Archive for August, 2007

late August

Thursday, August 30th, 2007 at about 11:13 pm

A few minutes ago the clock ticked into August 31st. The end of a month is here again, and again I cannot believe the rapidity with which it passed me. I distinctly remember being _surprised it was July_, and that doesn’t seem like very long ago. In a little over 24 hours I’ll be leaving for China, halfway across the ruddy world. I’ve been thinking and talking (and talking) about this trip for half a year now, always held up as the crowning jewel of what I was going to do with my summer (a question I get asked a lot). And here it is, after months due preparation the bubbling hyperbole is about to come to a full boil. I have the highest hopes, I think it should be an absolutely excellent trip. This is again something I have been saying for days to anyone who asks about it, but again I don’t think that means it isn’t true.

Beyond the mountain of this China trip lies school, a return to familiar things in one sense and a sort of new adventure in another. Things will be a little more serious in all ways this year, I think. Certainly the school work will be more… focused, out of necessity, but also I think my exposure to the larger campus will be much more broad and familiar though not in an uncomfortable way. It’s not really about newness anymore. Certainly there will be new things, indeed I’m frequently amazed by how absolutely little I took in during freshman year, but the entire experience isn’t novel anymore. But I hope that this will be advantageous. There are improvements to be made. I have this frantic drive within me to do everything, I am never convinced I am making the most out of the opportunities I have. It’s a bit compulsive. But I think I will very rarely have the kind of opportunities I do now, at least to do certain things. So I’d better do them! I’m glad I don’t take this impulse too seriously, it’s more of a nag than anything else. If I acted on it, I would be such an overachieving, exhausted person. As much as I’m frustrated with some people for overwhelming themselves with fascinating commitments (I’m looking at you here, Anita) they’re at least getting a lot done. That’s part of the compulsion. Needing to have “something to show for myself.”

But enough of that annoyance. Some nice things about August:

the last few days at the beach, absorbing the beauty
the fifth century party
Katie, and things
solitary night-time bike rides, possibly ill-advised

Less nice was saying goodbye to everyone (again! It gets easier, it seems). And not having my own space as much as I am used to, even when it’s just me and my dad as it often is in the summertime. But it was nice to have a full house, too, to have family again.

As an endnote, the one thing I do have to show for myself this August is a set of poems. I tried to write one a day. I counted some of my more poetic blog entries (although I’m counting this one, which I admit is more than a bit of a stretch) but have basically kept with it. I’ll write a last one tomorrow, the day before leaving, and I will have 30 (I started this project the 2nd of the month)… things. Poorly written first drafts, mostly, but at least it’s something. I had been looking forward to fixing some of them up for the fall, but have discovered the only poetry class I have a chance of taking is a class exclusively on the prose poem. Still, there might be some adaptations in there. Time will tell, she’s such a gossip she always does.

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by j. android

The Fifth Century Party and other recent phenomena

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007 at about 3:30 pm

August has proven to be thus far almost exactly what I had hoped it to be: quiet, relaxing, but with no shortage of fun. I don’t feel useless as I normally might when unemployed and largely unoccupied because I’ve been writing regularly, if not terribly prolifically. I’ve been writing a poem a day and will continue for the duration of the month. I’m not sure this is necessarily the best way to write, but it’s certainly gotten some things out of me, and I’m again happy to just have something to show for myself. I convince myself there is nothing less than an infinite multitude of things to do in this world, yet spend a surprising portion of my days watching television or other such things (the latest incredibly delightful distraction: Neverwinter Nights 2, but best thing to happen to computer games since Baldur’s Gate II. Yes, I am a dork). But with a growing pile of things written down at least I’m documenting the experience. I think the documentation obsession stems from the desire to leave a mark on the world that can last longer than myself. It all goes back to the fear of one’s own mortality. But this isn’t the time for more circular introspection. It’s the time to once again catalogue recent activities, knowing that I won’t remember them and hoping that some day I will be happy to have a partial record of what the hell I did with my youth (or, say, early twenties).

For my birthday we had an amazing party, toga-adorned and game faces worn. I could ask for little better, my birthday falling on a Friday and a venue conveniently available. I wore golden laurel leaves along with DJ, whose birthday had been the week prior. We had 30 kids over, pretty much all old favorites (the elusive Mr. Berman even made an appearance). The dress code adherence was fairly high, to my delight, although eventually it was too hot and / or impractical to continue wearing togas and many people changed or shed theirs. I wandered upstairs to sleep around 3:30, woke up an ungodly 7 the next morning and cleaned the house with Katie. I caught a ride home with the last people to leave, went home and slept.

Last Thursday Anita and I went hiking at Fox Ridge State Park, located a few easy miles outside of Charleston. It rained torrentially in the morning and early afternoon and even on the drive down, but my careful study of the weather maps paid off: as soon as we arrived it cleared up, just as we had timed it. We walked up and down the ridges and around the lake until the humidity got the better of us and we retired back to the city. Still, it’s nice to get out, and save for one person working on something who we caught a brief glimpse of we were the only people in the park. The advantage of going on a rainy day, I suppose.

Yesterday I babysat for Suzanne’s stepkids in the morning, caught up with her when she got home, then went and saw Superbad with Lydia. It was funny, I cannot deny it. A little stupid, but definitely enjoyable. After the usual dinner at home I went to Colette’s for a “birthday wowohoww” hosted by Colette and Lucy. Another enjoyable all-class gathering (or at least, the part of the class who I ever actually see).

Today was all errands, the beginnings of a full-scale onslaught of China preparation. I leave in 12 days. This is intense. Summer, I love you unconditionally, but you know I can’t stay.

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by j. android

Onward

Saturday, August 11th, 2007 at about 11:22 pm

Written on the first day of my twenty-first year

For all my fear of regret, its actual appearance as a real entity is rare at best: I am always too distracted by the ever-varied and wondrous present to dwell severely on could have or should have been. Paths not taken are recognized as such, and sometimes sadly, but always with the understanding that there was a fairly definite reason a different path was chosen. But even beyond that, there’s little time to think too hard on it without wasting the precious present and time spent on the infinitely-more-appealing-to-consider possibilities of the future. Indeed, my fear of the limitation of opportunities as time progresses and anxiety about capitalizing on the incredible variety of life is probably part of what stymies this regret; there’s just too much else to think about to waste time regretting too heavily. The fear of regret staunches it, in some unlikely way.

And armed with this knowledge I will hence enter my twenties in full acceptance of the ceaseless acceleration of time as well as my own inability to experience all but the slightest sliver of what life has to offer, but nevertheless empowered by my resolve to attempt to make that sliver as large as possible. Yes, it is scary and leaves an unpleasant feeling in my chest to consider the fact that I am no longer a teenager, and never again will be one. But lying before me is a whole vast array of new possibilities, and I would be a fool not to throw myself at them with a vigor that will, in the future, forestall any chance of regretting that I didn’t do enough.

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by j. android

Against Age

Friday, August 10th, 2007 at about 12:19 am

Written on the eve of my twentieth birthday.

I am afraid of change. I am afraid of getting older, and of the ceaselessness of time. I am afraid of regret. I fear not what comes, but what remains undone: the limiting of possibilities, the paths untaken and their possible consequences, joys, and terrors. I wish only to experience the world to it’s utmost; that is to say, I wish for the impossible everything. Every passing day marks the further limitation of that which I can still achieve. Perhaps this is a disguised fear of mortality, of the inevitable end. But I consider it a passionate love affair with the glorious present: I am never ready to move on, there is always more to be discovered, to be done. It is with the deepest reluctance that I relinquish every conceivable division of time, as witnessing any period becoming static saddens me. Tomorrow my teenage years end. Already have I lost to stasis the freshman year of college, all of high school, my early childhood, most summer breaks, uncountable trips to places I may never visit again, and as many last nights spent before saying goodbye to friends, lovers, family. If there was anything I wanted to do as a teenager, I need to have done it by now. That periodic is now forever unchanging, that perspective no longer available. I regret only that I did not do more, as there is always more to do. It is a losing battle, to attempt to experience the everything. But it is one worth fighting.

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by j. android

spoiler

Thursday, August 9th, 2007 at about 9:59 am

I feel the need to just say that Harry Potter 7 was amazing, and that I, for one, am sad that the entire Harry Potter saga has now drawn to a close. But what a way to go! The final book was excellent, not in some richly metaphorical, cultural, or even linguistic way, but just in terms of the sheer appeal of an intensely compelling story. Reading it is all I’ve done for the past several days. It infected my dreams; I was in the Battle of Hogwarts casting spells at some fictitious brainy things that then got stuck together, then finished them off with a killing curse. Waking up from this dream was alarming. So here’s to Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived and a kid that my generation grew up with.

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by j. android