Sunday, June 24, 2012
But that's okay. I didn't create this blog to make new friends. Obviously. I did it for ME. The same way that women who get plastic surgery or become reality show participants do it for themselves (while secretly hoping that it will make everyone else validate their existence). So there. I do this solely for my own enjoyment. Now will you please love me?
Naturally, any type of birthday/anniversary/tearing of calendar pages, engenders a certain degree of reflection. But I spend so much of my regular non-commemorative time reflecting on things that have happened or that I've said or done that I feel I live most of my life in retrospect. And this, of course, makes me perpetually nostalgic. So here I am, feeling nostalgic about a year that was...that was...well, what was it exactly? It was a good one, I think. Challenging? Certainly. Rewarding? The jury's still out on that one... Maybe check back in another year or so, when I've finally managed to shake off the rancorous feelings of last semester. Or when I get some type of retro-grade amnesia. Whichever happens first.
But in all seriousness, as cynical and crotchety as I may seem (or actually be)--and we should all pity Moses for having to put up with SUCH a persistent crabby patty--I am, at heart, a glass half full kind of gal.
So while I originally promised that this blog wouldn't boast any particular brand of wisdom--aside from my own zany delusions about life--I think it might be sort of fun (did I say fun? I meant self serving--same diff.) to enumerate the various scraps of sapience that this year threw me (both of the trivial and non-trivial variety:)
1. PhD programs are a lot harder to get into than you may think but it's not the end of the world if you don't get in.
Intelligence? Check. Obsessiveness? Check. Eccentricity? Check. Social Awkwardness laced with arrogance? Double check. Original projects that no one else in the discipline is currently working on? Check. Admittance into PhD program of choice? Big fat negatory.
I thought I would die of embarrassment if, after fourteen programs and $1000+ spent in application fees, I still wasn't accepted anywhere. But here I am, still alive and virtually no worse for wear. I'll admit that I do still sometimes feel ashamed when I think about my failure and others' success in this process, but then I remember that I am a Kozak and as a Kozak I have a healthy sense of superiority and that comfort me greatly. Also, getting in would have meant leaving my jobs and friends in LA, my immediate access to Forever 21 stores, and perhaps most importantly, being away from Moses for six months up to a year and I was not about to take that bullet willingly. Plus, Emily Dickinson wasn't successfully published in her lifetime and she's just the greatest, so I feel certain that true genius is often met by its fair share of ignorant opposition. Yes, that's right. I am comparing myself to Emily Dickinson. Suck on that Stanford.
2. Things shockingly almost always work out for the best. (See above.)
3. Eighteen year olds find nothing interesting.
Except--from what I can gather--the following: texting, drinking, gossiping and sometimes vampires, Kim Kardashian, and ragging on Kristin Stewart.
4. Doing nothing is sometimes imperative.
Remember a year ago, when I started this blog, when I had just finished my graduate work and teaching for the semester and had an entire summer of nothing sprawled out before me. Back then, I panicked. Now, I praise whatever unemployment deity smiled on me that summer because I needed that time off. Not only did it allow me to work out some of my more stifling forms of neuroses (most notably my anxiety and hypochondria), but it also allowed me to cook and generally support three of my closest friends here in Los Angeles, each of whom needed someone to cook for them and generally support them at various points in the summer.
5. Saying "no" is okay.
I hate inconveniencing people. And I hate confrontation. And I have a bit of a martyr complex (I blame Catholicism.) It's a fairly toxic combination and usually culminates in me over committing myself and working 70+ hour a weeks during the school year. Believe it or not, Moses and I have actually argued about this--he calls these conflicts "interventions," I call them "ambushes." Basically, Moses thinks I need to look out for number one more and to stop worrying so much about other people (namely my students and colleagues and bosses.) He's probably right (don't tell him I said so) and I have tried to follow his advice and say "no" more often and I think it's sort of working but all that pretty logic could very well just go right out the window once Fall semester begins and I get my bright-eyed batch of new students and suddenly think I'm Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.
6. Red wine is empirically better than white and dark beers are not actually disgusting.
I'm not sure how I ever thought differently.
7. It will never not be hilarious to hear the people at the grocery store call Moses "Mr. Kozak."
Moses and I share a Vons club card. Neither of us particularly like Vons but it's the closest grocery store to our apartment (alas!) Whenever Moses pays, the cashier hands him the receipt and says, "Have a great day Mr. Kozak." I find this endlessly entertaining and proceed to call him Mr. Kozak as we stroll out of the store and into the parking lot, at which point, Moses usually responds, "Please call me Moses. Mr. Kozak is my father."
8. Watching Real Housewives doesn't make you shallow no matter what Moses and/or society says.
I am not one to argue that reality television is "quality" programming but I'm also not one to suggest that it is entirely devoid of merit. Or else, why would I watch it? No, I'm convinced reality television programming is equal parts guilty pleasure and insight into the human nature. When watching shows like Real Housewives or America's Next Top Model, I often feel like Jane Goodall, treading into the misty Tanzanian terrain with a clipboard, observing the bizarre and at times violent behavior of a closely related species.
Take, for example, Real Housewife of Orange county Alexis Something-or-other (I must confess, I actually don't know her name nor care quite enough to look it up.) Alexis, who once eloquently said "in life, God comes first, my marriage comes second, and my children come third," has just been told by the fellow housewives that when she says things like "Oh I have like, twenty-cagillion cars because I'm so rich" (not actual quote but also not that far off) that people find this "off putting." Shocker, I know. People find other people flaunting/bragging/lying about their possessions to others--especially when said person is in the news for foreclosure--just ever so slightly distasteful/hypocritical/all of the above. But poor Alexis just doesn't get it. She insists through mascara tinted tears "But you guys all have Prada bags and no one criticizes you." Her BFF Gretchen tries to smooth things over by explaining, "It's not that we are saying that you are a braggart [my word not hers], it's just that sometimes you can say things that other people who don't know you well can interpret as bragging." This of course to Alexis, is the ultimate betrayal. Apparently, being a true friend means supporting someone unconditionally--even when she is being a big dumb heifer. Later, Alexis tells Gretchen that Gretchen was just ganging up on her and that Alexis is not going to give any credence to criticism of her that is not supported by "facts" (whatever "facts" are in this instance...)
Now, having read all that, you can't tell me that this isn't fascinating. You can't tell me that you didn't learn something compelling about human psychology--the way we interact with one another or the lengths that someone will go to to protect his/her own psyche. These women should all honestly be case studies. And perhaps also rounded up and placed into some sort of research facility where they can be observed in a safe and controlled environment. Plus that would mean that they would be removed from society, which I think we can all agree would likely be a pretty positive thing.
9. Los Angeles isn't too bad.
I hated Los Angeles when I first moved here and it took me nearly this long (approx. 4 years) to actively like it. And I do like it. I don't want to live here forever but right now living here is quite lovely. Especially when the sunlight hits the Venice bike path a certain way or when I am picking up avocados from the Farmer's Market or when the sky is just clear enough that I can catch a glimpse of snow capped mountains in the distance, I am reminded that LA is a pretty awesome place and I'm happy that I'm here. (Then someone either almost hits me or honks a prolonged horn and the illusion is shattered.)
10. Triteness Alert: As long as you have people who love you, you have a pretty good life.
I don't make very much money and the dentist frequently takes most of what little money I make. I don't really know what's going to happen with my career or how much longer Moses and I will live in Los Angeles or where we will end up next. I don't know a lot of things. If you want answers or what someone to yell advice at you, I'd recommend Dr. Phil or Gwyneth Paltrow. But I've got nothing. I can't tell you how to live your life--especially when there are so many uncertainties in my own. The one thing I can tell you--something that has been illuminated by this past year--is that as long as you have family who loves and support you even though they are thousands of miles away, friends who accept you even when you mispronounce Illinois, and a partner who makes you feel fearless--who can make you laugh about anything--you'll be okay. Good in fact. Maybe even well adjusted.
So there you have it, a years worth of knowledge, condensed, cataloged, and numbered for your convenience. Stayed tuned for more adventures!
Also, tell your friends because I wasn't joking about that whole nine followers thing being pathetic...