July 2007


A conversation with a friend this evening forced me to an uncomfortable realization: I still view social dynamics like I did in high school.

Remember in high school how “groups” developed. Groups weren’t totally static and they didn’t have clearly defined boundaries, but they definitely existed. Different groups had different perceived social value and people within those groups filled roles with greater or lesser status than others. Cliques were so ubiquitous that I don’t think I could really comprehend the social world without examining them.

What I realized tonight is that I still view my social world as largely divided according to groups. The boundaries are less distinct than they were in high school, and the varying social values less obvious, but I definitely still divide my peers into various segments according to their social alignments.

Of course, there’s a good reason for this perception–it’s largely true. People do tend to form groups or networks. Where my perception is wrong is the level of importance I ascribe to group affiliation. In high school, who your friends were was everything. Your network assigned you a role and defined who you were supposed to be. Fluidity and evolution was severely limited and the formation of new connections was discouraged. Groups tended to favor the status quo.

But that was then, this is now. Groups still exist, but they are no longer elemental to personal identity. We are far more free to define ourselves in college and later in life, and it’s far more possible to cross social boundaries and bring cliques together.

More importantly, though, is the question of social value. In high school, it was obvious. The cool kids had wealthy parents. They tended to play varsity sports are drive nice cars. In college, these things still matter, but they matter much, much less. Social value is multidimensional after high school, so wealth or confidence is a single factor among many in the increasingly complex web of social interaction.

The true picture of a college social circle, then, is dynamic. Personal alignments shift constantly and value judgments are adjusted frequently according to changing assessments of key criteria and changing assessments of what criteria count. There are no untouchables, and there are no “cool kids.” Everything is in play.

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I’ve been diligently trying to wake up no later than 9 the last few days in a desperate attempt to not sleep through every class next semester. So far I’m consistently waking up at around 10, although that might be more good fortune than self discipline. I woke up to a phone call from MaryAnn this morning, and a couple days ago to one from my Dad.

Anyway, 10 isn’t bad, but I’ve been supplementing my lost sleep at night with mid-afternoon naps. Naps are excellent. In fact, I wish that instead of sleeping most of my nine or so hours straight through I could break them up into 90-minute increments. I always have vivid dreams when I nap. Today, for example, I was at a party on Bellvue in Salem with several different people I recognized. I also think I was mopping or watching a tennis match or something because I kept looking back and forth.

Also, I don’t generally oversleep when I nap. My body naturally wakes me up at proper intervals, so I’m not all groggy and I don’t miss important events. Hooray!

Supplies and Ingredients:

  • One cookie shit
  • One bag of chips
  • A hunk of cheese (Monterrey Jack is best)
  • A jar of salsa (Pace!)
  • One oven

Directions

  1. Turn oven to broil.
  2. Spread chips liberally over cookie sheet.
  3. Grate cheese liberally over chips.
  4. Spread salsa over cheese and chips to achieve desired tastiness.
  5. Put the cookie sheet in the oven for 60 seconds or until bubbling and gooey.
  6. Enjoy delicious nachos!

In major sororities, pack leaders do photo ops.

Ever heard that story about how when Yassar Arafat came to Camp David and got photographed with Clinton? Apparently Arafat traditionally did the whole European kiss-kiss thing, but the White House didn’t want Clinton to be photographed too close to him, so he practiced this funny little arm-block move. Oh…you haven’t heard that story? Well the point is that photos with the President are meticulously staged. If you’re a lowly Congressman, a photo op with the POTUS is a reward for good behavior, for example.

According to my theory, the same is true in big sororities where, from the mysterious stories I’ve heard, power politics is king. I’m betting that for a lowly underclass(woman) who doesn’t spend hours on her make up in the morning, the privilege of being photographed with the chapter leader…I think the title is Queen?…is awarded only in exceptional circumstance. For example, if you help her rise to power in a bloodless coup.

My brain is turning to mush, and I can’t seem to stem the tide. I’ve been at Panera drinking coffee, trying to get my mind back in gear but the transmission is shot. I can’t even put together a coherent post for Poli-Think or write a decent cover letter to apply for the fellowship on blueoregon.com.

This is terrible. Seriously. The only saving grace is that I’m still smart enough to realize I’m losing it. Could this be early onset Alzheimer’s?

I think it would be okay if I just had something to focus on. If some one gave me something interesting and said write a paper, I think I could manage. Right now it feels like I’m drinking from a fire hose.

I promise I’ll be less whiny in my next post.

So I’m plowing through the latest HP book and several thoughts occur (no spoilers, don’t worry):

  • I cannot keep track of all these characters and allusions to past events in the storyline. Where did this broken mirror come from? Why is Voldemort mad at Malfoy’s dad? I need a Harry Potter encyclopedia to look all this stuff up in, or at least access to my sister’s encyclopedic knowledge.
  • Hogwarts and quidditch and homework becomes less and less important in each book. It’s like Rowling started writing a children’s serial, like the Hardy Boys with magic, but it turned into an epic.
  • I always read too quickly, skimming for the action, and I end up missing lots of juicy details.
  • Ginny sounds hot, but Ron’s all pissy and won’t let Harry make a move.
  • Tonks reminds me of some one, but I can’t figure out who. What a great name, btw.
  •  Viktor Krum sounds like the name of a Russian (Bulgarian?) pastry.

Special thanks to Carlee for hooking me up with a PDF version. I assume she bought it online and gave it to me as a present. 😉

I’m considering becoming a vegitarian, which is ironic since I’m always making fun of MA for eating rabbit food and she’s actually trying to start eating meat. My concerns with meat are entirely moral–I love the taste and I don’t give a damn about the health impact, but factory farming really twists my stomach.

Plus there’s the whole matter of equal consideration of interests, which has me questioning whether I even have the right to eat a pig. I was working on a speciesism K and I let my gaurd down a bit and in slipped the argument. This is how all those ex-debaters end up trying to take down capitalism.

The insustainability of meat production is pretty shocking, too. It takes 10x as much energy to produce a pound of meat as it does to produce a pound of grain. Plus cow poop contributes to global warming.

But it’s difficult to imagine life without meat. I mean, what do you do at Thanksgiving? Christmas? Or nights in the cafeteria where the vegetarian line is serving bean cakes or something?

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