Scrap Paper Poetry #5: Boredom, Lecture, Oh- It’s Halloween

Is it Halloween?
The calendar says it’s so –
October 31st, let’s give a poem a go:
No, I think I’d rather not;
Validity and logic forms have turned my brain to rot.
If you’re looking for effort here,
I’m sorry to disappoint.
So go outside and fool around or fire up a joint.
What I really wanted to say, I guess, in a way not too obscene,
Is go fudge yourself
And have a Happy Halloween

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The Obligatory NaNoWriMo Announcement Blog Post Thingy

If you’ve been even remotely near any writerly circles on the Interwebs (which you likely have since you’re on a WordPress site), you know what this post is going to be about. No M. Night Shyamalan twist. No revolutionary authorial innovation. As of the publishing of this article, it is October 31st, what most consider to be date of All Hallow’s Eve, but what amateur writers know to be as…

THE DAY BEFORE NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH.

(Also known as “The Last Day of Restful Sleep,” “The Beginning of the Great Annual November Coffee Flood,” “Descent into Insanity,” and “The Day of Slamming Doors into Trick-or-Treaters’ Faces in Favor of Last Minute Plotstorming” – among others.)

If you are indeed reading this on Halloween Day, this means there is less than 24 hours before the start of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for those in the kNoW (See what I did there?… Oh God, the descent has already started.)

For those of you not cool enough to have known about this, here is a rundown of what exactly NaNo is:

  • Goal: Write a story at least 50,000 words long by the end of November – this amounts to at least 1,667 words a day on average
  • No starting before November and you lose if you don’t finish by November 30, 11:59:59 pm
  • Just kidding, this isn’t the writers’ Hunger Games
  • Kiss your bed goodbye for the next month
  • Stock up on coffee and trail mix
  • If you’re a student (like me), your grades will suffer
  • The point is to leave your perfectionism at the door and simply writeyou can edit it it all in December when you’re done
  • Sign up on the official website to meet fellow NaNo-ers, read and contribute great advice, and just have a ton of fun. Writing nerds unite!
  • Also, it’s NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) – self-explanatory. Those attempting to do both NaNo and NaBlo at the same time should be committed to a mental asylum.

I’ve attempted the NaNo shenanigans a couple of times – did not meet the goal either times. What I found was my greatest problem was a lack of purpose or end goal. I recently spoke to a friend of mine and he gave me the most mindblowingly simple, yet extraordinary advice I had ever heard pertaining to writing: start with your ending.

*head explodes*

Perhaps you’ve thought of this before and you systematically do this when writing long stories, but I had never thought to do this before. This was perfect! Create your ending, so that you have a target to aim at whilst furiously scribbling/typing away. It doesn’t matter where your tangentify your story off to, you can always bring it back around to where you wanted it to end. And of course, the end can evolve as you delve further into your story, and the evolution is made that much easier because you had a place to start. While you are the author, you’re still not some god – you cannot make something come from absolutely nothing.

With this advice in mind… I still have no idea what the hell I have to write about. Oh well, I still have *glances at clock*…

Sonofabitch.

NaNoWriMo Participant Cover

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? How did it go? Will you be participating this year? If you’re a fellow student, how are you going to balance school work, NaNo and procrasterbation time? How many gallons of caffeination will you drink this month? Good luck!

I’ve registered on the site as stressingoutstudent, so feel free to add me as a writing buddy!

Pep talks, funnies, and more NaNo info:

Scrap Paper Poetry #4: We Proudly Serve the Starbucks Overlords

Starbucks Sleeve Poetry Ramblings

It takes a customer asinine

To get 12 oz. of coffee for 4.89.

But we do it anyway

Because we really are stupid, okay?

So just get back to your overpriced joe

And let the StarBorg through you flow.


WE PROUDLY SERVE
the manufactured addiction to overpriced food and drink
and the creation of a uniform “gathering place”
around the world for people to sit on their laptops “socializing.”

A Guide to Giving Blood (Before Proceeding to Pass Out)

They vant to suck your blawhd!

For a good cause, of course.

Red Cross was on campus this week to collect the blood of unwilling victims students, faculty, and anyone unfortunate enough to be in the area. A pint of blood is all they ask for (unless you’re a super human, then they’ll ask for double the blood – or even your precious plasma). A pint can save three lives, they propagandize. Well, you got nothing better to do – I know I don’t – so let’s donate some hematocytes!

Let’s play a game called “Spot the Error(s)”:

Here is how I prepared to donate:

  1. Ate lots of iron-rich foods, especially eggs. I love me some egg sandwiches in the morning.
  2. Drank at least a cup more of water each day.
  3. Went to sleep between midnight and 4 a.m.

On the day of the appointment:

  1. Woke up (9:30 am). Drank a tall glass of water.
  2. Had a bowl of cereal (10:00 am).
  3. Went to class (12:00 pm).
  4. Waited around, drank water (2:00 pm)
  5. Appointment check-in (2:15 pm)

Yeah, you know where this is going.

Now, if you’ve ever given blood, you know that it never runs on time. So while I checked in at 2:15 for a 2:30 appointment, I was not seen in for the preliminary questioning and testing for at least half an hour. Blood pressure test, prick your finger for a hemoglobin test (blood iron content), answer a few dozen questions concerning your health and the safety of your blood, etc. This process took another 20 or so minutes. By the time I was seated, strapped, and stabbed in the arm with the needle, it was perhaps 3:30 or 3:45. (So keep in mind to block off a good couple hours in your schedule if you plan on donating blood).

The bloody ritual went smoothly, taking about 10-15 minutes. I read while occasionally glancing over at the solid stream of red running from my arm into the pint-sized bag below. A fascinating experience thinking about all of this organic matter from my body being transported via a clear plastic tube into a baggy. An out-of-body experience.

Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. The doctor dude clamped off the tube when the bag was full and proceeded to extract a little more blood into five separate vials. I’m pretty sure they use those samples to test my blood and ensure it’s clean and usable.

It was not until he started filling the fifth vial that I felt the shift in my head.

My skull around the temples began to throb slowly, adding and relieving pressure like a bellows device. A drowsiness descended from the top of my head like a veil, slowly sliding its way down behind my face. I remember furrowing my brow, concentrating on this series of sensations. I do no remember losing consciousness.

As if there hadn’t been a break in consciousness, the next memory I have is of several voices saying my name in unison. It felt like a dream. I can’t remember how long I had had my eyes open. I can’t remember how long I had been staring at the semi-circle of faces, thinking it was only a dream. How comical my waking reaction must have been once I realized I was awake and that the semi-circle was in fact real. I was lying prostrate now. Someone had placed a cold, wet paper towel on my forehead and on my neck. Even when I woke up, I hadn’t realized what had happened. (Yes, I was very slow to piece it all together). My head felt foggy, as if I had been woken up in the middle of a dream – and really, I had – even though I likely wasn’t unconsciousness for more than a minute.

As I was still lying down, an attendant bandaged my arm and instructed me to drink lots of water and refrain from any strenuous activity. She pushed my seat back up at an angle and advised me to stay for a couple minutes before getting up. I still wasn’t completely sure what had happened. Really, it felt like there had been no break of consciousness at all. After I waited and decided that I felt fine, I slowly rose to a ninety degree angle and equally slowly shifted my legs over the edge of the seat. I waited for a minute and as I didn’t feel light-headed, I got down and grabbed my things. A volunteer came over and escorted me over to the recovery station.

“Did I pass out?” I asked lightly.

“Yes.” Her reply was nonchalant, matter-of-fact actually. I chuckled a little and probably looked slightly perplexed.

Keebler snacks, Quaker bars, juices, and several other sugary snacks were available. I took one of each, quickly devouring the mini chocolate Keebler cookies. However, it wasn’t all over yet! As I was working on a nut bar, the throbbing feeling came back. A tiny pang of nausea nudged at the pit of my stomach and I became worried that I might fall out of my chair or vomit. The feeling was slightly different this time. It was incredible. Imagine a large syringe sucking the life right out of you. It begins at the top of your head again and slowly drains you down, down, down. In a cartoon, you’d clearly see illustrated the liquid of your life force being emptied from your body, leaving an empty space in your head as your strength and life evacuated your skull. Gray splotches emerged on the surface of my vision spreading outward until all I could see – was nothing.

It was the most curious feeling. As I was still conscious and not quite as nauseous as I had feared, I oddly didn’t panic. I simply sat there with my eyes open, blind, sitting very very still so that I would not fall.

“[My name]? How are you feeling?”

“I’m… a little light-headed,” I said quietly. Or at least, I think I said this out loud. The way the woman reacted, by the sound of her voice, it didn’t seem like she heard me. So perhaps I didn’t actually say it.

They urged me to move to another seat they had wheeled for me. She told me to turn and sit down. As I couldn’t see, I didn’t move and only made a feeble attempt to turn to the left. It was in fact on my right. I felt two hands gently lift my under my armpits. As I rose, the blackness turned back to gray and the splotches gradually dissolved. Phew, I had my sight back. They wheeled me behind a little screened off area, where they applied new paper towels to my forehead and neck and gave me an apple juice. I lay there for about 15 minutes, I think, almost dozing off (remember how little I slept the previous night/morning). Finally, as I was feeling better and feeling pressured since my shift at work started at 5:00 and it was currently about 4:30-ish, I got back up, feeling much much better. I went back to the recovery station, had another juice and snack and then was on my semi-merry way.

So here’s the lesson:

  • Actually follow the advice the Red Cross gives you
  • Get a good night’s rest the day before you donate
  • Eat a hearty breakfast – not just a wimpy bowl of cereal
  • Drink a ton of water
  • If your appointment is more than a couple hours after you ate breakfast, eat something else
  • Drink a ton of water
  • Don’t think you’re invincible

There you have it. All in all, it wasn’t scary so much as it was an intriguing experience. I had never lost consciousness so suddenly and I will admit that I believe in “mind over matter” – that strength of mind can overcome weakness of body. While this may be true on some scale, it is certainly not true on a larger scale, such as having a pint of blood taken out of me. Goodness, I wonder what it feels like to have a double-red donation. Must have to eat a fat steak and chug a gallon of water before donating.

Don’t let this deter you from donating. It’s really not that bad. The pin prick from the hemoglobin test is more painful than the insertion of the needle, and it’s hardly any sort of sensation at all. Save three lives with just a pint of your tasty tasty blood!

Red Cross Blood Donation

 

Got any interesting blood donation stories? Ever lost consciousness (blood-related or not)? Feel free to share your tale in the comments!

The Tragedy of Old Age: Happy Birthday, Oscar Wilde

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. 

– Oscar Wilde

On this day in 1854, the crown prince of the Aesthetes, master of wit, artist of wordplay, Mr. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born. That was 159 years ago. And in much less time than that, Wilde would experience the tragic rise and fall of an infamous career.

What shall we do, Mr. Wilde, to celebrate this day for you? Here, would you reply with something witty and cynical? Something that would make the room titter and chuckle? Tuckle and chitter? Of course. I will make no attempt at an Wildean aphorism. Rest in peace, my flamboyant idol-of-sorts. No need to roll in the grave.

Oscar Wilde! What shall we do then? No need to write a biography about you. Many have already done so. People already know you were a playwright, with “The Importance of Being Earnest” being perhaps your most popular. And no need to mention your only novel, censored for over 150 years, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Only in the past couple of years has the full original edition – the draft publishers rejected as gross and dangerously “immoral” – become available to the public.

But perhaps that really is what needs mentioning…

The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray has been my favorite book since I first read it at the easily chewable age of 13. While the themes were classic and resonant, they were not the hook that drew me under. It was the words. The language in this book moved me in both shallow and deep ways. It is true that I was very easily won over by the purpley prose, those empty words that did nothing but- no, they did everything. Wilde’s words opened up for me a world of richness and flavor such that I had never read before. Even now, when I read through my favorite passages, I remain amazed at the almost purely aesthetic nature of the language. “Art for art’s sake.” Plot? TPoDG has only a semblance of a plot. It is more a vehicle for Wilde’s witticisms and poetic waxing than a captivating story.

The premise is fascinating and has endured this long, as it will continue to endure. In despair over the thought of losing his youth, Dorian Gray makes a Faustian wish: eternal youth in exchange for his soul. But it is not as if his soul has disappeared – it has manifested in his portrait, painted by a true artist in love with Gray. Basil Hallward outdid himself with his painting. He Pygmalion and Dorian his Galatea– a wondrously beautiful statue come to life. The painting shows every line and liver spot of Dorian’s age and sin. He is able to watch it year after year as it ages and he remains young and beautiful. Without the moral culpability, his soul, he is able to get away with almost anything. He ruins men and women alike, marring their reputability and making them unfit to step out into respectable society. He drives people to suicide. He murders. He takes all he can get from others and lavishes himself in the finest material wealth. All without remorse.

Throughout the years, the themes have become more poignant, becoming more important to me than the language. Wilde, King of the Aesthetes, still acknowledged moral depth. Beauty is not enough on its own. Dorian drove himself to a sort of madness in his final moments, tormented by the ugly sight of his own soul. In the end, he is dead, and for what? He was not a happier man for living the Epicurean lifestyle, indulging in all the carnal and material desires in his path.

What does this mean for us? What does it mean for me? To be honest, I do not yet know. After all these years, I am still mulling Wilde’s sole novel over in my head. He has taught me that it is all right – and perhaps he encourages this – to love art for the sheer beauty of it, regardless of the semantics or any other beyond-surface level meaning.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

– The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

He taught me about the subjectivity of morality, but at the same time pointed out that morality must exist, even if it’s something that we pull out of our derrieres. In what form remains to be illuminated. He showed me the facade of high society with its trivial worries and preoccupations. He gave me the appreciation for lovely language. He gave me the appreciation for intelligent language. He allowed me to feel without having to think too hard about it.

Thank you, Oscar Wilde, and happy birthday, old chap.

Read on about Mr. Wilde: