Monday, July 1, 2013

Thoughts on self-confidence, and snapshots of the summer so far

I've been at my childhood home in the humming metropolis of Glen Ellyn, IL for about two weeks now. I will doubtlessly soon write some ruminations on how I feel about Glen Ellyn. Whenever I'm here I (unsurprisingly) spend a lot of time remembering what it was like to grow up in this place: what I liked, what I disliked, what seemed normal at the time but now seems strange and foreign.

My appearance feels different here. Or more specifically, how I feel about my appearance feels different here. I felt pretty confident in Syracuse: perhaps I'm getting older, perhaps I'm finally getting less interested in worrying about myself -- whatever the reason, I moved throughout and lived within Syracuse without spending nearly any time worrying about my appearance.

But when I come back home, some of that old, familiar worry about my appearance slips back. I'm not sure if it's because when I'm here I remember how awkward and unattractive I felt while a gawky teen in high school - or if people do wander around looking more put together than they do in Syracuse. To be honest, that wouldn't be very difficult. High fashion and extremely punctilious grooming are not generally found within the hallowed halls of academia. My high school, on the other hand, did have several very well-dressed students. It wasn't uncommon to see my trendier high school classmates wearing short, yet tasteful, skirts and pumps to school once we hit sophomore year. A particular subset of students would dress up more formally for their high school classes than I do now, at 26, to TA a class or lead a lecture.

At the time, of course, I wore baggy jeans accompanied with skin-tight tee shirts from my school's theater program. I topped it off with one of those tattoo choker necklaces that came back for about a minute there in the early 2000s. My mother lovingly described me as "grunge."

Me reading a murder mystery at breakfast. My high school's mascot was the "Hilltoppers." My high school was on the top of a hill, and was very, very pretty. The film "Lucas" was filmed there. It was a very picturesque place to worry compulsively about not being thin enough! 

This is from a family dinner at Mapo Restaurant, in Naperville. My stepsister Catherine moved to Taiwan two days ago! This was earlier last week. She ordered sweet and sour chicken, saying that she couldn't get Americanized Chinese food in Taiwan. 

"Strike iron while it is hot." A pretty good, albeit somewhat cryptic fortune, don't you think? My father received the same one in his cookie. I suppose this means I should squash any remaining fears of inadequacy and just live life as if I were 100% confident, correct?

Because I enjoy several of the same recreational activities as senior citizens, I signed up for the summer reading program at the public library here in Glen Ellyn. I participated in this program every year without fail as a child. Back then, you would record the books you read on a special form, taking it in once a week or so for the librarians to stamp and occasionally give you a little prize if you reached a goal. I had no idea they had an adult version of the program, but I obviously signed up as soon as I was told about it. 

Now, everything appears to be done online. Or at least the adult version of the program is. As you can see, I have read two books since being home: Death of Yesterday, a Scottish murder mystery featuring a lazy policeman; and The Missing Ink, about a tattoo artist who also solves crime. I would recommend the latter, but not the former. I love Hamish Macbeth mysteries, but this particular iteration has an odd ending that ends in extremely tedious chase scenes.