Friday, April 18, 2008

How to Age Gracelessly

Milestone hurrah! Or some other exclamation of pseudo-jubilation. This post makes the 50 in Spiral Reverie total now. Never thought I'd make it this far, did you? Hoped and dreamed that I would give this whole "blorging" thing up, eh? Too bad. I'm never going away. Not even if you pay me. (Note: If you pay me, it might help.) Anyway, it feels like an accomplishment in and of itself to me, having found this much to babble about here and there, now and then, since the blog formally launched in early July last year. At this rate, you can expect me to hit post 100 by... roughly early February 2009. Let the salivation in fear and trepidation begin. (Or anticipation, I suppose, should you somehow actually enjoy these ramblings. Somehow.)

So here we are, mid-April. Everything is covered in yellow and it's an entirely miserable time of year for me. My allergies are running at an all time high, like a runaway freight train powered by economic anxiety and also probably some coal too because dirty energy's getting to be cool again these days, or so the far right's claiming. (Next thing we know, the black lung will be a fashion statement! Or maybe not. Maybe.) As the northern hemisphere revives from winter (Not that we had much of one, as usual. And it's been spring for a good while now anyway - we're slowly making that painful transition into summer here now, otherwise known as the season that ate EVERYTHING.), the birds burst into rapturous song and flowers explode into colorful bloom, blasting anything and everything with pollen. And though we've seen some nice - and much needed - rain here and there, it hasn't been enough to stave off that dreaded yellow flowery taint creeping across the country and making those of us allergic to it wish we were dead. (And generally hope that we can find some medication that'll help without making us too tired or screwing up our sleep too much. Three cheers for pharmaceuticals.)

Of course, like any season, spring brings birthdays. People get to enjoy tacking extra digits onto their age, pointing to the calendar, and loudly exclaiming "NOW I'M THIS MANY!" This stops being remotely cute or amusing by the time you hit puberty, and you will be beaten with extreme prejudice if you insist upon continuing this behavior pattern. What are you, six!?

Many significant individuals were born around this time of the year. Like Conan O'Brien, host of Late Night - and soon taking over the Tonight Show when Jay Leno steps down in 2009 - whose birthday is today. And the ghost of Hitler, who ages on sunday - otherwise recognized as the infamous "4/20" on which the world's potheads celebrate the attempted extermination of the Jews, homosexuals, and other individuals who make the world a more interesting and varied place by smoking all the pot they can and trying to make contact with the ghost of Jerry Garcia. Some day, you guys, someday. (And this year it's also an excuse for G4 to give me a reason to watch it once again with the special episode of Code Monkeys they made for it, given the frequency of drug humor on the show. Now they just need to get some official season 2 announcements out already. It's rather nice having new episodes of entirely scripted dramas and comedies to watch again, post-strike. The Office, Scrubs, Reaper, and Battlestar Galactica are keeping me entertained, anyway, aside from the usual Daily Show, Colbert, and Conan.)

Of course, with all this horrible pollen making me miserable and all these other key birthdays popping up, I suppose it's somewhat worth noting that I age-up, as it were, this coming Saturday. What better time to age and be reminded of how much life's been passing me by, after all? I'll finally be stumbling into my mid-twenties - though granted, the earliest of the mid-twenties years - and as you can tell, I couldn't be more pleased.

Aging has its upsides and its downsides. On one hand, it makes it easier to dismiss the youthful follies of the past, to laugh at my own stupid decisions and mistakes and think to myself, "Hey, look how much I've grown since then! I wouldn't even consider something that stupid now!" Then it usually hits me about a second and a half later that I don't have any room to talk now anyway. (No one putting so much into such a hopeless unrequited love novel project like this has any right to think themselves anything but a fool, let's face it.)

There's plenty of less than wonderful things about tacking that extra year onto the old age bulletin board (I'm sure you all have one of these too, or at least an enchanted abacus that counts down the number of years until your demise. I don't know what I'd do without mine.) as well. Aging tends to warrant reflection on one's life. And looking back, high school sucked, college was fascinating and educational, but nothing spectacular, nothing like people make college out to be. (But then, according to pop culture, all you do is get drunk and high and "get yo fuck on" or whatever people are saying these days. I did none of these things, the former two not interesting me, personally, having plenty of fun with friends while sober, and the latter largely a matter of a lack of meeting and connecting with anybody of the opposite sex with any level to things beyond simple, enjoyable platonic friendship. I'd say the unrequited love thing played a part, but that only really hit me hard about halfway in - I thought I was over her for a long time, after all - and I simply never met anybody I found myself particularly attracted to. For all that cheesy INFP "emotional sensitivity" I deal with, I have a hard time really being attracted to anybody beyond noticing someone, thinking "Hey, she's kinda cute," and leaving it at that.) Now I've been a graduate for about four months, and I've been out of classes for nearly a year, having finished all my academic requirements for graduation up last May. Time does have a way of flying. Not unlike the toasters on that old Windows 3.1 screensaver. (Admit it, you were waiting for someone to drop that reference on the "blarghosphere." ... See what I did there? How witty "blargosphere" is? It's okay to like it.)

Post-graduate life is kind of sad, reflecting on where many people my own age are in their lives. I know, you aren't supposed to look at other people's lives and compare them to your own - you have to find your own way, walk your own path instead of trying to follow the beaten road and be like everybody else. But it's still hard not to laugh at myself at this point. I'm going into my mid twenties, and after graduating, I just moved back home. (Doesn't help that the job market is a mess as the economy continues to collapse and I'd be miserable in most jobs anyway, the way I function on many levels. Not too easy out there in that thar "real world" when you're an awkward introvert who doesn't have much in the way of job skills - and a BA isn't worth much of anything in the professional world these days anyway. I'd lose my mind in a corporate office, and most things are either too externally oriented or reliant upon people skills to do anything but drain the life out of me. And thus, I've kept my focus on my novel and am hoping to make it into a grad school Creative Writing program in New England starting in January - with any luck, getting this first novel published and my writing career launched over the remainder of this year and picking up a higher-level degree.) With the circle of friends I socialized with having largely disbanded by the end of college - I was practically entirely shut out, only really hearing from friends on the occasion I'd run into them on campus or at one of the club events they ran, like game nights, since I always kept to the periphery anyway - and now we're all scattered about. I'm back home in Raleigh, others are still out in Charlotte, finishing school and figuring out what they want to do next, while others yet - the ones I usually hung out with most - are scattering across the globe, mostly to Asia - Japan and China in particular. So this isolation I've been dealing with for about two years now? Not exactly a blast, though I can't complain too much, considering that parting ways with friends is just part of the whole "growing up" thing that comes with post-college life. Doesn't make it any less fun, though. Haven't I done enough of this "coming of age" crap already!? I already know life sucks! (This intentionally over the top sophomoric outburst brought to you by McDonald's: Fight off sadness with morbid obesity and adult diabetes!)

Despite that I know I'm still living my own life, obviously, and not anybody else's - rather than taking their way, I'm trying this whole serious dedicating-one's-life-to-writing thing, after all, which is full of its own difficulties, like any other life (Unless you're filthy stinking rich and have a talking gorilla butler. In which case, I hope you get hit by a bus.) - it's hard not to have some misgivings. This, of course, can largely be blamed on that I've made the mistake of reading a recent discussion thread on post-college life on the forums. As you can imagine, it makes adult life in general look depressing. So many people get sucked into this depressing void of simply getting up, going to work, maybe going to the gym, coming home and eating some dinner, watching some TV, playing a game for a bit, or messing around on the internet, then sleep and repeat, day in and day out. This is the kind of hollow, hellish 9-5 trap the very thought of being sucked into utterly terrifies me. I couldn't see really wanting to continue my own life if that's all I had. I'm not exactly a ray of sunshine to begin with, and a life like that would quickly beat me down until I had no motivation left to speak of. And even many of these people have things to enjoy for it that I sure as hell don't. Their own place, for instance, which I'm hoping to manage one way or another in grad school, actual money, which I hope to at least make a small amount of my first novel, and such. Not to mention relationships - usually, people seem to cut the "let's just sleep together and devalue intimacy as much as possible" crap commonplace in high school and college and start really pursuing serious relationships by then. By my age, it's not exactly uncommon for people to have had at least several serious relationships. It's kind of depressing getting to this point in your life and seeing how many of your peers are getting married when you still haven't been in a relationship with anybody who actually liked you, frankly.

Your teenage years are made out to be something incredible, as you only live them once - mine weren't. Those were actually pretty terrible years for me. Same with the early twenties and college in general, go wild, you're only young once! - not for me! And by one's mid-twenties, in leading a life like this, it's hard not to suddenly start becoming more acutely aware of your age and feel like you've missed out on a hell of a lot that you won't get like everybody else seems to during those glorious late teens/early twenties, and even resent the people those sorts of things seemed to come to easily a bit. (Even though a number of those things were matters I had no actual interest in, and still don't. Though getting out of here and having a relationship that isn't terrible for once would be pretty fantastic. My expectations are low enough as is, as ambitiously high as I'm aiming with this unrequited love novel gesture - I can't expect success, though. I've never had that kind of luck, after all. Especially the kind to back up a long shot like this.) In reading a thread like that on people's normal experiences in post-college life, though, it was rather easy to realize how much you've missed and haven't come close to what people enjoy now at your age. If we had a basement, it might be time for me to move down there and roll a 1d20 saving throw vs. failing at life. (Yes, the D&D joke was necessary.)

And so, it's spring. Everything's been coated by a tidal wave of pollen, and it's a relatively hellish time of the year to celebrate aging. I need to move up north already.

Considering, though, that I haven't really had a birthday celebration (To the point at which my birthday was nothing more than just another day in recent years, with a slightly depressing tone to it.) since I turned 18 back in 2002, shortly before high school graduation, this Saturday should be interesting, if not a little surreal for me. (Though I did spend my birthday evening last year at a rather high budget student theatrical performance of The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, which was an interesting way to spend it. Even if I just bought my ticket and went for extra credit in my theater class that semester.) In the least, I'm sure I'll appreciate the whole cake-and-presents thing more than ever. I probably won't be able to enjoy it many more times before it simply becomes and stays just another unremarkable day of the year, after all. Very little in life lasts, so you've got to enjoy what you can while you can.

For soon, we shall be dead.

(Now that's how you end a blog post on aging. Right? Right? High five, anybody?)


WoFat said...

I am trying to find a literary agent. They are few and very picky.

On the other hand, the post office is doing a booming business selling stamps to writers who are looking for literary agents.

Benjamin Fennell said...

I can imagine. Once I finish this book, I'll be dealing with that myself. Good luck to both of us, anyway.

No doubt, haha.