Stuff I Would Have Said

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It’s been a while since I’ve had time for any blogging, since life tends to get in the way of such things. I would say that I’m going to be posting fairly frequently in the next few weeks, but I actually don’t know if I can commit to that. However, this is the last week of the semester, so there’s at least a good chance that I’ll have more time on my hands for the next three to four weeks. Unfortunately, over the past month, I’ve missed a lot of events and occasions that I would have liked to have observed and acknowledged on my blog. For that reason, I’m using this blog post to list a few of the things I would have written about if I had written stuff.

NaNoWriMoNaNoWriMo: This November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month) and wrote a 50,000 word story in thirty days. This is, in fact, part of the reason that I only wrote two blog posts in the entire month of November. Between school and work, I really didn’t have much time for that novel, and there were an awful lot of days that I didn’t get to write at all. I ended up having to write more than 10,000 words all in the last day, so I’m kind of proud of myself for finishing. With that being said, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to basically rewrite the entire thing in the editing process. My finished product is not remotely ready to be read. There are a few parts that sound like a plot summary written out in full sentences rather than like actual written work. When I finish editing and rewriting it, I’m guessing that it’s going to be significantly longer than it is now. Also, I regret that I never found the time to participate in any of the events associated with NaNoWriMo; I did all of the writing during homework breaks and in the middle of the night. But all in all, it was a good experience and I definitely intend to do it again next year. Who knows, maybe then I’ll have my schedule under control and it’ll be easier to dedicate time each day to writing.

Da Vinci CodeThe Da Vinci Code: For a good deal of this autumn, I have been reading The Da Vinci Code. I forget when exactly it was that I finished it, but it was definitely sometime in November. It was my intention to write a blog post about it, because I can think of a lot to say about the novel. In fact, I think I might still write a blog post about it in the near future, even though it’s now been a little while since I finished it.

snowSnow: This is my first winter up north since the winter of 2002-2003, and so I’ve gotten in the habit of thinking of snow as something unusual. In Alabama (where I went to college) and central Arkansas (where I lived before college) it only snows a couple times a year, and when it does, it’s a pretty big deal. In fact, it’s highly surprising that this is the second year in a row that it’s snowed in December in Arkansas. Here in northeastern Illinois, there have already been a couple small snowfalls, and yesterday, it snowed a couple inches. I will presumably be seeing a lot more snow in the next three or four months, but for right now, it still seems noteworthy and blogworthy that I’m seeing snow at all. If I had been posting stuff on a regular basis last month, I probably would have already blogged about snow several times.

JFKThe fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination: Actually, I hadn’t decided what I would have said about John F. Kennedy’s death if I had had time to write a blog post that day. But I would have wanted to write something. I went through a phase when I was probably about eight or nine in which I read everything I could find on John F. Kennedy’s death and the various theories associated with it. It is technically not completely certain who the killer was or whether it was a conspiracy. Even though it is fairly well established that it was almost certainly Lee Harvey Oswald and that he was most likely acting alone, I was intrigued that there was an element of mystery at all, and I had it in my head that I could solve the crime simply by reading a lot about the topic. Admittedly, I was not unbiased. I wanted to believe that it was an elaborate conspiracy that didn’t involve Lee Harvey Oswald at all, just because it would have been fun to disprove the commonly accepted theory. Obviously, I never did find enough evidence to prove anything, but that was really my first taste of research. (If you don’t count simply looking something up in an encyclopedia or dictionary) I never really lost interest in the topic, even though it has been several years now since I’ve taken the time to read anything at all about it. The event itself may have happened decades before I was born, but I still have personal memories concerning it.

Doctor WhoThe fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who: The day after Kennedy’s assassination, the British TV show Doctor Who made its debut. Consequently, the day after the fiftieth anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, the British TV show Doctor Who had its fiftieth anniversary special. This was the most exciting thing to happen to me since I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness last June. That movie had been out for a while before I finally got to see it, but I only had to wait one day before the new Doctor Who episode was available on Amazon. It was awesome. In fact, it was well worth giving up the internet for a day and a half to avoid spoilers.

The beginning of Advent: This year, the first day of the new church year conveniently happened to fall on the first day of the calendar month, which only happens one seventh of the time, so that was pretty cool. I wrote this blog post for the beginning of Advent last year. If I had actually written something for the beginning of Advent this year too, it probably would have been pretty similar to this, so I suppose it’s okay to just post a link to the old post instead of writing something new.

I took this picture out of the window of the parking garage one day back in late October or early November.

I took this picture out of the window of the parking garage one day back in late October or early November.

School: I’m now only two days away from finishing my first semester of graduate school, and it occurs to me that I have had very little to say about this on my blog. I normally try to avoid writing much about my everyday life or about specific events in my life, but I consider schoolwork and holidays to be two exceptions to that policy. In fact, it would make sense for me to blog about school even more now than I did as an undergraduate student, because I’m no longer studying the kinds of things that almost everyone studies at some point in their educational career. I’m in graduate school, y’all. I’m not saying that there’s anything in particular I want to share about graduate school just now. I’m just saying that it’s a little weird that it’s been an entire semester and I haven’t yet taken the opportunity to write a blog post specifically about the stuff I’m doing in school.

Behold the beauty of my cat.

Behold the beauty of my cat.

My cat: Dude, my cat is so awesome.

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On Autumn and Hipsters

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AutumnYesterday was the official first day of autumn. The new season arrived at 3:44 in the afternoon, because that’s the precise minute when the equinox occurred. Of course, from most people’s points of view, the weather and social traditions are what really determine when the seasonal transitions occur. Depending upon how you look at it, you may think that autumn started over Labor Day weekend, or on the day that you saw a yellow leaf for the first time this year, or on the first day of school, or on an arbitrary day when you suddenly noticed that it’s getting a lot cooler. I personally don’t have a particular day in mind for when it started being autumn, but I definitely already considered it to be autumn long before yesterday afternoon.

I don’t really have a favorite season of the year, because there are things I especially like about all of them. (I specify that I’m talking about seasons of the year because the word “season” can also refer to “seasons of Doctor Who,” which is what I normally mean when I use that word.) In general, my favorite times of year are the beginnings of each season. And according to that general rule, now is one of the best parts of the year. I am kind of excited to be wearing sweaters, igniting autumnal-scented candles, and watching for the leaves to start changing colors.

AutumnBut the sad thing is that it has become cliché to love this time of year. The average hipster’s favorite season is fall. You can tell because they want everyone on the internet to know how excited they are about fall, and they express this excitement by stating it in captions for artsy photographs of their non-store-brand coffee in non-cardboard cups, and almost-full-body shots of people wearing clothes in autumny colors, with the subjects’ faces out of the frame. Meanwhile, many people who don’t share this eagerness about autumn are making fun of the white girl stereotype that includes an obsession with anything related to the fall season. (I have noticed that the white girl stereotype refers specifically to hipster Caucasian females, not just any Caucasian females.)

Here is another autumn picture, even though it doesn't relate to this paragraph.

Here is another autumn picture, even though it doesn’t really relate to this paragraph. It’s the image of a tree reflected on my car.

I would like to point out the extreme irony of the hipster trend. It has become a pretty large and prominent subset of popular culture even though it characteristically rejects popular culture. (It is worth noting that the term “hipster” has been around for generations and has meant different things at different times.)The current hipster trend involves an unusual taste in music, dressing according to a personal fashion sense instead of following styles, and a lack of interest in celebrity news and other such plebian interests. Hipsters associate themselves with higher intellectual interests and more refined tastes by virtue of the fact that they choose their interests and preferences themselves instead of following the whims of society as a whole. And as far as that goes, I would consider myself part of that movement. I have always preferred oldies to current hits, and I have always ignored current fashion trends. I fully agree with the stereotypically hipster sentiment that there is nothing more comfortable and safe than a good book and a quiet, private place to read. Never have a felt any need to keep track of what is “in.” The hipster cliché about liking something before it became cool applies to me very much; there are a number of times that I’ve started wearing clothes with a certain design or pattern (peace signs and leopard print, for example) or started using a certain phrase shortly before it suddenly became “mainstream.”  Essentially, I was a hipster before it was cool to be a hipster.

But interestingly enough, hipsters form their own subculture that is about more than just a rejection of pop culture. While the stereotypical hipster traits aren’t necessarily true of every hipster, that label is something that a person generally chooses for him or herself, so you really can’t blame non-hipsters for classifying hipsters as if they share personality traits and a lifestyle as well as their opinion of pop culture. Even though hipsters all dress according to their own personal fashion taste, it seems that most hipsters dress more or less the same. Even though they all decide upon their opinions for themselves, it seems that most hipsters have a similar political agenda and consider themselves to be environmentalist activists. Even though they all pursue their own interests, it seems that most hipsters are into photography, poetry, coffee, and their obscure musical tastes that they share with mutual hipsters. Hipsters are considered to be pretentious and selective, as demonstrated by their tendency to look down on anything or anyone that is mainstream and to disapprove of anyone who doesn’t know offhand the geographical origin of the beans that were used to make their coffee. And, as previously noted, a hipster’s favorite season is fall, which they celebrate by drinking pumpkin-flavored organic coffee and taking artsy autumn-themed pictures and posting them on the internet.

Here is a picture that I took and used as my facebook cover photo for a few weeks last year. Yeah, I did admit that I do have follow some aspects of the hipster trend.

Here is a picture that I took and used as my facebook cover photo for a few weeks last year. I did already admit that I do relate to some aspects of the hipster trend.

Obviously, anyone is free to love autumn, regardless of what it is that they love about autumn. My appreciation of autumn weather and colorful leaves, my affinity for sweaters and for foods that are associated with autumn, and my fond memories of childhood Halloween traditions are no less valid than someone else’s enjoyment of posting pictures of fall-themed outfits on the internet or the pleasure they get from their pumpkin-flavored coffee. I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything wrong either with the enjoyment of those things or with those things themselves. But I do slightly resent that it would be cliché and stereotypical for me to make a remark that I like this time of year.

It’s time for another episode of random thoughts on a Sunday afternoon

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1. Today was Reformation Sunday, and speaking of Reformation Sunday, I will be very interested to see what my college’s student newspaper does with the thingy I wrote called ‘Happy Reformation Day!’ I have written stuff for my college’s newspaper before, but it’s always been something kind of silly and generally semi-science fictiony. Let’s just say that my college is not a Lutheran school and I’m not sure if the newspaper really wants to print anything that’s religious without being deliberately vague. I avoided using the kind of sarcastic tone that I have used in other contexts, but that might not have been enough to make my thingy neutral enough for their standards. I didn’t want it to be neutral anyway.

This picture has significant symbolic meaning. I just can’t decide what that meaning is.

2. It is worth noting that I am wearing argyle socks today. The reason that this fact is notable is that argyle is an interesting word. I looked it up and it comes from Argyll, a place in Scotland. Now I’m trying to think of a way that the pattern known as argyle can be considered a metaphor for something really intellectually deep. I can offer no reasonable explanation for why this matters.

3. There’s a certain book that I’ve decided to start reading today, despite the facts that a) I don’t really have a lot of time for leisure reading, b) I’ve read that book a gazillion times already, and c) it’s written for a younger audience.  In fact, the only reason I particularly want to read this book now is that I’ve come to associate it with this time of year, which is odd because a) It takes place in May and June, b) the first time I read it was in September, and c) I used to read it every December.

4. If I had a kitchen, today would be the sort of day that I would want to cook something.

5. I have a question. Is it morally wrong to enter a building through a door marked exit? (Or vice versa) It seems like the answer should be no, because no harm comes from using the wrong door. There are some exceptions to that, but in those cases, the rules are enforced a little more strongly. I’m talking specifically about places like grocery stores, where it technically doesn’t matter. But even if there is no reason for designating a door to be an in or an out door, the fact remains that using the wrong door constitutes breaking a rule. I’m not saying that the moral aspects of walking through doors are necessarily issues that require much attention. I’m just wondering if there are moral aspects to walking through doors.

6. Don’t get me wrong; I love having a car. But car problems are so incredibly stressful. My car recently broke down and needed an engine replacement, and now I’m living in constant fear that my car will either spontaneously explode or suddenly break down again. On the way to church this morning, it started shaking and making a scary noise that was disturbingly similar to the noise it made before it broke down last time, and I had to pull off to the side of the road and park the car. While I was waiting for the panic to fade enough that I could make a rational decision about whether or not it would be safe to start the car again, a couple policemen showed up, took a look at the car, and assured me that it would be okay. Needless to say, though, this incident did little to relieve my distrust of my car’s safety.

7. I’m performing The Nutcracker with a ballet school where I’m taking classes this semester, and one of my three roles is a parent in the party scene. Yesterday, one of “my” kids randomly hugged me and told me that I was the best mother ever. ‘Twas the highlight of my week.

8. I consider myself much more of a language arts kind of person than a mathematical or scientific person, but in most semesters, the class that I feel I get the most out of is something like a social science or math class. This semester, it’s logic. There’s something about a subject where there are objectively clear right and wrong answers that makes it more comfortable and, in a way, more enjoyable than a literature class, which tends to be more abstract and subjective. According to those points of view, I should like grammar, but I actually find it kind of boring.

9. It has reached the time of year when I must make a choice about whether it is better to keep the window closed in order to keep the temperature comfortable, or if it is better to leave the window open and to be extremely cold but to have fresh air. For the time being, I have decided in favor of the fresh air.

10. Last night, for no particular reason, I stayed up until two in the morning making lists of stuff, trying to precisely define all of my priorities, and categorizing my opinions about various things. At the time, this all seemed absolutely necessary, but the only remaining result of this project is a ridiculously long document saved on my computer under the title ‘Rules of Life’, which still needs to be organized much more thoroughly before it actually makes any sense.

11. Tonight, there’s a place downtown that is showing the Luther movie, and I’d like to go, but I don’t think I will because I’m scared of driving my car. I feel like I’m starting to get a little too accustomed to sitting at the side of the road with police officers looking under my car hood. This is not the type of situation that one wants to be in habitually.

Pictured above: a fascinating tiny critter that I wouldn’t want to see in my room

12. I do not think I will ever be too old to enjoy flipping over big rocks or dead logs for the purpose of seeing what fascinating insects and other tiny critters live under them. This does not necessarily mean, though, that I like it when fascinating insects and other tiny critters get in my room.

13. The world is so full of stuff to know, and even after twenty-one years of constantly learning stuff, I still know so little of it. I hope I live to be extraordinarily old, because that’s the only way I’ll have a chance to actually accomplish anything.

14. Happiness, it’s time to do my logic homework. I love doing my logic homework. Also, I am excited about the logic exam that we have on Thursday. And I dislike it when we get out of logic class early. These are all things that are probably not true of most of my classmates in logic class.

15. I had an odd dream a couple nights ago. I was at my house and a large group of kids came trick-or-treating. We thought that was odd, considering that it was several days before Halloween, but we happened to have Halloween candy on hand anyway, so we gave them some. Then they stole all of the candy, along with several boxes of books and papers. Somehow, we got those boxes back, and we spent the rest of the dream sorting through all of them and finding cool stuff that we hadn’t seen in years.

16. My refrigerator just made a funny noise and then stopped making the quiet humming noise it usually makes. Sheesh, refrigerator, I’ve got enough to worry about what with my car threatening to break down. If you’re going to die too, it’s your own problem, and I’ll just have to do without you. It’s your choice. I’m beyond caring.

17. Here is something I have always wondered: Does a person’s eye color have anything to do with their identity in a more general sense? In other words, if my eyes were a different color, would I be a different person? Actually, I think it’s pretty obvious that the answer is no; eye color is a superficial feature. But how can we know that? Maybe eye color does reflect certain aspects of a person’s personality or something. I read somewhere that people with blue eyes can consume more alcohol without getting intoxicated than people with brown eyes can. I’m not necessarily saying that’s true, and I don’t think I got that from a reliable source anyway, but maybe it is true, and in that case, couldn’t that mean that there are other distinctions between people of different eye colors?

Self, you’re weird. Be quiet and do your homework.

18. Note to my refrigerator: I didn’t mean it like that. Please don’t die.

19. I’ve had a keyboard for well over a month now, and I still haven’t learned how to play it, except the melody line of hymns. I ought to be working on playing with both hands at the same time, because that’s the way one is supposed to play the piano, but I’m having more fun messing around with key signatures in the melody line. If you play “A Mighty Fortress is our God” with B flats, it sounds totally different.  Also, “Come Thou Almighty King” is a fun one to B-flat-ify. (According to the internet, that’s either F major or D minor. I’m confused; what’s the difference between F major and D minor, then?) Clearly, at some point in my life, I need to learn something about music. Specifically, how to do it.

20. I think the refrigerator is going to be okay. The problem was nothing that couldn’t be solved with a little cleverness and a few dirty looks.

21. I am making hot chocolate because it is now the time of year when it is right that one should have hot chocolate on a Sunday evening. And I am making it with milk and an excessive amount of hot chocolate mix because that is what awesome people do. And I am spilling hot chocolate mix because sometimes, that is another thing that awesome people do. But they don’t do it on purpose, and they promise to clean it up before their roommate has to see it.

For the record, here is what today looked like before it got dark.

22. I have seen 7, 723 evenings in my lifetime, but it never ceases to surprise me just how quickly it becomes dark when you’re not paying attention.

23. Here is another thing I have wondered: Where did the last part of the Lord’s Prayer come from? (I mean the part that goes “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever”) In the bible, the Lord’s Prayer ends with “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13) and even in Luther’s small catechism, which was written hundreds of years later, the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer is just “Amen”. So when and why did the other bit get added?

24. The book I’m writing about for my senior seminar paper apparently has a movie loosely based on it, and I ought to see that movie so that I know whether or not I ought to mention it in my paper. I found the trailer on Youtube, and it looks like a really sad and sappy movie. Normally, I’d be glad to use schoolwork as an excuse to watch a movie, but I can think of many movies I’d rather watch than this one. For example, Labyrinth is a cool movie, and one that I like to watch around Halloween. And lately, I’ve really felt like watching some Doctor Who, but haven’t found the time. (For the record, the episode that I especially want to see is Pirate Planet, which is my second favorite episode with Tom Baker. My very favorite episode with Tom Baker is State of Decay, and my very favorite is Blink.) Anyway, I guess I don’t have a choice.