Tuesday, April 26, 2011

200 Words: Distractions

The plan was to finish my initial draft of this paper while I finished my lunch. I had woken earlier than my usual Tuesdays, so I thought it was best to make the most of it.

I hid in a corner of the dining hall. The plan was set-in-stone and even King Arthur would not be able to release me from my duty.

A man was sitting behind me—lapse of manners and aged in appearance. Had he had a beard, he could have been Merlin. I felt him staring at the back of my head. I managed to turn without much notice to find him staring at my screen—at the words I was writing.

Insecurity overwhelmed me, and I did not know what to do. Who was this man? Was he genuinely curious in my paper? Did he know something I did not?

Before I could even conjure the bravery to ask, he stood up, mumbled something about the advertisement sitting just behind my laptop for the late-night breakfast the dining hall would be hosting Wednesday, and walked away.

I had let my imagination run away with me again, and managed to avoid writing more of my paper.


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scraping By Till Summer

While I do not necessarily hate anything I post, it feels like too many posts ago that I wrote anything of the same caliber as the post that got me recognized--in other words, the typical standard I try to keep in my writings. With that said, I am sure most people go through random ruts in their writing, and I am not the only one; I just hope this makes up for it.

I'd also like to note my unusual frequency in posting will not be the norm. I typically allow my readers a week or so before a new post comes in. I suppose I just felt a bit obligated to put up some posts to space-out the "Sunday Songs."

The doors sigh—one heavy, memorably squeaky sigh—as students and teachers file out to begin a well-needed session of breathing and occasional job-hunting. Screams relax and syndicate the smiles of someones—some of servitude or of studious nature, searching for salvation deep in the Sundays and Saturdays of their summers. The only rest for the wicked.

“My students don’t know ‘A Modest Proposal,’” the man of liberal arts lamented, lingering atop the stones that lined the pedestrian mall.

His woes were anything but humorous no matter how many students he mocked during my walk with him. His jokes made about the “smug-faced frat boy” whose sexual preference was up-in-the-air for the sake of humor—at least, I hope for the boy’s sake—or the over-sized girl in the tight shorts and her love of cheesecake, were hysterically cruel, but not necessarily unusual. And these remarks kept me smiling a deep, dim grin, despite all things.

“My son knew I was doing a parody of a parody”—the same professor had spouted off some words about feeding stray animals to homeless people in an attempt to end hunger—“he called them on it! He said, ‘C’mon you guys, it’s nothing more than “A Modest Proposal.”’ Not one student knew. They had no idea.” I seemed to remember him using the same example in my class a year ago.

Tired and terribly un-attracted to the class of idiot savants who had stumbled through life and into his classroom, mistakenly on their part, the listless man, with dramatic pauses that consume my air and cause me to fill the silence with the most thoughtful of thoughts, was preparing to face his doom: the class he had been sorrowfully binging for two hours through passionate verbosity and rhythmic, contagious reflection.

While I agreed his students seemed to be sadly unprepared for college-level composition courses, I was reminded I had my own doom waiting for me tomorrow with a professor ill-advised in the ways of instruction, yet one who can actually write like a published author. It is a terrible shame he never lets us forget he is one.

The man of much liberal artistry—woven from extensive looks at Freud and with literary models such as Swift—parted ways with me for a cigarette and a soothing phone call from his wife. I walked away, overcome by enamoring progressive ideals and humorous quips. The next night, I walked through the same squeaky doors, fearing they felt the same as I, and hoping to find a sign that lovingly read, “CLASS IS CANCELLED.” Instead, the same man, whose wardrobe is an unfortunate byproduct of color blindness, and a head smooth and shiny, and distracting, was standing before us, ready to “teach.” Which translates into: talk tangentially for over an hour and assign us an irrelevant quiz to finish before the end of the session. If he had spent less time stroking his ego that morning, he would have had time to write up a lesson plan not covered in his own smelly debauchery. That is to say, if he even understands the benefits of forethought.

This summer bodes well for those who desire nothing more than to create their ultimate masterpiece. Once darkened by halls, the deep recesses of the library and dormitories, we all shall see daylight again—inspiring and refreshing daylight. I can only hope my former professors’ students spend a bit more time reading something other than Sports Illustrated and The Onion (or, at least, stop taking it seriously). Our summers may be long, but they do not last. Those squeaky doors will be awaiting us when we return. I can only hope the sounds of rotten displeasure sound more welcoming—like the pleasant squeals of reunited friends—when I return.


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Monday, April 18, 2011

When I Grow Up

I sometimes wonder when my bright-eyed hopes for the future will seem too young for my age and too naive for reality. I wonder when negativity will be the only way out of where I am. The most inspiring messages can be put out so easily by those of higher stature. They live with a pretentious idea of their own self-worth following years of getting to where they are, coupled with contempt for whomever hopes to follow their own dreams. Bitter people with stiff, high shoulders and a head that hangs low are quick to impose their wisdom even if my path is different than theirs. Backs have been broken to pave ways for us, and eventually lips will stiffen when I attempt to walk down the same sidewalks they once did.

So I wonder: Is this the eventual progression of age and wisdom? I would like to hope not. I would like to hope that there are still happy people who have seen the world at its worst, and are willing to not turn me into a bitter person either. Cynicism is for the weak.


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Friday, April 15, 2011

"I just wanted to be sure of you."

"Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh,' he whispered.
'Yes, Piglet?'
'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, 'I just wanted to be sure of you.'"

There are very few things in this world of which I am absolutely certain--and I can feel redundancy as I write this line once more. I know each day the sun will rise, but I am not sure for how long I will be able to enjoy it. I know there is a God who loves me, and to whom I owe everything, but I do not know when I will see everything I have been taught and study unfold. I know I have loved ones who will always be there for me, but I do not know how long before it fades as well.

Love for anyone or anything is quite a terrifying experience. We find ourselves fixated and obsessed with those who have given us a reason to be. We just want to be sure of someone--sure there will always be someone there when we need them. In one way or another, for good or bad, the people in my life have saved me. Without them, I could have been someone completely different; I may not even be here to write this. They have given me strength, support and hope. When I was at my lowest, I always had someone there to pick me up. Somewhere, some omniscient person says it is better to pick yourself up and keep going.

It is easier said that done. I am human, and I need someone there--just a smile or a hand.

Another semester full of memories, stress, tears and laughter is passing before my eyes, and I can barely comprehend the speed of time anymore. Growing up was a grueling process, it seemed. Now I am left with hours in the day slipping past me and time with my loved ones constantly running thin. It is a saddening truth to my life--in and out of dorms, only getting to see my family for short periods of time and then the summer for a bit. My life is always changing, but I have someones to be sure of until the very end. I take pride in that.


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Words, Words, Words...

The following thoughts go a bit deeper than my typical blog posts. I am not posting this forum topic to simply argue. What I want is to see what people have to say. I probably will not comment back, as I said, I just want to hear honest thoughts. For this particular posts, "good job" and "nice text," will get you nothing. I'll only approve relevant comments in moderation for this particular post. There are lots of holes to be filled that have been in the following congruent forums posts: here, here and here. I left a lot out and did not say as much as I could have because it was late, and if I said everything that needed to be said, I would have no use for it to be open to your opinions.

So, without further ado, here is what I, admittedly hesitantly, posted on a forum just within the last hour, and I am curious what you all have to say.

Photo Source

With help of my mentor we both have made quite an observation that I would like to, not only, attribute to him, but discuss here: it consists of the words we use, and how it is all affecting our generation and generations to come. (This is a serious thought-process and discussion that I would like to have.)

On any typical news-feed--from Facebook to Twitter to even Reddit--brevity is key. When we begin speaking in mostly internet meme references and chat-speak, with ever-changing--and ever-annoying--acronyms (some of which have been privy to recently be added into the Oxford English Dictionary), we begin transforming the way we communicate to something less-akin to real communication.

When does succinct language transform from intellectual training of limits and a command of language to simply restraining us from learning more--from developing our vocabulary to breaking down our communication to that of a stereotypical caveman (or caveperson, if you are a feminist)?

There is a fine line between being internet-savvy and de-socializing ourselves. Being a computer nerd myself, it is not hard to believe that eventually most of the world would catch up to what the /b/ of 4chan and Reddit and several other sharing forums have been up to for years: sending and receiving information at a fast rate, thus creating a new form of highly intellectual and stimulating conversation passed through subliminal messages whether in the shape of .gif's, YouTube clips, or finite speech hidden amongst the script of a hacker's tongue.

The typical internet user is just beginning to affiliate themselves with some of the depths of the internet, and, without knowing any true origins of the things to which they expose themselves, they, like many poor, unfortunate souls, find themselves believing Tumblr started memes that have been around for years: "Tits or GTFO," "Forever Alone/Sad Bro," "Problem?/Trollface," "LOLOLOLOL," "Courage Wolf," and many others.

The reality is, true hacking veterans are setting aside time, still ever-evolving as they were 10-20 years ago, when many thought the internet was "a thing of the future" (as in, something to tackle sometime later), and are creating more that the public outside of these deep realms and underground forums of the internet will not discover until, like its predecessors, much later.

They were born into a generation who thirsted for knowledge. And while my generation does have its fair share of intellectuals, we are compromising more that our peers could be capable of by sitting on the computer, staring at a Tumblr feed, rather than using the internet as it began: for streaming real time-sensitive information and passing along knowledge (or even a simple YouTube clip) that could benefit audiences.

When we should be communicating in a way to further our knowledge in academia and socially--on a global and local scope--we are communicating like this:

This isn’t communication at all, in my honest opinion. It's a cheap shot at communication. It's devoid of real connection, and rather only out to make an impact, to stir up conversation that is better left to the dogs.

Students, in their 20's cannot make a logical argument in their papers for their English classes because of this lack of connection between what is communication and how to communicate it. That, and a pure lack of effort that they have gotten away with most of their public schooling careers has left them weak and more likely to flunk their first year of college. Which is saddening--the rate at which our higher education is rising has been proven statistically to be the new norm. In the future, BA's will not be as rightfully honored because of the ease found in receiving such a degree. Students will have to actually work towards getting their Master's and Doctorate degrees. On the surface, it seems as though our education is rising. Deeper, it is merely because education is easier to grasp, not because of higher intellect, but because of sinking standards.

And it all begins with communication.


An addendum:

Loving the comments.

I said I wouldn't chime in, but I'm done advertising this post, so, you can all continue to post comments, but I'm out after this one piece.

The biggest problem one often finds when placing a thesis in places where people aren't used to spotting them, is that the audience often finds something in the article that triggers thought and conversation within them, and then they begin speaking on that, and sometimes missing the point altogether. Which is fine. It is a forum of sorts, and I intentionally left open spaces that needed to be filled (though, I would typically rather fill them myself), because I wanted to see what everyone else had to contribute. (And I hope my comment about not being able to spot a thesis is not construed as condescension. I just mean, as a blogger, I do not typically post topics of this sort, so if it threw off my audience, it is more than likely more fault than anything else.)

The thesis is this, and I thought it was clear, but some of you are a bit confused, I think, or, at least, lend your thoughts to the minor details of the post, rather than where I had intended (please excuse any rambling sentences or possible redundancy, it is late once more as I write this):

Socialization is an important factor in development. It reaches out to all facets of development on an individual level and community level--global and local. With that said, with better communicative skills, one can connect better with others.

I never intended for people to assume that I want everyone to be able to write on a scholarly level, nor do they need a strong vocabulary just to speak to one another. My point is this: people just need to talk to one another--they need to connect. That is what is lacking, and that is my thesis. A lack of connection. And the stronger a person's ability to connect with others, the easier they can adapt and learn. Communication is the stronghold of knowledge. If one cannot communicate what they have learned or what they know to others, then learning ceases. A thesis is a hypothetical argument, made in "general" terms to an audience to basically pose an idea. I do not believe all communication is lost, but most people do not seem to understand the basis of my thesis: it is just a theory. It is a theory meant to open up conversation--communication, for the sake of this post--and get people thinking. To dissect the post and merely focus on educational standards or memes or social networks that have become most popular would be taking away from the entire picture. Admittedly, this "picture" I have drawn is not as clever when written during the peak of exhaustion in the middle of the night, but it still gives way to deeper meaning.

The paragraph preceding and following the YouTube clip is the basis of my thesis and my point of this post. As I have said a few times now, it is connection between others. Obviously, randomly observed and read facts about education and its affects via a lack of communication are needed to shape the argument, but do not misunderstand the purpose.

This entry is, and still will be, about communication with others. Not the death of a language (though, many of you thought that), nor my idea that languages changing is a horrible thing. (By the way: my major would not be in English if I could not embrace the changing of tongues, nor, especially, if I thought the language was dying.) One must be able to communicate what one has learned in order to prove aptitude. English papers that fail to make an argument and simply speak in circles are a depressing case of students allowed to not take their assignments seriously in school, in previous years, and find themselves falling short to discuss an idea when made to later on as students of higher education. This may not be a universal phenomenon, it may just be regional, but, as I have said, it is all a theory--an observed, considered and communicated theory. One I have thought about before, and then was reminded of once more whilst talking with my mentor a couple of days ago in his office.

As demonstrated in the video, the couple had the perfect opportunity to turn to one another and talk things out, and they refused; instead, the couple took to sending each other immature and compromising messages. Symbolic language is only most affective when utilized in the arts, honestly, and in this case, choosing the wrong video or picture to get one’s point across always leaves open the possibility for misinterpretation. (Let’s face it—most people cannot even communicate nonverbally with one another without having to use an emoticon to make sure the receiver does not perceive the message the wrong way.) So, why not just talk to one another, instead? Sure, the video is cute, on a simple advertisement level, but what is sad is I know people who do this before they talk. I find it much stronger if a person says “sorry” or “I forgive you” or even “I love you” to my face, with all the emotion and expression words try to convey, instead of sending me a music video that says it for them. It is lazy.

(Just for a witty example: I had a friend who was dumped via Facebook by the girl changing her relationship status. She gave no warning, and did not even explain herself afterwards. So, for those wondering, yes, it does happen.)

I hope everyone understands my purpose, now, if they did not before. I apologize if I came off as condescending at any point, because I am not. This is simply my conclusion based off of the wonderful comments I have received on the issue, and you all have definitely made me think in many different ways about different aspects of this post. For that, I am very grateful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Little More Than 100 Words: Magic

We went underground for a gathering of minds. There were a collection of monsters, a haze of anticipation and spells ready to be cast. I took a step back to watch it all unfold, and was mesmerized by it all.

It was magical.

We were in a shop full of nerdy boys and a few nerdy girls who were all playing a card game, all enthusiastic, and all trying to balance strategy with ploy. The air was thick with a sweaty musk. I did not play, but part of me wanted to join them.

The lighting was bright--it almost made us forget how dark it was outside. My stomach growled, overshadowing the efforts of the creatures on the cards. No holographic or rarity of any sort, could defeat the force of my stomach, and the night ending, shamefully.

My apologies were unneeded, but I felt responsible. However, the rest of the night was as enjoyable as it began. It always is with these people--underground gamers by night, my heroes by day. Magic.


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Friday, April 8, 2011

"Times Are Hard"

I made my way through the library, hardly amused by the lack of help I received from the librarians. It seems odd one can get a job without really having the skills anymore, I thought. It was possible I was just being unfair and ridiculous, but simply answering a question about why the computer would not log me into my email was not a hard one, not with the tech-boys standing right there to assist as well--all of them equally inattentive and blank. Walking out of the library, I spotted Flucas. He greeted me with his usual big smile and I did the same back. I have been noted for saying he always shows up--like a guardian angel--whenever I need something or I am not feeling like my whole self. I was happy to say I did not need him this time. For once, Flucas was just amongst some familiar faces I pass on campus everyday. While I never mind his caring disposition, not needing an arm around me is much better than needing one.

"In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." Anne Frank, of all people, wrote that line. In the midst of tragedy and fear, she still saw the light in others--that same torch I mentioned some time ago as being my responsibility to likewise to share to others just as Flucas had shared with me on a day I truly needed it. And while I crave to be someone to whom my friends can turn, I also understand how bitterness spreads, and that I am just as much a contamination on humanity as any other person. My cynicism is widespread and my joy for life is often overshadowed by small things this illness holds onto: lack of sleep, an unfortunate menstrual cycle--it is all relative and contagious.

And it is most unfortunate to find one of the youngest and most prosperous nations in the world, at one time, my home, the United States of America, finds themselves in a battle of wits (and I use that term loosely). For all I say in defense of the administration--given the burden Obama was handed to carry from the last decade or so of presidents--not having a budget plan for a fiscal year already five or six months in now, is by far the worst I have seen with my active eye. And still, midnight tonight is the deadline, and if all else fails, we will fall into a "government shutdown" (the latest trend on every news-feed these days), and I can only hope it is but a mere shade of what many witnessed in the 90's--an inconvenience, and nothing more.

In voicing my political opinion, I usually do not, and this will be one of those usual times. Press waiting on the sidelines and the men within are optimistic something will come together. I will say this, and leave it alone: the majority needs to win, so America can at least try it their way. Semblance can be found in a child taking a test (which, by the way, I wholeheartedly hate education budget cuts): if the child puts something down to fill a blank space, they at least have something, and some points are better than none at all. I understand where arguments could triumph over my own statement of fact, but that is why politics is more complex than it is worth at times.

Today, with all of our comforts, full stomachs and roofs over our heads, we are an incredibly lucky people. Anyone capable of accessing this page is just as lucky as I, some may have even more than I could imagine. The dear girl huddled in an annex with more people than many of us would even consider living, found love and harmony even under the blinding darkness and forced serenity of her time--a time when she was victimized for her religious beliefs, her coincidence of birth and her name. The most I have felt victimized for are the small and petty bullying tactics found on a playground. I have not had, and I pray I never will, an entire community come after me simply because of something of birth I can not control.

She knew every day was a gift, no matter how it was spent. The winters are long here, and sometimes brutal in comparison to what we are used to feeling, but spring always follows, and all of us, sitting at home or in our offices, as of this moment, were lucky enough to survive it, and will more than likely be lucky enough to see and experience more in the morning. We see life renewed each year, and have for many years. We have been able to breathe the air and see life with fresh eyes--whether some have taken the opportunity or not is another story entirely, but it is there for the taking, just waiting.

My mother sat me down when I was just at the end of my elementary years and read with me through The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Her words and her passion for life were what inspired me in those days. In all honesty, I think part of it was a ploy--as I have stated before, my mother was desperate for me to continue reading and writing. Those developmental skills she helped me build were what helped me read through Miss Frank's diary the first time, and then several times afterward. I cried when she cried, and, more importantly, I smiled when she smiled. This girl, not much older than I at the time, had such a significant impact on my life, and it pains me to know I will never, in this lifetime, at least, be able to properly thank her for all she has given me.

Times are indeed hard, but they could be harder. And it is in remembering what people like Flucas, my loved ones and inspiring figureheads who have welcomed me into their past, like Anne Frank, have given me. It keeps me motivated to keep giving back to others, and to remember all I have. No one gets anywhere alone; we all start where our benefactors, ancestors and parents left off. I may have not been born into money, but I was born into love. I would rather die knowing I was loved and capable of loving, than know I had tons of worthless paper money sitting in my pockets before it all ended, and nothing more.


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