Wednesday, November 6, 2013

about a million miles from where i started off in college

This entry goes out to all those researchers in the distant future trying to discover some information about the origins of The Groundhog Day Project. This is after the project has gone on to inspire the nations of the world to unite and we have world peace and Rufus and his ilk (yeah, I'm mixing my cinematic metaphor, so to speak) are trying to figure out how to worship me.

I've explained before that I used Groundhog Day in nearly all of my impromptu speaking rounds when I was competing in collegiate speech and debate. I had even planned to alter the "normal" impromptu format for my final round of impromptu to, instead of taking one quotation and building examples around it, take all three quotations I was offered and apply them each to Groundhog Day. But, then life got complicated and I stopped doing impromptu a tournament or two before I thought I might. In retrospect, though I wouldn't have done too well at nationals, I probably should have done impromptu at districts because with so few entries in the event I might have qualified it for nationals... but I don't mean to get into details about how collegiate speech and debate works. Let's just say, Groundhog Day is a film I had seen many times before I started this project and I had already, on numerous occasions, explored deeper meanings within the film, just never in any permanent fashion.

Something I haven't mentioned, and which some of you might know, I am not the first person to do this same-move-everyday-and-blog-about-it thing. Lawrence Dai watched Julia & Julia every day for a year back in 2010-2011. You can still read his entries at http://www.lawrenceandjulieandjulia.com. I didn't follow his progress religiously, but I did pop in from time to time to get caught up. And, at the time I thought that while there was some poetry to doing such a thing with that film--

I mean blogging about a movie based on a book built around a blog is a nice high concept

--there was a much better movie to use for such a thing. So, this idea was in my head back in early 2011 for sure. But, I never thought I would have the time to do it. And, in early 2012, I separated from my wife, and this was as my undergrad college career was coming to an end and my last year in speech and debate was coming to an end--got invited to a 20-team only debate invitational, went to debate nationals (NPDA) and speech nationals (AFA)--and ending on a high note. It was emotionally stressful, but I have a tendency to thrive on busyness. And, honestly, the emotional stress actually helped some of my interpretive speeches. There was a round of dramatic interpretation at a tournament down in San Diego that I don't really remember because I got a little too into it emotionally. After the round, I found a dark place--it was night time at this point in the competition--away from people and let some emotions out. It was horribly painful and relieving at the same time.

We remained separated for close to six months then tried living together again. That lasted about seven months or so before it was decided it wasn't going to work out, and divorce was now the descriptor for our future. That was back in February of this year (2013, researchers, the 13th of February to be precise, and I think our appointment with our counselor was at 8 a.m. that day, so it was probably about 8:30 pacific time if you want to pinpoint the exact moment of one of the fractures in who I am...

And, that's both more poetic and more bleak than I mean it to be.

And, that isn't a day I would like to repeat. Nor the day in March when we told the kids what was coming. Most people I know learned about that conversation in a blog entry (on a political blog I have neglected more than I've maintained) about marriage equality. You can read it here.

Days I would like to repeat:

  • Alternative Press Expo, 2002 - my future wife flew out to San Francisco from Pittsburgh where she lived--remember, I've mentioned she attended Lincoln High School just like Nancy Taylor--to meet me for a weekend at a comic book convention (not really her thing), and we spent some of that time wandering around parts of San Francisco that probably wouldn't make anyone's vacation itinerary. One day--I'd guess it was Saturday--we happened upon a random park near the water and just laid ourselves down in the grass for a bit. It was nice, to say the least.
  • November 1, 2001 - really, I'd want to start a few hours before October 31st turned into November 1st. That was the night I first met my wife in person--we met online. Picked her up at the airport, was reading a collection of Grant Morrison's Invisibles as I waited in baggage claim. Drove to my parents' house where I was living, surprised my rather conservative mother with the news that I was going to be staying at the motel with a woman I'd only just met that night and a few to follow... though maybe I wouldn't want to relive that consciously because I might change it and ruin it. Some of the awkwardness is what makes it so memorable.
  • August 1-ish, 2003 - first time we took the kids to Disneyland.
  • December 2, 2002 - when our first child together was born.

    And, that's just a few days with my wife that come to mind. There were days before that, I suppose.

  • December 23, 1999 - met a different girl I knew from the interwebs
  • November 8, 2000 - one of the first days I spent with the first girl I lived with

    And, there are probably dates further back... the mid 90s mostly sucked for me, office jobs and attempts to get started as a writer, no notable specific days. Maybe that day I was flirting with that waitress at Johnny Rockets in Old Town Pasadena and should have asked her out. Going back further... there was that day that girl in my Spanish class at USC was--and I only realized this after--flirting with me before class. Or, there was that day I meant to ask a girl to the prom but I was too hesitant and she had to head home before I got up the nerve. There are moments I'd like to fix. But, maybe that's not the same thing.

    Anyway, I was recapping... but first, since in the movie playing as I type this, Rita just mentioned that she didn't study journalism in college, I should mention that I went to USC ostensibly to get into their film program, dropped out after two years and didn't return to college until just a handful of years ago. Then, I proceeded to major in social science for my AA, history for my BA, started a teaching credential program and then just a handful of weeks ago shifted over to a graduate program in communication studies. It was as I was completing the BA that my wife and I first separated. I stayed at a sister's house, slept on the floor for six months. That was humbling, I suppose.

    This past year, I did two quarters of teaching credential related classes, and I like studying education, but I also want to teach communication and coach other students who want to try competitive speech and debate. I currently coach for a college team and teach a middle school debate class, in addition to my own graduate school studies. But, that's getting ahead of the story here.

    This past April, I got my own place, a tiny little apartment in a very quiet neighborhood, and I spent the summer getting to know myself, to appreciate all the facets of my history and who and what I had become over the years, my failures and my successes. And, it being summer break and all, I guess I finally thought I had enough time to try something like this project. Then, the outdoor summer movie screenings in Old Town Pasadena included Groundhog Day and that settled it. I actually started setting up this blog a few days before I started it properly, reserved the blog address, set up the twitter account and the facebook page, considering setting up a dedicated URL--still haven't gotten to that--researched a few basic ideas that could get the blog started, and waited. That outdoor screening was July 27th, a Saturday. I made up my mind then and there to start this blog on August 2nd, six months out from Groundhog Day, or to put the idea out of my mind completely. The former position won and I started the blog.

    Mostly, as I've mentioned, I'd have the movie playing on my iPad as I worked on a blog entry on my desktop computer. I've managed to watch the movie while camping, in a car ride to a coaches convention, on the desktop computer, on my iPad, on my iPod, and now on a television...

    About a month ago now, the situation with my wife--who I've called my soon-to-be-ex-wife in this blog before, and who in person lately I've started referring to as my ex-wife, even though technically we're still married, because it's less complicated--changed up again and I've been living back at the apartment we shared the last couple years we were together. She was living with the kids but life got more complicated and for now, I'm there with the kids now and she's not and that's why I've been watching the movie on DVD and widescreen television lately and typing my entries on the iPad instead of the desktop. This has made screencaps harder, and has made it harder to come up with entry ideas on the fly as much. But, it has also introduced me to much more visually in the movie than I'd been seeing before on the blurry copy I had. Recently I purchased the HD copy on iTunes and got a lot of screencaps from that, but I haven't had the time to sort and name them all just yet.

    Meanwhile, I've been busy with grad school--had a paper due yesterday, a midterm exam tonight, another paper due tomorrow--and coaching forensics. We've got another tournament this weekend, so expect another impromptu tie-in entry (like this one and this one).

    Life is a complicated thing sometimes... Well, I suppose it's complicated all the time. But, sometimes, the complications outweigh the simplicities. Doing this every day--it's like a control mechanism, a new constant that keeps everything else in line. I might get stressed over grad school work, I might worry about my kids when I have to go to class and I'd rather be with them. But, I know that, lately, every night before I go to bed, I'll be watching Groundhog Day and writing something about it, related to it, inspired by it, or only tangentially connected because I just feel like ranting. It's an outlet. It's a marker for my day. And, I still look forward to it.

    I've been asked a few times recently how long I plan to do this. I figure if I can manage six months I'll make it to Groundhog Day. I want to do a year. But, when a friend recently suggested, perhaps with tongue in cheek, that I never stop, the idea amused me. But, I assume a year. I will have explored so many things in this blog in that amount of time, I will have explored so many aspects of myself in the process... I don't expect that me on the other end of that year will be the me that entered into this thing back in August. Like Phil Connors, I expect that I will know myself a hell of a lot better on the way out than I did on the way in.

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to enjoy it, to exploit it, to learn from it.

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