The Cure for Literary Laryngitis in 300 Words

Unleashing Me suggested a writing exercise on April 19th:

“Pick an object sitting on your table and write a description of it in 300 words, in your voice. Make it beautiful. Make that description sing. I don’t care if the object is a dry, cracked pen that needs an ink refill and has lint all stuck on the front of it, make those 300 words sound fantastic and showcase your voice to the world!”

This is the result of that exercise.


My phone, settled beside me on the bed, rests silently as I type away rather noisily. Dreaming of electric sheep and satellites in the sky, it lies in peaceful dormancy. I let it alone for now. The sleek, black device has been through many a trial and none too few a tribulation. He’s seen the world fall toward him one too many a time. Chips and nicks are the telltale signs of misuse, neglect, and mindlessness. The way the light hits it at the moment reveals a slick canvas of long strokes and short smudges. And yet, the phone does not whine. It does not moan and groan and rail against me. He remains quiet until summoned.

Ah, a jolt. With a vibration, ring, and a flash of the screen, the phone suffers a night terror and shows me what he saw. “What are you doing right now?” it reads. I slide the message away and let the phone sleep again. Seeing the evidence of my greasy fingers on the screen makes me uneasy. Irrationally, I slide my thumb flatly against the screen, top to bottom in very human lines. It’s no less greasy now, but at least the grease strokes are uniform.

Microsoft tried to make a phone to compete with the iPhone and the Galaxy. My phone is the product of their noble attempt, noble in the consumerist court. “Sleek” was a misleading word. Samsung clearly did not spend as much time on this Windows phone as they did on the Galaxy. The corners are far too sharp and boring. This cannot even hold a AAA-powered light to the even newer Windows phones, mobile devices that actually had a design department. But here my phone lies, in resumed sleep, a beta test of a supposed smartphone. Oh, another text.


I think that may have been a word or two over 300, but the more the merrier, eh? Thanks again, Unleashing Me, for the prompt. If you’re looking for some inspiration, try it out for yourself!

Easter, Eggs, and The Etymologicon

My family, not being particularly religious, doesn’t celebrate Easter. The most we do is take my youngest siblings Easter egg hunting. Maybe eat at Red Robin. And that’s if we’re feeling particularly special on this otherwise normal Sunday.

Don’t worry, this isn’t an “Easter is a pagan holiday and Jesus doesn’t exist post.” Over on The Big Blog of All the S#!t I Know, I’ve been partaking in [not really] the April A-Z Challenge. The month is almost over and I’m only on the letter “E.” Hooray for laziness. And I’ve also been neglecting this blog, so I’m just using the topic of Easter as inspiration and to segue into talking about etymology (because it’s alliterative, of course).

Words are fascinating, to express my feelings simply. They rock my crocs and allow me to convey ideas both inane and relevant. As much as I aspire to be one, I am no professional linguist, just an amateur lover of language. For fellow word-lovers, a fun read is The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth, the blogger over at The Inky Fool. Forsyth is a level 99 etymology nerd, which makes me both love him and be jealous of him. It’s a lot of etymology packed into less than 300 pages and every other page, you’ll be going “Oh! So that’s where that comes from!”

Another site logophiles will find equally fun and useful is the Online Etymology Dictionary, started by one guy who was also a huge etymology nerd and figured the interwebs needed a proper, coherent etymological dictionary. It’s been added to by loads of people and has become pretty extensive. It’s my go-to site for looking up basic etymologies of words. “Hm, I wonder where the word ‘cockroach’ comes from?” Oh well let’s see. European dude’s bastardization of the Spanish “cucaracha” (chafer, beetle, kind of caterpillar – is “cuca” related to cocoon?)

A certaine India Bug, called by the Spaniards a Cacarootch, the which creeping into Chests they eat and defile with their ill-sented dung [Capt. John Smith, “Virginia,” 1624]. (Online Etymology Dictionary)

And this often leads to a descent into the etymology hole, much like the Wikipedia hole and the cute-animals-on-YouTube hole.

Etymology’s fun isn’t just in memorizing where words come from. Words are more than packaged, literal definitions. They are social vehicles that get us from A to B to X, Y, Z. They get us out of bed and through the door, at dinner with a friend to bed with a lover. The etymology of “etymology” is from the Greek for “the study of the true sense.” This includes the social, cultural history of the word, the psychologies involved with its evolution and use. While a gene pool and a swimming pool might not technically have the same historical origins, is it a coincidence that both senses of pool are tied so closely together in our minds?

A gene pool is a collection of DNA. A swimming pool is a collection of water. So what if the gene pool sense of “pool” comes from the French for chicken, poule, and the swimming pool “pool” is from the Old English/Germanic pol for small body of water? As with John Smith’s mishearing of “cockroach,” when someone hears a language they are unfamiliar with, they automatically search for and attach to familiar-sounding words, whether or not they’re actual cognates. It’s narrow-minded to think words are nothing more than what the Oxford English Dictionary says they are. As a friend of mine said, “Remember that language is no more or less real than math, and words are no more things than unicorns.”

To me, that pretty much sums it up.

Do you have a passion for words? Or are they just tools to get you through the day? Other thoughts?

Freewriting on a Lazy Saturday (Or “This is What the Internet was Made For”)

Surely, the world is still capable of creating original ideas. Or perhaps now. not. There is nothing new beneath the sun, just the same turkey with gradually different dressing. I don’t feel so bad about being uncreative, unimaginative.

This song has already played. I’ve stayed for an entire loop of the music here. Likely for two cycles. I’m leaving now.

Just kidding. I’m too comfortable.

Good God, I’m bored. Must. Find. Something. To. Do.

When a person says “I’m bored,” you know they’re doing something wrong in life.

Too much anxiety. This is why I’m writing nothing. There’s just too much anxiety. It needs to be got out somehow. No matter how therapeutic writing may be, however, it’s not nearly enough. So much anxiety, stress, frustration. Just looking up quotes both inspiration and depressing to put on the blog. Nothin’. Inspiring me to be depressed. I had one of the most vivid and insightful dreams the other night.

Might be interesting to chart the days when I go on manic writing sprees.


It’s a Saturday. There’s no need to put any effort into anything. Legitimate post coming this Monday, I promise. Happy Easter, folks. And if you don’t do anything for Easter, high five, let’s watch Breaking Bad on Netflix together.

Reblog: Midterm Stress Relief Week: House of Cards

In honor of the release of season 2 of “House of Cards,” winter quarter midterms, and my blogging laziness. Cheers. Check out the rest of the Midterm Stress Relief

Stressing Out College

After a long day of running around campus, it’s time to slip into a granny sweater, make some scorching hot tea, and watch some good ol’ House of Cards for Day 3 of Midterm Stress Relief Week.

The show, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright and directed by David Fincher, premiered on February 1. I started watching it the day after and am only four episodes into the show. So far, it’s pretty damn good. Spacey’s character Frank Underwood is passed over for the position of Secretary of State by the candidates, including President, he helped get elected. He slowly and very surely enacts a plot to dismantle the new Secretary candidate and get his overall revenge. He’s so bad, he’s good. Aside from his lovely wife Claire, we the audience are Frank’s confidante as Spacey breaks the fourth wall to reveal is true nature. Spacey and Wright make a…

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101 Damnations: 101 Stressed Out Ramblings

Because I, like every neurotic narcissistic individual on the Internet, enjoy celebrating mundane trivialities.

Here on Stressing Out College, we kicked off the new year a week late with post No. 100, appropriately about my love of new years resolutions. 100, a round number, aesthetically pleasing, easy to work with in math. Who cares- I’m just making up a reason to post and liven up this place a little bit.

A lot of my previous ideas on this blog lost steam with me and I’ve been having issues rediscovering my inspiration. There’s only so many ways I can say that college and life stresses me out and that some people or institutions are stupid. The only recurring segment that I’ve been keeping up with is the Scrap Paper Poetry, which I’ve actually been rather happy about. A series that I did way back in the third age of this blog was Transportation Tuesday, which I’ll be bringing back. Don’t know why I ever stopped it. Public transportation is loaded with comedic material. And I’ll be starting a monthly series in February reading and reviewing a book from my neglected book shelf, so… we’ll see how that pans out.

But to cut to the real meat of these cojones, what I really wanted to do was plug my other blog: The Big Blog of All the S#!t I KnowWhy everyone should be following me around and listening to what I have to say.

Big Blog of All the Shit I Know Logo

Shameless self-promotion time: While I rant on Stressing Out College about random topics loosely related to school or Monty Python or whatever it is that I tend to write about on here, The Big Blog of All the S#!t I Know is where I share my thoughts on society, civilization, organic relationships, and universal ecology. A bit heavier topics, but not without the sarcastic lightness you’ve come to know and love from me. ((Insert cheesy smile here)) Plus, I tend to swear more there. And they have cookies*. So please go check it out!

And finally, I would just like to say thank you to all my readers (yes, all five of you). Without you folks, I’d just be that crazy-haired chick at your local street corner constantly muttering to herself about how awesome Oscar Wilde and Monty Python are and wouldn’t it be great if education wasn’t so frustrating…

So thank you and let’s make this year even more stressful than the last.

Cheers,

SOS

*Just Internet cookies. Sorry, not sorry.