Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dating, Lists, and Updates

As the school year winds down, I've been busy, and so May has had only a single post. The past few months have been a bit taxing, though, for a couple of mundane-to-you / interesting-to-me reasons.

Between February and April I had to spend a lot of money on my car. This is a car from 2011, not some ancient hunk of junk. And so because my disposable income (and then some) was eradicated by these repairs, all of a sudden I had a lot of free time and no money: I couldn't make plans and do things, ('cause I had no money). My weekends were oddly long, sans plans.

One thing I did to pass these long spells of timefulness was not update my list of favorite movies and television shows, as I've done every two years, since March of 2010. A big part of the reason why is because I started seeking out movies on my list I'd only seen once before, of which there were a good many. And, on second viewing, some of these uncritically adopted favorites broke down. 'Notorious', by Hitchcock, didn't impress as it had the first time. Bresson's 'Mouchette' I found to be downright embarrassing. And could I really keep justifying the inclusion of the lumage animation 'Twice Upon a Time' alongside the likes of Kurosawa, Fellini, and Scorsese?

The same went for television. 'The Singing Detective' had wowed me at Bennington. Would it still now, almost a decade after first viewing? (As it happens, it did.) Or 'Brideshead Revisited' - I'd not seen that since I was a child. 'Pushing Daisies' was included after a single viewing as well.

So while I continue to track down television to review, such as 'Dekalog', along with hard to find movies, for example 'Ulysses' Gaze', the updates will have to wait. The benefit, of course, is that they will be far more accurate and discerning.

Without money these past months, spending more time in libraries was not the only adaptation. I also had to essentially stop dating. If I had $75 to cover a week's worth of food (typical for me, in a given week, with Bay Area grocery prices), then I can't easily justify spending $40 of it on a single dinner with someone. Single since the Ides of February I've had two dates, both ranking among my two most disastrous, ever.

It would seem the reason for these utter failures is that sitting around by yourself not doing anything except watching obscures movies and miniseries, and, although not previously mentioned, scouring up obscure vinyl and CDs, makes one a bad conversationalist.

Part of me is reverting to an earlier manifestation. I never used to be a story-teller, for I was more interested int he stories of others. Then, for popularity, flirting, and prestige, I honed the craft. But disuse has mean that I'm not very good at it, and more to the point, disinterested. On the more recent of the two terrible dates, I was given the following opening:

"You've taught all over. You must have some interesting stories."

My response teetered between the phlegmatic and outright biliousness: "Well that depends. What sort of stories do you want to hear? Funny stories? Quirky stories? What sort?" Note - this was not sarcastically intended. It was the response of one who'd lost interest, a sort of storied-out ennui. It was genuine inquiry: if I'm going to have to do this, tell me what you want, at least. Would I had approached the line conventionally I could have easily trotted out an anecdote to show off my amusing side - but these stories are ashes in my mouth, now. They don't interest me much at all, and enough life experience has passed under the bridge to mean most people have a similar set of stock tales to regale company with, not requiring me to add facilely to it.

At school I talk to no one. I have no prep period, and thereby have no encounters with the other faculty. I show up, go in to my room, teach, rest and work during lunch while remaining in my room, teach the afternoon session, and leave. In the typical Monday-Sunday, not including phone calls, my most sociable time, weekly, was about an hour and a half for a weekly meeting with my department on Wednesdays. The number of social visits I had outside of school during the three months of car-maintenance is fewer than ten.

Such lack of social conduct has not always been the case, as alluded to before. The issue, again, is money. April ended with a disgraceful $30 in my account. With one day left in May you may wonder what has become of all this? Have my routines changed? Have I been having such a lot of fun during this madcap month that I've no time to post updates on this sweet, forgotten blog?

Not quite. May, being absent of money woes, meant I had to save like nobody's business. So the same pattern of life was embraced as the months prior. By not doing anything, I was able to put two months' worth of savings aside, making up at least for the loss of March and April's ability to do so. This still meant I'd no money for dating. It still meant I was continuing to work on these old lists, in lieu of utter and total boredom.

June, then, is looking up, slightly. But it is offset by July. During that month I am paid almost nothing, since I am not teaching. This is problematic, obviously, because it demands frugality or savings. I have a big trip planned, and so the money I was supposed to have for the Big Trip went instead to the Car, and that means money wasn't saved for July. It's something of a juggle - but I should come out alright.

On a side note, can you think of a better example of the lack of middle class in America? The amount of money that went into the car was around $1,000. That quantity is going to throw off, in the end, six months of my life. Since I've returned to the Bay Area I've done nothing but wipe my savings again and again. As soon as I have a couple thousand saved up, it disappears on me. The car, health costs, moving costs, rent increases - it's always something. I'm fairly well off, all things considered, and that's worrisome - because at 30 you shouldn't be in a position where $1,000 wonks up half a years' finances. Compared to many of my Millennial compatriots, though, at least I can handle this stuff without going into debt. Or do so while not having to live under my parent's roof. Or do so and manage to make on-time, reliable student loan payments.

For the past few months, then, that's all its been - obscure art and Bernie Sanders-style socio-economic concerns. And, as my dating life has now proven, I can't make conversation when my only topics are unknown art house and political data.

Cyclically I spend my idle time on lists, and working on things I can control, all the while waiting: to get some money, to balance my social life, to update this blog.

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