Perpetually Unfinished
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My Childhood Bedroom-- in Pink!
Originally uploaded by brittgm.
It seems that Dave Hosier, who was in most of my classes in high school, has a blog now. Dave not only engages in one of my favorite procrastinating pastimes, Googling random people one knows/knew, but he's helping me out by sticking them (or should I say us?) up on his website. I think he thinks I'm a bit of a freak, as he seems to be rather conservative, unsurprisingly (not that I remember ever having a political discussion with him or anyone else in high school except Rich, but considering that we grew up in Sussex County, the reddest county in our blue state, where about 10% of registered voters are Democrats, it's hardly against the odds). But that's okay; I can forgive almost anything to someone from high school with an interesting and well-written blog (I'd probably keep reading anyway thanks to my natural curiosity-- plus goodness knows I keep following all of the other 15,000 blogs I've ever laid eyes on-- but it being a good read in and of itself is a plus).

Unfortunately for both of us, finding our classmates online is hard work, which baffles me a little bit. I am probably the most Google-able of anyone in our class (except Jenny, if you remember to search under Jenny Owen Youngs, but I'm half-inclined to say being a musician is cheating). I really do not understand how I can accumulate 40+ web mentions in the course of my daily life, while I'm hard-pressed to find anything at all on 90% of other people I search for.

It's a real shame, too, since my natural curiousity about the lives of folks I knew way back when (way to sound 40 instead of 23, Britt!) is compounded by the fact that I rarely go back to Sussex County or talk to most of the people I knew there. (Moving 700 miles away, with parents moving 250 miles away, can do that.) Rich catches me up on the gossip occasionally, but mostly, it seems like a whole other world, quietly tucked away in the middle of nowhere. Nowadays when I'm asked where in NJ I'm from, I always answer "Oh, just way up north, nowhere you'd know"-- even when a fellow New Jerseyan presses and I mention the county by name, they usually just smile and nod in a blank sort of "Yeah, the name sounds vaguely familiar" way. I was actually really excited the other day when I got asked, "Oh, is that near Sparta?" It's hard to explain... it was this rare acknowledgement that yes, the place I lived for seventeen years does actually concretely exist. Don't laugh; it seriously feels like a parallel universe sometimes.

So anyway, what I was getting at is that Googling from afar would be ideal, if people could actually manage to get their names all over the web! I really am interested in what people are up to, in a genuine albeit not terribly intense sort of way. I was kind of disappointed that we're not having a five-year reunion... we're at such an interesting age right now! We're working, in grad school, married, engaged, buying homes, and probably at least a couple of folks have babies already. But I guess I've just got to wait five more years. Or hope that people start doing more web-worthy stuff. Or that all their counterparts with identical names get name changes, or something, so I don't keep getting thousands of results and (momentarily) wondering things like, "Did Mike Osorio become a brain-damaged murder witness? Or a unicycling Marine?" Alas, I don't think the world is going to indulge me. But hey, at least now I know what one more person is up to.

(By the way, the picture deserves a bit of explanation-- that's my room in the house I grew up in, the place I slept for fifteen years. No, when it was mine, it wasn't pink-- that's the work of our last tenants and their little girl. I snapped the picture while we were working on the house inbetween tenants, and it's about the only picture actually taken in Sussex County out of the 1,800 on my computer.)
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Friday, September 02, 2005

Atop the Arch, St. Louis
Originally uploaded by brittgm.
It's been forever since I've written here. I don't know why. I haven't been doing a lot of writing lately, period. Not here, as you may have noticed; not in my personal notebook, either. For a while, I was doing a good job of writing everyday in my grey sketchbook, stretching my fingertips and my creativity. It was not only enjoyable, but on a certain level I could sense it was healthy, good for me-- like devouring a salad when you're really craving one, when it's not only delicious but part of the satisfaction is that it's nourishing and filling a need your body has. Anyway, conversely, I can tell that when I'm not writing it's not healthy, that an important part of me is shriveling up from disuse. But nonetheless, that doesn't mean I don't often lapse, and lately I have. There's just been this sort of wall of detachment that I keep running into. (That and the practical side of it, of course. Not only have I traded the long El commute with its abundance of writing time for a brisk 10-minute walk to work, but I've been out of town a hell of a lot this summer.)

Anyway, consequently, there are about seven million things I could write about, and so I think this is going to be a long, meandering, and incoherent entry. Sorry-- you'll just have to bear with me.

Union Miners' Cemetery (Mother Jones' Gravesite)
Originally uploaded by brittgm.

So yeah, I've kind of been all over the place since I wrote last. A short but satisfying weekend in St. Louis, where we managed to pack a visit to Mother Jones' grave, a trip up the Arch, a Cardinals game, a visit to Alex's friend Nan, and frozen custard with Sarah into two days... a week and a half for Alex and I in DC, NYC, and New Jersey, visiting not only my family and my grandparents, but also Rich (and Morgan), Katie (and Matt), and Joe Vess and Nick, all of which was just great and which I could write pages about all on its own... and most recently, almost two weeks out east, between a conference for work and a week traveling with my family in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. It's been two months since we moved into the new apartment, and I've spent more than half of it away. And now for Labor Day weekend, Alex and I are going camping in southwestern Wisconsin.

So that's part of the story of my summer thus far. Another part is that, happily, almost every week I've been in town I've either gone up to Evanston or my Evanston friends have come downtown to visit. This is, of course, a wonderful thing... not only is it a very nice reassurance that living 45 minutes away doesn't mean that I'm isolated from everyone, but it's also spending time with folks in a way that I didn't even when right nearby this past year-- thanks both to my failure to be actively social, and the busy-ness of the school year for everyone else. So this is something pretty new, and very nice; I feel more content with my friendships than I have in a really long time.

It's hard to find words for what's going on in New Orleans (and the rest of that area)... it's heartbreaking and horrifying and infuriating. The disaster may have been triggered by a natural event, but a huge proportion of the hell that tens of thousands of people are suffering is because of the priorities of our society-- and the fact that neither thoughtful prevention and preparation nor the lives of poor black people rank very high on that list. As far as I'm concerned, there is no excuse whatsoever for a situation like this. There's so much more I want to say, but it's hard to articulate; my thoughts get tangled up in pain and anger and disgust. Perhaps in a little while...

I suppose I ought to wait until I actually have something to offer before unveiling this, but what the hell. I'm jumping on the bandwagon (ie Kyle and Jake) and coming up with separate personal and political blogs-- not because I have trouble separating the two currently, but that I don't actually get around to writing political stuff on a regular basis, and maybe if I set something aside for it, I will. So I'm transforming my previous failed attempt at a second site-- putting the name "Closer to Fine" (which I like quite a lot) into storage for now, but keeping the previous posts, which all are more or less political anyway. Wish me luck.

There's so much more to say, but I'm almost literally on my way out the door for some Labor Day weekend camping with Alex, so it'll have to wait for next time. And "next time" will be soon, I promise!
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Nature attains perfection, but man never does. There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished. He is both an unfinished animal and an unfinished man. It is this incurable unfinishedness which sets man apart from other living things. For, in the attempt to finish himself, man becomes a creator. Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.
--Eric Hoffer

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