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Liberal Arts

I’m not generally the type to write a movie review, however I just watched the movie Liberal Arts written and directed by, as well as starring, Josh Radnor.  To put it simply:  it was phenomenal.  The plot is something one can see coming, and it isn’t a journey that is by any means surprising, but the way in which it travels this journey is insanely intriguing and satisfying.  For anyone in college it captures the air of uncertainty and possibility in a surprisingly exact way, and for those on the other end, years after graduation, it fulfills that sense of nostalgia one feels for that possibility while also showing that moving on from it and living is a good thing.  As someone who feels as if he lives on both sides of that boundary, it definitely resonated.

The IMDB summary states: “When 30-something Jesse returns to his alma mater for a professor’s retirement party, he falls for Zibby, a college student, and is faced with a powerful attraction that springs up between them.”  While this is technically accurate it doesn’t give one the full picture, it sort of glosses the beginning of the path this film takes.

It uses classical archetypes of both the college aged, the graduates, and the professors to allow a conversation about the process of aging and the conflict with choosing a life that will be satisfactory.  It presents the typical philosophizing of the liberal arts student and the condescending attitude (Without understanding it as condescension) of those who we become after, and uses the space of the film to find a median within these attitudes as a way to enjoy youth while not envying it as something inescapably finite and unattainable once lost.

While its pit stops along the way are easily predictable, it’s the way it looks at these moments that help Liberal Arts to stand apart from other films which have explored this type of story.  The dialogues (and the dialogue itself) is used in a way that offers an analysis of these experiences without being analytical in the traditional sense.  I’m trying not to be too specific here, because it is a wonderful move that I’d recommend watching (especially if you suffer from a liberal arts education), so I’ll leave it with a quote from Josh Radnor’s character Jesse:

I think one of the things I loved the most about being here was the feeling that anything was possible. It’s just infinite choices ahead of you. You’d get out of school, and anything could happen. And then you do get out, and… life happens, you know’? Decisions get made. And then all those many choices you had in front of you are no longer really there. At a certain point, you just got to go, “Oh, I guess this is new its going down.” And there’s just something a little depressing about that.

High Definition

I’ve come to a realization:  I have squandered the new beginning that moving to a new city offered me.  I’ve been here for several months now, and I had the idea of using this fresh start as an impetus to change, to evolve, and better myself.  Instead I’ve stayed mostly the same, with a few inconsequential changes here and there, and plenty of regressions as well.  I don’t think it’s too late though, I’ve only been here since August, and there is enough left of that newness to allow for the shedding of old ways.  I want to become a better, or at least, different version of myself.

I’m not delusional.  I don’t expect some radical change that makes me almost unrecognizable to my friends and family; in fact, I wouldn’t want that sort of change anyways.  Rather, I want to shed those aspects of myself which serve only to hinder my goals and ambitions, those characteristics which steadily pull me down instead of fueling my happiness, and the sense of regret I always have, day after day, for not yet doing it.  I am myself, and I do not wish for a new identity, merely one which is more refined and in line with what I know will make my life something which I can be proud to call mine.

I’m writing this fucking entry at half past two in the morning on a school night with class fairly early in the morning.  I’m writing this as a reminder and a sort of manifesto.  I can change, I’ve started it many time before, but only ever really once followed through.  I used to be addicted to certain narcotic substances, for two years in fact, partially facilitated by a doctor with a ready prescription pen who didn’t try to really diagnose what caused my pain, and also by an over-inflated estimation of myself which allowed me to believe that I was in control.  I reference this because it was one of these Eureka! moments which compelled me to quit taking that drug.  And I did, successfully.  I just stopped, suffered through my deserved withdrawal, and didn’t look back.  That was four years ago.

What am I doing?

Often when making plans for the future, whether it’s years from now or only next week, I question my resolve, and even openly laugh at myself because the idea of my actually navigating any plan I implement seems fucking ludicrous.  I had the will power to stop destroying my mind and body vis-à-vis chemicals, and I also had the willpower (however helped along by my mother it was) to start and follow through with my education.  Without the resolve required in those two situations I would not be here, in Columbia, attending university, to stay up far too late tonight and right this self-flagellating and congratulatory ramble.

So here I am, with another epiphanic moment at hand.  What do I do with it?  Do I snort in derision at my own foolishness for thinking I can be a better, more actualized person, or do I claim the fucking balls I was born with and ride this thing through til the end?  Sure, it requires hard work, dedication, and certain degree of being capable to let go of all the things, both tangible and ethereal, which leave me tangled in the positions I so often find myself.  I don’t want to find myself in another year still the same person awake at almost three in the morning because I can’t believe in myself doing things as simple working out, eating better, maintaining discipline for my studies, and getting a fucking job.  Because that isn’t who I am, or who I am capable of being.  I’ve beaten the odds before, even when I rooted against myself, and I can sure as hell do it again.

I wrote the previous part of this entry, as I said, late at night in one of, what I like to call, my mini manic moments.  I am bipolar, however true bouts of mania are very rare for me these days (thankfully) and so too are their counterparts, horrible depression.  This addendum here is for two reasons:  1. to make it clear that I did write this in the spur of the moment and did not immediately publish it because those sorts of rants have been known to not be so true the next day; 2. to say that I still honestly agree with what I said before, and the only changes I’ve made to the ramble have been grammatical.  It might make more sense to splice this bit of an editorial note to the beginning, to inform your mindset before reading, but I rather like the way I begin.

I’ve thought more about what it is I actually want to do, the things I have to start doing and stop doing to begin whatever journey it is that will lead me to the version of myself I wish to be.  I’ve also thought about why it is I so often fail and even fail to start.  I have this habit of announcing my plans to people, people close to me (both in proximity and otherwise), and once I do this I immediately begin thinking how horrible it will look if I fuck up and thus paralyze myself from even trying.  I don’t see a problem with telling this to the web, because it’s easy to save face when the way to avoid shame is simply turning off the computer until it passes.  So, while my friends will be aware of some things I’m doing, I don’t think I’m going to broadcast my each and every move in a way which will cause me to over-scrutinize those moves.

Rambling Post

As to what it is I’m going to be doing, I’m starting off simple.  I think I’ve been drinking more than I should (not so much that I’m an alcoholic but enough to make me want a break from it) so I’m quitting drinking for a few months.  Getting fit and eating better are important for who I want to become, so my first step is cutting out all soda and trying to cook my meals more often instead of grabbing fast food or eating something out of a can.  My back has gotten worse again in recent months because I haven’t done the necessary exercises to keep it well, and so with the aid of some equipment I’ve found I’m going to start doing those exercises at least three times a week at first.  I’m going to take each of my goals and break them down into more manageable bites.  I realize this is not a novel concept, but I’ve always been impatient and thus unable to realize the bigger picture when it comes to something I’m doing for myself and not for school or a job.

I think I’ve about doubled the length of this entry now, when I meant only to add a short addendum and publish it.  But, it’s been cathartic and progressive, I think, to actually write all of this out and have some sort of mission statement with which to remind myself of my purpose, and to remind me that it’s okay to fuck up every now and again so long as I don’t give up.

NaNoWriMo Time

We’ve only two days left until National Novel Writing Month begins, and so do all those things associated with that:  mad dash writing, being unable to write, checking one’s word count too often, wondering if one’s characters are realized enough, and trying hard to resist the urge to edit.nanowrimo

I’ve never won a NaNo before, never reached that 50,000 word mark; I usually peter out somewhere around 10,000.  This year, it will be different!  I’ve roped my roommates into joining in on the madness, so this way we can give one another moral support the whole way.  I’m looking forward to it.  I’ve got a bit of an idea rattling about in my head that should make for a fun novel.

I’ll try to track my process over the month on here so you all can enjoy watching me slowly go insane attempting to write a novel.

Any NaNo experiences yourself, tell me about it in the comments.  Never done NaNoWriMo before, you can learn more about it here.

Midterm Waste

As usual, it’s been a while since I’ve made a substantial post.  It’s strange to think, now, that I will ever really be able to make this blog a regular occurrence.  Still, one must try, and that is the phrase echoing in my mind right now as I groan, trying to complete a take-home midterm at the last minute.  Worse still, this midterm is in my hardest class at the moment, a history of the English language class.  I signed up for the class thinking it would be interesting, I’m an English major, and I’m always interested in history.  I was registering for classes pretty late, being a transfer student and all, and (being me) I didn’t think to look further into the class before signing up.  No, indeed, this class is a very linguistic heavy class, something I was not prepared for.  Now, to be sure, I enjoy going to this class:  the professor is a wonderfully nice woman, with tons of historical anecdotes she relates in class, she treats all her students as equals, and is always willing to work with you outside of class if you need the help (which I did and she wonderfully helped me).  This midterm is exhausting, and definitely unique compared to any I have ever taken.  Instead of only testing us on everything we’ve learned thus far, the professor is using this midterm as a teaching tool in and of itself.  I don’t mean to say that it is covering material we haven’t learned yet, more so that it is requiring us to think much more critically (to think anyone should expect this from upperclassmen university students) about what we’ve learned, and take the initiative to delve deeper to find the answers.  So, what exactly is the problem I’m having, certainly I’m not lacking in critical faculties; no, I’m facing my usual problem (procrastination) in addition to having to fight a migraine while trying to decipher what is I’m actually being asked.  On a side note, the exam is written very well, I hope my professional style might be near that some day.

So, here I am at three something in the morning, wasting time on my blog when I should be completing my midterm.

Another Blog

My roommates and I have started a fitness blog to detail the exploits of our adventures in achieving our various fitness goals, if this interests you at all the blog can be found here.  I hope you enjoy!

Ringing

It’s been a while, so returning fills me with the same awkwardness one experiences upon re-meeting a good friend one used to know.  Although the happiness at the reunion is genuine, there’s always a lingering uncomfortabilitly in the air, like very faint nails on slate.  It’s kind of the feeling I get about returning to school, sure it’s a new school, but it’ll always have more of the same in it.  I’ll enjoy some classes, hate others, meet some new people, and for the first few weeks the soundtrack will be sharp, white noise, faded and in the back of all the people’s minds.soundwave

Since moving to Columbia, my roommate Brandon has been gracious enough to drive me around town, especially around campus to help me better understand where I’ll be going for at least the next year.  The auxiliary input in his car has a strange feature, however, concerning silent spaces between songs:  it does not allow for them, it instead fills these silent spaces with a high pitched whine.  So every song, each amazing combination of ear-pleasing melodies and harmonies is punctuated and therefore associated with an off key squeal which subtracts from the overall wonderful experience.

I enjoy returning to both my blog and University, but there are always things that will  dredge up feelings of awkwardness.  Luckily in my friends car, when the next song started the whine whine silenced, and even if it hadn’t I’m sure we’d have become too used to it to notice.

Silver Spoon

“Silvered”
I had a silver spoon when I was an infant,Silver Spoon
But not when I was in the womb.
It was a gift from a family friend.

I found it recently,
And it was tarnished
Just like I have been.

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