the circle game

There is always something terrifying about purchasing plane tickets, in all their stark finality:

September 12th- Fly from PDX to L.A.
– Visit Cara, Laura, other California people (Ana?)
September 16th- bus to San Luis Obispo to visit my Grandma
September 20th- bus to San Francisco
September 21st-25th- Intern training in San Francisco
September 26th- Fly from L.A. to Laredo
11pm that night CROSS BORDER INTO MEXICO (either that or sleep in the airport)
December 23rd- Fly from Laredo to PDX

August and September are gonna be some crazy months. Corey and I leave for England on August 17th. We get back on September 2nd. I work for one more week, and then I leave. AAAAAAH! Change can be scary. But change is good, I think.

I’ve been doing this thing since April where every day I write down in a little notebook What I Did That Day. No analysis, no introspection, just bare naked facts. My drive to record things amazes me, sometimes: how much do I really need? Paper journal, livejournal, this blog, and this notebook? Anyway, it’s interesting to flip backwards and see What I Did on a certain day of the month. For example, here is What I Did on the 9th:

April 9th- sick day. Sleep a lot.

May 9th- Wake up early to go to coast with Solange and Aiden [visiting friends from Paris]. Long drive to Cannon beach. Play music from ipod. Beach windy, weather beautiful. Farmer’s market in morning. Gumbo for dinner delish. Catch 4 fat mice in traps.

June 9th- Wake up from nightmare of falling in black void. Corey comforts me. Alarm at 6.20 AM. Roll out of bed and catch Max. Buy sandwiches at Safeway, $33. Big sandwich makes me sick, leave it by library for homeless. Arrive at work, program planning with Allie + Jose in Learning Center. All computers broken, I greedily grab #9, the only one that works. Trip to Starbucks with Alex for a soy latte. Talk about her caffeine overdose and hospitalization.

July 9th- Wake up late, 6.20. Bagel + coffee breakfast. Write sketch of book review and start typing up story. Take kids to Shute Park, Plaid Pantry field trip to buy seeds for bird feeders. Animal presentation by Zoo people underwhelming. Take 10-12 year olds to park in afternoon, Alexis left behind, cries. Long Max journey home. Caught without ticket by Max officer, given ticket. Cry hysterically on phone with Corey, feel better. Hang out with Laura at Laughing Planet and Hotboxx as she leaves for CA the next day.

And for an even more entertaining reference, here is What I Did in August of 2008, when we were in Ecuador!

August 9th- Rainy in morning. Wet boat ride to Cojimies, [seaside town where the Corvina or Sea Bass festival was taking place] meet up with Mariana [our tour guide friend]. 4-hour lunch. Beer and rum. [I didn’t mention this, but Corey had the most amazing lunch, a soup filled with lobsters and crab and shrimp and Queen conch. Mmmmmmmmmmm.] B+J [Travel mates] leave for Quito. Corey and I watch volleyball game, dance to salsa band. Chris [other travel mate] harassed by drunk man. Bed early at 12:30pm.

Man, isn’t the passage of time crazy?! I’ve been really fascinated with that lately: how time passes, who you were three months ago, three years ago, ten years ago. I was talking with my sister yesterday about 1999 and it’s interesting the things we came up with when discussing what that year meant to us. The year we got really into movies saw Fight Club, American Beauty, Boys Don’t Cry. The year we first started listening to Tori Amos. The start of 8th grade. Oh man. What do you think of, when you think of who and where you were in 1999?

Tori Amos’ cover of Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game” started playing on my shuffle just now as I type this, which is a little eerie. “We’re captive on a carousel of time,” indeed. I like this quote from this NY Times blog on happiness, on the difficulty of happiness and being in time:

“To really live is to accept that you live “for the time being,” and to fully enter that moment of time. Living is that, not building up an identity or a set of accomplishments or relationships, though of course we do that too. But primarily, fundamentally, to live is to embrace each moment as if it were the first, last, and all moments of time… I find it impressive how thoroughly normal it is be so tentative about the time of our lives, or so asleep within it, that we miss it entirely. Most of us don’t know what it actually feels like to be alive. We know about our problems, our desires, our goals and accomplishments, but we don’t know much about our lives.”


This emphasis on the present moment links in nicely with the quote from Rayuela which I used to close the last entry: “We must establish ourselves in the present once more.” I think the central struggle of “Rayuela” (which I finally finished last week) is exactly that, how to fully enter the present moment of time. Oh god, I don’t even know where to begin saying even a quarter of what there is to say about this book. (I feel like so many of my reviews begin with that sentiment.) I do know that I am definitely going to have to read this again. (Again, another phrase that is popping up more and more often here.) What do I say about Morelli, the author-like figure who dominates the 99 “expendable” chapters that readers “hopscotch” through?

My favorite thing about this novel was definitely the rapport between the groups of friends. Cortázar does an excellent job of capturing the rambling dialogue of friendships that have lasted a long time. This characteristic is closely related to the other aspect I liked best about the novel, which was how much it reminded me of Bolaño. As I wrote earlier, characters sitting around, drinking, bitching, wandering, pontificating: it all feels very relevant to the mid-20’s, post-college lifestyle.

I have no idea where I read this (somewhere online–I swear!), but I read a quote by Cortázar, in which he said that “Rayuela” was his homage to people of his bohemian generation, and how they dealt with whole getting old and feeling irrelevant and purposeless. He also said that it was interesting that it was the young Latin American youth of the 60’s who ended up really connecting with his book, as opposed to his generation. (I am gonna try to find the source for this quote, I swear.)

I dunno, it all makes me think of this letter from my favorite advice column, and how the advice he gives is really true. When I read old entries from this blog, or my paper journal, or my livejournal, or any of the 1001 ways that I’ve tried to record all the craziness that goes on in the small box of consciousness that I call Myself and My World, what keeps coming up for me, again and again, is how I’ve changed. In this case, change is definitely, definitely a good thing. I am so unspeakably and inexplicably glad and relieved that for whatever reason, over the past year I have significantly drifted away from the crushing pressure of the assumptions that Cary Tennis critiques in his column. Doing well at tasks does notbring us happiness. These preconceived, ridiculous standards and notions of what it means to “succeed” and be a successful college graduate are just… they make me want to vomit in my mouth a little. I’m smart enough to know now that it’s not a game… but if it were, I’d definitely say that I’m winning. (And not in what you’d consider the traditional way, either.)

And so again: here’s to not always looking to the future and instead embracing the prsent. It’s Wacky Water Week with the 8 & 9-year-olds this week at the Club, and it’s gonna be a week they’ll never forget.

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Filed under books, Cortázar, perspective, really deep thoughts, Rio Plata, time

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