Friday, December 24, 2010

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid

I feel compelled to watch A Christmas Story every year on Christmas. It is a tradition I created with myself years ago. Christmas is all about tradition. Christmas is about doing the same things year after year, things like going to church; exchanging gifts; and getting in fights with family. I like tradition. Life is crazy and chaotic, and traditions remind me that not everything can be harmed by the hustle and bustle of school and work. So, in keeping with tradition, I am watching The Christmas Story. I have seen this movie countless times, and it never changes. I enjoy it's consistency. This year, as always, Flick will be "triple-dog-dared" to stick his tongue to a pole, and Ralphie will get a BB gun. This year, as always, I will for a while forget about my worries and think only of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful life filled with such wonderful family and friends. 


. . . and how lucky I am to have such wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) traditions to remind of that.


Merry Christmas!



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Take Control

Self-control is hard. Trust me, I work at a candy shop. I know how difficult it can be to deny yourself something that, in the moment, sounds so good

. . . and there's the clincher. Self-control is an "in the moment" thing. If self-control were a race, then slow and steady would lose (sorry, tortoise). Self-control is "here and now." Like "here," don't tell that woman her hair is weird and "now," leave the mall while you still have your dignity. Self-control is weighing momentary satisfaction against long-term happiness and making the best choices based on your future goals.

As for me, I have a big mouth, a big sweet tooth, and a big obsession with online shopping. I am compelled to say the awkward (and possibly offensive) comment, to eat the third (or fourth) cookie, and to browse (and buy from) the Web boutique for hours -- but, I don't.

You see, I want to do all of those things in the moment. However, in ten years, I want to 1) have friends 2) have a waistline 3) have a bank statement that doesn't induce tears. My future plans are bolder than the instantaneous temptations that lay in my path.

I constantly remind myself to control myself. You should too. If you don't, then control freaks like me will try to control you. You don't want that.

Your future (and your moment) are in your hands.

So, take control -- take self-control.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Campus Fashion

I recently joined Thread, a student-run, fashion magazine at Ohio University. I may be biased, but I feel that this magazine is incredible. Actually, "incredible" may be an understatement. Thread not only highlights the unique fashion seen on Ohio University's campus, but also promotes individual expression and celebrates creativity.

Being a part of this magazine compels me to think about and pay attention to campus fashion more than I ever have before. While making observations and analyzing wardrobe choices, I have stumbled upon a weird realization -- campus fashion is analogous to studying.

Okay, I know that sounds bizarre -- just hear me out.

Take a look at the following scenarios:

Scenario #1: The Preparer
This is the student who takes the advice of professors and puts in an outside hour of studying for every hour spent in class; this is the fashionista who puts in extra effort to make the campus her personal runway every single day -- prepared for an exam or a photo shoot at any moment.

Scenario #2: The Double-Booker
This is the student who edits English papers in economics class; this is the dresser who wears workout gear to class, so she can hit the gym right after -- one outfit booked for two appointments.
(Side note: This is me.)

Scenario #3: The Crammer
This is the student who barely browses course material (or attends class) until the day before an exam; this is the trendsetter who disregards fashion during the week, yet pulls out all the stops for weekend nights on the town -- facts and fashion are foreign until it truly matters.

See, studying and styling are not so different
. . . fashion is just a lot more fun.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The (I Don't) Know-It-All

I am a know-it-all. I am the queen of random knowledge and the master of (useful and useless) facts. When I don't know something, I create an explanation or make up an answer that is so shockingly persuading it becomes a new truth (at least to me). I give advice like I have experienced every emotion and triumphed over every misfortune.

My friends and family joke with me about the plethora of information I dump on them without being asked, yet they also question me for answers and come to me for guidance when they are curious about an unknown or unsure of how to conquer a dilemma.

Well, right now, everything feels like an unknown to me and every situation feels totally foreign. Right now, I feel compelled to admit that I don't know anything. My usual confidence and assurance in myself and in the world seem to have been shaken. I don't feel like a know-it-all; I feel like a know-nothing.

The start of my school year has not been one of smoothness and grace. I made plans that fell through, and I expected to find joy in things that only left me with distress.

But, that's just how things work sometimes. That's just life.

Life is an endless continuum of happiness, regret, sorrow, and triumph. The only constant in life is that it is constantly changing.

I am a stubborn know-it-all, and I have been so wrapped up in my ways that I have failed to recognize that things around me have changed. I am a control-freak, but I cannot control the external forces of the world -- I can only control myself.

So, today, I have made a vow to regain control. Today, I have made a vow to explore these changes and to stop being upset by this newness. Today, I have made a vow to stop acting like a know-it-all and to accept that I must explore this ever-changing world in order to continually learn and grow.

Today, I have made a vow to be happy despite everything else. My happiness, unlike most other things in this chaotic world, is something I can control; I fully intend to do so.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back to the Grind

Coffee -- some people hate it, some people love it, and for some people (like me) there is not a word powerful enough to express how they feel about it.

Coffee is an essential part of my diet. My day is simply incomplete without the fresh-brewed goodness. However, a couple weekends ago, on the way to Miami University with some friends, I declared that I would be giving up my coffee drinking habit.

I don't know what I was thinking.

I made it one day without a nice mug of breakfast blend before withdrawal symptoms started to occur. Can you say migraine?

So, instead of continuing with this cruel and unusual punishment, I made a new vow to merely cut down my daily intake of caffeine. Then, I felt compelled to justify my surrender by compiling a list of coffee's perks (no pun intended).

Here is the list:
  1. Coffee makes you smart -- I honestly credit at least .5 points of my GPA and 4 points of my ACT score to the magical beverage.
  2. Coffee enhances athletic performance. I gave a persuasive speech on this topic during Spring Quarter. I was very effective -- I persuaded myself.
  3. Coffee makes you fun. I started drinking coffee my junior year of high school. I think my popularity peaked after this point. Everyone loves a jittery talkaholic.
  4. Coffee is served in coffee shops. Coffee shops are wonderful.
  5. Coffee makes me human. (No further explanation is necessary.)
I hate not living up to a challenge, but forgoing coffee is not a challenge -- it is a death sentence.

Looks like it's back to the grind for me.

 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Do

Mr. and Mrs. Chris and Kari Snyder
I feel compelled to talk about weddings. After all, it is wedding season. Plus, my brother just got married, so it will suffice to say that ceremonies of unity have been on my mind a lot lately. My brother's wedding can be summed up in one word — perfect. The ceremony was beautifully spectacular and the reception was wildly fun. Every aspect of the wedding was exceptional, and, most importantly, the love between the bride and the groom was evident. Numerous guests stated that it was the best wedding they had ever attended; it was the type of wedding that could make even the most commitment-phobic individuals trade their inhibitions for a walk down the aisle. Yes, the wedding of Chris Snyder and Kari Reichard was perfect. It was the type of wedding in which the bride and the groom say "I do," and mean it; they mean they are in this thing for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. They mean forever.

But forever is a really long time, and forever is not for everyone. Cameron Diaz recently expressed this sentiment in an interview with UK's Stylist magazine.
"I think the biggest misconception in our society is that we're supposed to meet the one when we're 18 and we're supposed to get married to them and love them for the rest of our lives. Bullshit. Who would want to be with the same person for 80 years? Why not break it up a little bit?"
That is an interesting concept, Cameron. I totally agree.

Like I said, forever is not for everyone. Forever is for some people. For instance, I do think forever is for Chris and Kari. I think they will grow old together and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary surrounded by family and friends, and I think that is beautiful. However, I also think it would be beautiful for a person to experience the mind-blowing rush of new love at the ripe old age of 75.

Love is supposed to be fun, and words like "until death do us part" only make love scary.

So my advice is this: fall in love. Fall in love and stay in love, or fall in love and fall out of love and then fall in love again. Do whatever you want with your forever; spend it with The One or divide it amongst The Few. Do not get caught up in society's "rules" on marriage, just get caught up in love.

As for me, I do want to fall in love and have a perfect wedding like my brother's.

In fact, I want to do this at least five times.

Weddings are way too much fun to have just one.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Runner's High

Last week, I felt compelled to run five miles. I run on a (mostly) daily basis. However, I usually log a consistent three miles per workout. On that particular Tuesday, I felt it necessary to increase my mileage; I needed to escape.

Yes, running is my escape. I have not done, nor do I ever plan on doing, hard drugs. But I like getting high — from running. To me, running is a drug, and I am totally addicted. Running certainly involves a level of physicality. However, running is also very much a mental thing. When I run my legs follow a monotonous pattern, yet my mind swirls across unknown depths; my feet go straight, yet my thoughts follow no semblance of a linear path.

As I run, I think myself through a million different scenarios and become inspired by countless observations and ideas. My brain wanders and wonders until I am in a completely different place, a euphoric land of bliss. Running gives me new perspective on my problems and worries. Running enlightens me to the possibilities of life; nothing can hold me down.

I think drugs do this too.

Sometimes, I run with a friend. I do this when I want to indulge in a shared experience of elation. Sometimes, I run alone. I do this when I need to break free from real world struggles.

This, again, seems drug-like.

I love running. I use it, abuse it, and rely on it to boost my mood. 

Running is a drug.


I hope the FDA never catches on.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

World Wide Weird

If the Internet has taught me one thing, then it is that I am not so weird. When I search the Web for information, I almost always find a page or a site with a multitude of facts, figures, pictures, and statements regarding the subject for which I searched. This is especially impressive because I seek knowledge on a great variety of random and rare topics; I am the self-proclaimed queen of obscure facts. Sometimes, I search for outrageously odd things just to see if I get any results — I do. I always find what I want on the Web. Actually, I usually find more than I want.

This phenomenon is especially comforting when it comes to self-diagnosis. If I begin to experience sickness symptoms of any sort, be it sore throat, rash, drowsiness, or headache, then I search the Web to discover what illness might be plaguing my system. On the Web, I find that many other humans have suffered from the same symptoms as I, and that, in some twisted way, puts me at ease. Knowing that other people have lived through a similar ailment, and have been so generous as to provide electronic testimony on the matter, assures me that I am likely not experiencing the symptoms of an incurable disease. Thank you, WebMD.

Unfortunately, the power of the Internet also has evil effects. The Web has convinced me that I am not alarmingly weird, yet it has also made me feel that I am incapable of producing original ideas. Whenever, I think that I have discovered some genuinely unique perspective, I find similar (or better) perspective on the Web. The Internet makes me feel like there is nothing I could do that hasn't been done, say that hasn't been said, or even think that hasn't been thought. Due to this, I sometimes refuse to reference the Web for information. This type of self-restriction is somewhat brutal; the Web compels me to search it. But by restricting myself, my ideas remain to be only my ideas; avoiding the Internet preserves my creative genius. And yes, I am using the term "genius" loosely.

The World Wide Web is remarkable. I am truly and utterly amazed by it and thankful for it. However, I appreciate a bit of "weird" every now and then, and I hate that the Web makes me feel so overwhelmingly normal. The World Wide Web and I have a love-hate relationship. I love that it assures me that I am not supremely strange, yet I hate that it makes me feel as if I have no imaginative thoughts.

I wonder if anyone else has this type of ambivalent relationship with the Web. Perhaps, I will Google it . . .

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You're Only as Good as the Company You Keep

I feel compelled to stay in tonight. I do not want to go out to a bar or to a house party. I just want to stay in the seclusion of my dorm room — I just want to be alone.

In my opinion, there are two types of alone: pitiful lonesomeness and peaceful solitude.

Pitiful lonesomeness is, well, pitiful. This is the type of alone that leaves you feeling dejected and sorrowful. This is the type of alone that leaves you feeling like you have nothing and no one. This alone sucks.

Peaceful solitude is heavenly. This is the type of alone that makes you feel complacent. This is the type of alone that makes you happy, happy with yourself and happy with all around you. This alone is wonderful, and, in college, this alone is rare.

Tonight, I am peacefully alone. I willingly opted out of social inclusion tonight. Don't get me wrong, I am a very social creature, but sometimes, I just need a break. During the week, I am constantly surrounded by others; meetings, dinner dates, classes, workout sessions — people everywhere. I like people, and I like this company. But I also like myself.

Tonight, I am simply in the company of myself. I am (happily) alone.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tick Tock on the Clock

I frequently feel compelled to check the time. Actually, "frequently" is an understatement; I literally cannot go longer than seconds without looking at a clock.

I have checked the time about five times since starting this post.

I like to fill my time with meaningful tasks. My capabilities in time management are impeccable. I pack my days full with so many activities that I sometimes worry my days might explode. Of course, I am merely using personification. Days do not explode; they overflow. Monday overflows into Tuesday, Tuesday overflows into Wednesday, and on and on. There is not enough time in the day, but I undoubtedly use what limited time there is in the day in the most efficient way possible.

I do not waste time. Yet, sometimes, I wish I did.

There is not much in this world I actually hope to lose. I do not like to misplace things, and I do not like to search for lost items. But I love losing track of time.

Talking with friends, playing games, dancing, laughing -- time slips from my grasp when I am engaging in these activities. It would be nice to do these things a little more often; it would be nice to lose track of time a little more often.

The best part of losing track of time? That is easy. No searching is involved with the misplacement of time. Passed time is irretrievable. There is no point in obsessing over time lost because, well, it can never be repossessed. Time is one thing that I can accept not having control over.

time |tīm|
noun
the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the pastpresent, and future regarded as a whole


Like the definition says, time is continually progressing. Time cannot be paused, and it is uncertain when time will run out. So, go use your time wisely. Actually, go lose your time wisely.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Thoughts, Jack's Words

Recently, I have felt overwhelmingly compelled to listen to music by Jack Johnson. This is not so unusual, seeing as how Mr. Johnson is one of my musical staples. My musical diet is composed of the following three "food" groups: Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, and Jack Johnson. All of these performers speak to me. Well, I suppose they speak to all whom choose to listen to their melodious tunes, but they really speak to me. They satiate my hunger for melodic release as their lyrical greatness sends me into a world of solitude. Somehow, it seems that these artists know the inner-workings of my mind. I find my thoughts to be echoed and amplified in their magical words, almost as if they are orating the notions that are trapped inside of my brain. It is like they are speaking for me. Recently, Jack has been speaking for me a lot.


Let's explore.


"Home is wherever we are, if there's love there too"
"Home" by Jack Johnson
"Home" does not mean what it used to mean to me. My house on Willow Creek Drive, the place I called "home" for so many years, is now merely an embodiment of my childhood. When I return from being away at school, I expect everything to feel the way it did before I left for Ohio University, but everything feels different. I am comfortable and content at that house, but things are just different; it is not my static "home." This realization makes me understand that "home" is never an exact location. Home is the people you are with and the love that surrounds you.


"Love is the answer 
at least for most of the questions in my heart,
Like why are we here? 

And where do we go? And how come it’s so hard?" 
- "Better Together" by Jack Johnson
This quote could easily fit into my previous post, the one about, well, love. I will not evaluate and explain my view of that subject any further. However, I would like to emphasize that love is the reason, even if that love is not reasonable. Love is confusing, but love is also overpowering; love is the answer (at least for most of the questions in my heart).


"But hanging on is easy
When you’ve got a friend to call
When nothings making sense at all
You’re not the only one that’s afraid of change" 

"Losing Hope" by Jack Johnson
Life is hard. Things happen to me that do not make sense, and, all at once, the walls of understanding come caving in. Suddenly, I am entrapped in the debris of "why me?" and "what did I do wrong?" Well, sometimes the answers to these questions have nothing to do with me. Things just change; life just changes. It is easy to fear this change (trust me, I do), and it is just as easy to become totally crippled with worry. Fortunately, friends numb the pain of misfortune. Friends are an opiate that dull my distress, and remind me that I am not alone. I am lucky enough to have extraordinary friends; hanging on is easy.


"Where'd all the good people go?" 
"Good People" by Jack Johnson
Seriously, where did they all go?


"You’re so busy changing the world
Just one smile and you could change all of mine" 
- "Angel" by Jack Johnson
This one actually does not reflect my personal thoughts, yet it deserves to be included. I absolutely adore the sentiment behind these words. I want someone to feel this way about me someday.


"And talk about the road behind
How getting lost is not a waste of time"
- "What You Thought You Need" by Jack Johnson
I am here, and by "here" I mean this point in my life. I mean not only my physical location, but also my mental outlook. I do not know exactly how I got to this place; it was not my original destination. I did not set my compass and follow a map to this place, but, nevertheless, I arrived. Looking back, I can see the ways in which I fumbled on my course, something that is easy to do when the path is not a regularly maintained trail. However, my minor falters and even my huge blunders have led me to "here." I would not be the person I am today if I had not occasionally gone missing. Being lost allowed me to find something, some part of myself or some understanding of the world. None of it was a waste of time.


Thank you for exploring with me. We just went on a road trip, and Jack Johnson provided the traveling tunes; Jack's beautiful, melodious words were the navigation system we used to traverse the highway of my mind. I sincerely hope you enjoyed this lyrical journey -- I know I did.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Love

I feel compelled to talk about love.

I have no idea how to define love. At best, I could tie together a string of metaphors and similes to give some vague analogy of what love is, but no sequence of words or phrases I could come up with would aptly serve to define the term. I throw the word "love" around like it means nothing, but love means everything.

Love is powerful. According to John Lennon, "All you need is love." So, if love is the sole essential component to being, then why can I not define it?

I know what I love: I love my family, I love my friends, I love the outdoors, I love the feeling I get after running, and I love music. Love is inconsistent. The love I have for music is not equatable to the love I have for my friends, and yet, that love is different still from the love I have for my family. There is no limit to what a person can love. I would also venture to guess that there is no limit to how much a person can love, but I have yet to test that theory.

Love is easy; love is hard; love is patient; love is everlasting; love is (insert any adjective here). Love is just about anything a person can imagine. It does not have to make sense, and it does not have to be justified. Love makes people crazy, and love gives people direction. Love can do anything.

Romantic love, one of the most interesting facets of love. I do not claim to have ever been in love. If I have, then it was a disappointment. If I have been in love, then love is not all that I am cracking it up to be. I think love is a feeling that just hits. Love leaves no room for guessing, and love asks no questions. When it is love, it is known.

"It wasn't logic, it was love." -- Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the city
Love sends the reasoning process out the window. Love calls people to action. Acts of love can be irrational, and acts of love can also be beautiful. Personally, I think every act is an act of love. Love decides how people spend their days; love decides it all.

I still have no idea what love is.
I have tried to synthesize my thoughts about love into a discernible pattern, but my view on love is no more clear than it was when I started.
Love is beautiful, and love is magical . . .

Love just is.
(I realize that is an incomplete sentence -- Love makes no sense.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are my Midwestern Roots Showing?

I feel compelled to set something straight --
journalism is changing; it is not dying.

Humans will always have a desire and need for information; therefore, journalism will never die. Journalism is invincible.

To prove my point, I will provide an analogy:
Back in the day, farmers broke their backs in order to grow plentiful crops to provide to the people. Then, new technology came along that allowed farmers to produce more crops in a shorter period of time. Then, new technology came along that allowed farmers to produce more crops in a shorter period of time. Then, new tech- ... you get the point. Farming changed due to technological advances, and farming will continue to change as technology continues to advance. Journalism, like farming, has changed over time as technological advances have emerged. First, there were scribes. Then, there were printing presses. Now, there are Internet sites. New technology has come along that has allowed journalists to provide more information to more people in more forms in a shorter period of time. 
Back in the day, people walked long distances to markets in order to obtain the produce they so desired. Today, people merely drive a few miles to the nearest grocery store to pick up these same products. Back in the day, people walked long distances to acquire the journalistic publication they so longed to read. Today, people merely scan the World Wide Web to acquire these same products. 
No conscious individual would argue that it would be best for society to return to the original form of farming. In fact, there would likely be much distress in the world if the ancient ways of harvesting were reintroduced to humanity. People would starve, and things would get messy. A return to older forms of journalism would have this same effect; people would starve for information, and things would get messy.

People want their news, and people want their news now. So, people, I am telling you to stop reminiscing about the olden days of journalism and begin embracing the new age of information.

Put away your tissues, and trade your mourning suits for more colorful garb. No funeral is taking place around here any time soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Anti-Resolution

I have felt compelled to make a New Year's resolution since the dawning of 2010. For a full ten days, I have deliberated about what I should resolve to do differently in the new year. Finally, I have decided upon what my resolution shall be -- my New Year's resolution is to stop making New Year's resolutions.

New Year's resolutions tend to fall through, therefore, I will no longer be making them. In fact, I think I know the reason resolutions tend to fall through, and it is lack of desire. January 1st may be the start of a new year, but it is not necessarily the beginning of a new way of life. Imagination, passion, and determination are powerful emotions that do not fit in an ordinary timeline. When I want to change something, I want to change something. I do not want to wait months, weeks, days, or even minutes before putting forth a new life plan. Once an idea is planted in my mind, it grows uncontrollably.

So, I am not starting the year off with a new "plan." Instead, I will continue to travel swiftly upon my already-beaten path. I do not want to stray into the wilderness of the unknown because I like the road on which I currently tread. I am happy, truly and genuinely happy. This is not to say that everything in my life is perfect; however, it is the dull and dreary components of my world that make me appreciate the  brilliant parts of my existence so much more.

My life is a mixture of good and bad. No matter of resolution-making would ever make my life totally wonderful, nor would I ever want a life of complete grandeur because that would be incredibly boring. I will adjust my life as I see fitting, but I will not progress accordingly with the the calendar year. In my search for the perfect resolution I have totally condemned the act of conventional resolution-making. I am starting the new year on the road I have been on all of my life. My destination may change occasionally, but I am not going to wander off the path for no reason. I will follow the map of 2010 to wherever it may lead me, but I am not going to take a turn without being instructed. Resolutions are faulty directions. I, for one, am not starting the year off lost.
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