WHEN

I’ve dispensed with those things that involve collaboration, others. How about what I can do alone?

What do people do? Make an album in the woods, Bron-yr-Aur, Bon Iver. I could. Don’t really want to. Not my medium of choice. Make something with a frame around it: I’m a blacksmith, a wood-turner, I’ve made plenty of stuff that’ll be really almost sort of help in case of zombocalypse. DIYing the things you need is different than using the same skills to make pretty shit until your livingroom looks like a renfair came all over it. It’s just not hard enough. And it sure isn’t the right kind of hard.

What’s harder? What am I good at? What do I like doing? What might actually come to something?

I am a writer. That seems the best option, always has. Write another novel. Or short stories and try to sell them. A novel, edited, and try to get it agented or just straight published. If I sell a manuscript to a small press for five grand a two free copies, I’ll have paid for a year’s worth of groceries and then some. And there’s always the chance I might make more. Or justify an advance… the potential for more… a career.

It is the best I have ever come up with. If I have four months with nothing at all to do, that is what I will do. And reasonably so.

And I could do it much the same, while biking too.

If I bike eight hours a day, that’s still *eight hours* left of wakefulness each day. That’s as much as I usually spend writing. It will impact me not much at all.

If I’m sitting at home, I’ll be out riding my bike several hours a day. This way I’ll ride more, and see more. And write not much the less for it. Perhaps even write more, for just these reasons. Plus I’ll be Doing Something. And more besides.

If I were to write something related to the trip I was on, that might be an excellent way to get a foot in the door. (Hell, I’ve wanted to write such a story for several months. The only reason I haven’t is the same one given by the starving man why he doesn’t write about a feast.) But that’s not a necessity. I could write whatever the hell I wanted. A roof over my head or now: my imagination is mine.

And – hell – if I don’t write a single word, I’ll have *biked*.

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WHEN

I spoke of the resources at my disposal: apartment, bicycle, computer, too-much-money-but-not-enough. Four months: a resource, a constraint. That’s all.

It cannot be stressed enough: I have a computer, and no responsibilities, and no undertakings. What more does one need? What more to want, in a vacuum, alone? I don’t need anything. Not a fucking thing. Anything I undertake will by necessity be a surrogate activity. I’ve got all the choice in the world. French, Turk, Proosian. Alright, then. So it’s so.

What to do?

Well, I could spend the summer taking classes at the lawl school. But there’s a six-semester requirement for graduation, so it would not hasten my exit. Moreover, the ninety credits required for graduation are a trifle: I will have completed *more* than a third of these in my first year, and several of the required classes at the upper level are known to be significantly easier (Professional Responsibility, anyone?). Also it would cost more, and jesus christ. As a result I do not think this would be of the remotest value.

I could spend the summer searching for other educational opportunities. What? A community college course that I could have taught half a decade ago (or more); an Adult Ed program where I can mix with the cream of Portland’s bored housewives and retirees? I can think of few classes in the world of the real or the fanciful that I should like to attend. Course-credit has never meant much to me, and even less now that I’m getting it by the forkful fall and spring. If I wanted to learn, I’d learn. Fuck classes. Fuck them right the eye.

So: learning, then. Set myself a course of study, kick back and get my learn on. Study a subject. Write a paper. Complete a curriculum, but do it myself. How many times have I done this? We have passed the point of diminished returns going 90 down a hill. General learning: O, this I have, I think. More learning for-its-own-sake will have no practical benefit to me. Not unless I have a project and am working up on.

A project, then. I do not have one. Have tried for years to think of one. Do not have one. What am I? I am a businessman, a project manager. I organize, I strategize, I lead. I get my hands as dirty as I am able but I am not a programmer, not an engineer. I have not been able to think of a way, A SINGLE WAY, to contribute to a substantive project by my lonesome. Maybe out there are people who can hide in their rented holdfasts and hammer out Rings of Power all alone. I ain’t they.

I’ve done volunteer work of a dozen stripes. Some of it I quite enjoyed: it was good hard work, maybe even creative, maybe with authority, responsibility. None of it was ever working towards something which I much cared be done. It is the sad or happy fact that most of the things which I should wish done, are profitable; as such they are made or sought by for-profit companies. Thus the makers/seekers are enjobbed. I’d need to have a job. And we’re back to square one.

I could, I suppose, spend four months trying desperately to think of something that will justify me dropping out of school to attempt it, four months searching for a startup worth the starting. But while I’m doing that, I can bike around.

Which bring us to…

WHEN

The question of time becomes, then: is there some other way I might better spend it?

There are two ways to constrain my speculation: chasing those things which last only the summer, allowing me to return to school in the fall; and chasing those things which allow me to avoid this prospect.

There is some overlap. Summer jobs that might go FT in the fall, or careers that one can quit when September comes. But limits, too: a summer gig is much less likely to let me avoid fall work, whereas a full-time gig is decidedly unlikely to interest me in a return to the fallow fold.

& much of the work in which I’d be most interested – joining up with Epiphyte(3), or starting it – would not only be difficult to leave after a short time, but would not have born fruit during such a short period. An investment in dropping-out would be necessitated.

Let’s riff.

SUMMER JOBS: As of this moment I’ve applied for about 140. No headway. I’m not surprised. Jobs for first-year law students don’t much exist. Most associateships are specifically limited to 2Ls. Even to 3Ls – that is to say, graduates. Several firms I’ve contacted have been terribly nice in their responses – really, any response for a job app is such that I’d consider a terrible niceness at this point – but have said, with an oft perceptible hint of shame, that they are not intending on bringing on *any* summer associates for ought-fourteen. This because, it seems, they just don’t have the money.

And so in spite of all diligence due, I ain’t gonna get one. Consideration of whether I want one is irrelevant but of interest. Nine months I’ll have just spent doing nothing, accomplishing nothing. If the summer job was little more I’d have little interest at all. Do any of these look like real opportunities? Some, perhaps. A summer associateship at a Wall Street firm: I don’t think I could turn that down for near anything. Not the least because it pays three thousand dollars. A week.

But few and far between are such opportunities. The remainder are less. Unpaid internships. Office work. Part-time volunteering. No volley, no thunder. Lesser work, almost all, than things that I have done before. An officer now a conscript. Back before the mast.

This sucks.

FULL TIME JOBS: If I’d been able to find one, I much doubt I’d have come to law school. (I like to think I would not.) I have applied to all the jobs. Not counting the summer positions on which I’ve dropped a merry dime? 1380, I think. That’s a lot of jobs. I couldn’t get one. Overqualified, under-: ying and yang am I. I’d have better luck winning the bronze in female pole vaulting than getting a job that I wanted. And, it seems, little more luck getting one that I don’t.

I have begun to apply to jobs with the clear purpose of getting out of law school. Employ me, I say, so I can drop the fuck out. (Crafting *that* cover letter, that took a bit of work.) But this is a heavy yoke; without it I found nothing, so I rather doubt it will be of assistance. Yokes are hard to stand on.

Aside: besides, what sort of Full Time Job would I really want?

No, that’s a different question. And an entree into daydreaming – which makes it, not easier to go to class, but worse. Very much worse.

AND SO IN CONCLUSION: Ain’t got shit to do this summer. Must use my time.

On Travel

Excerpt from an email to a friend:

I’ve been forced to realize that my new blog, however excited I am about it… really amounts to nothing more than one of those legion Study Abroad Blogs of the “this is another picture of me standing in front of something!” variety.
If I have any great gripe about tourism, it’s that pictures of one standing in front of shit are basically the perfect and honest expression of the activity. You aren’t really interacting with the place you’re visiting. You’re just visiting. Seeing: maybe. You’re just there to be there.

I can see the appeal of hiking, or biking, or, I don’t know, parkouring through the Coliseum. At least you are interacting with the Shit In Question. But it’s a rather hollow interaction at best. Making a baby, to going to a whore.

Maybe this makes you, me, no different than a medieval spice-trader sailing from port to port, doing nothing at any place but renting a straw-mat in an inn and going out at night to wench and drink. But at least that was the person’s life, and in all these places – such a life as it was – they were *living* that life. Whereas the vacation is so steadfastly a departure from life. The moment it’s declared A Vacation, it is apart.

Traveling, though. That’s perhaps a nobler little goal. Then you can hope that you will be impacted by what you see, by allowing yourself to be moved by it, by thinking about it and trying to have it affect your life and the things you do Back At Home.

It’s a goal at least. That was what troubled me so damned much upon my return from Italy: however well I’d traveled, scene thought felt, nothing was going to be of remotest use – however hard I tried – in law school. Not for years would I be able to use what I’d seen. The best I can hope for is that I have the time, not to do things on this earth, but to write a little fiction here and there… dream about people who do things that might be influenced by what I’d seen and done. And even that I won’t be able to do very much of!

…few enough jobs in this world that can be informed by such things. Bet I could be a perfectly successful lawyer and it’d have jack diddly to do with it. Have to wait until I retired to form a fundraising committee and a town referendum lobbying effort and hire an artist (by committee, to be sure) all in the hopes that one day I’d get some sort of thing built, a thing maybe worth a tourist taking their picture in front of.

There’s a line from Swinburne that runs through my head often, and buzzed in my skull almost constantly in Florence: “[we] appraise thee, adore, and abstain.” That’s what people seemed to be doing. They looked around, enjoyed themselves, even read the little guidebooks so they knew Why It Was Important… and then got a bunch of gelato and went back to their hotel-rooms. They appraised and adored… but then ABSTAINED. No real influence on their life. Because most people don’t *create* and most people don’t much *do*.

Right now, I don’t. And it tasks me like a motherfucker.

WHEN

My last exam of the semester, the year, concludes at 4PM on Thursday, May 8th. After that I am free as speech. School shall reconvene around the 1st of September if I choose to join it. In the middle there are 115 days, which are mine.

That’s the most of the boundary conditions which will bind me. One hundred and fifteen days with everything to do. One hundred and fifteen days with nothing to do at all.

My rent shall be paid for the duration. My stipend for living expenses shall amount to about fifty dollars per week. Anything beyond that is to come out of my savings. Which is plentiful, but not plenipotent. Allowing me to do much of anything, but not allowing me to do nothing – the best of circumstances, I might say.

I am in good health. Sound mind and body. I have a computer, and a portable computer. I have a car. I have a bicycle. I have a passport. I have a phone with 4G and GPS.

If that isn’t spoiled for choice…

This is not the first time I’ve had a block of time before me. One might think it my stock in trade. I’ve had every summer more or less off since I started school. In Boston I may have been often well employed but it was all self-directed – what’s the difference? I cannot *stand* to be idle. I am always filling my time.

My first summer-vacation I wrote a novel. The same my second though sixth. That is what I did. Biked a bit during the day, and hiked, and read and read. Mid-afternoon through nightfall, wrote. That’s what I did.

I do that, more than anything else, because I can do it alone. Alone is all I have. I do it because it’s productive. At least, it has the potential to be. One day published. At least to know I’ve done it, made a Thing. Practice, practice. It’s what I have.

(For a few years now I have not felt much like writing. One nice thing about being in law school: bikes and books, now, I want like nothing else.)

What is being proposed herein is hardly an adjustment to this pattern of summers. It’s a prioritization of the biking, but mostly this shall serve to increase the intensity with which I pursue it. I won’t be wasting – spending not-writing – many more hours of the day than I would be otherwise. Hell, if I bike eight hours a day, that’s still eight hours I’ll have to fill. That’s a lot of writing. Or of doing whatever the hell else I want to do.

If I stayed at home it would be sixteen hours a day instead of eight.

I think I’d prefer the eight.

WHY

I have committed to finishing this semester. This because: one reason: I am a stubborn son of a bitch. I committed to it. I paid for it. I’m going to see it through.

So little do I think of it, and so much I hate it, that any thoughts about its utility to me are thrown deep into the shadows. Moreover, that I doubt even a clear head would think it useful. However deep they’re cast, I must cast them deeper.

I have one goal and one goal only: make it through the semester. Keep going to class. Keep paying attention. Keep doing the readings – as little as I can get away with. Make it through the semester. Just keep through.

To get me through the semester I shall do whatever I must. If that is watch television I shall do it. If that is go out to the theater than I shall. The gym as much as I am able. A book if I can stomach it, here and there. All subsumed beneath one goal: get through. Get through.

And one thing above all, I think, shall get me through. And that is the idea that, come May 9th, I will be able to get on my bike.

WHY

A story:

When I first applied to law school, I thought: a Doctor of Laws. It’s a doctorate. It’ll be comparable to a PhD. Maybe a little watered down. But a lot of PhDs today are more than a little watered down. And hey, if I spend a little more time learning a practical professional skill and a little less time… well, I was going to say, teaching hungover 19-year-olds how to spell or add, but that’s a rather practical professional skill for those who’ve taken the tweed. A Doctor of Laws. I can respect that.

When I first started law school, I thought: This isn’t quite a PhD. It’s all taught. There’s no research, no creative element. No expectation that one will contribute to the body of human knowledge. Only about 10% of the students are able to do any real writing by means of the law review, and that’s one short paper… their last semester. This isn’t a doctorate. It’s a master’s degree. A three-year master’s, too. Not great – but it is what it is.

When I was halfway through the semester, I thought. This isn’t quite a master’s. There’s little critical thinking, or application, or challenge. It’s time-consuming and it’s a fight not to fall asleep, but that’s as close as it comes to being hard. Do the work. Recite the facts. Prove that you’ve done the reading. Take the exam. Get good grades. This isn’t graduate school. This is a BA. Oh my God, I’m getting a second bachelor’s.

Now that I’m in Semester Two I feel no hold to saying: this does not rise to the level of BA 2. My undergraduate degree was far in advance of this. Silly, easy, trapped in a failed system that’s trapped in the past. This is high school. This is the fucking eleventh grade. That’s what this is. I’m in high school again. I’m sad and I’m angry and that is why.

I didn’t have anything else to do. Little money in my purse, nothing on land much interested in me. The dilemma of the no alternative: may excuse much.

But this?