Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No updates, you say?

Why no, no updates at all.  You can blame Veronica Mars and Netflix Watch Instantly.  Lemon out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"I just don't understand what people want from me. I just don't really understand what I'm doing."

Whether by coincidence or by some underlying psychological pull to such books, the novels I've read recently have all dealt, in some way or other, with fundamental questions of growing up and growing into an identity.  This is an apt time in my life for the exploration of these questions.  Whether, in the end, it is or not, this time feels momentous, like I'm on the precipice of some great change, as if everything before has been merely prologue and this—this!—is life.  The plot is about to begin.  Though thinking too much about the connections between these novels and my own life might be more introspection than is strictly healthy. 

Right now I'll briefly discuss one of the novels, the most recent one.  And maybe the others later.

The characters of Keith Gessen's All the Sad Young Literary Men are familiar with the problem of slightly unhealthy levels of introspection.  The novel (really, three novellas with little plot overlap) tells the stories of Mark, a seemingly perpetual graduate student in history who is struggling both to complete his dissertation and sort out his love life; Sam, who is determined to write the great zionist novel but lacks focus or conviction; and Keith, a Harvard grad political commentator/critic whose story is the only one told in the first person.  While the latter shares a name with the author, it seems that these aspiring intellectuals all represent pieces of Gessen's persona, aspects of himself; he knows these characters because he is these characters.

They're constantly trying to make sense of their own lives in terms of historical forces.  Mark sees parallels to his life in the actions of Russian revolutionaries (the subject of his dissertation) and Sam is always comparing his trials and travails to Israel's history.  Who are they to become?  What impact will they have on the culture?  They are self-obsessed.  (At one point, Sam becomes Very Concerned about his “google,” the number of hits that come up when his name is entered into google.)  They're smart, but they lack focus.  

In the end, the book was most successful in evoking a feeling—a  place in time—in the lives of young people striving to matter, striving to think Big Thoughts and contribute in a meaningful way to our understanding of ourselves and our historical epoch.  It was less successful as a character study or as a work of story-telling.  The characters were less conceived as characters and more as aspects of the author's self.  The tone seemed slightly at odds with the intention of the book.  Everything a little too ironic, a little to satirical, for a book that is trying to say something earnestly.  And I believe that it was trying to say something earnestly.

Tomorrow (or sometime.. you know...): The Magicians by Lev Grossman

over my character limit.

I'm not at work today. Obviously. I am, however, determined to spend my day productively. (You know, cleaning, packing, all of those things one ought to do before an impending move.) What better way to start a day than breakfast? I had a fantastic smoothie, consisting of: a banana, some frozen blueberries, a handful of oatmeal, a handful of baby spinach, orange juice, and soy milk. The spinach lent it a lovely green color.

I started to blog again because I thought, well, maybe I'd blog about substantive things. But here I am, telling you what I had for breakfast. It's like twitter, without the 140-character limit. That sounds like a nightmare for everyone involved.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I have to come up with a title, too?

If I'm really going to start doing this again (am I going to start doing this again??), I suppose I have to begin somewhere. Bullet points seem by far the most reasonable way to ease into blogging again, without having to actually compose an actual post about an actual thing. As always, I do not presume that you care about any of this, &tc.

  • I'm vegan for the month of July. There was really no good reason for this, and I've regretted it ever since the second week. But there's so little time left at this point that I figure I ought to stick it out, on principle. Though, is there really any principle, seeing as I've strayed twice--once perfectly intentionally? (It was 6:30am and involved free coffee. Yes, I drank, despite the presence of skim cow's milk.) I have found that I cook more (and take more delight in my cooking) when my options for eating out and eating conveniently are so restricted. Permanent veganism is not an option, really, but would be attractive for precisely this reason.
  • In August, I will begin drinking soda again. I swore off of it last August (for boring, silly, coke-and-pepsi-are-perfectly-evil-companies sorts of reasons; you know...), so now it's been a year. I don't miss it much. Except for Coke Zero, which I crave daily. For all that I was once severely addicted to diet dr. pepper, the prospect of drinking it again hardly excites much enthusiasm. But coke zero, better than "real" coke and fifteen times better than diet coke--I am counting the days until I can crack open that first can. Reunited. I'll figure out something meaningful and important to do about the problem of evil, multinational soda companies later.
  • I'm working at the census office in Sherman--have been since January--and find the prospect of leaving both exciting and sad. Exciting, in that I'm leaving Denison (after two long years), and sad, in that I've liked both the job and my coworkers more than I expected (and perhaps more than I've let on when discussing said job with friends).
  • I went swimming at the lake yesterday. It was nice. Why can't I tan??
  • I find myself immersed in fiction, even if not necessarily the fiction I'd like to be immersed in. What I want to be reading I'm finding resistant to true immersion.
  • I am moving. And I have a (probably literal) ton of books. I would like to buy new, exciting bookshelves, but this is likely out of the budget and thus out of the question. I will also need furniture more generally. Craigslist seems promising for this sort of thing.
  • I'm sure I'll have an election night party in November. You should come.
  • I cannot find Ricky Raccoon. Anywhere. Ever since I saw Toy Story 3, I've felt like an irresponsible toy owner. He must think I've abandoned him. I suppose I have.
  • I don't feel nearly so bad for my Scarlett O'Hara Barbie dolls. I don't know where they are. I am a bit sad to say that I don't particularly care. Bitches. Poor Rhett Butler.
  • Lost is over and I cannot help but feel that this is a good development for me. I have a sneaking suspicion that, despite how caught up I got in the excitement, that show wasn't as good as I thought it was.
  • I realize this isn't an update and it isn't new, but did you know that I never use the shift key for a capital letter? I always press the caps lock key, strike the letter I require, and then press caps lock again. Is this odd? Just terribly inefficient? It goes so quickly and so naturally that I hardly ever notice it. I wonder when I picked it up?
  • Also, I think I have a new career goal.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I was searching for something completely unrelated to this blog. And one of the first results that google gave me linked me to my own, long abandoned blog.

This began a procrastinatory spiral of re-reading my latter college and grad school years as filtered through the pages of this often whiny blog. There's something exciting about reliving your own experiences, recorded in the immediacy of the moment, with the perspective that only time can give.

I think I might blog again. I mean, blogs are so 2005, right? But sometimes the 140 characters that you get on twitter just aren't enough. And, presumably, what with going back to school in the fall, moving away from Denison, I will have lots of fascinating things to relate to you, dear (hypothetical) reader. Presumably, also, you be very interesting in hearing these things.

I am presuming a lot.