Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And so the journey continues. With my recent acceptance to graduate studies in London, I prepare for an overseas move. Winding down my time here, I'll be selling off items I can't take with, and paring down the things I consider "necessary" to my life.

Obviously, what is necessary is not the same as what is necessary. Well, perhaps not so obviously. I mean that the conception of what is necessary to survival is perhaps different than the actuality. For example, I consider some form of hobby necessary. Something that focuses the mind, entertains, stimulates. People--at least me, for one--need something engaging basically to remain sane. Imagine if I were to move to London and for the sake of finances decided I couldn't afford to do anything; go to museums, bus tours, drinking, eating. Anything. I won't be able to travel with books. Perhaps not even my computer will come along. What do I do then? Short answer, I go insane. I don't enjoy anything about my time there, I take no benefit from travel, and I feel like I've wasted an opportunity in a foreign country.

So, I need to figure out now what will be most important to me in the near future. That may seem easy to most people. Most people have a definite hobby--I'm not sure I have one I can take with me. I feel like I am more surrounded by activity than I have felt in the past several months. Which of these are most important to me that I'll be able to continue. That is my quest for 5 months.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I am married now, and so I have a lot of things to take into account every day that simply weren't there before. Many people are familiar, I'm sure, with the playful jabs that a married man's bachelor friends tend to throw when he checks with his wife if he can "go out to play." This was frustrating at first--and is still mildly irritating, but it's all in fun--because I don't think I understood the underlying situation fully.

It's not as though I can't go hang out with my friends if she says no. The point is that my actions have a very real and immediate effect on another person's life. Part of being a good husband, or just a good friend, is consideration; part of consideration is placing another's needs ahead of your own. Thus we have the old ball and chain metaphor arising every time a man calls his wife before grabbing a beer with his buddies.

Personal freedom is at a premium with most people, but takes on of necessity a new dimension when two people merge their lives. I would love to quit my job. I'm waiting to hear from graduate schools, I could find work for the several months leading up to our departure, although without the benefits of my current work. Yet I hesitate. My wife, unsurprisingly, wants me to stay on for the pay and benefits until the last possible minute before leaving for grad school. To what extent is it in my power to decide this for myself? Ought I to take the hit for the sake (and reasonable arguments) of my wife or come up with and implement my own plan for this part of my more individual existence? A conundrum, to be sure.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Something I wrote a little while ago, have been working on. I like the personal essay format, ala Montagne because my mind tends to wander through things anyway, and it's a nice venue to make those random connections more meaningful:

A man seated next to me at the bar, while I wait for the new bartender struggling to get the credit card machine to process my tab, decides to strike up conversation. I’ve seen the man before—he may have been one of the 10:00 am regulars during my stint as the barkeep here—but we’ve never shared as much as a smile before this. I’m standing in front of his crutches, leaned against the wooden bar rail with their rubber stoppers a few inches too far into the walkway, begging for an incident. I suppose since I was hovering over his only means of getting around, he was justified in paying me some mind and finding out whether I was the type of person who would abscond with two lonely crutches.
Jim, as I was much later introduced to him, is a like a caricatured version of multiple movie characters. He is tall and portly, almost too much for one barstool. Long gray hair streaked with black, and a full beard pouring over his threadbare checked shirt give him the unmistakable and stereotypical ‘working class’ air. He still wears sunglasses, though it’s nearly 11:30 and the bar is kept dim for atmosphere, but that actually doesn’t strike me as anything odd. I have a memory of a camping trip with my family on which my father, sitting around the campfire as day faded to night, forgot that he had on his sunglasses and struggled getting from the campfire over to his tent until my sister and I laughed and told him to take off his shades. I’ve always loved how habitual items—a watch, sunglasses, or a certain necklace—items that we always have with us, are the first ones we misplace on our own bodies. It has nothing to do with memory loss, in these cases; rather some outside factor that made one go against their grain. I had to switch my watch to my left wrist once because of a burn I suffered under the band, and while wearing a long-sleeved shirt I panicked for nearly two hours that I had lost my new watch until I rolled my sleeves up. Jim’s sunglasses were likely as much a part of him as his crutches; one in essence and adding to the overall effect of his appearance. He looked very much like an aging Vietnam veteran as portrayed in some movies. Not quite ready to let the 70’s go.

And so on...