Archive for the 'frustration' Category

ahoy again

It’s been a very, very strange year. I wish I could get a do-over, but at the same time I’d MUCH RATHER NOT have to go through all that crazy shit a second time. I graduated and transitioned into the real world of unemployment and despair. I went to Burning Man (again). I got dumped (again). I went to war with and cut myself off from some crazy, pushy, confounding, conniving people, stressed to the point that I had to question my priorities, my morals, and the very nature of my character, and sometimes I still have to remind myself why I did what I did. I moved back in with my parents and got a sweet little dog who cries when she’s alone. I’ve got lots of free time now, and I spend it working on two novels I’ve written for NaNoWriMo, tinkering with GarageBand and my resume, learning how to drive, and trying not to get cabin fever.

I realized that the three-year cycle that keeps me ever “transitory” is coming around again, and after a two-week jaunt to NYC in October, the “Empire State of Mind” song is stuck in my head. I really might go back to where I came from, that ghetto-ass Chilltown that my sister and I spent years trying to forget. I think I want to finally live in the city proper. I think I’m finally prepared.

Then again, I’ve got a bunch of loans to repay, and maybe staying under my parents’ roof would be a better idea. I don’t know. I’ve talked to so many people this past month. Some of them are my age, or younger, or decades older, with kids a decade younger than I am. Some of them are still at Stanford, some graduated with me and are still unemployed, some have been working the same insanely cushy job for the past five years, some are my parents’ friends who have been working for the past five decades.

I’ve told each person something different about myself and what I want in a job. Everything I’ve said has been true. Everything I’ve said has been me talking out of my ass. I’ve gotten more advice than I know what to do with.

My sister scared me best: You have a degree that will make you more money than mine will, but because of that you also have more debt than I ever had. Pay your dues.

A thirtysomething friend and father of two put it this way: It’s never too late to do what you want to do.

I feel like my clock is ticking, but this is a recession. Despite all of those newspaper articles on people finally chasing their dreams because they lost their jobs and are retooling their priorities, I need to be making bank.

I’m clinging to hope. A friend currently at Columbia told me about a fellow neuroscience Ph.D. candidate who is in a fairly popular Brooklyn indie band. The guy spends all day at his job and all night rehearsing and doing gigs. Sure, you can always make time. Am I really that dedicated, though?

how to go green without becoming a self-righteous douchebag

One of the things that annoys me about living in the co-op community (and in Northern California in general) is the vast number of people I have to deal with who shop exclusively at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, scoff at non-organic and non-local products, shell out shit tons of money for Dr. Bronner’s (and perhaps console me with “It’s totally okay” if you can’t afford to be good to the environment), spend their summers Flying Out to Third-World Countries to Help Poor People, bitch you out for leaving the lights on, and carry themselves with a smug holier-than-thou air for being so goddamn good. The superbaby progeny of doting soccer moms have evolved into a generation of everything-conscious neo-hippies who embody American whitebreadism. While the vast majority of them are harmless and mean well, some of them can be as stereotypical and annoying as the extremist factions of GreenPeace and PETA.

I’m vegetarian for ethical reasons, and I try not to bitch about it. For lack of money I can’t do the all-organic all-local thing, but I’m also wary of all that shit– those labels sometimes don’t mean anything, just as kosher sometimes doesn’t equal humane practices; small-time farmers with excellent farming ethics don’t always get those expensive cage-free and organic labels, and “certified organic” companies aren’t always what you think. Also, I use lots of jet fuel and electricity, and it’s not even to volunteer to help poor people.

Do I feel guilty about my T-Rex-sized carbon footprint? No, because I’m trying to reduce it, and I’ve learned that guilt over climate change, like guilt over third-world countries, gets you nowhere. (I’ll probably write more about guilt later.)

So the question is: Can you “go green” without turning into a rabid environmentalist? Sure, but it might take conscious effort to both 1) start becoming aware of your products and practices so you can change them, and 2) prevent yourself from proselytizing once you do become aware.

I approach green/Fair Trade/socially responsible/”conscious” living as I would religion: you’ll probably mess up sometimes (or all the time), but try your best. I’d say focus on changing your habits. Use less toilet paper. Turn the lights off. Slow your faucet use to a trickle. Read magazines online. Bike instead of drive. Carpool. Start a compost heap. Dispose of batteries properly. Bundle up instead of turning up heat. Don’t use plastic grocery bags. Buy used. Freecycle. Eat less meat. Drink tap. Cook. Blah blah blah. (It helps that most of these tips also save money.)

Like religion, the whole point shouldn’t be about consumerism, about splurging on rosaries blessed with water from Lourdes or being able to afford fancy bikes, solar panels, organic cotton and Dr. Bronner’s soap. It’s about believing in the gist of things and having your actions speak louder than words.

So yeah, I do think going green is like trying to be a good person– and to me, a good person isn’t self-important or judgmental (I’m obviously still working on this one, given this bitchy post). They would generally be ready to talk about or defend their beliefs if they were addressed directly, but otherwise wouldn’t turn their nose up at people who “aren’t trying hard enough”.

In short, my advice on saving the world is try your best, but shut up and get over yourselves. The end!

the world, the french and the u.s. presidential election – or, why i don’t talk about politics

First off, I’m sorry I’ve been gone half the summer. I’ve had Burning Man, O’ahu and East Coast posts on the back burner; I’ll retroactively post them in the next week or two and will turn to my regularly scheduled itinerary from then on.

This post, however, is mostly a rant. It’s about why I don’t like talking about politics— or following it too closely, for that matter.

For one, I’m a flaming liberal— pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-alternative energy, pro-universal health care, pro-globalism, anti-war, anti-oil, anti-tax raises for everyone but the rich. That’s all well and good at Stanford, but my family would likely have been a bunch of super-Catholic conservatives if my parents weren’t going to hell for producing bastard children. As I pointed out when I was in Southeast Asia, I apparently cannot and should not talk about religion or politics with anyone Filipino. It just stresses me out way too much.

I guess it could have been worse, though. My father is still a Philippine citizen, but otherwise he’d vote for Obama, and he still engages me in debate from time to time like he did when I was younger. My grandparents are voting for Obama thanks to his fantastic elocution. My mother is going to vote for McCain, partly because his illegal immigration policies are more lax than Obama’s, but partly because, in her words, “The American president shouldn’t have the last name ‘Obama'”. I’m probably not going to be talking to her during the month of December.

Anyway, I digress. The second reason I don’t like following politics is because I don’t see the point in getting so angry about shit all the time. I watched the Palin-Biden debate yesterday and ended up throwing a shoe at the screen when I couldn’t take Palin’s ass-kissing and issue-skirting any longer. That was fun because my house was watching the debate like a bunch of frat boys would watch a football game– drunkenly and belligerently, yelling things at the giant projector screen.

But after the debate, a couple of people in my house were ranting to anyone within earshot about how Palin is an idiot. Of course she is, and the majority of the developed world agrees with you. There’s no point in running your mouth off about it in the safety of a liberal hotbed with people who aren’t experts on the issues, so if you really give a shit, do something tangible elsewhere. Join the Stanford Democrats. Lobby your goddamn representatives. Team up with people who feel angry too. I’m just not one of them.

I’ve taken to politics like the French take to life. With a French accent: “Yes, maybe parts of it suck, but ‘o ze fuck cares? Ze people who care can complain. I ‘ave my sirty-five hour workweek and five weeks of ‘olidays. I do not geeve a sheet.”

That said, I completely understand the French view of the U.S. presidential and vice-presidential candidates this year. The economy is shot to shit and there’s a nonzero chance that Palin could end up in the presidency. Ah, les americains, those stupid fucking idiots.

my fake graduation, and why i’m not getting a job this summer

Since I took a quarter off last year and seriously messed up my schedule (I was originally planning to take an entire year off, remember?), I’m actually getting my diploma next year. But I walked in this year’s graduation because I am in the class of 2008 and wanted to walk with my friends. (That, and my family wanted a reason to see Oprah’s commencement speech.)

Unfortunately, my decision to have a fake graduation is having unexpected repercussions. I keep reminding my parents that I haven’t, but everyone they know still thinks that I’ve actually graduated. This means that I’m gonna have to try to avoid all of my parents’ friends for the next twelve months so I don’t have to give them that awkward explanation that no, I haven’t actually graduated yet– ‘coz then they’ll give me that strange look that Filipinos reserve for failures, fags, and teenage girls who get knocked up way too soon. -_-;

But I digress. (And I shouldn’t really care ‘coz in a year’s time, I’m graduating from Stanford, bitches! And then I’m gonna be a rock star.)

Anyway, my aunt from Toronto is helping my mom plan a July trip to Toronto, Montréal and Québec as a graduation present. (I think she knows the deal.) This is in addition to my very first Burning Man in August, my mom and sister’s Waikiki vacation in early September (which I ended up tagging along on), and a weekend in Jersey in late September for my sister’s best friend’s wedding.

I seriously thought I was done with all the traveling after last year, but apparently not. (Surprise!) This strange (and touristy :P) itinerary of mine makes it difficult for me to get a summer job that doesn’t involve Stanford psych experiments or strange odd jobs on Craigslist. But I still need a way to pay for that $300 Burning Man ticket, so psych experiments it is…

no, where are you REALLY from?

I hate judging people, but whenever I get that “So where are you from?” question I automatically brace myself for a boring and unenlightening conversation with someone fairly ignorant of the world.

A: “I’m from the U.S.”
Q: “No, but your parents? Where are THEY from?”
A: “(sigh) They’re from the Philippines.”

Even though I identify much more as American than as Filipina (I haven’t set foot in the country in ten years and I can’t even speak Tagalog anymore), the goddamn color of my skin piques stupid people’s curiosity.

This only pisses me off because white Americans never get asked about this, and it’s a pretty much useless question if you’re anywhere near culturally sensitive. See, if people ask a typically white guy:

Q: “Where are you from, white boy?”
A: “Oh, I’m American.”

they leave it at that because the white boy in question looks stereotypically American (or French or Swiss or whatever), even though if you went further you might find something more interesting:

Q: “But where are you really from?”
A: “Well, I’m one-fifth Irish, one-fifth Scottish, one-quarter German or maybe Scandinavian… some Navajo thrown in there…”

And if you ask an average African-American this question, well, good luck.

Q: “But what country are you really from?”
A: “Hmm, that’s a good one. I have no fucking clue because MY ANCESTORS WERE BROUGHT TO THE U.S. AS SLAVES. Cunt.”
Q: “Oh. …But you’re from Africa, right?”
A: “…God, just shut the fuck up.”

I personally don’t bring race or ethnic origin up unless there’s a particular circumstance that brings it up for me. I’m much more interested in the languages that people speak— it’s more useful to know in the long run. And if the person’s worth getting to know, I’ll figure it out in time anyway. Not that I give a shit.

Besides, what’s the use of asking? All it does is help you project more stereotypes onto the person. If you have a different answer, please submit your double-spaced, five-paragraph essay on cultural sensitivity to 242622@gmail.com.

june’s retroactive hiatus

Apologies for being MIA this month. I have been running into brick wall after brick wall in terms of school and my budget, but will stay in Paris until December anyway. A longer explanation is in the works. I should be back into the swing of things, blogging-wise, in approximately two weeks.

In the meantime, my boyfriend is in Paris right now, I’m in the middle of moving to my new apartment across town, and my classmates are leaving Paris in droves because the Stanford in Paris program just ended, so you can guess how busy I’ve been actually having a life. But don’t worry, all will be back to normal soon. :P

how NOT to enroll in the sorbonne: a cautionary tale

My plans have again drastically changed, and I’ll be taking a French Civilization course in the Sorbonne for the fall. It’s a program of the University of Paris IV: Paris-Sorbonne, but it’s not part of their regular curriculum. I really WANTED to enroll as a regular third-year student and take a regular curriculum, but I made a few harrowing discoveries upon talking to their Acceuil des élèves:

– If you’re from the U.S. (and other countries with four-year college systems):
To transfer in as a third-year Sorbonne student, you need to have completed your fourth year at your American college. French kids do three years of undergrad then go on to their Master’s, so this apparently makes perfect sense.

– So I had to have enrolled as a first- or second-year student. But for foreign students, registration to enter a given year as a first- or second-year student ENDS IN JANUARY. Compare this to the regular enrollment process, which starts in fucking JULY. The extra seven months seems to be due to getting a carte de séjour, but it’s French bureaucracy, they’re probably just trying to screw foreign students over.

Thus, I will now be paying €2,250 for three months of a single French class instead of €471 for an entire year of university.

France, I LOVE it when you screw me. You do it slowly and take a lot of time, but when you finally bring me to a climax, I’m completely helpless in your grasp and it takes all of my willpower not to scream out loud.


What?

This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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