Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the end of an age

I am quite positive that the majority of people on the earth hate losing memories. I don't know anyone who goes around saying, "I wish I could forget things more often." There are, of course, *bad* memories. Like Christmas during 7th grade. Or the argument leading up to and following every family photo ever taken by mankind. For the most part, however, people like keeping their memories. In fact, it is quite difficult not to keep them. Those who have memories they wish to get rid of find the task extremely challenging.

For a lot of people... memories are all they have to hang on to. When you are old and you live in an acrid nursing home with plastic-covered mattresses and are given a Dixie cup full of pills every morning, you will rely most days on nothing but memory. You will sit in your wheel chair, or your rocking chair, or your toilet chair (those things really freak me out) and you will reminisce about "the good ol' days" when your hubby still kissed you good morning and goodnight and your children still saw you more often than during awkward holiday visiting hours. And when those nice people who volunteer with the elderly come to read to you or sew or bring a fluffy puppy to be annoyed by, you'll tell them stories about what life was like when you were their age. Your eyes will twinkle with nostalgia those young whippersnappers will have no idea what you're talking about, for the most part.

But I'm not here to talk about old people today. No, not at all. In fact... I am here to talk about video games. Let me explain.

You know how when you're a kid, everything that you think is cool has this stigma of remaining cool forever. The years go by and you might not think about that awesome board game or battery-powered toy for a while, but then one day someone mentions it, and you say, "Oh! I had one of those! Those were the best!" Or even worse, someone will mention a favorite childhood movie or cartoon, and again you will exclaim its wonders and glory and remember clearly how great it was.

For instance, The Brave Little Toaster. This used to be a childhood favorite of mine. I am sure that this cartoon both enthralled and terrified young people for decades, and probably still does every once in a while. I loved and hated that movie because these odd, common household items are in such peril. The concept was just a little hard to wrap my little head around. But I liked it. I reveled in it, just like every other kid my age did.

During my junior year in high school I was in a marine biology class, and on a free day our teacher asked if we wanted to watch a movie. So I and the only other junior in the class traipsed across the school to our teacher's old closet (he'd recently moved classrooms) and picked out a movie. It was, of course, The Brave Little Toaster. Now I could tell you that it was exactly how I remembered it and I loved it just as much then as I did as a child. Instead, I'm going to tell you that it was just how I remembered it but multiplied by a billion and therefore... I realized what a stupid, horrible movie it was. WE WERE ALL IN LOVE WITH IDIOCY, PEOPLE. I'm pretty sure I didn't finish watching the movie.

My memories, you see, were my downfall. I remembered being slightly scared of the movie and also enjoying it. But upon watching it again I realized the true folly in the script, and the animation, and what good memories I had were ruined by a lifetime of experiencing good movies.

So tonight (this morning, I should say) I wanted to play a computer game. I was searching through the shelf of disks when about five of them slid off the shelf and made a huge noise and right into the center of my desk slid Age of Empires II: Age of Kings. Now... I love this game. I will tell you that until the day I die, even after the ridiculous game I just played. I will stand by AOE forever. It is one of the first computer games I ever played and therefore I must be loyal. However, I had forgotten my real intentions when I play this game.

Like most computer action games, there's some killing. Violence. Little tiny cavaliers fighting other tiny two-handed swordsmen. But that's not why I play! I like the building, the upgrades, the "making" of itty-bitty lumberjacks and miners, and of course the cheat codes that make all those mini-people's lives meaningless. Not getting gold fast enough? Type "robin hood" into the screen and WHAM-O you are now 1000 gold units richer. THAT, my friends, is why I play. Instant success.

This time, however, was different. I put the disk in and began to play and after a while, the other players began to attack me. For no reason. This has never happened before, as far as I remember. Usually I can play my game in peace and I won't have to kill anyone or get myself killed. But this time the blue people and the yellow people started to attack me so I was distracted from my little farmers and shepherdesses and fishing boats. SO distracted that when I tried to cheat-code the blues and the yellows to death, I accidentally killed the reds.

And then I won. And it was all over. I almost cried. All that effort and mess (and injury) to find the game, and it was done in ten minutes. All those good memories of playing AOE into the early hours of Christmas break, just as I did in elementary school... tainted. Tainted by evil, violent, travesties of Byzantine emperors and swordsmen on little white horses and minuscule battering rams come to vanquish my barracks and burn my market to the ground. They came and trampled my farms and raped the farmers (ok, ok, not really) and tied up my monk as they ransacked the monastery! The horror! The horror!

So what did I do? Rather than face defeat like I did when I was twelve, what did I do?!

Cheat code entry: TORPEDO BLUE, TORPEDO RED [oops, but now I'm still dying], TORPEDO YELLOW.

AOE (in fancy script): You are victorious!

Me: "Aw, dangit."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just like breathing

During my high school years I learned a lot about words. That sounds like a pretty dumb statement, and it probably is, but I'm going to elaborate. I learned the roots of words. The head of the English department, who wasn't even my teacher at the time he began the whole root word extravaganza with me, came into my freshman English class and calmly and awkwardly worked out root words and their meanings. He would point to a half sheet of paper labeled 'sub-, hypo-' and in turn the class would chant, "Under, below, lacking."

This type of lesson is one of my favorites, and what I learned through our "vocabulary" time is essential now to my life. I plan to also use this form of teaching when I am someday in charge of my own high school English class. Not because it made me think, although it did, and not because it's a useful tool, although it is, but because this skill with root words I now have is cause for inspiration.

That is the word I want to talk about today. Inspiration. 'Spir' is a term for 'breath.' And as I sit here at my desk in my house in Washington and *not* at my desk in my dorm room in Illinois, I ponder how simple it is that I transfer from the schedule of classes and work to the strenuous task of... creativity.

What have I done so far? I have written two songs (and recorded one of them), I have made a pound's worth of junk out of clay (ok, it's not really junk), I have ********* (<--insert verb involving making boyfriend's Christmas present), I have painted and drawn pictures and now I'm writing.

This is my life at home. Making things... is just like breathing. It is my natural tendency to bring out fabrics and paints or go sit at the piano for hours when I am at home. It was this way during the summer, and when I return home I fall right back into place among the inhales and exhales of my artistic lungs. And inspiration, like so many things for artists, is something we can lose. However, I know I am in a place where it can always be found, and for now that's all I need.

Monday, December 14, 2009

retrospective

I lose time more than anything else in the world. From a very young age I felt the world rushing towards me. I was never impatient with time. I never found myself aching to be 16 or 21. Time itself, as a whole, moved at a decent pace. It was the smaller things like days and hours that seemed to stretch themselves out in front of me like mocking restrictions that kept me from that distant thing called "tomorrow" or "in a few minutes, honey." As a child, save for those precious and longing hours of impatience, time didn't matter much to me.

As an adult things are much different. I believe it was my senior year in high school when time seemed to speed up. One moment I was rocking out with friends, another moment preparing for The Honor Academy, another moment thrashing all my plans to the floor and... well, the next thing you know, my life is void of anything meaningful. It really happened that fast. There wasn't just one catalyst, there were many, and looking back it frightens me even more now than it did the first time.

But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about now. I want to talk about the fact that a year ago exactly from right now I was sitting downstairs with my boyfriend at the time. I don't know what we were doing. Probably saying goodnight. And exactly a year ago from 9 o'clock this morning that same boyfriend called me because I was late for our biology final. (I am still trying to un-convince myself that the only reason for our relationship was to save my grades from imminent destruction.) And at the time, everything seemed slow. I was days away from my first trip back to the West Coast since going to college and the semester seemed to drag on like a dead body tied to the back of a truck.

And still, that is not now. You want to know what now is? Now is 1:37am and I have a 'final' in 7 1/2 hours. Now is 1:38am and I've just recently finished a conversation with my boyfriend and I swear... every time I talk to him... every time the conversation ends... I want to marry him more. I would do it right now if I had the option, and if it wouldn't complicate my education.

Time is just starting to speed up for me again. This semester practically flew by. These classes I'm taking are just days from being a little blip on my degree, minute little notes in my brain. Everything for the past four months has been a hurricane of love and laughter and I enjoyed every minute of it. Like I said, time is just speeding up for me again, and already I'm aching for tomorrow--for marriage, children, a career.

Does time ever slow down? When I have kids will my life of high-velocity slow down to their level? Or at least meet them half way? Will I be once again swept up in the everyday anxieties of a six year old whose pants are ripped, whose fingers are sticky, who gets picked on at school because he wears clothes from Goodwill?

Or...

maybe it gets faster from here. Maybe when I get married, today will feel like it just happened, and I will again wonder where the time was. (I should probably point out right now that I'm incredibly dizzy for some odd reason and the computer is floating around my desk... no, I'm not on drugs. Just tired?) Maybe by the time I have kids this will all feel like a distant dream. Time will move four times as fast as it is right now and before you know it I will be an old woman and then I'll be dead. My brain is already moving faster than my floating-keyboarding-hands can type. (Equilibrium is reeeally failing right now. I actually feel like the earth's gravitational pull has shifted and I am both moving towards and away from my desk. This type of thing used to happen to me all the time when I got in arguments over instant messenger.)

So I suppose the real dilemma is this: Do I lose time *more* than anything else, or just *faster* than anything else? I will ponder this more in my bed, or I may change my mind and say I lose sleep more than anything else.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clarification

Before I say anything important, these are my new Christmas socks. My mother (or mama, as I call her) has given me a pair of Christmas socks every December since about 5th grade. These ones are fuzzy.


Why I started this blog... well, there are, of course, my hidden motives, which are more inappropriate than whimsical. But I also have reasons on the surface which, I don't doubt, any reader is aching to know. So I will enlighten you.

Reason One: Everybody loses.
People lose things. Socks, especially. Unless you live a jungle village untouched by society and things like stockings, you have doubtless lost a few socks somewhere between the dryer and the laundry basket. I'm sure you remember the frustration. You fold all your clothes (that is, if you're middle aged and actually do things like 'fold' and 'put away') and you realize there's that one striped tube sock. It looks up at you forlornly from the hamper. You might look in the dryer for its lost mate, maybe even behind the dryer, but eventually you will discard the sock. (My mom actually has a basket in the laundry room for lonely socks so that someday they might be reunited with their other half.) Now, socks are the least of your worries when it comes to loss. But not everyone relates to losing a loved one or the ability to walk or trust. We're gonna start with socks.

Reason Two: Everybody finds.
It's a very simple statement, but it's very true. Everybody finds stuff. Sometimes it's basically useless, like stray pennies on the sidewalk or some estranged photograph used as a page-marker in a library book. But other times you find things that are essential to your life, like a semi-decent job, a really tasty sandwich to eat for lunch, a child who went wandering in the park after another lady who looks like mommy, or "the one." Sometimes you find something right in time, like that parking space really close to the entrance of the theater so you don't miss all the previews before '2012.' And sometimes, you find things too late. For instance, I once found my debit card about three weeks after I ordered a new one. Regardless, everybody finds stuff. Detrimental to survival or just something to make you smile, such things are found.

Reason Three: Nobody keeps.
So now that we've talked about losing stuff and finding stuff (not necessarily the same stuff), I must establish the fact that no matter what, you don't get to keep it. That other sock you found? You don't get to keep it. Someday, that pair of socks will wear out and you'll have to throw it away. And that wonderful person you married? You don't get to keep them either. Not only is there a 50% chance you'll end up divorced, but eventually one of you will die and you won't get to keep that lovely marriage anymore. Someday... none of it will matter. It won't matter how many jobs you lost or friends died. It will all be over. You'll close your eyes and you'll be just like every other dead person. You'll have lost your life.

And there you have it.

It's that time again. Sorry about that.

I will start this new blog by talking about old things, because I've been out among the non-bloggers for quite some time now. I've got my trusty private Xanga still, going on 6 years now, but only my brother reads it. (and I'm fine with that.) I've decided it's time for something a bit more public and possibly contagious. (because who doesn't want to talk about things they've lost, or stuff they've found?)

So I've been out. In fact I've been out since senior year. I graduated with a decent GPA and then went on to... nothing. I went on a mission trip that was "less than ideal" in comparison to the others, which brought a few catalysts to my summer, and consequently went on to have a job. I worked at this "job" for 9 months, and during that 9 months the desire to leave Washington was slowly growing and growing. When that desire finally gave birth, I went on my fourth and final mission trip, and shortly after flew to Illinois to go to school.

Talk about a really big baby. I mean... HUGE.

And that has been my life as of August 2008. Trinity International University is my home away from home. I go to class (most of the time) and hang out with my roomie/best friend. We're over the top and seriously inappropriate. But we're good company. I've got myself a sweet boyfriend back on the West Coast, and things are going well in that aspect. Really well.

This year has seen me at my best and my worst, among a string of lung infections and coffee houses and confrontations. But isn't that life? You lose an opportunity because you can't breathe without coughing up blood, but you find out later you would have time for something else--something much less painful.

That is where I will end this post. I'm tired and getting sick and I have to go out into a blizzard in order to find some food. Excellent.