Archive | January, 2011

A Memory

31 Jan

Well, it’s not a single memory. But countless times in my childhood (supposing I have left that stage) I remember sleepovers and the common agreement, “let’s stay up all night.” My co-conspirator always fell asleep before I did. I was always left wondering why they felt the need to do so. Sleeplessness has always been a skill of mine, and I have always resented it. I can say it’s led to many read books but I can also say it has led to many absurd thoughts and resolutions. In the daylight, those thoughts are always uncovered and I am both happy and sad that they are so. Especially about the resolutions one makes. “Tomorrow I will say this” “Tomorrow I will do that” – no, Tomorrow the sun will rise as it always does and you will always be you as you always are. Not so bad really, but it makes the night a long drawn out practice in futility. A practice I have undertaken too many times. Tomorrow, I will not take a nap and will go to sleep at a normal hour.

Goodnight?

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Accidental Girlfriend

23 Jan

So, my mom reads this blog and after last week’s post she called to see if I was OK. I was confused because I didn’t think I came off as sad or upset. BUT, if I know my mom, she was worried that I was upset about a girl; this realization didn’t hit me until last night. I looked at the post and realized my snippet about a girl was ambiguous. Allow me to elaborate and clarify:

I seem to have accidently acquired a girlfriend.  I really need to remedy this situation but don’t really know how to go about it! She thinks we’re together but I don’t really know how to break it to her – we’re not. We’ve hung out maybe a handful of times over the past several months, seriously, only like 7 or 8 times. She calls me once and awhile, but this does not constitute a relationship. I mean, I’ve tried (and John can attest to this) to dissuade her from liking me. The worry began last semester when I made a comment in class and a girl sitting next to John said something to the effect, “but he has a girlfriend.” (You might be wondering why that was a response to an in-class comment, but it makes some sense, you’ll have to believe me.) This little phrase, quickly relayed by John to myself, put me on alert. The next couple times I went out with this girl I noticed several problematic phrases, which indicated to me an assumed intimacy that did not exist for my part. What have I done? What do I do? – I’ve even been recruited to help her move! What’s next? Children? – Well, it’s not clear to me that she definitely thinks, “we’re together” so I’d feel weird “breaking up” with her.

“I don’t feel that this is working out”

“That what’s working out”

“Uhh, well…”

But if I don’t do anything then things will only get worse. This is quite the conundrum.

In other news I spent yesterday at the Denton library. The décor is nothing impressive, I mean, it’s not the most aesthetically appealing environment. That being said, it’s far larger and the chairs provide significantly more comfort than UD’s library chairs. You can sit in them for prolonged periods of time without developing any aches. “Cole, you drove forty-minutes for better chairs?” You’re obviously unaware of how a) awful UD’s chairs are and b) the importance of a good chair to read and study. The chairs and spacious tables, combined with my subconscious delight with the illusion that I was “doing something,” provided for hours of earnest work. I also left my computer here at the house so I wasn’t constantly attached to the master of distraction – the internet. At about seven I went out to dinner with a friend who goes to UNT, John Pascarella. Have you ever eaten a ½ lb. of Texas brisket, with a handful of white bread slices and all the fixens you could want? Oh my, I was happier than a fat kid in a candy shop, probably because I was a fat kid in a BBQ restaurant. After eating like kings we watched Inception, which far exceeded my expectations. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to do so.

I haven’t spoken of my classes yet, that will come soon enough. I hope your weekend goes well for you and that you’re neither a Bears nor Steelers fan.

Cheers,

Cole Simmons

The Vague and Concrete – My Dilemma and Plan

16 Jan

This semester I intend to mature. Yes, I know, I am already the most mature, good-looking and serious male known to women. But from an acute knowledge of my own faults and my own ambitions, it has become clear to me that I must either grow stronger or relinquish certain desires I have for my life. I should be clear about those desires – they are utterly vague and quite undefined. I have felt pushed by my faith, well, let us start again: I have this faith in a particular God who manifests himself in three ways. This quickly caused constant intellectual anxiety and continues to do so into the present day. A fruit of this anxiety has been a particular appetite (my appetites are generally a bit over-blown) for it’s opposite – non-intellectual-anxiety or assuredness of, well, anything. This assuredness I think can happen one of two ways. One, I could relax. Two, I could actually commit myself to a life of thought. The first is, lets be honest, boring and if that weren’t reason enough, dishonest for me. Yet, there is a nagging worry that I might be happy, which might indicate a poor disposition for any serious work in philosophy or scholarship, any serious undertaking requiring reading, writing and thought.

My enemies to forming a character capable of serious thought have all been carefully chosen by me over the years. The need for constant social-interaction, alcohol, girls, nice things, the desire to be happy, and an unswerving devotion to combine all of these into one Saturday, all contribute to my self-loathing. Even my uncanny ability for self-depreciating humor tinges me with a bit of “unseriousness.”

Let us then relent and speak with all seriousness. The disorder I’m correcting isn’t abnormal but it is real. If I don’t correct it in myself I must, with all seriousness, give up and seek happiness at the price of relaxing the bow. It’s a question of whether I enjoy learning for the sake of simply interesting conversations and impressing peers or if I’m actually looking to uncover something about the not-abnormal disorder I see around me. I can either accept the confusion or undo it. Now that I’ve given you the vague dilemma that haunts me, allow me to speak of specific tasks, and tools, I hope will play a role in the ordering of my life.

– First is hygiene and orderliness of possessions. Maybe I say this first because I’ve worked at this my entire life and am a generally clean person. Regardless, I feel overwhelmed inwardly if outwardly I’m a wreck.

– I hope to use music, and this is an area I’ve dabbled in for the ordering of soul but never for long or wholeheartedly.

– Getting out of the bubble, that is, without going to a bar. With the help of some friends I have located a few libraries, each within a 40 minute drive. I hope to make a number of weekend explorations of libraries, creating time to read and do work.

– A big part of the exploration project is avoiding the hangover. Goodness, why does that feeling have to come after such a swell time? But it does, and it is never in the mood to be crossed, that is, it is never in the mood to do anything but nothing.

– I had planned on snatching up this girl I had been talking to last semester, but after a putting a good amount of energy into it since I got back I’m fairly confident it is not meant to be, unfortunately, I don’t think I inspired similar feelings. Girls, I think, will persist in disordering my soul for years to come. Thankfully, I give as good as I get. And no, that is not a sexual innuendo.

Well, that’s about all. I guess, to sum it up, my big idea and what I’m truthfully excited about is going to these libraries. I’m hoping to find the trip, the act of going somewhere nice, stimulating enough to coax my will into more arduous weekend labor. It is now a quarter past two and well past any reasonable persons bedtime. I’ll be tired in church tomorrow but it will be good for my soul to be there – hymns are a big part of the music programme and church attendance is naturally part of hearing them. So goodnight all, I hope you’re Sunday is nice.

All The Best,

Cole Simmons

A Moderating Influence

13 Jan

Last night I had the privilege of having a few drinks and talking with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen since the break. This group of people is particularly interesting due to a definite age difference. I wouldn’t call anybody ‘old’ but I am the youngest and it is beneficial to hear different perspectives concerning what we are doing (graduate school & political philosophy) from people who have lived quite a bit longer than I.

I can’t say that any revelatory things were said – but it is important to confirm that one isn’t wasting one’s time. For instance, the oldest is in his late thirties and from what I can tell did well for himself in the ‘real world.’ What I mean by that is, he certainly acquired or came from a family that possessed (or both) a good amount of money. Furthermore, he didn’t waste himself in idleness but certainly has lived an interesting life. I think many people would’ve considered his previous, non-academic, existence stimulating and fulfilling. Thankfully, he undertook philosophy as a Masters student at St. John’s and is now at UD. Another person at the apt., in her thirtieth year, apparently had a sweet job and fancy apartment in NYC but ended up at St. John’s and is now at UD. (Irving, not commensurate with NYC) The other two friends are older, though not by much.

A constant worry of mine, which in turn causes disordered thinking, is that I’m wasting years pursuing something whose fruit (a PhD) I have not tasted and am unclear as to what it means for life. Is the money worth it? Is the time worth it? I have the tendency to want to rush things, well not rush exactly. I’m bent on avoiding the thought, “those were wasted years.” My uncertainty about graduate school combined with my aversion to wasted time created an anxiety last semester that I was acting irresponsibly by spending money and time on school. Enjoying my time here wasn’t a question; but I was anxious over the validity of that enjoyment.

Listening and talking with these friends last night helped allay those anxieties. There were some shared worries but mostly each of us felt committed to our education, including the time and work it involves. Seeing people who started considerably later, and those a few years ahead, share in this commitment confirmed what I guess I would call my hope – that ten years from now I’d be pleased with my former undertaking.

One might object that nobody in the room has truthfully been removed ten years from a PhD, because nobody in the room had obtained it. This objection, while well founded, ought to consider the different view of activities that age brings. For the older folks in the room, this decision to attend UD is far more concrete in its determination of their life. Or it at least feels this way. We are far less likely to take a career decision lightly in our late thirties than our early twenties. There are a number of reasons for this. I’ll leave the recognition of these reasons to you but they are undoubtedly present.

I do think questioning our current undertakings is a healthy exercise and evaluating my time here is something I will surely continue to do. This exercise, though, can ensnare even the most resolute thinker. We are, at least I certainly am, political animals. Thoughts can become over-blown if they are unreflectively pursued and that self-reflection is no easy task. Thank goodness for company and the oft moderating influence it brings.

Well my readers, it is the 13th, which means two very important things: we are nearing the celebration of Lee-Jackson Day and the following day is the beginning of class. I wish you the best of luck if you’ve not, or have already, started class and I encourage you all to pay your respects to the two Southern luminaries, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Until next time, I remain

Faithfully Yours,

Cole Simmons

The New Semester

6 Jan

Well… I haven’t seen you in quite some time. Hello. It is currently the New Year, and more importantly, the New Semester. So I thought I’d drop you a line, which I plan to be the first of many regular lines – often known as a well kept blog. I won’t talk much about last semester other than to say it was nearly overwhelming and forced me to shelve the blogging project. Yet,this blog is something I enjoy and I have a sneaking suspicion it keeps me sane. And that is the new resolution for the New Year, sanity. “Sanity is not so difficult Cole, aim higher.” Ah, very true. That is why I am planning on attempting to maintain sanity while reading philosophy, getting good grades, writing strong papers, developing the sexiest body known to man and, of course, finding the future love of my life and mother of my children. Compare your New Years resolution to that and you might feel a bit small in comparison to my greatness; but don’t get too down on yourself. Please remember, I am not dealing with the New Year but the New Semester. It is an animal of unparalleled deception and has convinced me that, with this new lease on life, I will achieve just about everything I desire.

You might laugh but your laughter is only a sign that you’ve forgotten just how wonderful the New Semester actually is. Also, you have forgotten just how ambitious you were at the start of each one!

Whew. Let us step back from precipice a minute and examine, truthfully, what I am planning for the New Semester. Of course, we have established that I will be blogging again, which means two things. One, you should be reading said blog for my, and your own, edification. Two, for this point I would like to direct your attention to the expression of relief I showed with the word “whew.” That was evidence of a minor catharsis of soul that blogging provides me and it is my chaotic nature I intend to begin addressing this semester. Note, I intend only to begin, not to fix. Attempting to correct one’s soul in one semester would be a chaotic way of dismissing the chaos.

The ordering of my soul will be a primary focus (and purpose) of the blog. I also hope to attract females and friends through blogging. The internet holds so many possibilities. Until next time, which I promise won’t be months, I remain

Sincerely Yours,

Cole