rude awake

So the days are just rolling by. It's end of semester time, so classes are ending and the days feel a little less hectic. But there's still the looming papers to write, all my thoughts on life stories and the street-walking flaneur and public-private division of society and Martin Buber and relational morality... Yes, the semester is winding down, but I'm still feeling the pressure to produce. And then it's the beginning of the holiday season, too. Nog's Eve is only a week away, and it should be a fine time. I'll be starting work again at Hull's Bookstore come next weekend. By the 14th I should be done all the essays and papers and pressures of this semester at school. And I will have made it. This week I had my birthday. I'm 25 now, which is the quarter century mark. It seems strange to have passed another year, or rather, maybe it passed me. I wonder if that's especially meaningful somehow.

This morning, my Critical Theory class made a trip to Polo Park mall to talk about the social, everyday space of the shopping mall. So we settled at tables in the foodcourt, about 15 of us altogether, hunched down and talking over the din of octagenarians and mallrats and fastfood clattering. By the end of it, I couldn't concentrate at all, feeling distracted and fractured and worn out by the effort of trying to ignore everything around me in order to talk about it. I found that I was consumed, in some way, by this palace of consumption. I couldn't think of anything but how unappealing it was to be here, and how unattractive all this garbage was becoming. But it was stuck in my mind, just looking around, absorbing all the bustle and flash and bam of the place. Neon signs and flashing TV screens, the food court smells, merchandise in windows - all of it just striving for my attention. But nothing got it, because everything did. I couldn't think about the mall. I certainly didn't want to be in the mall. And, in fact, I didn't want to do anything at all - I felt lost.

I caught a ride back to school with John, with a cup of coffee and muffin for the road, and split myself off from the place. I wandered up the U of Winnipeg escalator corridor and into the computer lab, intending to read something on feminist symbolism in Hinduism for one of my papers. And I made a valiant effort... I tried. But then, I had to stop. Because I couldn't bring myself to care about that. I couldn't really care about most things in that moment. I felt that I needed to buy something (which seems to be an especially strange urge on culture-jammed Buy Nothing day). And I began to think about how distracted all things become, in so many different ways in all the moments of the day - with TV, books, malls, cars, adverts, glossy pictures, telephone calls, emails, style, deadlines, work, leisure... It's enough to lose the day. I think it's even enough to lose your mind. Maybe especially once you wake up and snap out of it.