Earlier this week I met a mutual friend named Tess in a local New Jersey watering hole. (The above painting hangs on this bar’s wall- “McMillan’s Dream” I think it’s called.) Tess and I talked about our signs. November is my birthday month and Venus is in retrograde so things have been going crazy; I was eager to vent. Tess got excited when I guessed she was a Libra and turned toward me, “do you know about your other signs?” …No, I confessed. I didn’t. Apparently Scorpio is only my EGO sign and I’ve got a whole bunch of other stuff to worry about– EMOTIONAL signs and whatnot. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it.

Tess had just graduated from Wesleyan in May and was feeling a bit lost. She said she was eager to step into “other people’s realities” rather than confront her own. That’s why she was in Montclair– prolonging the inevitable and enjoying some $2 PBR.

Tess had just left a friend’s barn, an unsuccessful jaunt at an “artist’s colony” of sorts, and was going to go back home and lick her wounds. She was disappointed the barn situation hadn’t worked out. She had brought posters, things to hang on the wall, she had tried to make it her new home and she admitted that she felt defeated to pack things up so early.

The migration of the twenty-somethings, a coming of age story.

You know, I have no idea if I’ll ever see Tess again, but we connected over a shared feeling of transitory uneasiness– both a desire to settle, but an impulse to do anything but. And that kind of commonality is comforting.

 

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A list:
Things I took for granted at Smith that would be sooo appreciated now

1. Online e-mail directory with pictures (I wish there was one for the tristate area.)
2. Housekeeper (Robin, I miss you)
3. Being able to get anywhere in 15 mins– work, school, gym, food, bed
4. Access to any article/book/periodical. I actually called about getting my subscription to JSTOR extended, but Smith has cut me off.

…Any others?

Things I don’t miss

1. Moodle

I just reread Fun Home by Alison Bechdel– in honor of National Coming Out Day or something.

Wow, that video is amazing. I wonder if I could find a dress like that on Etsy– search ‘white sequin gown’?

Fun Home is a graphic memoir that parallels Bechdel coming out story with the suicide of her closeted gay father. But, the strength of the book is that it isn’t really that simple. It’s complicated to feel now connected to your gay father with your shared identity, while simultaneously never more distant because he’s been lying your whole life. How do you revise your history to fit in this glaring omission? Your father is gay; you’re a lesbian. In spite of? In relation to? In conjugation with? Fun Home is an attempt to define within redefinition, to seek truths in mountains of untruths.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this revisionist history recently–reforming your self identity through self-reflection; the inherent complications of that. Say, you learn something about your parents, grandparents– they’re gay, drug-abusers, died in the Holocaust– this changes things. Now your life is seen through a different lens, right? You have to go back and revise your personal history, search for clues and  new significance in these omissions.

Fun Home reminds me a lot of Maus actually, sans of course, the Holocaust. Maus is, after all, really a memoir about Art Spiegelman’s complicated relationship with his father.

But, really– how do you write your own history? How do you identify the moments of historical personal significance– the turning points in your own life? The climax? The rising and falling action? For Alison Bechdel it was coming out to her parents and her father’s suicide a few months later. For Art Spiegelman is was learning that his father destroyed his mother’s diaries that she kept during the Holocaust and therefore any hope of learning her story. This are pivotal moments. Identified and illustrated.

But what’s been left out? Is this account really honest? It’s been arranged to follow plot arcs and answer questions– how TRUE could it be?

In answer, other self-archivists have a more democratic method of narrative. The Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn, an upcoming film, based on the true story of Jessie Singer Sylvester who meticulously recorded the daily activities of her elderly life in Brooklyn without any narrative arc.  “Rested a while. Got an apple. Had supper. Washed the dishes. Then to bed.”

That Polaroid chronicle I posted on here earlier. One Polaroid every day for 18 years– no labels or captions. Just one. We’re left to define a narrative.

A curator at the Toledo Museum had taken meticulous notes in spiral notebooks for thirty plus years about every museum/show he’d every been to. Every work of art of interest. He was going to have an intern develop a search database for this catalog next summer.

Maybe I’ll buy a journal.

Or this dress…

 

Ok, I didn’t see it yet, so I’m not really going to give my two cents on the “movie of our generation.” But for what it’s worth, I think Clueless is the movie of our generation.

But, seriously now– do I have to edit my Facebook now that I’m applying to jobs? 

I added my mom as a friend the other day, so I figure if I’m okay with my mom seeing it, I’m okay with employers seeing it. Although, I’ll admit I’m confident that my mom has no idea how to negotiate past the first page of pictures. 

Should I untag all the pictures with Solo cups and beer cans? Wearing themed underwear sets outside?

I feel like it would take way too long.

My schedule  right now is completely unsustainable. Freelancing is exhausting. My commute is exhausting. I wake up at 6am and get home at 8pm– exhausted. Today is my day off so I read in bed until 11am and am leisurely drinking iced coffee.

The last warm days of fall.

I think it’s midterms at Smith? Speaking of an unsustainable lifestyle.

I think exam periods at Smith were the most insane times of my life. Filling my 24oz Nalgene with coffee twice a day. Computer labs– the tangible feeling of stress when you walk into the periodical room. Midnight breakfast. Trips to diners and Dunkin’ Donuts. House rationed portions of M&Ms and those cheese/peanut butter sandwiches. The snack cart at the Campus Center past 2am. A junk food free-for-all. 

Now I’m sipping coffee on my day off.