Friday, January 30, 2009

Hello again all. So I take the train in to work everyday. Primary reason? Originally it was to save money because gas was nearly $5/gallon and it's 36 miles from home to work. Theoretically it also saved time, but I don't know how much this is really true. With traffic the commute can take an hour and a half... picking this or a 35 minute train ride isn't really that hard of a decision. But then take into account driving to the train station, waiting for the train, waiting at the Stamford train station for the shuttle, taking the shuttle to the office, etc. etc. and it adds up. It's pretty much an hour and 25 minute trip from door to door. So with gas cheaper now why do I still take the train? Simply, it is my "me time". I get to rest my eyes, let my mind wander into scaringly random yet completely enjoyable chains of thought and read. I've literally read more books in the past 8 months than I have throughout my entire life... averaging about one a week. Lately I've gotten into rereading books I had to read in high school. My theory is that anything that is ever assigned is never enjoyable. I could be asked to read Harry Potter for a class and because it's something I have to do, I will with near certainty hate the book. So let's give these classics a try again, with a new outlook. I read Pride & Prejudice and absolutely loved it. Other Jane Austen books are now on my wish list. It's so humorous to me because I clearly remember it being one of the books I hated reading the most in 9th grade. Currently I'm reading A Tale of Two Cities which I remember enjoying in jr. high. While I'm reading these on the train I constantly wonder if others think I'm a highschool/college student reading these for a class, one of those nerdy book people who reads the classics and non-fiction instead of chick-lit or thriller novels, or an intellectual whose taste in books is attractive in a slightly intimidating, yet intriguing way. I hope to come across as the latter but feel like 7 times out of 10 I'm perceived as one of the first two. Anyways, this is a divergent from what I really want to get to here. I always do this. Come here with a topic in mind, mean to offer up a small introduction to it and get on a complete side track... wait until you see how little this whole reading thing has to do with my main topic, and the mentioning of why I take the train has literally nothing to do with it at all. All I had to say as an introduction is that I take the train. For someone who doesn't talk much, my mind certainly is always in overload and apparently it comes out when I freewrite like this. Anyways...

So I'm on the train coming home last night and I'm reading A Tale of Two Cities. I'm at the beginning where what's his face is acquitted and I'm fairly into it but I'm also observing things going on around the train while reading. I love people watching and the train is one of the primary people watching hot spots. First a guy sitting across from me drops his magazines, Men's Fitness, and hidden inbetween, Maxim. I pick them up for him and wonder if he's embarassed in his magazine choice and that a girl around his age picked them up for him. I mean, he DID have the Maxim with a barely-qualifies-as-a-bikini model on the cover hidden behind a Men's Fitness so as to conceal what he was actually reading. He soon loses my interest and I'm back to reading. Then, I'm overhearing a conversation between 3 older 20 somethings... probably 5 or so years older than me. Before long I was pretending to read my book and really concentrating my full attention on their conversation. They were talking about TGIF. I found myself totally absorbed by nostalgia and felt like I was a part of their reminiscing even though I was just an eavesdropper pretending to read a book.

First of all, the mere mention of all of these shows made me remember how much television I watched growing up. TGIF and SNICK were my obsessions. As they mentioned the various lineups I realized how many "seasons" of TGIF I went through as a child. The shows I remember watching were Full House, Family Matters, Step by Step, Perfect Strangers, Hangin with Mr. Cooper, Dinosaurs, Boy Meets World, and later on- Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Naturally when I got home I looked up when all of these shows aired on TGIF to see when my prime watching years were. I was SHOCKED to find out Perfect Strangers aired in 1990 and 1991 meaning I was 3 and 4 years old when I watched this. The sheer fact that I remember this show from so young an age amazes me. Eventually the good shows were replaced with the bad... it all started with Sabrina... Clueless came in there and Teen Angel and probably 3 or 4 other shows that lasted less than 10 episodes. Basically I stopped watching when Family Matters and Step by Step left and that's what these 20 somethings said too. I realized, through my internet research, that my TGIF watching lasted exactly as long my SNICK watching. Both expired in early 1997 for whatever reason... when I was 10. (This was the same time my parents got a divorce and now I can't help but wonder if there was some subconcious connection. I really think it was the change over to lame shows that did it though.) For SNICK I remember the Clarissa, Roundhouse, Ren & Stimpy and Are You Afraid of the Dark lineup the best... which also scares me considering I was around 5 and 6 then. And yes, I watched Alex Mack and All That and Kenan & Kel when they came around. But then there was Kablam and Shelby Woo and Allen Strange and SNICK and the big orange couch lost all appeal for me. Now my favorite TGIF shows are on Nick at Nite which really scares me since that was always the station for the "old tv shows" growing up.

Shoot, I'm on a tangent again.

Forget it, I'll give in to all of the tangents, and now confess what the topic here was supposed to be. My intention was to discuss what it is that's so connecting about reminiscing and why nostalgia is so enjoyable. Way back in the day nostalgia was viewed as a medical condition and a sign of depression. Now I think it is primarily comforting to people rather than painful and we all must confess that at times we get nostalgic and fantasize about going back to certain times. Certainly, we all enjoy reminiscing and thinking about things that happened years ago. I can't tell you how many times my cousins and I have tried to list out all of the episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark that we remembered, how many times my friends and I discuss tamagachi's and pogs, the age we got our first CD player or that time Mrs. Moger fell into the pond. I still bring up Vlinks to everyone I meet, unable to accept the fact that it really was just an Orange, CT fad. (Essentially $80 walkie-talkies disguised as a cellphone with a 4 digit number that worked within a range of 3 blocks and became so popular they were banned from my elementary school... ). We feel connected to the past and to each other in remembering these stories. It's why I felt connected to these 3 20somethings even though I wasn't partaking in their conversation at all. Guarantee you're smiling right now remembering skip-its, slip and slides and crimping your hair. I've gone so far as to repurchase Polly Pockets I owned as a child, favorite Golden books that probably got sold for a nickel at a tag sale back in 1993, the complete collection of Barbie trading cards I used to reorganize constantly growing up, and everyone knows I own all the seasons of Are You Afraid of the Dark and Doug on dvd. I don't need all this stuff, but I feel like I do. Is it only childhood things that you reminisce on? Does it stem from wanting to reconnect to your carefree days of youth? (Lamest sentence ever right there) I have no idea why reminiscing is so enjoyable and nostalgia so comforting. But I certainly enjoy looking back.

As an end note I'd like to say that I think my tangents are often much more enjoyable than my main topics. I should stop thinking of main topics and just write whatever. Eh, over it.