Tag Archives: mind

Hello, Campus, My Old Friend

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There must be a term for the feeling of “picking up right where you left off.” Surely. It’s too common a feeling for no psychologist to come along and slap a label on it.

How is it possible to leave a place for over three weeks, go on all kinds of adventures, and feel when you come back as though you never left at all?

I keep looking at the clock on my coffee maker, expecting to see the time, but forgetting that I unplugged the machine before I left. I wash the dinner dishes and put them on the AC vent to dry and almost mechanically. The only thing that feels unfamiliar is the traditional dormitory aroma, which I’m sure my nose will adjust to in a few hours.

Memory is a funny thing. Perhaps returning to a familiar place is like meeting up with an old friend. You know all the ins and outs; all the perfections and all the flaws. Catching up is unnecessary. Unless something about the person (or place) has changed, then there is no further research to do, and you can, as they say, pick up where you left off.

All analysis aside, the effect of such a return is surreal. I begin to wonder even now if Christmas break ever happened.

Then I remember that I feel well-rested, and I assume that I must have gone somewhere. I would not feel rested had the break never happened.

This place is not home. But for now, it is home away from home. It’s in my best interest, then—and the best interest of all of my friends who’ve returned to UU—to unpack, settle in, and gear up for the ride. Second semester has begun.  

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3…2…1…Draw!

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I’ve discovered that I have a strange syndrome. If something funny happens or something else occurs to me that I’d like to blog about, if I mention out loud that I need to post about that…

I forget. Whoosh. Out the window. Gone.

I try to carry around a notebook to jot down ideas so my very scattered brain won’t let the ideas slip, but it’s not always readily available, and even if it is, I can never find a pen, or I don’t have the time to write it down. It kind of defeats the purpose of carrying around notebooks. One per purse. Yeah, I own a lot of blank books.

Anymore, when I get a cool idea, I have to tell myself not to say it out loud…otherwise, I’ll forget, and you all will have to put up with another post about me not knowing what to write about.

It’s a shame, really.

Does anyone know where I can get a notebook holster?

Listen to the Silence

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Our culture is confoundedly loud. And I’m not talking about people shouting at each other or laughing at each other or even whispering in each other’s ears. Instead we have the tapping sound of keystrokes, the buzz of phones on silent mode, and the click of computer mice. Not only is there the physical noise of people communicating with their gadgets, there’s the hum of a hundred silent conversations buzzing on Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, emails, and text messages. It’s as if the world has forgotten what true silence is.

Everywhere I go, I see someone on a phone. Every store and coffee shop has music blaring. Even in the library, the traditional epicenter of thoughtful silence, the computers hum and click and beep like living things. And people flock to those computers, neglecting the thousands of volumes of silent knowledge that surrounds them on every shelf.

If someone wants to study, he keeps music going. If he’s reading, he has his phone in his pocket and replies to every empty text. If he’s driving, the news is blaring. At work, he has ten different windows up for each task, Grooveshark in the background and the news and weather streaming to his desktop. At home, while the family’s eating dinner, the TV’s on a coughing up a storm of worthless information. There is no escape.

And we wonder why there’s a whole generation of children with the attention spans of gnats.

Yes, we love our gadgets. We love to be connected. We love being distracted by the noise that pulses through every facet of our lives. We hate to think that at any given second we might be missing out on something grand.

But really, what good does always being connected do for us?

I remember when I and my high school graduating class all went up to a camp in the mountains for a week. Phones were verboten, internet was a no-go—everyone’s umbilical cords were cut. For the first time in a long time, a gaggle of high school students looked up from their phones and saw each other for the first time. Cliques split, walls shattered, new friendships formed—I hung out for hours with people I’d known my whole life but had never spent time with. I’ve never known such incredible unity. Unity that might not had happened if we’d kept our phones on.

And I know that there’s an element of this quasi-rant that’s hypocritical. I mean, aren’t I sitting here, tapping away, broadcasting my thoughts to the world?

Yes, I am. But I hope and pray that my communication is meaningful, that it won’t be worthless noise.

And today, I would like to deliver a challenge to those who read my offerings:

Turn it off. Shut it down. Pull the plug.

Listen to the silence.

 

 

 

What’s Great About Dorm Life, #3

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In a living space full of people of the same age and gender, particularly if the age is 18+ and the gender is female, when it comes to topics of conversation, anything goes.

Of all the conversations I’ve ever had, the most random, hysterical, and/or insightful ones have taken place within the four walls of a UU dorm room. And the most spastic—last night we started with favorite lullabies and ended up with Patty Duke.

There are several potential explanations for this phenomenon. One, we’re so tired that every thought we think comes flying out of our mouths. Two, we’re so tired we think everything is funny. Three, we’re so tired we can’t pay attention to one subject for very long, so we leap from topic to topic, each one funnier than the last (at least in our warped, tired perception).

And when our discussions lean a little to the weird/awkward end of the conversational spectrum, we just chalk it up to utter exhaustion and laugh anyway.

Just remember: what happens in the room stays in the room.

Keep Your Chi to Yourself

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I try not to focus on the negative. I really do. And most of the time I succeed—people will site me as one of the cheeriest people that they know. I sing and whistle, I’m upbeat and generally have a smile on my face.

It’s perilous hard to maintain all of that, however, when I’ve got a long list of things that are getting on my nerves.

My class schedule won’t submit because the registration office firmly believes that I need to take a class that I haven’t taken the prerequisite for. Also, my orchestral group rehearsals have gone from one hour long to two hours long, and they were exhausting enough when they were only one hour.

Since I do not have a Google account (nor can I create one due to parental restriction), I could not fill out the Google Doc sign-up sheet my supervisor sent out for shifts for the first week of school until the list was printed out, and by that time all but three shifts were taken, two of which interfere with my class schedule. I’m now praying that my coworker checks her email and that she can sub for me. Even if she can, that means that I am not meeting the minimum expectation of three shifts that week, and I will have guilt.

There is a new network system on campus, and it’s got its share of bugs—while I can be on the campus intranet without any problems, I cannot check Yahoo or the blog stats or go to Grooveshark. Thankfully, none of those are really essential to my life, so I can wait until I.T. figures out what’s going on. Hopefully that will be soon, otherwise you all really won’t be hearing from me for a while (unless I can reuse the carrier pigeon method I tried during my vacation to North Carolina).

I’m trying to think on the bright side. Really, I am. The view from my dorm room window is lovely, I’m living on a hall with several good friends, all of my new appliances are functioning adequately, and I actually got decent sleep last night. Also, I went to a party and made cake balls for the first time and ate far too many of them—but boy, did I have fun. I still have five of them in the fridge tucked under my desk.

They won’t be there for long.

My chi is all out of whack. All the negative energy building up in my psyche is making it hard for me to whistle. All I need is to think about what’s going right instead of what’s causing me stress. The first week is always the most stressful. This too shall pass. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

(All references to chi and positive and/or negative psychic energy is used purely for entertainment/humorous purposes. I believe in chi the way I believe in leprechauns. Not. At. All.)

Did I Miss Something?

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My supervisor trotted excitedly into the circulation area. “Did you feel that?” she asked, flush-faced and bright-eyed.

“Feel what?” I was heaving textbooks onto a re-shelving cart and stopped, holding the math books like a stack of pizza boxes.

“The earthquake. I was in tech services and we felt the whole wing rattle. Didn’t you feel it out here?”

Yes, dear readers, the earthquake that rattled the east coast yesterday rattled Anytown as well, and more than a few of Anytown’s residents. For the rest of the afternoon I had people asking me if I had felt the tremors.

Truth is, I didn’t. Sorry folks. No shakin’. Nadda.

It’s the story of my life, really. It seems like every time something monumental happens, I’m checked out. And I’m not just talking about world scene type stuff. I’m talking about break-ups, birthdays, weddings, major surgeries, deaths, inside jokes.

Especially break-ups. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked a girl how things are going with What’s-his-name only to have her burst into tears and sob her way through a detailed explanation of her relationship’s untimely demise. It’s embarrassing.

And inside jokes! I’ll be having a conversation with two friends and they’ll suddenly burst out laughing—when I ask for an explanation, all I get is a giggled “you had to have been there.” Thanks guys.

Recently I was talking to my mom about a mutual friend. She was chatting along about this girl when she suddenly used her name in conjunction with some guy’s. “…and she and John went and did such and such…”. “Wait. Who?” “John,” she said. “John who?” “Her husband John.” “She’s married!?” “Four years now.” Huh. Good to know.

Deaths are even worse. I went over to a good friend’s house, and noticed the absence of her dog. I ask where the dog is and she tells me with pain in her eyes, “We had her put down two months ago.” Stink it. If people would just tell me these things I wouldn’t come across as insensitive all the time.

Of course, with a history like that, it’s only natural that I should miss a whole blessed earthquake. Go figure.

(This post is dedicated to menolly42, who was disappointed that since I didn’t feel the earthquake it wouldn’t make today’s post. Thank you, menolly42, for giving me such a fabulous idea.)

Engaged

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In case you haven’t noticed, dearest readers, I, Miss Rambler, am exceptionally geeky. (Some have asked me, “Now, are you a geek or a nerd? There is a difference, you know.” To those people I will say that yes I know there’s a difference, but considering the huge socio-political controversy over what the correct distinctions are between the two, I will say that I am both and leave it at that. The last thing I want to do is open up a can of worms, here.)

We’ve already established that I tend to obsess over things. Usually I obsess over artistic endeavors: I cycle through a long list of pursuits, ranging from writing (duh) to painting flower pots. I suppose you could call me an art geek. But I am not, repeat not, a tech geek—for years I thought a “browser” was just someone who liked to read the books at Barnes and Noble and not buy anything. I thought “windows” were openings in the wall and a “Macintosh” was a raincoat. I just now graduated to Windows 7 after years of XP, just in time for Windows 8 to make its debut. I have never owned any kind of video game technology, not even a Game Boy In fact, I’m an utter technophobe. Computers make me nervous. I firmly believe that the world would be better off if we’d stuck to electric typewriters.

All fears of technology aside, I do still indulge in the same geeky obsessions as my computer-hugging friends. Namely Star Trek (Next Gen—I’m not quite die-hard enough to like the original series. Picard rocks, by the way.), The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Labyrinth, movies by Studio Ghibli, and a few assorted cult classics that I won’t delve into right now.

How obsessed am I? Let me put it this way—at my wedding (*cough* groom and pocketbook permitting *cough*), the bridal party will all be wearing pointed ears, the minister will wear a Gandalf costume, and a kid with a curly dark wig and bare feet will be the ring bearer. Yeah, I’m one of them. Scary, I know. But, hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Even if that never happens (which, in all honesty, it probably won’t), I’d at least love to have my man propose like this Awesome Wedding Proposal. And, yes, you do want to click that link.

Yet, despite what you all might think by now, my love of all things geeky has not made me a social leper. Being interested in geeky things helps me relate to all kinds of different people, not just the literary and/or hippie set. You’d be amazed at how many friendships I’ve made over debates on Picard vs. Kirk or conversations about whether or not Tom Bombadil should have been in the movies. Those who exclude themselves from these geeky interests under the pretense of how “uncool” they are have only proven that they’re too snobby to be culturally well-rounded. People like that just don’t know what they’re missing.

My comrades in geekdom, don’t be ashamed of what you are. Embrace your inner geek. Boldly go. May the Force be with you. Eleni sílar antalyannar.

And all that jazz.

 


Data

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It’s amazing how a blog can turn a “word” person into a “number” person. I tend to obsess over things, and currently my obsession is watching my blog stats. Pathetic, I know. But it’s either that or knit more socks than I know what to do with. My family only has so many pairs of feet between them. So instead I watch the little bars on my blog statistics bar graph go up and down.

On average I get 40 hits a day. That’s 40 people who regularly click a link to and read (or at least skim) The Risible Rambler. I only know who about 15 of those people are. So to those loyal 15 (my dear family and adopted family) and the other 25 people who check in every day I’d like to say a big happy “thank you.” When I started writing this thing, I thought I’d be lucky if I could get 2 or 3 people to read per day. It’s encouraging to know that at least 40 people are amused enough by what I have to say that they tune in daily.

But if you look a little closer, you may notice a few other interesting statistical tidbits. On July 29th, my fourth day in, the blog got a whopping 92 whacks. That’s due largely in part to Jonel Fernando, who liked what I had written that day enough to put a link back to my blog in his. Not sure how he found The Risible Rambler—we share a theme, but not content—but I’m glad he liked what he saw. Apparently 91 other people did as well.

I also have 10 subscribers. This thrills my nerdy soul. It does joyful backflips all over my psyche whenever I publish a post and see the message that reads “this post got sent to 10 subscriber’s inboxes.” I love you guys.

One more thing, then I’ll shut up: Fridays and Saturdays are the highest-traffic days. Hmm. Makes sense—most everyone is either done working for the week or almost done working for the week, so they blog surf. Moral of the story: put the really funny/interesting/diverting/thought-provoking/well-written posts out there on weekends so more people will get a taste—and get hungry for more. (Insert fiendish laughter here.)

Yeah, I’m obsessed. But there are worse things a girl could get obsessed about. What if I collected bubble gum wrappers? Or ventriloquist dummies? Or tried memorizing the digits in ? Or plotting world domination? The gruesome possibilities are endless. Be glad blog data is all I freak out about.

At least right now.

I Have a Dream

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Nope. This isn’t a MLK tribute. Sorry. Check the blog next door.

I have this picture sticky-tacked to the back wall of my desk. It shows a green forest on a steep hill and a wide stream rushing over craggy rocks on its way down the mountain. On a stony ledge alongside the stream sits the tiniest house you have ever seen. It’s a log cabin with a narrow porch and a narrow chimney, and its roof is entirely covered in moss. Even though the picture is a photograph, the picture it shows looks like an illustration from a book of fairy tales. Mother Goose would feel quite at home there, I think.

Call me crazy. Call me stupid. Call me Ishmael, for all I care. But I want to live in that little house on that green hill by that tumbling stream. Or at least in a house that’s similar. Like one of these:

Of course, every time I tell this to someone, a few pointed questions inevitably arise:

Where would you put all your stuff? I’d dispose of/donate/give away what I didn’t need to live and work. If I were honest with myself, I’d say that’s at least 50-60% of what I own. What I still wanted to keep but wouldn’t fit (i.e., furniture, some of my books, keepsakes with emotional but no aesthetic significance etc.) I’d put into rentable storage. I’d cut back to what I needed and hope that the rest could do someone some good.

What would you do with the money you would save on electricity/water/rent/a mortgage? I’d spend it on eating organic, supporting my church, and paying for fuel for the truck I’d need to haul my house around. I’ll come up with more creative options as I go.

Where would you live? Somewhere with a temperate climate where I can easily keep a veggie garden. Somewhere where I’d be close enough to civilization to have a P.O. box and drive/bike to Earth Faire. Somewhere where I can volunteer at a local theater and either act or teach acting classes for kids and teenagers. Somewhere with a small church I can throw my energy into.

Is there room for two? Next question.

How are you going to buy this tiny house? What, you think I spend my entire paycheck on yarn? Most of my library paycheck, such as it is, goes to the nest egg. And one day that baby’s gonna hatch.

That’s all very well and good, but how are you going to support a life in the boondocks? Being a part-time librarian or a free-lance writer won’t cut it, you know.

…Don’t rain on my parade. I’ll think of something.

I’ve got a dream.

 

 

Wander

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If you don’t subscribe to your local newspaper and get the blessing of reading the comics every day, click here.

“Zits,” a comic strip by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, is a hilarious running commentary on the quirks and commonalities of teenagers. My mother loves this comic more than I do, and when she reads the comics in the morning she saves it for last.

Today’s comic inspired my ramble for the day. Pierce (the character with spiky hair and more than a few body piercings) is the comic’s “free spirit,” and seeing him let his brain off of its leash is not at all out of character for him. As he puts it, “If you love something, set it free.”

My brain is about as free-range as they come. Living in the dorms at UU is a mental adventure, since every overheard conversation (and trust me, there are a ton of those) carries my brain off on a rabbit trail. This morning I’m making the dangerous move of sitting by a window as I write, and at any minute I could be distracted by–hey, look! A squirrrel!

Sometimes I even forget what I’m thinking about, each thought being interrupted by another, then another…. I could start out thinking about what to get my friend for her bridal shower and end up wondering how long it takes to perfect the Russian bottle dance.

My wandering brain is both a hindrance and a help to my creativity. On one hand, leaping from idea to idea is an incredible boon to brainstorming for stories and *cough* blog posts. On the other hand, getting lost in thought can be a major hindrance to productivity, and I’ll spend hours bouncing from one thought to another instead of actually sitting down and writing about it. (Just what is a Russian bottle dance, anyway? Or was it Jewish? Hmm, Wikipedia…)

Fortunately, nothing helps me focus more than a rapidly approaching deadline, which is perhaps the only thing that has kept me alive grade-wise over the years. Tell me something needs to be done by X, and boy howdy, will it get done. (Usually the night before after twelve cups of coffee. I considered “The Caffeine Queen” for a potential title for this blog. I get a little jittery come finals week.)

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not a total flake, but I do have flaky moments. But all it takes is a quick “Dear Lord, help me keep my brain on track,” and me and my thoughts are back in business.

You see, what Peirce failed to mention was that if you love something, you need to reel it in every once in a while, too.

(Oh, so bottle dancing is a Jewish thing. Huh. I wonder what Russian dance is called…)