Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Au revoir, Angleterre, and thanks for the well good year

Note: This blog entry sufficiently meets the criteria to qualify as a slog.
Additional note: See previous blog entry for explanation and further discussion of slogs.

I’m trying to reflect on my year in England and reach some sort of personal conclusion to help me move on with the next chapter of my life. But as far as activities go, reminiscing seems to be one of the more cliché ridden.

Time went by so fast.

As I look back at my ten months in England, that is about the most profound thought that I can muster. Here, let me try again.

England and the US are different.

Yes, that is true. Maybe a little more specific, Nate?

England is older than the US.

I did see many old buildings in England and observed and even participated in a few old traditions, so I can see where I was coming from with that one. But while England is older than the US in terms of nation state formation, it is not necessarily true in geological terms. It might be. I have no idea, actually. In cosmic terms they’re probably about the same age. Sometimes thinking in cosmic terms comforts me. Sometimes thinking in cosmic terms sends a shiver down my backside and keeps me up at night. Let’s move on.

I am not the same person now that I was when I left.

That is not only a cliché, but a bit of a tautology, too. Of course I’m not the same person. I am ten months older. Ten months of life experiences. Ten months of coffee stains on my teeth. Ten months nearer to my death (at least in terms of a strictly linear perspective of time, and unlike cosmic terms, strictly-linear-perspective-of-time terms don’t seem to ever comfort me). Let’s try again.

England is larger than the US.

Now that one is just an outright lie. Wait. In terms of geography or population, clearly not true. But in terms of fish and chips per capita, England is probably larger than the US. Or in terms of, say, casual conversational usage of the word “well” as an adverb (as in “That party was ace, but I was well tired this morning” or “Did you see that speech by HM the Queen when she opened that new administrative building in Bristol? She was well cheeky”). Okay, maybe I should just try one about how I’m feeling.

It is strange to be back.

That one doesn’t strike me as a cliché per se, but it still presents a problem because how I’m feeling is a bit more complicated than those six words might suggest. It is strange that the routine and life that I’d come to know in England has ended forever, but being back in itself isn’t strange. It is intensely normal. For better or worse, I seem to have immediately settled back into the same way of being with my friends. Which is nice. Comforting. But if I felt like being cynical, I might express some worry about the fact that it was so easy for me to occupy the same old role. Does that mean I haven’t changed? Haven’t grown? Maybe. But maybe ten months just isn’t that long a time and with email and Skype maybe the Atlantic just isn’t that big. Maybe. Then again, maybe I’ve changed in ways that are significant even though I can’t articulate them right now. Maybe those ten months of staining my teeth with English coffee (or, more accurately, South American or African coffee prepared in England) and the conversations that accompanied that staining will manifest themselves in subtle ways. Maybe in expecting some sort of tangible sense of self-progression my thinking is stuck in strictly-linear-perspective-of-life terms. Perhaps there are more useful terms with which to think about my life. Or maybe the search for a conclusion to anything is in itself inherently prone to cliché. Maybe. But all the same, this slog has dragged on long enough so I think some sort of conclusion would just be the courteous thing to do at this point. Okay. Let’s give it one more shot.

It was a well good year.

I’m pretty sure that is an inappropriate use of “well”, but it will have to do. If I have used it incorrectly, then this might be the first occurrence of the phrase, “It was a well good year.” In endeavoring to avoid speaking in cliché, possibly breaking the rules of colloquial grammar is a risk I’m willing to take.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

somewhat of a blog...

Dear friends,

I’m going to be writing a blog. This is it, actually. My blog, I mean, not it in some sort of larger sense. You know, not like, “This is it” or “Well, there you have it” or “I’ll take it! And a side order of fries!” This isn’t any of that. This is just my blog.

This past year I tried to do a video log, or vlog. Originally I had planned on doing my vlog somewhat regularly. That didn’t happen. Instead I would put off doing it for a long time, then have a temporary spurt of inspiration where I would do several vlogs in a few days at the expense of my academic work and personal health, only to slip back into a long period of vlog inactivity, one of the saddest types of inactivity in my opinion. One reason for this inactivity was my own doubting of my vlogging ability. I had set some lofty goals; I believe in the first entry I mentioned using the vlog to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. That was hard to live up to and it didn’t happen. Not in the way I thought it would, anyway. And then I felt a pressure to be funny with the vlogs, which led to me wanting to rebel against having to be funny by attempting to be earnest (not that those two things are opposite or mutually exclusive), which in turn led to me looking back on those attempts of earnestness (which usually took the form of a voiceover) and cringing. Not that being earnest should necessarily induce cringing, I just think that I overcompensated a bit and perhaps tried a little too hard; at one point in a video about spending the day in London I said something about “just wanting to look for moments of authenticity that I could relate to” - what the heck does that even mean?

Still, I learned a lot from doing it. In fact, seeing as how I’m still working on it, I’m still learning. I’ve got a few more ideas for vlog entries I want to make. You can see the whole thing here:


All of this is to say that even though it (again, not it in any larger sense, just my vlog) didn’t exactly turn out how I had originally imagined, and even though there are a few entries that I would probably be embarrassed to watch with other people in the room, in the end I’m glad that I did it. So, I’m going to do it (some sort of blog) again.

At this point I’m not sure what form this blog will take. I’m sort of an egotistical bozo, so I imagine I’ll make a lot of self-referential entries about new comedy videos that I put up online (a selfish blog, or a slog). And recently I’ve been writing news based commentary for Strong Takes (http://strongtakes.com/) under the alias Mello Costelvis. I’ve been getting a kick out of it, so I might do some entries on current events (news bloggin’, or noggin). I might offer some personal reflections (personal blog, or pog) and I might talk about my favorite hobby (Pogs). I also might get busy with work and life outside of the blogosphere and never write another entry. We’ll just have to see.

So. Welcome to my blog/slog/noggin/pog.

In short: this is it.