Monday, March 23, 2009

Life's a Journey, Not a Destination

My friend Fiona has a theory about me. She thinks that at some point in my unremembered past, I made a deal with God that I would be able to live a full life, but I would only have 25 years in which to do it, and thus I must live on hyper-speed. I hope she's wrong, because that means I'm dead as a doornail in 6 weeks, but I can see why one would think that. I'm always living for tomorrow. I have a list of things to do in life, and I try to stick to it like glue. My whole life up to this point has been conducted with the sole purpose of avoiding being one of those people who wakes up one day in their 50's and thinks, "Is this it? Why didn't I do more?". Of all the things in life I fear, that's the worst. I don't fear being alone, I don't fear an early death, I don't fear the unknown-I fear that. Regret for the things I didn't do.

But just recently I've started to wonder if maybe I'm not taking it too far. For example, the topic on everyone in my programme's mind right now is PhD applications. I will be honest-I don't really want to do one. It sounds nice in theory, but I'm not cut out to be an academic. I have the brains, sure, but I don't have the work ethic when it comes to studying or the competetive edge. I don't have the patience to sit inside studying ancient languages all day. I wish I did, but I simply don't. If I've learned nothing else from this year, it's that. However, I find it intensely difficult to reconcile myself with this, because getting a PhD is on my list of things to do in life. I really, really, really want to be called Dr. Prior someday. But honestly? That might be the only reason. Yes, I would love to teach at the university level, and I would love to write books on religion, but I don't need a PhD for that; I'd be just as happy teaching at community college and writing popular non-fiction for a less educated audience as I would teaching at UCL or NYU or somewhere and writing for academic journals. More than that, I don't want to spend the next three to five years still in school. But, I do want to be able to say I got my PhD.

I won't lie, it's probably a vanity thing. I want to be able to say I did it more than I actually want to do it. So which is better-ticking something off my to-do list or just accepting that maybe I won't ever have a doctorate and sitting back and enjoying life? Objectively, this shouldn't seem like a hard question to answer, but for me, it rather is. More than anything, it's made me reflect on other aspects of my life; am I too busy accomplishing my goals to spend the proper amount of time with all my friends? Or to meet a guy I might actually date for more than 3 months?

Of all the aspects of my life that have suffered, I think my love life is probably the worst. I've always just been too busy to date, and every time I do start seeing someone, I wonder if I won't get stuck in a rut and end up with the wrong guy and-you guessed it-wake up in 30 years regretting it. What if I do meet Hypothetical Dream Guy and am too busy to notice? What if he asks me out and I say no because I've got plans that night? What if I could have this amazing life with someone with a relationship that other people dream of having, but am too selfish to rearrange my life in order to be with him because he wasn't part of the original plan?

I know this all seems very far-fetched. But still...what if?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All Shook Up

Any of you ever get completely and totally stressed out for no reason whatsoever? For whatever reason, I woke up at 7:03 this morning freaking out. About nothing, about everything, I'm not exactly sure. It's like every little thing I should have been worried about this past year but wasn't suddenly built up and exploded.

What if I've been goofing off too much and I flunk out? What if the last paper I wrote wasn't at the MA level? What if I don't get this job I really want? What if I do and then I discover I don't have time to do my dissertation as well as I want to? What if I can't find a job at all and I just become another sob story, a casualty of the failing economy? What if all these new friends I've been making actually don't really like me at all? What if I'm fat and don't know it? What if I never find a decent guy to date because I seem to have a sign on my forehead that says "Socially Awkward Guys Stop Here"? What if I keep having uncontrollable asthma attacks and something bad happens? What if I can't get my visa sorted out? What if I can't afford to fly to the US to see all the people I love anytime soon? What if I don't get to meet Grace's baby until he's not even a baby anymore? What if I lose touch with Manny? What if I should be practicing my religion more than I am? What if I haven't studied enough? What if I'm the personification of the American stereotype? What if I'm actually a talentless ass-clown? What if I don't graduate? What if all my friends move away after school's over and I end up alone in a country where I have no family? What if I end up alone, period? What if I'm drinking too much? What if the occasional cigarette is worse for me than I thought? What if my diet is so bad that in ten years I'll totally regret it? What if my bad hip gets worse and I'll need a hip replacement before I turn 30 and I'll never be able to dance professionally again? What if I go broke and ruin my already-questionable credit? What if everyone actually hates me? What if I'm wasting my 20's just waffling around while everyone else in the world is actually working towards a career? What if I regress to my teenage self? What if I never recover from the horrors of high school? What if I die before seeing the Grand Canyon? What if I never write my crappy un-publishable novel? What if I'm actually dumb?

It's days like this that make me think I should probably allow myself to get stressed/upset/sad/angry when the mood strikes, and not brush it all off until it builds up to an explosion twice a year. I never take my explosions out on anyone else, but it's probably not healthy for my mental well-being.

Does anyone else ever feel like this? Or is it just me?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maybe Grandma Was Right...

When I was a kid, every time I would complain about being bored, my grandmother would invariably respond, "Boredom is reserved for those who aren't intelligent enough to entertain themselves."

If she was right, then my IQ must be about 47.

You know when you get to that state of boredom where you don't even want to do anything? Where every possible activity sounds boring as all hell? That's where I am right now. Latin homework? No way. Research for my paper on medieval Islamic scholarship? Not a chance. Shower? Too much effort. Eat? I feel fat. Call someone? No one to call. Go on Facebook? Been on it all evening. Watch a movie? Nothing to watch, despite the fact that I own probably 200+ DVDs. Go to sleep? Not tired.

Le sigh.

On the bright, non-complainy side of things, it was really nice out today! It got to almost 60 farenheit, which just made my week. I took my book and my ipod and went to the park across the street from my dorm and just sunbathed-it was fantastic. And, it's odd, although I adore living in the middle of a city, I never realised how much better it is when it's warm. The entire tone of the city perceptibly changes; people are just a bit more friendly on the street, there are couples out walking their dogs and playing in the park with their kids and people reading on the grass and out strolling just to be outside-the entire town just came alive today. I in no way have seasonal affective disorder (I rather like the gray damp dreariness), but being able to actually sit outside and enjoy it today just made my entire weekend. I hope the sun doesn't go into hiding again. It's such a rare visitor to Britain, it would be nice if it stayed around for a while.

In other news...let's see...not much other news to report, actually. I went to an acting workshop today which invariably reminded me once again how shit an actor I am. Nothing I didn't already know. Which I'm totally comfortable with; I'm ok with just being good enough to get to the next song or dance (things I'm actually decent at). Still, it was good to get some pointers. The guy teaching the workshop was really really good. (And really really pretty, which helps.) I did learn a lot...he didn't magically turn me into a decent actor or anything, but not everyone can work miracles. ;) Also on the performing front, I'm starting to build up a following of dance students...I'm teaching ballroom, tap, ballet, and musical theatre dance techniques for the musical theatre society at my uni, and I've got a lot of demand for more lessons. Mayhaps I can use this for future income...'tis a possibility.

I've also decided it's time to do a makeover on myself. I've always had a reeeeeally low opinion of my looks, but I do recognise that I can be decent looking when I actually make an effort to be so. Thus, I am going to the eye doctor this week to get contacts, I'm going to the salon next week to get my hair back to the red it used to be when I lived in a place that was distantly acquanited with the sun, and I'm going to do some serious dieting. There's no reason for me to be all bummed out about my physicality when there are things I can do to improve my self-image. More than wanting to feel attractive, I want to stop being all low-self-esteemie when I look in the mirror. Maybe not the healthiest way to go about it, but it's a start, anyway. So-makeover time! Also, on the dieting front, I'm starting to realise that if I don't get healthy now, I'll seriously regret it later in life. I already abuse my body in ridiculous ways with all the dancing I do, the least I can do is keep myself properly nourished and healthy so my insides are in better shape than my joints.

Speaking of nothing having to do with that whatsoever, I only have 2 more weeks of class! Less than that really, as I have no class the thursday or friday of week after next, and my wednesday class is Latin, in which I have a test Monday, meaning we'll probably all just go to a pub instead of having a lesson on Wednesday. (Another reason to love England-that's a perfectly normal thing to do.) Yay! Then my life becomes dissertation craziness, which I'm comfortable with. Sweet.

OK, now that I've put you in a state of boredom worse than my own, I suppose I'll sod off and go back on Facebook or something. Maybe I'll even sign on to Myspace; who knows?! But let's not get crazy....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Smelling the Roses...

In case you were wondering, this is definitely going to be one of those vomit-inducingly sappy entries.

You know when your life somehow arrives at that place where you're just inexplicably happy all the time? Where you sit back and look at the circumstances of your current situation and just smile? I'm there right now. It's not that I haven't been happy in London before now...I have been very much. However, I am one of those people whose happiness is really determined by my friends. Ever since I was a kid, my friends have been as important to me as family; once I get close to a person and really start to love them, I can't imagine my life without them. And when I get a good close group of friends that I truly love, nothing can get me down. And that's the point at which I've recently arrived.

Of course, I've had friends since about 2 days after my arrival in London; making friends has never been a challenge for me (thank God). But it takes time to get to the point in your relationships where you are truly comfortable with people and are able to completely be yourself with them. When you're just getting to know someone, it's kind of weird to call them just because you're bored, or to tell them something trivial that made you happy, or whatever. And I never really mentioned anything on my blog about this, but I was a little depressed for the first month or so that I was here, simply because I didn't have that yet. I had friends, but I didn't have best friends, if that makes any sense. But just in the last month or so, I feel like my proverbial cup has begun to runneth over. Of course, I would be lost without Fiona, Betsy, Jeff, and all my other friends from my course, but I've also gotten a lot closer to my theatre friends, and I think that's what really cemented my current giddiness. I know for a fact that if my soon-to-be-flatmates Alicia and Joe suddenly disappeared, I would be completely lost. Also, being a complete tomboy, it's been really disconcerting not having a bunch of guys around to hang out with. However, just recently I started hanging out with the musical theatre boys, and I finally feel like myself now that I'm hanging around a bunch of men all the time. That sounds silly, but having grown up with nearly all male friends and then going through college with mostly men friends, it has been very strange to try and be myself around almost all women. I love my women friends here more than life, but there's still a sense of comfort and security and ease that comes with hanging around guys, and I think the recent deluge of male friends in my life is largely responsible for the happiness I've been feeling lately.

Anyway. Friends are good. They make me happy. Now that I've finally found my niche, I don't think I could leave London even if I wanted to. :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Picture Time Again!

So I know in my last entry I promised Amsterdam pictures, but my dear travelling companion has yet to post them up on Facebook, thus rendering me picture-less. However, I do have a bunch of pictures from this weekend's production of South Pacific. I will state for the record that as I am STILL too lazy to buy a camera, these pictures have all been blatantly ripped off of my friends' Facebook accounts, with no attempt whatsoever at subtlety. As you can see, most of these pictures were not taken during rehearsals or performances when we were all reasonably composed, but during the after-party once the wine started flowing. I, contrary to all appearances, am completely sober in these pictures. Judge me how you will.

The entire cast of South Pacific. Good luck trying to find me; it's like a game of Where's Waldo.

My friend Rich and me backstage during Intermission

My friend Isaac likes to pick girls up and carry them around when he's drunk.

No, really. He does.

Rebecca, Asif, Rich, Helen, and myself. I apparantly didn't get the memo that we were supposed to smile and NOT look like idiots.

Sometimes my friends have naked time. I've been told that it's a chemical reaction that occurs when you mix alchohol and musical theatre boys; however, I suspect sexual repression is to blame.

Naked time with my director. That sounds a lot dirtier than it actually is.

The nurses during intermission of the final show.

This wasn't taken at the cast party, but it was a cast party, so it counts. Obviously, my friends and I are totally hardcore. Obviously.

I made my musical theatre boys come and crash my friend Betsy's semi-formal house party. I think the level of classiness went down about 10 notches upon our arrival.
NB: The guy attempting to lick my face is my flatmate as of this coming May. God help me.
That's all for now. I hope that in posting these I have now provided you with sufficient fodder to take the piss out of me for at least the next few months.