It seems appropriate that now, at the midpoint of my gap year, I should pause to evaluate my experience so far, make a progress report of sorts. It’s been nearly five months since all my peers went off to college and my “year off” officially started-- What have I accomplished in that time of the original goals I set myself?
Well, for a brief refresher, which you can read here, back in September I planned to fill my year with “doing what I please,” and decided that this meant things that either satisfy or delight me. And I’ve done fairly well so far (considering how tragically difficult it is to do as one pleases for a year...)! Not only have some of my curiosities been satisfied (what happens when I try out for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show? What's it like to climb the tallest building in the world? see yourself in Vogue? spend Thanksgiving in China?) but also I have satisfied some of my fantasies and ambitions: there’s nothing more satisfying than finding success where you strove for it but had little reason to expect it; for, while seeming personal, the bizarre galaxy that constitutes my occupation is actually militantly impersonal. There’s no foolproof recipe for “making it” as a model— and therefor not a whit of superiority accompanies the success. But it’s not superiority we're after, and never should be: bare achievement is the only laurel to be proud of, and— contrary to popular belief— in my industry like any other achievement comes about through hard work.
As for things that delight me, I’ve done my fair share of those too— visited the Louvre, read good literature (My Life On the Road, read it I’m telling you!!), eaten real Italian cuisine, and toured the stunning ruins of Rome, to name a few of the wonders that have befallen me thus far. I have, as I said I would, painted three portraits of Frida Kahlo (all hail Frida) in one day, but I have not fulfilled my goal of learning French. Though I purchased a small handbook of French phrases to start teaching myself the language, so far the only phrase I've mastered is dis donc, où est la bibliotec? ("excuse me, where is the library," which, bookworm that I am, will probably prove the most useful phrase I could know when abroad— well, after "coffee coffee coffee coffee" and maybe "can I get a third pain au raisin please?”) Either way, I’ll still need to work on this in the coming months. Delight sometimes must be striven for as well, and when it comes to learning French, the striving is quite considerable— and quite worth it.
So that’s the News from Lake Wobegon, if you will, and now I’m going to go pack for my upcoming trip to Dallas. Ideally my luggage will land with me this time. Ideally I’ll make some headway with that phrasebook en avion!
^ Tarte au Chocolat, another essential bit of French vocabulary-- although I didn't need the phrasebook to teach me this one: repeated pastry runs in Paris proved sufficiently educational ;)