Friday, January 18, 2008

Get On Up (stay on the scene, like a sex machine)

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty good about myself, having jumped in the pool to swim (re-preparing for API since I have hopes that I'll start IFS before the month ends, and thus wont have any time to work on my water survival besides the time I have now) and also getting a bit of the AH-NOLD workout via Summer '07 back into the groove. It must've been the endorphins or something, but I felt like I needed to continue this trend of goodness in the day by watching what has quickly risen to become one of my favorite movies ever: "Almost Famous".

I had seen it once before when it was first released and garnering acclaim from all the critics and people who nominate movies for all the classy awards (who I don't typically buy stock into, seeing as I'm not them; I'm a "user critic" if I could borrow the term from, and for some reason, it didn't really stick with me all that well. However, despite that first opinion on it some 5-6 years ago, I decided to pick it up when the local Hollywood Video was having a going-out-of-business sale (they actually DID close, not like all those other stores that fake it), and to my surprise, I LOVED the movie*. I didn't just like it; I LOVED it. The movie follows a 15 year old boy, William, who wants to be a rock journalist, and gets to follow one of his favorite bands on the road, observing what it's really like on the inside of rock stardom (circa 1973). The story is semi-autobiographical of the director, Cameron Crowe, and his experiences during the 1960s-1970s, when he was writing for The Rolling Stone**.

I think my newfound love for "Almost Famous" has something to do with my growing up and living more life and thus experiencing more things. I know myself better than I did 5 years ago. After having gone through high school and college, and now having a "real job" and living out in the "real world", I have a better idea of the things I like, the things that make me happy, what I wish I did/knew before, and what I want for myself now.

Just today, literally, about an hour ago, I had a talk with my friend, who basically served as my wingman throughout my college classes career. We were talking about our work ethic and basically "reaping what you sow" while we dragged our feet through the Department of Systems Engineering at the University of Virginia. We brought up the point that in our Espionage class (the ONLY class at UVA that I took and really wanted to take), we were able to achieve A's versus the B/C/D's we were accustomed to in the E-School because the method of learning was we were good at (rote memorization). This sparked my old line of thinking that I had I been in the College instead of the E-School, I would've enjoyed myself more and would have graduated with a much higher GPA. My friend begged to differ, leaving me surprised and intrigued. He said I would have been more miserable taking those College classes than I was taking my E-School classes because I would've been bored. While thinking of a response to refute his claim, he continued on saying, "I think you would have had to do something analytic: comm school, econ; but I couldn't see you doing the other stuff." I assumed that the "other stuff" were things like history, IR, any type of science, English, Sociology, Psychology, etc. And it was weird because it was like he re-opened something that I had heard before. Like hearing a song you used to love 10 years ago, and remembering how that felt. This wasn't the first time I have heard this; a few teachers and professors along the way recognized this analytical side of me that I hadn't really thought about before, but realized as soon as they said it. Like it had always been there and I knew it was there, but it took someone saying it out loud for it to become real.

After my eyes were opened, I agreed with my friend, telling him that if I could rewind the last 4 years and re-do college, I'd probably want to major in Commerce with a side of creative writing. He agreed, and we joked that I could then write humorous articles about finance, basically like a Bill Simmons for Wall Street. It was in jest, but I really thought about it. Is that something I could do? Of course I wouldn't be able to do it for maybe another 10 years or so, but it might be a career I could have, right? That'd make me about 32, 33 years old. For some reason, I keep thinking that's really late in life, but maybe it isn't. Maybe that's the perfect mix of what I see as two different parts of me constantly at war with one another over how my life should go. Like I said, it won't even be relevant for at least another 8 years or so, what with me being in Flight School and all, but I must say that the idea fills me with a small hope and excitement that I may actually become happy in this life because of something that really does make ME happy, rather than being happy just because of life. And that's a feeling that I've been missing recently.

*Favorite scene in the movie: The band just picked up Russell from a house party where he tripped out on acid, and as the band drives along in silence on their tour bus, the bassist starts singing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer". Soon after, everyone just sort of "gets it" and they all sing together happily. I have heard the song before, but this time I really listened to the words, and the scene that it was used in was just mind-blowing. Then William says "I have to go home", and Penny Lane does her weird hand-to-the-face thing and says "You are home", and I was just done after that. PERFECT.

**After reading about this, it sparked memory of John Cusack's character, Rob Gordon, from "High Fidelity" (a movie I have seen and love, a book I might get to eventually), who has "writing for The Rolling Stone during the 1960s, 1970s" listed as one of his top 5 professions. Other reference, in Entourage's third season, episode "One Day In The Valley", Vinnie Chase goes up on the roof drunk at a party a bunch of high school kids are throwing during the summer. Quite similar to the scene in "Almost Famous" where Russell goes on the roof of a high school kid throwing a party, tripping on acid, and proclaims "I am a golden god.... I'm on drugs!"

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