Of A Certain Age

Of A Certain Age

On July 16th, I will be turning 20.

In less than two weeks, I’ll be passing my teen years by. What a ride it’s been. The ages of 13 through 19 drug me through my last year of middle school, the four years of high school, and two years of college. I’ve accomplished both so much and so little in that time. There have been days that I have wasted, and there have been days on which I’ve used my God-given talents for good.

I wanted to sell more stories before I hit 20. And I wanted to write more in general. But, alas, I got the better of myself. My control over getting paid is slim, but I could have written more, and I could have improved at a greater clip. Far too many days have passed by with me dancing around what I wanted to accomplish without making enough of those working hours writing hours and without spending enough hours on important work.

Not too long ago, I thought I knew what I wanted to do “when I grew up.” Even at 20-minus-several-days, I don’t think that I’m “grown up” in the same sense that the common phrase carries. Perhaps I’ve been left behind by some of my peers in important ways. I’ve never held an official job. I can kind of do laundry and cook, but I don’t have a lot of experience with the activities. My skills are scattered, and while many of them may be useful, they don’t necessarily sum to sufficiency. Alliteration, for instance, can only bring you so far.

That job I had envisioned myself having? I wanted to be an editor for a major fantasy and science-fiction imprint. Virtually all such jobs, at least at the lower levels, require one to live in New York City. I didn’t think it would be a bad prospect then, living in NYC, but I’ve since disillusioned myself. I don’t want to live in New York City. I’m not even sure if I’d like to live in any city. My home, where I have lived for almost 15 years, lies three-quarters of a mile back a dirt road from a U.S. route, upon which one travels about a mile to get to a borough of around 400 people. Stoystown, PA is my kind of borough, not Manhattan.

In certain ways, I scattered myself for about two and a half years, up until sometime this May. Even now, I’m not quite as together and productive as I could be, but I’ve seen good improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I did well when I needed to on many things throughout that period of slack. Yet it had always seemed that I was dropping more stones than I was keeping in the air.

Since Memorial Day, give or take a day, I’ve written around 11,000 words to a novel. I haven’t had a novel draft of that length since my original try at a novel back in middle school. Writing for The Odyssey Online has gotten me back into some sort of rhythm with blogging, a rhythm I’ve had infrequently since October of 2014. My practice on the mandolin has suffered for multiple reasons over the past year, but a week or so ago I finally tuned it up after leaving it sit for two months, playing it only a few times in that duration, untuned. Coming back fully will take some work. I also have a uke and an electric guitar, and it has been these instruments, though mainly the uke, that has held me together when I wasn’t playing my mando. I’d like to get into a good rhythm with all three of them in the coming days. With reading, my summers have been faring better than the school year every time around, but this year, I’m making decent headway. At the very least, I think I’ve been reading and listening to audiobooks at a better speed than was the case last summer. While I’m far from the paradigm of productivity in the modern day, I’ve been improving as I watch the clock tick closer to my 21st year of life.

I’m coming up on a certain age in a certain age of the world. Concepts of productivity, work, and careers are a little different now than in prior times. We are expected to do much and to do much less-neat fitting activity. My responsibilities are growing ever upward with time right now, and I’m trying to keep up with them. Maybe I haven’t been trying my very best. But I must. “With great power comes great responsibility.” I must be the 20-year-old man I ought to be.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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What It's Like To Take A Class With Professor Yuri Urbanovich

My experience taking a class with one of the best professors at UVA.

I have taken multiple classes with Professor Urbanovich during my time at UVA, and he is one of my favorite professors. Not only does he genuinely care about his students, but he also pushes them to learn more than humanly possible in the span of 50 minutes.

Seriously, I have learned more in his classes about Russian history and politics than I could have ever imagined. Professor Urbanovich’s thick Georgian accent and recalls of personal experiences also make his classes more personal, allowing students to understand the nation’s history and politics on a completely different level.

No wonder his classes fill up in a matter of hours when course registration begins!

The best part of Professor Urbanovich’s class is the many repeated quotes that one can uncover during his lectures. I am currently taking a J-term course with Professor Urbanovich and I have noticed that he says some things a lot throughout the course of his lectures, which makes them that much more interesting and fun.

If you’re interested in taking a course with Professor Urbanovich, which I highly recommend, be aware of the fact that Urbanovich will say the following things a lot.

1. My friends...

Professor Urbanovich does not refer to his students as “you guys” or “ my students,” but rather “my friends.” He often starts his lectures with “my friends,” making the class more intimate and welcoming. He welcomes various thoughts and opinions and treats his students in a way that makes it seem like you really are friends with the professor.

I have only taken two classes with him, but he always remembers who I am (a rare occurrence at a large university).

2. It is inconceivable

Professor Urbanovich often says that certain events or occurrences are “inconceivable”, and when he does, you know that the even matters a lot in terms of Russian history. It’s sort of like a marker for the things you should absolutely remember after any given lecture.

Earlier this week, one of his students quoted Urbanovich’s “inconceivable” phrase during a presentation, and the entire class, including the professor, started laughing. It just goes to show how welcoming and fun his classes can be.

3. I mean, can you imagine...

This is something along the lines of “inconceivable”, but it happens on rare occasions, usually when Professor Urbanovich is comparing the US to Russia and explaining how various events that occur in Russia would not be welcomed in the US or any other nation.

For example, the Pussy Riot fiasco that occurred in Russia was a stab at the religious values present in Russia, but we idolize it in the US. If something like this had happened in Israel or any other nation with strong religious values, we would most likely look at it in a different light. I mean, can you imagine…

4. I am so proud of you

Professor Urbanovich values education over number grades, often telling students that he is extremely proud of the work they’ve done and that they will go far in life. He does give exams, homework responses, and various projects, as any professor would, but he often makes students feel accomplished and successful after the completion of any assignment.

His comments on most essays are very constructive and provide guidance toward the development of better writing skills and the creation of more ambitious future projects.

5. Don't throw potatoes at my head

On the first day of my J-Term class, Professor Urbanovich compared our class to a large group of protestors as a joke, saying that we shouldn’t throw potatoes at his head if we did not agree with one of his statements.

Throughout the course of the past two weeks, he has repeated this phrase several times, especially during lectures that might have sparked opposition among students. Professor Urbanovich says this in a joking way of course, and it makes the class seem less intense than it is, almost as if we were not learning 1000+ years of Russian history in the span of 10 days.

Cover Image Credit: UVA

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21 Things To Do On Your 21st Birthday

You’re officially legal! It’s time to celebrate!

You’ve been waiting for this day for, well, 21 years! It’s one of the biggest milestone birthdays there is to look forward to. You probably never thought you’d make it to this point, but now that the day is here, there’s so much to do!

1. Drink!

2. Go out to dinner.

3. Go to the Casino.

4. Go on a winery tour.

5. Drink!

6. See a movie.


7. Drink!

8. Eat wine-flavored ice-cream!

9. Buy something for yourself.


10. Scratch lottery tickets.

11. Drink!

12. Go bowling.


13. Throw a party.

14. Go on a cruise.

15. Drink!


16. Dance.

17. Drink!

18. Go to a club with friends!


19. Celebrate with family.

20. Open presents.

21. Drink!

You’ve waited 21 years to legally have your first sip of alcohol, whether it be wine, beer or some fruity cocktail. The moral of this is it’s time to drink, so indulge yourself.

But drink responsibly!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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