skin, its smell in your nose and the sound that it makes in your ears. the object will appear far more appealing and the world will seem far more interesting.

today was a reading day. i continued with my reading (reread the two packets and worked on Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. new confession: i was sitting slouched and posture-problemed when i encountered Suzuki’s statements on posture. i attempted to fix that but have not yet found a comfortable position for both my mind and my body. the physically comfortable positions result in my lapsing into sleep while the mentally comfortable position force eye strain. i will continue to work on this.

on a personal note, i have been trying to understand my direction in school and personal reasoning for my actions. i thought that i knew what i wanted- to be fucking amazing at computer science. i lunged into it the department head first. somewhere along the line, someone chopped off my head. i no longer have the energy or desire to do what i once love. i was planning to take a difficult cs course in order to further my knowledge but i discontinued that. i know that i could have made it thru the class if i was enthused but combined with my saddened attitude towards cs and sudden interest to protect my health and well-being, i discontinued that course.

when i was helping kate last nite (she did not know if she should take orgo- her major required it but she was questionning her major and reevaluating her life), i realized that i was also helping myself cope with my decision. deciding to distance myself from computer science was a hard decision. i still spend much time around the department seeing as i am still taing the intro course. i do enjoy helping people though so i could never give that up.

i also decided tonite that i would be a mentor for women interested in computer science. maybe that will help me respark my desire and curiosity.