“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”-Mark Twain

So it’s been awhile. I nearly forgot about this site, to be honest. I remembered it again because I’ve been leading a book club on The Screwtape Letters, which was the topic of my one and only post. The world of blogging and I have a long and tumultuous, on again off again, type relationship. So it should be no surprise if after today, the World of WordPress never hears from me again.

Anyhow, my reason for resetting my password and logging in today is that recently I’ve been feeling a little lost. I just turned 26 a few days ago; maybe it’s a quarter life crisis or some made up crap like that. I try to look in the mirror in the morning (not to closely) and decide whether or not my 4-year-old self would approve. I chose my 4-year-old self over all my other selves because she somehow manages to both have high expectations and be easy to please. She is blissfully unaware of this dichotomy however, and while she insists that I wear bright pinks and purples with orange leg-warmers, and that I try to be good even when others aren’t playing nice, she is not overly critical of my professional and intellectual failings. She never went to school so she doesn’t allow me to dwell on the 5,000 ways that I messed up my education. Sure, she has me dressed like a delusional idiot from time to time but all in all she’s a good kid to have around.

Recently though some of my other selves have made unprompted, unwelcome guest appearances. My High School self, I cannot take seriously, which is a bit sad because no one ever did. No one takes dolphins seriously, but “they can kill Sharks! With their noses!”. A self that I take a bit more seriously is my 8th grade self. She was just realizing that she wasn’t going to be a rock-star. She was just realizing that she never wanted to be a rock-star. She had some good ideas though, about who and what she wanted to be. Those ideas weren’t polluted yet by peers, or doubts, or nasty teachers. So I think, even though she’s awkward, unrealistic, and a bit self- centered, I ought to hear her out.

I’ve also got this strange current self. This conflicted mess of contrary emotions that loves to travel but hates to leave the house, that’s afraid to answer the phone, but craves social interaction, that reads Russian literature but loathes academia. That has perfectly logical plans but refuses to commit to carrying any of them out. She’s really getting on my nerves. Who is this girl who once thought that the Babysitter’s Little Sister books were cream of the literary crop, but now pushes herself through Hugo, Tolstoy, and Austen even when she’d rather contemplate a life lived inside an abandoned boxcar?

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the classics. I do. And it’s not that I want to trade in Jane Eyre for Bella Swan. I don’t.

It’s just that, how you do one things is how you do everything. And I push myself through things I’m not ready for and have no motivation when it comes to taking the next logical step. I wasn’t ready for college. I should not have gone. When I got there, I tried to do things I knew I didn’t excel at because of things people said. It’s not that you shouldn’t take advice, but I took advice from every distributor of awful advice I could find. I had bad reasons and a bad attitude. It got me nowhere.

I find myself again, on the verge of making choices for the wrong reasons. It’s tempting to choose the path that looks safe, or the path where you can’t screw up or embarrass yourself too badly. Then there’s the oh-so-enticing path of leaving the continental US and giving myself the illusion of a fresh slate.

That’s not fair though. I realized recently that I haven’t even been to 30% of the states. And I can’t keep existing in this realm where it’s not cool to try something that you actually want to try. I did not expect to enjoy reading Anna Karenina; I just made myself do it. To see if i could. Trying is only cool when success is trivial- where did that attitude come from?! Fear, I guess. It’s pretty self destructive though.

So in a spirit of commitment to lengthy, but realistic goals, and with the intention of learning a bit about being an American who isn’t roaming around with a lofty sounding inner monologue which uses exclamations such as “capitol”, I’m going to spend the next 4.16 years reading contemporary American novels. I’ll read other stuff too. I found a list from another WordPress.

http://qwiklit.com/learn/american-literature/

A lot of the stuff I read is all stuff I would pick out which doesn’t give it a lot of variation.  think this will be a strange challenge for me. I I will try to go in order but I may not be able to, due to unavailability or whatever. Also, there are a few I’ll have to substitute, as I’ve already read The House on Mango Street and I refuse to read Infinite Jest. Most novels are a reasonable length. There’s no way that I can submit myself to the ramblings of David Foster Wallace for over 1k pages. You have to really trust an author before you let him invade your mind for that long. I barley trusted Hugo for that and he was a good Catholic. Wallace seemed insane.

Anyhow, we’ll see how I do. I will begin tonight with John Green who is a popular YA author. Wish me luck and we’ll see if my logical, well planned, committed reading life translates to my real life problems of avoidance and stagnation.

à bientôt 

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