Sunday, February 1, 2015

Aesthetic Optimism


I’ve been on campus for most of the day now. Four hours, actually, but it feels like a lot when you stay in the same place and don’t have that much homework to do. After I write this journal-blog, I’m going to get a Firehouse sub (Italian) and then get ready to a musical in the DeJong: it’s The Count of Monte Cristo, a new one by Jekyll and Hyde’s Frank Wildhorn.
          The second-best thing about working in the Writing Center, after the community of writers you get to talk to daily, is all-hours access to this place. 4026 JKB has become my sanctuary in the past two years. It’s got all the amenities—computers, refrigerator, microwave, light—it’s locked to the public, it’s quiet, it’s wide, and it has these fantastic skylights in the other room. Some days, when the sun is bright enough, I leave the lights off in here, for the diffused light-gray of the sky is enough to read by, and to me, any added fluorescence kind of kills it.
          I took a break two hours ago to go get a haircut. I like going to that place Marinello’s, where Lindsey Conrad used to work, cause it’s cheap and I have to get my hair cut often. The last time I was there, the girl—Bri…I’ll never forget her name—performed a slash-and-burn, cutting off an inch more than I asked for, and turning me into a Backstreet Boy. “Is Bri working today?” I asked as I called this morning. “No, I’m sorry,” the receptionist replied. Don’t be sorry! Hooray! I thought. “Aww, that’s ok,” I said.
          When I leave campus to the west, I like to go through the Tanner building in a secret route that I found when I used to work there that isn’t very secret but nobody knows about it. It’s just in the new wing, on the fourth floor, in the southwest corner. It’s a staircase that leads out of the building, and it has a lot of windows so the whole place is filled with light. You can see all of Bulldog Avenue, and the mountains beyond. Will Cincinnati be this beautiful? Will I have these aesthetic touchstones in the Midwest?
          I got to Marinello’s at 2:50 for my 3:00. The girl—Linda—was a no-nonsense girl. Zero small talk, and I appreciated her for it. I told her what had happened last time and she told me how she would try to fix it. She took five minutes.
          “How does this length look?” she asked.
          It could be a little shorter on the sides. “Great,” I said.
          “Do you like how it looks in the front?”
          I wish it was blended a little smoother. “Yep, it’s perfect.”
          I sat there, stewing in my discontent as she washed my hair with shampoo. Why didn’t I say anything? Dad says the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is three days. He’s right, but I could get rid of that difference by just asking her to fix it now.

          I have sometimes tried to convey the beauty of this Writing Center and of the Tanner Building exit to my friends, with little success. They follow me there, and then they just throw their heads back laughing, chalking it up to another one of the weird things about being my friend. I don’t mind; actually, I know they’re right. I didn’t care much for Provo until about 4 years into my stay. The human aesthetic, I think, is so optimistic that it can make beauty out of anything, no matter where it is on the map, how urbanized it is, or how un-blended it appears.


  1. I really loved your entry. You made a typical day on campus and going about daily errands really interesting and I found myself actually enjoying what you gad to say. You make we want to experience the exit to the Tanner Building just because of how you described it and your feelings for it so really great job on this.

  2. I love the inner thoughts about the hair cut. It's so typical and definitely relatable for anyone who has ever gotten a haircut. Also, what did you think of The Count of Monte Cristo?