Monday, September 18, 2006

On Turning 4 and 3 and 26

I'm a recorder, as you're aware. A documenter. The blogging cousin of 'J.S. Foer' in "Everything is Illuminated." The worst thing I can think of is being forgotten, whether you are a person, an object, or an event. Reminiscence is my stock-and-trade. Thus...


Sunday marks this blog's fourth birthday. Over the years, it has undergone a few changes in template and theme and focus. Overall, a good run. (Don't worry, the run's not ending.)

It's funny how the blog's constant need for and half-hearted attempts at change has in some ways reflected its author. In that first year, so full of hope, so eager to overstate, to jump the gun. A blog banking on the promise of an assumed success. Then, when unexpected and bad things happen, complacency and self-pity set in. Neglect. Silence. Non-productivity. Occassionally, some internal impetus jolts it from its lethargy, and it strives to be better than itself. On some level, it succeeds, but most often, that motivation to excel lasts only a little while before the blog starts tripping back into its old ways. It becomes cynical. Self-involved. Self-referential. Sure, there are brief glimpses of talent and promise, but they are buried in the maudlin haze of reflection. And lately, the blog has promised much in terms of depth and quality, but has only been about to maintain an utterly superficial level of content. Lots of disappointed expectations. Lots of lame excuses. Even that shallow content is becoming more sparse. And the poor blog, though it has a group of devoted friends, has started scaring away other occasional visitors because it has turned into a bit of a caricature of itself.

Yet, despite this grim and ironic description, there is always hope. There is always a chance for this blog, beloved by some of you as it inexplicably is, to become something better, brighter, and more worthy of praise. And your loyal support has been vitally important and appreciated. So thanks for four years, and here's to the next four or more.

I believe in this blog, in what it can do, what it can be. I believe the same of its author. It's never too late to change.


Friday marked 3 years of employment in my current job. Lately, I've been brooding over whether or not I need a change of scenery. And as much as I emotionally decide that I do (on a daily basis, it seems), I know in my head that this is a good place for me to stay for now. I'm well-compensated, and the job provides enough challenges without being too overwhelming. It has started to stretch me lately, which is certainly a good thing. Plus, I'm still feeling pretty solid about why this employer is a good one to work for. So yeah. Three years. Good for me. I probably won't spend my entire career here, but it wouldn't hurt to spend a decent chunk of it here.


I turn 26 next month. ("That's so young!" I can hear many of you say already. I understand that's true.) It's hard to think of myself as 26. It's not a student, or even a post-college age. It's an adult.

I'm an adult. I'm still not able to wrap my mind around this bare fact. Adulthood. I'm here. Adulthood has always been the other to me. A future that I acknowledged but never believed.

There used to be a theme park here in town. (You may have heard me tell this story already; if so, bear with me, please.) It was a place I went for the odd school event or a special summer treat with my family or friends. Roller coasters and stage shows and overpriced food stands and rigged carnival games. I loved it for the simple reason that it was so outside of my usual experience. Even the hard parts of each visit, the lines that stretched forever, or the oppressive summer heat, were acceptable costs for being there, walking around the pristine fakeness of the miniature city. When we went, I never drove, obviously. I'd sit in the back seat and talk to my friends or read or listen to music. And like Columbus crossing the blank space on the map's edge, we left my familiar suburban bliss and crossed the blank of highways and strange landmarks until we were "there."

The park was on the south side of town, while I grew up on the north side, in the suburbs. My understanding of city geography in high school essentially consisted of a few square miles of suburban sprawl that comprised my world. So anything outside of the few main thoroughfares I knew by heart was "out there," drawn like the Renaissance maps, just west of the sea monster and north of the mermaids singing, each to each.

Just over two years ago, I moved downtown to be closer to work. I ended up taking an apartement a scant three blocks from the site of the theme park, which has since been closed, dismantled, and replaced by a smaller-than-expected grassy field. The mythical place of my youth, a location I only visited a handful of times, is now just down the street. Practically (in context of the city as a whole) on my doorstep.

And now, when I go see my family or friends or church, I traverse the space between as if I'd grown up driving those streets and highways. The distance has grown much smaller. Everything is more clearly defined. I may not have it perfectly navigated, but I have a good idea of how to get my bearings.

And in a sense, that's how I'm starting to approach adulthood, this other that I couldn't comprehend before. It's now just down the block from me, and I almost don't believe that this was what I had expected. (Part of me keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it were. That somehow the "real" adulthood has yet to begin. In one particular sense, that is obviously still true. Overall, though, I don't think I need to worry that much about it.) Not to say it's bad; just different. A little less intimidating. A little less impressive.

But you know what? I like living here. It's a good place. So I don't mind it.

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