Wednesday, September 08, 2004
I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. Tired of tossing and turning last night, I got up, put on some music (iTunes randomly selected a Counting Crows song) and started cleaning my closet. I figured that if I wasn't sleeping, I ought to be at least a little productive. It was just one of those nights. Brushing past the shelves of my closet, I ran across a large box of old letters. Hundreds of them...in all sorts of sizes and colors. Mostly from when I was at Vanderbilt, and some during my time at Oxford. A decade old now, they felt like old fossils, and I dug through them with the care of an archeologist’s hand, unearthing more of the past with each envelope I opened.
On certain Sundays in November when the weather bothers me…During difficult times in college, these letters were the highlight of my day – a lifeline to my old friends who had stayed behind in D.C. A tangible connection with a girlfriend that kept her in my thoughts when she wasn't around to talk with. I remember going to the mailbox and putting my hand through it, just hoping to find letters from friends. It was like Christmas every day. If I got one, I would rush to find a quiet and isolated place to read them, hoarding and savoring each word like it was a fine bottle of scotch during the Prohibition Era. No speakeasy here – just the shade of a large tree near the newly constructed Psychology Building.
I empty drawers of other summers where my shadows used to be…Sifting through them, I began to realize that there was something still alive in these faded pages. Pieces of a person’s heart written out onto torn spiral notebook pages in multi-colored pens and pencils. Letters so long and thick, that when folded up, they barely fit in their envelopes. Bursting with optimism and genuine, heartfelt sentiments. Words that were so full of love and encouragement that if you let them, they would spill over onto you and captivate you for hours like the smell of fine perfume.
I put my summers back in a letter and I hide it from the world…It’s not that I don’t like email. In fact, I’ve had some great conversations through email. But I’ve always maintained that written letters are better. I’ve tried to keep emails from certain people and at one point, I had as many as 10 banker boxes full of correspondence printed out. But that being said, I’d trade all of those boxes for just one shoebox full of handwritten letters. It’s just not the same reading redwelds of correspondence labeled, “Girl X” or “Guy Y”. Courier 10-point just does not convey the same feeling as the elegant y’s and g’s of a person’s pen stroke, or the traced lines of the signature of a loved one.
All the regrets you can't forget are somehow pressed upon a picture…I think old letters are comforting because they provide us with a glimpse of who we used to be. Some people don’t want to read past letters, because they represent past hurts and regrets. I suppose that’s a sign that we all evolve and mature. We learn from our mistakes. Strangely, in some ways, I yearn to devolve – to return to the core, and to be the person I used to be. Less jaded. Less worried. Less complicated. In either case, I think we are drawn to our past. And letters memorialize that yearning and give us hope and encouragement, whether they show us how far we’ve come, or perhaps even how far we still need to go.
In the face of such an ordinary girl…Sifting through the hundreds of letters in the early morning hours, I began to recreate my past. I slowly traced the seasons of old relationships in the words of each page. I could see the transition from acquaintance to friend to girlfriend...and then back to friend again. From interest to optimism to security to love, always eventually bowing to the inevitable denouement that would follow. But if we were lucky…really lucky…we became friends again. Being at their weddings and rejoicing in their happiness. One ex-girlfriend even had everyone at the reception sing “Happy Birthday” to me when it wasn’t my birthday (an inside joke to just me and her). That’s what I miss.
And when you wake the morning covers you with light and it makes you feel alright…Best of all, reading the letters made me feel like I was human again. Before the callousness and jadedness of failed relationships took root in my heart. The letters reminded me that at one point, I was thought of as a rock. A stabilizing influence on someone’s life. Someone to lean on. Something far different than what I feel I have become in the past 5 years. Breakups have soured me, and created a stench of cynicism. I struggle with the thought that perhaps, a happy relationship has already slipped from my grasp. That I may never again feel like I did back in college.
But it's just the same hard candy you're remembering again…Still, though I may suffer from a bout of nostalgia from time to time, in more sober times, I remember that the past is my past for a reason, and there were reasons my past relationships did not work out. I have less to remember my recent girlfriends by…an unfortunate by-product of the Information Age. I can fit all of the letters/cards/photos, etc. of my past 3-4 girlfriends in one shoebox. They’ve been distilled into CD-ROMs filled with digital photos and email threads (and that, in itself, makes me sad). I’m not invited to their weddings anymore. Though we were once great friends and shared the most intimate details of our lives, we no longer speak when we pass each other. There is no future anymore in our words. But in the end, I guess that's okay, because when all is said and done, I’d rather live in the present, even if it is all that I can see.
Posted at 11:37 pm by B.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Mondays are for Traffic Jams
So it’s Monday. Again. Traffic was nasty...everyone back from their summer vacations and clogging up the beltway. It's downright irritating, especially if you didn't have a vacation this summer.
If it’s at all possible, I’m actually more tired now than I was at the beginning of this past weekend. Didn’t make it down to Florida this weekend, thanks to Hurricane Frances (rescheduling it for the end of October), but a round of golf, a couple nights on the town and a surprise birthday party more than made up for it.
I saw “Lost in Translation” this weekend, and am now convinced that the only truly creative and relevant movies today are put out by independent studios (although in truth, these studios are just independent divisions of major movie studios). There’s something to movies that have subtlety and texture that make the WWF-like clamor of a movie like “Troy” or [insert any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie here] look like nothing more than fancy, over-produced, third-grade dioramas. I mean, any studio that green-lights a movie with a 50-year old "terminator" should really think about whether that's a good idea. Then again, what do I know...it made like, a gazillion dollars. And it somehow got Claire Danes to star in it (bad move, Claire). Incidentally, my Microsoft Word spell checker just told me how to spell the word “Schwarzenegger”. Tell me that’s not a sign the apocalypse is upon us. At least it didn’t recognize the word “Ahhh-nold”. Maybe I need another “h” in there…
I hope it’s going to be a relatively stress-free day. For some reason, I feel like this weekend knocked me out of synch. It seems I have a million more errands to run, and am getting lost under the huge piles of laundry in my room (I have 27 shirts to take to the dry cleaners). In a weird way, I feel as if my life is becoming cluttered too. I am feeling the need to gather, organize, weigh and put away the tons of thoughts I’m working through right now. I have so many thoughts running around my head that it’s difficult to focus on any one particular thread. It's like a big traffic jam...
I need some time to think, and to get away…which I find funny given the fact that I thought this weekend would be good for that. Strange how things work sometimes.
Posted at 12:13 pm by B.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Hurricane Frances and Darth Vader
Last night, I left work and found myself with a couple of hours to kill before I was supposed to meet up with some friends for dinner. I drove around and ended up lying down on the front lawn of the Washington National Cathedral
, soaking up the sunshine and warm breeze. Couldn't have been a better day for lounging around outside. Okay, maybe a few degrees cooler (and maybe a hammock), but in D.C., I'll take what I can get. Especially when it involves lounging...
Incidentally, for anyone planning on coming to D.C., you should make sure that you try to take a tour of the cathedral if you have an extra day to spare. It's one of those things that's overlooked a lot, because it's not actually in the city, but it's awesome. I actually fell asleep on the lawn, and woke up to see an 8-year old kid on his bicycle, circling around me like a vulture circling its prey. I broke out laughing when I opened my eyes and saw him. I think I scared him (he shrieked), which I guess is reasonable, considering he probably thought I had passed out or something. Incidentally, I learned yesterday that if you look really closely at the cathedral, you can actually see a gargoyle sculpture of Darth Vader
. I kid you not. That's my useless fact of the day...
I'm currently planning on flying down to Naples, Florida (aka "Hurricane Central") tomorrow morning for the Labor Day weekend. Seeing as the entire state is temporarily evacuating into Georgia (they aren't going to be happy...Georgia, that is), I'm not sure if it's going to happen. I can just see the headlines now: "South Georgia Sizzler Restaurants Packed as Hungry Elderly Evacuate Florida." I figure it'll be a gametime decision tonight. But if I were a betting man, I would bet against going down there. Let's just say that I've already started making plans to fill the weekend. Good plans...but just not plans involving 150 mph winds or tumbling mobile homes.
Posted at 03:14 pm by B.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Last week, I was in a conversation with a friend who confessed to me that recently, he has wanted to pack up, leave D.C., and move to an entirely different city. When pressed, however, I found that it wasn't so much that he wanted to leave the city...it's that he wanted to escape from his life. In the short time that he has been here, he has found that things aren't working out exactly as he would have hoped for himself. The job that he took didn't seem so exciting anymore. The friends he's made were great, but he claimed that they "just don't get him". And relationships? Well, of course, there's a plotline or two involving a girl.
He's moved before, he says. He admits that maybe his expectations are too high. But when I ask him what his expectations are, he can't seem to express them outside of "I just want to be happy". I tell him that no matter where he goes, he's going to feel the same way -- that is, eventually, he's going to want to move again. I try to explain that it's not the city or the people in the city. It's him. He knows. But that's hard to admit when he hasn't found what he's searching for. And it's especially difficult when he doesn't know what THAT is.
I suppose it's easier to understand him when you have been disappointed yourself...or perhaps when someone has wounded you deeply. After all, no one is perfect, and we could never be everything to someone else. And vice versa. Maybe it's not a person that disappoints you. Maybe it's where you are in life, or where you want to go and the vast canyon between the two places. Maybe it's something as simple as accidentally deleting 9,000 of your favorite songs. You don't have to look far to see disappointment. And it's easy to want to leave the life that you are in.
Whatever the case, when all is said and done, and all of the fine points of theology that divide humankind are fully and finally adjudicated, I believe it will be clear why this world had to be the way that it was. Why childrens' cries for the simplest of needs go unheard. Why the most evil men seem sometimes to have the most money. Why a man who has trained for years for the marathon in hopes of winning an Olympic medal gets tackled by a defrocked priest while leading with only a few miles to go (costing him the gold medal). Why things never go as planned.
As much as I would hope and dream, there is no eden here on this side of our lives. I suppose I mean that in the generic sense. There is no sanctuary or place to put this world on hold. For the world goes on without us, whether our eyes are open or closed. People grow up...and apart. Though we might never notice it, they're different every time we see them. They've experienced new things and learned more about what makes them happy (and sad). Wounds heal. People forget. It's going on all around us. It's going on with me.
I don't know why God allows certain things to happen, but I am clear on the things that I should be doing while I am here. And while it feels like I am far from where I want to be, maybe this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. Maybe this detour from the big law firm life is exactly what my character needs. What my soul needs. And perhaps that is what I should be focusing on, instead of the fact that it never feels like I can get enough rest. Or for that matter, why I can't get a good cup of coffee in this town.
Posted at 11:36 am by B.
Monday, August 30, 2004
My hard drive finally stopped whirring tonight. Final tally:
Songs saved = 7,612
Songs lost = 1,772
I guess it could have been worse.
Posted at 10:51 pm by B.
iTunes Broke My Hard Drive
Okay, there's no two ways about it -- this was a long weekend. My hard drive is still whirring from the Three-Mile Island-sized meltdown last Friday. I'm scared to touch it for fear that it might just disintegrate into a million pieces. I'm a little bit surprised it didn't catch on fire. Actually, in a weird way, I would have been happier if it had. If this has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that I need an iPod (I stress the word "NEED"). I miss my music. I miss it very much. I'm currently in the bargaining stage of dealing with grief (having already dealt with denial and anger
). Eventually, I'll get to acceptance. Just not today.
So there's good news and bad news about the data recovery software. The good news is that it probably retrieved about 95% of my music. The bad news is about half of the songs it retrieved sound garbled. I talked to a friend about it and he said it had something to do with bits and bytes and nano-whatevers... All I know is that half my songs are messed up. Big time. Now when I click on, "Saints and Sailors" by Dashboard Confessional, I get a little of "Bang Bang" by Dispatch and some Brittany Spears sounding song which I SWEAR was never on the hard drive to begin with. I think someone's messing with me.
I'm now trying to consolidate my music under iTunes (since it beats having to reorganize all of my music...AGAIN). Seeing as iTunes is the program that broke my hard drive, I have no idea why I'm using it. It's like I crave more abuse. Sad, really. But I still need an iPod, and I don't want to upset the Apple gods. Karma and all that...
Other than the hard drive fiasco, my weekend actually was pretty nice. Went out with a bunch of friends on Friday night, and had a bunch of different people over for dinner on Saturday evening. It's been a while since I've hung out with large bunch of single people. It reminded me of being in college, just doing whatever we wanted to do next. Less talking about mowing the lawn tomorrow morning, or getting up early to go shopping with your girlfriend/wife/fiance, and more talking about sleeping in until 3:00pm. No Home Depot trips this weekend. I had almost forgotten how nice that was. I guess that's what being in and out of relationships for the past 6 years will do to you.
I'm hoping this week flies by pretty fast. I'm not feeling any motivation to work. What time is it? Ugh. And it's only Monday.
Posted at 10:30 am by B.
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Just purchased data recovery software online, thanks to the wonder that is the Internet. We'll see what happens...
<crossing my fingers>
Posted at 01:52 am by B.