Today’s post may be quite fugal, primarily in the psychological sense—apologies in advance.

I slept well again yesterday night—in fact, I made a note before I passed out of consciousness:

“It’s very rare that I go to sleep without thoughts swirling around my mind, vague anxieties about something or other bothering the serenity of my consciousness. Today, however, it is just pure love for my kids, and I have been spared from worry. God bless.”1

Getting up at noon again today (even having woken up once at around 7 AM), however, was a bit of a different story. I had lunch, and then proceeded to read and languish throughout the afternoon, sometimes napping, sometimes on YouTube, sometimes just staring at the wall across the room from me. Dinner came late, and consisted of noodles, which were nice. I’m not sure if I accomplished anything I had planned yesterday at all, but I did end up thinking a lot, which is probably a good thing. I also made a large automated expense tracking spreadsheet, so I guess I had at least some non-negative productivity.

Tomorrow, same goals as today. Stop getting up at ridiculously late times (so that you feel at least somewhat energetic throughout the day), study for the Advanced Standing Exams, read, check in on your goals for this year, possibly get a haircut, and go outside! We’ll see how those actually turn out, but for now, that’s a good set. Now, for some not-entirely-coherent thoughts:

  1. Inspiration is very strange: I find myself very driven to write right now, and at some point last night a song came to me, although it has now escaped me again. I think something about being vaguely sad seems to always bring this kind of behavior out of me, although at the current moment I don’t have any particular spark to which this drive to create has attached. It simply remains pent up within me, yearning for an actual creative outlet instead of this self-referential writing which seems to be my modus operandi at the moment.

  2. I’m realize more and more that I’m not really at home anymore—for one, I pronounced Pierre the correct, French way today when referring to South Dakota’s capital, when our capital is generally pronounced “pier” by locals. (My mentor’s name is Pierre, pronounced the correct way, so maybe the wires are more mixed than usual there.) This and other things remind me that, although I am glad to be back for this brief while, any longer and I’d realize that, as before, I still don’t really fit in here. I said this to one of my kids today, and I think it’s deeply true: “I’d get bored if I was staying any longer than I was, but I kinda missed it so I’m enjoying it for now.” Heading on out again soon…

  3. Reading Turtles All The Way Down generated a lot of thoughts. Some part of this book seems to have been written for me, pinned at exact pressure points, but I can’t tell if this is actually true or if it’s still just the general teenage malaise. In any case, I’ll go through some of the things it reminded me of sequentially.

    1. I’m not sure if I have actual, medically diagnosable anxiety, but the way Aza describes thought spirals really resonates with me. Sometimes I get stuck on these trains of thought, and often I can break out of them, but in some cases they just keep on going and going. I tend to act in some ways that tend towards OCD—I can be obsessive, but in most cases these obsessions tend not to produce disorderly compulsions. Reading about someone going through something actually significant, however, and feeling their pain (and identifying portions similar to mine) pushed me deeper into my oblique sadness.
    2. Perhaps something I was more keenly aware of on this read-through was the role of the people taking care of Aza. There was a line spoken by Aza’s mother—”I don’t know what to say, Aza. I see the pain on your face and I want to take it from you”—and for some reason I really felt it this time. It reminded me both of my role as a counselor and my parents’ role in my life. I don’t know if I’ve truly appreciated my parents enough, especially given the long-term and distinct stresses they have been under from me and my sister over time, which must make being a counselor at a camp seem like a cakewalk. I’m not sure if we—anyone—ever truly appreciates their parents enough. Something about this line really killed me this time, and I think it was the “suddenly being responsible for 14/82 other people” thing. The fact that I couldn’t see that beforehand, however, frightens me.
    3. This provides me a unique segue into questions of personal privilege and lack of perspective. Aza is so bound up in her own thinking, in her own life, that she can’t really afford to see the world outside her and the reasons why someone might do something she wouldn’t. As someone who doesn’t have the burden of thought spirals, however, I feel like I’ve failed and continued to fail at seeing how other people’s lives function and why they do the things they do (as described above). This is especially concerning given that I tend to have a very strong concept of justice—do I, more than anyone else, actually have the right to judge? No—and yet I do anyways. I find myself often only considering what is right or wrong for me in a situation, or for someone like me, and I must remember that most people, are, in fact not like me. This line rings true: “think about anything other than yourself you disgusting narcissist.” There is work to be done on this front—the question is what, and how.
    4. “I took his hand, and part of me wanted to tell him I loved him, but I wasn’t sure if I really did. Our hearts were broke in the same places.”
      This reminds me of an interaction I recently had, which I will avoid discussing here. It did, however, really strike me at my core, and honestly I kind of despise John Green for being so good at being able to write things so perfectly and yet so generally that I and probably many others will have this kind of reaction to this text. It feels like it was written for me, but it was not, and many others will have that same feeling as well.
    5. I is conditional—that is to say, we often feel like coherent selves, but are actually immense products of our circumstances (and privilege, as in C). I don’t remember why, but I wondered again what would’ve happened if I hadn’t skipped a grade. Would I have been in this year of RSI? Who would’ve been my counselor, and who would’ve been the counselor who was in my spot? Last year, I concluded that these questions are unknowable and derive from a place of extreme privilege, but I still kind of wonder sometimes. It feels like the ‘me’ who is today is extremely lucky: got into RSI, got into MIT, did this, did that. I really wonder what it would’ve taken to perturb the system and where I would be as a result. It is, to say the least, at least mildly interesting.
  4. I’ve written a lot. How much of it is actually interesting or useful to anyone except (or even including) me? Who knows. Here I am anyways…

  1. Note (2022): I’ve slowly had this less and less, which is pleasant, albeit a little strange to note in retrospect.