“Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” – Mark Twain
As usual, Twain has a way of combining several observations about the world in a simple sentence, and in my first week at University I have experienced some of them. Firstly, believe it or not, it really does rain in Scotland almost all of the time. You can look out of the window, and see a blue sky and yet the moment you step out the front door you realize that there is a slow steady rain (or Scottish mist). And sometimes, it just pours. Umbrellas are quite often futile, especially this close to ocean, meaning that you put your hood up and just. Keep. Going. Still, it is preferable to the heat humidity of New Jersey summers.
But I also think that Twain is commenting on the futility of small talk. How predictable and conventional it is, and yet you have to go through it, because it is a gateway conversation. So we choose topics, where you are from, what you are reading, or in my case because it is the first week of university, what you are studying. But it often comes back to the weather, because everywhere in the world people are complaining that it is too hot or too cold, too rainy, too cloudy. And even when people are happy with the weather before long someone mentions the forecast of rain tomorrow night or how all last week was so dreadfully hot. Even here, in a place that everyone knows to be rainy, you still find yourself talking about the rain. And yet, right underneath the surface, you can see a yearning within everyone to dig deeper, to really converse, because when you have as many people trying to get to know one another like we do here, it is exciting, but it is also exhausting.
I constantly find myself wishing that I could once more walk into a room and have it full of people I know, people I can talk about last night with, because I know for a fact that they were there with me like always. I know that will come soon enough, but for the time being I have to keep working at it. And, as inevitably happens when you walk into a room full of people you know, I will also start to long for new people, not because the ones I know are boring or because one should forget the past, but because life is all about the changes and the more you do with your time, the more you will enjoy yourself. Studies have shown that the human brain is incapable of remembering pain accurately, and l think that applies to these situations as well, when we venture out we long to be comfortable again, and yet when we are wrapped up in our comfortable lives, so often we long for change. So I will keep going out and having the same conversation and learning and forgetting names so that I can eventually find myself surrounded by people I know and start the whole cycle again.
Despite all of my mingling however, I have still had time to myself, here are the highlights:
Books: The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant. Given as a gift to all first years so that they might have something to talk about, I started it not expecting to like it, but in fact it was just odd enough and sad enough and interesting enough to constitute a really great novel.
TV: Doctor Who “The God Complex,” it was an interesting take on faith and fear and how connected they are. It will also be interesting to see how long Amy and Rory stay “saved.” Plus I love when DW combines old myths, like Minators, with futuristic technology.
Two and a Half Men season premiere: The show has been limping along for the last season thanks to the entire cast with the exception of Charlie Sheen, so it was nice to get rid of a lackluster performer and welcome Kutcher back to sitcoms (That 70’s show was hilarious). And the perfect balance of seriousness and joking when discussing the character Charlie’s death brings the show back to its dark humour roots, where it really belongs
The Hour series finale: With the rather predictable reveal of the Soviet mole, this season’s main arc came to a close rather lamely. But the issues of fighting censorship and government versus press were handled beautifully, with just enough personal drama thrown in for some fun. I am glad it will be back for a second series.
All in all I don’t have too many updates, classes start next week, so my schedule will change again, but until then, try to have some non-weather related conversations…