I suddenly find myself with a lot of time on my hands. From about November 20 to December 11, every minute of time was regulated, most often in the service of homework and research. And then I walked across a stage and someone handed me a piece of paper (not my actual diploma, mind you, but that’s a different story), and suddenly I had a college degree. Which is weird because I thought I’d feel more adult-y by this time. But more to the point, I’m now done with school…at least for a little while. And following my Godbrother’s advice, I now get to figure out how exactly I want to spend my time without an educational institution weighing in with its thoughts. One of the many things I learned this summer is that I actually enjoy writing. And more specifically, enjoy writing this blog. So I’ve decided to keep writing it, even though this was originally conceived as a travel blog and I have no trips officially on the books now. But having nothing noteworthy going on has never stopped anyone in my generation talking about themselves so why should stop me? And enough people have told me they enjoyed reading it and thought I had a flair for it for me to continue on with the blind self-confidence that I think everyone has a little bit of at 21. I think as I move forward, it will mostly become a platform for me to write about smaller adventures I take and let me shamelessly push on you any piece of pop culture I think everyone should be reading/watching/listening to. It occurred to me that this blog is called “Jane Austen Drank Here” so I might as well make use of the novelty cocktail books I’ve startedcollecting lately and share some recipes here, too. But now to the present:
I think I’ve already mentioned somewhere before that I am a huge fan of Billy Collins– former U.S. Poet Laureate. His work is excellent to read, but I highly recommend finding one of his readings on YouTube because his delivery makes his work even more hilarious than it is on the page. About a month ago when I should have been paying attention in class, I dug through the Internet to find that he was doing a reading in Atlanta a week after graduation. That information fell by the wayside once I was in the hurricane of final exams and papers, but once the storm cleared, we (my mom and I) took a weekend trip to Atlanta for the reading.
The Atlanta Writers Club hosted the event which was surprisingly small considering his notoriety. (We guessed that they just didn’t advertise too much because I wasn’t kidding when I said I was digging through the Internet to find the information.) My uncle went too which was nice because he first introduced me to Collins’ work when I was 17 which I continued reading throughout college.
The reading was excellent. He read a bunch of my favorites and a few new ones from his book “The Rain in Portugal” that’s due next October. A perfect graduation gift to myself. And we got to meet him after as he signed books so I now have a signed copy of “Aimless Love” and a picture of him and me with a goofy English-major-meets-famous-poet grin on my face.
The next day we went to the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market to poke around, but we mostly just bought a lot of cheese. The place is a massive international grocery store where you can get pretty much anything including live eels. (Spoiler: We don’t buy live eels.) Anglophile that I am, I wandered over to the British food section where they sold Mars Bars. I got pretty addicted to Mars Bars this summer because they sold them in the refectory at the university we stayed at in London. For some reason they always seemed quintessentially British to me, and now always remind me of the summer I spent in London. So basically I decided to get one at the Farmer’s Market the other day even though I’m pretty sure you can get them at Publix. But whatever. Cheers to the “exotic,”right?
Today back at home, I decided to revisit Collins’ 2008 Commencement Address to Colorado College, and damn is it lot more insightful than whatever was said at my graduation. I’m not going to regurgitate the whole thing here, but suffice it to say that he spends the speech discussing time, the past, and the future like you’re supposed to do. Toward the beginning he says, “Robert Louis Stevenson, representing the Pessimistic view [of the future] once said concerning the Future that ‘everybody sooner or later will sit down to a banquet of consequences,’ to which I can only add ‘Pass the butter.'” Reading this speech again (and for the first time since graduating), I don’t think I’m so much sitting down at the banquet of consequences as I am sitting down at the banquet of possibilities. Which is both thrilling and utterly terrifying. I suddenly have this long stretch of time to figure out what it is I want to do before maybe (but most likely) going to graduate school. And as someone who is often susceptible to binge-watching NBC sitcoms on Netflix (If you’ve never watched 30 Rock, you really should.), having this much free time is dangerous and daunting. But thank goodness I have decided to revive this blog to track in the (here’s hoping) wittiest way possible what I’ll get up to. So as I sit down at the Banquet of Possibilities, I turn to a drinking Jane Austen and say, “Pass the Mars Bar.”
Billy Collins Commencement Address– Full
Decided to share only one of Collins’ poems because otherwise I’d copy and paste them all. Instead, here’s a link to his reading “Consolation” which I find particularly relevant as a traveller who isn’t traveling.