Over at The Goat Rope, a friend of mine regularly gets his bloggy inspiration from literature and philosophy. His last round on the Analects of Kong Fu Tzu got me really excited, so I’ve decided to cherry-pick from some of my own favorites. Please ruminate, and possibly also enjoy.

“The little prince was now white with rage. ‘The flowers have been growing thorns for millions of years. For millions of years the sheep have eating them just the same. And is it not a matter of consequence to try to understand why the flowers go to so much trouble to grow thorns which are never of any use to them? Is the warfare between the sheep and the flowers not important? Is this not of more consequence than some fat red-faced gentleman’s sums? And if I know–I, myself–one flower which is unique in the world, which grows nowhere but on my planet, but which one little sheep can destroy in a single bite some morning, without even noticing what he is doing–Oh! You think that is not important!’ His face turned from white to red as he continued: ‘If some one loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows in all the millions and millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself: ‘Somewhere, my flower is there…’ But if the sheep eats the flower, in one moment all his stars will be darkened…And you think that is not important!'”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery, from The Little Prince

“Mistaking the false for the true
And the true for the false,
You overlook the heart
And fill yourself with desire.

See the false as false,
The true as true.
Look into your heart.
Follow your nature.

An unreflecting mind is a poor roof.
Passion, like the rain, floods the house.
But if the roof is strong, there is shelter.”
-The Buddha, from the Dhammapada

“If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.”
-The Tao Te Ching

“From the point of view of time, we say ‘impermanence,’ and from the point of view of space, we say ‘nonself.'”
-Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching

“‘When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’ ‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’ ‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said”
-A. A. Milne, from Winnie-the-Pooh

“Life is…perplexity, continual and essential perplexity.”
Jose Ortega y Gasset, from Some Lessons in Metaphysics

“The Zen assignment is to be human [natural, spontaneous, mindful, nonsuffering]. Sitting is the homework.”
-Jeff Ruff, Buddhism class

I posted a ton of fantastic links last night on Facebook and found another small ton today, and realized that I should blog these!

This is a burstingly lovely start to the day. The bit about the monks, especially, is true and far too easy for me to forget.

I have read so, so many essays on why Twilight is bad for girls that I find it hard to believe that anyone does other than scoff at it, but sadly I know many otherwise kind, intelligent, considerate women and men who thinks it’s great.

On that note see here why thinking about even crappy pop culture is not only good, it’s almost intrinsic to the fact that it is art.

But, when you’re having that terribly deep argument about the Platonic underpinnings of Batman Begins, make sure you don’t make this mistake.

In other entertainment news, I am very excited for this movie. As a private-beyond-all-bounds-of-normalcy person, the popularity of Facebook scares the bejeezus out of me (yes, even though I use it myself. My family will literally not allow me to leave). I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of Diaspora, which will be privacy aware and completely within the user’s control, and will interact with every other social network, so that everyone can pick Twitter or Facebook or Orkut as they please, and not have to convince all their friends to join them.

When I went to the Sen. Byrd memorial two weeks ago, it was cool and cloudy in the morning, and I was sleepy and so I wore a camisole under a sweater and neither wore nor brought my 100 SPF Goth-Approved sunscreen. Of course it cleared up and I got a horrible sunburn.  Then it was really hot, so I took off my sweater and burned some more. After a week or so most of it turned to tan and I finished peeling, and I lamented my newly less-pale skin to a friend. He blinked and said, “This is you dark?” And by my standards, yes, and I am unhappy about it. This article on not tanning helps to explain why.

Here’s Ian McKellen giving me another reason to love him by letting you know that some people are gay, and what you can do about it.

And finally, the absolutely sweetest XKCD comic in a long time. Have tissues ready.

Until Tuesday at the earliest.  I miss my second brain.

I am currently sitting on the couch with my head and hair covered in herbal mud which is covered in plastic wrap with a heating pad on top and a towel over that.

I’m feeling more girly than usual tonight.  I got some great family news today, which I mustn’t share until I can.  I finished my class today and should, inshallah, be more or less a college graduate now.  Feeling like celebrating, I mixed up some of my utterly beloved Lush Caca Rouge Henna Hair Dye.  It’s been on for about 2 hours, and I’ll probably leave it on until I get ready for bed.  If you don’t know about henna hair dyes, definitely click on the link and read up!  I’ve dyed my hair since I was in the 8th grade and I wish I’d know about henna years ago.  It’s easy and fun and makes my hair feel like adamantium, and it makes me smell like incense!

I’ve been reading Gala Darling a lot lately. She is an amazing creature made up of pure delight and magic, as far as I can tell, and she always makes me happier and more interested in my life. Tonight I re-read her about me section, and discovered this site , took a test and found out that I’m a Five. It was really interesting and fit me better than any other personality test has.  I also just retook an online Myers-Briggs test, and had forgotten that I’m an INFP, not an INFJ.  I love personality tests!

I will go paint my fingernails and toes some garish color now.  but before I go, do me a favor: paint some color into your life.  Pretend you’re a Libra, if you’re not, and seek out some tactile and visual pleasure.  Remember that your senses are alive and that they need fed, too.  I believe that our senses are similar to muscles in that the more we use them the better they get at their jobs, and like our brains in that exposing them to new experiences makes them work better.

Have a fantastic night!

Prof. Terry Shank of Marshall University has put on a video and slept another couple times.  I have learned one new thing so far:  commensalism is the term for the type of symbiosis that neither helps nor harms the host.

Today was very difficult.  He had thrown his back out and stood for the whole class anyway, and had a confrontation with one of the African-American students who sits at the front.  He’s so uneven in his treatment of people.  For instance, as I’ve mentioned the only students that he makes noises at, the kinds of noises you use to get your dog to leave something alone, are the African-American students, and the only African-American students he yells at for doing anything he doesn’t like are the ones at the very front of the room–these are also the only students besides me who’ve said a thing or asked a question all session.

It’s really hard to take, and yet it’s crystal clear that this is one of those “college” classes that are actually high school classes–and a horrible high school, at that.  One cannot point out these things in a respectful manner and hope to receive anything like a considered, sane response.  I have a friend who tried.  He said she was being too sensitive.

The only thing to do is survive the next two days, graduate, and move the hell to another continent.

I just wrote a 3 page essay for class in which I was supposed to take a claim from the film Coal Country and examine if it was science or non-science. Instead I attacked the whole film as non-science because it used anecdotal evidence and emotional manipulation as it’s primary tools. It was much more fun, interesting, and engaging this way.

When I was a child, I was allowed free access to almost all of my father’s books.  I would ask him first, and almost always the answer was, “Yes, you may read that.”

I’m not sure why, but of the copious science fiction on his shelves, the first thing I gravitated to was his collection of Robert A. Heinlein books.  He had almost all of them, including a few superb collections of essays and short stories that are now out of print.  I believe the first Heinlein book I read was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, probably when I was about 8-10 years old.  I loved it, of course, and I remember loving how much I could think about the ideas in the books–I was fascinated by the discussion of the triangular covert revolutionary cells, and how the male-female ratio changed the basic ways that relationships worked.  It was the first book I read that invited me to think about its ideas, that made contemplation attractive.

I read more, and eventually reached a limit.  “I think you should wait a few years before you read this, but you can try it and see what you think.”  The book was something like Time Enough For Love, or Number of the Beast.  I tried it, and could tell that I would like it better later, and put it back on the shelf.  I never had any doubt, though, that I would get to it.  Robert Heinlein was exerting a really stunning amount of influence on the way I was developing.  It was during Starship Troopers that I began to really pay attention to when I agreed and disagreed with him, and why.  At first, though, I felt that if I disagreed I was surely in error.  I’ve come to believe that sometimes he was in fact wrong–but I still consider myself functionally illiterate because I can only read one language.

Once I’d reached the age where I could and was allowed to read all the Heinleins, another author caught my eye: Spider Robinson.  Specifically, the quotation from Ben Bova blazoned across so many of his covers; “I’d nominate Spider for the next Robert A. Heinlein!”  I had no idea who Ben Bova was, but I by God knew who Heinlein was.  In my infatuated opinion there was no way in hell this clown could touch Heinlein, but what the hell, I’d give him a shot.

And so of course Spider (and Jeanne) Robinson ended up having even more of an influence on me that Heinlein did.  I was always fairly given to a Heinleinesque worldview due to an overdeveloped sense of justice, but I never felt like I had too much in the way of compassion, and it wasn’t until I began reading the Callahan books that it began to dawn on me just what really big, deep compassion could look like.  To be honest, I’d had no clue there even was that much compassion in the world.  It was eye-opening.  The denizens of Callahan’s bar showed me compassion as a way of living, as a goal for being in the world.  I’d had no idea that was an option.  And one of the wonderful things about this world we live in, is that I am still being startled by how big compassion can be and the extent to which people can live it.

As a side note, one might lament that two of these earliest, strongest influences on me were men, and that there were no female role models, but in fact that’s not how it worked out.  Robert and Spider led me to their wives, Virginia and Jeanne, and those women have influenced me more than anyone but my mother.  The guys wrote, sure, but those women were stunningly accomplished.  Virginia spoke and read who knows how many languages, was two different kinds of chemist, an engineer, and she outranked her husband in the Navy.  Jeanne was a dancer and choreographer and a Buddhist monk–between the two of them, who could need more?

This has been a long post about two men who had an enormous impact of the shape of my life and mind (and the life of my mind).  Gone unsaid throughout, but inescapably there, has been the one man who is ultimately responsible: my Dad.

Thanks, Dad.  Consider this a late Father’s Day present.  I love you.

Just a quick one tonight: class today was a little rough due to a showdown between the prof and some guys who were talking quietly among themselves, and the lecture just seemed a little slow and was very stats heavy. I’ve taken to drawing in class–seriously drawing, attempting to learn how to draw and reading my artist-husband’s books on it and all. It helps a lot, especially since the teacher speaks so slowly that I can write a heading, sketch a little, and then take notes without missing anything.

But even better, lab rocked! We had to do math which was (for me) fairly hard, which means challenging, which means I had fun! Because say it with me y’all: “Challenging is rewarding!”

The other good news: my husband is *finally* getting his passport tomorrow. This means that when I get my new pictures done, we can finally apply to teach in Korea! Thus, Hooray!

I found this draft from the end of March.  I’ve decided to go ahead and post it.  I have told my parents, and in-laws, about what happened.  To make it a little more clear, and because I feel that by speaking about this I deny the abuser control over me, I’ll explain: starting when I was 5-almost-6, for about a year, I was raped by a boy my age who visited his grandparents next door–and that’s one of the reasons I want to talk about this: he was my age.  Growing up, I never ever heard anyone say that kids could sexually assault other kids.  It was always, “Be afraid of grown-ups (and only men, too).”  That’s incorrect.

A week or so after I wrote this, I went to the local rape crisis center.  The counselor there helped me find a therapist, and both women helped me actually finish the school year–with decent grades, no less.

Here’s the draft, written just a few days after my memories started coming back.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_trauma

I haven’t told hardly anyone yet. I told my husband when I figured it out, and then my sensei, and the sister I am close to. It happened when I was 6-7, and I haven’t told either of my parents. I have no idea how they would react. They surprise me a lot, and not always in the happy ways.

Last week or so, my sensei used a word that equates men who fail at being masculine enough with female genitalia, and I was shocked and hurt. I mean, I was sitting there with a vagina…anyway. After so many years of (mild to less mild)abuse and neglect from friends and family, I don’t really react to things right away when they hurt. I’m getting a little better, but it still basically means being more vulnerable to someone who just hurt you, and I just can’t quite manage that, most times. Living means getting hurt, and having friends means letting them hurt you–they don’t mean to, but they will. This is how people work. They mess up. I get that. And I know that in order to have good relationships, I’m just supposed to sort of trust them and lay my heart out on a table and pass around the hammers…that’s what it feels like, anyway.

I don’t tend to be honest with these few friends I have now. I don’t be as sarcastic or cutting as I am. I don’t speak up enough to make the mistakes I make all the time, because if I mess up maybe they’ll leave. I have to be better than I am, all the time.

After a few days I wrote an email to my sensei saying that what he said hurt my feelings, and don’t do that. I tried to make it a little funny, and I made a point of saying that I had never stood up for my feelings to him before, but that I thought that now our relationship was strong enough that I could do so and not break it. He emailed me back 2am last night, and I started crying almost as soon as I started reading, and this really puzzled me. He was being really fair and honest, for all that he evaded the hurt feelings part–and I think that’s because he just didn’t understand why they were hurt, to such an extent that I think he got distracted from that they did really get hurt. He didn’t understand, and thought that I would understand it just as a joke, and he seemed hurt and said that the email had a lot of hostility and it seemed to come from nowhere.

After sobbing for awhile and trying to puzzle it out and feeling worse and worse about myself by the second, I finally noticed that I was replaying that word in my mind, and that it was being accompanied by images from the series of sexual assaults I suffered when I was small. Every time I thought that word, it felt like a punch in the face, and then came those images and feelings…

I wrote an email back falling all over myself apologizing. Part of the sobbing was because I hurt or upset him. I didn’t explain further. I didn’t tell him how much it bothered me, or why, or what was happening now. I couldn’t–I tried several times, and erased the few times I managed to actually type some words.

I cried for another couple hours, and then slept, and then dreamed.

I dreamed that I was back in Clay County.

Context: we moved there when I was 16 and it was the most utterly miserable time of my life–the only place where I have actually cried myself sick (which is really overwhelmingly awful, by the way). My parents were both depressed and fucked up, Mom was in and out of hospitals, I had to care for my sisters, sometimes there wasn’t enough food, or heat. The high school was one of the most abusive, ignorant, soulkilling places I’ve seen in America. I don’t go back to Clay County now. Not for anything. Not the family reunion, not funerals.

I was back in Clay County and I was naked. I had to find an apartment to live in. I was looking all over town, and there were these buildings owned by this white guy with brown hair and beard, overweight, accent. He started commenting on me from the moment he saw me–horrible, lewd, graphic, violent things. I was naked. I couldn’t stop him. My family were there then, and we’d picked an apartment. He was still saying things, making gestures. No one stopped him, or noticed. Finally he said something right in front of my dad and my husband, and I had my little orange safety knife and in one quick motion I slit his throat. There was milk in with the blood at first, for some reason, and my husband put his arm around the guy’s throat to try to stop the bleeding.

At first I didn’t care, exactly. I was upset that I had betrayed almost every principle I try to live by, but I didn’t regret having attempted to murder him–I don’t know how that makes sense, it’s just what I felt. But then I did, and I called 911 and got my favorite shirt and my favorite sheets to help staunch the bleeding, to show that I was sorry. My husband was sitting behind the guy, who was now very small and totally wrapped up in sheets. He was gleeful. He pulled back the sheets to show me the wound, and I freaked out and yelled at him to put them back so the guy didn’t lose any more blood.

I woke up before 911 got there, with a blinding headache and salt on my face.

I wish that were the end. I wish that it was just one bad night and a really fucked-up dream. But there’s today, too. Today I have skipped class. I haven’t done any work. My mind feels like most of my brain is missing. I can’t focus on anything. I lost several blocks while driving earlier–I’m not driving again. I haven’t felt this depressed in a long, long time. I’ve had some very unfortunate thoughts, the nicest of which was that really I should just not have friends. The one who called me a cold, hard bitch was right and I am toxic and I should just sort of quietly retreat and let them have nice lives.

Today’s class was much, much better. There was no movie, and while the lecture was a little redundant for me, that’s only because I had biology last semester, and it obviously wasn’t for most of the class.  I and a couple others actually asked questions, and the lecture portion was broken into reasonable bits by breaks.

For lab we went outside and walked around identifying trees.  Surprisingly, and gratifyingly, there was almost no self-segregation.  Everyone kind of hung out together and joked and helped with the trees, and I didn’t hear anyone blow off the assignment or complain about it.  Everyone was pretty into it.  I even made a couple of the sporty guys laugh with my assessment of the US’s chances against England on Saturday (i.e., that we will beat them into a bloody pulp and piss on their graves).

We just watched the Seattle Sounders play against DC United.  United had 3 goals, us none, and two of their goals were literally within 5 minutes of each other.  Then, it the last 5-8 minutes of play, Seattle scored two goals within I think two minutes of each other! Everyone else was in bed so we couldn’t scream, except in our hearts, which we did.  I don’t care at all that they didn’t win; Sounders fans are by far the best in the US, and supporting that team is all about that community–basically, we’re there win or lose.  Before we scored, the commentators noted that one time the Sounders lost 4-0 before a home, sold-out crowd, and they refunded every single ticket.  Seattle is my beloved hometown, but that really cemented my love for the Sounders.  That was a noble and gracious thing to do.