Monthly Archives: September 2004

the politics of photos on the wall

a few weeks ago, when i moved into my 158 sq ft single in East Campus, i let wook decorate the walls by putting selected digital prints up. wook, to avoid paying for interim housing, had been crashing at my place, so i didn’t feel too bad asking him to tape up over 100 photos to brighten up my room. taping them horizontally to go around the entire room, wook did a great job and the photos really did brighten the work. i had some favorites in very visible locations, such as these two super colorful photos of tomatoes that i took at a farmer’s market in san francisco (sounds really sophisticated, doesn’t it?) as well as photos of orange and baby blue balloons from last year’s successful block party. but the more i look around the wall at the 100+ photos, i realized something that had crossed my mind in murky, vague flashes a few times before: there i was, sporting my unspectacular smile in 90% of the photos – how vain! everywhere i looked, you were almost certain that it was me, and then maybe someone else. i was glad i didn’t have any photos of myself doing thug poses or pretending to be a model, but i surely made the point that i could tolerate looking at myself with all these pictures. i wondered what people who didn’t know me too well would think of such a display. narcissist?

but that was only a minor problem to what would later transpire with the start of school. as different friends came by to check out my room, they instantly noticed the photos and, i guess by human nature, sought to find the photos they were in. i had looked around my room enough to realize that some people, no matter how close to me they were, were omitted because we simply hadn’t taken a good picture together. i realized this was a poor excuse and that it reflected poorly on me to have multiple photos of some people and none of others. some friends felt slighted and others suggested i put a new photo up to make amends. i realized that this whole picture bit was a terrible political liability. i soon began to tell people that wook had put the pictures up from a random pile, although that was only partially true. i did choose the pictures, but i did so because the quality and color of the photo stood out. i had little thought for who was really in them, although i did think it somehow more relevant to have photos with me in it. oh well, stupid me – i had found a way to alienate people by putting pictures on the wall.

take them down? nah. i’ll just have to keep answering to charges that i don’t consider someone a friend because he or she is absent from the wall. but if being on my wall is such a big deal, please, feel free to make a photo appointment, and i’ll be sure to put up a photo of you and me together.

when do you close it?

today was a rainy day. i came out of East Campus with an umbrella and opened it as soon as i stepped outside. i looked around and noticed that some people had umbrellas open and some had them down. i looked for puddles to see how hard it was raining and realized it was barely drizzling, so i put mine down, too. and then i began to feel my shoulders getting wet and realized that it was raining hard again, so i had to open my umbrella.

i find it funny when sometimes, i forget to pay attention to anyone else walking by and have my umbrella opened only to realize much later that it had stopped raining a while before. sometimes the mind wanders and forgets what it’s doing, especially when it doesn’t look elsewhere for guidance. but maybe the mind anticipated the sun coming out and wanted to provide itself with shade.

hit the ground… jogging

i remember reading Sartre’s No Exit and reading about how “Hell is other people.” and of course, there are times when you can’t agree more with that statement. the thing is, people don’t have to be overt jerks or assholes to make life hell. it’s not even the way people act. people can be hell because of the way they interact with you or the way they make you feel about yourself, even if they are super nice to you. when things are awkward between people or when there is a disparity in the way they feel about each other, it can get quite hellish. but i guess “hell” is just a term i like to use when things suck.

so having spewed my obscure, general comment about people, i must say, i need to adopt a repression method to stop mulling over the lame idea that people make me feel miserable. i sometimes feel terrible around even the people i care about, but i think the problem is me and not the actual interaction. when and how did i get this way? perhaps it’s always been like it, but i am finally sick of it.

that’s why i think work work work is the key. it’s a psychological medicine. if you work enough, you can avoid, at least for another moment, the internal worries and questions that come about in idle moments. of course, i am not saying that working – whether it’s school work, money work or save-the-world work – doesn’t come with its own baggage because there’s always politics and people problems when you do work as well, but then again, it’s just not as personal, or at least it doesn’t have to be.

so every once in a while i make these self-proclamations about the way i will be from this point on and i guess this qualifies as one of them. i will willingly avoid, repress, and drown out as many personal issues as possible and keep the level of drama in my daily interactions (both in my mind and with people) to a minimum. dangerous? bad for mental health? probably. but if anything, i’ll just channel a few things here and there on this blog or on some piece of paper and hopefully that’ll hold me over. but to show weakness, as macho and pigheaded as it may sound, is akin to being a weak person. i’ve been weak for long enough, so i guess it’s time to stop bothering myself so much about the very many insecurities i have and to just let it all go. just to justify the title of this entry, i guess i will opt for a nice pace of work day in and day out and hit each day in stride. tell me if this entry makes any sense.