Everything is closer than it appears

For some reason, the city of Lincoln decided 25th Street needed to be swerving-room only. At least, that’s the way I see it.

On Thursday, I experienced some twist of fate having to scooch a skitch to the right on my drive to work as an oncoming car pushed me to the side of the street and got me in contact with another car’s mirror. According to the laws of physics, this Subaru’s mirror took two scratches, both about an inch long, and mine got blown to kingdom come. Such is life.

The lousy thing about it, though, is that I had just last Sunday driven my mom’s Montego to North Platte to meet her and my Fusion and bring my newly repaired car back to Lincoln. What did it have fixed? Oh, just a right side mirror.

So that mirror lived a glorious four-day life under my watch, then met its demise quickly and hopefully without too much pain. I’ve accepted it all with a grain of salt and have come to the conclusion that a couple mirror blowups were predestined in the plan set out for me in the beginning. It’s nothing to be upset about.

And that’s the idea I try to carry over into everything I do. It’s not that I want to live a passive life, knowing that it will all come to my doorstep on its own. No, I just tell myself that life will throw you a couple curve balls now and then. All you should do is throw that bat out there and try to connect. Having my mirror connect with another wasn’t exactly what I would have had in mind, but what’s done is done.

Now it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I think I’ll go for a drive.

Published in: on February 7, 2009 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tempting Ian

How does a scraggleberry taste?

For nearly 300 years this question remained unanswered in the Chinese town of Tgiyeun. The children of the small hamlet started to wear the magenta, triangularly-shaped fruit around their necks on their fourth birthday.

Putting the fear of God into their sons and daughters just as their parents did to them, moms and pops would always convey the same doom and misery to the young-uns with the admonition, “Pow chung doo tah ceh,” meaning, “Your ears will fall off if you take even the smallest nibble. So don’t you even think about it!”

The kids would usually cower at the exclamation, as that horrific image was instilled in them forever.

The village of Tgiyeun was your typical rice-producing corner of the world. (When you think about it, China’s rice-producing corners of the world would make one hell of a geometric shape. But that’s another story.) Ian Schwood, a man whose reputation should precede himself, so I will go no further than his name in this description, was hip-deep in a paddy on a sultry day in September when all of a sudden he heard a sonorous crack.

Out of the sky sprouted a bottle with a message in it. When cartoon gravity gave way to real gravity, the bottle, though not directly above his head at take-off, sped in a blazing streak three-thousand feet to smack Ian right in the gut.

“Oueghchf! Unch, wheeze.”

When he came to, he discovered the message, out of the bottle and slowly bleeding together becoming damp from the paddy. He frantically tried to decipher what it read.

“-aggle be-y when eate- saves – li-es.”

As you may have guessed already, Ian was no ordinary Tgiyeunian. He was, in fact, on a deep and dark undercover mission for the greater good of Jamaica, and he knew five languages including impeccable English.

I am not at liberty to tell you what his mission was exactly, but this revelation that was hurled at him was precisely the information he was looking for. So he ripped the berries off his neck, shoved them in his mouth, and was puzzled by the aluminum taste.

He saved twenty-three calories.

Published in: on February 1, 2009 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Why I Chose to Be a Journalism Major

In the spirit of being boastful, here’s an essay I had to write for my art of writing class that I’m proud of. I hope you like it!

Nameplate

What do lard-lugging lunchroom ladies, fistfights by the flagpole, and grizzly bears have in common? Diddlysquat to most people. But for me, those three disparate elements come together to spark a memory from my junior year of high school, and I can’t help but think of the first time I wrote for a publication.

Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that “The Grizzly Gazette,” the brainchild of my friend Arlo, never made it to print. Like most dreams which got their start in the underfunded and undernourished educational institution I was a part of, it got squashed by the always oppressive state of ambivalence, which hung in the air like a stale fart.

The Onion-esque material we wanted in our rag was mostly satiric and silly. For instance, there were stories about a cafeteria lady who uses her copy of the food code to reach the top shelves and of a proud and pimply pugilist deliberating whether or not to risk his featherweight fisticuffs title after school.

Despite our best efforts to convince them otherwise, our fabricated articles and columns weren’t exactly what the students and teachers of Alliance High School were looking for. Instead they turned to the senescent school newspaper, “The Spud,” which lacked originality and color, but made up for that in starch.

Still, even facing such a lukewarm target audience, the two of us were set on realizing our goal of producing at least one issue. In fact, just before the ultimate collapse of “The Grizzly Gazette,” we had convinced a few other reporters and columnists to join our staff, even stealing one fine writer from “The Spud,” as we pulled a page from Charles Foster Kane’s book.

Everything was looking up. The articles I turned in were my best work, and for the first time there was some proof that the craft could take me somewhere in life. With the constant stench of formaldehyde from the biology room next to my locker and an infatuation with a dozen or so female classmates weighing on my mind, the paper’s inaugural copy was something concrete, impermeable to hormones, and odorless that I could look forward to.

Then Arlo found pot.

From there “The Grizzly Gazette” died a slow, delayed-many-times-over death. Arlo came to class sparingly, and I quickly lost the determination to take on the project myself. The thought of it today still brings an irregular palpitation to my heart, both because of its nostalgia and because it never made it past the first stage.

Just this afternoon I got promoted to beat reporter at the Daily Nebraskan, a feat that deservedly got a hair-shifting fist pump. The decision I made to become a journalism major is due in large part to lunchroom ladies, pimply pugilists, and grizzly bears, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 7:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Worker Bee

Here’s an update on the resolutions. Like the rest of America, at least one has fallen through: running three miles a week.

Today, on my first trip to class, I about beat my heart to an untimely demise biking from the 17th and R Parking Garage to Bessey Hall, a trek that shouldn’t give rise to fears of keeling over. This says two things. One, my muscles are silly putty, and two, as shown tonight in my first copy editing shift, not nearly as efficient at copy(edit)ing newspaper.

But there’s hope yet, as always. I’ll ratchet up my homemade meals to five a week to counteract the lack of running and start out slow but sure at a mile this week.

If you’ve made it here, congratulations. Although I write this for myself, you can now pat yourself on the back for sharing in the minutia of my life.

Published in: on January 13, 2009 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Nibbling Away at the New Year

(Hopefully) we’re all still on the wagon of new year’s resolutions, so I’ll make my way up to the front of the cab to make this announcement–It’s easier than you think! In no time you’ll be patting yourself on the back. Good luck and Godspeed on your own pathways to success.

In order to have my own resolutions cause tantrums any time I’m about to make my exit off the wagon, I’m going to post them here. If I slip up at all, I’ll be honest and write about whatever I didn’t achieve.

First… I will read the Bible this year. This evening, I started off on the right foot and am following the guidelines of the journal I got from my mom for Christmas. It’s a release to let everything I am thinking flow out onto the page in response to what I just read, without having to send those thoughts past the tiny standards-checking men in my mind. You know you have them too.

Second… I will make three lunches a week. A football game wedged itself into lunchtime today, so I’m already making excuses, but I haven’t doubled back on my resolution. In addition, I’d like to try out some recipes more conducive to dinner meals from time to time, but I won’t judge myself on those.

Third… I will run three miles a week. At this point that’s on the order of “a heck of a lot of work”, but in due time I’ll be Forrest Gump-ing it. If it starts getting too easy, I’ll pump up the volume.

So there you have it. If you want a soundboard to voice your resolutions, do so in the comments. It’ll help, guaranteed.

Published in: on January 2, 2009 at 5:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Hope for Happiness

Just as I closed my eyes tonight and started to fall asleep, a thought came from out of the blue that made me smile. I imagined my life being a piano hung over the Earth and being pulled up into Heaven.

At first, I saw sparkling gold wire wrapped around my red baby grand, leading vertically to a mechanical pulley system overseen by a group of like-minded, former dock-working angels. Slow and steady, without any slip-ups.

But, after some fact-checking, I know that it is instead a worn rope, and each time I miss an opportunity set out for me to do good, a strand of that rope snaps. By now, the whole thing should have come crashing down. But instead, the tenuous connector between God and I happens to be my Savior.

You too are likely waiting for the day when you can be an instrument, perfectly in tune, for whatever you believe in. My faith has been established through the kaleidoscope of my upbringing, with every influence I’ve ever had in the mix. You likely see it in a completely different way, but no matter what your view is, you should know that there is hope for happiness through doing good. You’ll get a smile out of it, guaranteed.

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 6:44 am  Comments (1)  

Jingle Jangle

It’s just around the bend.

A few posts back I spoke of the coming winter. Well, as we’ve seen here in Nebraska, winter’s not very punctual this year. But our strict calendar shows that Christmas is fast approaching. I cannot wait, so I’ve been playing Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas albums on repeat.

If you haven’t heard the five compilations of traditional and original tunes that Sufjan made for friends and family each year in the heart of the wintry season I suggest you march your mouse straight to asthmatickitty.com and pick yourself up a copy. For all the bells and whistles the set of five CDs come with, it’s a price fit for a tight budget.

My personal favorites are “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “Star Of Wonder”, but there are gems speckled throughout. As you’ll see if you place your order online, Asthmatic Kitty Records must employ Santa while he’s structurally unemployed because packages originating from Lander, Wyoming, come in a flash.

Once you’ve got the bundle of joy in your hands, tear it open, smile widely, then slap the complimentary deer, owl, and more festive stickers in a place seen by your own friends and family as a conversation starter and love spreader.

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 6:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hypothetical Fishuation

Every second that goes by slips out of your grasp like a squirming fish.

You’re out on the lake with only your rod, tackle box, and the sounds of far-off cicadas and the waves. Before you can say knife, your line gives a tug and you’re in for a showdown of strength. After some time wrestling with the persistent trout on the other end, you manage to bring that doozie into the boat.

It’s been a long day and every fish you’ve caught so far has slipped clean from your hands and jumped back into the glassy water. This one won’t escape. So you pick it up to do the necessary evils and, what do you know, but that one gives a violent twitch and does a quadruple backflip back home.

Disappointed and sullen, you decide to call it a night, but on the way to the dock, in the increasingly heavy mist, you hit a large lump. You take your oar out from underneath the seat and go to the bow of your small skiff and give the large, amorphous lump a touch test.

Hearing nothing, you take it to the next step and switch on your flashlight. Lo and behold, you have come upon the legendary “Hootie”, a nine-foot walleye that has been mentioned in the stories of men all throughout Decker county. You’ve hit the big time.

With a smile on your face you think, “It goes to show. Giving up always leads to dumb luck.”
To which your guardian angel flying overhead can only shake her head and hope that next time she can move the nine-foot walleye before collision.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 5:46 am  Leave a Comment  

It’s a Hard Knock Life

Traipsing deliberately across the kitchen floor, in clever pursuit of his soon-to-be helpless victim, Wally was at the top of his game. This wasn’t his first rodeo, and it showed with each carefully placed step. One after another after another. Tendons taut and muscles electrified, he was ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. There was a sly grin all across his face.

The seconds pitter-pattered by, each more heart-wrenching than the last. A single bead of sweat from his brow leapt and crashed to the ground, startling poor Wally, but thankfully the wire wasn’t tripped, for the tiny insect being chased made no sudden moves. At last, when he was within inches, Wally set his final footfall down, but when his weight shifted, a creee-eak! shot down the wooden floor and spooked the spider into dashing underneath the oven for cover. Right then and there Wally fell apart. The failed attempt at snagging himself a new friend–after all, that’s all he wanted from the spider: friendship–crushed him.

He morosely clunked his way over to the couch, climbed in, and turned on the TV to numb his disappointment. An episode of Wheel of Fortune was about halfway through, and although he was three consonants and a vowel ahead of the contestant in solving the puzzle, it didn’t bring his spirits up any. Bingo was in an hour, and all he had to do up until then was run-through how he could have succeeded. Somedays just aren’t yours at all.

Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 12:58 am  Leave a Comment  

How Kevin Barnes Became Georgie Fruit and Lost Everything

Here’s a quick note about the newest Of Montreal album, Skeletal Lamping. It’s a runaway pleasure bus.

I would recommend it only to people hopped up on LSD and disco. Where Kevin Barnes, Of Montreal’s sole proprietor, intended to go with this is convoluted; it doesn’t have a clear beginning, middle, or end. It’s a bunch of small, spastic pieces slapped together like a mural painted by elephants.

At first glance, it seemed like we had another prolific son of a gun on our hands, as the band’s last album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? and its companion EP Icons, Abstract Thee were released last January and May respectively. But, while those releases stuck together, Skeletal Lamping is on the rack, getting pulled apart from all appendages.

Published in: on October 25, 2008 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment