Daily Phil
Tuesday 22nd August 2000

Monday was the first day of my third semester, and I feel like an old hand. No stress, no rush, no hassle. I know where to find things in the library. I know which food in the cafeteria is worth eating. I know the quietest toilets.

Suddenly the place is full of students buying books, queuing (sorry, “standing in line”) to pay their fees, and trying to find their classrooms. I’d like to say the university is “buzzing” but unfortunately it only ever rates a mild hum on even the most hectic days.

Before I came here a year ago I imagined UHCL would be like the American colleges you see in movies. Stadiums, frat houses, easily identifiable sub-cultures, all that stuff. The main U of H campus is probably a little like that, although I hold out little hope of there being much “sub-culture” in a city that’s struggling for the real thing. It certainly has a large stadium and the place looks huge, as does Rice Uni which I had a quick wander round once. Out here in Clear Lake we’re not so lucky. The three buildings that make up the “campus” can be seen here and here. That’s all you get. And the people look so… suburban, for want of a more derogatory term. Shouldn’t there be more exciting people at a university? I’m not exactly pushing the boundaries of style myself, but I expect to be one of the boring looking ones at a university. Most people here look like they’re studying business, computer science or education, which is, I guess, only to be expected given that they are. Why I thought this would be anything like my increasingly fondly remembered years at college in Bristol escapes me when I’m confronted with overly air-conditioned atriums full of fat, dull Texans. Isn’t this supposed to be the kind of environment in which one either goes postal or begins wild new bands/revolutionary art groups?

But I’m getting carried away. This was supposed to be a happy report, because today I was happy. I succeeded in completely segmenting “work” (writing about memes and reading Manuel Castells) and play (swimming, playing piano, watching TV, staring at a computer) which makes both categories of activity far more satisfying. I enjoyed the fact that there were more people ambling across the tastefully hued new carpeting than there have been for the past few weeks, even if too many of them were fat dull Texans. On Sunday I went to the welcome party for international students, and despite my perpetual cynicism I enjoyed it. I met nice people (read: cute girls I will never, ever get off with) from all around the world and, again, felt like an old hand who was actually fairly happy to be here.

And The WB’s nightly Seinfelds are currently a bunch of later ones I’ve never seen before. This can’t last you know.

Last week I hoped Salon would have an article about what’s really happening on Big Brother. Now they do.