2nd Semester at Sunflower

 

My bedside table tells so much about my life here at the Sunflower house.

Cleaned it off today. It is caked in mud and dirt and coffee spills. Every open edge on the table looks like it has been nibbled off by a wood eating rabbit from my friend-making bottle opening techniques.

This morning, for my communications class, I was reading about how culture affects communication (Interpersonal Communication by Kory Floyd).

Cultures like in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Australia are the world’s most “individualistic”  societies. This means that if you were born in a society like this, from the time you were born you have been socialized to value things like independence and standing out in the crowd.  Individualistic societies use “low-context” communication, that is, they get right to the point and say what they think.

Alternatively, cultures like Korea, Japan and many Latin American and African countries are seen as the world’s most “collectivistic” cultures. In these cultures one sees oneself as a part of one’s family and community, and thus decisions made are made in the interests of the group. Collectivistic cultures use “high-context” communication, meaning speaking more indirectly, and thus maintaining peace while attempting to not offend anyone.

When I was in Europe, I had interaction with a lot of Korean and Chinese students who were also studying abroad. Looking back with a new understanding of their culture, I realized I was a bit inconsiderate regarding their attempts at communication. I would become frustrated when speaking to my friends sometimes, as I wanted them to get straight to the point, and tell me what they thought. My Western pushing, I’m sure, must have caused them some discomfort, and added more culture shock to the already daunting task of speaking a new language.

I felt, in my “Westernmindedness” that their seemingly “meek and mild” ways were in a sense “behind the times.” Globalization and Westernization was happening already, I thought, and besides, speaking your mind is obviously better than veiling it in extra meanings and words.

I was portraying the exact imperialistic small mindedness that I most despise in Western society, and I didn’t even know it.

After reading about collectivistic cultures, I have become sure of the fact that my friends were giving me the information I needed, probably actually exerting a lot of energy to bridge the culture gap, and I was just was not catching onto it.

My friends were communicating in the way they knew how to, and to them it was me who was the ignorant one, who was failing to notice important signals they might have been giving out. I was busy running around doing a zillion things at once, and was expecting direct, fast communication. In this sense, I was expecting them to adapt to me.

I am learning that culture is more than simply different kinds of food and seeing different scenery, and language is more than just words. It’s crazy I didn’t realize this last year when I was abroad, but maybe it’s just taken me until now to realize it.

I used to tell all my friends from around Europe and Asia, “You guys are so lucky to have CULTURE. I would love to have a CULTURE. America has no culture at ALL.”

Looking back now I realize how ignorant this was. Just because America is a newer country does not mean it does not have a culture. Culture doesn’t need history. American culture, just like any other culture, values very specific things. Some American values being openness, opportunity, freedom, choice, material comforts.

Social cultural norms are social constructs. Instead of seemingly useless facts to memorize as I previously saw them (horrible, I know), I now see world customs and norms as intensely revealing insights into a particular culture’s mindset and ideology. As part of HUMANITY’S mindset and ideology based on reactions to different environments and different social situations encountered. Also, instead of thinking about non-western cultures as close to reaching their expiration dates, I finally see how they are another way of looking at the world, not the right or wrong way, just another way; just as they see my culture. Globalization may be making the world seem more “Western,” but that definitely doesn’t mean that will be the way it will remain for long. Learning about as many cultures as possible might not only be essential for survival in the future, but it also might be an important way to reach one’s true human potential today.

Communication is fluid and changing and apt to new social norms based on the people’s environment and social circumstances. World beliefs are constantly growing and changing and unique to each person’s social experience, and they in turn add that to their culture’s way of seeing the world.

Fixing brunch is my favorite part about living at the Co-op.

Today C was strutting around the kitchen like a chicken in time with the music and pretending to watch the other C take a shit. J and I had a heart to heart realized we need to stop being so hard on ourselves.

C explained many Mexican euphemisms to us as we carved out the insides of the squashes. At one point, attempting to prove how horny he was he reached down to his pants as we all screamed, calming down as we realized he was just pulling out his cell phone.

At one point everyone had their eyes on me, and at that exact same moment I spilled a bit of coffee, started laughing, spilled it out the other side of the cup, tried to right myself and spilled it out the other side, laughed more and splashed it all over myself while the others watched in stunned silence. Quite hilarious.

Last night I walked out into the kitchen to eat some hummus– ended up sitting down and talking to Brian S.

Carlos came over and then Holly joined.

TJ, Tony and Sam walked in a bit later, and we all ended up sitting at the table drinking beer together. :)

TJ and his friends were watching a IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) movie in the basement, so I decided to join.

“The IWW contends that all workers should be united as a class and that the wage system should be abolished. They are known for the Wobbly Shop model of workplace democracy, in which workers elect their managers and other forms of grassroots democracy (self-management) are implemented.”

Love me some Union organizing on a lazy Sunday night. ;)

We watched with a blind homeless man who frequents our house, who is notorious in Lawrence. TJ read the print on the film to him.

Experiences are for having.

After the movie, the guys were like, “Any thoughts?” and I was like, “Yeah, I do have a few…”

Then we launched into a huge conversation about what the difference is between the IWW representational organization and that of our own government, and if the Union  did that over, would it be possible to keep it from becoming corrupt? Of course, this then led into the theory that monogamy is part of the patriarchy, and if corporations might be, in practice, more democratic than government. Ha. England and Brian T. joined our conversation at some point, and we ended the night watching crazy South African music videos.

“What are we doing down here? Are we radicalizing Annie?” “She’s already pretty radical, she’s asking all the right questions–”

That’s a huge compliment coming from the Hippie Haven. ;)

 

So Erin and I walked to the rec in the freezing cold, only to discover it was closed.

Came back, did yoga in the living room with Tyler.

Then I went downstairs, exploring the house and found that we have workout machines including a stationary bike machine.

After that I stumbled upon weatherizing material- and finally sealed up my window in an attempt to keep warm the next few months. Clint loaned me his blow drier. I felt like a super girl- getting things done.

Brian S. wandered by and we went downstairs to play on the new ping pong table. We talked about Brian’s new direction toward opening food centers in the area. Tyler wandered by and then Carlos, and we played doubles. It was super fun.

Patrick came down later and took Carlos’ place. We had so much fun, and then  we lost the ball and abandoned the pursuit.

Lawrence Food and Rescue is a big thing floating around the house right now. I might join.

I emailed WGSS for an appointment and then we had dinner.

The meeting was a bit excruciating.

It started with D’s 30 minute soapbox and dramatic appeal to emotions. Then E calling him out on it in a very aggressive fashion. Then the other E screeching out in agony at the INHUMANITY of it all.

This is where I started to tune out.

Then it was brought up about what to do about the homeless man in our house that another E is hosting. He is blind and has had rows with Lawrence police for the past 30 years. I don’t really know anything about him, but it doesn’t really seem like he is looking for a stable place to stay currently, and he would be here as long as we let him. He left the room and we talked about him for a good HOUR. Someone mistakenly used the word “vagrant” and someone else announced “Dehumanism!”

“You’re so charming! You’re foaming at the mouth but you’re still so charming!” -Holly, as I stumble around the house trying to find a sink to finish brushing my teeth in.

Living here is like one big eternal slumber party.

Tyler and I played chess and I won!

We are figuring out a running/homework schedule between Erin, him and me.

Internet not working in my room so I am typing I am in the living room listening to a very serious/comical conversation:

Gus: “Are any of you concerned that you’ll move, and Lawrence will lose these resources? The world won’t lose them, because you’ll take your talents elsewhere, but Lawrence will severely be lacking” Self righteous one: “YES. Yes, I am very worried.”

“Yeah, I’m considering getting a farm to have foster kids”

-“They’re on drugs from god” -Holly. Love her. :D

Now they are singing Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Brian S. is sitting next to me now. He is my favorite.

He is telling me about his plans to become a mob boss for activism.

Wobblies

Dictators

Urban Development

Erin and I went for a walk yesterday, and today we are walking to the rec together.

She is so good about exercising. We’ll get back a little bit before dinner time, and then have the house meeting. Tomorrow is school, starting at 9:30.

Weird dreams recently- my body still adjusting to the hippie house I guess.

It always creeps me out when I wake up in the middle of the night- I am such a sound sleeper that I know something must have happened to have roused me from my coma sleep.

Going to drink some coffee now and read before the rec.

Today at work I updated the calendar and then created a flier for a “kino” movie night.

The engineering students get free printing while the rest of us pay 10 cents a page. I’ve known that for a long time, and accepted it.

Yesterday I was talking to Tyler though, and they had given out those i-pad thingys in class, that cost hundred and hundreds of dollars each, and they gave them to EVERY SINGLE ENGINEERING STUDENT.

“That’s crazy!”

Tyler: “You didn’t know about that? They do this almost every year.”

“But I pay the same amount of tuition as you do!”

Tyler: “But I’ll be a more wealthy alumni.”

Thought about it, and it makes sense.

Complete shit, but it does make sense.

How about just CHARGING EVERYONE LESS, and not buying frigging excessive technology to bribe people, KU?

His ipad could have payed for my anthropology class.

Yesterday I got off at work at 2- and had the rest of the day off. So I drank soup with some lovely cross dressing boys, and fell asleep until dinner. :)

These luxurious Wednesdays of cross dressing men and shut eye will no longer happen, however, because I am now Wednesday night HEAD CHEF with Brian! I am going to fix Finger Noodles in the coming weeks FOR SURE.

Woke up just in time for dinner- had lovely dinner of eggplant pizza, cranberry and spinach salad and hot blueberry crumble. Deb, Carlos and I headed out to a cafe after dinner to study.

BUT, as I’m rushing to get out the door, I spill a WHOLE CONTAINER of food all over my books, my floor, my EVERYTHING. And you know how I loath cleaning. So that will most likely be there until someone else moves in my room. (Just kidding… kind of… ;))

Anyway, lesson learned: SLOW DOWNNNNNNN

We walked downtown together after my hectic crying and scrambling, and went to Signs of Life cafe. They have a really nice open space upstairs- and I found my new favorite couch. ;)

Walking home we had some really good discussions about family and tradition. Got home around 11, and sat down in the living room to read.

Brian came in, expanding on the intriguing convo we had been having. Then Jono came and asked to borrow my Western Civ book. When I took the class I had written things like “CONFIDENCE” and “YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL, UNIQUE WOMAN”  in it, and we cracked up at my insecure 19 year old self, who is, in fact, basically the same as my 22 year old self. :P

Tom joined us later, and we laughed so much. He is the most easy going guy ever- I like him a lot.

This morning- anthropology with Debbie. FREEZING cold walk up the hill. Then work. Now I’m about to run to my communications class, and then I’m done for the day. :)

No- scratch that. I forgot I’m helping with Food Not Bombs after school. Then Vagina Monologues til 10. So there you have it. :)

Love you all!

xxxxxx

Talking out on the front porch with Clint while eating a dinner of hummus and pita bread.

He has a really interesting life story. :)

Running off to class–

but to try and explain what kind of a day I have had–

there is now a crude permanent marker drawing of a sun on my wall with the words “Love the fuck out of life.”

I regretted the visual quality of the piece immediately after finishing it, but not the message one bit.

Brian just got back from an ECM cult meeting.

Erin, Holly and I are eating coffee icecream with forks.

Deb Dan and I are going to a Human Trafficking Lecture on Thursday.

“What’s up with this??” -Erin the standup comedian

“Someday, I’m going to find a small child and EAT HIM” -Holly

Stories I will put in my memoir one day:

Alligator photo shoot in Florida

Brother and I are 6 and 7 years old. “Can you get just a little closer to the wild alligator, kids? Oh, god. This is going to be a GREAT picture. Closer, kids? Annie, lean over the edge of the swamp, honey?”

Night hiking in Northern Californian forests

We brought our flashlights out that night with adventurous in our hearts, watching for the red eyes signaling immediate death. “Kids, I’ll go in the back of the group since I’m bigger and will be harder to drag off. If something grabs you though, scream. Okay?”

Family vacation to Juarez, Mexico: murder capital of the world 

Enough said.

Bears

Always, always, ALWAYS there would be a messy s’mores session before bed while camping in bear country. Then we would be told afterward to “make sure we got cleaned up for bed so as not to invite any unwelcome “visitors.” I now associate those amazingly sticky marshmallow treats with untimely death.

Peeing in the woods

Absolutely mandatory growing up in my family. Especially when you woke up in the middle of the night and had to take the flashlight out with you. “Don’t pee on the tent, Annie! Find a hill!”

Unhappy Campers

Arrived at our usual obscure campground of the night. One other family in the whole park, and they were in our “reserved” space. Turns out they were German and didn’t speak any English, but Ma and Pa still managed to have an intricate row with them over the right to the ground. Ben and I cried in the tent all night because we were sure we were going to be murdered by crazy foreigners.

Mosquitoes in Utah/Oregon/California/etc. 

Being eaten alive while attempting to put up tent. Staying in tent all day to avoid being eaten alive.

Raising peacocks in a cookie cutter neighborhood

My brother and I spent countless hours preparing power point presentations, essays and persuasion papers to convince my parents to let us get a dog, running up against a cold hard wall every time. One day I came home from school and mentioned we had learned about peacocks. The next day we are raising peachicks in our pint sized backyard, our neighbors staring as we perfect the art of catching grasshoppers and shoving them down baby birds pieholes. We were baby bird mothers for at least four years in a row.

That time our tent collapsed in the night

I was sleeping on the side of the tent and Mom grabbed me and flung me across the tent. She thought it was one of the reindeer that populated our campsite laying down on me, but it turned out to be just the five inches of snow that had collected instead.

Goblin valley quest on Halloween night

Creepy national park with even MORE creepy shit going down the night we visited. Encoded messages hidden around the menacing landscape of boulders.

All those creepy motherfucking diners we ate in, in all of the creepy mothefucking little towns we’ve been to

I am convinced diners and small towns are the reason for all of the world’s problems.

This morning woke up to fix brunch and talked to Justin about IR

During brunch Clint was “belly singing” and I asked him to try singing while making unflinching eye contact with me. Jason and Jordan turned out to be the best at creepy eye contact melodies.

After this Trina and I went out on the front porch with a blanket.

We were staging some sort of protest, and were not moving until our “demands were met.” We ended up staying out there and talking ALL AFTERNOON. Had so much fun. :)

After that, I took myself out on a date in the lovely gloomy weather, and got a fancy capaccino at Z’s. I sat outside and wrote. Very hipster-ish and full of life and love.

Got back home and ate a dinner of breadsticks (FREE FROM KINO’S!) and hummus. Talked to Randy on the phone, and then did my chores.

Drank beer with Brian S., Carlos and Holly.

Played three rounds of chess with Brian.

Came to the living room and made obscene jokes, traded recipes for Wednesday night dinner team, and read. We have a cute little circle of study going on right now- six of us.

Texting a boy about bears and atheism.

This morning I woke up to Carlos banging on my door. “Hangover food?” Yes, please. Carlos, Deb, Brian, TJ and I all went downtown. We stopped at Aimee’s first for TJ to grab a coffee– and I saw Eileen and Gary! I gave them my blog– hello lovely people, if you are reading this! xxxx

After that we got Chipotle and Zen Zero. We took our spicy food to the park and sat in the grass in the sun and had a wonderful afternoon. :)

Deb, Carlos and I walked down the street to Java Break after that and put in a few hours of cafe atmosphere reading, then finally got home around 7.

I rushed off to the Vagina Monologues practice– first one, really not sure if I am all into it anymore– I know I back out of things all the time though- and I am trying to change that. So we will see. :) Jess gave me a ride back home after practice and when I got home I watched Paris, je t’aime with Paulette, Markus, Deacon and Carlos. It was a really, really good movie. I highly recommend it. :)

After that I had a dinner of hummus and cucumbers. A bunch of us decided that the best way to ask someone out on a date is to ask them to shred vegetables with you.

Tom brought home two big boxes of pizza from his job at Papa Kinos, and Erin and I ate late night pizza while watching The Mindy Project.

Eating Mexican candy with Carlos. He also got me a bracelet from the cool ass running tribe around Chihuahua. :D

Last night we went to Java break together, and then accidentally went to the liquor store after…

:)

Four beers and a box of wine, and we were set for the night.

Came back and drank and played chess with Holly, Brian T. and Kepler.

This somehow evolved into large consumption of bread, as people brought over ARMFULS of Wheatfield’s leftover delicious bread.

Then Jess came over and invited us all to a party at her friends house.

Then we went to the party (with a WONDERFUL DD :)) and met a bunch of Haskell students. Scored a bit of booze, and then when we realized we were really only talking to each other, decided to go home.

There was a bit of ping pong, and a bit of birthday celebrations when Brian T. had his birthday at midnight.

Tom set up a bonfire in the backyard, and we all sat around it. We burned a lot of rock hard bread, and Debbie broke out her parent’s wine and our fancy house wine glasses. There were like 20 of us out there.

Debbie and I ended up having an adorable sleepover- and crashing the minute we got on the bed.

Yesterday my lovely brother drove me back to Lawrence on a whim. We had interesting conversations on the way up. There is never any middle ground between Ben and I; it is always either intriguing conversations or dead silence.

Driving into Lawrence we stopped at the “Half Price Book Store.” I had cleaned out my room right before I left, and gotten rid of a bunch of books, which Ben sold for some cash. I suffered for about 30 minutes in that place, after which I FLED to my hippie haven leaving Ben there without a car. ;)

Ben came over to the hippie haven later, after he had single-handedly examined every single artifact in that damn store.

We walked into Sunflower kitchen, and Trina and her boy, Geo, walked in. It was crazy, because they had just been talking about how they both knew my brother and I, and then in we walked. Weird coincidence. Ben had fun talking to Geo, and we all bonded over strawberry cupcakes and cheesecake icing in the kitchen with TJ. We talked about TJ’s adventures ranging from his union organization leadership to his parties with swimming pools filled with spaghetti. I absolutely love TJ. :)

Ben announced to everyone that he wished he could fill a swimming pool full of bleach and then invite children over to swim in it.

Silence filled the air of the hippie haven after that comment, and I, being me, who feels the need to cover even the SMALLEST of social awkwardness with my own social awkwardness, was all over the place trying to do damage control for that one.

After awhile I ran over to the sink to clean cupcake pans because I could not stand the innocent awkwardness everyone was polluting the air with. Come back, and everyone is still there, basking in the glory of the weirdness.

I will never understand people.

Much easier to stay in my room all day.

Which is exactly what I treated myself to today. ;)

Also, I am in love with someone just as reclusive as me, now. We admire each other from afar. It is the perfect relationship. We will probably never have an awkward conversation together ever. Because we are terrified of life. And that, I tell you, is the correct way to interact with humanity.

Productive day!

Slept in.

Had lunch with Debolina and caught up on each other’s lives. Debbie’s the best. xxx

Went to the Union to buy a book for this semester, returned overdue books at Watson library and then checked out a book at the library for class this semester.

Went jogging at the rec center and remembered how much I like watching all the fit boys play basketball… ;)

Came back home, did more unpacking and cleaning.

Took a shower, got dressed and then interacted a bit with hippie-ville while I fixed dinner.

*I cannot stand slow talkers. And there are so damn many of them around me here. I admit that it would benefit me to relax a bit, but I would have to say that a lot the people surrounding me would benefit with a bit of speeding up.

Had a dinner of pasta and hummus and started a pot of coffee. Watched the West Wing and then started reading books for class.

The semester starts on Tuesday so I have a whole three day weekend to get myself settled in. Debolina and I found out that we have Cultural Anthropology together; 9:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Should be fun. We will actually GO TO CLASS this semester. ;) Back in sophomore year Deb and I had a philosophy class together and we were late and/or missing exactly 100% of the time. Haha.

Stopped wearing deodorant a week ago.

Still taking showers everyday.

But I am slowly turning into that goddamned hippie I always knew was lurking inside of me.

After an afternoon of reading (bonding with literary geniuses and of course counting myself among the few people who “truly understand them”), I decided to go for a jog.

It was a wonderful day outside, sunshine, melting snow and the feeling of spring in the air. I was reminded of how absolutely LITTLE I know about the world with that hour of pure endorphin-ated life.

I looked up at a tree outlining itself against the pink and blue sunset, with the berries round and simple contrasting with the spiraling intricate web of branches. I stood and looked at it and was amazed. Could have stood there forever.

Realizing that it didn’t matter WHERE I was in the world- because beauty isn’t found, it is created.

And I realized I know nothing about anything.

And how that’s absolutely beautiful.

And it’s absolutely beautiful as well that I get to spend the rest of my life attempting to learn and make sense of this intricate and simple world.

So after a three week hibernation from stress and social interaction, I have had a lot of time to think about my life and what I want to do with it in May when I graduate.

Saturday night, as I was pulling up into the Dillon’s parking lot to pick up groceries, it hit me. What I had been waiting for. That simple, exciting, inspirational direction and answer. And it had been there all along.

I barely read any of my books for my courses last semester, instead I was at the library checking out and rapidly consuming gender (specifically feminist) lit: “The Female Brain,” “Vagina: The Biography,” “The End of Men” “Valley of the Dolls” “Sex at Dawn” “The Male Brain,” on and on.

So I was driving around thinking, “What would I do for free? What would I travel the world for? What would I stay in one place for? What EXCITES me?”

I want to get a job in the US working at a women’s policy institute, or be involved in another form of gender equality activism. Women’s social and economic strength and equality in my own culture.

And if I go back to school, I want to get my Masters/PhD in cross discipline Anthropology with a focus on gender and take a culturally relativistic view of gender in the world and do research.

Activist in my own culture and observer/researcher in other cultures.

I will be in the Vagina Monologues this semester, and I am sure I will meet a lot of strong independent girls with shared interests to me. I am planning on volunteering at the Domestic Violence Center this semester as well, because my weekends are still completely free. My wonderful feminist Grandma has got a few connections for me in the Kansas City area to start thinking about internships for. I am also applying for internships at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and will be meeting with professors in the Women’s Studies Department next semester to help me find opportunities and new directions.

So anyway.

I knew it was there all along, I was just waiting for myself to realize it.

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