Category Archives: relationships

Gotta Write

So I just have this urge to write something for the world—more to the point, something for my friends and family—to see. I live so much of my life in this fake little world called School and Grad School Apps and Stress. Yet sometimes I yearn to escape from that prison and live!

Finally I got my project done (almost on time), and now the top imperative seems to be go on a date. Or, more specifically, get to know people; but, since I’m really quite bad at that, it tends to just get distilled down into this one concrete but usually unmeaningful step called a date.

Because, the truth is, there are lots of cool girls out there, lots of girls I would like to get to know better. Yet somewhere along the way I seem to have drawn in on myself, become antisocial and awkward. It goes like this: I meet a nice girl and think, I should ask her out. Pondering the implications of that, I conclude that I must have something to do on a date. You know, go to a movie, get a milkshake, carve a pumpkin, whatever. But whenever I think of those things, I instantly realize that I’ve done these things before, and that 90% of the time it turns out to be a poor way of getting to know somebody, usually involving conversations in which I have to keep my brain at full throttle trying (with limited success) to guarantee that there aren’t any awkward pauses, where both of us just sort of sits there and thinks about how we can’t think of anything to say. Then I come home feeling tired and wishing that I had some better way of doing things.

So what about the hypothetical 10% that I seem able to really get to know? Well, that statistic is, believe it or not, made up (like most statistics, right?), but in recent years the ratio seems to be much less favorable. Actually, I’ve been realizing recently that I’ve had a hard time really getting close to anybody lately. Maybe I’m just too tired, too set in my ways, with too many scars on an old, wounded heart that’s been around for a while. But it’s not just with respect to girls. Of course I have varying degrees of friendship with roommates, for example, and with others, but so much of me is hidden, even from my family and my closest friends. It’s not that I don’t want to share any of myself with people; it’s just that somehow I never feel safe enough, always afraid of something.

And so I write. Most of the time I just write because I don’t seem to have anyone to talk to, even though I know that there are lots of people who would talk to me any time, but I just never feel quite comfortable enough calling people up. But by just writing some of the most interesting parts of me are left forever imprisoned on paper.

I’m a smart guy. I’m a college graduate, I did great on the GRE, my academic and professional prospects are bright. And yet, in the things that matter most to me, I am a fool. I feel stymied, bogged down, trapped, stuck. My desires just don’t seem to translate into actions that are likely to bring those desired circumstances about. I love to dance, yet I never do so.

I would have warm and loving relationships filling my life. I would more often feel alive, like when I listen to a beautiful, mind-opening piece of music; or when I ride a bike super-fast down a hill, or do well in a frisbee game. I would more often be free from the onslaught of a relentless, inquisitive mind. I would… I would… I would…. And yet, I experience most of my life as staring at words on a page, thinking about economics or algorithms.

How does one recover from emotional cardiac arrest? CPR??

“Quoth the Raven”; Or, On the Demise of Schmoopsy-poo

Well, I got back to Provo last night and one of the first things I did was run like a frightened child to the ever-loving side of my dear Jenny, or Schmoopsy-poo as I like to call her when my heart is most profusely gushing forth its unending affections towards her.

We had been divided by hundreds—nay! thousands—of miles, and the tendrils of enduring obsession binding our hearts together were stretched to the breaking point. And so it was no surprise that when we got together last night it seemed that the petals of our fiery flower of love had wilted like a corsage in a microwave. I mean, all she could do was talk about Neal Diamond. And I, for my part, just kept on raving about the ridiculousness of Notting Hill. The very air was poisoned against us and the love that once was, but is now condemned to be no more than a tormenting memory of mushy pet names and awkward photo shoots! So—with mutual admiration, but unable to overcome the widening gulf rending our relationship in two—we called it off.

Alas and wo unto us for that past promise of eternal ping-pong matches which now is not! Alas that Jenny-sweets no longer shall gaze into my eyes like a mosquito drawn towards a bug zapper! Alas that my keyboard now is short-circuited by my free-flowing tears!

And so I ask myself if ever the blissful days of yore shall return; if ever I shall dare to leap joyously with heals a-clicking over an oily puddle of rainwater; or if I will once more in this life chuckle at the wit of graffiti on an underpass wall. And then into my dimming mind echo the words I know so well: for thus quoth the Raven, “Nevermore!” And so, dear Jenny, farewell!

Mid-trip Report

I'm asleep. I was that brave.So I was just reading through my quasi-roommate Gabe Proulx’s blog and I realized that I felt like blogging myself. I’ve been sitting here all night sort of bored yet engaged in writing a mysterious new piece of software which shall be known to you only as “Siegfried”, but code-slavery just wasn’t doing it. I’ve been inspired to make the shift back into the realm of natural languages.

I’ve been in Washington for a while. You know, that’s where I grew up. I’m back in my sweet, sweet homeland of southeastern Washington State, and I find myself still in love with the place and its people.

The Trip

A week after arriving in Washington, I went with my sister and her family to California, which was really cool. I hadn’t been to Disneyland since I was something like 8 years old, so going back was a significant return to childhood for me. I really liked it, and, as I have told a few people, I think that visits there early in my life are part of why I never cared much for any other amusement park I’ve been to: Disneyland is an amusement park the way an amusement park should be: It’s clean. There are lots of drinking fountains. Smoking is minimal. Once you’re in, you can go on any ride (no tickets required). They don’t care if you take pictures of the photo previews they show at the end of a ride. The atmosphere is happy! Every ride is detailed and exciting, and seems like an attempt to let you experience something incredible that you have little chance of experiencing in real life, like space flight, or a pirate raid, or an Indiana Jones-style escape from a runaway boulder.

Beach PanoramaOn the way home we drove through Northern California’s redwoods, which were magnificent. We stopped on a beach and just walked around for a while. The ocean is freaky and mysterious, but I also find it soothing to simply be there and hear the waves and smell the clean air.

Confronting Fear

100_5658While we were at California Adventure I surprised myself by confronting my fears of heights (Soarin’ Over California), upside-down rollercoasters (California Screamin’), and plummeting to likely death (Tower of Terror). For me this was a really big deal. I have always been such a scaredy-cat! No, seriously, a real wimp! Well, big, grown-up boy that I am, I was actually able to go on all of these rides that made me so nervous beforehand. It was like slaying an until-then undefeatable giant.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen and experienced some very scary things that I didn’t know how to deal with, but I’ve noticed that my fears are always way out of proportion to actuality. My fears about the rides at California Adventure were that way—none of them was even half as frightening an experience as I expected. It was also like that when I ended my over-long hiatus from meaningful dating early this year. Paralysis because I feared devastating heartbreak had to give way to actually trying and to actually caring in order for me to progress, but I was terrified! The seeming caprice of prior failures, the painful losses of invested emotion. It took some counsel from compassionate friends to help me to make the leap of faith. And it worked out. It wasn’t so bad. It was a good experience.

Shrapnel Removal

Maybe more terrifying still was confronting one of my past interests in order to find out why exactly she had chosen not to pursue things. I didn’t realize just how hard the ambiguity was for me until a friend discussed a similar situation. I then realized that that would continue gnawing at me until I had the guts to ask her why, to cut through the generalities which were meant to protect me but which were really like a piece of shrapnel festering under the scar-marked surface. It’s a hard thing to walk up to somebody and demand that they perform an invasive shrapnel removal operation. But that’s what I had to do.

When she acquiesced, it set me free somehow. It was wonderful! She gave me her real reasons for calling a halt to the relationship, and they conformed exactly to my earlier suspicions. It wasn’t the knowledge of the reasons that made a difference, really. It was getting her to deal straight with me. It was having enough respect for myself to ask for an explanation. To stop telling myself to just ignore that dull, occasionally stabbing, pain underneath the old wound, but to let myself get that hunk of rusted old metal removed.

“You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are”

An interesting observation resulting from staying at my sister’s house: I think I actually could do the parenting thing. I know I’ve still only had to deal with a small portion of my niece’s and my nephews’ craziness, and yet I feel confident that, especially with some of the skills I’ve begun to learn while here, I could do it. That’s a pretty encouraging thought!

A good friend of mine told me several times, “You’re stronger than you think you are, Josh,” and I think I’ve actually started to believe it. To believe that perhaps the long-raging fires of adversity have wrought something more than just pain within me. What if they really have tempered me, made me stronger?

The Other Trip

We’re also mid-way through the year (or very nearly). I’ve really been blessed this year. All of these blessings—including those resulting from this trip home—I attribute to God’s great kindness in my life.

Well, my eyes are drooping downward in sleep. Thanks for reading, and good night!

– Josh