Monday, September 30, 2002

sleep being for the weak, eliz and i decided at midnite to choose the path of strength, the path of pizza and film. we took turns calling our respective Others, laying bets on whose would reply best. they tied, both accepting with minimal/no thought, which is why, of course, we're dating them. the pizza was only eh, but an ideal husband was as lovely as i recalled, and it instilled in me the same desire to live inside a cinematic adaptation of an oscar wilde play.

many pleasant things happened over the weekend. i spent saturday in philly researching thrift shops for this week's phoenix article. birthday-girl addie ventured in with me and we met my friend ben who insisted everything you need to find is on 13th street and consented to try on a lovely red dress for us in the drag clothes corner of a gay hairdressers' next door to spruce street video where my Other ben worked this summer. we moved too swiftly to shop, unfortunately, but addie and i had to get back: i had a date with kross, his mother, and three boyz.
sitting at the table with them all, the last-year-at-this-time male-dominated feeling crept over me, the feeling of being little. honestly it's been about a year since last i found myself in a situation that could catalyze that reaction. it drove me crazy in/out of the barn. that dinner just left me tired and crabby. addie's girlz-only birthday party thereafter revived me. stef made me liquid ecstacy (soy milk, kahlua, just a bit of rum: yum.) to sip while we lounged and laughed and composed swat to-do lists.

sunday afternoon we reunited with the co|motion campers for the first time since the summer. my legs ache from an hour and a half of capture the flag. i never used to be the kind of person who would do any running in that game, but more and more i'm becoming lots of things i never used to be. for instance, with any luck, an american-cinematic-and-social-studies-special-honors-major.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

addendum: i've decided to be apolitical this semester. but if i were still in caring mode, i'd find this a good clarification of an issue that's always confused me. the article goes through both sides pretty diplomatically, for the most part.
erotic cookie baking last night, as advertised in stef and eliz's hilariously lewd email invite. eliz spent 40 minutes printing out, um, inspiration, which she used to paper the walls of the trailer where the making and baking was taking place. i forget how ghetto that trailer is til i introduce someone to it, and last night i brought in my dearfriend anne. she's the first chick from DIS i've seen since leaving copenhagen and despite slightly longer hair she was reassuringly the same. a weird view to give someone of swat, to be sure. here's where our endowment goes: the spacious, luxurious danawell trailer. note the three different patterns of wallpaper!

they made way too much frosting so i swiped one of the extra bowls of blue. brigid wrinkled her little ohio nose at it when i showed her this morning: "that is not okay! that looks like melted smurf!" as i dipped one finger in and tried some she cried, "no! that's papa!" brigid = priceless.

after the making and baking and frosting and giggling, the group trooped over to the new media lounge to watch hedwig on the big[ger] screen. as terrific as that film is -- and it's terrific nearly beyond words --, it's even better when you watch it sitting next to kross's mother (thank god at least when i asked her if she'd seen it before she said yes) and across the small room from a flamboyant group of first-timers. in delight, pain, horror, joy, whatever: they howled, howled, and howled.

this morning ben and i darted parrish to check his mailbox for watson notifcation. he made the first cut which whittled 30 hopefuls down to 10. yay benj! we stole breakfast intended for visiting parents in celebration. in the words of agent danger, i rather like him. he's a fantastic fellow. (do yoself a favor and scroll down to read the new jersey exploits. mmm new jersey.)

Thursday, September 26, 2002

i'm skipping tennis ostensibly to do work so i should do some: i need to finish v. woolf's magnificent three guineas, i need to brush up on slavery, i need to print out my mini essay about whether or not saturday night fever is a musical (my conclusion: no more than the graduate or strictly ballroom is, which is to say, just plain no. still, it's a better film that i expected.) after an hour's intense discussion with the honors-special-major guru, i think i've more or less convinced myself i should go for it. now i just need to convince (a) marge, my woman in the history dpt; (b) patti, the mysterious feminist/queer theory/eng/film woman i've heard much of and never met -- she's presently hiding out in nyc and how jealous am i; and (c) the history and film dpts in general.

you have to be invested in this, said the guru. i nodded soberly. now i need to figure out if i am. basically, it's a trade-off: i take four preps -- three that i've figured out and one that'll require some creativity (dorsey's slavery seminar? something with rick vallely in american polisci?) -- and in exchange i get the freedom to write a screenplay next year and have professors work on it with me and in the end have two experts descend on me and spend serious time combing through it. if i could survive that without breaking into tears, it would be invaluable.

the guru described the kind of person who usually does this sort of thing: self-motivated, very bright, responsible, independent. he said those people almost always succeed fantastically with this program. those aren't the words i would necessarily pick to describe me, but, hell, i have nothing to lose by trying.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

well, while the argument over censorship rages, i'll discreetly move on to other topics. like my victory and accomplishment at scrabble today against kross: 476. that's a new record -- as far as i'm concerned, for anyone ever. kross was relatively diplomatic about it, losing control only for a minute, when he leapt over the board and attempted to tattoo the number on my forehead. luckily i fought him off and he regained his senses. then he accompanied me to my dorm's bbq and told everyone his effort directly contributed to my score so the triumph is partly his. i heart ross.

i don't want to hear from all of you that you regularly score in the 500s and take pictures of the boards which you keep in a stack on a shelf with your westinghouse certificates and Emmys. this isn't about bragging, or who's better than who. this is just me being honest with my readership: frankly, at this moment, i am the best. and that's simply too significant a fact not to acknowledge.

stef posed the question a couple weeks ago, If you could have anyone write a song about you, who would you choose? after much thought i decided belle and sebastian would be a good choice. today i nearly changed my mind and allotted the honor to stephen merritt. you can't choose him, said kross, who likes to be contrary: he's gay. no no, i said, he just hasn't met the right woman yet. even if that's true, though, there's a slim chance that i may not be that Right Woman. in that case, i guess i'm still up in the air.

Monday, September 23, 2002

i was gratified to realize that i'd read a majority of these. some brought back fond memories: i read scary stories all at once, walking back and forth in front of my house, and then couldn't sleep for nights afterwards. in middle skool i played with earth's children, even though my history teacher wanted a note signed by a parents before she released them to me. (like hell: i just found myself a bookstore.)(then of course i couldn't read them in public without the uneasy sense that someone could tell that i was reading prehistoric porn.) bridge to terabithia made me weep; a light in the attic made me laugh, toni morrisson made me think ... what kind of adolescence could kids possibly have if you took catcher in the rye or forever away from them? growing up purely on disney movies is potentially far more destructive than any influence of roald dahl.

anyway, it doesn't affect me. i'm privileged. i'm at swarthmore. we read whatever we want here; we look down on those hick states that run Just Say No to huck finn campaigns. a first-year came to the co|motion info session and said she was going through remembrance of things past for the 2nd time. bully for her. what she'll come to realize, which is even better than being in a place that will cheerfully engage you in conversation about proust, is that if she wants to progress to orson scott card, she could find any of the ender books is under 5 seconds, and no one would think less of her.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

sporadic posting because, as i wrote to darling overseas becca, when i'm cheerful i'm usually not in a position to journal, and when i'm glum i don't want to inflict my glumness on my little audience here. yesterday i was quite glum, at least at points. but in the evening, i showered, i chatted with my sarahs, laughing as one attempted to simultaneously look tough and drown her smith-inflicted sorrows by swilling malibu straight from the white, chubby bottle, and then i communed with my ben while pre-partying frisbee players screamed in the hallway, psyching themselves up for Phi Psi.
today everything's gone right. for the first time, i beat ross in scrabble. he took the defeat amicably and afterwards we sat in the amphitheater together composing missives to miss becca abroad. i've had cheerful conversations with anyone i've come across, including just now my precious mother. apparently i inadvertantly outed myself -- as having been Questioning in high school -- to both my parents when i mentioned it in a previous entry. she took it well; my father was more shaken up by it. i can only imagine how awkward things could have been had they gone another way. it makes me conscious of how fortunate i am -- a straight white upper/middle class american female. even the jewish thing has only served as a perk, though in the real world conceivably that could change.

i'm steeled to set up an appointment with the special major guru here. marge murphy, my personal diety, suggested i meld my film minor and special-major in american studies into some specific american-history-and-film-honors-special-major. unlike regular old special majors, who have to write regular old run of the mill theses, *honors* special-majors get to do a Project. in my case perhaps that could be a (my) movie. wouldn't that be spectacular? it's so exciting i can't even truly consider it.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

dirt like skidmarks on my feet. how unattractive. usually i think my feet are cute from a distance, although up close they're problematic and i prefer to ignore them. today i've walked and walked and walked, and it shows. it was "college day" or something in philly so swat sponsored buses to transport eager students into the city. i was not so eager as most cuz my movie-dates fell through, meaning i had to walk 60 blocks and see igby goes down alone. as i feared, igby went down as a disappointment (dammit, it looked so cute in the trailers ...) i was tentatively supposed to meet two people outside the theater afterwards but i knew neither would show. indeed neither did.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

even though i didn't write a review this week, my presence did not go unnoted. a girl i've never met nor heard of (marc says she dresses well and smokes cigarettes) wrote a letter into the paper criticising last week's review of the pretentious, ponderous lucia y el sexo. she accuses me of "misunderstanding spanish cinema." my film teacher today read that part aloud in class, raising his eyebrows at me. controversy is fun!

scrabble tonight. before then, i have to get some history reading done and a lot of revision on my screenplay which i will throw out of the nest, ready or not, on oct. 2. hooboy, the excitement. i almost threw it out entirely yesterday after an emotional discussion with someone who, in venting about the occasional ineffectiveness of allies, made me feel like i also just thought i was "down" with the queer community. when i cited the globs and globs of queer people i love, she compared that to someone saying, "how could i be racist? some of my best friends are black." considering how strongly i identify as an ally, especially after so much struggling about whether or not i was queer myself, and how afraid i've always been of that word, it sent me reeling. which wasn't her intent. we talked at length later, clearing things up, and venting more, productively. i leant her a dress and let her research porn on my computer and she told me i was a good ally, not necessarily in that order. it was an important night.

Monday, September 16, 2002

fasting worsened my cold. in fact, i didn't really have a cold until i fasted. i had no voice and no cold. now i have some of both. but i wouldn't have felt like it was yom kippur if i'd just gone along my merry way. if this isn't worth it, at least it feels necessary.
i'm unabashedly glad it's over, though, and i can go back to properly hydrating myself. the sense of vertigo that hit this afternoon returns when i think about the nearfuture. like an idiot, or an optimist, i'm applying to project greenlight. i haven't sent any of my work off in ages; i'm usually too timid and frightened of failure. the submissions window extends from 9/19 to 10/2 -- not much time to nudge true love waits from 1st draft status to Fine Piece o' Art. co|motion, my cuntlovin community service group, is starting up again. since i'm clearly incapable of doing anything halfheartedly, i'm up to at least a scrabble game a day. qsa; film reviews; and all the durned skoolwork i haven't as yet begun to take seriously (and thus need to catch up on.)

at least the important holidays are over. now i can concentrate on getting the blasted credit for my study abroad work. i can't believe 5 -- the maximum -- number of classes in denmark might not equal 4 swarthmore credits. i can't believe the number of hoops i have to jump through simply for that. that deadline's early october too. mmmmm. i need to get better quick.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

also, an enjoyable stumbled-upon website: mighty girl.
as often happens, my voice has deserted me. maybe it's a reaction to the reacclimation to living in a dorm. all those wacky germs floating about; worse, all those wacky people. having gone a year without being in this situation, maybe my body's defenses are shot.

bad timing. right on the cusp of a weekend and no voice to shout at concerts with, or to use in sarcasm, or to play I Never. tho we didn't end up playing I Never anyway, and it's just as well: the small party i was with last night has played that game more than once before and there comes a point when you wonder what's left to ask or know about your friends. it's difficult to come up w/ interesting drinking games, ones that involve conversation, preferably the revealing kind. there should be a book or something.

the alcohol didn't help my throat. now i have an unsightly pile of cough drops next to the keyboard, and a little plastic cup filled helpfully with packets of salt. i've never done that gargling thing and i'm skeptical. meanwhile yom kippur, the Please God Forgive Me day, starts tomorrow night. i haven't done much apologizing (this is one of the great jewish rituals, incidentally: you have to obtain forgiveness from anyone you've offended or hurt over the past year. it's kinda like a treasure hunt you have ten days to complete. at the end of it, you show what you've collected to god and say, well, this is the best i could do. ... and then god judges you.)
last ditch effort: if i've transgressed against you, please accept my heartfelt apologies. you can even email me and yell at me one last time before you forgive me. or leave it in the comments, hell. i live a public life.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

where are those famous endorphins everyone's always talking about? an hour and a half of tennis this morning and then another hour and a half this afternoon, and i'm not high and peppy, i'm exhausted. and kinda depressed, although i enjoyed playing both times. my right forearm hurts and i don't know any exercises that work that muscle. or stretches, or whatever.

in my film class i discovered i had a fan group of one. he was reading my review as i walked in and chuckling to himself. at one point he quoted me to me and said, "this sounds like something from the onion." i nearly fell in love with him. luckily i had the vivid memory of ben to hold me back. but a fan group of one isn't so bad. i mean, everyone has to start somewhere, eh?

i ended up not doing much for september 11th yesterday. i paused by the peace booth and listened to an earnest rendition of "blowing in the wind." i discussed, first with ben and then with ross, that i wished people could take it out of historical and political context, just remember back solemnly to the day america realized - quite harshly and suddenly - that we aren't invulnerable.
but the history and politics of it, which are inextricable, just make me tired. the idea that america deserved it doesn't speak to me, even if i understand the logic and frustration behind that sentiment. governments make horrible foreign policy decisions all the time: when other people die for those decisions, it's tragic. period.
the argument that we should strike back is untenable too and has been since day one. i don't believe there's an insidious global conspiracy that we have to destroy and shooting blindly, or using this as an excuse to take up old grudges, won't help a goddamned thing.

i think we were Got. we didn't expect it; we hadn't been looking for it; we didn't even realize we should have been on guard. and we were hurt. we'll be more careful for now on. but the ones who Got us have vanished again like a mole in one of those Whack-a- games and most likely he won't surface again. we should learn, and mourn, and let this increase our sensitivity and empathy (as once again an attack from abroad reminds us our comfortable isolation isn't either). and move on.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

are males or females funnier in general, to you? my instinctive reaction is to say males but when i count the people i know, more females make me laugh. it's definitely not conventional wisdom; women rarely star in comedies, or if they do they're not often also sex objects. hmm.

tomorrow's september 11th. i have classes all day and a screening during the silent vigil. i wonder if i'll think of it as i rush from a to b. i wonder if i'll be able to escape it. i wonder if i should feel more than i do.
what a bad day; and at the same time i hope all my bad days are this mild. the badness, such as it was, started when i went into the city by myself to see sex and lucia. there's nothing out now really, so i chose this hot though strange looking spanish flick for its convenient show-time. the train stalled, however, which meant i had to huff and puff to make it. almost immediately, once i settled in, i felt like pee wee herman. around me individual men sat slouched, discreetly apart from one another. the movie spared me excess time to ponder this and perhaps take a cue and leave: it started.

two hours later it ended and i walked out, shaking my head in disgust, a feeling not allieviated by the sight of the individual men around me, hands in pockets, eyes down, making their way to the bathroom or the door. essentially the first half of the movie, interspersed with artistic shots of the moon, is hardcore sex until it reaches a point where it begins to get boring and at that exact moment a dog eats a child. it's tragedy from that point on until the ultimate redemption, interspersed relentlessly with artistic shots of the moon.

the train stalled again on the way home, and a friend over dinner lectured me cheerfully on why the state of israel shouldn't exist, and at my meeting with my foreign study advisor he assured me the skool appreciates me experiences and encourages all students to go abroad, but despite the fact that i took the maximum number of classes (5) i may not receive 4 swat credits. don't worry, said he, if it comes up short you can do extra work over christmas break.
i walked out, shaking my head in disgust. that was the nadir, at least. after that, qsa and chillin with folks exorcised my demons. today perhaps i have the distance necessary to write a review that's more than the words "incomprehensible pornish eurotrash" over and over again.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

the new year. i should say something profound. well, maybe it's not necessary: maybe the only thing profound about these holidays is returning to the same spot, year after year, seeing the same people, making the same small talk, remarking quietly about their outfits, and praying the same prayers. and reacting to the same stimuli differently. this year, the story of hannah, who couldn't conceive, for which her husband's more fruitful second wife teased her mercilessly, left a knot in my throat. not the story in general, though it's lovely, but her husband's comment to her: "am i not worth more to you than ten sons?" the bible is sparse and very often it skips over the fact that one person loves another, implies it or perhaps doesn't state it because it isn't true. but the narrator is explict here in how much hannah's husband cares for her.

for whatever reason, it doesn't say she loves him back. when he poses that question, she doesn't answer. i'd never noticed that before.

my house is about to swell with hungry guests. another tradition: lunch after services at our house. between 60 and 100 people show up every year. for the first time i won't even be able to eat the fish. we'll see how that goes.
happy new year, to my yiddim and beloved Others alike. may it be sweet and healthy and peaceful. and calm.

Friday, September 06, 2002

important step on my journey towards defeating fear of people who are cooler than i am: playing scrabble with suzanne, suzanne's boyfriend, and ross. this mistress of intimidation, and my editor at the paper, is in my tennis class and gets to witness me making a fool of myself twice a week close up. apparently this merely whets her appetite.
last night i finally succumbed to pressure from ross and joined them group for a friendly game of 4-way scrabble. my hands shook through the first few moves. i made ross count my scores for me (that being somewhat less ridiculous, i suppose i supposed, than making basic arithmetic mistakes.) but ultimately ross and i tied for second. that's right: despite nerves and knocking heart, i held my own.

my older brother will arrive in a couple hours to swoop me up and back home for the weekend and the ill-timed new year. life here will proceed without me, which is a shame since i've been enjoying it muchly so far. i like my classes. i like the people i hang around with, even if they do challenge me to be more witty more often. i like being with ben in the amphitheater. i don't dislike battling it out with the history and polisci departments for my special major. even the phoenix's gnarling my review isn't overly upsetting. over the week it's become easier to look around, hands on hips peter-pan-style, and say with pride, "yes, i belong here. and no, i will never grow up."

Thursday, September 05, 2002

all day i've had the hiccups. what on earth could that signify? they stopped periodically, like when i was playing tennis badly again this morning with eliz (i got whacked in the jaw with a ball, she ran straight into a fence) and, thank god, when i was in class. then however i had other problems. i walked in to discover that the class -- an english film class, mind you -- has been taken over by huge hulking men. sure, to me, anyone over 5'6" and 160 lbs is a huge hulking man, but even by objective standards, this was ridiculous. in the sweatpants, white sneakers and t-shirt i'd just sweated in for an hour and a half, i looked like i'd come underdressed for a frat party.
in the cafeteria this evening i ran into a girl who i knew freshman year. she went abroad the semester before me so i essentially haven't seen her since then; in fact, it took her a minute to recognize me. i asked her how her reentry had been. oh, good, she said, -- at first. at some point it just became exhausting.
i laughed and made some joke and we parted and i returned to my table. when i looked around, i realized i was already exhausted. i'd had three classes, the last of which was of the 3-hour variety. and i still had one to go. more than that, though, all day i'd been feeling performative. keeping up with witty special people is taxing. especially since this isn't my longstanding crowd, i don't feel secure enough to be boring.

virtually everyone i know here suffers from too much self-esteem and too much insecurity. alternatively that's just me and i just project. a lot.

the day righted itself later. i spreed on and went to my film class showing of bonnie and clyde, came home and had an clobberingly intense conversation w/ stefanie about sexuality and relationships. i've been listening to showtunes. i can't believe it's only wednesday, but weeks always seem three times as long at the beginning. inevitably i will run out of clever things to say, and if my friends decide to retain me then i'll be able to relax. also inevitably, my workload will get so heavy i won't have the luxury of caring. the only question is which'll happen first.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

my room is slowly but surely becoming satisfyingly cluttered. a space just isn't a space unless it's filled -- just like, as my mythology teacher taught last semester, a horse isn't a horse unless it's acting horselike. there are probably other problematic Thens that follow but i don't want to think about them now.
a lovely congress just disbanded. sorelle, sarah k. and sarah c. intruded on my solitude. i'd been reading anita hill's speak truth to power in very atmosphere conditions: but they burst in and turned the lights on and settled in for the kind of creative, straightforward discussion that makes me glad to be at college.

i attended my first tennis class with eliz today. she brought a racket and i wore sneakers so between the two of us there existed one person in readiness to play. we took turns. none too steady in my too-small shoes, she tripped around the court, swinging wildly and yelping. by the time she tagged out, she was convinced everyone else on court hated her and i was laughing too hard to breathe. while i was no better, i made far fewer entertaining noises. i did however demonstrate an uncanny ability to move all my limbs at once and none in sync. mm, athletics.

Monday, September 02, 2002

i actually feel moderately proud of my time spent here so far. today i attended two classes, both history, both taught my super-strong, super-intelligent, intimidating women (this i hope will help with my yearlong goal of subduing my fear of [such] people) and didn't do anything remarkably stupid in either. i bought some books and an ethernet cable at the bookstore. i patted myself on the back for my demonstrable creativity with dental floss (if you want evidence, visit my room). i rekindled my love affair with elizabeth, realized i live in matt rubin's old room (oh so THAT'S why the extention sounded so familiar), and punched rob cox until i was giddy. i went to the cafeteria twice and didn't overdose on diet coke.
now i have to write my movie review. then i have a hall meeting. then i'm going to see dr. strangelove. a girl in the basement told me her name, and when i told her mine, said, "ester - [my last name]?" yes, i replied, feeling deja vu-y, as i just had this exact conversation with someone else. "oh," said the girl, "you're fa-- i mean, why do i know you?" "were you going to say, 'famous'?" i asked, incredulous. "yes," she said. "but i thought it would sound weird."
and ben claims no one knows who i am.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

a moment of panic descended as i sat at this public computer, stared at the blogger login screen, and realized i'd forgotten my handle. that's at least partly because of my unfamiliar surroundings (so much white cinderblock) -- partly also my nervousness, to which i also attribute my bad skin and random twitching. but actually, as reentries go, this one hasn't been half-bad. my mom and my grandparents dropped me off yesterday on the way to a batmitzvah in new jersey. despite the hurry, they were super-nice to me: they helped me carry my stuff up(4flightsof)stairs, bought me lunch, hugged me a lot. i rewarded them by growling and pointing out the passersby i recognized (in order to establish beyond a doubt they didn't have what a tiny skool it is). finally, as they prepared to go, i despaired, "all these idiots i know! where are the idiots i LIKE?"

as if on cue, my roomie brigid and my dearfriend stef swept me up. after that it was all good. we helped each other move in and then we helped lazeliz, who won't arrive til tonite but whose stuff needed to be shifted from her summer residence -- also 4 flights up -- immediately. we shoulda helped ourselves to her stuff, but, being kind, we just left it in the hallway.
since, i've encountered 91% of the people who matter, and as at least 5% are abroad, that's not bad. brigid's and my room is white and spacey and we've already settled in so that it looks rather inviting (like brigid herself). ross is going to take yoga with me. sarah c. introduced me to her friends who glutted co|motion with japanese candy as we prepared our attack on the frosh at this afternoon's activity fair.
for a drenched sunday morning i'm feeling pretty chipper. almost, even, though i know this'll come back and bite me somehow, glad to be back.