Last Day Before It Starts

I’m back for real this time. I promise.

Tomorrow begins the first day of my senior year in college. And if that’s not intimidating enough, it’s not really a senior year, it’s a senior semester. In four very short months my formal education will be complete and I’ll enter the real world. I’ll also be starting a wonderful marriage, hopefully finding a wonderful job, and entering the frightful “real world.”

I don’t think I’m afraid so much as in disbelief. Not too long ago I was a quiet high school kid. In many ways I’m still that quiet kid. While my roommates talk about graduate school, I can’t help but wonder if I’m out of my league. I feel like I slipped past the guards and will get a diploma I really don’t deserve. I feel like I haven’t learned that much in these past three years. But in some small way, I know I have. I know I’m a different person than I was three years ago when I fell asleep in my freshman loft, my head six inches from the ceiling, spinning and reeling from too many faces, too few friends, and too much to retain.

I always feel the need to look back and see what I’ve accomplished. Summer has come to an end, and I can tell you I haven’t accomplished much of what I hoped. But it always works out that way, so I’m not too disappointed. But I did manage something this summer like I haven’t done in a long time. I read. I read voraciously, which is something I’ve never done for such a sustained period of time. I read ten books this summer, which I think averages to one a week. It’s not as many books as I had on my summer reading list, but summer reading lists were made to continue indefinitely.

I hope I can continue reading. I know classes will start, and I’ll have a large pile of mandatory reading. I’ll take joy in some of it, but some will be college reading that you can’t enjoy no matter how hard you try. Somewhere in there I hope to have time for leisure reading. I don’t want to sound all scholarly and anal, but I really feel like my mind stretches and grows when I read. Of course there’s a lot of crap out there to read, and some of it might help your mind shrink. I’d love to recommend some books that will stretch your brain. Of course I’m not the end all source for “good” books, nor do I claim to be. But you can always take or leave friendly advice. I’d love it if ReALMagazine.com could offer such friendly advice. I’d love a book review section. Or a movie review section for that matter, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first book I read this summer is one I was supposed to read for a class in the spring. But I didn’t keep up with the reading and never finished it. So to start the summer I caught up. It was Jonathan Kozol’s Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscious of a Nation. It tells the story of a lower class New York neighborhood. Kozol visits the neighborhood and shares what he encountered and the stories of the people who live there. At times it can be a difficult read, because he admits that the children he describes have little or no hope. It’s a sad thing when a society abandons its own. But this is our society, and ignoring it gets us no where. Somebody has to live in those places you call “bad neighborhoods,” some child has to grow up there, some widow has to grow old there. Just because we ignore them doesn’t mean no one who lives there matters. Kozol’s book doesn’t give a lot of answers, but it does make you aware. Sometimes that’s the most important thing.

I’ve now established my own cop-out. Whenever I can’t think of anything to write about for ReAL Thoughts, I can offer a summary of one of the books I read this summer. It may be a cop-out, but I can get pretty fired up about some of the books I’ve read, so hopefully it won’t be a real cop-out. I think there’s been enough copping-out in the past month.

It’s good to be back.

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