“The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February.” -Joseph Wood Krutch

I would like to ban Februaries.

Let me explain: February pretty much just stinks, and I, for one, think we should just kind of stop doing it altogether. If all of us joined together and put our foot down and said “no more February!”, it would be better for everyone.

That wasn’t enough explanation? Okay, how about this: For pretty much my entire life, February has been the most depressing, slow-moving, desperately soul-crushing month of every year. I don’t know about you, but by February 5, I am pretty much ready for March. By February 14th, also known as St. Valentine’s Day*, I just want February to be over, and I don’t care if anything actually comes after. By the 20th we could do January again, just please god can we be done with this February thing. And so it is my feeling that February should be banned.

I understand, of course, that February is part of our calendar system, and that we can’t just ban a month because otherwise we have a rather significant gap of time that we have no name for, which we can’t do because it would be rather embarrassing and the other calendar systems might laugh. Kind of like the time you** had a mustard stain on a shirt, which you know everyone noticed.

So if we can’t actually ban February, we should at least stop pretending it’s a normal thing like every other time of the year. It’s not. February is long and cold, and just quite sad really. And there’s a really good reason for these feelings. Let me explain:

When the cold weather hits, everyone is excited to bring out their heavy coats and scarves and gloves***, and to watch the leaves die such horrible deaths that their corpses experience discoloration. After this comes snow, which is like wedding cake: pretty the first day and then afterwards just kind of nostalgic.

The weather we cannot control, but what we do wrong at this point is smash all of our holidays into November and December. After all the happiness and comfort we are faced with at least two more months of winter. In January we try half-heartedly to change our lifestyles, but it’s pretty futile with the amount of time we end up spending indoors. By the time February arrives, we haven’t seen the sun in literally months.

I know we try to carry on and pretend like everything is okay, but really everyone is sad and tired and would just like to go back to bed. So I propose we do just that. If we can’t get rid of February, we should at least make it optional.
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*= Which part of the population spends celebrating romance, and the majority spends wanting to decapitate and/or set someone on fire, which is actually much more in line with the spirit of the holiday’s origin.

**= Still not you.

***= If you don’t understand this, don’t bother drawing attention to it. You live much closer to the equator and all the other readers hate you.

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“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” ― Terry Pratchett

I live with cats. This information generally surprises no one, except occasionally me, perhaps because I thought I was more of a dog person. I must give off a cat-ish aura, or something. It has gotten to the point where things like this happen:

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Pictured above: General grumpiness.

You might have noticed I said I ‘live with’ cats. I did not say I ‘own’ cats or even that I ‘have’ cats, because if you know anything about cats then you know the idea of ownership is questionable at best. In fact, you might not want to add ownership into the situation, just in case it might turn out that they actually own you*. If you do not understand this, you are either not a cat person or you do not have internet access**.

And so, because I know the internet loves this sort of thing, here are the cats:

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Don’t worry, I’m not here to talk about them. Honestly, the last thing I want to do is gush. They’re not precious babies- they’re obnoxious. They drive us crazy and destroy anything they can. They terrorize me, my parents***, and each other. And yes, we love them very much.

Our cats have earned the nickname The Herd, because every time we see all three of them together we are confused as to how we have amassed so many. The name got me thinking, obviously a herd of cats is a misnomer, as everyone knows how difficult said herding would be. So what was the proper term? Now, if you know your collective animal nouns, you might know that a group of cats is actually commonly known as a clowder. What you might not know is there are a whole host of variations upon this term, among which are two excellent, and almost absurdly appropriate, examples: A destruction (used for wild cats), and a nuisance (for house cats).

So again, our nuisance:

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*= Which happens more frequently than you might think.

**= Which confuses me since you’re reading my blog.

***= That’s right! I’m not a sad man who lives alone with three cats, I’m a sad man who lives with three cats and his parents!

The Comedy of Errors

English is incredibly confusing. There are two too many similar sounding words to make sense of anything. You can write down the right rights, which you had had previously. You can produce produce, object to the object, subject a subject, refuse refuse, and present a present in the present. And one of my other favorite causes for confusion: Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. For at least four more, just search “English language is confusing” on Google, and I am pretty sure no one will disagree. In fact, here are a few of my go-to quotes about the English language:

“If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.” –Doug Larson (on fuzzy punctuation use.)

“If a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.” –G. K. Chesterton (on why grandmothers might have deserved it.)

“ ‘I am’ is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that ‘I do’ is the longest sentence?” –George Carlin (probably not even during a performance, just being grumpy.)
 
I love these quotes because I was an English major and, aside from crippling debt and a healthy dose of cynicism, wordplay is all you’re allowed to have afterward. But imagine yourself as a non-native speaker, and trying to understand all of the differences there. And what’s above is only the tip of the iceberg.
 
English, with all of its quirks, is very close to my heart. However, growing up as a native speaker of one of the harder languages to learn in the western world has given me an inherent advantage. Along those lines, I’ll leave you with my new favorite quote:
 
“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.” -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

As You Like It

I feel like everyone forgets that College is hard.

By this point almost all of my friends are either freshly out of college or in their last year. Unsurprisingly, the ones who are still students are clamoring to get out. They are revving their engines at the starting line of the race of life. In turn, me and my recently-graduated friends have mostly passed over the “I’m looking for a job” turnpike, though many were held up and confused when using the “There are clearly no jobs on this planet” roundabout, and perhaps a quick break at the “Why did I bother getting a degree if everyone wants 3 years of experience” rest stop. So as you can imagine there are a few differences in perspective, though I’m pretty sure we’re all headed to the same scrap-yard.

“But Samwise,” You* say, “college wasn’t really hard. Really hard is waking up every day to go to your job. In college you can skip class**, and stay up late for parties and stuff. Also your metaphors are trite***.” While this is (mostly) true, it is also true that you are always working. Being a college student means using a large chunk of your free time for homework and papers and studying. When you work in the ‘real’ world you can leave your job when you come home. Don’t get me wrong, you definitely will take classes that do not require that level of work. Let me be honest though: If you never took a class that felt like a part-time (if not full-time) job, you were doing it wrong.

Like many people, I would still like to go back to College. But I’m talking about the fictional college that we all reference, where 20+ page papers were a myth and weekend-exams were just nightmares.

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*= Not really you.

**= I’m not advocating skipping class, but I’m not saying it’s uncommon. If you’re still in college make yourself this deal: Don’t skip class, but make sure you don’t have Friday classes either. Totally worth it.

***= Okay, that definitely wasn’t you, unless you were one of my English major friends.

“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.” – Terry Pratchett

Note: It may be exciting to learn that this is one of the last posts that I wrote in a creative flurry a week or so ago when I decided to follow through and make a blog. Ergo, hopefully this is one of the last of a batch of quick ideas that I barely edited. Please enjoy the mess that follows:

So, I’m a big bag of weird, and therefore I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that I am happier now that I have realized that I am generally not the happiest person. If you’ve read other things I’ve written, you know I spent a while trying to do things the “right” way. I genuinely did enjoy being everyone’s friend, being a team player, and creating a certain image for myself. What I was setting myself up for, however, was a lot of time where spent more time and effort trying to be happy than I was actually happy. Now, if you’ve ever spent more time trying to do something than enjoying doing it, you understand it has to be worth all of that effort. For instance, if your goal is climbing a freaking mountain, it will be worth all the planning and packing when you reach the summit. When your goal is a state of mind, however, it’s not so cut-and-dry.

I’m not saying that I actually happier now. I probably spend about as much time being actually happy now as I did a few years ago. The difference lies in that I am not trying to be happy all of the time. I am not the happiest person I know, and I doubt I ever will be. But my life is a lot better now, for multiple reasons, but one of those reasons is that I learned it’s okay to not be happy. You can’t do one thing all of the time, so like eating pizza: enjoy it when you can.*

What I am saying is that you will be happier when you stop trying to be happy all of the time. Be angry. Be sad. Be confused, aroused, or even be multiple things at once. But for your own sake, don’t you ever think there’s a right or a wrong way to feel.

*= I lied. You can always have pizza. don’t let anyone tell you different.

All We Know

All We Know

I promised you some music, and this seems like a good way to break up the monotony of text posts. So here’s a recent project I was involved in, but not the most recent. The group is called Literati and is comprised of me and a few friends, including Devin, Will and Andy. Devin does the vocals (all of them) and wrote all the lyrics. Will is on guitar, I am on bass guitar, and Andy did the drums for this track. Andy also worked his butt off making us sound good. I hope you like this song and the rest that we have on Soundcloud.

Click on the title to hear the music.

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” ― Terry Pratchett, Diggers

If there’s anything the people of the Internet have been in love with for the past year, it’s lists. We have lists for everything. I don’t know how much more I need to say about the lists really, because there’s already probably a list of things about the lists themselves. You could list the lists into hit and miss, but this miss list would probably be a hit, but I digress. I don’t really have a problem with lists, they are a great format for the internet because they require neither the attention nor the time that an article demands, but also give details you cannot find with a meme. However, I didn’t want to write about lists. What I want to think about is how this fascination with lists is a symptom of a larger concern: My generation has no clue what it is doing.

Some people my age will disagree with me on this point, but I find that people in general tend to be disagreeable and the ability to state any opinion that one might have, anonymously and on a forum with the potential to spread said opinion to literally everyone with internet access across the entire globe and potentially into space, has done nothing to decrease the modern person’s tendency to be as much of a wanker as possible. Interaction on the internet isn’t always destructive: Many people find solace among other people who prefer to interact through electronic means, and other simply make friends in far-away places, using the internet to contact them as directly as possible. It is depressingly easy, however, to find people who spend way too much time altogether to express offensive and/or derogatory opinions anonymously, in what I can only assume is a desperate attempt to fit in, stand out, be noticed, or lash out for some unspecified wrong, whether real or perceived, most likely at other people who express themselves with several ideas at a time and make pretentiously long, run-on sentences, i.e. assholes.

The larger concern is that young adults are about as focused as this article has been up to this point. Myself and my peers have a general idea of what we maybe want to do, and not much more. We like collections of enumerated pieces of advice, which we can momentarily consider and then either approve of or discard. When we graduated High School and College we found that although we held up our end of the bargain by going through school, getting reasonable or good grades, and doing as we were told, the world did not unfold for us. There are not secret doors that magically appear when you enter the “real world.” There was no job waiting for us, and when we asked about said career, our queries were met with scorn and derision, “You’re not just going to get it handed to you,” and “You’re so spoiled, you don’t know what work is really like.” We’re overqualified for every entry-level position and don’t have enough work experience for the jobs that require a degree. There’s no path to follow anymore, and we’re learning every day that we will have to forge our own. There’s no surprise that we find solace in superficial articles made up of simplified lists; They’re familiar because that’s all we were ever given.

We are not the generation that fought against the closest thing to actual Evil in recent history. We are not the generation that sparked and fanned the flames of social change, that broke up the nuclear family, that created the internet. We were handed these wonderful things alongside the rest; Wars on ideas that cannot be won, an inborn conscience toward the acts of atrocity that previous generations committed. We were told we would have a voice, that we would have a world at our fingertips. We were told we would have to make our own way from here. Both were true, neither was a lie. We put our fingers to the keyboard, and we go off the grid. We were handed contradictions, and we contain multitudes.

Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?

I think a lot. You might have guessed this, because A.) I have a blog, with which I record thoughts that I think were worth thinking, B.) I have made promises to be fairly prolific in my thought sharing, C.) you already know me, or D.) because you already know me, you know I’m a huge nerd who has trouble shutting up. And because I know my friends too, if upon reading option A you were surprised to learn that what you are currently reading is my blog, I need you to turn off your computer and go to sleep. You’ve been on the internet too long.

I tend to do a lot of thinking in my car, not only because I spend a fair amount of time in the car due to the fact my current job is located halfway across the city, but also because letting my mind wander is preferable to the other game I play while stuck in traffic: Staring sullenly at the car in front of me and wondering if they are 1.) asleep, 2.) actually dead, or 3.) A giant wad who is doing this on purpose because the angry nerd behind them is fun to watch, and therefore actually deserves my enmity. I let my mind wander so that I spend more time distracted and less time swearing at innocent people.

I promise I will get to the point, though I do feel that I need to point out you’re in the wrong place for concise, well-written and well-organized stories. Regardless, I feel like sharing one of my recent traffic-induced musings would be a fun, lighthearted way to launch my blog. So here’s a thought I had  instead of envisioning a Ford Focus being consumed by molten lava:

On the way to work today, after swearing at a car whose make and model I will not mention (and whose only fault was changing lanes in front of me), I called myself an asshole. Out loud. I don’t know if other people do this, but for me a good spasm of rage isn’t complete unless I add a little bit of self-loathing. Anyway, a little voice immediately comforted me: No you’re not, you’re a good guy. I almost didn’t even register it, I’m so accustomed to my little voice. You see, that’s not my conscience. My conscience would speak in capital letters. No, that’s what I call my anti-conscience, my little voice, telling me what I did is okay. Most people have a little voice that says “yeah, do it, it won’t hurt anybody,” when they’re about to do something they know is a bad idea. I have that too, but it goes even further and tells me I’m a good person when I feel bad about minor stuff. In other words, the little devil on my shoulder actually feels the need to comfort me when I’m feeling bad.

But that’s old news, I’m used to that for the most part. It may say something about my psyche, but I’m used to it. What it made me do was something I hadn’t done before: I examined all those things my little voice had told me were okay, and figured out whether or not I was lying to myself. Unsurprisingly, I was.

They’re not big things. I didn’t murder anyone,  or steal anything valuable. But there were a series of little things I had done throughout my life so far. So I had to realize- yeah, there were times when I was a little asshole to other kids. Yeah, were times as a teenager that I ended relationships for no good reason. But mostly, I realized that not everything I have ever done was for a pure reason, or with good intentions.

But that’s okay. I have to be okay with it, because it’s part of who I am. I just have to try to be aware of what my little voice says. I’m not encouraging you to be a jerk. I’m just saying that I tried to justify my actions, to hold myself to a higher standard, and in the process I denied myself the chance to become a better person by recognizing what I had done.

Statement of Intent

This is me:

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Or rather this is a recent portrait shot of me. This is also me recently, albeit a different side:

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This is my blog. You are looking at it. It will not have a designated structure. Hopefully it will look better as I go along. For the moment, I am doing this only for myself, and only as I see fit. I will probably eventually connect this to several social media sites, to Youtube, or post video blogs, and podcasts, and songs. There will be no true format, other than my own expectations of myself, which are thus: I will post one piece of content each weekday, and all content will be original content of my creation, at least in part. Other than that, I will do as I see fit. I will edit posts to the extent I feel necessary, though largely they will go unedited aside from spelling and grammar checks. The truth is, you see, I get bored easily. I am also likely to fixate on one thing at time and explore it to its fullest extent until my brain shifts gears. I abhor deadlines and other requirements and yet I am incapable of producing anything without them. These things in concert make it tough for me to stick to one idea or project and so I will not.

I feel cannot stress this enough: this blog is for me. That is its only purpose. I really do hope you enjoy reading it or experiencing its content. Honestly though I hope to continue it regardless. My motivation is that for a long time I was subconsciously telling myself that I was normal, that I was not better than anyone else, that I was not really special. I was not aware of how damaging this state of mind was to me at the time. It took me discovering that I had allowed myself to lose sight of every scrap of ambition and desire, of every motivation to have a life that I considered worth living, in pursuit of a standard which does not exist and was of no use to me.  Now, I am selfish. Now, I am not everyone’s friend. Now, I am trying to be a person I am not only comfortable with, but proud of.

I am writing this in order to give you fair warning. My writing style may be eloquent and cohesive, or I may just mess around and not worry about how I come across. I will probably contradict myself, in this and in other things. Writing that sounds crafted or calculated may be a first draft, and a more familiar tone may be intentional, so that I stop sounding like such a pretentious wad. You may feel that I get preachy. I may say things you disagree with, and I may subsequently agree with your point of view if you ask me about it. The truth is that I hope that you will read this and enjoy it, because although these thoughts are truly for my benefit I would be lying if I said it wouldn’t matter to me that someone appreciates what I do.

So that’s me, as openly and as sensibly as I can express myself. So that should tell you something.

As for the blog, I will not promise to keep it quite so coherent.