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So everyone's been all introspective here recently.  And by "everyone," I mean Matt, Meagan, my folks, Gail, and so on, and by "here," I mean LJ, the OTHER other blog place, emails and phone conversations.  I think about the stuff you all are suddenly thinking about--or suddenly in the mood to share what you think, or discuss--all the time.  It's just there, at the back of my mind.  I think part of it is that my Life Plans require a bit of waiting, and I have nothing better to do than dream about the future, which in part necessitates ruminating on the past.  Analyzing past mistakes and triumphs and the odd (and incredibly painful) moments of mediocrity.  What sorts of things do I constantly wonder about in a big way, in comparison to what everyone else is thinking of, you might ask?  I wonder, Do my stories have impact on people (when I know a lot of my anecdotes are things that are only funny if you know me, and which everyone hears more than once without fail); does my art mean anything or is it just... doodling (not that I really ever show it to anyone); am I going to hit the bottom of my vat of happiness/cheerfulness; if I have to wait for a while for my Life Plans--my career plans, my family plans--to start, then what exactly am I doing right now, if I'm waiting for my life to start in those ways??? 

I don't worry that my education was silly, though.  Even though no one's heard of my major and it probably won't ever help me get a job except where any BA, like.... comparative lit or biology, for example, could get me the same job too.  And I know my thesis is crap--there are tons of things I should've researched, could've researched, that I was too lazy to do, or to connect up properly.  Still, school itself is hardly ever the point, the formal education aspect of it I mean.  People who want to learn more are going to learn whether it's in a classroom or watching the History Channel or reading nonfiction or living way, way too much in Wikipedia.  School is for the what-goes-along-with-formal-education.  It's for the crazy roommate who has loud icky sex over your head in the bunk beds at 3am on a Monday night.  It's for any excuse for a party.  It's for making fun of new states, new microcultures, new groups of dumb people.  It's for graduating wishing you'd done that list of things to do while in college, the one that includes getting it on in the stacks.  It's for both loving and hating your school, your fellow classmates, your major, your professors, and being embarrassed due to at least two of the people you dated / hooked up with during that time.  It's for comfort and safety so we can figure ourselves out with a buffer between our own self-learning and the real world, so we can slack off and not hold down a job while we meander our way to that pinnacle, Self Actualization.  (10 points to anyone who can tell me whose theory that is without looking it up.)

My mom said today that once you make one opportunity happen--it sounds like an oxymoron, but you know what she means--then other ones happen all the time without you having to make them happen again and again.  But you have to make or let or acknowledge or be aware of that first opportunity that you make and/or take.  I can't phrase this right...  I hope you know what I'm talking about.  You open the door, you let one good thing in, or one possibility of a good thing in, then suddenly you spot another five.  It's a virus, but a good one.  You get into the mindset, your eyes are wide open and ranging back and forth, now that you're aware of what-all can happen.  I think it's why people always say things come in threes, or whatever; because once you notice, you notice.  Of course, you can stop taking note of the pattern, stop being aware, or you get lazy.  But I try not to.  So many things that I've done since I graduated, so many things I've felt and experienced, are things that I had to choose to let happen, or choose to do, or choose to feel and acknowledge those feelings, to take the plunge and trust... the hardest thing on the planet, let's face it...  If the opportunities, or those ridiculously important, invariably totally innocuous-on-the-surface moments had happened to me even two years ago, I would've gone into a blind panic, I would've been like, Fuck off!  I don't see you, I don't see you!  Like a kid.  A big, wussy baby.  Matt called me bravebunny, and maybe he's right.  I feel stronger than I ever have before; it's partly because now I'm like half of a team--no more sidekick for me, I suppose (big gulp)--and partly because I feel like I'm on my own, making my own way, taking the good methods my parents developed and leaving behind the bad, bad, bad ones. 

...

Also, I folded a lot of towels today.  And I'm inadvertently on that diet that's all about eating multiple small meals, because of how work goes.  Who would ever have thought I'd be on a diet?  Even accidentally?  I can't even believe it, and I'm the one who realized it!

Why haven't I seen a movie in a theatre in a long time?  I mean, we went to see Semi-Pro, and it rocked, but I mean Cinema.  There's ten thousand things I want to see, and most of them I'm ashamed I haven't seen yet, like most of the Oscar movies... even more shameful when it's pointed out that I live like a ten-minute walk from an artsy theatre. 

AND MY ROOM IS STILL FUCKING COLD.  WHY O WHY IS IT SNOWING / SLEETING / HAILING?? 
So.  Quick update about the state of my life.  I did my first 4-hour stint as a "substitute" housekeeper type thingy at this B&B in Wicker Park, and it was fine.  Nothing exciting, the owner was cleaning with me and telling me what's what all at once, but she didn't really want to chat, which was my favorite part about housekeeping at the Marcum, so if pffft to her job anyway, even if it pays really well.  I'll sub, then tell her I took another position--if she offers me the job.  Maybe she won't.  And today I had an interview at the Days Inn (ten minute walk from my place) to do second shift housekeeping--hallways, lobby, refill coffee, juice, etc during conferences and clean the room after them--and helping with breakfast Saturday mornings.  Pay's damn decent for what's basically a labor job, and THIS boss lady I really liked.  She was funny and straightforward, and I'll get this job unless her boss says it's a huge deal for me to miss those weeks in May, even though she said it shouldn't be a problem.  And I thought the Oscars were satisfying, predictable, and free of any sort of risk, but Jon Stewart rocks my socks as per usual.

Now, this is grace a my old roommate Matt:

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/action_movies.png

Wouldn't y'all go see that too?

Also, I saw Vantage Point and... why does Dennis Quaid just look constipated when he tries to act?  I miss The Big Easy, and if you've never seen it, it's him as a nice Creole cop (all of 20, I swear) and an uptight Northern IA lady played by Ellen Barkin.

It's been a while since I felt like putting something down on [virtual] paper, but tonight I was watched The Big Chill.  I felt two opposing things while watching, which is typical for us crazy oxymoronical Geminis.  The first thing--the easier thing--was that the soundtrack is awesome.  My parents have had the soundtrack basically since CDs were invented and it's a perfect compilation, but the movie has a million other songs I wish were on like Disc 2: "The Weight," "Bad Moon Rising," "When A Man Loves A Woman," and "The Midnight Hour," to name most of the ones I remember now.  That music, especially stuff like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," is the kind of music that really has me grooving.  I mean, I dance to most things, but the oldies like that, where there's none of this... irony, or maybe it's self-consciousness, about music that's about love; it's sincere, and it moves me.  Which brings me to the second thing the movie brought out: big fat tears.  Yeah, yeah.  Not because of the basic plot (college friends spend a weekend together after one of their group commits suicide, to oversimplify), but because it hits on a lot of my fears about my friendships.  One of them says that they were so close because it was easy, back then, to be such good friends, when they were fresh-faced idealist types with big, good dreams; another says that she thought she was the best she's ever been when they were together.  I have this terrible fear that I'll never be better than I was my junior year of high school: I survived AP English, I had my favorite teacher ever (Huff!), I finished my first manuscript, I slept about three hours a night on average, I was babysitting for two awesomely great kids, I was dancing,  I did all but one theatre show of the season if memory serves, and I was already excellent friends with almost everyone I count as a best friend these days.  Not that I feel like a failure right now--no, no, I'm well content.  But it made me.... itchy, somewhere under the surface.  What if the people who know me best are looking at me /  thinking about me, thinking I'm wasting my life / my potential?

Fuck it.  Or the movie just makes me sentimental.


I got a tattoo and I'm writing again. 

And I remembered to start downloading music again, so I've re-gotten a lot of stuff I had on that damn stupid old iPod. 


And I watched August Rush and thought it was a huge shame it wasn't a rated-R movie.  It could've been a clean, dramatic movie about two adults and how one night changed their entire lives, and it could've been sans Robin Williams.  Don't get me wrong, Freddie Highmore was great, but I was far more interested in the adults.  The shot of the two of them wrapped up on the couch just...  That's pure contentment right there.  So I guess the movie was worth it just for that shot, for me.  That and the line where Johnny screams, "Punch me--I'm suffocating here!"
I saw the lovely Ms. Laura tonight. We had some good sandwiches--hers was spicier than she expected but she handled it with grace--and then came back to the inn for some good, old-fashioned research on how to hippity hop all across Europe for less than $2000. Oh yeah. We're gonna do it. I found a round-trip plane ticket for $783 (part of my graduation present, so it doesn't count towards the $2G), the invaluable Eurail pass is $575, the only flights we'll need will be under $200, and then there's another train ride outside Eurail territory that'll come to like $50. So that's about $800. Ooooh baby. We had to cut out a few places we wanted, like Morocco and Moscow, because RyanAir doesn't go there, Eurail doesn't work there, and flights there are damn awkward and expensive. Some other time... when I'm rolling in dough... in a million years...

Whatever. Our itinerary is nuts, and we'll be so exhausted and stuff that we'll probably die about halfway through. On the upside? The Eurail is flexible so if we say, Fuck hanging out in X and Y and Z, we'll just chill in A for a while and then bop straight on to B, we can do that with no losses. And there's significant time beyond the reach of the Euro, people, which is a huge, HUGE factor. Beyond the pound, too, which is A WAY BIGGER DEAL, since the British are kicking our asses, economically. Speaking of, every flight Laura and I checked that flew London to anywhere in France with RyanAir tacked on like 25 pounds, versus the like 4 pounds and whatnot they charge on other flights. I wonder if the French hate the British and/or the British hate the French that much. It'd be funny if that was the rationale.

Still job hunting. Tomorrow I see a freshly-engaged old friend and then head to Matt's. I was going to be oh so lucky and get to stay the weekend, but my bosses will be out of town Saturday night and there's guests so I have to sleep here. And he's not allowed to sleep over yet, since we all don't know each other well enough for such liberties yet. Grr. But whatever, it's a job. A small concession for no rent and being able to do, career-wise, pretty much precisely what I want to do.

Technical question. In Safari, I can't figure out how to have the Post An Entry thing pop up with the options for changing font, text color, etc. How do you do that here?
Okay, I know that's not a very dramatic subject line for my first post in like months, but it makes me snicker. Who doesn't love droppin'-the-V-card jokes?? (Other than repressed people?)

So, I've decided to post today because today I feel like I'm actually a college graduate... aka... I'm finally an adult. Like, unavoidably so. Why? Well, I'm currently living in the basement--with my own bathroom, a fuckload of closet space, and two (yeah, I said TWO) private exits/entrances to the house--of the Windy City Inn in Lincoln Park in exchange for about fifteen hours of work a week, like housekeeping, and for being here when they're not, housesitting style. Of course, I still have to get another job-job because... well, that's obvious, isn't it? You have to have a job even if you're not paying rent. I have loan repayments, cell phone, health insurance, food (although my new boss/landlady, Mary, says I don't have to buy food if I don't want... which I think means I can eat their food whenever I want...?!? I'm kind of nervous about that one, home-stay-style), public transportation paying, and other fun shit like movies and the occasional book or drink or concert or cover charge. There's oodles of places around here that need waitresses, so I think I'm gonna bop around trying to be nice and competent and cool enough even though I'm totally inexperienced when it comes to waiting tables, and just throw myself on managers' mercy (mercies?). Either that, or try to get a job at the Borders or B&N or Best Buy that's around. If they'll hire me... Man, that would be depressing if I couldn't get one of those jobs. How's that for overvaluing a college degree?

All right, other than that, there's not too much news that's fit to print.

Okay, there is, but if you want to hear it, call me.

Now I'm off to gorge, gorge, gorge on cable, and then probably sneak off to get some dinner on the cheap nearby because I'm still not sure "Oh you don't need to buy food unless there's something in particular you want" means "Feel free to raid our kitchen anytime you want some food."

bite me

It's official.  Norwegian Cruise Lines can bite my delicious size 10 ass.  I get a call today.  Not only do they want me to fax in crap that I'd asked if I should or not and not gotten an answer about oh, SIX WEEKS AGO, but it'll take me ANOTHER THREE MONTHS just to get my Merchant Mariner's document in order.  WTF? I asked politely, and the woman told me there had been a policy change, and now, it takes longer.  So, I asked (still relatively politely), why was it that no one was informing people--read, ME--of this?  As it might matter to us?!  She says, I dunno.  I swear, this woman must be full to the gills with Xanax.  She didn't care, she wasn't angry that I was upset, she wasn't sincere, and her apology was totally devoid of either compassion or irritation.  Unbelievable.  I took Dane Cook's words to heart, and just kept repeating that: Unbelievable!  Un-be-LIEV-able!  Unbelievable...

So it's really back to basics.

Gail has pointed out my rhetoric from last night seemed a bit... crazy.  Or, she implied it.  But I'm so clever, I caught her undertone.  Well, last night I was tired, I was daydreaming about what I'd do if I could do anything (truly, anything), and my writing isn't going so well, so all that prose is sort of... backed up with nowhere to go.  Therefore, I was writing in a prose-y fashion, sue me.  I meant everything, I just didn't mean it with quite that much... fervor.  (Overusage of ellipses!  Call the cops!)

P.S.  I saw Michael Clayton and was, A of all, reminded that Tom Wilkinson is just one of the best actors I've ever seen, seriously.  B of all, George Clooney is so COOL.  And just to make a nice trio, C of all, Tilda Swinton is always spot-on--even though it was clear to me that she's British.  I can't explain it--it was more in her rhythm of delivery than in that she fucked up and pronounced things wrong, because she didn't, exactly.  Niks and I then snuck in to Dan in Real Life and it was amusing, but the only people I cared about were the daughters.  Screw everyone else.  Although I loved the scene where the whole family was in on telling Dan they were worried about him, in a very nutty, neurotic, overbearing-with-love family way.  Mainly because that's actually realistic for a family like that, and they didn't overplay it.  All I kept thinking was, What a tremendous waste of all these people's insanely awesome talents...  It was as sad as watching someone drop two scoops of ice cream with tops out of a cone onto hot pavement.

back to basics

Well, then.

Norwegian is still jerking me around, and I feel like a manic-depressive (bipolar? Are they synonyms or two different illnesses?) about the whole thing. Upsides? I could be in Hawaii, and come home after six months and pay off half of my student loan principal and still have a few grand left over to take a nice vacation, or one vacation with a few stops on it. Downsides? I'll be working for a company that's been jerking me around for three months, and I won't have a single friend nearby so I can at least see a familiar face now and then.

If I don't do that, if I don't hear from them by whatever deadline I decide to set, if I leave a message at that deadline and say "You can take your awesome job opportunity and shove it because I don't want to wait anymore," then I have to figure out what to do. My biggest problem--I finally articulated it earlier--is that I don't even know what I should be asking myself, what questions I should answer or decisions I should make that would help me figure out what to do. I want to do something extraordinary, if I can, because that's just how I want to live my life... and I only have to be slightly practical. What's slightly practical? I have a little over $4K--I cannot possibly express how proud I am of myself for that, especially since I paid $12K of my college and funded a three-week European vacation, not to mention countless movies, presents, and nights out. So I can afford to do something a little crazy and mostly irresponsible, so long as I have a job that covers rent, food, my student loan repayment, my cell phone, and possibly cable and/or internet.

But I don't want to waste my savings on something that isn't... bold.

Does that make sense? If I boldly plunge into an adventure and it turns out to suck, or I don't make much money, or I end up getting dysentary in India, for instance, then it doesn't matter, so long as my purpose was bold. In my life so far, I've managed to have "the right thing" and the right thing for me be one and the same, when it came to school and major and all of that, and I'd like that trend to continue. But my goals in life are longer-term, they don't require that I start immediately, and I don't even want that. I want to be young, have my tumultuous adventures. My mom didn't "settle down" at all until she was past thirty. It's not that I want to emulate her life--uh, no thanks--but I appreciate and respect the sentiment. She was answerable only to herself, she had friends and adventures and lovers, she saw and experienced things that have sustained (?) her during more stable/boring/domestic stretches of her life. I don't want to regret missing out on potential big adventures, big sweeping things.

All the same, can one really purposefully throw one's self in the path of a big, sweeping thing? Or can we only get caught up in it, like the whirlwind metaphor?

How do you like THEM apples?

Ohhhkay, so after all that trouble with Norwegian, with all that agonizing decision-making that resulted in my mature decision to go to New York, I got a fuckin phone call from Norwegian on Monday night.

Oh no.
(oh YEAH)

It turns out, the woman I was talking to A MONTH AGO was a temp, and no one figured out she hadn't gotten me medically cleared before she left until now.  I tried to be angry or kind of bitter about it, but then I was just like HAWAII MOTHERBITCHES!!!  And so, I couldn't care less that I was hired August 8th and am only now two, maybe three weeks away from leaving for training in Maryland.  I'm extra-happy now that I've been too lazy to go winter clothes shopping, because that would have been a waste, to buy a cute winter coat, some boots, some warm pants, some sweaters.  I would've been like, Fuckity--how much of this still has tags?  There's nothing more in the world I hate than having to return shit.  Seriously.

In other news, I was at the library yesterday and picked up like six young adult fantasy books that I read ten, twelve years ago.  I was standing in front of three children's room librarians going, Okay, so there was this girl, and then there was this witch who lived in a palace of ice, and I swear to God I think there were gargoyles in it, and the title had something to do with angels...?  I am a golden god.  The first book in the series?  The Darkangel.  (aka, vampire)  The second book in the series?  A Gathering of Gargoyles.  I also grabbed some Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, which aren't suspenseful for people who aren't 11, but I still like all the details she's worked out, plus it's a combo of guilt (I could have been published by 18, too) and inspiration (I could have been published by 18, too!) to read her stuff.

Also, mainly for Gail, my movie list:
- The Assassination of Jesse James...
- Lars and the Real Girl
- Things We Lost in the Fire
- Michael Clayton
- Gone Baby Gone
- Rendition
- Rails & Ties
- The Darjeeling Limited
- Eastern Promises

Um, all of these ARE DOWNERS, except for Lars and the Real Girl--I think--which is kind of crazy because Ryan Gosling doesn't usually do non-downer movies.  Huh.  I LIKE it!

I'm done.
Okay, so fuck Norwegian Cruise Lines anyway, I've had enough. Even if I did hunt down the right person and get the damn job and go, I'm going to be crazy bitter if the job isn't orgasmic, right? So why bother? Plenty of other fish in the sea; my yoga instructor (and all the other lovely people in my yoga class) says clearly there's a reason that the Norwegian thing fell through. Clearly I'm meant to do something else, or I'm meant to take the time to realize I don't really want the Norwegian thing all that much. If it'd happened easily, I would've been happy and on an adventure in paradise, but whatever, I'll have a different adventure.

Which brings me to #2. Candace, all alone in NYC in her apartment with the futon 15 minutes from Times Square, says I should move in with her, get a job with her. THat sounds like an adventure. NYC's like a foreign place--for me, anyhow. I could work at a B&B there, or a hotel, or something else that's cool and semi-bohemian, like an art gallery or something. The second I hung up with her and my parents asked what was up (I just came back in time for dinner--my dad called outside for me, where I was pacing, like we live in the country or something)--they were like, Just go! And I got all excited and kind of fluttery in my tummy.

But then I was thinking about how good life's going for me here. Not here-here, literally, as in, at my folk's house, but I could get a place in the city, I've got friends who're looking for places still. And I could get a job there, or a couple jobs, and there's plenty of friends in a couple small groups so I wouldn't be seeing the same 4 people every night of my life for the foreseeable future. Besides, it's not like I'm any more in love with New York than I am with Chicago.

So, I was ::happy dance:: excited, and then I was in the shower, thinking, since the shower's the best place to think, and I just kept muttering, "Shit shit shit shit shit SHIT..."

All I know is, taking a biss ass vacation is off the table. I'm not 200% psyched at the thought of doing it, so it's not worth it to take all my money to pour it into that, when I've kind of already done that whole thing before, and if I'm not dying to leave, I shouldn't do it. No repeats, right? At least, not until I've done everything once.

Oh God oh God oh God...

As Amanda said the other night, we need life coaches. WTF do I do?!?
So.  My week has been uber shitty.  I STILL never heard from anyone at NCL, I don't know if I missed some sort of "deadline" today because I never heard, I cannot find any sort of personnel phone number, and the only thing I can really do is just repeat to myself over and over, "They have up to three recruitments a day, four days a week: They NEED employees, they are not going to cut you loose because some dipshit woman didn't get back to you when she was supposed to, you WILL be in Hawaii before the next millenium, this will be an INCREDIBLY AWESOME EXPERIENCE... once you get to paradise...."  Not the calmest, coolest of mantras.  I had a complete and total What the FUCK am I DOING???!? night the other night, and was all like, Ugh my bestest friends are so fuckin far away I can't cry all over them and it's like 2am so I can't even call anyone to freak out over the phone...  I settled for waking my mom up, which is kind of uncool, but it worked out.

Other than that, things are going pretty well.  I have money, my parents are sympathetic, I still have the sweetest damn job of anyone I know, except maybe Mere, who's teaching English in the Motherland, where car drives her.

If anyone wants a snappy books suggestion: Christopher Buckley, the guy who wrote the book Thank You For Smoking wrote another called No Way to Treat A First Lady that is fan-fucking-tastic.  Highly recommend.

Also, Nikki and I had a nice dinner at Cheescake Factory tonight to give me a bonus for surviving this week without punching someone or something in the face.  It was soooo delicious!  I had the Thai chicken, she had garlic noodles, we each ate some of the other's, and then we split the like chocolate tower truffle cake.  We finished our meal seriously about four hours ago, and my stomach is still bursting with fruit flavor.

Did I mention I LOVE Keira Knightley?  I watched Domino earlier.  That girl is... ::cannot find the words to describe rher hotness, so fans self::