Saturday, December 22, 2012

The gun kills no matter who holds it

It's late, and I've got nothing better to do than stay up and think. It's been a whole week since the Newtown shootings already. For the first few days, the entire country grieved with the devastated families in Connecticut. But while those families continue to mourn their losses (as they may do for the rest of their lives), most of the country has moved on to the next topic: guns. Of course, many people have been voicing their opinions about gun control since last Thursday after the dust settled. And by now, many other people are tired of hearing what their friends and followers think should or shouldn't be done about guns in this country.

In fact, I'm sure most everyone I know would prefer it if everyone would shut up about gun politics already. However, I'm still wrapping my head around the tragedy and the questions it has raised about gun control. I've already shared a few of my opinions, but here I would like to more critically analyze certain sentiments that have arisen since the tragedy. And I'm about to indulge some possibly alienating opinions, so if you're tired of the gun debate, you'd be better off if you stopped reading this post right now and moved on to a different one.

Otherwise, I'd like to address a statement made by a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association recently. This is what Wayne LaPierre, representing NRA told the nation in a press conference yesterday:

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." 

He's not the first person to take such a stand. I heard the same sentiment after Tucson and Aurora; by the time I heard variations on the same point after the Newtown tragedy, all the surprise was drained from me. But while my shock has diminished with each repetition, my gut reaction is just as strong as it was the first time. And let me finally give shape to that feeling in the pit of my stomach every time someone reiterates that statement: what a dark sentiment to encourage.

The presumption is that guns aren't the problem. Twisted men who see deadly weapons as the vessels for their ill intentions are the problem. But under this logic, the righteous man also perceives deadly force as the only possible solution to the problem of evil men.

Are the implications clear yet? If we implement this trigger-happy logic, violence is an assumed repercussion. Eventually, the only way to keep the bad guys in check is to arm every good citizen with a weapon. In such a world, we learn to distrust our fellow men and instead keep faith only in the cold steel concealed on our person. But let's take a second to imagine this world where everyone carries around the god-like power to end another life just by pulling a finger . Just think how much safer we'd all be! Wouldn't that weaponized world be wonderful?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mid-Year Resolutions

Wow, I haven't posted in two months. That's kind of sad. Not a single blog post for the month of May, and just this one for June. But, I had a realization today. July 1 is the exact middle of the year, so what does that make today? The last day of June? Saturday? Well, those too, but today is Mid-Year's Eve! And the way I see it, I need to make some mid-year's resolutions. To make up for the resolutions I didn't exactly keep at the beginning of the year.

  1. I resolve to read more. At least an hour a day from here on out. There are so many books I want to read, but I never set aside time for it. I know I'll have time for reading until this next semester starts back up.
  2. I resolve (again) to write more. That was my resolution at the start of this year, part of which I kept. I wanted to get myself used to writing more extensively, so I made a goal to write something at least 10 pages long, which I did. My memoir for my Creative Nonfiction class ended up being 12 pages long, as a matter of fact. But I can't be content with that, and I always want to improve my writing, so I'm going to try writing more frequently. Here's my new goal: write at least a page a day. Let's see if I can stick with it.
  3. I didn't really have a third resolution. Oh well.
So those are my mid-year resolutions. I think this could catch on. How many people forget about their resolutions halfway through the year anyway, if they even make it that far without dropping them? Readers! I implore your help in spreading this idea--it may change the world as we know it.

Anyway, happy Mid-Year's Eve!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How They'll Remember Us

We are the Facebook generation,
the sons and daughters of smart phones and YouTube.
Keyboards do the talking for us;
we are the generation of impersonal intimacy.
Speaking in QWERTY, we even invented sexting.
We are a caffeine nation, saving daylight by staying up all night.
We are pirates
proudly flying our bit torrent flags
as we amass piles of files of digital booty.
We want our stuff and we want it now,
so bring it to our doorstep,
We won't even be bothered to go to the movie theaters—
we surround-sounded them into our homes.
We know everything because Wikipedia knows everything—
Our obituaries will be read by Kindle light,
and our epitaphs will be 140 characters (or less),
but what will they do with our accounts,
our usernames,
our space on the World Wide Web,
when our lives are deactivated?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Messages Unsent, part 2

Well, I've got a bunch of drafts of text messages piling up in my phone, and it doesn't look like I'm going to use them anytime soon, so I might as well put 'em on my blog. I haven't updated in a while, anyway.

It's lonely here, surrounded by the people I know so well.
It's lonely here, finding out that you're doing well.

* * *

* * *
Character idea: Guy who records his life by talking into a voice recorder so he won't forget anything, but then forgets how to talk to his friends.

* * *
...Aaaaand no response. #Thanks.

* * *
Well, at least now you know. On to better prospects.

* * *
I just want to be remembered when I'm gone.

* * *
Plaster billboards with the phrase: People suffer and you ignore them. #bucketlist

* * *
Ronald Raygun #SciFiPresidents

* * *
"Are you sure that's his car?" "Dude, I was in it last night."

* * *

I guess a lot of these ended up being little thoughts I had that make no sense without context, or like micro-journal entries. But to add a little clarity, the conversation about the car is a direct quote from two of my girlfriend Allison's high school acquaintances we ran into at Wal-Mart as they were purchasing Saran Wrap to cover some douche's car (I guess she found out he was cheating on her, and wanted to get back at him; I don't really know). The whole situation just stuck out to me. 

Also, I have no clue why Hz. was in my phone. Pocket text, maybe?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Memoir

Well, it's been a little while since my last blog (not that I update consistently, anyway), but in my absence, I considered posting the memoir I wrote for my Creative Nonfiction course. I turned it in before Spring break, and I got it back this week with a grade I'm quite proud of, so I decided it would make a good blog entry. So, here it is:

Love is but a Dream

This is the story of how Jenny and I broke up, but it starts with how we got together. It has to. And where it starts is during the last few weeks of my freshman year at Arcadia Valley High School. My teachers were done with homework for the year, so instead of working furiously to finish it all before class every morning, I used that time to socialize. I sat at a table in the library next to my friend Corey, but a girl with blond hair that fell down to her back was sitting at the table, too. She was cute, but I was too shy to say anything to her. She and Corey were talking about dreams when I sat down in the chair across from her. She finished her thought to Corey—I suppose she was telling him what she dreamed last night—then said to me, “So Jimmy (she knew my name and I knew hers because it’s easy to know everybody’s name in a small high school), do you remember your dream from last night?”
I shuffled in my chair, gathering my wits to answer this unexpected question. “Well, I uh... I didn’t... have a dream last night, Jenny.”
“Oh, didn’t you know? You have a dream every night; it’s just a matter of whether you remember it when you wake up.” This wasn’t a condescending explanation. The tone in her voice was more like she had told a child there are no monsters under his bed.
“Oh,” I replied, “Well, then I guess I didn’t remember my dream,” as though I wasn’t fully convinced the monsters were gone.
“That’s okay,” she said with a smile. “Maybe you’ll remember your dream tomorrow.”

If I did remember my dream the next day, I’ve forgotten it by now.
* * *
Jenny and I never saw each other that summer, but after emailing each other every day and spending countless hours talking over MSN Messenger, I finally worked up the nerve to call her and ask for a date. I dialed her number and paced the length of my room while I waited for someone to pick up. After three rings, Jenny answered the phone (I recognized her soft, high voice immediately).
“Hey, Jenny. It’s uh... It’s Jimmy.”

“Oh! Hey, Jimmy! What’s up?”
“Well... you know how I told you in my last email I like, needed to call you about something?”
“Yes, I do. What did you need to tell me?”
“Well, it’s just that... I just wanted to know... if you’d... maybeliketogoonadatesometime.” I waited with my eyes closed for the impact, the explosion, anything to signal that I failed.
She laughed and I thought that was it—she thinks I’m an idiot and she’s laughing in my face about it—but she said, “Sure, I’d love to.”

It felt like I had been defusing a bomb and cut the right wire at the very last second.
“And please don’t think I’m laughing at you,” she said. “I’m laughing because I was afraid you were going to tell me someone died, or something bad like that.”
* * *
One day I was eating lunch with Megan, Lauren, Tucker, and Holli. Jenny and I had been dating for around six months, but she never ate lunch at school, so I would eat with my friends as fast as I could and hurry over to the library to flirt with her. Anyway, it was probably chicken patty day, because I remember eating hot rolls and mashed potatoes, which were always served with chicken patties. Well, I remember running a plastic spork through my mashed potatoes, as though making a soupy mess of potatoes and gravy could help me make sense of the dream I had last night.
“Jimmy, are you okay?” Megan asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine. How come?”
“Well, you’re playing with your mashed potatoes, which means you haven’t wolfed them down yet.” She was always pretty good at knowing something was on my mind based on what I did with my mashed potatoes.
“Oh, well, I’m just thinking of this dream I had last night. I can’t figure it out.”
“What was it about?”
“Well...” It took me a minute to gather the dream in my head and prep it for re-telling.

The dream started out with me practicing in the trailer with the metal band I played guitar for at the time. We were running through our songs when a wave of kittens rushed through the doors and windows on the west side of the trailer and ran out the east side. I looked out the window to see what they might have been running from, and in the yard was a dark green couch under a tree. I saw Jenny sitting in the couch with her arms wrapped around her knees, and she was surrounded by... I couldn’t tell who they were at first. I looked harder and saw they were... me?
A group of about six or seven Jimmys were surrounding Jenny on this couch, touching her, singing to her, pleading with her, all fighting to get the most attention from her. I tried to yell at them, “Stop! Go Away! Those aren’t the real me! Leave her alone!” but I was behind a large glass window, banging my fists against it to be heard; it wasn’t working. Then I saw Jenny pull out a knife. It was about six inches long at the blade, and it glinted in the light with all the colors of a rainbow. When she brandished the weapon, the fake Jimmys all stepped back at once, fearfully. Suddenly Jenny stabbed one of them in the chest, and he disappeared like a wisp of smoke when the knife pierced his skin. She did the same to the other fake Jimmys, each time with a flat, stony look on her face. I cheered when all of them were gone, and I wanted to run to Jenny and hug her, but I was still behind the glass.
Then Jenny turned to walk toward me, slowly—the grim look still on her face and the shimmering knife still in her hand. Terror gripped me as though I had just swallowed a block of ice. My throat developed an enormous lump, and all I could do was shake my head and cough out small pleas, “Stop. Don’t do this. Please.” But Jenny still marched toward me, her resolve unshaken. She lifted the knife, and I wasn’t behind the glass any more, but hanging upside down, my hands and feet bound. I was helpless. All I could do was scream. I saw the knife glimmer like an aurora one last time before she thrust it into my heart. The instant it made contact, my vision exploded with a torrent of colors—the brightest, most vivid reds, yellows, and oranges. It was like drowning in a river of crimson, and all the time I was continuously spinning, spinning. Eventually, the yellows and reds gave way to greens and purples as shades of blue overtook them until all I saw was a swirling maelstrom of azure, turquoise, aquamarine, spinning just as fast as ever. Gradually, the speed of the colors slowed down as their tones grew less vibrant, fading to the tints of a grey-scale movie.

“And after that, I woke up.” Megan hadn’t said a word throughout the whole narration. Her only comment after I finished was, “You must have a seriously repressed subconscious.”
I had no clue what she meant.
* * *
Not long after Jenny agreed to date me, a new school year started: her junior, my sophomore. Technically, we had been together since late June, but I didn’t really feel like a couple until about the second week of school. I walked out of my biology class talking to my friend, Henry, and his girlfriend Leslie, like usual. We turned the corner of the hall and saw Jenny gathering books from her locker, like usual. We walked over to the locker Henry and I shared—which was only three away from Jenny’s—to drop off our backpacks. Like usual. And I was going to walk to jazz band with Henry and Leslie, like usual, but when I turned to leave, Leslie blocked my way, a grin resting on her face like a fox.
“Well?” she said.
“Well what?” I said back.
“Aren’t you going to say hi to Jenny?”
“Er... Yeah, of course. I always do,” I stammered. Uncomfortably, I turned around and tried to smile as I said, “Hey, Jenny.”
She closed her locker, turned to face me and smiled genuinely, “Hey, Jimmy.”
I barked over my shoulder to Leslie, “See?”
She wasn’t satisfied. “Oh, come on! She’s your girlfriend—act like you like her, why don't you?” she retorted and pushed me forward about three steps, putting me nose-to-nose with Jenny.

“Um... hey.” I breathed.
“Hey, yourself.”
“You, uh... You smell good.”
“Thanks,” she giggled. “It’s sweet pea.”
“I like it.”
“Hold her hand!” Leslie pseudo-whispered to me.
I grabbed Jenny’s hand and held it for a moment while her hazel eyes smiled at me. “What’s your next class?”
“Do you mind if I walk you there?”
“Not at all.” And we walked hand in hand down the hallway, the smile on my face now coming as naturally as hers.

From that point on, we spent every second in school with each other we possibly could. Because our lockers were so close, it was easy to meet up between classes, so we held hands all the way to her classes and I darted through the hallways to be on time for mine. We started passing love notes to each other between classes, a paragraph or two originally, but working their way up to page-and-a-half letters. We mostly retold the dreams we had about each other. Eventually, Jenny bought a notebook for us to share. It saved us both a lot of paper.
In school, we were practically inseparable. Unless we were in class, Jenny and I were either holding hands or with our arms around each other’s waists. Even at school functions—reward trips, dances, the occasional basketball game—we were close by. But I rarely saw her outside school hours unless it was because of such a school function; apparently her parents didn’t like her going over to a boy’s house they had never met, but when I asked if I could go to her house and meet her parents, she always said no. “My mom will be gone, and Dad will be sleeping because he works the late shift. It wouldn’t be a good idea.”
Still, I never made a big deal about it. I was falling too much in love with her every day. Maybe it was how we shared books: I borrowed The Golden Compass from her while she read my copy of Catch-22. Or maybe how we always traded new music: I told her about the ska band named Catch-22, and she introduced me to Local H, a band she learned about from an ex-boyfriend. Maybe it was how we both wanted to be writers, or how we dreamed of each other every night. I suppose all those things kept us in love through the whole school year.
I suppose all those things also made me afraid to ask Jenny who Skyler Johnson was, and why he was posting love songs on her Facebook page.
* * *
It took all day finding Jenny’s house. I walked from the school’s sports complex through Arcadia to a gravel road I sometimes ran up and down during cross country season. I found out later that it is officially titled Chicken Farm Road, but I knew it from my coach and my teammates as Chicken Shit Road. I knew one of the houses on the road was Jenny’s, but after knocking on doors and asking for the Lemon family for well over an hour, I finally found out it was the very first house on the road. The one with the gate and the NO TRESPASSING sign.
It’s not trespassing until you’re asked to leave, I told myself as I crossed the property line and walked down a gravel driveway shaded by a line of tall oaks on either side. The treeline eventually opened up to a sunlit yard where I faced a double-wide trailer with a chicken coop off to the left of it. Two cats were playing with each other outside the front of the trailer’s door steps. They stopped wrestling to observe me with large, curious eyes, but then darted away when I drew near. When I reached the top of the metal steps, I lifted my fist and knocked weakly on the screen door.
Since summer break, I had seen Jenny only once; we went swimming at the local pool about a week after school ended. However, we still talked through email, MSN Messenger, and phone calls every day. I wanted her to come over to my house sometime, but she still insisted her parents wouldn’t like it. I told her again that I should meet them, but, like usual, it “wouldn’t be a good idea.” One day I typed up an airtight argument about why I should go over to Jenny’s house and meet her parents and sent it to her in an email. I waited apprehensively (I was afraid she might think I was being too assertive) for her reply. She usually wrote back to me within a few hours, but the day passed without so much as an instant message from Jenny. By mid-afternoon the next day I still had not heard a word from Jenny, so I called her house.
I started to sweat while I waited under the sun for someone to answer the door. I decided to knock again, this time opening the screen door and landing two solid thunks on the wooden door. I heard footsteps from inside and the door opened. It was Jenny’s younger sister, Sarah. She didn’t say anything, so I started, “Hi. Could you maybe get your sister—”

She walked away and called out, “Jenny...” before closing the door on me.
Jenny didn’t answer the phone when I called that time. “Hello?” said the woman who answered, and I knew it must have been her mom.
“Uh, yes, I’d like to speak to Jenny, please.”
“Who is this?”
“This is Jimmy.”
“Well, Jimmy, Jenny’s not around right now. She’s out with her boyfriend.”
I waited another minute and started to feel the sun burning the skin on the back of my neck. I heard more footsteps from inside just before the front door opened once more. Standing before me was a guy who stood about a head taller than me, but because the top step didn’t quite reach the door frame, he seemed to loom over me. With straight, light brown hair and a recently-shaven face, he looked at least 20 to me. He wore gray basketball shorts and a black t-shirt sporting the name Local H.
“Her.. boyfriend?”
“Yes,” said Jenny’s mom. “Skyler Johnson.”
He looked at me and said, “What do you want?”
“Well, I... asked for Jenny. Can I talk to her, please?”
As I held the phone, I tried to fight the terror freezing me in my spot. Jenny’s mom broke the silence before I did. “Do you want me to leave her a message?”
I thawed out to reply, “Er, yeah. Just let her know I want to talk to her, okay?”
“She doesn’t want to talk to you,” Skyler said.
“Well, all I want is to ask her if— I just want to tell her— Can I see if she—” Suddenly, I didn’t even know why I went to Jenny’s house.
“Look, man, she just does not want to talk to you, or even see you. Now, I’m watching the house while her parents are gone, so I’m going to ask you to leave before I have to call the cops.”
“Well, then... can you step down here so I can at least talk to you eye to eye?” He sighed and we both walked down to the gravel and faced each other.
“So, I know you must be Skyler,” I started out. “I’m... Jimmy.” I offered my shaking hand.
“Nice meeting you,” he replied and gave my hand a quick shake.
It had been a week since I talked to Jenny’s mom on the phone. Ever since then I had been rehearsing all the things I would say to Skyler Johnson if I ever met him. I tried my best to salvage the speech, but standing across from him now, it seemed so childish.
“It feels weird meeting you, because I always imagined you as some wicked person, like the villain swooping out of the night to take Jenny away from me, but now that I’m face to face with you, I feel more like I—”
“Skyler, please come inside.” Jenny was standing in the door frame with her arms crossed.
“Just a minute, babe.”
“No, come inside now.”
I tried to speak up, “Jenny! Can I just finish—”
“Skyler, please come in now.”
He looked at me apologetically. “Sorry, man.” And he followed Jenny into the trailer.
On my way back to the sports complex, I stopped by Megan’s house. Girls are easier to cry around than guys.

* * *

It took multiple months and I had to put forth quite an effort, but I feel like I’ve basically recovered from our breakup (neither Jenny or I explicitly said the word to each other, but our relationship was clearly over). But, when I try to make sense of the ten or so months I dated Jenny—rereading our love notes, going over the things she said, analyzing the dreams I had about her—one event sticks out to me now more than ever.
See, every few years, Arcadia Valley hosts a Celtic festival at the Fort Davidson park in Pilot Knob. This usually lands on a weekend in October, like it did the year Jenny and I got together. We had been together for almost three months. I didn’t go that year, but all my friends did (I want to remember having a noble excuse for skipping out on it, like being sick with strep throat or swine flu, but in reality I probably stayed home to play video games); they told me all about it in school the following Monday.
By the third class period of everyone talking about the necklace they bought, or the weird food they ate, I was tired of hearing about the Celtic festival. I bulldozed my way out of my algebra class to get in the hall before someone else could ask me if I went. I was good five feet down the hall when Megan called out, “Jimmy, hey!”
I hit the brakes and whipped around to see her pressing through the busy teenagers to get to me. “What’s up?”
She caught up to me and asked, “Did you go the Celtic festival?”
“No. Why? You look worried.”
“Sigh... I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, but I went to the festival, and... I saw Jenny kissing another guy.”

I told Megan I’d ask Jenny about it during lunch. After eating as fast as I could, I hurried over to the library to confront Jenny. She greeted me with a hug and a “Hey, cutie!” as I walked in.
“Hey, Jenny.” If I hid the apprehension on my face, then it must have seeped through my voice.
“What’s wrong?”
“Well, I just, uh...” I stared into her hazel eyes for a moment. Then I ran my fingers through her blond hair and kissed her. “I just didn’t study for a test, that’s all.”
Megan confronted me again after lunch. “Did you talk to Jenny?”
“Yep!” I smiled. “It’s all cleared out.”
I never again brought up that year’s Celtic festival.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Life at All Costs

Today my brother Joey and I were going to Farmington from MAC (jazz ensemble had to rehearse today, despite the holiday from classes). It's not the usual route home, but we had to stop by Ironton before going home, and passing through Farmington is the best way to get there. As we traveled South on 67, about a mile outside Farmington, I saw two billboards with pro-life messages on them, spaced no further apart than a tenth of a mile.

Prolife Across America is really overdoing it, I thought. I might have dismissed the posters if their proximity had not allowed me to recognize the similarities between the two. They both feature a smiling baby's face, well-lighted against a black backdrop, and the text on both address fatherhood; one has the words A father's joy hovering over the baby's head like a gold-font halo, and the other assumes the baby's expression, giving it the exclamation, "Daddy is my hero!"

I find it interesting that a pro-life group is targeting a male audience. Partially because I am a male audience. But for more reasons than that. Why do they feel they need more support from men? Do they already have the female demographic under their sway? Are men less likely to hold pro-life sentiments, and thereby need more persuasion? Or are men more likely to favor pro-life stances, and the dual-poster barrage is intended to rally the base of pro-lifers? I still can't grasp the odd, redundant placement of the two billboards.
pro-life billboards Pictures, Images and Photos
I've seen the exact same sign in Park Hills.
But seeing them so close together made me consider their arguments, and finally I realized the underlying correlation uniting the two signs, along with every pro-life poster ever! They appeal to emotion, attempting to discourage abortion by implying unwilling mothers would be killing a baby that could have been a doctor, or a lawyer, or a billboard model. I had a heart before I was born! one baby apparently proclaims. What happened to yours? is the implication. 

Some even go so far as to say that, because ethnic minorities are more prone to abortions, black (or Latino) children are in more danger inside their mother's womb than they are in impoverished homes on gang-ridden streets.
Assuming the figures are correct, 37% of 12% means less than 5% of Missouri's African Americans have abortions.*
And that's what bothers me about pro-life arguments. Emphasizing the stages of an embryo's development guilt-trip the population into thinking abortion is an act of murder. This is especially dangerous when aimed at ethnic minorities living in poverty where the last thing they need is to raise a child they can't properly support. Appealing to the fatherhood instinct in men works to empower patriarchal dominance and thereby taking control of a woman's body away from the woman. Not to mention references to God as the final authority on abortion manipulate a population's religious convictions to advance a political agenda (I'm not a big fan of that).

Even the name of the position--pro-life--implies that those opposed favor baby-slaughter while enabling its proponents to don an air of self-righteousness. 
In an abortion-free world, babies are in such abundance you can adopt them right out of a box!**
Southeastern Missouri probably isn't the buckle of the Bible Belt, but I'm sure it's only few holes away. I'm therefore accustomed to an abundance of anti-abortion arguments. What I'm not used to seeing is people challenging the flaws in pro-life logic. It's easy to oppose baby-killing, if you believe that's all abortion is. What takes some effort is asking yourself, Why would someone choose abortion? Should a woman have to raise a child during an unstable time in her life? Those who are pro-choice are not anti-life. No one is. Pronouncing yourself as pro-choice is more like saying,

"I am pro-life, but only when I am ready."

Why can't that be on a billboard?

*Computation aside, all those percentages are meaningless because the total population and the number of abortions is unknown; therefore, they have no frame of reference. Ahh, statistics!

**Too far?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Book of Meme

As an ardent Twitterer, I take great pleasure in the use of the hashtag. I like using the ones on the top trends, but every so often I like to devise my own in the hopes they will catch on and trend worldwide. 

But when you have 160 followers on a social network with more than 300 million users, this is asking quite a lot. Still, I have some hashtags in mind that I just know would trend if I had enough followers, or would at least generate a really good response. My most recent concoction is #TheBookOfMeme, in which the idea is to take a Bible verse and splice it with an Internet meme. I thought the results would be comic gold, but after two response-less tweets with the hashtag, I figured it was just best to stow it away and bring it back when (and if) I have more followers.

I also decided that, since I like this hashtag so much and didn't want the thought I put into it go to waste, I would share with you the tweets I would have tweeted had it been more popular. Enjoy!

In the beginning, God accidentally everything. #TheBookOfMeme

"If you are the Son of God," the devil said to Jesus, "Y U NO TURN THESE STONES TO BREAD?" #TheBookOfMeme

And then Peter said, "i think Jesus is a pretty cool guy. eh dies for you're sins and doesn't afraid of anything." #TheBookOfMeme

Life begins when babby is formed. #TheBookOfMeme

Then the Lord opened the donkey's mouth and she spoke to Balaam, thus becoming the first advice animal. #TheBookOfMeme

"so i herd u liek apple," the serpent said to Eve. #TheBookOfMeme

It may not be popular now, but I think it has a lot of potential. Maybe it's more for the Reddit community, though.

Where I Live

Blatantly ripping off my friend Emily who shares a Creative Nonfiction class with me, but I haven't posted anything in a while, so I say it's okay. We recently read an excerpt from Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck and were told to mimic the style. Emily posted her version of "Where I Live," so I felt it was only fair to share mine. No shame in that, right?

Where I Live

1. I live at my computer. It sits on my desk, which is situated so I can tilt my head up and look outside the only window in my bedroom. I tend to look from one window to the other, seeing an organic world outside one and an interconnected world inside the other. From my computer I do homework, talk to my friends, and learn what’s happening in the world. Occasionally, I eat meals there, and I’ve even been known to sleep with my head resting on the keyboard. When I do this, I usually wake up to find a sun shyly peeking over the mountain out one window and an unfinished essay (accompanied by a long chain of kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk, lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll,sssssssssssssssssssssssssss, or some other home row letter) inside the other.

2. I live on the Internet. My browser even saves my usual hangouts: Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Mineral Area College’s home page, and When I want to laugh, I read a webcomic. When I want to learn, I search Google. When I want to say something, I go to... well, that depends on what I want to say. If I want to say something mildly personal, or if I have a witty remark, I tell Twitter—a task I used to reserve for Facebook, which I now only go to if I want to say something that will get some likes. Twitter is practically an extension of my brain. I think in tweets now. Yesterday my friend Jenn was showing my the theater campus at SEMO, including the part of the scene shop’s ceiling where someone actually wrote the word gullible. Like that joke kids used to pull on each other in middle school. I reached for my cell phone to take a picture. “This will make an awesome tweet,” I told Jenn, and then thought to myself, “I’ll tweet it with the caption ‘You’ll never believe what someone wrote on the ceiling. My followers will love it.” Nobody replied to it, nobody re-tweeted it, and nobody favorited it. I go to Twitter to talk to others, to tell jokes. It’s like I told the joke to myself.

3. Good thing I also live at MAC, where I can actually talk to people, in person. Because of my active involvement in the college’s theater program, I have two choices: drive to MAC for classes, come back home, and drive back for play practices, or drive to MAC and stay there after classes are done and wait for rehearsals to start. It’s easier just to live there.

4. Having said that, I do live in my car, despite trying to spend as little gas money as possible. On any given day, I spend at least an hour in my car in transit (my house is half an hour away from everything). I listen to more music in my car than I do anywhere else. It’s got a decent radio, and when I got bored with the local stations I can plug in my iPod and listen to my own music library until I get bored of it and switch to the radio. I probably sing in my car more than I do anywhere else, too.

5. Well, maybe not. I live in my trailer (it’s separate from my actual house), which is where I keep my guitar and amplifier. The trailer is far enough away from the house that I can crank it up as loud as I want, and sing as loud (and/or terribly) as I want. The trailer is quiet. It’s not like Twitter and Facebook, where always has something to say, and it’s not like my car, where I have to turn up the volume to drown out the sound of wind roaring against my car at sixty miles per hour. Yes, the trailer is quiet. And I like it. It lets me think. I can fill it with my own noise, or just enjoy the lack thereof. It’s great for pacing back and forth and just... thinking. It’s the only place I live that’s quiet enough for that. And it’s a good place to sleep (which I’ve been known to do).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Writing My "Why Teach?" Essay

I have to write a short essay about why I want to be a teacher in my Foundations of Education class. But, I'm having a hard time admitting that I'm going into teaching because I'm afraid I wouldn't make it as a writer. Or an actor. Or a musician. Or anything else.

Should I leave that out of the paper?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Stupid Little Update, Plus A Challenge

I feel like I'm making a high school MySpace blog post with this one, but I'm seriously in the mood for writing about what I've been into lately. As you might know, school started up for me this week, and this is how I've been surviving it.

Music I'm Listening To
End Measured Mile by Make Do and Mend
Grey Britain by Gallows
Death is Birth by Gallows
Let's Talk About Feelings (re-issue) by Lagwagon

Books I'm Reading
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I used some of my Christmas money to finally get some new music, which I'm glad I did. Now that classes at MAC have started up for me, I have a lot of time to listen to that music while driving to and from school. Gallows really satisfies my craving for some quality hardcore, and since Grey Britain is such a good album, I'll probably come back to it over and over again when I feel like listening to something on the heavier side of punk. Death is Birth is good, too, despite featuring an entirely new singer. Even for EP standards it's pretty short (four songs totaling 7-and-a-half minutes, one of them literally under 40 seconds), but it demonstrates how well the band is adapting to losing their previous front man Frank Carter (who carried a lot of weight in the band's songwriting) and welcoming their new one (who used to sing for Alexisonfire). Death is Birth has an uncharacteristically berserk feel for the band, but what that tells me is that the band isn't going to chase Frank Carter's shadow--rather, they're accepting the loss and taking on a new direction.

But for now, I'm done boring you with my tedious opinions about music, haha. Instead, I want to bore with something that came up while I was reading Tuesdays with Morrie (which I'm really liking, a bit to my surprise). While the main focus of the book is about Mitch Albom revisiting his old college professor Morrie Schwartz on his death bed, there are occasional flash backs to Mitch's college courses with Morrie. In one such flashback, Morrie convinces Mitch to write an honors thesis. Despite Mitch's initial hesitation, he eventually writes a 112-page thesis on how football has become ritualistic in American society.

Hold the phone, I thought. One hundred and twelve pages? I've never written anything even close to that length. Even my semester-long research paper for Comp 2 was little more than eight pages when I finished it, and that was the biggest writing assignment I've ever had. To me right now, it seems insane to write anything beyond 15 pages. It scares me to even think of it. I'm too accustomed to 3-5 page essays, a usual requirement for my college courses. But I realize if I want to be a better writer, I'm gonna have to write more than simple essays someday. Suppose I decide to write a novel? Can't very well fit one of those into 3-5 pages of intro-body-conclusion, can I? And what if I want to write short stories? Some of F. Scott Fitzgerald's best are well over 20 pages (at least in the compilation I've been reading).

So that's how I came up with this challenge. This year, I'm going to write something longer than anything I've ever written. In this case, it means I have to write something longer than 8 pages, so for now I'm shooting for 10. And after that, I'm going to write something longer yet. And I'll keep going until 112 pages doesn't seem like such a horrifying task.

As long as I've dragged out this blog post, I'm probably not off to a bad start, haha. One more thing before I wrap it up, though: I do want to say that I'm getting more out of Tuesdays with Morrie than dwelling over one detail completely inconsequential to the story's plot. I admire Morrie's outlook on life through the lens of death, and I wish more people would examine their lives as though they were dying. I know death is normally a morbid topic, but I think bearing your death in mind brings you closer to actually living. I think that's what Morrie is trying to teach Mitch, but I still have half the book to read.

Friday, January 6, 2012

People You May Know (Or Not)

"Add this person, you have 17 mutual friends!" Facebook tells me. But is that really a lot? I mean, 17 friends in common is only about 5% of my 300+ Facebook friends, and an even smaller percentage of her 600+ friends. Facebook recommends I add a lot of people I've never even met just because we have more than two mutual friends. And half the friend requests I get nowadays are from people I'm not eve sure I know--I have little doubt it's because people flip through their recommendations and add anyone with a seemingly large amount of common friends.

Facebook could curb such confusing instances if it based those friend recommendations on percentage of mutual friends, not just the number itself. For instance, it makes sense to recommend someone who shares 47% of your friend list, doesn't it? That could be hundreds of users, depending on your activity on the site. But what about someone who shares 47 of the 1028 friends on your list? That isn't even 5% common friends. What's even the point of saying you might know each other? Why doesn't Facebook skip the recommendation and find someone with higher percentage chance of you knowing them?

Of course, the percentage system isn't perfect. What may be only a handful of friends on your list could very well be half of someone else's. That's really the biggest problem with basing recommendations off of percentage of mutual friends: users with hundreds of friends could possibly see fewer recommendations than those who are new to the site or those who are stingy with the Add Friend button. And the likelihood of users finding it harder to expand their friend list after it grows beyond a certain point poses a great threat to a site that feeds off user connectivity as voraciously as Facebook does.

I suppose that's why Facebook bases friend recommendations on number of friends in common, though. =/

Monday, January 2, 2012

Messages Unsent

I made it a new year's resolution to write more often, thinking that I hadn't done enough during 2011, outside the writing required for classes. But writing is more than pencil and paper. I looked at my phone's drafts folder, where it saves text messages I type up but never send, and it turns out there are quite a few. They're mostly ideas for tweets that don't turn out as funny or witty as I intend, or one-liners for songs/poems I want to remember for later. Others are just thoughts and oddities I should write more to. Point is, I wrote more than I expected, even if it wasn't in my usual medium.

So, I thought I'd share a few of these drafts with you. Enjoy!

Songs that sound ineresting: An American Elegy, To Challenge the Sky and Heavens Above, Shenandoah by Frank Ticheli, The Whistler and His Dog
* * *
A pastor doing cartwheels. That's hilarious.
* * *
"If there is such a thing as going on strike from one's own culture, this is it." ~Matt Taibbi, on Occupy Wall Street
* * *
URGENT: Do NOT walk past band room between 1 and 2. Nick Shannon encounters imminent.
* * *
Overheard at MAC: "Junkyards are so existential."
* * *
11:11 is for people who can't count. It's their favorite time because it's all ones.
* * *
>People playing music from their phones and singing along to it.
* * *
Reminder: draw a P.O. Box
* * *

For some context, the songs that sound interesting are pieces of music I filed while working at MAC, and P.O. is supposed to stand for pissed off. I later drew a picture of a box yelling at the world. Yeah.

Also, mini tangent rant, I put the > < signs before the phrase, like in the ">People playing music..." draft. That's the way I first saw it done. Now I see tweets and Facebook updates like "Stepping out of a hot shower into a cold room<" where the signs come after the phrase. To me, it looks STUPID that way. I don't know why it started being done the other way around, but it needs to stop. Thank you.

To end this on a better note, I did get my hands on some new(ish) music. I got a Best Buy gift card for Christmas, and I spent some of it on the re-issue of Lagwagon's album Let's Talk About Feelings. Here's a track from it I've really been digging.