Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nathaniel Hawthorne's Wise Words

"The effervescence of youth and passion, and the fresh gloss of the intellect and imagination, endow them with a false brilliancy, which makes fools of themselves and other people. Like certain chintzes, calicoes, and ginghams, they show finely in their first newness, but cannot stand the sun and rain, and assume a very sober aspect after washing-day."

--Describing the Daguerreotypist, at age 22,
in "The House of the Seven Gables"--

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Studying Abroad

I studied abroad at the University of Wales, Swansea in 2004.

At the time, I thought I was special, and lucky to be able to go. But I think I was wrong. Anyone can do it. And so many people do today -- just check out Facebook, so many people I know, and don't know, have pictures of themselves all over the world, with one of the most popular destinations being the U.K. There are pictures that are identical to mine in every way -- except that another person is standing where I did, once.

Pictures of another guy in front of Stonehenge or in front of the Roman Bath in, you guessed it, Bath. You would think I would be happy that other people can share in some of the amazing experiences I was able to have. But I'm not, not really. It just makes me ache. I miss it, and I wonder if I could ever be that happy again.

When I started college, it was my dream to find a job in the U.K., get a flat in London, and live there. It's amazing how quickly your plans can change. And now that I know the U.K. is out of the picture, I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life.

Eh. In the wise words of Orson Scott Card in his best book ever: "Life is vile, but at least I'm one of the chosen victims."

Kitten War

OK, so it doesn't quite beat snoods, but this is pretty much the most adorable, addicting thing ever.

Thank you, Nick Glutz.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Public Speaking: A Communications Major's Worst Nightmare

So... I am a journalism major. I report what I see, then interpret it and write it down, so that others may experience, learn about, or understand something new. As such, I should be an effective communicator, right? Because... that's what I am supposed to do for the rest of my life.

Well, you would think.

I have to be one of the worst public speakers, ever. Literally. It is my worst, and most irrational, phobia. When I was in high school and I had to read papers I had written to my English classes (or mythology, or creative writing, or any other course), I would stand at the front of the classroom, face bright red, sweating, with trembling hands. Then I would take a deep breath and plunge in. I would do a 10-minute speech in about three minutes (no exaggeration). I would stutter and speak quietly. And then I would rush back to my seat and not look at anyone until my heart finally sl0wed to a relatively slower, and less erratic, pace.

It wasn't until my senior year of high school that my AP English teacher would interrupt me and tell me slow down, and speak louder. And she made me do it until I got it right. While it didn't exactly help with the phobia, I did learn to speak a little bit less quickly and not quite so quietly -- otherwise, the torture would just last longer.

Well, I think in the last two years I have made a lot more progress. It started when I finally took speech my sophomore year in college. I had just gotten back from studying abroad in the U.K. and the experience had allowed me to gain confidence. I had grown accustomed to foreign and sometimes uncomfortable experiences while in Europe, and it helped a lot in speech.

Don't get me wrong -- I still speak too quickly (My 10-minute speeches run at about five or six minutes now), I still get completely flustered and turn a new shade of pink, but... I don't stutter I don't shake, and I occasionally look up from my papers. =)

"It's getting better all the time..."

Heck, give me another five years, and I bet I'll be up there with George Bush.


Monday, January 8, 2007

With liberty and justice, for all.

Muslims everywhere may have celebrated when Mr. Keith Ellison was elected Minnesota's Fifth District House Representative, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, but that doesn't mean everyone is thrilled about the November 2006 election results.
Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode was one such person. The Republican went so far as to condemn Ellison's use of the Koran when swearing in, saying he should use the Christian Bible. Goode reportedly claimed it was against our country and Founding Fathers to swear in the anything other than the Bible. Irony of all ironies, Ellison swore in successfully this week using a copy of the Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson, a New York Times article stated.

I'm sure Mr. Goode embarrassed his constituents just as much as everyone else in the country. The Founding Fathers, last time I checked, include the same people that wrote The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States of America. Sure, you could be cynical and believe that the Founding Fathers truly only meant all white men when they said "We believe in certain unalienable rights...that all men are created equal." But I don't think so. There is more than one reason that this country was founded in the belief that citizens of the United States have every right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that includes the freedom to practice any religion we choose.

Electing Ellison to Congress is just the sort of step that allows our democracy and country to continue to grow and change. And it might seem radical to some, but it is nowhere near as radical as writing that all men are created equal in the 18th century. A few days ago The Times had another article about monumental moment where Goode finally shook Ellison's hand. Whoo hoo right? Well, that doesn't change his initial reaction.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Relationships Epiphany

In my experiences, people are extremely touchy when it comes to relationships. OK, I can hear you now: "Thank you, Captain Obvious!" But really. If you're in a relationship, that automatically means that you cannot say anything negative about being romantically involved because that's "easy for you to say." We're called hypocritical, if we say that relationships are tough. At least we have someone. Well, I say that's ridiculous. Relationships are hard work, and it is very hard to find someone that cares for you the same way you care for him/her. What happened to the old sage saying, "Everyone is entitled to her own opinion?"

Whether or not you are in a relationship is irrelevant. What does matter, is being able to back your arguments -- whether it be through experience, research or something else. And, after being in a relationship for about three years, as a result of my experiences, it is very hard work to stay with someone, to stay seriously committed to someone. Imagine finally discovering that someone you have had a crush on for months is attracted to you. You start dating, only once you start dating you have to keep the feelings mutual (i.e. if you decide it's love you better hope your partner feels the same way). You could fall harder, while your partner can simply fall out. Or, he/she wants to relax and see other people, when you're ready to move in, or get married. I hope you get my point. And that is why I think relationships are tough. And yes, at times, they do suck. But in the end, I hope it's worth it.

So I finally succumbed...

Well, everyone's doing it, so why not right? Just kidding. Actually, after being told by numerous professors, editors and prospective employers, I have decided to start a blog. It should be good for me anyway. Everyone needs some kind of a creative outlet, and since I have been keeping a journal since the second grade, I decided it's time to add a second way to ramble. Now I can share it with you all!javascript:void(0)