Monday, June 23, 2014

Things Have Happened...And Stuff.

10:47 PM Posted by Patrick 1 comment
There once was an old house on the side of Harrison Hill--which is not really a hill--and in that house there lived a boy, who was actually more of  a man than a boy. He lived in this house with his two brothers, his mother, and on certain special occasions, like weekends and holidays, with his father. They all lived there happily on the edge of the Thousand Acre Hood.

But our story today, disappointingly, tells us nothing about the doings and such of the Thousand Acre Hood, nor of the many adventures of its inhabitants; it limits itself strictly to the a meager how-do and an update from the House on  Harrison Hill.

You see, the hero of most of our stories recently gradumacated from college and received a really swanky piece of paper telling him that he was awesome. Let's face it; I already had some sneaking suspicions that I was awesome, but now I have the seal of an accredited university to make it official. The final tally had me graduating Summa Cum Laude in German and History.

The ceremony was not unlike what I expected. It was long, consisting of a constant drone of names being read to the accompaniment of marching feet, punctuated every so often by the delivery of a speech, which one may assume was quite dry. The key redeeming factors of this exercise were three. First, that my family got to watch me walk and receive my diploma. Second, that it did afford some measure of closure to me. And last, that I had the pleasant surprise of spending the ceremony sitting with friends, who made the whole agonizing exercise so much more fun.

The immediate upshot of being graduated was that I got a lot more sleep, and felt a noticeable lightening of the weight on my shoulders.

Slightly longer term fallout of this graduation was that there was a party. At this party, there at the House on Harrison Hill on the edges of the Thousand Acre Hood, I got to see a lot of my family members and some friends that I had not seen in a long time indeed. Between school and work I had been rather hard to lay hands on over the last few years. But I saw many people, whom I love. To my shame and embarrassment, their thank-you notes are not going out until later this week. Even with school set aside, I still find ways to procrastinate.

I will not pretend that I have mastered maturity and the art of living well, but now that I have graduated, I find myself intentionally--and sometimes unintentionally--doing adulty things.

For instance, I have recently gone out and procured for myself a real job. You know, the kind that you can turn around into a career. I will be working for Lincoln Financial Group in their annuities division. The work I will be doing initially will be largely processing, data entry, customer service, and problem solving, but it comes with a significant pay increase, regular hours, excellent benefits, and a generous 401k plan. They will also start by putting me through ten weeks of training to pass the FINRA exam, which is a huge plus all by itself. The new job starts July 21st, and I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, I am still at Penney's. It is truly remarkable how much longer each day is when the end is approaching. Now that it is over, I am no longer building toward anything, but going through the motions.

I will miss my coworkers. Many of them are great, and I have spent several days a week with them for quite some time. I will be sad to say goodbye, but I'm still hoping to bring some with me to my new employer. As much as I will miss members of my JCP family, I will not miss that place.

Now that I am finally leaving, I am allowing myself to realize just how much I detest the mall. The mall is not a place where people go to buy things because it is more convenient. Not really.

The mall is a place for people to hang out. To gather. To spend time with friends. To walk around and spend some time. While they do these things, however, they are also discovering new needs for products and services that they never required before. They are inundated with flashy advertising and half a million schemes intended to addict them to shopping. A stunning number of mall shoppers are habitual regulars, who spend money they don't have and waste the valuable time that they do have.

The mall is where you shop for recreation, not for need. Just to fill the vacuum  that should ordinarily be filled by something worthwhile. This is the place where people go to consume for its own sake. It is probably totally irrational of me, but in my mind it has become a symbol of some of our deepest societal issues. People look for identity, happiness, and acceptance in brand names and new images; half price, and an additional 20% off when you open a new credit card.

I tried, while I was there, to do the simple service of treating everyone I dealt with like a human being. Not a customer, not an honored guest, not a mark, but like a real person--with respect, kindness, and personality. I did not always live up to that standard, but I tried, and I like to think that I was successful a fair amount of the time.

Anyway. The important thing is that I have closed that particular chapter. I start a new job soon, and I am sure it will be fraught with its own complications and obstacles, but I am really excited about it, none-the-less.

I have also begun looking at apartments. I--to quote a customer of mine from earlier--am having two minds on this subject. On the one hand, I would love to live downtown and in walking distance of work. And while I have never felt particularly restricted in my present arrangements, there is also a part of me that recognizes that this is our custom. I should also say that there is something to just proving that one is capable of taking care of oneself.

In the other mind that I am having, living at home is much cheaper, and I will be able to afford to save so much more money this way. There is also the question of having constant company, as well as a magical refrigerator.

In addition, even as living downtown would have me close to work--did I mention that I will be working in a big gorgeous building downtown?--being at home also has its own geographical advantages.

Church is one such important local. The other is Emma's house.

I will keep this as brief as humanly possible, but the most exciting thing that happened this spring--at least for me--was that Emma and I started going out. No, I don't know how I swung that. And I am afraid I am still only just beginning to discover how ridiculously lucky I am. What can I say? Life is not fair, but I feel no need to question providence if it has taken my side.

Long story short, I graduated just over a month ago, and I feel like I have spent the intervening time basking in my own good fortune.

Some of the less impressively adulty things I have found myself doing.

Item the first: with school out of the way, I have discovered that bed time is never, and that the snooze button can be pressed an infinite number of times.

Item the second: I have helped design, and set an appointment for, my first tattoo, which is happening July  10th.

Item the third: Emma made me watch television, and having watched it, I have found it to my liking. Pleasant for the eyes and good for consumption.

Item the fourth: I have rediscovered coloring, which I did not realize I missed.

Item the fifth: I have read many things since school, but almost none of them are substantial. Slowly working my way through Sandman, as I find the pieces.

Last: I will be going to a White Denim and Arctic Monkeys concert tomorrow, and it is Gogol Bordello or bust for later this July!

What all of this is meant to say is that things are changing, but life is good. I am relearning to be frivolous, but hopefully still with a certain je ne sais quoi and an underlying layer of substance. But come now, we would not want me to become all serious and dull, now would we?

I'll write something more cohesive and substantial later, but I'm just getting my feet wet for now. It has been so terribly long since I've written anything.