birthday thoughts and reflections

June 24, 2007 at 6:51 pm (nonfiction, personal)

last wednesday i turned 26. for some reason it feels like kind of a milestone.
i’m not entirely sure why, however. for awhile i kept saying i felt old. i said that “i’m now closer to 30 than i am to 20” but really that was true after i hit 25 as well, i just didn’t really think about it.
still, ages that once seemed to be a very long way in my future now seem to be just around the corner. it wasn’t so long ago that i felt like i had no idea what might be going on in my life by the time i hit 30. now it seems like i barely have any time at all before i get there.
on the other hand, i really don’t feel “old.” i don’t feel that much different from the way i did, say 4 years ago for the most part. certainly i feel pretty much the same from a physical standpoint.
i think i feel not so much “old” as, well, “behind.”
i’ll turn 27 shortly after i graduate with my bachelor’s degree, and yet about a year and a half ago, if i am recalling correctly, my sister-in-law’s younger sister (who is just about exactly my age, i believe) got married and acquired her master’s degree. and i know of a few other people my age whose situations are similar.
i try not to dwell on things and have a lot of regrets. it’s a waste of time and energy, for the most part, i think. on the other hand, i wouldn’t try to pretend that i wouldn’t do some things differently if i had my life to live over again.
still, i also know that, with the life i have lived, i’ve come to my current position in the best way that i could. i wasn’t at all ready for college at the age of 18. hell, i wasn’t ready for it at 21. i think i was probably ready for it about 3 years ago when i finished up my long delayed associate’s degree. the year and a half after that was more a financial decision than anything else.
so. i’m pretty happy about where things are now. part of me would have preferred to take the more “traditional” route through college right after high school, but i am well aware that if i had i would have either probably flunked out like too many other people i know did or ended up with a degree in something i hate. i had no idea what the hell i wanted to do with my life when i was 18. now i feel like i at least i have a vague destination in mind, even if many of the details are still hazy.

my first of two years at st. ambrose has gone quite well, i think.
i decided to go to ambrose almost on a whim. as i said, after getting my AA it was decided that my best bet would be to work and save money for awhile until i hit the magic age when everyone stops considering to be dependent on my parents. when i hit that point, i did all the FAFSAs and whatnot then started looking into applying to schools. ambrose had no application fee for transfer students. they said “we’ll take you, and give you some extra money.” i considered the pros and cons and said why the hell not.
so far i feel like its been a pretty good decision.
i think, among other things, that i got lucky with my advisor.
though he has criticized me a bit for taking so many classes with him, it’s really not my fault that he’s teaching all the stuff i’d want to take no matter who the professor was. regardless, carl is a really cool guy, and he’s definitely, in my opinion, one of the best teachers i’ve had in my college career. in certain ways he reminds me of a teacher i had in my last year at scott community. i had a certain instructor for two political science classes and i was struck, as i have been many times, how for so many subjects (which ones probably depend on the student, however) it’s really the teacher that determines whether or not the class is enjoyable. political science is one of those subjects that can be incredibly boring, but with a teacher who is enthusiastic and utilizes a discussion rather than lecture format, i really enjoyed both of those classes.
similarly, last fall, my first semester at ambrose, i took an expository writing class taught by my advisor. a class consisting almost entirely of writing essays and formal papers could potentially be incredibly painful, but it wasn’t. it was pretty awesome. as awesome as can be expected of such a class, certainly. and i haven’t been disappointed with any of his other classes.
really, i haven’t been disappointed with hardly any of my classes at all. most of the professors have been pretty great. like anyone any teachers i’ve ever had in my life, they all have certain things about them that i like and certain things that can make being in their classes difficult, but on the whole i’ve had about as pleasant and as educational a time being an english major at st. ambrose as i’ve had at any point in my entire educational career.
besides the teachers and the classes, i’ve also met some other fellow students who are pretty damn rad. ambrose is a pretty small school, and since my AA knocked out the vast majority of my gen ed type things, most of the classes i take are those i need for my major and consequently, i see the same people over and over again and i’ve started to get to know a few of them pretty well. i would go (and actually have gone) so far as to say that some of the people i’ve met at ambrose are also some of the most awesome people i’ve ever met. unfortunately, coming in as a transfer student i’m not going to get the chance to spend particularly large amounts of time getting to know these people in classes. a few people i had started to become friends with already graduated and in the next six months to a year either the rest will graduate or i will. it makes for a situation which is inherently sad even while i am enjoying it. sort of like the situation i had with a group of people in 2003. regardless, things are going pretty well and i seem to possibly be making a couple new friends (thus doubling my total friend count!). though, in what was certainly the most depressing situation of my entire last year, my nascent (but seemingly promising) friendship with one of the aforementioned most awesome people fell apart. this was probably my fault, as such things usually are.
but, fouled up interpersonal relationships aside, the year has gone well. i certainly did better than i expected to in terms of my scholastic achievements. i can only hope to do so well in my next year, and i can only try to do better in the social realm.

currently it appears that i’ll spend the majority of the summer working a decent little temp job. in between i’ll be attempting to get my word count up on this project which will hopefully eventually evolve into a novel. as well, i’ll need to start looking into grad schools quite soon and studying for the GREs. there isn’t, unfortunately, all that much that you can really do with a BA in english, at least that’s how it seems. as such, i am definitely planning on moving on to grad school shortly after i finish, and possibly immediately. currently i’m considering either going for a master’s in library science or a master’s in fine arts with a fiction focus. the first would increase my employability, the second would increase my skills in my actual chosen craft but would not directly contribute towards making me able to survive and put food in my mouth. i’m currently leaning more toward the MLS so that i will not starve to death and freeze in the street, but either way you can bet i’ll be applying to the iowa writers’ workshop (though i figure there’s really no way i’d actually get in).

so that’s it. that’s my life recently. as a final note, i’d like to point out that if you’re reading this because i emailed you and told you about it, you can be absolutely sure that i’d really like to hear from you, so feel free to email me or something and let me know what YOU’VE been up to lately. i know i haven’t done that well at keeping in touch, but neither have you bastards either. but whatever. i still love you all.

so i’m done for now. gonna go read or something for awhile before this old man has to turn in. it’s almost my bedtime.

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melt banana – a few more thoughts

June 2, 2007 at 7:47 pm (Uncategorized)

incidentally, as i wrote my last post it occurred to me that i haven’t listened to any of my older melt banana albums for a very long time. my tastes in music have changed quite a bit since i saw them in concert so long ago. it’s entirely possible that i’d find those older albums much more listenable than i remember them. i think i ought to listen to a bit of Charlie and see if my opinion is the as it used to be.

well. i definitely find it more listenable than i used to. on the other hand, my overall opinion has not changed. there are some major differences in style between their Charlie and Cell-Scape and Bambi’s Dilemma. i’m aware that even charlie isn’t their oldest album. somewhere i have a cd with Speak Squeak Creak and Scratch or Stitch on it which are even earlier albums, but since they aren’t in my itunes library (or on my computer at all) and i’m not entirely sure where the album is, charlie is the easiest earlier album i can go to.

so yeah. i think i could grove on earlier melt banana more than i used to be able to, but my belief that cell-scape and bambi’s dilemma represent substantial evolution of melt banana’s style still holds, as does my belief that this evolution, especially in the form of bambi’s dilemma, is totally fucking awesome.

so check it out.

but if my first post about melt banana didn’t make it clear… this stuff isn’t going to appeal to everyone. there are probably a lot more people who would think it’s completely awful than those who (like me) think it’s totally awesome. so, you know, if you’re curious, find a way to get a taste of it before you try to consume an entire album.

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melt banana – wow

June 2, 2007 at 7:36 pm (music, nonfiction)

so once upon a time, long long ago (i can’t remember exactly when, but it was at least 10 years ago), i was visiting my older brother when he lived in austin. he told me we could go to a concert, if i wanted to, a concert of a japanese band called
melt banana.
i’d never heard of them before, but he had a couple of their cds.
he played some of it so that i could hear it.
i wasn’t sure if it was awful or totally awesome, but i said yeah, let’s go see them.
seeing them live was utterly mind-blowing.
but i still wasn’t really sure if i LIKED the music.
they’re frequently called “noise rock” or “noisecore” but i’m not sure if that really explains it. in fact, i’m positive it doesn’t. you have to actually hear this stuff in order to understand what it’s like, and preferably you should hear it live. but that isn’t, of course, always possible.
i thoroughly enjoyed seeing and hearing them play live. it was truly stunning.
i bought an album after the show and got a tshirt from the show. i burned the albums my brother had and later on i ordered a cd of live recordings from one of their tours.
i listened. now and then. it wasn’t the kind of thing i could really enjoy on a regular basis. i never did know if i felt like it was “good” music. hell, a lot of people would tell you it isn’t even really “music.” i argue with people like that a lot.

anyway, my opinion changed a lot when i downloaded melt banana’s 2003 studio album Cell-Scape from itunes about a year ago. this album blew my mind in a very good way.
in my opinion, melt banana really seems to have evolved. the music on cell-scape moves just far enough away from the sheer chaos and noise and just close enough to the realms of more “normal” music to make the album completely listenable while still being very different from anything else i have ever heard. many of the tracks on earlier melt banana albums didn’t really feel like songs. they would kind of blur together and i couldn’t really tell them apart. the songs on cell-scape feel much more like self-contained entities, and they are awesome.

today, while browsing about on the itunes store a little, i happened to discover that this year, only a couple months ago, melt banana released yet another studio album entitled Bambi’s Dilemma. i wasn’t sure at first whether i wanted to buy it, i figured it was more like cell-scape than their older stuff i’d like it, but i didn’t really know whether or not cell-scape might have been a bit of an experiment for them. but i decided that i even liked their older stuff enough that it was probably worth checking out.

and holy crap am i glad i decided to get it.
i’ve only listened to it all the way through once so far, but wow.
bambi’s dilemma is totally amazing.
with this album melt banana move even farther away from their roots of glorious chaotic noise and closer to “normal” music than even cell-scape brought them.
i suppose some fans of theirs might not be happy about this, and i’m certainly not advocating that melt banana go mainstream, but if you’re afraid that i’m saying they have, you need not worry. in all likelihood most of the undiscerning radio-listening, mtv-watching masses would find bambi’s dilemma to be just as horrific, painful and unlistenable as Speak Squeak Creak or Charlie, but there has been a definite evolution here and in my opinion it is a very good thing. this is one of the most amazing albums i’ve heard in a long, long time.

so. if you’ve heard melt banana in the past and thought something like, “well, they’re stuff is interesting, but it’s just not something i would want to listen to much” i strongly recommend checking out cell-scape or bambi’s dilemma.

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