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# Spring 2009 classes for which I registered at registration time last semester: 5
# Spring 2009 classes in which I am enrolled now: 5
# Spring 2009 classes that I registered for then in which I am currently enrolled: 1
# Spring 2009 classes that I attended during "shopping period": 10

Dear Lord, self. This is not healthy. Still, here is the actual list:

Monday/Wed: Astronomy 9, Advanced Photo
Tuesday/Thurs: History of US Foreign Policy 1900-pres; Migration, Refugees, and Globalized Citizenship; Spanish 122

This is an IR semester, then. I am sad not to be doing actual philosophy, although I am getting credit from the philosophy department for the Migration course. I'm lamenting the fact that I dropped the Nietzsche course, and I WILL take it next year; but this Refugees course ties together IR and Philosophy pretty neatly for me, and I felt silly counting only totally non-IR-esque courses towards my IR major. Plus, Profs. Greenhill and Shevel are a dream team. I will take this, work hard, and be done with IR, except for the whole thesis/seminar thing. Wooooo.

I'm most excited about Photo and History. It's still sad for me to drop Devigne's class, though.

IN OTHER MORE IMPORTANT NEWS, things are good. It's wonderful to have the bunch of friends who weren't at Tufts last semester back in town-- I am spending much more time in people's living rooms than I am in the library.
i figured something out just now.

this semester marked the first part of the second half of college. the past year has been unsettling to me in a lot of ways, and a recurring thought i-- and probably most of my peers-- keep having is omgz what next. i went into college with a strong broad picture of where I wanted to go, and a precociousness that I have since lost. unfortunately, i kept that broad picture, and it's stayed that way, which scares me.

what i couldn't understand is how I-- motivated, hardworking I-- could feel lost like that. didn't i have it? part of it is probably a general human lostness that many of us encounter, but I just worked out where the contradiction lies for me. perhaps this is common too.

when i set a goal for myself, i achieve it (maybe that's the precociousness talking, but I've got empirical evidence now). in the past couple of years, i have set short term goals and achieved them. i have cared about things and wanted to do things and set short term goals involving those things. that's it! i set short term goals. go to kashmir! check. run exposure! check. do epiic! check. exec features! check. make something out of a summer in boston! check.

put like that, it might seem like i have some sort of compulsion to Just Do Things. i don't. I care(/d) about each of those things deeply, that's why I did them. what is scary to me is that i've come to a point where i can't work towards those goals anymore and I'm not sure what comes next. i had, for so long, been afraid of long term commitment. it's complicated with the future!

this all might be painfully obvious. short term v long term. duhhhh. i know that it doesn't have to be short and long, that we run one into the other, that life is just a continuous path of rainbows (or perhaps a tarpit) anyway... but man. i feel better now.

this probably reads as ridiculous. dear lord. maybe it's okay to admit that i don't know what i want. i still feel kind of dirty posting this, though.


the evolution of digital communication means a lot of things. one of these things is that we become comfortable expressing ourselves through type, and proceed to have important conversations with it. not conversations that are intended to be important, but trivial conversations that assume significance because of how unremarkable they are. this never happens on purpose. as a student (and these days, as a human), I am on my computer all the time, and I just tend to keep up some method of communication. sometimes adium, often gchat. and the people to whom i talk about everything (perhaps a more fitting word is nothing, because so much of the 'everything' we talk about really isn't terribly exciting) are there too. and before you know it, you have hundreds of conversations recorded on your hard drive-- conversations that narrate your life and your relationships. the poignant thing is that the Important Conversations don't happen in this medium, but these conversations bear their imprint in a more revealing way than the actual important conversations themselves.

i suppose a paper journal might do these things, or photographs-- but those things are done on purpose. these conversations that i'm thinking about can be as second-nature as a random conversation in the kitchen at the end of the day that you won't remember tomorrow. that's probably how they're meant to be. and all of a sudden, you're looking for a link that someone sent you and a year's worth of nothing chats-- the ones that sustain and knit together a relationship-- is staring at you in helvetica.

i feel like i should clarify that i do, in fact, talk to people in person as well, and that i don't think these random conversations are nearly as meaningful as what happens in real life. there's really only one individual with whom these nothingtalks come about as naturally to me as blinking, and i suppose the online version of these is just an addition to everything else. all the same, it means something, and is rather striking when you search their name and hundreds of mundane conversations come up.

is this going to be normal? maps of relationships neatly tucked away in 0's and 1's and hard drives (and is it any different from what has existed in letters, diaries, and visual work since the beginning of humanity? i think so-- there's something more accidental about this)? I could delete them all, but I probably won't. technology has moved too fast to know where we're going to be in 20 years, let alone 3... but I'm wondering about the implications of me finding these conversations 20 years from now, preserved in their simplicity.

time to end this thing. now i can direct more of my attention to the conversation we have been having, again over gchat, about cuts of meat and maureen dowd (while i use the rest of my attention to comb through congressional financial disclosure reports).


[family dinner at 37]

dave: i think daniel's been stealing my bananas.
cole: why would you say that?
dave: well, none of you took my bananas, did you?
kyle: no, i have my own bananas.
dave: right. well, i bought five bananas, and now i only have 2 bananas.
me: could the word bananas be used more often in this conversation?
[maris laughs, dave ignores me]
dave: so i asked daniel if he'd eaten any of my bananas.
leo: what'd he say?
dave: he was like, oh, well, i didn't realized those were anyone in particular's bananas.
cole: what?! as if we haven't all had our own supplies of food this whole summer...
leo: what are you supposed to do? write "Dave" on each individual banana? it would seep through!
dave: i know, i know. and i still don't know what happened to the other two bananas.

[meeting the armenians who live on the first floor of our house]

yael: well, i'm a freshman. or, i just finished freshman year.
ruben: you are fishman? you fish?
[awkward pause]
julia: and, uh, i'm a sophomore. at a different university.
ruben: you are softmore? the fish get soft?
me: no, freshman. freshman!
ruben: ah, fresh fish. and you are saltmore?
me: no fish!
ruben: oh. what are you, julia?
julia: yes, uh, i'm salty!
me: what?!
julia: i thought we were talking about fish!


kyle: your arm is the size of a sandwich.
jess: what?
kyle: your arm is the same height as a sandwich. someone might eat it.
jess: oh. you know what? i think we've had this conversation before.

carrie: i've realized that i love drinking. i just love it. i really love drinking.
sarah: okay. wanna do a shot with me?
carrie: NO.
so it is june 10th. my summer has worked itself out-- and i use the reflexive there, because i really had very little to do with it. an email popped up in my inbox that offered me the opportunity to get paid to be Jim Henry's investigative research assistant on several different stories: the US as a tax haven, African country X's offshore loot and international policy regarding dirty money, Bolivian secessionists, and why the frogs are dying. courtney walked into a job for me at a travel clinic. my Philosophy advisor and the academic love of my life, Erin Kelly, introduced me to Ti-Grace Atkinson, one of the leaders of the radical feminist movement (crazy shit), and i'm going to spend a morning a week going through her letters and speeches and grocery lists and thinking about some sort of senior thesis. and today i got an email from Gary saying hey Jess looking forward to the workshop and oh did I want to intern for Dispatches?

it feels good to have everything in order now. it's funny, because i worked my ass off to get that DC internship on my own, but just couldn't do it in the end. and now all of this has come together-- no man is an island, I guess. i feel like i ought to chide myself for how much of this has been "connections" (right wifey?), but all of this has come out of very hard work that i have done over the past couple of years (except for the travel clinic, that was just magic) marinated in a large load of luck.

kyle is leaving for Bangkok tomorrow, and all of a sudden the fact that i'm about to spend 3 weeks in Southeast Asia is real. i leave on thursday. i don't feel prepared in terms of my story, but i was less prepared last year and still managed to turn out something good. i'm nervous about the fact that i'm not all that nervous-- this is the third time i've been two days away from a research trip full of unknowns, and I'm starting to rely pretty heavily on faith that i'll Just Figure It Out using the skills that i've already got and the ones i'll develop while i'm there. the third time this year! i need to settle for a while.

after the workshop, kyle and I will spend a week together in Bangkok and a beach city called Hua Hin. how about that! i don't think there are too many people who could actually spend a week straight with either of us, but i know that we can if we give each other space in the right moments. i'm looking forward to it. two years on and we're in Bangkok. life is weird and good.

junior year approaching is strange. i won't see some people who I really care about until January! happily, being at Tufts for the summer means i've gotten a chance to spend more time with people who i might not have seen otherwise. for others, there are visits (DC WEEKEND WOO).

and yes. being at Tufts for the summer is so, so wonderful. it couldn't have happened any other way-- one of a million reasons why DC wouldn't have been right. i love what i'm doing, i love my house, i love cooking and eating with the members of 37 upland. July and most of August will be so sweet-- I want them to last much longer than 2 months. i think i'm afraid that i'll mess it up somehow.

anyway. to Bangkok! i'll stay there for a night, then kyle, laura and I will get ourselves to siem reap, where we'll stay until the 24th. then its back to bangkok and the BEACH!!!
today, i watched a woman behind the counter of of a very expensive cupcake store that I had to photograph try to explain what a cupcake was to an interpreter, who tried to do the same thing in some obscure Eastern European language that i couldn't place for the stylish and confused-looking woman she was with. they couldn't nail it down.

also, chris sent an email with the subject line "OH SHIT!", containing a youtube link to chris matthews having neocon Kevin James for lunch to me, Shana, and our AP US History teacher, Ms. Bennett. that fact that we do things like that makes me happy and embarrassed at the same time.

and as i write this, the totally boring 100% american studio manager who sits in front of me is busting out perfect spanish on the phone. ay caramba.
this is from a late night draft that i didn't post:

saying goodbye today was weird... i avoided a lot of goodbyes. i cried again, like last year, in a spontaneous and stupid way. not for any one thing really, because this year needed to be over and i needed to come home. but i cry when things end, and i suppose that's just how i'll keep doing it.


i am working in new york right now, because i need moneyz for the rest of the summer. if there's one thing I have learned from this job, it's that working in a penthouse studio in chelsea is not awesome. earning half of the wage i get at seesaw in the basement of a rodent-infested arts complex, though, kind of is.

i have never been so worried about money as i am now. perhaps its because i have a huge plane ticket to pay for and two months of rent and food. food! dear lord. i'm glad i have parents who don't just hand me money whenever I ask for it (but mom! it's for my education!), but damn. talk about growing up.

i was on the subway today, and i looked over a man's shoulder to see that he was reading "how to make big money by investing in foreclosures." next to me, a tired-looking black woman was complaining to her son about being asked, for the 3rd time in a month, to donate to another school fundraiser, and he just looked so sad and scared. and behind me, i swear to God, a white girl with a kate spade bag was reading "a raisin in the sun".

the last six weeks of school were weird and awful and good. i figured some rather monumental things out, and have finally hit my "wait. what AM i going to do after college?" phase. i gave up a $3500 grant to do a high-flying DC internship to... well, I'm not sure what i'm going to do. nice one, self.


first they told us 4,000 were dead. then it was 10,000. now, it's 22,500 with 41,000 still missing. that's 60,000 people who could be dead now, and the sicknesses haven't even taken hold yet. and the junta is reluctant to let western aid workers in, and the US is taking heat for putting diplomatic pressure on the junta, and it's awful, all of it. you can't fix something of this magnitude in a day, or even a decade, but squabbling is killing people.
oh, life. you are really getting down on me right now.

i dropped out of a play last night because i can't do it-- there is too much going on right now. it was what i needed to do..."what i needed to do"?? goodness me. i still feel shitty, though.

i have been nauseous for the past 3 and a half weeks. more so in the last few days. either i have immaculately conceived a child, or someone's force feeding me syrup of ipecac.
Whenever I go abroad, I listen to songs that remind me, geographically, of home. They're not songs that I ever listen to when I'm at home, but songs that make me think of where I've come from. It's nice to be comforted that way, but it also means that "A Case of You" and "America" make me nostalgic for India.

I can't sleep. I'm getting shittier and shittier at making decisions, maybe because it's easier to be busy and confused and to put off choosing because that way you don't have to accept that there are so many things that you will never know, see, or do.

I have my class list pretty much nailed down, at last, but it does mean, I think, that I'll have to drop Directing II. This is a choice I regret having to make because I so love it. I think I have a bit more natural talent as a director than I do as an actor, and I truly ejoy both. But I'm acting this semester, and I can't do both and write a research paper and plan a syposium and everything else. I can't seem to get entirely away from the theater... even last semester, when I swore it off for EPIIC, I wangled my way into Directing I. Its funny, because I don't really think of myself as a theater Person, despite the fact that I do so much of it. But I can't not do it, really. Just like so many other things.

I want to sleep but my whole body is in knots. I can't write in Spanish right now, which is a real shame because now would be the perfect time to work on my common app-esque Spanish essay. Maybe I just need to be awake right now and think. We never close our blind, and the sky is a funny color. It might be snowing. Life is beautiful.

The other night, I had a very serious conversation, and I wanted to write it all down. I was so honest, and it was so important and painful and alive, and all I could do was think about how good it would look on a page. I do that a lot. Instead of living a moment in my life, I find myself watching it, analytically narrating it. I think about what it would look like on stage, or on paper, or what its significance would be if it were part of a story more significant than mine. Doing this places a layer between my mind and reality, which isn't something I want but happens anyway.

We talked about a funny exercise in Directing last week. It's meant to help actors get a better sense of a scene. Once they know it relatively well, they do the scene, and narrate it from the inside with everything they aren't doing. I am not pouring you a glass of water. I am not leaving your house, even though you just asked me to. I am not telling you I care about you. I am not singing. I am not sleeping.

It's interesting. What are we not doing right now? Opportunity cost. Push, pull.

I never worry about what I'm not doing right now. Rather, it's what I won't be doing later. Truth. I still find joy in what I'm doing at the time, though.

My confirmation sponsor and I had to write a prayer once, and the bit that got repeated throughout was "Find joy. Alleluia." It was nice. I do have some sort of faith, more than most of the people my age with whom I discuss this sort of thing. James once asked everyone at a meal if they believed in God, and no one did, but I wasn't there. I wish I had been; I would have liked to talk about it.

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