Thursday, December 27, 2012

Youtube UFO's (Unidentified Flashing Objects)

This is an important public service announcement to highlight something that I know has been troubling a lot of you. Yet you've been unable to voice your concerns because of the fleeting nature of the events in question.

Have no fear, I'm here to bring the subject out into the open.

I am speaking, of course, of those crazy-weird white ghostly artifacts which appear for a split second before Youtube videos start loading. These artifacts are usually just a white pixelated blob but after several weeks of seeing them I started to realize that they aren't just random white spots. They often have a distinctive shape. Once I saw an arrow, another time I saw ":30" appear. I searched the video page I was on, nowhere was there a ":30" that could have been misplaced somehow into this loading frame.

If you are unfamiliar with this phenomenon I just spent about twenty minutes trying to capture a glimpse of this in the wild so I could bring back evidence.


This is a fairly recent phenomenon, starting just before Youtube switched to its latest layout. This leads me to believe that Youtube also updated the way they display videos to include secret messages encoded in the opening seconds. The objects seem to repeat themselves for a couple of videos before switching to a new object.

What could this message possibly be? I like to believe that much like Peter Molyneux's "Curiousity" game the answer can only be discovered by the collective effort of the users. We must pool our resources and solve this digital puzzle!

The flashes actually reminded me of the opening frames of 35mm films. An example of that can be found in the opening to this newsreel from 1948. Watch the opening countdown and tell me it doesn't look similar to some of the artifacts which appear in the Youtube videos. Then skip to 3:05 and watch the bit about the cyclotron, it's pretty awesome.

In reality I'm afraid that this is all simply caused by weird framebuffering and other video-card related nonsense that I don't understand.

What can we learn from all this?

I am easily distracted by flashing lights.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Keep Me Logged In - A Social Media Experiment

Today's post comes to you in the form of a vlog! It even has a fancypants opening screen! Watch the video, then read on! Fair warning, the vlog is twenty minutes in length, but it should move along fairly quickly. I cut out just about every pause and intake of breath.

Here is the post I put up to let people know what I would be doing. The response was minimal compared to many other things I've put up. Names and images have been partially obscured for privacy.

was overreacting to what my coworkers were doing to my Facebook page. Hardly anything was posted, just a few prods and pokes at me about how I couldn't log on. ex. 

There are still people who make a conscious choice to not use Facebook and other social media. And there are many people who make an unconscious choice to use social media. I for one make a conscious choice to use social media because I believe it to be a useful tool for maintaining relationships. It wasn't hard for me, but it can be a major problem for some people. Prior to starting this project I read up on some other's experiences. One of the most fascinating and troubling is called "This User Does Not Exist"

Giving up social media and cell phones isn't fun, but it isn't that hard.

UPDATE: A great example of why social media is so useful and wonderful is the Project For Awesome, happening now! A 48 hour social media binge devoted to raising money for charities. I'm glad my experiment didn't overlap with this because now I'm logged in constantly raising money!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The People Who Talk to the People in Poland

Since apparently my readers demand comedy. I shall oblige! My roommate isn't the only person in my college career to say and do things that are comical absurdities.

A couple of semesters ago I took an Intro to Psychology course as a required gen-ed class. It was....unique. I can think of no better person to teach a psychology course than someone who probably should see a psychiatrist themselves, or someone who has had intimate experience with someone who should (but more on that later). At least then students get first-hand experience with the subject matter. The high (or low, depending on your outlook) point of the class was when the teacher told us to "diagnose" the psychological problems she was about to exhibit. She exited the room and then returned a moment later, hunched over and shuffling, clutching a scarf. She mumbled incoherently, looked up, then started banging on people desks and spouting garbled sounds. "abloogablooga" is about the best I can do for what it sounded like. This went on for long enough that the class was starting to forget why she was doing it in the first place. Thus our response when she asked us to diagnose her was simply "You're crazy."

She rattled off a plethora of absurdities over the semester, several of which I scratched down in my notebook.

During a discussion of various personality disorders, she wrote down descriptions of each disorder on the board.

Schizoid: GO AWAY!

That was all she wrote for that one.

Jotted down in my notes I found this quote from her. "They install software in government authorities for free" -To be fair, this was just a slip of the tongue. She obviously meant for government authorities. Or maybe not, who knows?

She once wrote the words "beef critters" on the whiteboard. I don't remember why or what she was talking about. But this is what I put in my notes.
I don't know if she just forgot the word cow or if she refers to cows as beef critters on a regular basis. I rather like that method of naming things.......

mmmmm......bacon critters....

And then my favorite quote from her.
In case you can't read that, it says "The people who talk to the people in Poland --> essential for global food supply"

That's how she said it, when I copy notes like that, they are word-for-word. I like to imagine that Poland has some almost supernatural control over the global food supply and that they are stingy about it so there are special UN ambassadors that talk to the "people in Poland" in order to ensure that the world remains fed. What does that have to do with psychology? I have no idea.

I couldn't do this post without giving you some of Jack's antics. So Jack's latest and possibly greatest moment is below. Last week Jack came into the room, paused, then turned and stared down the hallway for a while, keeping the door open.

Me: "Looking for someone?"

Jack: "Just hold on man, shhhh." He put up a finger and stared ever more intently down the hallway.

Me: "Alright, sorry."

He closed the door after a while and then went over to his bed. I went back to whatever I was doing. Later that night he spoke up abruptly.

Jack: "I'm gonna tell you something, this is some trust yo."

Me: "Okay?"

Jack: "There's a picture in the room I rap in..."

Me: "The room you rap in?"

Jack: "Yeah man, down the hall. I've been rapping there for a while now. It's a picture with a phone booth, got ladies in bikinis with their bottoms out on a ledge."

Me: "Okay....."

Jack: "And last night man I was going through old Facebook photos of my ex-girlfriend. You know, checking her out, understanding the path she's taking. She's a psychologist now."

That's right ladies and gentlemen. Jack's ex-girlfriend became a psychologist. I think she has a bright future.

Jack: "And waaay down, hundreds of pages into her pictures, I find that SAME picture in the background man."

Me: "As the one down the hall?"

Jack: (excited now) "First of all....first of all I wonder if this is something that I've seen before. Then I remembered from the room. You know what I think?"

Me: "What?" (I really couldn't imagine.)

Jack: "I think...I think there's a prostitution ring going on."

Me: "Er? Why?"

(It gets really confusing here, I'm not sure if I got everything written down in order)

Jack: "The guys down the hall were talking about porn and stuff you know? And there've been a lot of girls going into that room. And lately, you know I've been seeing a lot of Vermont plates in the parking lots around here. When I drive in to park there's loads of them around Carlisle."

Me: "What? What do cars from Vermont have to do with a prostitution ring?"

Jack: "My ex man, she's from Vermont, I've seen her around lately, visting someone, but I think maybe that's why she had that picture in the background. She was in that room."

At this point I really didn't know what to say. I couldn't really follow his logic.

Me: "I guess stranger things have happened? But a lot of people just, you know, go to school here who happen to be from Vermont. And maybe it was, like, a calendar picture?"

Jack reiterated his belief that there was a prostitution ring and then turned his attention to other matters. Jack is awfully good at leaving me utterly speechless. I chalked it up to his weird paranoia and went back to work.

Today I walked into my hallway and came face to face with a crowd of about half a dozen men and women, and a Residential Assistant. They were crowded around a dorm room with the door ajar. I paused as everyone turned and looked at me for a moment before returning their attention to the room. I walked through the crowd and saw that there was a police officer inside. He was obviously berating the room's occupants. As I continued down the hall I gathered that it had been a party or gathering of some sort (the crowd had been the rest of the party) and something illegal had been happening. I assume it was alcohol or drugs....but who knows...

I didn't get a good look inside the room to see if it was the same room with the picture on the wall. Jack was non-specific as to the exact room he suspected of being a pimp-room. So anyway, that was weird.


"The whelp, the wench, whatever, it was something not complimentary with a "w".  -a professor

During a discussion on early marriage in other countries, two students had a brief back-and-forth.
"What about whats-her-face? That Egyptian girl who got married at 14?"
"You mean all Egyptian girls?"
"No, I mean whats-her-face in particular."

When discussing groups in my interpersonal communications class someone mentioned that not all groups have members that interact with each other, so they aren't "groups" in that sense. As an example he cited "geological groups." I know he meant "geographical" but for the rest of the class all I could think about were Igneous rock golems refusing to talk to Metamorphic rock golems. Racial rock discrimination!

Tomorrow I will be starting my sociology final. It involves vlogs! So yeah, more posts!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Real Talk Yo

This won't make much sense if you haven't read my first and second posts about Jack.

UPDATE: There has been a major change to this post, the following section is the original, which I no longer agree with. The update follows.

I've reached a turning point in my relationship with Jack. I still enjoy the quotes he spouts off all the time when he is in "battle mode" but I'm starting to understand him a bit better during his more lucid periods. I had failed to "imagine others complexly"and had reduced him to what I had learned in a short time. He's still kinda nuts, kinda paranoid, and I have still have nothing in common with him, but Jack and I had a conversation last night that made me respect him a lot more.

Jack came into the room and was obviously distressed. I learned that Jack had encountered someone who apparently was so much crazier that Jack became self-aware of his own craziness. Jack was also concerned that this other guy might be suicidal and talked with me about what he was doing about it. He apologized for involving me in his problems but proceeded to have an intelligent discussion on the topic.

"Yo man, I know I'm crazy sometimes, and that I freak you out, but this guy was messed up. I know you don't know if I'm a good guy or not, but I know I'm a good guy. This guy....I don't know."

We talked for a while and I discovered that behind the jock exterior, the crazy, manic rapping, and the bizarre turns of phrase Jack has the same "big" thoughts that everyone has. It was eye-opening.

The rest of this post is what I was going to post until Jack and I had our little bonding moment. I expect that "Living with Jack" will become less of a feature on my blog soon because of the newfound respect I have for him.

UPDATE: Annnnnnd I just lost any respect for him I might have found. He came into the room a moment ago and told me that "his troubles were over" and that he didn't have to worry about that "crazy" guy anymore. Last night we had talked in the abstract, Jack hadn't told me anything specific about the person he was afraid of. Today he told me something more specific and it just floored me with its shallowness.

"80% sure he's gay. I mean, like, really gay. You know how gays are just looking for attention. I think that's all he's doing. 80% sure that's all the suicidal thing was about."

So I was right, sort of, I haven't been imagining Jack complexly enough. He's a complex enough person to be able to make me at first think he's crazy, then think he's crazy but has a lucid, thoughtful side, and then BAM, I find out he's a bigot who honestly believes that because a person is gay all they are looking for is attention, even when they apparently mention suicide. I'm a bit more than annoyed with Jack right now.

I guess imagining someone complexly doesn't mean you have to like them. Living with Jack will still probably feature a lot less, but not out of respect for him.

Also, for those of you who may be worried, Jack has insinuated that he truly does not believe this other person is suicidal, and has cited more reasons than "being gay." He doesn't seem inclined to offer any more details and I have no intention of asking for more.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.

I came back from classes a couple days ago. and started cleaning up my side of the room a bit when I noticed my bed looked a little odd. The post of the footboard, made from three pieces of wood joined together, was split open. The big staples holding the pieces together stuck out about an inch from the wood. I looked at the other post of the footboard to find it suffered from similar damage.

At this point I should note that Husson does not want to pay much money to furnish dorm rooms. That said, the furniture in my room is quite old, but it is built to withstand the beating of a thousand college students.

It is NOT, however, built to withstand the beating of Jack wielding a baseball bat.
As one of my friends and commenters on this blog, Red Wolf, so eloquently put it,

"He isn't named Jack for nothing."

I would like to point out that he broke BOTH posts with ONE swing. This means that he hit the frame with enough force to twist it, forcing the other post to split.

I asked Jack about my bed when he returned to the room a bit later.

Me: Do you know what happened to my bed?

Jack: Oh yeah man, sorry about that.

Me: What....did you do to it?

Jack: I hit it with my baseball bat. I was taking a couple practice swings and slammed it pretty hard. Don't worry dude, if they charge for it it's on my head.

Me: Well.....thank you for being honest.

I would also like to point out that the images I have provided were taken AFTER Jack did his best to fix the damage.

Our conversations are still very humorous on the whole but not as quotable so I rummaged around and found a conversation I'd written down the night after Halloween. As usual there were random people yelling in the parking lots near the dorm. Jack started talking about how he always got worried about them, thinking they might try and get in, and I started jotting down notes.

Jack: It's just…whenever I hear something going on outside….

Me:  They're just messing around.

Jack: One of these times it's not gonna be someone messing around.

Me: We're in Bangor Maine, nothing ever happens in Bangor Maine.


Me: Why? Why?

Jack: Dude! You should feel safe! I have this place on lockdown!

I pointed out to him that it might in fact be worse to be locked down with him than to worry about random people outside.


Me: Nobody is gonna crawl through the screen without us noticing.

Jack: In the imaginary world where zombies…were not real….but people were imitating zombies on Halloween and the people that were imitating the zombies on Halloween were the freaks of the freaks... which is true... and so they're like (in zombie voice) "Yeah, whatever." If they end up in our window…they're REAL people, dressed as zombies…

Me: (cutting him off) But that's not gonna happen!

Jack: If somebody who was dressed as a zombie was trying to get through my window that would mean they are trying to kill me.

Me: Nobody is gonna try to kill you!

Jack: It's not gonna happen. I understand that, I get that………but in the event that it were to happen I was ready.

Me: But WHY worry about it?

Jack: Cause they COULD!

Me: Well, the world could end tomorrow…but it's not gonna.

(Jack got very somber here)

Jack: I legit thought that the world was ending last night. I thought everybody knew. I was with a couple of my buddies. They were being all cold and….it was just because they were tired….that's when it hit me…. it was all over and nobody knew how to tell me. Nobody even cares to tell me because…..the news….the news was so weird the way they were broadcasting it....

He trailed off.

Jack: I act like such a warrior dude… I'd run.

Well Jack, we finally have something in common. In the zombie apocalypse....I'd run too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spencer is such a downer name.

Living with Jack has grown in popularity rather quickly so I thought I would follow up with another post about his antics.

Jack returned from a long weekend away just recently. He had been complaining of tooth pain for a few days prior to leaving. He was lying on his bed, occasionally uttering some line or other about tooth pain when suddenly he went motionless and stared intensely across the room at nothing in particular.


Me: “….what….?”

Jack: “Gummy bears, man”

Me: “I don't have any…”

Jack: “No dude, I need to stuff my face with gummy bears. That’ll help the pain. I'm gonna go out and buy as many bags of gummy bears as I can. And you know what?”

Me: (completely bewildered) what….?

Jack: “If I can't buy 'em….I'm gonna steal 'em. HOW MUCH MONEY DO I HAVE?”

*pulls out wallet*

Upon discovering that he only had two dollars in his wallet he decided that he might be able to buy some from a vending machine. He glanced over at me,

Jack: “I don’t WANT to steal them but if I don’t have enough money I’m gonna have to.”

He then sprang into action. He moved around the room grabbing his things. Occasionally he paused to throw out a one-liner.

Jack: “Since I have a car, I WILL go buy gummy bears.”

Jack: “Since I have class tomorrow I WILL pack for that.”

And then, noticing that I really wasn’t responding to what he was saying,

Jack: “Since I have the right to remain silent I WILL.”

Jack: “It's mind over matter kid…”

Then he left.

I didn’t see him again until the weekend was over. I did find a near-empty bag of gummy bears when I returned from class that night.

He reappeared midday on Tuesday and immediately started spouting off more quotable quotes.

“Long time no see, Giants hat” – Yes, he was addressing the hat. I wonder if this is the same hat he landed on last time?

He then mumbled something I couldn’t undertand and then shouted “SNACK PACKS!”

“Gloves, moto-stick, what more does one need?” Deep breaths and chewing gum? (see previous post)

Then he turned to me and said in a disappointed voice,

“I wish your name wasn’t Spencer. It’s such a downer name. How come your name isn’t Zack or something? Be so much easier…in battle mode…guess I just have to accept it, kills the flow man.”

I guess I don’t have a very easy name to shout when he’s in “battle mode” or something? He then prepared to head to class.

“Warriors must do what warriors must do. It’s battle time. One last time, lets go!
….It sounds so creepy…. (laughter)”

Yes Jack, it does sound creepy.

And then, my favorite quote of the day as he was finally leaving.

“I’m trying this whole pants sag thing, it’s not bad. I like to picture an ape.”

Then several seconds later…

“That whole pants saggy thing? I actually don’t like it…it’s awkward.”
“I’ll give class another shot. I’ll go to class again.”

As he receded down the hallway I could hear him “keys check wallet check  boom boom boom boom” Then he sang “Where did I park where did I park where did I park?”


Here’s another quote I found recently that I had jotted down in a notebook a couple weeks ago and then forgotten about.
“Pit swag like nothing. Like nothing it’s a habit.”

I could not derive ANY meaning whatsoever from this sentence. I read it to a classmate who actually managed to understand what it meant.

Apparently it means –
“I have so much swag (coolness) that it is like second nature. I don’t even have to worry about it.”

I think I need to hire him as a translator.

Final note: I looked on Jack’s Facebook page. In his “about” section.

Under “favorite quotations” is the following:

“90 percent of the things i hear in my head.”

Me too Jack, me too…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

(100 total comments achieved on my blog!) – Woooot, I prefer comments to page views, so let me know what you think even if it’s just a short blurb!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Living with Jack

This is my fifth semester at NESCom.

For the first four semesters I lived in the same dorm room with the same roommate, an Italian man named Jim whom I got along with very well. I was very happy that the housing form I originally filled out had done such a good job of matching me with a roommate. We didn't talk much but we had a good rapport and never had any major conflicts. To this day Jim and I remain friends and often work on projects together.

This semester Jim moved off-campus into an apartment and for the first few days I had the dorm room to myself. However, within 24 hours of my RA discovering that there was a vacancy in my room (they had thought Jim was returning) I had a new roommate.

My initial impression of the seven-foot-tall wall of muscle bringing in a duffle bag of baseball bats was that we would have nothing in common.

I was right.

We introduced ourselves to each other briefly and I mentioned that it would be a new experience for me to live with a jock. He was upset by this, telling me that he wasn't a jock and didn't think it was very nice to be called a jock.

I apologized and then asked what he was studying. He replied "Sports Management, but I'm really only here for the baseball."

My face...

For the purposes of this blog my roommate will go by the pseudonym "Jack."

At first, living with Jack wasn't so bad. I thought it was nice to have a roommate who would talk. Jack isn't in the room very often, he's very busy with baseball practices, classes, and managing what seems like two or three relationships. So for a month or more we would speak now and then, mostly to marvel  at the fact that our schedules were almost exact opposites. I was always going in when he was headed out and vice versa. Many nights he would spend with his girlfriends and not come back at all.

This wasn't a bad situation as it was almost like having the room to myself. Then things got weird.

It quickly became apparent that Jack had a very different upbringing than me, as evidenced in his speech. His speech is what I would consider urban (One of his favorite phrases is "real talk yo" which means "This is important") but more than that it has a uniqueness to it that I have never encountered before. Uniqueness in this case translates to "completely unintelligible."

I'm not exaggerating either. He uses English words (most of the time) and the words follow what is arguably proper sentence structure, but the purpose of the sentences is beyond my comprehension. As such most of our conversations are fairly one-sided.

I cannot impart the way Jack delivered these lines but I think the oddness is apparent. Most lines are either spoken with a loud, commanding voice or a soft, halting, contemplative one. I leave it to you to decide which is which and present for your consideration a few phrases I hastily jotted down.

When Jack gets ready for class, he is always in a huge hurry and so he talks to himself to calm down and get his priorities straight...

"Deep breaths chew gum… know what else is there?"
"A slow turtle is better than a fast frog…… (and then quietly)…..I am a slow turtle."
"Jacket....engaged......backpack.....engaged.....caffeine...engaged..." This went on for a while.

"This puts everything on hold, this stops the flow" He couldn't find his hair gel.

"Twenty-three years old and I land on a hat..." No, I didn't mishear this.

"Do you think the mother of a douchebag.....knows?" This was prefaced with "Real talk yo..."

"Today was the first day I was able to say yes to something yesterday, and no to something today. But I could have made it happen. Whatever." A friend of mine kindly made this into a meme. (That is a stock picture, not my roommate.)

Jack is very proud of the word "skepticising" which he has coined with the following phrase.
"Man, the world has just been skepticising me today" Honestly, I kind of like this word and I think it should be a thing. Ex. "I skepticise that you could climb that cliff."

It isn't just his speech that is weird though. For example, Jack takes his baseball bat with him to go brush his teeth. He periodically raps to me about what I happen to be doing. One night Jack heard someone rapping outside (at 2AM), jumped up, ran outside, and proceeded to have an 80 decibel "rap battle" with them. Dorm residents were less than pleased with the commotion.

He has admitted to me that he is a kleptomaniac (but assured me he would never steal my things). Jack proudly showed me what he called his "power rag." Yep, power rag. It's a dishrag he stole off a counter at McDonalds. Why? Because Jack. The only other thing he's told me he's stolen was a bottle of eye drops from Rite Aid. Oh and possibly gummy bears (that's another story.)

Until I get a new roommate or I change rooms "Living with Jack" will be a recurring theme here on my blog. Trust me, this is only a small taste of what it's been like.

(UPDATE: New post! Read more about Jack here)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Small Blue Notebook

Nothing in all of human history has been analyzed, discussed, and fantasized about more than love. It is the subject of countless poems, songs, stories, and novels. In a Google search, love returns 8,310,000,000 results. In comparison, “sex,” “war,” and “drugs” return barely as many results combined. Humanity is obsessed. The world doesn’t need another twenty-year-old single white guy giving his thoughts and opinions on love. If you agree with that, stop reading now.

This blog is the second journal I’ve kept in my life. My first and only pen and paper journal was a small blue notebook I started in junior high. I wrote exactly one entry per year and the subject was almost always my thoughts on love (or early on, the person I “liked.”) I would make an entry and then tuck the journal away until I would find it again months later. If a year or so had passed I would make a new entry. I did this routinely for four or five years. Then I forgot entirely about the journal until I rediscovered it in 2010 (I think). I made one final entry in it which mostly concerned how utterly foolish I’d been when I’d written the earlier entries. I then tucked the journal into a faux leather pouch and safely stowed it where I wouldn’t lose it.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve lost it. So this post is mostly written for my future self. Unlike when I wrote in my little blue journal I now feel comfortable enough to discuss this kind of thing publicly (however public a blog with 4 readers is). I want to be able to look back years from now and see exactly what I thought about love. This is less about specific people and more about love in general.

You know what’s great about the topic of love? It is both immeasurably daunting and exceedingly natural to talk about. Everybody has a valid opinion on love because it’s part of being human. You know what else is great? Because everyone has been pondering and writing about love for so long there are no shortage of wonderfully composed thoughts I can use that express my own thoughts far more eloquently than I ever could. So, as a heads up, there will be a LOT of quotes in this post. Most are by John Green because he is a genius but their sources range from bad zombie apocalypse novellas to sweeping fantasy epics to good friends who are more important than they know and whom I, yes, love.

“Using words to talk of words is like using a pencil to draw a picture of itself, on itself. Impossible. Confusing. Frustrating … but there are other ways to understanding”(Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind.)

The best and only way to understand love is to love.

Love, like most emotions, cannot be narrowly defined because its causes are not narrowly defined. We can define a physiological reaction like thirst quite easily because we know it is caused by a lack of water. Love is not nearly so simple, and yet it is nearly as essential as the water we so easily define. Love is not simple. “The truth resists simplicity” (John Green) “That is what keeps poets scribbling endlessly away. If one could pin it to the paper all complete, the others would lay down their pens.” (Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear)

Just because love is difficult to define doesn’t mean it hasn’t been tried. Philosophically, love is often broken into three parts; Eros, philia and agape.  Generally these are defined as romance, friendship, and unconditional love respectively. Those are broad definitions, but if you really want the in-depth descriptions you can go look it up on Wikipedia.

I don’t want to talk about love defined by dusty old philosophers. I want to talk about love defined by people I can relate to. A good friend of mine recently used the quote-distribution-machine that is Facebook to post a quote from Dave Matthews which reads

“A guy and a girl can be just friends, but at one point or another they will fall for each other. Maybe temporarily. Maybe at the wrong time. Maybe too late or maybe forever.”

I thought about this for a while and I decided that it was correct, but not in the way it was intended. The quote says that friends will eventually “fall for each other.” I believe that this is true because being friends with someone is a way of falling for them. If you are good friends with someone, you love them.

This is a fact I have often forgotten in my life. Facebook and other social media have cheapened the word “friend” to mean anyone you interact with and can tolerate enough to have a civil conversation. But that isn’t friendship it’s acquaintanceship. Several summers ago I began to understand how friendship is love when a fellow camp counselor said those famous three words to me.

“I love you.”

I cannot impart the inflection in those words other than by saying they were sincere. I was taken aback because I wasn’t dating her or even flirting with her. It had been my understanding that those words were only uttered between family and romantically involved couples. I had heard them said in other contexts, but never with such sincerity and conviction. I responded in kind reflexively, the way you say “you’re welcome” when someone thanks you.

That night I felt confused and conflicted. Was she suddenly romantically interested in me? How could that be? Was she just joking? Had I suddenly become irresistible? (A kid can dream.)

I realized that it was none of those things. She was my friend and she loved me. I cannot thank her enough for the wisdom in that. It seems obvious now because I have many friends (including her) that I love and I don’t have any trouble telling them that I do. But at the time it was a groundbreaking thought for me.

So friends may “fall for each other” but in truth they have already fallen for each other. It comes as no surprise that so many slip into a romantic relationship after being “just friends”. Friendship is realizing that 

“…there is nothing romantic or supernatural about loving someone: Love is the privilege of being responsible for another.” (John Green, Zombicorns)

I’ve had two romantic relationships in my life, both of which ultimately ended with me doing the breaking up. I never thought I’d be more of a dumper than a dumpee, but there it is. Both relationships started well, they had their ups and downs like all relationships, but over time they developed cracks. I think that’s the best way to describe it. I had different concepts of love at the beginning and end of each relationship. Once the difference was great enough it became hard to continue in a relationship I didn’t believe in. I had grown, changed, and discovered that what I once thought was fine, wasn’t. I’m not going to get into detail here, that is one thing I’ll save for when I find the blue journal. Relationships are complex things and even in hindsight not easy to comprehend.

“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness” says Nietzsche. I have to give credit to the dusty old philosophers; sometimes they have some good quotes. People do not necessarily decide what or who they love, but they do make reason-based decisions while they are in love. They have to. This creates a conflict between irrational love and rational thought. “Should I base my decisions on the feelings that I feel or base my feelings on decisions and pretend the feeling's real?” (Meltdown, by Carbon Leaf) I have been accused of being a bit emotionless, of basing my feelings on decisions rather than the other way around. It is a fine line I have to walk because while I do believe that love is an important and necessary component of decision-making, I also hold rationality in equal regard.

Sometimes people let their love get a bit out of hand and put the subject of their affection up on a pedestal where they believe them to be perfect or believe they can do no wrong. They imagine the person they love to be more than they actually are.

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” – (John Green, Paper Towns)

Despite being very unhealthy, this is reinforced by many traditional romance stories by the idea of soul mates. I’m very cynical of this concept. I believe it cheapens the idea of love because it takes away the power of choice. Someone who shares my cynical view of everlasting love is Tim Minchin, who performed a most excellent song about love at an Amnesty International fundraiser in 2008. Watch the whole thing, and don’t judge it too quickly, it’s meant to fool you twice. Then come back and keep reading.

You may be thinking that Tim Minchin is a horribly mean person. After all, he just told his wife that "someone else would do" and that he doesn’t need her specifically. It sounds awful initially, but Tim isn't actually being mean. He isn't saying he wants to be with someone else, just that he could be. The fact that he could love someone else doesn’t make his relationship with wife any less special. Tim is saying he is with her by choice, not by fate. If his wife was the only option because she’s his soul mate and they were destined by fate to be together forever where’s the romance in that? Everyone knows that they could love someone else (if they don't they are deluding themselves). They don't want to love someone else because they already have a connection with the one they love. Tim isn't going to leave his wife.

I actually take comfort in the fact that people can “have somebody else” because if I was the only way for my “soul mate” to be happy EVER I would feel an immense burden of responsibility and fear. I could never leave for fear of dooming them to eternal unhappiness. I wish that fate on nobody. Knowing that they can in fact be happy without me is a relief. One of the best lines in the song is “love is made more powerful by the ongoing drama of shared experience and the synergy of a kind of symbiotic empathy, or something.”

This is saying that the connection you build with a person is just as, if not more, important than the person themselves. You can find another person who is similar to the one you had been with. However, you can never recreate the connection you build with one person with someone else. When you break up with someone you miss them but what is really yearned for is the connection you had with them. How you met, what you did, the conversations you had. People are fairly unique (You’re special, just like everyone else) and so the connection between two unique people is so impossibly complex that it can never be repeated. So the other person is important because you can’t have the connection without the person.

I have tried my best to explain my thoughts on love but it has been very frustrating trying to put some of my ideas into words. I haven’t covered every aspect I would’ve liked to either. Love of family and love of the self I didn’t even really mention. Love is too massive a subject to put down in one post, but I think I’ve gotten it out of my system for now. Some of my thoughts aren’t fully fleshed out, but I am only twenty years old. I hope that in the future I will be able to fill in some of the blanks as I grow to understand and experience love more. I hope I know enough now to not screw it up in the future and to always recognize love when I find it, but my track record isn’t stellar.

I have quoted others enough and so I will leave you with a quote of my own. I believe love is the complex and innumerable connections between people that bind our existences together. Love is the recognition of oneself in someone else. You don’t love someone just because of who they are you love someone mostly because of who you are.

P.S. (I highly recommend reading any and all of the books I’ve quoted from here, they are all fantastic! I own most of them so let me know if you’d like to borrow one!)

P.P.S.   .....or a banana

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Story.

My blog thus far has been a collection of stories about my life. Stories of my experiences, my thoughts, and, early on, the inevitable "top ten" type lists of a new blogger. This is my 100th post on this blog and I'm taking this opportunity to talk about story; and it's going to be a long one.

"We are all storytellers."

Whitestone Motion Pictures, one of my favorite groups of filmmakers, reminds us of this on their website. Story is of course an integral part of film-making; The saying goes that the three most important parts of a film are story, story, and story.

One of the most prolific ways to tell a story these days is with moving images. In the past music, words, paintings, dance, and even cave drawings were the most common way to tell a story. Our methods for telling stories has changed and evolved over time but the stories remain, and the way they start is always the same, birth.

I believe that stories are the basis of humanity. More than that, I believe stories are humanity. In our daily lives storytelling rivals all other activities put together. Even in our sleep we do nothing but immerse ourselves in the stories of our dreams. The truest form of human expression is storytelling. Every art form is portraying a story; Music, painting, literature, acting, and sculpture are ALL filled with the stories being told by their creators and heard by others.

Some stories are better than others, some stories aren't true. Some stories are true but we don't believe them. There are even some stories that might be better left untold.

When we are young we create, we invent, we build the world around us because there is no world yet inside of us. We pretend the trees are castles and the dogs are dragons and the ground is lava. Nothing is defined, nothing is everything. There is no limit.

As we grow up we discover that there is a story that we haven't entirely imagined. The story of us. We've told stories about the world around us but now we start to tell the story inside us. We start to tell the story that becomes us.

Everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always, All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.
- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This story we make of ourselves doesn't include everything we do. It isn't absolute truth, it is the way we perceive ourselves. It is a similar relationship to that between the author of a book and the reader of a book. The author may have intended or may believe that his/her book will be and should be interpreted in a specific way but they have no actual control over what a reader may glean from that book once it is written, nor should they.

Put simply it becomes laughably obvious; People don't see themselves the way other people see them.

Because we do see the stories in the lives of those we meet, we incorporate what we like from their stories into our own. In this way everyone has a hand in the stories of the world.

I cannot better describe the nature of stories without now stopping and telling you a story.

Over the summer I went on my annual family vacation to Swan's Island. Swan's Island is the setting for a large majority of my childhood stories about the world and it has in large part shaped the story I tell of myself. This summer was one of the best weeks I've ever spent there, despite it being shorter than most.

I landed on the island this year with a renewed sense of adventure and discovery thanks in part to a newcomer to the island, my friend Josh. Because everything was new to him and he has a propensity to explore we discovered locations on the island which none of us had ever seen. One such location was Noah's Ballast, a geographical anomaly on top of Goose Pond Mtn.

In past years we had tried but never succeeded in finding Goose Pond (at the base of the mountain) because of its location deep within the woods. This year we were determined and, no longer armed with a rudimentary map of the island but instead a GPS-connected cell phone we drove off down a narrow dirt road which would ostensibly lead us to the elusive Goose Pond. The rough dirt road (see map) occasionally changed to include sharp, head-sized chunks of gravel which looked mean enough to pop a tire. Still we pressed on, the familiar sight of coastal forest pressing in around us. After several watery stretches of road and some more sharp rocks we spotted an expanse of water through the trees. We had finally discovered Goose Pond. It was a beautiful sight, the tranquil water lying nearly level with the shoreline around it. We explored around the pond for a while and Josh even went for a swim (before we were informed the local leech-infested-waters story was a hoax) but after a while a desire to continue our trek surfaced. The next hurdle was the mountain (only 214' but remember this is on an island).

We set off on a gentle, winding path through the trees next to the pond and in a relatively short period of time we reached the top. 214 feet may not be much but when you are looking into the infinite ocean you don't need much height to be impressed. The view was not what we were here for though. Before we left on our trip we had been shown a map of the island with Goose Pond and many other interesting sites labeled. Some places even had a small picture drawn next to them including the lighthouse, ferry, and noah's ballast.

So according to the picture we were looking for two or three abnormally large rocks resting somewhere near the peak. We figured it shouldn't be hard to find.

Indeed we were soon greeted with the sight of a pile of dozens of boulders tumbled together in a strip about forty feet across and twenty feet wide. It was an impressive sight and did indeed look like the ballast of some great ship from long ago. We were surprised at the number of rocks, we had been expecting maybe six or seven at most, not two dozen.

We clambered over the rocks and walked around a small stand of trees.

A stretch 215' long and 85' wide opened before us. Hundreds upon hundreds of white and grey granite boulders ranging from the size of a desk to a small car were piled up several deep over the entire expanse.

All of us stood stunned for a brief moment before letting out various exclamations of surprise and awe.

The area stood out in stark contrast to the green of the forest around. The trees had obviously lost the battle in this area. I could see small, Charlie Brown sized trees here and there amid the rocks, as dry and dead as if they'd tried growing in the Sahara. Looking closely at the edge of the expanse I could see that the boulders continued off into the woods on all sides, hardly visible as they were covered in rich thick moss under the protective shade of the branches.

Brazenly moving forward into the field of boulders we all lightly stepped over holes between the jumbled mass. Looking down I could not see the ground the boulders rested upon, I still don't know how deep the pile goes.

Looking up from my careful footfalls I saw that the tall tree I had assumed was just jutting in from the edge of the forest was in fact set apart from the rest of the forest, it had somehow managed to survive in the harsh, dry, tumble of stone.

This tree captivated me. Not only was it surviving amid the harsh rocks, it was thriving. A juniper-like plant sprawled out from beneath the tree a couple feet in all directions, obscuring the rocks beneath and preventing safe passage to the base of the tree. The branches of the tree were sloped down and spread, obscuring the trunk almost entirely.

By this time my mind had filled with imagined stories of this place. It felt so powerful, so important and unique a place that it needed equally powerful stories. Obviously those who had named the place felt the same way. I pictured what they had, a ship of unparalleled size dropping a load of ballast as the waters grew calm and receded.

Then my mind filled with the fantasies of youth.
I imagined the bravery, power, and kindness of the lone central tree and how it protected the few plants around it with its shade. I imagined the small birch tree, the only other tree to break from the solid edge of the forest, as a supplicant to the great tree, just as brave but not as strong. I imagined druids and magics being performed around the great tree, shattering the earth into chunks. I imagined a system of tunnels, formed from the spaces between the rocks, leading downward into the earth.

My mind filled with the stories of our natural world.
I imagined the battle between the forest and the stone as an epic struggle between raw forces of nature. I imagined the sheer weight and power of the glacier that had deposited the stones here in some distant past. The slow, halting, grinding movement of a million tons of ice. I imagined the distance the rocks had travelled. The island is made primarily of pink granite, the boulders are of a granite not found on the island at all. I imagined the billions of atoms forming the world around me and how amazing that is.

As I circled the tree and clambered amongst the stones I spotted a small opening in the branches at the base of the tree. I struggled for a moment, trying to
find the means, against all instinct, to honor mystery.
-Wayland Drew "The Erthring Cycle"
I did not find those means, but I found a way in.

I nearly slipped into a crevice when I stepped on a loose stone the juniper obscured from view but I managed to grab a nearby branch and work my way to the base of the trunk.

It is fitting that I thought of the quote from The Erthring Cycle as I entered the tree because much of the novel takes place on the island of Yggdrasil, named for the tree of life. From the inside the branches were amazingly complex. Starting only an inch or two from the bottom of the trunk they snaked along the ground and curved up and down in fantastic combinations. As I sat there quietly my fellow travelers noticed my absence and called out to me, wondering where I had gone. I remained silent for a moment, wrapped in the stories and the branches, sheltered by thoughts and boughs alike.

I broke my silence "I'm in the tree!"

My sister responded "Is it like a Wayward Pine?"

She was referring to a special tree where one could take shelter from the rain and the world which appears in one of my favorite book series' "The Sword of Truth." And, while not altogether what I envisioned a Wayward Pine to be, I could picture taking shelter under the branches for a night and staring upward through the needles at the night sky while wisps darted between the stones. I could imagine being part of a narrative as complex as this tree. This tree which defied all odds by growing and thriving in the middle of the chaos of the stones. A narrative stretching to the sky with a strong central trunk and each branch a pathway snaking out and spreading into the light, forking and twisting, splitting into smaller and smaller paths, ending in countless twigs and needles. I watched the needles shifting in the light breeze, each one tracing its story back through a twig, across a branch, down the trunk, and into the Earth.

I left the tree, I left Noah's Ballast, I left Swan's Island. I'm still telling my story.

The story of humanity continues to fork and grow. Seven billion souls shifting in the breeze on a small blue marble.
The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
"The Speed of Darkness" by Muriel Rukeyser‬

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Idea Economy

For my 99th post I'm going to stop with the dream journals and explain part of the reason I've been trying to revive my blog.

Fair warning: This post contains WAY too many metaphors and isn't to be taken too seriously.

I think of ideas as a commodity and a power source. Ideas are bought and sold, imported and exported, stolen and lost. They drive the engines of business, art, and community.

I'm no economist but I know that it is a good idea to export more than you import. If you don't, you will quite often fall into debt (current-world-events I'm looking at you). The same principle holds true for ideas.

Export your ideas, export them constantly, export them furiously, export them because if you don't, not only will you become mentally indebted to the ideas of others, you will become incapable of producing your own. Don't keep your ideas to yourself. That's like keeping a battery on the charger 24/7; It feels good to have full power and control but you can't really do anything with it till you take it off the charger and drain it.

Just because you're out draining your battery doesn't mean you'll run dry. Everyone around you is teeming with their own thoughts. Talk to people and use their ideas to power your own. Break down where you have dammed up your thoughts and let your ideas flow so others can power their own machinations of thoughts.

If you only buy into the ideas of others your mental factories will shut down and rust away, leaving you only the strip malls of popular thought that are selling the same stuff to everyone.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't buy into the ideas of others, quite the contrary. Just don't buy ideas that are seamless and finished. Instead buy the raw materials, the parts you need. Use the ideas of others to construct the most magnificent thoughts. Most of all just never let yourself become stagnant. It's awfully hard to start again if you've stopped, my blog being a good example of that.

So hopefully that all made sense and I didn't just wander off into endless confusing metaphors. But it's brain crack that I don't have to worry about now!
Keep your eye on the blog! Next Saturday I will publish my 100th post!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dream Journal #3

Now for a bit of dragon riding! Keep in mind this dream occurred immediately after the one in my previous post, so there are some holdovers. (Remember that "FZZZZ" indicates something I don't remember from the dream, and the estimated length of what I've forgotten)


I am looking from the perspective of a camera flying through a building. I think it's the building built on the ruins of the bank. There's a man picking up a cat and talking to someone. Two families are joining together to live here. Someone mentions that there's a plethora of cats in the building. The man pales; he doesn't like animals THAT much. It feels like the ending to a romantic comedy or something. The camera (which is me) zooms forward through several rooms as children and cats and other animals frolic by.

The camera stops by a large semi-circular window. I am now standing nearby with my mother, no longer from the perspective of the camera. We watch out the window to the same cove as in the previous half of the dream. A black dragon flounders in the mud. My mother is upset by the struggling dragon and suggests I go put it out of its misery. I say no, we should let nature take its course. The dragon gives a mighty heave and sinks deeper in the muck. I'm certain this is the end and start to turn away. My mother lets out a noise and I look back to see the dragon has freed his wings and is frantically flapping his way to deep water to clean the clinging mud. He makes it. I am happy for the dragon. Suddenly I lose sight of the dragon for a moment. I get the feeling something is wrong. I see a black shape approaching the window at high speed. I yell and throw my mother to the ground as a massive dragon's head crashes through the window. (Yeah, I'm kind of a badass in my dreams.)

Briefly I consider fighting, but then I suddenly know what I have to do. I run at the dragon and leap at it as it starts to turn. I land just behind its head as it rotates and takes off again. Both the dragon and I sense the approaching danger at the head of the cove. A MASSIVE red dragon-snake-like-thing shoots out of the deep water at the mouth of the cove. There is someone riding it. He is evil. He may be the one who killed me.

As I approach him at high speed I DAYDREAM IN MY DREAM (weird right) that I shoot a ball of fire at his face. I don't actually do this.

We exchange words (don't remember them), and then I know I have to beat him back to where he came from. His dragon-snake is so long it extends back to where he came from, so far away I can't see the end. I start to follow the tail. I get in front of him as he doubles back to catch me. He is right behind me. I follow the tail of the dragon-snake up a shaft running straight up. The red dragon shoots by me and I am stuck between the two halves of the red dragon snake as they slowly close together in the shaft. They continue to close together. Both me and my nemesis feel smug. I have a "proximity alert" type image in my head and so I know exactly when to step off the dragon through a metal door (feels almost like stepping of an escalator) and then I walk through the door.


That is all I can remember.

Keep checking in or consider following the blog because I'm almost to the 100th post!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dream Journal #2 - My Funeral

For my second dream, I would like to share with you the longest and most diverse of my dream journals. The placeholder "FZZZZZ" indicates that that part of the dream was lost or forgotten before I wrote it down. The length indicates how much I think is missing there.

I'm actually going to split this dream into two posts because it is so long and the two halves are almost completely unrelated. The first part is entitled "My Funeral" and the second is entitled "Dragon Riding" which you'll have to wait a while to read! Ha! That's sure to make my three readers come back!

My Funeral


In something like a bank maybe? Plastic chairs all around like the old ones in the Commons at Mechuwana. Layout of the room is unknown. I have been showing two potentially evil people (I didn't know they were evil until later) my casting photos for Margaret in The Hazards of Love on my laptop. For some reason it wasn't working. the wrong photos were coming up; they were just landscapes.

I don't know if that's what made these two angry or if it was someone or something else. But there's a brief period of FZZZZ and then I'm running from someone in this bank. I know they want to kill me. But if they can't find me they can't kill me. So I run and hide underneath and behind two stacks of chairs. Someone is sitting in one chair and I peer out from behind their legs at the now-chaotic crowd, hoping not to see my attacker. My laptop is on another chair above me. The person sitting in the chair is either already dead or entirely unconcerned with the chaos.

Flash of white.


I'm wandering around in a large spacious building which is filled with friends and relatives. The building is on an ocean cove (similar to Swan's Island).

I soon discover that this is my funeral (of a sort), as people are lamenting my death.

I shift in the dream and am standing on a flat field of layered ashes surrounded by stones. It is set into a hill and has an entrance that is still standing in the hill. I figure out that this was the bank; it seems the flash of light was an explosion. There are people moving around, working. Clearing debris and fixing up the border rock foundation. They are building something. I ask what, to nobody in particular. Patrick Raph replies that they are building a memorial to the dead. He wasn't replying to me, but to the air or someone else. I'm dead after all. It was weird.

(This next bit felt very separate from the rest of the dream) I think I wandered down the hill to some British girl and talked with her for a while. I cannot remember about what. I also tried to speak more with my friends and relatives until I realized for certain I was dead.

But I still have the feeling that I'm not dead. So I walk over to where I think the corner was where the chairs were that I'd hid under. I either drop through the ground or off the edge of a short cliff so that I'm looking at a cross section of ashes. I realize I must be alive in there somewhere. I start clawing at the soft ash more and more urgently. At one point I hear a faint noise. The ash in front of me starts to move more than what I'm clawing away. I touch a hand as it pokes out. I am now the one clawing out. A strong hand grabs mine and hauls me out of the ashes. People are astonished.

Some woman immediately grabs me and in a flurry of speed teleports me back to a spacious room. I am suddenly an infant in her arms.

People are amazed that I am alive. At some point I determine that my laptop may have been found by someone who may have grabbed it to preserve what they could, or to steal it and leave me to die. So I find my laptop.

But I'm still an infant. This half of the dream ends here. I couldn't help but notice that I was born again out of ashes in this dream. I might've spent the day following this dream thinking about phoenixes if it weren't for the rest of my dreaming that night. Stay tuned for my next post as I ride a dragon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

100th less 4 - Dream Journal #1

So I thought that today I would put up my 100th blog post. Turns out this is only my 96th blog post because the number I had been going by included 4 unpublished drafts of posts I'd never finished. Whoops.

These included my long-awaited "Why I can't stand Tarantino" rant, a post about why you shouldn't always be a consumer of ideas, but a producer of them, and two unfinished dream journal posts. I didn't realize that these drafts were contributing to the total post number till just now.

So, in order to reach that 100th post I will be giving you regular updates for a while! Woooo! And I'm not lying about it either. By the time this post is published I'll have three more written and automatically scheduled to go up.

As kind of a lead-up to my 100th post, these next three updates will be dream journal posts and the 99th will be the "consumer of ideas" draft fleshed out. The 100th post isn't about dreams specifically, but dreams are a part of it.

Read more after the break...

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Speed of Life

Facebook is all well and good for staying in touch with people and posting little blips about my life but I still really like the blogger platform for getting into detail about what's up. So here's whats up!

I've finished off my second year of college at NESCom. Completely weird being halfway done college. If life continues to accelerate at this rate I'll be 80 when I think I should be 34. I've always found it depressing that each summer will seem shorter and shorter because they occupy a smaller and smaller percentage of my total life. It's strange to think that as I age and the acceleration increases the pace of individual moments will slow in my old age. I don't know if those two factors will balance each other out or not. There's got to be some weird quantum psychological physics going on there. I know I shouldn't have any thoughts on this topic at all seeing as I'm only 20 years old and still getting started with this whole life business, but I visited my grandfather's graveyard twice within the past two days and it got me all thoughtful and philosophical.

I'm in Vermont right now with my grandmother for Memorial Day weekend. We go up to the graveyard at least once every time we are in the area. His grave sits in a small graveyard situated at the top of a little hill surrounded by trees. A break in the trees provides a view of Mount Mansfield, the rock around which my grandparents' lives revolved. My grandfather was a skier, and worked on the mountain for a time. He met my grandmother on the slopes.

I'd been to the graveyard many times before, but this time was different. The air was cool but not chilly and there was a stillness in the air. I'd never really looked around much when I came, just beelined to the grave and then soon left. Near the entrance, sitting between two rows of headstones, is a tree stump. I saw it and initially thought the stump should be removed, as it was in the way and disrupting the walk to my grandfather's grave. On closer inspection I saw the stump was quite old and was slowly decomposing into dirt. Small flowers and plants covered the stump and were growing strong from the nourishment. It's not an original observation but the slow death of that stump was the perfect compliment to the slow decay of the graveyard itself. When the tree was still alive it likely provided shade to those visiting the graveyard. The tree didn't think about the speed of life; it grew each spring and stopped each fall. Every year was just about the same. As it stood there people accelerated into the graves around it till finally someone decided to cut it down lest it topple and disrupt the flow of humanity into the ground.

As I entered the graveyard this time and looked around, I saw the usual myriad of headstones in their many styles, shapes, and stages of decay. From uneven rock markers worn by wind and rain to the point where any inscription that may have existed is long gone to the dark, gleaming marble monoliths which ignore the forces of nature altogether. Some stones lay flat, keeled over either by a heartless kick or their crumbling bases, obscuring the names and dates beneath 300 pounds of rock. One stone I saw was criss-crossed with seams of moss in so many directions I was unsure how it had not split apart and crumbled like so many others.  I saw a small, simple stone in memorial to a woman who "passed away in her 90th year of age" while nearby a large slab paid tribute to a girl of only two. Their lives were lived at exponentially different speeds but both came to a final stop on that same little hill.

I wandered amidst the stones for a while as my grandmother sat on the engraved bench monument placed there for her and her husband. I stood in the middle of the graveyard and imagined the dead laid out in neat rows, six feet down, resting lightly beneath their thousand pound nametags.

As I stood there I recalled my grandmother's new favorite saying: "I'm headed from slow to stop," a phrase she says her mother used frequently in her later years. My grandmother has had diabetes for over 60 years, and while she must constantly deal with the complications and hurdles presented by type I diabetes, she continues to live vivaciously. I thought about the speed of life, how it both hurtles along faster and faster and comes to a stop from a slow and steady pace. I don't think there's any metaphor I could use to accurately mirror the way life works and I don't think at age 20 I should even try. I do think that my grandmother's life is headed from fast to stop, and knowing her, on this particular road she'll have half the police force after her and be five counties away before she has to pay her speeding ticket.