Friday, February 01, 2008

the dangling conversation

so, i just spent some time backreading lori's blog (a life in the present, link to the right). among her excellent entries was one, an echo of her blog's title, that focused on her fear that she is wasting away the present by looking too hard at the future. i, and i think a lot of other people in my demographic, have spent of time recently (yesterday, the last few weeks, months, years) trying to answer two questions:

a. what am i doing now? and
b. what am i doing next?
-(and as a subquestion to b, how will what i'm doing now help me do what i want to do next?)

i wrote recently about not knowing what i want to do next and being quite happy about it, which is still true. it's really refreshing not to have to think about everything as interconnected steps to achieve some greater goal. i also don't really have a reason for a. either. at first i was here because it might look good on a graduate school application. also because i wanted to try something different, i suppose i felt that i had wrung pittsburgh dry.

those are not really true anymore. i still want to go to grad school, but for what? who knows. and being here for five months has made me realize i'm not really tired of pittsburgh; on the contrary, i love it even more. prague is just a different place; teaching is just something to make money so i can be happy, here, and when i'm not happy anymore, i'll leave. i'll go back home or i'll go to washington dc or i'll go somewhere else. why i'm there, and how being there will factor into what i want to do next, won't really matter.

i suppose i'm here because i can, i've been given the opportunity, and that's it. i'm lucky to have had the resources to pick up and move to a new country, i was lucky get an education and to be raised to expect these sorts of priveleges, not just to hope for them. whenever i think about missing home, or not wanting to be here, or wondering why i came in the first place, i just think about my mom. when she left me at the security line at pittsburgh international she started crying harder than i've ever seen and told me "i'm so proud of you." i haven't done anything particularly impressive in my life, but i know she's proud because i've done things that she was never given the opportunity to do, or maybe things that she never thought she could do (even though she probably could).

obviously, i don't know what it was like to be her, growing up, but i'd imagine she was caught in between what women were supposed to do in the past, and what they can do now. she finished high school and lived with her parents until she met and married my father, when she moved into his ("their") home. she had children and was a stay at home mom until that could no longer pay the bills. she didn't get to go to college, she didn't get to have an apartment and live on her own. she's barely been out of pennsylvania, let alone abroad; i don't even think she has a passport. i think it's a typical case of wanting more for your children than you had for yourself, though i think my mom was intensely lucky. she is in love with someone who loves her, she is one of the most loving and compassionate people i know. i can't really think of the right words to describe her.

so when i want to complain about not knowing what to do with my life, i think about my mom and that she is proud of me for just being here. which is something that, when i think about it, makes it a lot easier for me to "just be here."

which was quite a long way to lead me to the title of this blog, which is "the dangling conversation." it is a simon and garfunkel song, but it is also the would-be name of a restaurant i'd like to open someday, theoretically in pittsburgh but i'm open. i don't know exactly what i want it to be, yet, but i pick up things as i go; i want it to be a decoupage of things i've seen from places i've been. it started with crossword puzzle placemats on the tables. i think i want to decorate it with maps. i have one sandwich name so far, "the stinkin' lincoln." it involves onions. also, i "borrow" ideas, such as the way the bathrooms are decorated in meduza. there are old tiles from the floor to halfway up the wall; then an uneven frieze of jewels and seashells in some sort of cement or putty or something. anyway, at some point i'll put all these things into this perfect little place, the dangling conversation.

i used to think i needed to do something really "great," like be a famous writer or a scholar or something, and that owning a restaurant in pittsburgh was not that. however, i think i was wrong, and i think thats why i've spent a lot of my formative/adult years unhappy. i've been searching for my thing to be "great" at, and i've been frustrated because i'm not finding it. but i think i could be happy with the dangling conversation, or just being here in prague not really doing anything. which, and this might sound terrible -- is somewhat of a relief.

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