“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” -Abraham Lincoln

Most of my friends have now graduated college. As they emerge, one by one, into the harsh light of what most people like to call the “real world,” more than a few have turned to those of us who came before, a half formed question on their lips: “So what to I do now?”

It’s been more than a year and a half since I was in college, which is scary in itself, but I think it’s worse because it’s already been so long and I still have no idea what I am supposed to be doing.

What do you do after university, when up until then you’ve lead a structured existence? I started kindergarten at the normal time, progressing into the next grade with every one of my late-August birthdays (It took me until second grade to understand things were not planned this way on purpose.) I spent every year from age five to twenty-two deeply immersed in our education system. Learning was my purpose. It was a fact of life.

I loved my education. I love learning, and I hope I never forget that there are still plenty of ways to broaden and sharpen my mind. I had the good fortune to be handed an institutionalized schooling, a good brain, and parents who encouraged me to use both. I was taught to think critically. I was taught to be aware of possibilities. I was taught that there are many ways to go through life, and that my education would allow me access to more paths. I was taught that, while there are many careers and roads out there, a college degree would lead me to a better one.

This, we have found out, is not the case.

A lot of us have been told, time and time again, that our degree does not matter. Many jobs ask for a Bachelor’s degree, but also 5 years of work experience in your field, which you haven’t had time to do because you were spending that time getting a Bachelor’s degree. Which you only did, again, because otherwise you can’t get a job in your field. I wish I was joking. I am not.

We spend our lives being helped and guided through a process which promises us a bright future but doesn’t necessarily set us up for the next step. When we apply to jobs, get rejected, and then ask the people who are a part of the system why, we get told we’re too entitled, too lazy. We don’t have enough experience, we don’t know what it’s like to be responsible. Every magazine laments the poor work ethic of the “Millenial” generation. Everywhere we turn we see our peers in jobs they are over qualified for. We spent our spare time on summer jobs in order to pay for the unpaid internships that will set us apart for future employers, we shouldered tens of thousands of dollars in debt, we followed every piece of advice we were given by our “mentors,” and when we start on the path to our future we are ungrateful, that we shouldn’t expect hand-outs.

So what do I say to my friends graduating after me? What comfort or direction can I give to someone who is just as lost as I am? How is this not just the blind leading the blind?

I don’t have an answer. I may be embarking on an exciting new journey, but like so many of my friends before me I can’t help but feel like I am simply running away from the problem. Those of my friends who seem to have their lives put together have been working day and night, heart and soul toward their goal, and some of them haven’t made it.

Some have decided that more education is the answer, since their undergraduate career is seemingly for naught. Some have accepted corporate positions, hoping to climb the ladders already established, betting that their path is simply too well traveled to lead them to a dead end. Some have started out on their own, forming small businesses and chasing their dream. I can’t say that one is any better than the others. They all have their obstacles.

The best advice I have ever been given is the only thing I feel comfortable passing along: Focus on the thing you would do for free, if you were simply allowed to ignore all other factors. Isolate this desire, and do whatever thing you think will start you on that path, no matter how big or how small.

Set yourself that goal, and do whatever it takes. Because you’re the only one who will take you there, and you have the rest of your life to arrive.


“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” -Lao Tzu

You know, I think I’ve mentioned I’m going to China here shortly. As in, very shortly. In fact, at this moment I am in Chicago, submitting the application for my work visa with the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic. It’s all very official. Lots of stamps and signatures, mostly on forms covered in Chinese characters that I can’t read.

Going to Chicago is always an adventure. The city itself is a lot of fun, but certainly not a place to save your money. Furthermore, as my uncle says, “Nothing gets done efficiently in Chicago government.” After filling out forms in triplicate I might be lucky enough to get sent to the back of the line only twice. Despite the promised same-day pickup for my rush-order visa, I’ll be happy if I only have one more night to wait.

As far as blogging and going to China, I am still hoping that I can even access this website once I’m there. The truth is that China and the Internet mix about as well as oil and water. Or oil and the censorship of water. Or the Internet and censorship, which is, you know, the thing I’m getting at.


I wanted to let you reader folks know that since I will probably not be able to post daily while I’m abroad, I’m going to start the regimen now. For the next two weeks before I leave (and hopefully while I am in Korea and China as well) I will try to post twice a week, with occasionally a few goofy bits mixed in. I’m hoping this will help me focus on some quality thoughts and observations, and still keep my writing skills up.

I wanted to say thank you for reading my posts so far. I am looking forward to blogging a lot more as time goes on, but as my daily goings-on are kind of up in the air I don’t want to make promises. At some point I’ll have a regular schedule again. Until then, I hope you enjoy the silly things I can find the time to write.

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” -Marcus Tullius Cicero

A couple of days ago I took the chance to visit my grandfather’s grave, and it left me with a profound realization: Cemeteries are weird.

Welcome to Things That Are Weird Part, uh, VIII? I Dunno, Anyway: Boneyards and Boneheads!

Ever since I was a little kid, cemeteries have been a stressful place for me. This is not due to losing loved ones, or creepy stories about ghosts and ghouls. I’m not worried about zombie attacks or running into the Mystery, Inc. crew (Ten points to Gryffindor for the Scooby Doo reference!) I’m not even worried about the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who.

I just don’t like walking on people’s graves. But seriously, where else is there to walk?


I’d get closer Grandpa, but I don’t want to step on your face.

Okay, I know people are buried under more than like 4 inches of dirt, so I’m not standing on anyone’s face. Ever since the 17th Century and that whole Black Plague thing, people have been buried 6 feet under, much to the chagrin of grave robbers (although it’s actually like 4 feet on average in the US, either because the depth was deemed unnecessary after the plague or because people’s feet used to be smaller.) So yeah, I know I’m not stepping on a person’s corpse, but when you’re there in front of a tombstone you start thinking that maybe six feet isn’t so far down (Ten points from Gryffindor for the Creed reference.)

Keeping this in mind, I generally try to do the movie-thing where you pick out a path between headstones, though I don’t usually look as cool as the hardboiled cop visiting his ex-partner’s grave. I had a conscious moment, however, where I considered that my grandfather had been cremated, meaning there was no body buried there and I was safe to tread upon his plot. It was nice to relax a moment, and just look at his plaque. (Of course, this means I forgot about picking a path altogether and then later realized I was standing on someone again.)

All jokes aside, I did actually come to a conclusion during my visit: While I enjoyed going with my family, visiting a cemetery should be a personal thing. It was good to go out there, just so I am able to find the grave again, if nothing else. As the youngest grandchild, I never really got to speak to my grandfather man-to-man. Hearing about him from my grandmother, it seems like the man generated too many stories for just one lifetime. But I guess that’s the best way to go, really.

“Ohana means family. And family means no one gets left behind… or forgotten.” -Stitch, Lilo & Stitch (2002)

I almost didn’t get a post up for today, which was really starting to bug me.

Even though it doesn’t matter in the log run whether I manage to post every weekday, it’s become very important to me that I keep to the schedule I made in my statement of intent for as long as I can.

I appreciate my readers very much, but this isn’t for your sake. I made that clear very early on. I love that you read what I write, but at the end of the day I am maintaining this blog just to prove to myself that I can.

Recently it’s been harder to keep up. Preparing to leave the country has kept me very busy, and I don’t spend as much time distracting myself as I used to, hence the decline in goofy posts. I used to write posts roughly a week ahead, now I’m lucky if it’s 24 hours in advance. Fitting in blogging with the rest of what I am doing has put other things on standby, like sometimes personal hygiene.

Poof levels are high.

Yesterday was supposed to be a catch-up day. A day to write some posts, finish some prep work for China, you know. But no plan survives first contact with the enemy. There were factors in play that would hinder my productivity. For example: I had family in town.

Basically, I never stood a chance.

So instead I took some time to relax and have breakfast (which I appreciated.) I had a shower and a shave (which everyone else appreciated.) I took my uncle I drop off his rental car. I visited my grandfather’s grave. I had dinner with my aunts and uncles.

The truth is, I may not be able to keep up my writing pace once I leave the US. It may not be my choice, since China and the Internet don’t always mix. I may simply just be busy.

But sometimes life just happens, and instead of a burst of productivity, you get a day with your family.

And that’s okay.

“To make the bloody thing talk the way I do when I’m on a verbal roll, in my idioms and rhythms.” -Gary Lucas

As any immigrant to an English-speaking country can tell you; although English is not systemically difficult to grasp, its rules and exceptions are so at odds with each other that it is a wonder we can call it a system at all. Though it’s pretty common, I still love the quote:

“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
–James D. Nicoll

I love English. I think it’s very confusing and convoluted and altogether a lot of fun to study. So, in the spirit of my native language, I decided to research and explain a few common phrases, because why the hell not? I will explain each term, give my initial based-on logic assumptions, and then give the actual origin.


Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which the abuser leads their victim to believe they are losing their mind. They may either simply deny that some occurrence or interaction ever occurred, or they may go about the more classical example of making small changes in the victims surroundings. Regardless of the methods, the process is at best disconcerting for the victim.

Quick assumptions

Gaslighting was a hard one, though the two words “gas” and “light” being used together certainly led me to believe this term originated in recent history. The best I could come up with was that, perhaps pilot lights on gas stoves, ovens, and water heaters used to go out fairly easily, in essence tricking the owner into thinking they could use their appliance.

Actual origin

The term refers to the 1938 stage play Gas Light (known as Angel Street in the United States). The play’s main character uses systematic psychological manipulation on his wife in order to convince her that she was crazy. The title refers to one of the abuser’s methods was to dim the gas lights of the house (I wasn’t totally wrong!). The play coined the term, despite its name change in the US.

Jury Rig (Jury Rigging):

Jury rigging refers to the act of repairing an object using only the objects close at hand. The makeshift repairs are likely not as functional as the original item or a true repair.

Quick Assumptions

Taking “jury rig’ to mean “using your available resources to achieve the best result,” I defined the words as best I knew how and figured it had to refer to the process of stacking the jury of a legal proceeding in order to have the best outcome. Essentially, the prosecutor or defendant could “rig the jury” with what was at hand.

Actual Origin

The term is nautical, meaning an improvised repair to the mast and yards in the event that the original mast was lost. “Rig” or “rigging” refers to the ropes and structure used to control the sails. “Jury,” on the other hand, is nearly unrecognizable for most people nowadays. The adjectival use of “jury” refers to “makeshift or temporary”, and dates back to 1616 (though the work was edited again, and the author John Smith didn’t get it published as “jury” until 1624.) There are several theories for “jury” in this sense, including: the Latin adjutare (“to aid”) via Old French ajurie (“help or relief”), and a corruption of the term “joury mast,” which was a temporary mast used as a spare should the main mast be compromised.

Jerry Built:

This phrase is often confused with “jury rigged,” and usually is combined into “jerry rigged.” Though for a long time “Jerry rig” was not accepted, it has since been incorporated as an alternate for both the previous phrases. Where “jury rig” is a makeshift repair, “Jerry built” refers to something that is poorly constructed.

Quick Assumptions

Honestly the only use of the word “Jerry” I knew of was a derogatory slang for German soldiers and citizens used in World War II. I assumed that since “Jerry built” is similarly derogatory, it was used as a way to describe something of German make during the 1940’s onward. This didn’t seem right, as for most of my life German engineering has had the opposite reputation.

Actual Origin

Though the phrase’s actual inception is uncertain, it seems to have arisen from 1830’s Liverpool. This may be due to “…the cheap, flimsy constructs of a Mr. Jerry of the Jerry Bros. of Liverpool.” It has also been speculated to refer to other poor constructions, including: the crumbling walls of Jericho, the prophet Jeremiah who foretold decay, and (my personal favorite) the gypsy word gerry, meaning “excrement.”

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about some common idiomatic phrases! 

“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” -Sigmund Freud

Though it’s generally considered good sense to approach anything Sigmund Freud said with skepticism, I agree with him on this one. And since even Freud probably couldn’t stretch a metaphor far enough to make a cat into a phallic symbol, I think we’re safe.

I’ve written about my family’s nuisance of house cats before, but it’s been, like, weeks, so I think we’re due another cat post.

So here’s Samwise’s User Guide to Kittehs:

First of all, congratulations! By adopting a little ball of fluff you have made your first steps toward the form of insanity known as cat ownership!



Anything so cute has to be evil.

Raising and caring for a cat of your own can be a very rewarding experience, as long as you don’t actually expect them to listen to you, or love you in return. Actually, and no one will tell you this until after you adopt a cat, but that little shite is going to do whatever the heck it wants until you learn to put up with it. And you’re going to love it anyway. The most common misconception is that you can train your cat to certain things, and well, the idea is honestly just laughable. Your new cat, on the other hand, is trying to teach you the rules of cat ownership.

The first lesson your cat is trying to teach you: Expectation will always lead to disappointment. 

Living under the tyrannical rule of one of our feline overlords can be frustrating and disillusioning. I guarantee you that four out of five times you, the human, want to have a positive or emotional connection with your lord and master, your furry friend will snub you like yesterday’s beef and gravy bits. Whether you’re trying to play with their catnip mouse or wanting to snuggle before bed, you will most likely be beneath your liege’s notice.

Their emotional detachment will hurt you. Their offhanded rejection will come as a surprise, and it will only leave you craving their attentions more. The most important thing here is to accept it. You see, what is an abusive relationship between members of our own species is the expected norm in human-feline relations. You will spend much of your time vying for their approval, while they, in turn, do their best to accept your existence.

The second lesson your cat is trying to teach you: Learn to recognize my moods.

Cats are very different creatures from the other common, and clearly inferior, domestic species of dogs. They will not greet you with a wagging tail and a slobbery tongue, as they are not such base creatures (however, if you have forgotten to prepare their majesty’s regular meals, they may insistently remind you of your duties.)

As cats are higher beings, their moods are beyond our lowly comprehension. In their wisdom, however, they deign to approach their human servants with three recognizable “moods”: Happy, Angry, and Hungry. 

As I just said, a hungry cat will be actively seeking your attention as you have failed in your duties. Your furry master will most likely rub up against your legs, and then lead you to their dish. They will not lead you to where the food is kept, as they are above such matters and really, it’s your job to know that anyway. Should you not respond within the appropriate amount of time, usually five seconds, your lord or lady may also give you a short but sharp verbal rebuff.

Happy cats are seemingly hard to recognize for the inexperienced human. A Happy cat looks like this: url


A closed mouth and shut eyes are good signs of a content overlord, as well as a lazily sweeping tail. If you are successful in pleasing your cat, they will generally settle down for a nap, or if you’re lucky, a cuddle. Our masters also may vary their forms of affection, from a light nip to a heavy purr.

Angry cats are another story altogether. See how the Happy cat above has a gentle expression and perky ears? If you anger your cat, they will adopt a very different visage:



Oh shit.

Those humans who anger their overlords find that they experience fear on a primal level. An angry cat will make a human instinctually draw back, as we are subconsciously cognizant that a cat should never be angered. As you may have noticed, the ears are flattened instead of upright, the eyes are slitted in disgust, and the fangs are bared. Should you encounter an angry cat, your only hope of survival is to placate them as best you can, or run for your life.

Newcomers to cat ownership may commonly find their liege-lord with this expression:



Do not be concerned. This expression simply means the cat is experiencing a level of reflection or emotion that you are not able to understand. You should not feel the need to act, though placating your overlord is always a good idea. 

The third lesson your cat is trying to teach you: Learn how and where to touch me.

In our childhood, most of us learn the parts of the cat like this:



Not only is the above diagram simplistic, but it also has no real functionality. The terms used there are too general, too applicable to other animals. Cats are on an entirely different plane of existence than other animals (including humans), and therefore require a set of diagrams. Specifically, their anatomy is determined by their emotional state (refer to Lesson 2).

The Happy Cat diagram:

Happy Cat Parts


The Happy cat diagram is the most common.

The Angry Cat diagram:

Angry Cat Parts


The Angry cat diagram is probably the most useful.

The Scared Cat diagram:

Scared Cat Parts


No, scared cats aren’t invisible; they’re just gone.

Knowing the proper names for the parts of the cat is a good place to start, though you should also know where your kitty will prefer to be touched, as shown here:



Remember to always aim for the “Hell Yes” and the “Awesome” categories.

Well, that is it for this installment of Samwise’s User Guide to Kittehs. Hopefully this information and these diagrams have been useful to you. Remember, your cat is a tiny, furry Buddha, and they have much to teach you.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” -Robert Frost

My friend Alejandra left the States again last Saturday to go back to China. She is actually staying and teaching at the same University I am heading to, which makes sense seeing as she was the person who recommended me to the University and vice versa. She has been in Nanchang for four or five months and came back to see her family, which for me came with some very poignant realizations.

First off, it was nice to see my friend had gone and come back from China, that she was alive and well, etc. I have to be honest, it made me feel a lot better and a lot safer, and I know my friends and family relaxed a little as well. It may just be me, but what starts as a joke (“Well, I mean, China can be very intense and potentially dangerous”) quickly becomes a full-blown anxiety (“What if they steal my kidneys?”), and even though I know my mind was just playing tricks on me, seeing my friend whole and hale and with all her vital organs lets me sleep a little easier.

The other major realization came when I said goodbye to her. Alejandra had a really early morning flight, so I didn’t exactly see her off, but what I did do was send her a message over the WeChat app she told me to download, which I’m sure was just as heartwarming and pretty much the same. What struck me at the time was that, even though I am leaving the US at the beginning of August, I won’t see her again until much later that month. In my mind, my departure date has always been the important part, whereas she won’t see me for roughly three weeks after. 

What struck me was that I am the person she will see the soonest. I am sure she has made friends in Nanchang, but as far as seeing her family and close friends she only had those three weeks. Now, let’s get one thing straight: Alejandra is much more of a badass than I am. I’m not worried for her sake. But it reminded me that I will be doing almost the same thing. My tenure at this University will not match Alejandra’s perfectly, so there will be plenty of time when I will be in the same, semi-lonely position. And if I get my way, I will be doing this semi-lonely, adventure-having thing for a long time.

It’s not nearly as terrifying as it would have been a few years ago. Now, most of these little anxieties just manifest as a weird, internal itch. I find loneliness to be a pretty easy problem to have, especially since the Internet makes it so easy to speak with people in different countries. But with each little realization, I am inching toward a full understanding of the changes that are about to occur in my life. When I come back, which I hopefully won’t be back to stay for several years, a lot of things will probably be different.

I didn’t have that issue when I studied abroad: my friends were still in Bloomington, and my new friends that traveled with me to Barcelona largely came back to Bloomington as well. Basically, everything just got better for me. It probably won’t be the same this time, though hopefully most of the changes will be good for my friends and family. I am fully expecting that, should I decide to live in the States again, my friends will be at much different points in their lives. For one thing, I know my parents will have moved, and my childhood home will be gone. It will be strange to deal with the new realities. I am starting to feel like I am taking a huge leap, hopefully forward, and I’m not sure exactly what I will be coming back to in the future. 

It’s kind of funny to me that I have already written about how bad I am at saying goodbye, and that I wrote that about my last job, which to be fair was only about 7 months. It’s funny because I’m so much worse at saying goodbye to my friends, the ones I’ve known for years. I’ve had to say a few goodbyes already, and more than ever I feel I’m at a loss for words. What do you say to someone who is still in school, but who will probably start their own adventure before you return? What do you say to someone who is in a similar position, ready to start their own life, and yet has just as little of an idea as to what they really want?

I want to say some of those goodbyes again. I want to give better hugs, because I wasn’t really paying attention to how it was supposed to be a “goodbye” hug. I want to come up with the right thing to say, the right amount of confidence and sadness. I want to give better answers than, “Oh yeah, I’m really excited.” I want to have the right words, because having the right words is what I do. 

But I didn’t have the words then, and I wouldn’t have them now. I think the best words I can give my friends are, “I love you,” and “Thank you,” and “Good luck.”

“It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.” -Mark Twain

It’s an exciting time for Zoology and Animal Behavior science. Scientists keep finding new ways to communicate with animals, which means we’re one step closer to interspecies relations like this:


Though hopefully without the dead, soulless eyes.

Okay, to be fair, it takes most of these scientists years (sometimes decades) of research to figure anything out, and even then the findings can be tenuous. Still, exciting advancements have been made.

The most recent was just posted last week, when Catherine Hobaiter and her team released the findings of their 18-month study of wild chimpanzee interaction. They recorded 4,500 exchanges and were able to  assign what they call “true meanings” to 36 gestures. By studying these animals in their natural habitat, they have laid the groundwork for Human-chimp relations.


Just in time, too. Those mind-melds weren’t working very well.

You probably don’t need to worry about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes becoming a reality just yet, though it does kind of sound like a chimp is responsible for that title. Hobaiter’s team does admit that there is a lot of room for error in their study, that some gestures could have multiple meanings and/or some meanings could use multiple gestures. However, the progress is very exciting. Hopefully with this new information we could interact with wild chimps without needing to do all that training ahead of time. Also we can learn useful things like, “Climb on my back,” and “Don’t rub your feces on my shirt.”

The other really exciting innovation in human-animal relations is in regards to dolphins.


Yeah, these little shits.

Everyone knows that dolphins are pretty dang smart, but even though everyone knows this little piece of trivia, every news article ever written about dolphins includes the phrase “Dolphins are widely considered to be one of the smartest creatures on the planet…” Seriously, take a minute and search for a news article about Dolphins. I promise you they’ll lead off the exact same way, or at least it’ll be mentioned in the first paragraph.

While a lot of people are aware that we recently found that dolphins get high recreationally (because nothing says “interspecies relations” like a bonfire and a drum circle), some of us are more intrigued by the new finding where the people from the Wild Dolphin Project have developed a human-dolphin translator that successfully identified a whistle as the word “sargassum.” Like a boss.

Think about it: We have translated a dolphin-word. As in, we have separated a meaningful sound from all the inane clicks and whistles that these adorable little jerks make all the time. Meaning we could reproduce said word, and dolphins would understand it means “sargassum” or at least “seaweed.”

Now, I don’t know a lot about it and I have a lot of questions since the study was of one single pod of dolphins, and while 25 years is a lot of time to study something, I would like to be sure this isn’t limited to that pod. Still, it’s really, really cool, and I can’t wait to be able to talk to dolphins. Also, as a linguist, it strikes me that humans might not be the only species with a predisposition for language. Like, holy crap. Language might be inherent in all intelligent species, and that’s kind of amazing.

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” -Edgar Allan Poe

****Challenge Accepted****

I asked readers to give me a person, place, object, and quest. Janet gave me “housewife, chicago, sponge, winning the lottery,” and I may just be weird, but this is what I came up with:

Once upon a midday, dearie, as I scoured, brisk and cheery,

Over many a stain, with a furious broom across the linoleum floor,

While I flourished, fairly flapping, suddenly there came a pocking,

As of someone gently knocking, knocking at my kitchen’s door.

`’Tis some neighbor,’ I tutted, ‘knocking at my kitchen door,

Only this, and nothing more.’


Ah, faintly I am recalling it was as the autumn leaves were falling,

And each vibrant, falling hue did alight the forest floor.

Eagerly, I awaited morning; -for at next midday’s warning

From my numbers on Chicago – the lotto posted at the store –

For the bare and paltry chance brought by the devils at the store –

To name it here is loss for sure.


And the hopeful rough undaunted scratching of each jaundiced patch

distilled me – filled me with optimistic dreams never felt before;

So that now, to quell the hopes that filled my heart, I stood repeating

`’Tis some neighbor, requesting respite at my kitchen’s door –

Some nosy neighbor requesting respite at my kitchen’s door –

This is it, and nothing more.’


Presently my breath grew calmer, `clearly they are asking alms for,’

`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was caulking, and so gently you came talking,

And so faintly you came knocking, knocking at my kitchen’s door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –

Sunlight there, and nothing more.


Far along the skyline looking, long I stood there wondering, cooking,

Spouting, dreaming dreams of lives I’d never dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the daylight gave no token,

And the only word there half-spoken, was the gasping breath,`Eleanor!’

This I whispered, and she murmured back the name, `Eleanor.’

Merely this, and nothing more.


****Next Challenge****

Submit to me your own challenge! Preferably poetry related, but I’ll do whatever. If no one submits anything I’ll just write a weird poem.

“Polish comes from the cities; wisdom from the desert.” -Arrakeen villager saying

A few days ago my friend came back from Barnes & Noble with one of the best books I have ever read in my life, and I feel I have to recommend it on my blog, because that’s pretty much what the Internet is for. Also I am continually amazed at how many of my friends have not read this glorious novel, because they are clearly missing out. So here it is:


I’m fairly certain this is the copy I have, plus the original cover illustration, which I guess makes me a Dune hipster.

Dune is a science-fiction novel of epic proportion, and widely held as one of the best sci-fi titles of all time. Despite this, I was shocked to realize that it has nowhere near the fame of Star Wars or Star Trek. Or even Starship Troopers. Maybe it needs more “star” in the name.

Dune was written by Frank Herbert in 1965, which means it is only two years younger than Doctor Who and predates Star Trek: The Original Series by a year. Dune is the story of Paul Atreides, who moves with his family to the desert planet Arrakis where life is pretty dismal, water is scarce, and the savage native peoples wrap themselves in cloth as protection from the sand and heat (sounds familiar, looking at you George Lucas.) Also there’s spaceships, knife-fights, giant worms and some vague spiritual plot points. All in all it’s a fantastic setup for a sci-fi series, especially because it’s very well written.

It’s interesting to me that Dune has kind of fallen out of public knowledge, especially since Star Wars follows a lot of the same lines (evil space-overlords, desert people, spiritual/magical messiah figure.) So here’s me doing my part to get the word out, again.

Also Dune spawned one of my favorite quotes, ever:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Litany Against Fear, mantra of the Bene Gesserit

Okay well I’ll stop there, before I nerd out any harder. No, I unfortunately did not quote that from memory. Also I want to take a moment to say, don’t get your hopes up for an epic series. Some people like the sequels to Dune, but I am not really one of them. Still, read the first one. If just one person reads it, I’ll feel like I accomplished something.