Category Archives: Random

The Case of the Missing Roommate

Moving to college in only a few days, my future is a mystery, but right now, the biggest mystery: who will my roommate be?

When names were released by the college, I sat in a large room the morning of orientation with forty other future Cougars from the College of Charleston. They announced that room assignments had been posted, and quick as The Flash, thirty nine students whipped out IPhones to check their status, high-fiving each other for being on the same floor, comparing Facebook profile pictures of their roommates. Hour later, once I retrieved my laptop, I checked up on my roommate’s status.

Would he be a juggling circus performer? Maybe a foreign student who spoke six different languages? Maybe someone with the same literary lilt as myself?

No. All I got was “Name Undisclosed.” Which means that my future roommate did not wish to share his contact information. Which meant I will not meet him until Move-In Day, this Friday. Now, if my roommate reads this, Hello. Welcome to my blog! Even though your identity is anonymous, you will be semi-famous now, at least as famous as you can get on the Internet.

I ain’t any Sherlock, Dupin, or Marlow, but it appeared that I had a mystery on my hands. So I grabbed my dog Scooby, jumped into the Mystery Van, and… Well, really, I took to the internet.

And all of my detective skills I picked up from reading countless Batman comics proved null, so I shall just have to wait and see.

But there is something oddly romantic about the unknown, the mysterious. Surely who my roommate is will not prove as startling as the fact that the Butler killed his mistress, only really it was her nephew wearing a prosthetic Butler mask! No, I won’t act like Nancy Drew traipsing around in a plaid dress to discover the truth. The mystery remains… until this Friday.

If we’re being honest, isn’t that the entire point of life? Mystery. I was primed months ago to speak and meet this person with whom I’ll be spending about nine months of my life with. Maybe he’s a convict or a movie star’s son. A relative so some great political world leader? This mystery man is just one of the cruxes we face moving on.

We are, after all, entering college. And despite what our siblings and older friends tell us, college will never pan out exactly like we think it will. Which is good because sometimes I wonder if I will be kicked out first semester. My entire lifestyle will likely change, being just another mystery to pursue.

So just as we are eager to know what happens in the next episode of our favorite dramas, we look forward to the next episodes of our lives, always lingering on those cliff-hung “To be continued’s….”

On the Subject of Cats and Poets

I have heard poets tend to like cats as if for a wordsmith, keeping a feline companion has become a glaring cliche.

I read this perplexing article, which prompted me to respond.

I do not particularly like cats, despite the fact one has made a home out of my room. It is not so much that I own the cat, but rather, we co-inhabit the same area, a fact she too is not at all fond of. She forces her way in each night and perches on the windowsill, unblinkingly watching me sleep. Whenever I wake up in the dead of night, she stares at me intently as if daring me to close my eyes again, to let my guard down. Most nights, I suspect she is plotting her revenge for times when I have locked her outside in a rain storm. I try to exclude her, to leave her in some other, empty room, but she has claimed my bed as hers, my desk as hers, my clothes as her personal, extra-comfy throne.

However “cat people” came into being is still a mystery to me. I understand why someone might love a dog, who shows owners endless, unwarranted affection. Cats, however, disdain their owners. They are lazy and as tedious as taxes. They live to spite your efforts with a critical, demon eye. There can’t be much dignity in owning a pet who, in her eyes, owns you.

But there has been talk from Petrarch to modern day spinners that poets prefer the company of cats, as if we share their prickly self-obsession, their self-preening, egotistical ways. They do not demand respect either, but they expect it. I would certainly not allow Blake’s Tyger to lounge in my windowsill nor would I tolerate any of Poe’s black cats worming their way across my path. If one crossed the road, I would speed up to kill it before its bad luck infected me. And if I were Alice, utterly loss in the fantastical dreamland of my own adolescence, I would never act so kindly to the Cheshire Cat who seems to take great delight in confusion and disappearance.

Cats are not muses, cannot properly inspire anything but mutual distrust, especially when they swat your feet with sharp claws or when you kick them sharply in the gut. So I simply do not see why writing and cats should mix. I do not keep company with Crookshanks or Fritz or even Garfield. Jerry the Mouse might as well drop anvils on all their heads as well.

There is not much left to say on the subject, and I’m quite unsure why I brought it up in the first place. There is a common phrase, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” And if you don’t know why someone would want to skin a cat, you obviously have never owned one.

PURE. EVIL.

 

Guest Blog: Tolerance (Or Lack of) On Social Media (Part 1)

{The following post was authored by Aiken High School’s valedictorian and my good friend Will Victor. He will attending Duke University next year to study Math and Computer Science. He is a juggling enthusiast, teenage philosopher, and all-around good guy. This post reflects his views on several recent topics, but mostly of the recent backlash of the topics.}

When I sign on to my Facebook, I feel as if I have stepped in to a time machine. The room rumbles, and the walls crumble. My computer disappears, and I am standing in a place I wish I would never be—“no man’s land.” Yes, I’m standing in that horrible land of barbed wire and detonated mines situated directly between the trenches of opposing armies in the onslaught of the great World Wars of the Twentieth century.

Above me fly missiles of menacing memes, and to my left fiery flowcharts flash facts as if to say, “Back-off! I’m right—you’re wrong!” I begin to ask myself, “Why am I here? All I wanted was a bit of compromise…”

I feel that this has become the territory of the modern moderate. While the left and the right retreat farther into their respective war trenches, secretly developing new weapons of cyber assertion (such as memes, flowcharts, and videos), the middle of the road becomes ever more a place of “no man’s land.”

The territory of compromise and peaceful discourse that is located exactly halfway between the right and the left has turned into a burning, exploding warzone filled with barbed-wire extremism.

Over the past six months, my Facebook mini-feed has changed drastically. What used to be stories of my friends’ families home for Christmas has been replaced by bands of liberals berating Chick-fil-a for its stance on gay marriage, and conversely, millions of requests from conservatives pestering me to “go to Chick-fil-a on August 1st to support a godly business.”

Indeed, I feel that almost every post on my Facebook has to do with someone arguing that he or she is right, and that the other group of people is certifiably insane for thinking otherwise. If one is opposed to gay marriage, then he or she is a bigotrous homophobe, and if one supports gay marriage, then he or she is a moral relativist heathen.

The thing that I find interesting in the whole situation is that no one uses facebook to actually change their views on an issue. No one compromises. No one humbles themselves. In fact, I would argue that on the overwhelming whole, the information that is shared through social media is so biased that most of it just polarizes people even further. The trenches keep getting deeper, the left moves farther left, the right farther right, and the abyss which separates the two gets so clouded with smoke from exploded word bombs that those of us who are left in the middle can’t see far enough to decide which side is winning.

{For part 2, tune in tomorrow and in the mean time, share your thoughts below.}

Sample: Anti-Chik-fil-A ad

 

 

Dog Days of South Carolina

For those who not live here in South Carolina or in the South, we experience a lot of heat in the summer. So hot a cannibal needs not to cook you when he approaches you on the street, since all of your organs have been fried, your meat browned to perfection. So hot you cannot use body spray lest you become combustive outside. So hot– well, you get the idea.

When the heat index spikes well over a hundred degrees for several days in a row, we finally feel summer arrive. Before, we enjoyed the cool upper nineties, a brief respite of solid heat for those of us like me who do not have air conditioning in our cars. On such days when I don’t go to work, we try to avoid driving. With the windows down, the wind blasting me. Every stop light is a fresh Hell to suffer through, the heat a pressing claw on your neck, drawing sweat like blood from your body.

It is not so much that there is high humidity but instead a wall of heat that passes through the atmosphere. An army of heatwave-fisted boxers punching you in the jaw again and again.

What we do on these days, we try to stay at home. Turn on fans to sit in front of with a book. We drink water, or at least in the South, sweet tea which is considered more nutritionally valuable by merit of having magical Southern powers. Yesterday, a Saturday, the movie theatres were so packed out, lines formed well onto the street, around the block. Inside waited cool salvation for the masses who are willing to shell out twelve dollars for the air conditioning– and some Pixar movie or a film about a potty-mouthed stuffed bear.

I made the mistake of going swimming at noon on Friday and suffered for it, dipping my body into a body of water that the sun had already rose to boiling temperatures. It’s so hot, Facebook friends from Maine or California complain, the temperatures there rising into the eighties. And here, the sun is a cruel fixation of summer, the indelible monument of the South, forever hovering above our heads. Wielding life and death, light and darkness, heat and exhaustion and cloudless sky.

Heat is a Southern tradition we cannot escape any more than slavery or the tendency to stretch our vowels. During deer hunting season, first time hunters smear their faces with blood; in the summer, the sun replaces blood with sweat and drenches not just our faces but our bodies. The discomfort of sweat is something you get used to, though. Even the rivulets of liquid sloshing in your armpits, perpetually streaming down our back, glistening on your chest. Sweat becomes a new skin that leaves us sticky, wet, and rancid.

It has not rained for more than three weeks, despite a tropical storm blowing near our coasts. The storms shuffled around our city, flooding Florida, sprinkling Georgia. But here, the land is dryer than Gizmo the Gremlin before he belonged to an irresponsible teenager. And each day, he hope for a downpour. Something so torrential, the pine limbs snap. Something so powerful, the buildings shake in the wind. Even if we fail to venture into the storm, we pray for the end of the heat.

Already it is hot, and it must only get hotter.

Tuesday Musing: Sprite Vanilla Review

Upon a recent visit to Firehouse Subs (at which this was my third time eating, and my third time enjoying the food), I found that they had outfitted their restaurant with one of those cool, new soda machines that spurts out hundreds of different soda. From every Fanta imaginable to every Coke ever sold, you can drink it from this machine. When I began to fill up my drink (either Dr. Pepper or Root Bear), I decided instead to venture beyond my taste bud safety boundaries.

Under the Sprite category, this enigmatic machine offers the original Sprite as well as its diet counterpart, but includes other previously unknown-to-me flavors such as cherry, strawberry, grape, peach, raspberry, orange, and VANILLA. I am very fond of Vanilla Coke so I tried Sprite Vanilla.

It tasted like straight-up vanilla extract mixed with cough syrup. The sort of taste you expect to be reminiscent of Polyjuice Potion or the like. Maybe a draught to put you into a deep slumber for years so you can enter the Matrix? I don’t know.

Do I suggest trying it?

Nope.

Tuesday Musings: Paint Splatters

Watching paint dry is perfectly alright as long as you’re getting paid for it.

While at work, I painted a wall. I painted hard, digging into the crevices between the bricks, painting over cobwebs and the flecks of paint peeling from the last rushed paint job. I worked like it was my job, and it was my job to work. I forgot it was Tuesday, musing Monday. The paint splattered onto my clothes, and my fingers were sheathed in thin layers of black and green.

When I washed my hands, I rubbed my palms raw, stretching back the paint latex like it had been the Venom/Spiderman suit that wraps itself around someone’s body. Then I spent an hour scraping black paint from underneath my clipped fingernails.

I painted the stairs leading down to the wall as well. Unfortunately, some black paint splashed on the green stairs and some green paint smeared on the black walls, like both were trading spit while making out. Not that paint could actually be personified in such a way, since paint does not have lips. Unless it’s a painting of a person. Unless that person is Mona Lisa, who has thin lips and also no eyebrows or eyelashes, for dubious reasons.

As I drove home from work, however, the sky began to slobber raindrops. But the tinkling became a full-stream just-ate-asparagus urination. Accompanied by that thunder that shakes your house. Maybe there is a large child, sky-scraper-sized, dissembling the city he’s built out of Lincoln Logs, that city you happen to live in.

And as I realize the rain will probably ruin if not completely wash away the paint on the steps, I realize I’ve run out of metaphors. Like the lemons that life gives you that supposedly you’re supposed to make into lemonade. Though before hearing this cliché, we perhaps never realized that’s what lemonade was made of, actual lemons—in which case, it tastes foreign. I personally prefer my lemonade conjured from a magical yellow powder and a pitcher of water.

With lemons, however, it is very much impossible to paint anything. I would have no use for lemons.

(More daily musings coming soon, for days I don’t feel like expressing anything of worth, but instead want to talk about painting, making out, and lemons (life’s most sacred things). they will not be daily nor will they be your muse. Unless you don’t want them to and would prefer they flop as bad as John Carter did.)

Tuesday Musings: Pasta For Lunch

When I cook pasta

I always seem to throw the box away

Before I start cooking.

So I’m standing with a pot of boiling water, milk, and butter

But absolutely no instructions.

To stand in such a metaphorical lava pit,

that makes me long for better metaphors as

lava is too often used to describe red-hot situations.

Then maybe I can metaphorizize pasta as a nuclear bomb

needing to be disarmed in some B action movie

that I began watching on Hulu the other day but never finished.

So, here I face nuclear pasta,

possibly the most volatile of all pastas.

Just like in life, however,

I must do my best, pour in the ingredients, hoping for something edible,

Stirring occasionally.

Doubt Ninjas: How to Defeat Them

They may attack in the middle of the night, while you’re asleep. Their cloth-clad hands will shake you from slumber and bring you headfirst into a molten lava pool of self-doubt. From your lovely dreamland, they will wrench you, and at midnight, hold very awesome-looking swords to your throat, whispering, “You’re no good. You’re worthless. You can’t even spell correctly!”

Being attacked is inevitable– the scary part is the wait, knowing they will come, knowing knowing knowing that once you let your guard down- AH! They ATTACK! HIYAH!

You’re in the middle of the SAT when you look up to see them surrounding you, arms crossed in Ninja coolness as if to say “I’m a Ninja, so I’m so off-putting, it’s scary. Also, you suck!”

Despite how cool they look or act, you don’t want to spend a lot of time around these guys or else they will black-belt-beat you into submission until you’re a sobbing, self-loathing person who cannot function. Defeat the Doubt Ninjas by partaking in the study of self-doubt defense!

Step Number 1:

Remember that you’re pretty much an awesome person. So if Doubt Ninjas say otherwise, punch those Ninjas in the throat.

Step Number 2:

Assert your awesomeness so that you claiming awesomeness doesn’t seem pretentious. Go save a baby, and we’ll throw a parade. Or rather, save all the babies, and we’ll have parades for a year straight. Or just do something great, like helping someone out. Then you can say, I made a difference today. Take that, Doubt Ninjas!

Step Number 3:

Vanquish the Doubt Ninjas. Hire a lawyer and sign a restraining order against those jerks. On the basis of emotional bullying. Then remember that they cannot harm you anymore and the only one to tell you that you can’t do something is you, and let’s face it, the ninjas say you’re usually wrong. Which means of course you can do it.

Go forth, Be a Pokemon Master (or any other variation of such a dream), without the nagging of those sneaky a-holes we politely call the Doubt Ninjas.

Amateur Sketch of the Perpetrators

Life on Earth-616: I’m No Superman… Oh Wait, Yes I Am!

Life on Earth-616 is a relatively new series for the Word Salad blog by Derek Berry, inspired by Roy Seeger’s poetry. In these blogs, Derek considers life as a superhero. Earth-616 is a reference to the version of Earth that exists in the Marvel Universe. Though Superman is not part of the Marvel canon nor is he as obscure as the comic book characters Roy writes about, here is a little perspective on his life.

Being superman may seem easy, but it’s not. I’m sure Superman has plenty of his own problems just like a normal human though of course he’s anything but “a normal human.”

For one thing, he’s basically invincible. He can also toss automobiles around like paper airplanes. Bullets ricochet off of his chest. This man is faster than a speeding train. Not just a normal train, but a speeding train. Sure, he’s also an alien whose real parents and entire species died, but how boring would that life be? To live on a world where everyone was insanely powerful and everyone could X-ray through everyone else’s clothes. Worse privacy issues than Facebook. Sure, he’s got a sob story, but really it just placed him in a world where he is the most powerful thing ever.

He is even faster than The Flash, which is sad, considering that The Flash’s only super power is to be the fastest at everything, yet even Superman excels at that.

Let’s be real. Superman has a pretty easy time on Earth, despite the onslaught of attempted evil takeovers by villains. Those are just his weekend workouts between week days writing for the Daily Planet. I suppose the only tragic thing about his life is his low-paying job as a journalist, not that he needs to even eat real human food to survive. There’s only one thing to kill him. One: kryptonite.

What? Lex Luthor has a master plan to FINALLY defeat Superman? Does it have anything to do with kryptonite? BINGO! So if Superman just destroys all of that single mineral, he would be invincible, right? That’s not even close to fair. He can survive in space, and to top it off, he doesn’t ever get recognized. Clark Kent doesn’t even bother to wear a mask, just glasses. Know why?

Superman is awesome. Everyone thinks so.

Sure, he’s the most cliche superhero ever to live with far too many powers to take seriously, but if he were a real superhero, how great would that be? He’s nigh unstoppable. So what if people recognize him? He may lose his personal life but gains fame, riches, and the eternal love of Lois Lane. Pretty great trade in for a cape, spandex, and red underwear.

So, perhaps that is Superman’s one flaw: perfection. He must live up to this amazing image of a man who cannot make mistakes, who cannot defeated, and who cannot succumb to evil. He is everything good about America and humanity. What man could possibly live up to those standards? Perhaps it is not so easy being Superman. Who else would have such integrity, to be unstoppable, have the ability to turn back time by flying around the world really fast, and be incredibly be handsome yet not want to take over the world?

Besides, because he wears his costume under his normal clothes, that cape must get pretty bunched up.

What do you think about Superman? Can we as a society even learn anything from his character or will he serve merely as “the perfect superhero?” Perhaps we will get our answer when Man of Steel is released in 2013, a fresh take on the Superman origin which will hopefully not commit the same boring atrocities as the rest of Superman film adaptations.

I Will Write a Title Tomorrow

Normally, I might start off a post apologizing for not posting in a while as if my blog posts fuel the universe. As if the words are hooked up to someone’s life support system and if I don’t blog every day, that person might die. Unfortunately, I don’t hold such power in this world. When and how often I post matters only to me to bolster my self-confidence whenever I check the Stats page, to which I am unhealthily addicted.  (Instead of Facebook or e-mail, it’s the first thing I check upon arriving home. I even have an app to check it on my Nook.) But I see no need to apologize for not posting. Laziness is merely a natural part of life and perhaps I am busy. With… well, work and school and learning things about the world I never knew before.

I spent the weekend in Charleston, touring the college there and learning much. But I can’t blame my lack of posts on merely being away. No, I have also been reading. As if reading so voraciously is a bad thing which I don’t think it is. In the meantime, I’m still getting excited about Game of Thrones and have seen The Hunger Games, but no, I probably won’t write a review. Everything to be said about it has been said. I thought it was great, but if I were to review the movie, it would only be to raise that magic number of views on my Stats page. Worst than opium, that Stats page. Addictive as a snakebite.

In a perfect world, I would like to say I have spent a lot of time not blogging because I choose to do “real work” on my novel. Or writing short stories. That fantasy dies quickly when I really consider how much I’ve truly written in the past week. So what? I’ve been reading and playing Angry Birds Space, which I will also not review though it is a lot of fun, but will include as a tag in this post to raise view counts and subsequently… well, you know where this is going.

The truth is, I enjoy procrastination. Nothing gets my heart beating quite like sitting to waste time, doing nothing. Such fervid inactivity makes my blow flow faster, I swear. Perhaps not doing things is what we were meant to do. Perhaps God meant for our species to laze about, sleeping, waking only to use the restaurant, eat fruit, drink, and procreate. Oh, Garden of Eden, how I miss your sweet benefits. I would also if within the garden, we might have been kin with the animals. We could ride on the backs of tigers and lions in between naps.

But of course, such paradise of doing nothing exists only in death. Unless I was a koala in my past life (highly possible), I am not dead. And so, “doing so” demands to be done no matter how much my own will wills me to do naught. Interesting thoughts, yes? So, what compels me to post an entire blog post about not posting? Am I blowing your mind, breaking the convention of the “I haven’t written a blog post in a while” post? Will I promise to stay ever-vigilent in continuing to post blog posts? No.

Perhaps one day I will quit. Perhaps I will change blog names and never tell you. You will be lost to me, forever, dear readers. But whoever deludes himself or herself into the belief that those readers NEED to blogger, they are so mistaken they might as well go back to the third grade. Blogging is nice and fun and connects you with people. In fact, blogging is far less pretentious than I imagined it might be. It allows us not just to communicate ourselves but our ideas. To circulate ideas about life which invigorate conversation and notions that might change minds.

It can be self-indulgent at times, like whenever I toast myself for scoring a week of days when the view count is consistently over 200. Or when I comment back and forth to every person who comments to ensure the blog post will read that many, many people have commented on it despite the fact that more than half of those comments came from me. Blogging can indeed be for those who love themselves as I do, but it can also help us learn things in a personal way. No one depends on you posting blogs, but that doesn’t mean to stop posting! What if you end up changing someone’s ideas?

That would certainly be interesting? Why now? Why have I now decided to post a blog to translate an idea which may or may not mean anything? We can only postulate. But the pen calls to me, so write again I shall and write much I shall. Rambling is merely the product of having too much to say, which perhaps is better than not having anything to say out of which procrastination is born. So when I stop thinking, I will stop writing and in extension, stop blogging. Not that this particular event will happen any time soon. We should wait to see, though, shan’t we?

So keep blogging. Take as many breaks as you need. Post as sporadically as you need. Write no matter whether someone is reading what you write. Of course it’s not necessary, but it gives a relief to the brain and if looked at through a queasily spiritual lens, the soul. This is not to say, keep writing or reading. Only to say, don’t stop.

If none of this makes sense, remember it’s only Word Salad. It’s life. It’s not supposed to make sense.