Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Curious Case of Paul Rockower

"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."
(Italics above and below are from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

My Thanksgiving break wasn't. I grinded it out on my final paper for Pub D Latin America. My few breaths of air were spent with my family; to bowl with an old friend Mark; to sip spiked cider, eat surprisingly good vegan cheesecake (sounds kinda like an oxymoron) and peruse books at Busboys and Poets with a new friend Anna.

My flight back was uneventful albeit bumpy. I sat next to an interesting Peruvian on the last leg from Vegas to LA. She was going to write a blog or book about the strip club world. Since I am a journalist of sorts, she wanted to know if I wanted to copy edit.

The return to Los Angeles was strange as ever. I hopped the metro back from the airport. I sat next to a homeless man, while a blind panhandler popped out his glass eyes as he asked for spare change. I read stranger in a strange land as I tried to grok the situation. As Bill Cosby said, a show in every car.

My time in Washington was extremely pleasant. The perpetual California summer gave way to fallen leaves, grey skies and barren trees. For once, it was grey and I was content. I needed to see some change; I needed to feel as if time had moved forward. The surreality of the island of the lotus eaters that is Los Angeles has been grating on me, and I needed to be grounded with family, with friends and with fall.

“It’s a funny thing coming home. Looks the same. Sounds the same. Even smells the same. You realize the only thing that’s changed…is you."

It has taken me nearly a year, but I seem to have finally made peace with turning thirty. There, I said it. It hasn't been an easy peace to make for this Peter Pan. This has been the most daunting birthday since I hit double digits. But finally, I feel that I am able to accept it. As Benjamin said, nobody is perfect forever. The irony is that I never am my own age. I vacillate between feeling too old and too young- never acting quite my age. I just needed to see that some time had passed. It's December, and I'm in the december of my second decade. The sun is setting on a fantastic decade, but I have a lot to look forward to. I just needed a little time to acclimate, socialize to the notion and move on.

"But life being what it is - a series of intersecting lives and incidents, out of anyone's control."

I returned to Lala land, and had a presentation for my PubD Lat Am class. We were presenting our policy memos. The jet lag had finally passed on my last day and I acclimated just in time to go back west. Ironically, I ended the Pub D Lat Am class the same way it began, jetlagged, exhausted and impressed. I boffed my presentation, as I was on empty. Too much info, and I got lost amid the details of my research. Thankfully I made up for it with a kickass paper. I got an "A" on the paper, on Brazil's public diplomacy efforts via discrete diplomacy, soft power through Gramscian hegemony and socialization of a distinct South America as disconnected from Latin America- with Brazil as its centrifugal force. I got a "gentleman's A minus" for the presentation, which I don't think I deserved but will take. On the whole, the class was one of the best I have taken. One that I will take a lot of tools and ideas away from.

But for now, I am getting back to my night off and finishing The Curious Case. I will let Mr. Button close this entry:

"Sometimes we’re on a collision course and we just don’t know it. Whether it’s by accident or by design there’s not a thing we can do about it."

5 comments:

Rae said...

Rockrower, you are perfect just as you are. While I cannot quite imagine you as 30, I rather think it's because you have a certain... ageless quality to you. ♥

--Rachel

Paul Rockower said...

As are you, my dear Rachel. And I would offer the same sentiment back.
"Life loves those who love life."
-Walt Disney

Yael Swerdlow said...

It is precisely because you have this ageless quality that you are so much an inspiration and muse.

Abba the Gray Man said...

"For once, it was gray and I was content."

Gimme a "G"!!!!

Paul Rockower said...

Yael, ty for the warm words. Abba, grey is a different colour than gray.