Whenever I can, I like to go to the library and watch as movies as time allows. From my observation so far, college doesn’t seem to be much more than a 50 thousand dollar service to force your child to go to the library with an agenda. Sounds bad, but the system does has its benefits, and while I could never justify its price, I can tell you it’s fun. Had I never been forced, I probably would have never read Fences, gone to the Public to see a play about homosexuality in the black community, or ever exerted the effort to fight the indifference that I thought would come with writing a one act play. But as much as I enjoy the curriculum in Tisch, I wish all my library escapades could be self-imposed.
There are times when I feel like classes (yes, I’m talking to you Writing the Essay) are getting in the way of my learning. I’ve read in a tribute piece written by Scorsese that, forgoing higher education, Francois Truffaut got his education by reading 3 books a week and watching the same amount of films a day. His New Wave contemporary (sort of) Jean-Pierre Melville would watch 5 or 6 in the same span. I heard him say so that in an interview I found in some Criterion Collection gem. I was really impressed.
So I’ve been trying to do something kind of similar, trying to absorb things Most of these have been movies thus far. I’m not sure if it’s been entertainment or learning, but I’m sure it’s good thing that I’m not sure.
At first I would just get things from the library and watch them without any sort of formalities. That was kind of the point. I’m not persistent person usually, but the people who work at the library could never guess. For awhile I was actually a little self conscious because I thought that they were starting to judge me as they noticed I had all this “free time” to watch movies. Eventually I got curious about how I fared against the French auteur filmmakers, I started to keep a list of things I had watched. Soon I started to write little bits about and memorable quotes from them. Later the notebook I started this on would be a full fledged journal.
But I always stray away from summarizing my days in the traditional diary-like fashioned. Not by a conscious decision, but because I’m just not interested enough in my daily activities for that. I wouldn’t be embarrassed by anyone reading the journal, although I have no clue why anyone would want to. Looking back at last week’s entries, you would only see that I watched 12 movies from the 15th to the 21st of November (pretty good for my standards, acceptable for a young Melville had he died on Wednesday, the 17th)- a stick figure drawing in a mountainous backdrop, with a speech bubble reading “We Be Jammin'” over a caption that reads “Somewhere in Colorado 1987”- and some near-legible notes on the play I’m writing for my Craft of Dramatic Writing class. Very poor gossip material, and some horrendous writing, but I’m starting to notice improvement.
Reading it also made me feel like I’ve done this before. More polished to be sure, but this place echoes what I see from my journal, something very rare in my academic work: a lack of complete indifference. I can’t remember a time when I typed the last period on a school essay and decided to proofread it before making the teacher do it first, but I always went back and made sure these were pretty polished. I’ve been reading some old entries. Some of them are really dreadful, but it’s a lot of fun for me as the author.
And I guess it’s for that for that reason, I was compelled to give this thing a curtain call. I don’t expect anyone to read it, nor do I really care. I only think it deserves a more proper ending. After all, it might be the most worthwhile assignment I’ve ever had.
I think it’s in my best interest to keep a dream journal- the kind of dream journal that I would roll out of bed and scribble a couple of sentences on to. If I could find it, I would get one of those hardcover notebooks that look like Oreos (pictured above, although I seem to remember them having more white on them) that I learned to write cursive on. And as Jean Luc Godard said all films should have, I would make sure I included the beginning, middle and the end to each of my stories, but necessarily in that order. By inking down the most useless pieces of memory (and perhaps as a consequence, the easiest to forget) I have on to paper, this dream journal could show me- um. . . I don’t know. Something not really important, but cool enough to take up 30 seconds of each of my mornings? I would also stop becoming so indifferent to sleep paralysis as soon as I wake up, after what feels like hours lying in bed feeling like Han Solo at the end of Empire Strikes Back dipping in to the fluid of Jaba the Hut’s petrification system telling myself “man, I should really do google search to see if I can get rid of this”.*
But I know me, and I’ve known me for 18 years. I know I’ll never get around to it.
The other day I had the one of the most vivid dreams I have had in recent memory. I actually still vaguely remember some of it, and off the top of my head, I can’t . This is what I remember:
- My dad’s friend who lives in Cerritos, California all of a sudden had a farm.
- This farm somehow played into an uprising that I was a part of.
- In this uprising, I was riding on some animal’s back.
And that’s it. I remembered a lot more the day I woke up, but I don’t remember what it is I remember, I just remember that I remembered it long enough to have written it down before a shower. The sad part is, if you asked me if there is a dream in my life that I remember more clearly, I couldn’t give you one. And I’ve been doing this for eighteen years.
* This is no longer a valid reason for creating a dream journal. This blog post had the same desired effect.
I’ve thought for a long time that senior year, right after being done with the whole college application fiasco, would be the perfect time for me to get my first proper job. My parents must’ve read my mind or something, because they suggested very specifically that I should consider simultaneously teaching guitar and English to kids. I think this is a good idea, because I think the wages would be good, and the job wouldn’t be too difficult as long as any students I have are like most hagwon or tutor students I have met- completely indifferent about whatever it is their parents are paying thousands of dollars to learn.
But I kind of want one of those jobs where you work a lot of hours doing nothing, and get paid like a Chinese five year olds stitching up Nike Sneakers (times like, thirty). I don’t really have much of a use for money, because my parents provide me with both food and shelter, and I don’t have any really expensive hobbies. What I want in a job is a great employee discount (especially the 100% off kind) that I would actually have a use for. I would want to work at Video Cafe, the video/comic book rental store 5 minutes from my apartment, but I don’t care for anime, and their video selection is so tiny that I’ve already rented just about everything they’ve had that I wanted to see, but hadn’t seen already. So that would be no good.
I would have loved to have been an usher at a movie theater, if there were any non-megaplex theaters around that occasionally showed older movies and some new ones where you actually don’t see everything you’re going to get from the film by watching the five minute preview. A big video store would be cool too. Preferably with very few customers. It also might be also kind of fun to work in an enviroment where I would feel absoloutely no guilt not doing any work. It would be hard to take a paycheck from a mom & pops guy for sitting around and doing nothing, but from McDonalds for Starbucks? Bring it on. I think I could make a really good unenthusiastic busboy for somebody.
Sometimes when something is completely out of reach, the only thing left to do is obsess over it.
I submitted my University of California applications around the deadline date, and it just occurred to me today to do a little bit of research on them via internet message boards.
And as it turns out, what goes around comes around. UC applications are notoriously easy to complete, and it looks like the admissions committee reviews the application just as hastily. They must have to. After all, their campuses are some of the most applied-to schools in the universe.
So all of the campuses except LA and Berkeley have a system where they weigh your UC GPA, test scores, leadership activities. . . etc, and they add up the points. This doesn’t bug me so far, and I should be happy, because my calculations suggest that I am qualified for all of the campuses that use this, but when I read that they would skim my essay to see if I mentioned anything that would get me points, and completely ignore it if they didn’t, I was very dissapointed. I am proud of the essay I wrote for the UC system, and I think it sucks that they didn’t tell me up front, “hey, three of the schools you’re paying for don’t care about this stuff”.
If I only applied to the UC schools that use a point system like this exclusively (and this, I also read, isn’t to be trusted 100%), I would feel pretty ripped off. Imagine if any other organization sold a hundred dollar product to you (and a hundred dollars is a very generous estimate of how much it costs to apply to schools), and told you after you filed a lot of the paperwork that they weren’t going to read those thousand words you just wrote. You would be very unhappy. They need a disclaimer on top of the essay that says:
note: All of the schools in the UC system except UCLA and Cal Berkeley do not care about what you write in the following essay, but you have to do it, or you’re not going to be able to submit your application. It will only help youir application if you write about a traumatic event, in which case we’ll give you some pity points. Hopefully, you won’t spend too much time on this if you’re not applying to the big two. Enjoy!
Since the age of 18 I’ve been in a midlife crisis…
Eno, with D. Byrne
Three or four years ago, I never thought twice about professional athletes being drafted right out of high school or the fact that my dad could grow a full beard when he was around my current age; I guess I figured 18 must be special, considering the laws I was most familiar with suddenly broke their restrictions on things like smoking and writing notes to your school that say “I didn’t feel like coming to Algebra 1 today. Please excuse me from class” the day you turned 18 (Ah the joys of American Public Schooling, where your eighth grade math class taught you everything you needed to know about senioritis). I have never had interest in the first of these two freedoms and have recently decided the latter is not so cool either, but I think I still thought that there was something to be had in becoming a legal adult.
And as much as I hate it when John Hughes is right about my high school experiences, (it makes them feel that much cornier) I think he describes this feeling the best in Sixteen Candles through the Samantha character when she says “I just thought that turning sixteen would be so major that I would wake up with an improved metal state that would show on my face. All it shows is that I don’t have any sort of a tan left” (to make this quote relevant, pretend for a second that the word 16 is synonymous with the number 18). I have reached a point where I consistently hear about public figures around my age, and it weirds me out every time.
Brat Pack movies have taught me everything I have needed to know about being young
But I also don’t see myself as somebody who tries to prove things with a resume. When my parents first asked me at a way-too-young age of things-I-only-recall-through-hearsay what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them I wanted to be a Newspaper cartoonist. If you ask me that question today, my answer may be a little more vague, but you wouldn’t think I changed much in the past 13 years either. I could never be a Tenenbaum.
If I was born a Tenenbaum, Gene Hackman may have had to introduce me as his “disowned son” the same way he always introduced Margot as his “adopted daughter” .
“Mid-life Crisis” though, is kind of a harsh word. What I consider to be crises are far worse than the occasional “hmm… maybe I shouldn’t waste so much of my life doing nothing… maybe tomorrow” phase that I’m currently describing. And I certainly hope that I am nowhere near mid-life. I just wish I could see things through from beginning to end a little bit better.
Speaking of which, do you ever find yourself in the middle of an aimless blog post realizing that you have nothing to say on the topic? I do very often. Maybe if I go through enough failures like this, one of the posts will end up being Hamlet. Odds are that if I write enough, I might eventually write something pretty good.