Tag Archives: rants

Dear Mr. Billy Collins

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How did you graduate

from lyrical dabbler to laureate?

 

When did you emerge from what I assume

was your bedreadlocked, beatnik, bohemian chrysalis

as a brilliant butterfly of starving artistry?

 

At what point did the poetical powers-that-be

arrive at your doorstep to say “Congrats!

You’re the new poet laureate!”

 

Did they give you laurels?

Did you rest on them?

 

How in the name of iambic pentameter

did you ascend from the quagmire of words

and potential where your brethren wait,

writing and bellowing, hoping that someone

will hear our unique barbaric yawp

over everyone else’s?

 

Were you simply the loudest yawper?

 

Need I mention that you managed, somehow,

to scale the mountain of poetic prowess

without a single rhyme for a grappling hook?

Instead you only seem to string together clever—

very clever—sentences into bungee cord stanzas that

launch you upward, up, up beyond the clouds of

coffee-house fame we mere dabblers aspire to, so high that

the rest of us can only look up in open-mouthed awe.

 

How in the name of Shakespeare and Byron and

Our Lady Dickenson can you get away with

breaking all known poetic law while the rest of us

sweat in wastelands of paper, swinging between

die-hard originality and the sincerest form of flattery,

envy dripping from our fountain pens?

 

By what sorcery did you become

what the rest of us can only dream of being

as we sit across tables from our bedraggled,

underpaid muses, exchanging despondent glances

over cracked cups of cheap coffee?

Yet what else can we do

but write?

Wearing Road Kill

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As a library worker, I run into all kinds of really interesting (read: really weird) books. Last night as I was browsing the hold shelf, I came across a fashion book—a collection of dresses, skirts, skirts, and other…ensembles from the mind of one designer.

After thumbing through this book, I began to worry about this man’s mental health.

I saw antlers spiraling from shoulder pads. Dresses constructed entirely from crow feathers. Boots carved out of wood. A dress like a cloud of scrunched-up coffee filters. A sundress (?) that looked like the offspring of a butterfly and an amoeba. An evening gown that resembled an upside-down black cupcake. An outfit that Lady Gaga would wear to play football. An ensemble constructed from the hide of road kill. A skirt that looked like the interior of a vacuum bag after a week of sucking up dog hair. A hat constructed like a hedge. More antlers and bird skulls (yes, bird skulls) than you could count. A dress constructed from oyster shells. It was as if I were thumbing through Taxidermy Monthly.

The collection looked like something Cruella DeVille would design after a nasty breakup. I have a feeling that this designer catered to Cher in his heyday.

After closing the book, I reminded myself that yes, the world has indeed gone mad to consider that abominable pile of trash designed solely to (barely) cover models with eating disorders as worthy of any kind of acclaim.

Then I thanked the Lord for good sense and thrift stores and dressing like a human being. Not like a vulture during molting season.

Take that, haute couture.

Protesting for the Sake of Protesting

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When TIME named The Protestor as the person of the year, they made the shrewdest call I’ve ever seen in the publishing industry.

Just yesterday I found out about the SOPA/PIPA protests and how the internet—yes, the internet—is fighting against a well-intentioned, but nearsighted and clumsy bill that could lead to unintended side-effects down the road.

I’ve read about SOPA. I don’t understand all of it. I won’t pretend to know a great deal about things I don’t get—I’m no liberal. But from what I can understand, it’s an attempt to smack down on piracy that could eventually result in systematic shut-downs of some of the internet’s most notable pillars, even the almighty Google.

So sites like Wikipedia and WordPress are blacking out, putting up black screens of protest with a brief, bold explanation of why they don’t want this bill to pass. Eventually, they say, this bill could be used by internet competitors to blacklist and eliminate sites that pose a threat—whether the sites are connected to illegal activity or not. SOPA and PIPA, though created to protect copyright holders, could turn around and bite us one day.

Being the paranoid soul that I am, I’m envisioning a day when people like me—Christian and outspoken about it—will no longer be allowed to express our faith online without being censored. Give today’s government an inch, and they will slowly take a mile.

As I said, I do not pretend to fully understand the implications of this bill. I don’t want to defend piracy or other illegal ventures on the internet. But there are other ways to fight the problem without opening the door to a mass slaying of the sites of independent thinkers.

All that to say: that is why there is a black ribbon in the upper right hand corner of my blog. That ribbon is there because, from what I have read, I believe the SOPA/PIPA bills are a waste of time and energy, and that the problem they are intended to solve could be taken care of some other way. Because I do not know all I would like to know about the bills, I will not be participating in the blackout. I don’t want to be accused of protesting for the sake of protesting. But I do want to encourage my readers to read, to think, and to do all they can as citizens of America to protect the freedom of speech that their ancestors died to protect.

That said, I’m sure my father will leave an adequate description and explanation of the bill and its ramifications in the comments. So scroll down if you want a more enlightened perspective.

Second Verse Same as the First

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If there’s one thing worse than squeezing back into the rigors of a school schedule, it’s the infernal question, “So what did you do over break?”

Now, I don’t mind when it’s a bona fide question. For example, I know that my dear roommates will ask the question sincerely. You see, before we all left, we shared each other’s goals for Christmas break and swapped prayer requests. Naturally, we’ll all want to follow up on each other’s accomplishments (or, as in my case, the lack thereof). When they ask, which I know they will, it will be because they actually, genuinely, want to know.

But so many times I have people ask me that question for less-than-genuinely-interested reasons. Usually I get asked this question because the person hardly knows me and can’t think of anything else he can start a conversation with. Or he can’t remember my name, but had me in class last year and wants to say something just to be polite. It’s like an insincere “How are you?”, except this question is seasonal, and therefore everyone and their mother’s brother asks it for the sake of filler.

“So what did you do over break?” Well, we can all safely assume that we slept, ate, and occasionally went to the bathroom. We probably all spent time with some branch of our family, whether they were genetically or just spiritually related to us. Unless someone got married, had a baby, or got their name legally changed to something other than what it was last semester, chances are everybody’s break was essentially the same and we don’t really need to hear the same hum-drum story every time we ask or are asked.

How do I know this? I, too, am guilty of asking this question when in a tight place socially and needed something to ask or say during the month of January. And the reply I usually get goes something like this:

“Oh, you know, we went/flew/drove to such-and-such a place and spent time with my mom’s/dad’s family. I slept a lot and ate too much, but mom’s cooking is so good! How about you?” Smile.

Same thing. Every time. Without fail.

So how about we be more specific? “Did anything cool/different/unique happen to you over Christmas break?” “What books did you read/movies did you watch?” “How did your family spend Christmas Eve?” “Did you all go to church on Christmas? It fell on a Sunday this year, but some churches had services and others didn’t. How about yours?” “Did you get a chance to talk to that person your said you were praying for?”

Or just say, “Hi! Nice to see you again. Happy New Year!”, and skip the questions entirely.

Save It for the Septic Tank

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Perhaps the Information Age is more of a Too-Much-Information Age. Thanks to the vast and unregulated kingdom of The Internet and its divers little dukedoms like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, and so forth, any idiot with an opinion or a camera or both can upload whatever they want for the whole wide world to see. It’s true that some have used The Internet wisely and prudently to effectively advance their business, start charities, connect with people across the globe, etc. But, sadly, there are many ill-advised people who use The Internet the way most people would use a city dump: all of their trash ends up there.

It used to be if you wanted to get yourself and your opinions heard, you had to find a newspaper or magazine or publishing house that would take what you had to say and put it out there for you. That way there was a filtering system; anything that was to be said went passed through a few more sets of eyes; eyes belonging to people who could advise the author to think twice before he published something idiotic. Not a fool-proof system, true, but it kept a lot of trash off the shelves for decades.

But now we have blogs, Twitters, walls, forums. Nothing holds us back from posting anything and everything that we want to say.

The Internet is a two-sided coin. Heads, we have the freedom to express ourselves, to exclaim our beliefs, to back up our causes, to have a voice that we wouldn’t have otherwise. If it weren’t for The Internet, I wouldn’t be able to publish my ramblings at all, since I doubt any self-respecting publisher would print them. I, as a blogger, may write freely about my faith in God without being afraid that the Thought Police will come and cart me off to jail. I can gripe about the government, I can poke fun at liberals and conservatives alike without fear of censure. George Washington would be proud of me.

Tails, people can expose themselves and exploit each other, using the foulest and basest of language, without any regulation whatsoever. Bullies have moved off the playgrounds and onto Facebook, using the God-given gift of language to tear their fellow students apart. Gossip, once a problem confined to neighborly fences, has become a disease amplified by the abuse of The Internet. I belong to a generation that makes decisions based entirely on hearsay, and we can go to The Internet for opinions and “evidence” for either side of whatever issue we’re facing. The Internet is a jungle where truth and lies, good and bad, reliable and unreliable mingle to the point where it’s impossible to tell which is which anymore.

I don’t want an Internet Police. For the sake of the First Amendment, it’s probably best if the Internet remains the final frontier that it is, where you can stake a claim and do what you want with the property. But I can’t help but wish that, for decency’s sake, people would learn to regulate themselves. Unfortunately, as long as sin lasts, people won’t behave, and that is the end of that.

There’s Something to be Said for Old School

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As a child of the 90’s, nothing takes me on a better nostalgia trip than watching an old Disney movie. The late eighties and early nineties was the Disney Renaissance, back when animated films were truly works of art.

I love today’s computer-animated cartoons. Really, I do. I cried along with everyone else at the end of Toy Story 3 and the beginning of Up. The characters are carefully crafted digital puppets that are manipulated frame by frame in digitally constructed sets filmed with virtual cameras. Those films are works of art in their own way. Don’t get me wrong.

Computer animated films, for the most part, can have great stories, loveable characters, and compelling plots. It takes a lot of hard work and hundreds of dedicated artists to make those films. But the artistry of the animated film has been lost. Once a digital character is created, you don’t have to recreate him for every frame. The computer provides the coloring, the lighting, the camera angles—all of the things that, once upon a time, a single animator had to figure out and draw on his own with only the help of his pencil, his paint, and his wits. Nowadays, the computers do the “hard part” so all an animator has to think about is manipulating a digital puppet—which is tricky, to be sure—but the human touch that made the old films magical is absent from today’s cartoons.

Nothing compares to the artistry of the old hand-animated films. Every character was hand-drawn, hand-painted, frame by frame, each frame with consistent style and color and executed with fluid motion. Every background was hand-painted, brushstroke after excruciating brush-stroke. Each frame is a photograph of a series of painted clear sheets placed on top of each other; one for background, one for one character, one for another character, another for foreground, another for lighting, and probably several other that I’m forgetting. Not only was every animated film an incredible artistic feat, but a theatrical and dramatic feat as well. Admit it, you cried the first time you saw Mufasa die, too.

Watching the older cartoons feels like you’re opening a book and watching the illustrations come alive and tell the story. Computer animated films, at least in the mind of this writer, do not inspire the same amount of childish wonder.

If you want a case study, take my film guru dad for an example. He watched Megamind and forgot about it. When Mom and I watched Beauty and the Beast last night, he was either watching it over our shoulders or singing along.

That said, we own every Pixar film ever made and watch them more often than anything else in our collection. But that’s an essay for another day.

 

Christmas Eve (or: What is it About Christmas?)

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What is it about holidays that makes us switch our lives out of “normal” mode? It’s as though we launch ourselves into a kind of alternate reality where we change our décor, our food choices, even our clothing, depending on the holiday we’re facing. Around the fourth of July, out comes the red, white, and blue, along with watermelon, hot dogs, and a bazillion rolls of paper towels. Come Halloween, every Wal-mart in the nation will explode with variations on a theme of black and orange and too much chocolate. Thanksgiving bring turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, and bulky sweaters.

But of all the holidays, none so dominates and alters our lives the way Christmas does. And every year, I find myself wondering why.

I know full well why Christmas is such a big deal to me and my family. We’re Christians, and we celebrate Christmas as a way of remembering how the almighty Son of God came to earth as a helpless human child, knowing that His purpose in life was to die. More than just a “good man” or a prophet, He was sinless and perfect deity in human form, and thirty years after the first Christmas, He’d give Himself up to die and carry the wickedness of all mankind on His spotless soul. The first Christmas gift was God Himself; a gift to humanity. And so we carry on the tradition of giving, albeit imperfectly, because we remember the priceless Gift we have been given.

Unfortunately, there are very few anymore who celebrate Christmas for those reasons. Over half of the traditions we observe around this time of year were pulled from pagan tradition, including the very day Christmas is celebrated. In addition to the stable and the manger, we’ve thrown on Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, cookies, penguins, red, white, green, peppermint, holly, blue spruces, lights, candles, bells, and almost as many secular songs as there are about romance. Not to say that I frown on those symbols or wish to eliminate them; I enjoy them. I look forward to them every year, even though I know that those things have nothing to do with Christmas’s origin.

But I wonder how a holy day that has snowballed into such a secular phenomenon can still have emotional meaning for, let’s admit it, most of the western world. Christmas gets special treatment that other holidays have never received. Ever hear of a Thanksgiving TV special (and no, football doesn’t count)? Why don’t we rally groups of teenagers to go door-to-door Easter caroling? Despite what the Linuses of the world want to believe, there is no Great Pumpkin who delivers toys to all the good little children on Halloween. Of all the holidays, there is only one that is designated its own special “season” and garners so much global recognition. While some protest Christmas as a merely an overblown advertising gimmick, one wonders what it is about Christmas that makes retailers want to capitalize on it.  Even those who refuse to acknowledge the existence of God or that He ever had a Son still get sentimental about Christmastime. And even those who want to replace “Merry Christmas” with a non-committal “Happy Holidays,” “Seasons Greetings, or “Have a joyous Winter Solstice”, in their very attempt to smear the name of Christ from this time of year, are only acknowledging it as distinctive and blessed enough to have its own unique greeting.

So, dear readers, why? What is it about Christmas that makes us open our shut-up hearts, if only a crack, to let a little warmth and love and hope thaw the accumulated ice on our souls? Even then, why do so in winter, when most of the northern hemisphere is chilled to the bone and grumbling about shoveling the driveway? Why is it in winter that we choose to shrug off our adult vices in exchange for childish innocence, wishes, and dreams? Why is it now that we gather with our families, send cards, and let a little love into our lives?

Perhaps that’s the answer. Try as you might, you can’t shy away from the fact that Christmas, with all its associated hodge podge of secular traditions and tomfoolery, began with an act of divine Love. No one else but a loving God would send His only Son to an unloving world in the hopes of saving it. It was love that sent Christ to earth, it was love that let Him die there, and it is love that lets the foulest of people—myself included—beg for and receive forgiveness from an all-just and all-holy God.

We live in a broken world. A world of seven billion people all searching for acceptance, hope, joy, peace, and, above all else, love. What Christmas offers the world is a brief season of love; the love that the world is starved for during the rest of the long year. This love is addicting, alluring, yet childishly pure. And all of us, even the people who think they’re too grown-up for God or anything they can’t see, are irresistibly drawn to this spirit, this season, of love.

For this same reason, Christmas will never be put on the shelf by the politically correct powers-that-be. Love is stronger than popular opinion. And God’s love is stronger than the wisest of men could ever imagine.

So what is it about Christmas that makes it as distinct in our minds and hearts as it is? The answer is, and always will be, love.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. –John 3:16, The Bible

 

 

 

Christmas Eve Eve

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Judging by how hectic things were in the shopping scene today, I really don’t want to know how crazy things will be tomorrow. Apparently I’m not the only person in Anytown affected by chronic procrastination. Everyone and their mother’s brother’s cousin’s aunt and their dog were out shopping, all of them apparently having put it off until today.

Most of my shopping was out of the way. I needed one item. One lonely, lousy item. So out I go into the traffic and madness, hunting for that one little item.

Not that I hadn’t planned ahead. I had hunted online for what I wanted, checked locations and prices, figured out precisely what I wanted, and got directions to the store that claimed it sold the doohickey.

Off I valiantly go, driving alone, blazing through the crazy-people traffic having only consumed one cup of coffee. In retrospect, I probably should’ve opted for the caffeine I.V. drip this morning.

I get to the store. I head to the section that should carry the item. Predictably, it isn’t there. I ask a gangly teenager-type employee if they have any of what I want in stock. He says no, but he’ll give me the number of the branch that’s located in the busiest area of town, where parking is impossible and traffic typically moves like a pig through a python. Peachy.

I head to K-Mart, which my now foggy memory tells me had the same item, only cheaper. I wait half a millennium in the median waiting to turn into the parking lot, then people-dodge a thousand-and-one customers while trying to find a parking spot.

I find a spot, then head inside, where I do more people-dodging until I get to the appropriate place in the store. K-Mart didn’t have it, either.

So I do what I probably should have done in the first place: I go to Wal-Mart. They don’t have exactly what I want—but they’ve got a good deal on something just as good a quality. I charge to the Speedy Checkout with my less-than-20 item, debit card in hand. Boom, baby.

Then I drive back through ten-miles-below-speed-limit traffic to the safety of my home, far from the last-minute madness of holiday shopping. I ate a cookie to console myself.

Mission accomplished. Ho, ho, ho, indeed.

The Space-Time Continuum is Not Happy

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Things to do in the next 11 days:

  1. Program a robot.
  2. Write detailed outlines on how the program in said robot is supposed to work.
  3. Do this by Friday.
  4. Practice the German oral report that cannot be given from a manuscript.
  5. Memorize the 50+ lines that I have in the play I’m in. By Tuesday.
  6.  Start studying for exams next week, all of which are cumulative except for the one in voice yoga voice and articulation, which is a speech.
  7. Write speech for voice and articulation.
  8. Perform in play that I have yet to memorize my lines for.
  9. Do a hermeneutics project. Somehow.
  10. Keep doing my reading for my philosophy class and my literature class.
  11. Maintain my sanity.

Eleven tasks in eleven days. Sounds easy enough.

That Moment When…

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You look at your calendar and realize that if you drew a diagonal line from the square for December 3 (today) to the bottom left hand corner, the line will end on Christmas day.

You look at your calendar again and realize that 13 days before school gets out isn’t nearly enough time to get everything done that needs to, but it all has to get done anyway.

You realize you probably shouldn’t have eaten as much as you did at the library Christmas party last night. But it was a Candy Land theme, and what could you do? Not eat the candy? That’s like going to a vegan restaurant and not getting a salad.

You look at your calendar again and realize: Oh, wait, it’s December! What happened to August? I thought that wasn’t over yet.

After thinking the last thought, you didn’t realize that it was December because it didn’t start really getting cold until last week. Courtesy of the South.

You look at the clock and realize you have twenty minutes to get dressed and go downstairs to be picked up for a Christmas party at your house.

You stop to think about how odd it is that you live in the dorms when your house is all of ten minutes away from school.

You realize how much you’d like to be home right now, especially since all of the decorations are up and you’re sick and tired of school at the moment and you just want to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and your cats and talk to your mom about your life, but you know you’ve got to press on to the finish line anyway, and the next two weeks will fly by, you’re sure of it.

You finally realize, after thinking all of this, that it might be better for you and the rest of the world if you just went back to bed and slept until Christmas Eve.

Some Day

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I really didn’t want this blog to become an outlet for my kvetching. Kvetching, however funny, is not the kind of risibility I’m aiming for. I prefer for my humor to be more constructive.

But right now there’s a situation in my life that’s so *cough* challenging, it’s hilarious.

Let’s talk about my eyes. They’re decrepit. I’m blind as a bat. Blind as a deaf bat, and that’s even worse. Without contacts or glasses, I can’t see clearly past the end of my nose. I have a combination of extreme myopia (a.k.a. nearsightedness) and astigmatism, which means that all of the images I see look slightly double—that’s the most concise explanation, anyway.

So for the past year I’ve had struggles with the contact lens for my left eye. At first, the company sent me the wrong prescription. We ordered new lenses, and things were fine for a while. Then my eyes “slipped,” getting a hair worse in my left eye—just enough to be disorienting. So I got my prescription adjusted and the company sent a trial lens. That trial lens…if it were a man, I’d marry it. I was in love with that little lens. I could see in high definition. Both eyes. Did you know that trees have individual leaves? Yeah, me neither, until I got that lens. I could see brilliantly. So we ordered lenses that matched the trial. Or so we thought.

I put in the first left lens from the new set, innocently assuming that it would work. One week later, and I was still foggy in that left eye. I discovered I could see fine if I took my finger and physically shifted the lens to the left. Turns out my optometrist’s office had ordered the right prescription but the wrong fit.

They ordered yet another set. Two weeks later (Yes, two weeks. With my astigmatism and nearsightedness, my lenses are always a custom order, which means it takes forever for them to finally come in) I put in the new lens. That one didn’t work either. While it’s much clearer than the set with the wrong fit, it still doesn’t work as brilliantly as the trial lens that I fell in love with.

Of course, it could just be that my eyes are tired and that’s why the lenses don’t sit right. So I need to wear my glasses more often. Unfortunately, my glasses were old, and I couldn’t really see clearly out of those, either. So off to Lenscrafter’s we go with my updated prescription. We order a pair of artsy frames and wait for the, once again, custom lenses to come in.

The great day arrived on Wednesday. Mother and I went and picked up the new glasses. I wore them all day yesterday. I am happy to report that they work brilliantly, with maximum clarity in that left lens, focusing perfectly…

…but only if I tilt my head to the right.

Let’s hear it for 90-day warranties.

It’s all right, dear readers. One day I will see again. One day this will all get sorted out and I won’t have to think about seeing anymore. It will all work out. I say this with sincerity and confidence, knowing that the God who made my eyes has something marvelous in store for me. Again, no kvetching here.

In the meantime, I’ll just walk with my head to one side.

 

A Disposition of Sleep

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All of our lives, there’s been an emphasis on developing skills. When we were babies, our mothers fretted over our motor skills. In elementary school, we were graded on reading skills and arithmetic skills. In high school we got more variety and could pick the skills we were judged on. (At least for the most part. Why on earth unacademic Phys. Ed. “skills” like dribbling a soccer ball counted towards my GPA, I’ll never know. But I’m not bitter.) Later we learned to drive, how to cook, how to do laundry—all essential skills for living out in the real world.

But as we all know, college is not the real world. In college, none of those skills that our parents, teachers, mentors and/or P.E. teachers wanted us to have will help us. Here, all of our academic, personal, social, grammatical skills kowtow to the One Great and Mighty Skill to End All Skills. And that skill is the skill of sleep.

I marvel at those people who can sleep anywhere at any time. My friend Lizzie fell asleep at a choir rehearsal. On stage. With 40-odd other kids on stage with her. She also slept through a dog barking directly under her head while she was sleeping on the porch (and please don’t ask for details as to why she was sleeping on the porch). My roommate last year could sleep through all ten of her alarms, including the one that sounded like a duck with asthma. And how on earth can anyone sleep on a bus? Especially a bus full of hyperactive teenagers on their way to New York? Or on air planes with crying babies? But I’ve seen people who can sleep through anything, even the perpetual hum of feverish activity that occupies the dorms at UU.

Yes, here in the dorms, there is no rest. Even late at night. Someone on the hall will be flushing a toilet/stomping down the hall/strumming a guitar/laughing loudly with her friends—you name it. All. Day. Long.

Enter me, Miss Rambler, the chronic light sleeper. I can’t fall asleep on command, no matter how tired I am. Nor can I stay asleep. Light wakes me up. Vibrations wake me up. Movement wakes me up. A cell phone on silent wakes me up. The door opening wakes me up. And yes, in case you were about to ask, I do sleep with ear plugs. And a fan going for white noise. And an eye mask. And my head under the covers. And I take melatonin to help me sleep. Nothing helps. Doesn’t matter how late I want to sleep in. The moment my roommates make a sound, I’m wide awake. They’re not being loud, so don’t blame them. I don’t. I’m just a very, very light sleeper. I do not possess the skill of sleep.

And my friends wonder why I like coffee so much.

So if anyone would like to share with me the magical secret to this skill of sleep, I will not object. In fact, I will praise you to the heavens. I’ll put you in my will. I will write a book of praises to you name. I’ll bake you cookies. I’ll do any number of ridiculous things to thank you.

And then I’ll take a nap.

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.

 

 

 

My Ducks are in a Row, But All They’re Doing is Quacking at Me

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Long title, short post.

Here’s the long and short of it: I had gone ahead and done most of the homework and straightening-up that goes on right before bed so I’d have time to write a nice, long post tonight. However, thanks to an incident involving fruit-flavored candy, chewing gum, and two bottles of chocolate milk, my homework time got eaten into. It’s okay, really—we all had fun, and there were no (major) injuries.

All that to say: instead of providing you with your daily dose of risibility, I’m going to do something unconventional. Today, you, my dear readers, are writing the post.

Drop off your favorite joke in the comments. If you can’t think of a favorite, tell one anyway. Any old joke. Give each other a laugh, dear readers.

P.S. to my male readers: If you like, stop by yesterday’s post and comment on the answer to of life’s mysterious questions. I’d love your input.

Cheers, Luvs.