Thoughts from 39,000 Feet Up

I write these words while I fly from New Jersey to California –  passing over Illinois, Nebraska, Nevada, the whole middle of America that I sometimes forget exists – as I realize that I am on a time machine.

do wee oooooh

Well, I’m on a plane, but your mind goes to a special place when you’ve been sitting in between a baby that alternates between being heart-meltingly adorable and the worst thing on planet earth at random intervals, and your mother, who seems to need to use the bathroom every half an hour, for the past who-knows-how-many hours. When you’re in that special place, an airplane and a time machine are the same thing.

I say this because the plane had taken off from Newark International Airport at 11:00 AM and will arrive in LAX at 1:00 AM after spending five hours and nineteen minutes in the air. If this sounds like the set-up to a weird riddle, let me tell you that the answer right now is time zones. There are two hours between 11:00 AM and 1:00 AM  and there are five hours between 11:00 AM and 1:00 AM and both of these things are somehow true at the same time. I can’t help but feel like I’ve lost three hours that I know I had somewhere. Where did they go?

(Okay I know where they went. I watched like five hours of Chopped in two hours while pretending the complementary trail mix was the wagyu beef in the mystery basket. Also, funnily enough one of the contestants on one of the episodes was from Jersey City, went to Rutgers, and made a fat sandwich for the appetizer. I was morally obliged to support her no matter what. The episode was the Midnight Snack Attack episode, if anyone’s curious).

Chef John is Me and I am Chef John

I think I have this obsession with time. Actually, that isn’t an “I think” statement. I know I have this weird obsession with time and if you know me in real life, you know I like to say that time is fake and maybe that’s true. Maybe time is a social construct, a system designed to measure the space between one moment and the next, and the only thing that is real are those moments themselves, but it feels real. And if it feels real then can it be fake?

Apparently I get philosophical when I’m on an airplane, or maybe this is the result of running on four hours of sleep for the past couple of days, but if I can’t think weird thoughts while sitting a metal tube hurling through the sky at who-know-how-many miles per hour, where and when can I? I’m living in a missing hour in the middle of nowhere in particular. The world is a strange place.

I don’t know why, but this felt appropriate

Right now it’s 12:05 PM but it is also 1:05 PM, just like it’s also 11:05 AM and 10:05 AM based on where the sun is in the sky? Is that what time is? A measure of the way the sun hits the Earth at any given moment? I wonder.

The Process ™ (patent pending)

Sometimes Writer’s Block (and yes, those words do deserve Capital Letters) happens and sometimes Writer’s Block happens while you’re trying to write a blog post. In case I’m not being totally clear, sometimes that person who is suffering from Writer’s Block while trying to write a blog post is me. So I thought I would take this time to discuss my writing process in a most likely futile attempt to become inspired to write something less meta. If you are reading this with your eyes, I have failed. So without further ado, here is what I lovingly and hatefully refer to as The Process (note: This Process is applicable to both academic papers, blog posts, and anything in between):  

Step 1: Brainstorm an Idea

Sometimes you have ideas and sometimes you write them on a Post-it note at 4 AM after shaking yourself out of the dream that had given you this glorious idea. In a tired haze of regret over having gone to sleep at 3 AM and with enough frantic energy to get you out of bed, you search for a Post-it note in the post-apocalyptic wasteland you dare to call a “desk” and you jot down whatever brilliant idea the dream goblins had given you. And sometimes you wake up at 10 AM and read that Post-it note and that Post-it note says sometimes along of the lines of “EGGS AREN’T REAL” or “TIME IS FAKE!!!!!” or “If he could’ve he would’ve but he didn’t so he can’t,” the last of which actually being a succinct analysis of Satan’s rationale against the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent God in Book 6 of Paradise Lost so sometimes things work out in the end.

Step 2: Do Literally Anything But the Thing You are Supposed to Be Doing

There is this thing that I do that I like to call Productive Procrastination (another thing I like to do, apparently, is to arbitrarily capitalize Certain words When i want to assign Them Significance). Productive Procrastination is defined as “the act of doing literally anything but the thing you are supposed to be doing.” I got an entire semester’s worth of homework done while I was trying to avoid writing an 8-page paper. Some examples of Productive Procrastination include:

  • Cleaning your room
  • Doing your dishes
  • Taking out the trash
  • Taking a shower
  • Redecorating
  • Deep cleaning your entire house
  • Doing this week’s psych homework
  • Doing next week’s psych homework
  • Doing the entire semester’s psych homework
  • Making a Spotify playlist with the music that you will write this epic A+++++ paper to
  • Repainting your mother’s bathroom
  • Taking a nap

And so it goes.

Step 3: Stare at Your Empty Document for Five Ten Fifteen Twenty Minutes

Feel the deadline come closer and closer until your anxiety compels you to write something, anything, before it’s too late.

Perfect.

Step 4: Write. Just write. Just get it over with. You know you’re going to write another draft anyway.

Step 5: Think “Hey, this actually isn’t so bad! Why did I wait so long to start this? Why did I go all the way back home to repaint the bathroom???”

Step 6: Realize that it is just as bad as you think. Oh god, why is this happening to me? Dear God, why?

somewhere along the way, this became a Buzzfeed article

Step 7: Scream.

you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain

Step 8: Finish your draft!

It’s terrible. It’s a garbage paper and you are a garbage person. This paper is a sin against both Nature and the English Language, but it exists and, frankly, that’s all it needs to do.

Your thoughts just need to exist somewhere on paper. They could be good thoughts or bad thoughts or right thoughts or wrong thoughts, but you can’t really tell what kind of thoughts they are until you see them.

Step 9: Write It Again

And then when you see them, you can decide what to do from there. No piece of writing exists perfectly the first time. Or the second. Maybe the third. Maybe.

What I’m trying to say is that if you’ve got a paper to write or a blog post or a story or something, honestly the hardest part is just starting.

So just write and write and write and write and somewhere along the way, you’re going to find something you like buried in the mess of your ideas.

So, yeah, anyway this is how I write papers. It’s a miracle I can get anything done. If anything I hope that this shows you that there’s actually no wrong way to write a paper as long as you actually write the paper.

Noreen’s Top 10 List of Books I Wanted to Read Over Break but Didn’t

In an epic trilogy, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Demons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first.

I always have such ambitious plans going into breaks and honestly they’re not even really that ambitious.

As an English major, I read a lot of stuff and while I went into break wanting to read more stuff, I quickly realized that my brain wanted a break, rejecting any attempt to open a book that was written pre-1950 or had received some kind of literary award. Instead, my soul desired mindless entertainment and to consume internet garbage. It was spring break. I deserved this.

“But, Noreen” cry the people who know me in real life, “All you do is consume internet garbage.”

Fools! Never underestimate the amount of internet garbage I can welcome into my life, especially when I had one week of unlimited free time (which, now that I say it, isn’t really unlimited at all).

I spent the majority of my break sitting around my house watching TV shows on my laptop, having brief, yet intense moments of panic as I searched for a summer job, and being a general useless blob. I regret nothing.

So anyway, here is, in no particular order, my top ten list of books I wanted to read over break but didn’t:

1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.”

I like Greek mythology. I like LGBT themes. I find the ongoing debate over whether or not Achilles and Patroclus were lovers both fascinating and kind of hilarious.

2. The Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany or Any book from the Harry Potter Series

“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

You’ll have to pry my at-times-illogical-desire to hold on to the Harry Potter series out of my cold dead hands.

3. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.”

I’ve heard good things about this book and got it for free like a year ago and by God do I love things that are free.

4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by  Douglas Adams

“The story so far:

In the beginning the Universe was created.

This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

I read this quote somewhere I can’t remember and it hit every single one of my sense of humor bones and I decided I needed to read this series. This was five years ago.

5. Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete.”

In my last blog post I talked about how I started to actually feel like I was growing older because I no longer like stuff I used to like when I was a kid. Well The Mysterious Benedict Society is a thing I used to like when I was a kid and I read a few pages of it and it looks like it holds up. I sure hope it holds up.

6. His Dark Materials series  by Philip Pullman

“In an epic trilogy, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Demons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first. “

So apparently the movie adaptation of this was terrible, an insult to the original series, and a blight upon this world as all book-to-movie adaptations tend to be, but I watched it and I enjoyed it. To be fair it came out when I was nine and nine year old me had terrible taste in everything. I’ve heard good things about the series though from Actual AdultsTM so I’m hoping this holds up too.

7. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore.” 

I’ve read this before, but I wanted to read it again.If you like not knowing whether or not the narrator is time traveling or has PTSD, then this is the book for you. I love Kurt Vonnegut.

8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A storm is coming…

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.”

I read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett so I know I like this guy’s style, I like the premise, and there’s a TV adaptation of it coming out at some point so I thought that I’d finally read it. Nope.

9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her. ” – Goodreads 

I got this as a Christmas present and at the moment it has been sitting on my desk in my dorm room as decoration since then. Oops.

10. Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?” – Melissa de la Cruz 

Okay so I actually did go outside a couple times during break, you know, once the streets were no longer covered in snow and I ended up at the library, which I would say is typical me if I hadn’t just written 500+ words about how I didn’t read anything over break. I saw this, thought it was cool, realized I’d never actually seen a book with a Filipino protagonist, then put it on this list.

 

Anyway, I hope you take a page out of my book (hehehehe, I’m so funny) and add some of these books to your to-read list but, unlike me, actually read them.

 

 

i grow old i grow old

It has recently come to my attention that I am aging.

Tragic, I know.

And, cognitively, you know, I’m aware that I’m not old and depending on who you ask you can’t even say that I’m not young. College students all seem in that hazy in between state of “I probably should have my life together more than I do,” not necessarily young, far removed from old, but definitely older than the Good ‘Ol Days when snack time was government mandated, you could nap pretty much any time you wanted with no repercussions, and bills were something you didn’t have to worry about.

Good times, good times.  

And obviously I know I’ve gotten older, chronologically, but maturity is something that’s hard to pin down and quantify. Everyone knows that feeling you get on your birthday. The clock ticks forward, you’re another year older, but nothing feels different, nothing ever feels different, but you always expect it to. So it’s a little harder to figure out when you “grew up.”

This whole “Oh no, I’ve gotten older, everything’s changed” thing hit me over the summer, actually, so not really all that recent depending on how you look at it.

Now, I really wasn’t doing anything over the summer, which did make me feel kind of useless, but that’s a whole other issue entirely, so I spent the most of my time going to the library and playing Pokemon Go when that was still a thing.

please describe Summer 2016 in one image

Very early on in the summer I had determined that I was getting tired of reading “smart people books” which, as an English major, I felt obligated to do. So after a week of reading said smart people books,  I said a quick apology in my head to my English professors and went downstairs to my library’s Young Adult section.

I’m a young adult, I said in my head, it’s totally socially acceptable for me to be here. Besides, I could totally pass as a high schooler and no one will judge me and okay the person checking out my books went to my high school, just don’t make eye contact. Why are you making small talk?? We barely ever talked to each other! When did you get engaged???

I spent a shameful amount of time reading cheesy teen romance books and, I’ll admit, I loved every second of it and have no regrets.

this was really good

And then, maybe a month into summer break, it happened.

I used to be in love with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I loved Greek mythology, I loved the characters, I loved the story, and most of all I loved the writing. It was so clever and hilarious to me and I thought If I ever become a writer, I want to write like that.

we don’t talk about the movie

So anyway, as I was walking through the YA section, I spotted a new book written by Rick Riordan, set in the same Percy Jackson universe, and I decided Well, I’ve got nothing better to do and I borrowed it along with Wink, Poppy, Midnight (which was meh) and The Raven Boys (10/10 would recommend).

also pretty good

When I got back home, I made myself cozy in my bed and cracked open The Hidden Oracle, excited to read another adventure from a series that I had loved so much.

I couldn’t make it through two pages and dropped it to my bedroom floor, where it stayed until its due date.

It’s not that the author had lost the ability to write, if anything he’s gotten better since the first book. I know for a fact that if I had read this five years ago I would have finished all 400 pages in 4 hours and loved every hour, every minute, every second of it. The fact that I couldn’t read this book kind of felt like a betrayal to my younger self. I wanted to like this book, for nostalgia’s sake if anything, but I just had no interest in it.

It was just kind of meh.

I’m not torn up about it. I didn’t cry over the fact that I don’t like books written for middle schoolers, but I was…I don’t know. The closest word I can think of is “disappointed” and even that’s not quite right.

It’s like finishing a book or TV show or movie. The story’s ended, you’ve got your closure, you’ve got another book or TV show or movie waiting for you, but you’re still kind of sad that the last one is over. That adventure’s done, it’s time to move on.  

And I guess that’s where we all are in our lives right now, that old adventure’s over. It’s time to move on to the next one. But it’s okay to miss the old adventure from time to time.

How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule When You Make Terrible Decisions

Listen, I love sleep more than most things in this world and I’m not ashamed to admit that. And ever since coming to college, I feel like all of us have acquired a deeper appreciation for sleep.

First of all, being asleep means that you’re not awake. Which means you don’t have to deal with things like classes or homework or actual work. Second of all, sleep is a socially acceptable reason to lie in bed and do nothing, which is honestly what I want to do all the time except that I have things like classes and work that need my attention. Third of all, sleeping is just amazing. I know it, you know it, we all know it. I really don’t need words to explain something everyone already knows.

So yeah, I love sleeping. But I also love, apparently, making poor choices regarding my health and sleeping habits.

I won’t tell you guys what time I went to sleep every night during winter break because I want you to still respect me in some capacity, but just to give you a general idea of how bad of a decision maker I am, let’s just say that the answer rhymes with shmive o’clock in the shmorning.

I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’ll say it anway – coming back to Rutgers was…difficult. And exhausting. I’m pretty much tired all the time and I hate coffee (I know, I know, unpopular opinion) so I don’t even have caffeine to help me.

So obviously, as I am wont to do when I am confronted with something that a normal human adult would probably able to fix, I turned to Google for guidance (I can’t ask my mom, she thinks I go to bed at 9 PM every night).  

So gather around children, I’m sure I’m not the only one who messed up their sleep schedule this break, and here are some tips to get your life back together (according to Google):

  • The first article I clicked on was from WebMD, which seemed more legitimate than WikiHow. The first item on the list was to  avoid blue light which means that turn off and look away from anything with a screen, so I was already sceptical of my ability to follow this list and then I read item two, which was “Skip Naps,” at which point I x-ed out of WebMD, never to return.

  • The second article from Her Campus had the more reasonable goal of only taking 20-30 minutes naps (which is also backed up by another WebMD article, in case you didn’t trust Her Campus for some reason. Alright, okay, so I did return.)
  • And all of the articles I read had this point in common: STICK TO A ROUTINE. Meaning go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Don’t fall into the trap of staying up later on the nights before days where you don’t have to be anywhere until 5. Because I have fallen into that trap. Multiple times. I’m pretty sure it shaved off maybe five years of my lifespan.
  • And of course, there’s the obvious avoid caffeine, try to stick to regular hours, and exercise.

So welcome back to Rutgers after a tragically short break. We’ll get through this somehow.  

How Not To Do a Secret Santa

“My life is a money garbage disposal,” is quite possibly the greatest and most relatable quote to ever come out of Buzzfeed’s “Ladylike” series and I quote it at least once every day.

With it being the holiday season, in the past few weeks I have seen a drastic change in the amount of money in my bank account. Unfortunately, this drastic change is more negative than positive.

Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), a good portion of the people I would want to buy gifts for is made up of broke college students so we’re all more or less in the same boat.  

The solution to the lots-of-love-and-little-funds problem is the good ol’ Secret Santa, which is code for “You guys are great, but last week we fought over a quarter we found in a puddle, so here’s a fun excuse to only buy one person a gift this year. Yay!”

I really love Secret Santas, you guys. I like the feeling of not knowing and I love the feeling of surprise you feel when you discover who was your Santa and I love the look on the face of the person who discovers their Santa was me. They’re nice feelings. Good and pure and feels like the magic of the holidays has entered the dorm that hasn’t been clean since August.

Last week, my roommates, our honorary roommate, and I exchanged our Secret Santa gifts and while everyone was super excited about the gifts, everything about the exchange was an insult to the very name the Secret Santa. I was morally offended.

So here’s how not to do a Secret Santa.

Learn from our mistakes, children.

First, make sure no one (NO ONE) finds out who you have. Because it’s a secret.

I mean, making sure the person you’re getting a gift for doesn’t know who you are just makes sense. It’s called a Secret Santa for a reason. Just like curiosity killed the cat, curiosity also kills the core principles of the Secret Santa. Because once one person finds out who you have, you find out who they have, and then you learn who everyone has, including who has you, and, well, there goes the surprise.

Second, make sure the person you have DOES NOT find out what you got them. Because it’s a secret.

When your roommate, whom you lovingly bought a gift for, goes into your room, rifles through your drawers, picks up the present which you wrapped in Monday’s newspaper, and then shakes it, we have failed, morally, as a society. Is nothing sacred?

Must curiosity destroy everything? I swear to God the last words that will ever be said by a human being will be “What’s this button do?”

We were not made to last as a species.  

Obviously I was a bit upset that everyone in my Secret Santa group knew who had them and more or less what they were getting. Perhaps irrationally so. Some would say there was yelling and an impassioned and incoherent speech about the “magic of Christmas” and the “sanctity of privacy” involved, but if those certain people want to tell their skewed and biased version of the events that transpired last week, then they can go ahead and write a blog post about it.

But, you know, at the end of the day, even though there were no secrets involved in any aspect of this Secret Santa, there was still surprise and fun and holiday magic. I mean, I’ll devote a disturbing amount of energy into making sure that the next Secret Santa will actually be a secret, but whatever happens will happen. Secret Santa not being a secret doesn’t destroy the sentiment.

“You’re a person I enjoy being around and I spent two weeks thinking about who you are and what you like so I could make you happy.”

You’ll Never Believe What This Blogger Has to Say About Clickbait

Love yourselves, you guys. Your time is worth more than this list of “66 Things Everyone from Lost Springs, Wyoming Will Relate To.”

I have a complicated relationship with clickbait in that I hate it with the entirety of my being. Every time I see a clickbait article I want to rip my eyes out and launch them into the sun so that I will never have to see anything so offensive to the eyes ever again in my entire life. But at the same time, I can’t stop clicking these stupid articles.

(I mean, I guess I could always acquire self-control, but I’m trying to be realistic here.)

I’d blame BuzzFeed, but even I have to admit that Buzzfeed sometimes produces actual quality content. I’m a sucker for the Try Guys, Ladylike, and that series where Steven and Andrew drive around and eat food at a wide range of prices.

But besides that, Buzzfeed has shown that pretty much just aggregating funny jokes scattered throughout the internet, making lists of weird stuff on Amazon, telling you what kind of cheese you would be based on your zodiac sign, and asking you “Just How Trash is Your Taste in Complimentary Bread?” is a legitimate business strategy. If this kind of stuff was just isolated to Buzzfeed, then fine, whatever. The disease is localized. But it’s not just Buzzfeed anymore —  it’s Upworthy and Brainjet and Viral Catching and 22Words and Laudable and Ranker. Even Answers.com is getting in on this nonsense. I can’t go through my Facebook feed without tripping on one and smashing my face into another. It’s exhausting and mind-numbing and time-killing.

There’s probably some sort of science behind clickbait. There has to be. In my totally unprofessional opinion, it’s the rush you get when you click on “WATCH THIS SOCCER MOM GET DEMOLISHED BY THIS CASHIER” that keeps clickbait viable. The titles of these so-called articles arouses enough interest to get someone to click and then prolongs the pay off. The curiosity can’t be satisfied until you see every item on this list of “18 PERFECT Responses These Students had for Their Teachers” and we all know that there’s going to be more than 18 pictures in this article which is, for some infuriating reason, a slideshow instead of a scrolling list.

And you know you’re going to see this through to the end. Because it’s not just one prolonged build-up and payoff. I mean, the ultimate payoff is when you get to the end of the list of “64 People Who Just Need to Stop,” but the little pay-off, the little reward that keeps you sucked into this nonsense, is what you see on the other side of the next slide button.

Once you escape that 100 slide photo presentation with who knows how many ads on each page,  you realize you’ve pretty much just wasted 5 minutes of your life. And then you waste another five minutes of your time on this earth looking through an “article” called “This Kid Just Got Annihilated by His Mom on Facebook” because you just need to know how this kid got what was coming to him.

Let’s be real for a second. I 100% would have found a way to waste my time without clickbait, but the thing about those other wastes of time is that I choose to do it. Sometimes it feels like clickbait bypasses that part of my brain that knows that something is bad for me and directly hits another part of my brain that wants to do it anyway. The only other thing that can really get to me like that is food, but at least food has value beyond instant gratification. Clickbait, I feel, appeals to that part of me that I should have trained out years ago. The part of me that is endlessly curious, but also has the attention span and impulse control of a toddler who had sugar directly injected into her bloodstream.

Like, be curious, but be curious about the right things, not “25+ Extremely Beautiful Minerals And Stones”  

It’s the most infuriating waste of time that I have ever encountered in my entire life and the thing that I’m most mad about is the fact that I’m not strong enough to stop myself from clicking.

An Open Letter to the English Language

Let’s talk about ghoti for a second.

I had two pet ghoti when I was a kid. I was really into Sesame Street at the time so I called them Dorothy and Elmo and they were kind of useless. All they did was swim around in their tank and I couldn’t pet them or teach them tricks, but I loved them in that four year old way of mine. When they died we had ghoti for dinner and I don’t know if my mom meant that as a joke or if her dinner planning just worked out like that, but in hindsight it was pretty funny.

You may be wondering what ghoti are, though I feel like I’ve given you enough context clues to let you know that I was actually talking about fish. So if I was talking about fish, what was up with all that “ghoti” nonsense?

Now you may have heard of ghoti before, but for those who are completely unaware “ghoti” is an alternate spelling of “fish” based on the fact that the “gh” in “tough” is pronounced like “f,” the “o” in “women” is pronounced like “i,” and the “ti” in “information” is pronounced like “sh.”  Based on those rules, why shouldn’t “ghoti” be pronounced like “fish”?

We know “ghoti” is not pronounced “fish” because we know those syllables don’t work in that order, but let’s use this thought experiment, I guess that’s what this is, to talk about just how confusing the English language is.

I know it may not seem that way if English is your first language (kudos to anyone who learned English as a second language) since speaking has become more or less intuitive by now but let’s not pretend the fact that “tough” is pronounced “tuff,” “through” is pronounced “threw,” and “though” is pronounced “tho” makes any sense at all.

And speaking of words that look like that they should be pronounced the same even with slight differences in spelling, let’s talk about words that are spelled exactly the same but are pronounced differently. I found this list here and the more I read it the angrier I became:

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  5. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  6. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  7. I did not object to the object.
  8. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  9. They were too close to the door to close it.
  10. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  11. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  12. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

There’s probably a whole load of linguistic reasons why these words are pronounced like this and spelled like this, but for now I’m just confused.

And don’t get me started on silent letters like in “doubt” or “receipt” because those words used to be spelled phonetically as “doute” and “receite” until someone (I’m looking at you, 13th century English scribes) decided that people needed to be reminded of “doubt’s” roots in the Latin word “dubitare” and “receipt’s” roots in the Latin word “recepta.” Alright, fine, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of an etymology (not entomology, that’s bug thing) nerd, but this just seems unnecessary.   

Also, I’m all for cultural exchange and stuff and, again, there’s probably five textbooks worth of reason for why this is, but I’m pretty sure most Italian words originate in Italy. Is the same true for English? According to the 52 wikipedia pages of English words with foreign origins, the answer is “NO.”

And if you, dear reader, have noticed that I italicized one or two words in this post already, it’s because tone, the way you say words, not even how you pronounce them, can completely change the meaning of some words. Which is totally fine, communication is more than just the words you use, after all, but I think I’m still allowed to be frustrated by the fact that the phrase:

I never said she stole my money

Has SEVEN different meanings depending on what words is emphasized.

And there are so many words that mean basically the same thing (we sure do love our synonyms), but have such wildly different connotations; they might as well mean different things entirely. Being invited to someone’s cottage in the forest is very different than being invited to a cabin in the woods. If you get invited to the former, then you’re in a fairytale; if to the latter, a horror movie.

We all know which one we’d prefer.

Which, to be fair, if you’re dealing with the English language, you’re already sort of in a horror movie. Just one with less horror and death. So, not a horror movie, I guess. Whatever.

Well, I hope this was educational, and if you ever find yourself getting annoyed with an international student or someone with less than perfect grammar and pronunciation, kindly get over yourself.

Day 24: Where Are We Now?

I’ll admit that I had some pretty ambitious new semester resolutions, mostly involving an incredibly aesthetically pleasing study schedule and vague, half-formed plans to go to the gym and eat more salad.

Now I didn’t want to make this claim before the end of the first month (well, 24 days) of the semester, but we’re here now so I can conclusively say that most of those lofty, ambitious new semester resolutions that I made while I laid in bed and stared up at the ceiling at 4:00 AM (because I had wrecked my sleep schedule over the summer) Did Not Work Out.

Let’s go through the list, shall we?

  • Wake up early in the morning so I can get a good breakfast and get some work done!

You don’t really realize just how much you love sleep until it’s 7 AM, you’re staring at the sunrise, and instead of being in awe at the majesty of nature or whatever, you’re angrily and incoherently asking the sun, “How dare you?”  

  • Make an aesthetically pleasing study schedule and stick to it! You’re getting straight A’s this semester!

I can say this because we’re still only a month into this semester, but the straight A’s thing isn’t exactly out of the cards yet. The whole “sticking to the schedule” thing…not so much. The schedule is, however, visually pleasing to look at. So if anything I just made some guilt-inducing wall art.

  • Go to office hours every week!

I consider it enough of an accomplishment when my professors know my name.

  • Go to the gym every day!

Listen, I aspire to be that person who works out and goes to the gym and does yoga and treats their body like a temple. But for now, it will remain an aspiration. But I’ve been eating less ice cream and dessert lately, so I can comfort myself with that…and the free donuts my roommate brought home the other day.

 

  • Eat salad!

I’m sorry to anyone who likes salad, but salad tastes boring. I’m sure there’s some magical way to make salad appeal to my tastebuds, but I am unwilling to learn.

I don’t mean to sound cynical. That’s not the point here. I’m just saying that everyone has #goals. Everyone has aspirations and ideas about who they want to become and sometimes when they try to become that person, they may bite off more than they can chew. I mean, you ever hear that statistic about how more people go to the gym right after New Year’s and then as the year goes on the number of people going tapers off? It’s sort of like that.

But there’s this person you want to become and you know how to get there. Maybe you just didn’t get there as quickly as you wanted to. That doesn’t mean you should give up. I mean, here’s what I actually did accomplish in the first month of this semester:

  • I’m waking up early enough to get breakfast so I’m not a malnourished zombie during my morning classes.
  • I am doing my work and keeping up with my readings.
  • My professors know my name!
  • And okay, I’m not going to the gym and eating salad, but I’m making a conscious decision to eat better and maybe walk to LSM instead of taking the H bus.

I know this doesn’t seem like much, but I’m closer to being the person I want to be than I was a month ago and that’s really all I can ask for.

I know that maybe you woke up on the first day of the first semester and thought everything would be different. Maybe you wanted to study more and become the model student or maybe you wanted to loosen up and try new things. If you accomplished everything you set out to do this first semester, then more power to you. I’m proud of you and keep going!

But if things didn’t turn out the way you planned, then you shouldn’t be discouraged and you shouldn’t quit entirely. Things take time. You take time. I say this word a lot, mostly to justify my own procrastination, but you’ll get there – wherever there is – eventually. Just, and this sounds so saccharine and cheesy I can’t stand it, keep working and be patient.

You’ll get there eventually.

 

 

 

If you would just register to vote that would be swell

If you know me in real life, then we’ve probably already had the following conversation:

You: Hey, Noreen, how’ve you be-

Me: Have you registered to vote?

You: No, not yet. I’ll probably get around to it late-

Me: Register to vote.

You: …

Me: *slowly rising in volume, pitch, and intensity* Do it now.  Do it. Do it right now. The deadline is October 18th! What’ve you been doing with your life!? What county are you from? You can find the form you need to register to vote on this site, but also if you want to apply to mail-in your vote that’s a separate form that you can find here and these are the deadlines…

You: Noreen, I think that maybe you need to Calm Down. Also I don’t know how you bolded spoken word, but I am very concerned right now.

Me: *not calm at all* What’re you talking about!? I’m totally fine! Why does everyone keep telling me to calm down you know you people could have the chance to weigh in on this issue if you’d just REGISTER TO VOTE AND DO YOUR CIVIC DUTY YOU-!

You: …

Me: Okay, yeah, I see your point…I’m sorry for yelling.

You: It’s okay. We can work through this together.

Anyway, if you’re still friends with me it’s probably because you were already registered to vote and didn’t have to witness my transformation into a raving democracy lunatic.

MERICA

Now, you’ve all probably heard the “this is your chance to make your voice heard in the government and create history so you better participate in the political process blah blah” speech so many times in the past year and a half that you’ve started to train yourself to ignore it, much like how you’ve trained yourself to ignore that annoying upstairs neighbor who doesn’t understand that sound can travel through solid objects.

Well, get ready, because you’re about to hear it again.

And by “it” I mean the whole “political process” speech, not your annoying neighbor. I wouldn’t subject you to that again.

I’ll admit that I’m getting a little sick of political talk. For the past year and a half it seems the media has been saying nothing but, “Hillary’s got emails and she’s also got cancer and Trump wants to build a wall and punch Ted Cruz in the FACE!!!!1!” I’m not trying to convince you to vote for a specific candidate so I won’t be spending too much time on that.  

I don’t care if you’re #WithHer or want to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain. Well, that’s a lie. I care a lot and you should to. This post isn’t really about what hashtag you’re using, it’s about making sure that you take a moment and remember that this election is taking place outside of social media and you need to GO OUT and ACTUALLY VOTE IN THE ELECTION.

Now I think we can all say that this election year has been…well, to put it nicely it’s been pretty ludicrous. To put it more plainly:

Tweet:I'm starting to think that this is the last season of America and the writers are just going nuts

But one positive thing that came out of this mess is the fact that millennials have gotten really passionate about politics, and now that we’re a pretty sizable percentage of America’s eligible voters, we all really have a chance to enact change that will create a United States that we want to see.

I know a single vote doesn’t seem like it would carry that much power, especially with whatever the heck the Electoral College is, but this isn’t really about an individual vote either. It’s about a group of people coming together and making whatever choice they think is right.

So I don’t want anyone to just sit in bed on November 4th and think, “Eh, my vote doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things and it’s not like (other candidate) will actually win anyways. Look at how much support (preferred candidate) has in the polls! I think I’ll just go back to sleep and ignore literally all of my responsibilities. That’s a good idea.”

And god forbid, I don’t want anyone to actually FORGET to register, because that’s just foolish behavior.

So here are links to where you can find the voter registration form for New Jersey (THE DEADLINE IS OCTOBER 18) and the application for a mail-in ballot for New Jersey (THE DEADLINE IS ONE WEEK BEFORE THE ELECTION) and here’s how to immigrate to Canada just in case things don’t go your way in November.

Please, just go out and vote in November. We can actually make history here, but not without you.