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2001-07-04 12:30 a.m.

patriotism and extreme frustration

Happy 4th of July. As my Independence Day message to you, I'll give you a quote from the book I just finished an hour ago, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin.

"How does one hate a country, or love one? ... I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of certain plowlands in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That's a good thing, but one mustn't make a virtue of it, or a profession. ... Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre [or those of the United States of America], but that sort of love does not have a boundary line of hate."

It's a really good book. I recommend it. I guess it's about humans and our relations with each other, both on an individual and a group basis- friendship, love, trust, issues of gender, patriotism, Self and Other- you get the picture... All within the context of a great story.

In other news, I had one of the most frustrating experiences of my entire life today. For this Japanese class, I was supposed to memorize this little Japanese fable and then recite it within a certain amount of time. Traditionally, I am extremely good at this sort of thing. However, today something went wrong. I was nervous (I'm not supposed to get nervous!) and it was in Japanese (I'm supposed to be good with Japanese!) and often the words just wouldn't come when they were supposed to (This is not a problem I'm supposed to have, goddammit!)... I managed to pull a passing grade after the teacher bent the rules for me a bit (she changed the time limit from 65 to 75 seconds, and let me give it four tries instead of only three), but... I don't think I've ever performed so poorly in an academic setting. I spent at LEAST four hours reciting this little one minute speech over and over again- I could do it as fast as 58 seconds in my room- but somehow when it came time to perform it all fell apart. Can you understand? I DO NOT HAVE THESE KINDS OF PROBLEMS. Memorizing and performance ARE NOT THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT FOR ME. But I did have these problems today, and they were difficult for me today, and I was on the edge of shouting at my teacher all the Japanese profanity I know. I was having a very hard time keeping my frustration-induced anger from exploding everywhere (shrapnel ripping through innocent bystanders, the heat melting everything together at the origin of the blast, that kind of thing)- it was all I could do to remain calm. My knuckle is still painful, discolored, and swollen from punching the brick wall in the hallway outside after I left.

I don't get angry often. Hardly ever. But I was today. I don't think I remember the last time I was so pissed off. And the fact that I was so enraged over such a minor thing just made it even worse.

At least I can look at it with a little objectivity now...

maybe you shouldn't care

the way out is through,