Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A terrifying glimpse of things to come.

Let's talk about stories.

Now, I'm a storyteller, or at least I like to think of myself as one. And I'm a storyfollower, of that there can be no doubt. I have a certain understanding of the ins and outs of the process, and no amount of discussion regarding deconstructionism, post-modernism, reader-response critical theory and the level of authority authors should have in controlling the interpretation of their work will ever completely disavow me of the notion that a story is, at its core, an author trying to covey a message to his readers. Of course, they can't just SAY what they mean, so it all takes place in a series of elaborate parables... parables influenced by a number of tropes-- those understood unlikelihoods that we as consumers of stories accept as a necessary bridge between realism and entertainment.

A quick peruse of my bookshelf brings forth a number of these unlikelihoods that I never asked until now... "How could Chief Bromden be writing this while ACTIVELY having a psychotic episode?" or "Really, what are the odds that Criseyde would be sent away the VERY NEXT DAY?" or "Doesn't Ender have to actually go to class at some point?" and a thousand others. Well... he can't, and quite slim, and yes, but that'd be boring! We sacrifice a little logic for a lot of good story, and move right on.

Where the hell am I going with this? Well... I'm not enough of a reader to declare what the most used trope in the world is, but if I HAD to guess, I would say it is synchronicity. Something is going on in Mr. Protagonist's life, which he may be having trouble dealing with for whatever reason, when all of a sudden there is an event, often entirely unrelated to the A-plot, which is somehow relevant in terms of some greater theme, that gives Mr. Protagonist a sweet new insight into his troubles. It happens whenever House figures out what's wrong with his REAL patient because of something that happens at the free clinic... it's that moment in Independence day when Jeff Goldbloom's father tells him he's going to catch a virus... or how about that one episode of "Next Generation" where Scotty feels all old and useless but then it turns out he's instrumental in saving the day and suddenly feels all useful again and goes off to explore the universe and eventually die of space-pneumonia. It's that unlikely (if still possible) thematic co-incidence.

This is an extensive introduction to get to the meat of this story, and I apologize, but you lot must understand the significance... I experienced that moment today. That very sort of synchronicity, that unlikelihood that is SO unlikely that this could be a part of a book, and none would think twice about it. And yet... it really happened, in my real life, which gives me a little bit of pause. Let me share...

So, today, as you might know, was my last day of class. I've got finals yet, and some essays to write, but this was my last day of actually attending classes as an undergraduate... forever. Forever and ever and ever amen. FOREVER! DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG THAT IS? I mean, yes, I'm hyperbolizing my neuroses, but the fact remains that, though I try to remain chipper, this is a very large change in my life, and yes, I'm feeling very anxious about it. I can't be a college student anymore, there's a new future for me and I will have to simply DEAL with it. And... and that's scary. Change is scary, even when it's for the best, because I'm quite comfortable with the status quo.

And then, I am between classes, and I pass the English Department (which, for those not in the know, is like many of Iona's departments in that it is in a house of its own). On the porch, there is a grill set up, and folks are enjoying burgers and hot dogs... and I am invited up by the nice gentleman who works there who is making burgers. And lo, one of my professors is there as well, and shortly we are joined by a second one, and even shortlier by a third. Drs. Beckwith, Rosenfeld, and Pendleton... and me... on a porch, eating hamburgers. And what happens?

Dr. Beckwith complains about the number of papers he has to read, citing a reluctance to do any work. Dr. Rosenfeld waxes ridiculous about the phrase 'surrender-monkeys', segueing into a discussion of what the most inherently funny animal is (settling on ducks). Dr. Pendelton insults the Education majors in his class for being, and here I quote to the best of my ability, "not just unwilling to learn, but consciously making an effort not to".

I had to dash off quickly, sadly, but not before I realized... these people are just like me. They are lazy, they are silly, they are snarky. They are speaking just like my friends and I do... older, more gravelly, perhaps a touch more erudite but not, you know... serious. They're just like me... they really are.

Today, I got a look into the future. God knows, it's distinctly sitcommish to imagine that, twenty years from now, the Twins and Dan Hillier will be professors at the college where I'm a librarian and I guess Screech is the head of campus security or something but... well... I've been given proof that my life need not be completely thrown for a loop when I'm a graduate. I've spent the last few weeks worrying about change, and no matter how logically I approach the situation it never quite resolves itself. And in a way that no amount of rational explanation could ever do, the brief moment made me realize that change need not be as all-encompassing as my mind makes it out to be, and no matter what happens in life I need not stop being, in all the ways that matter, the same imperfect, loose-collared, and supremely silly bastard that I am.

In short, I had a Moment today that was so cliched that, had I seen it on TV, I would have changed the channel in disgust... but as it really happened to me, it counts as among the most amazing things that have ever happened in my life. There's a chance that I might just be ready to do this.


Anonymous Nicole said...

I want to comment. Something about how I still haven't come to terms with graduating. How I am afraid of not knowing what comes next. I just can't find a way to express it.

I envy your sitcom epiphany.

5/09/2007 8:53 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I like this entry a lot, and not just because I'm in it (although that certainly doesn't hurt). Rock on, sir. Rock into the FUTURE!

5/10/2007 12:05 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Wasn't Screech arrested for soliciting a minor?

I don't know why I think that happened, but I do. Either way, I don't know how good he'd be at campus security.

Sometimes you get those really corny sitcom moments and you're like "Holy shit what the hell?" It's always nice to have 'em though. I myself had one a little while ago (actually I guess it was over a month ago now), and it was pretty awesome.

We shall dash headlong into the FUTURE, and ROCK.

5/10/2007 3:52 AM  
Anonymous AAMF said...

If Screech is too busy taking it from behind in prison, I can fill in for security guard. I got nothing else going for me it seems. Yay?

5/10/2007 11:21 AM  
Blogger Vincent said...

Oh man, I don't know how I managed to miss out on this particular post, but dear gracious golly-gee, what a wonderfully uplifting view of the future.

Clearly I have to be a professor now. I call dibs on being Pendleton in my old age.

5/11/2007 10:55 AM  

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