This was a good movie. I watched it tonight - I recommend it - I think it was worth $6 - best part was the idea that one can make an intelligent movie that is funny - that and some of the scenes were totally amazing - least desired aspect was how neat and packaged the movie became - everything worked out, and I'm not sure I can come up with anything that really confused me or makes me think or change my worldview after watching the movie.
I'm not really a fan of Mark Walberg (sp?) most of the time - I usually think he's like Brad Pitt only not as good of an actor and not as good looking (he certainly wouldn't have been my choice for Democrat Presidential Candidate like Pitt) - in this movie, Walberg does quite a good job - I think that Jason Schwartzmann does a good job, but certainly not outstanding - same with Dustin Hoffman I think. The two actors I was expecting to be the best were decent, but Walberg and Naomi Watts did an awesome job I think. The highlight scene occurs when Schwartzmann and Walberg are invited in for dinner with a conservative Christian family - this scene was just plain amazing - really wish I could watch it a few more times.
I also promised a review of Death Cab's concert, which was last weekend, and you'll get it here. The norm for this semester is an incredibly busy mid-week. I barely have time to sleep and recover, let alone reflect and do anything constructive to unwind (I guess I'd say it's all self-resuscitation - trying to preserve some degree of life and interest when I come home Tuesday night and also on Thursday night). The concert was amazing - I really thought that the opener - Travis Morrison - was terrible - cheesy and strange as all hell. The guy (former singer for the Dismemberment Plan) would sway his hips strangely, and the girl keyboardist did some of the most strange/awful dancing I've seen. During the first song, everyone just started looking at each other wondering what could possibly be going through the singer's mind with his silly hip swaying - a mix between Ricky Martin, Justin Timberlake (who can actually dance), Janet Jackson, and I just don't know what. Suffice it to say, this was certainly not the highlight of the night.
Death Cab was amazing - I really like how they played things - they could sound perfectly like the album when they wanted to, but they weren't constrained to do so. Ben Gibbard's voice was just plain amazing, and the music just fits together - they played the perfect combination of songs, and the people running sound deserve as much thanks as anyone - it isn't often that sound people are fine keeping the volume down to a reasonable level where I can feel comfortable without earplugs. Everything I was hoping for in their performance was right on - they ended with transatlanticism, played most of the songs off that album I wanted them to along with songs off the earlier albums that I like most - photobooth and we laugh indoors and others. asked the next morning what I thought about the concert, I ranked it up with Radiohead at Redrocks and Sigur Ros (especially the first time I saw them). I have seen some good concerts (even in this month - Rilo Kiley and Ben Folds), but this was just what I wanted and really loved. Ben Gibbard is doing a lot for my conception of my favorite kind of music.
I've seen three groups lately that were high on my list, and I might find a way to see Wilco this next week - I could go see Badly Drawn Boy again soon. I'm hoping to see the Shins soon (thought of going to the Iceland Airwaves to see them and Keane - a band that emily recently recommended). I still need to see Sparklehorse (though I would have loved to see him earlier), Her Space Holiday (which I missed from a fluke because I didn't realize they were in the cities until the day after they were here), Nine Inch Nails, U2, Beck, Brighteyes, Jack Johnson, and Clinic among others. But things are good - I'm happy when I get to see good music and am happy with how the concert goes - each of these last three have been great. And I've seen good movies lately (Garden State being amazing, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is great, and I Heart Huckabees is good - still have Team America and others to go see soon). It's really not that bad being a graduate student with very little money - I might have to live in an old junky house, but that puts me up with cool and interesting people, forces me to be conscious about how I spend money, and still allows me to live a good/fun/interesting life. I like it.
I am feeling more and more that I need to be visiting places - like I need to be other places right now. My schedule and life doesn't lend itself to this sort of wandering very well, and that's something that detracts from it. My life has a lot of meaning in how I have to think and work hard and challenge myself to do good things and be happy - teaching and learning is awesome that way - but I have a little too much that is keeping me here - a hard and demanding schedule. I want to be in London, the Black Hills, New Orleans, Costa Rica, the Two Rivers. I want to be visiting schools and figuring out whether I'd like to be there for a few years. There are things that make me think of staying in the Twin Cities, but there is a lot that makes me want to leave it. And I know that graduate school lends itself quite well to meeting interesting and fun people that can continue challenging me - potential good friends - yet I always think about how I have good friends right now, and I just have such a hard time envisioning some aspects of new life-paths I will experience. It'll happen I'm sure.
I think about some of my happiest memories, the ones that dictate how my life has turned out to this point - my brothers have been very important - older and younger - in many capacities. The places have made a big difference - the activities in those places - I can relate to a lot of different people with a lot of different experiences because I have had a diversity of experiences, and I'm not too judgmental of some things - I'm judgmental in some aspects I guess, but I give more charity to others with whom I disagree or to whom have a harder time relating. More than anything, I think about how blessed I have been - I've protected myself in a lot of ways by exploring things and thinking about them a lot - but I know so many amazing people - family, friends, and even acquaintances. I know people who are doing awesome things in a number of ways - practical and idealistic in an incredible variety of contexts - so many that are really brave and even headstrong - people who are spending lots of time in other countries or places they knew little about before immersing themselves - New Orleans, Costa Rica, London, Nicaragua, Ecuador, so many others. I know people in a lot of crazy places, doing crazy things - things that amaze me.
I have a brother that is getting an incredible academic experience at a wonderful college - writing papers and doing well in classes that give so many trouble (including me). I have a brother who has been struggling through very difficult life experiences that I would never wish on anyone, but his strength and brave will is amazing, and he's building amazing houses that people will live in for many years and cherish and call home. I have a brother who took off, headed west, and pursued a dream to work in technical theatre and stage production, something that he's been interested in for a long time and is pursuing even though he has a lot of interests and abilities that would allow him to do so many things - a person who can patiently sit around and learn about topics in such incredible depth that he can talk with any expert in a field even though he has done nothing except read and think about the topic on his own - whether it's engineering or constitutional law.
I have grandparents who are over 90 years old, who are still living on their own, and farming and ranching, still taking of their mentally disabled children, still thinking and doing awesome things, still talking to their grandchildren regularly, still loving life and their family - they inspire me on so many levels - there's something so amazing about them. I wish I could spend so much more time with them, but things like jobs and personal life pursuits just lead me so far away from them - and away from my brothers. It's difficult for me - I'm a connected person - I want to be at least - it's difficult for me to leave my family, to stretch the geography and the connections I have with them, the connections I have with these special places in my life too. I want to be waking up near the Two Rivers, hearing morning doves, walking in the creek valleys with old and beautiful trees, walking on the bluffs and enjoying the view of the river, exploring the area with my brothers - I want my grandparents to tell me more stories of what they had to do when they were raising my parents in the 1950s. I want to know about their childhoods in the 1920s and 1930s in the midwest. I want to walk and sit on the hill tops and feel cold from the wind blowing and warm from the sun coming down, not knowing whether to take off my sweatshirt, knowing that were I to stay until nightfall, I would hear coyotes all around me, see pheasants, jackrabbits, grouse, and deer (and cows and horses), that I could rest here for such a long time. It's often said that cities have opportunities, entertainment, options. I agree, but I have simple tastes - I am fine sitting and thinking, watching the trees and grass move in the wind, sometimes becoming still, allowing me to hear, smell, and feel what I want to feel. I like libraries, the internet, books, talking to people, and the comfort that comes from having people around, people who understand my worldview (regarding the environment, religion, and education), and I get that in the city - I get that in population centers with higher education places. But it trades off with losing the feelings I have when I'm surrounded by no clocks nor watches, computers nor books, human interaction overload, and deadlines, rushed lives, stressed people and plants, where everything has been created and developed, managed and manicured - lawns, buildings, vehicles, lives. There is freedom elsewhere.
It seems like I almost have to forsake spending any prolonged part of my life in the Two Rivers or Black Hills. There are no colleges, especially liberal arts schools - my career is supposed to dictate where I can live now. My career goals are certainly going to dictate where I spend the next few years of my life, trying to get a PhD in philosophy or ecology or whatever. I could become a writer - I could do that anywhere, and that's appealing. It's not secure in terms of financial matters though. I would have less opportunity to teach and interact with people who carea as deeply about some things. I just don't know how to figure out this dilemma - there isn't a perfect answer for me right now. And I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life near the Two Rivers - it wouldn't satisfy me any more than living in the Twin Cities does. I'd be missing other things - I truly like some of the opportunities offered by this area. I am unsure I would be fine giving up some things, but I just don't know. More than anything, I think that the conflict I'm feeling is the most important part of my life story right now. Maybe it will continue to be so, for the rest of my life. I don't know what I want out of any part of my life because I want too many things. I want a PhD in Ecology, a PhD in Philosophy, a PhD in Environmental Writing. I want to teach all of these things. I want to write books. I want to just spend time around my family and friends, wherever they are. I want to be a good brother, son, uncle, grandson, cousin, friend. I want to wander the hills, swim the rivers, see the world, write music, make music videos, make movies, interact with people in important ways, make the world better through music, writing, politics, and most of all education. I want to stay in the Cities, go to Reno, Seattle, Eugene, Madison, visit New Orleans, Costa Rica, and London (I'm getting repetitive, but that's indicative of what's on my mind). I want to return to Budapest, Tucson, and Puerto Morelos.
I've avoided talking about close relationships - I'm confused about that sort of thing right now. I will say one thing here - I am quite aware and convinced that I personally am not good at long distance relationships of the special sort. I may not be good at special relationships in general - I just don't know because I haven't had much experience with that lately - I've tried a few times lately I suppose. I like people, but I just don't see myself being able to have a relationship with someone that involves talking on the phone or the internet as the main way of interacting - I accept it in some ways, but I'm bothered by mediated interaction. And I'm busy. And I like living and interacting with people I'm around. I certainly know a bunch of people who are awesome that I wouldn't mind getting to know better, but when they are far away, this just confuses me too much. I started writing a song a few weeks ago about how everyone I like was far away - friends and otherwise. And though I really have some great friends who are close (live with some and grad students), I just don't know how to deal with this. I also don't know how to sort out meaning from feelings. My body/mind/heart/soul just aren't/isn't capable of this. I don't know what I'm talking about at this point (I think I've went beyond where I can think coherently so maybe you'll discover something insightful and amazing from what I'm trying to say right now - my defenses are down if you buy into that metaphor - more than anything, I just feel like this last paragraph is potentially confusing and strange, and maybe that's fine, but I'm guessing I'll be bothered by it tomorrow when I get up).
So what does this mean? Well, I'm 24 years old, I have a job teaching college students and am pursuing a graduate degree, my life has a lot of meaning and good things in it - people I love deeply and respect and admire beyond measure, I have direction in my life, but it's not a single direction - I have these diverging paths, paths I could perhaps follow one at a time, but also paths that could limit where else I can go in my life. I can explore these paths, but every day, every year, every hour I spend is a day/year/hour I can't spend again, spend differently - I can imagine how my life would be different on these paths, but I am not so sure I have the predictive capacity to do anything beyond fool myself, and I would prefer not to fool myself. If I make a decision to do one thing (have a special relationship, pursue a certain degree or discipline, live a certain place, visit someone), to what extent will it preclude doing other things - what will it lead to, what will it mean in the bigger part of my life? What should I use to choose which things to do - those things that I am uniquely qualified to do, those things that if I don't do now, I will never have another chance, those things that I feel most emotionally compelled to do, most rationally compelled to do, those things that will satisfy my short term hopes and dreams or my long term thoughts? What should I do? How should I change my life?
I'm not asking for answers from any source - I'm not expecting a friend, an acquaintance, a burning bush, or three-eyed crow to answer these things. I can't read futures in tea-leaves or see far off places in palantir. I can't do everything, but I have to do something. I'm connected to other things, but I'm separate also. Life is optimistic and pessimistic. None of this helps. But expressing it maybe does. This is constitutive life and language. My writing makes these things at least plausible, though clearly not special or important. I'm happy expressing myself, knowing that this isn't some place any one can find, but that some people can find it. I feel sad knowing that winter is coming, and winter is the toughest time for me deal with, especially in Minnesota and South Dakota - the cold, snow, wind, and lack of sun make a huge difference in my life. But I make it through these times every year. Somehow. I will have little time to sulk or complain. I set expectations for this year (finishing my master's and therefore a thesis in a shorter amount of time than anyone has in my program) - that will be good for me I think, but it leaves little time for dilly dally. And you think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy, hmm? I will hopefully find some tranquility and comfort in knowing that my life revolves around doing academic things, and that is exactly what is required of me right now. I can't help thinking that life would be better with more vacation time, time to visit Matt and Elizabeth, Emily, my grandparents, Tom, Tor, Wyatt, Kenny, Mike, Anna, Scott, Steph, Amanda, Megan, Jenn and Casey, spending more time with Mark, Andrew, Jacob, Micah, Hanna, Becca, Greg, others. I can envision such a life. I need to make it happen. I need to find a way to make as much of this happen as possible. I wish all of you the best.
If you have read something like this, you've done something beyond my expectations. Nice job. Please go to sleep happy and wake up refreshed. Rest well - I'll most likely kill you in the morning, if only I could be with you all. Until that time, take care.