Meandering Thoughts on the Eve of My 21st Birthday

I turn 21 tomorrow (today, as of the actual publishing of this post). This post could have been profound, meaningful, or at the very least relevant. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be: a brief tour of the thoughts meandering about my head on this Monday evening.

Sitting in the library of my college, there’s a girl behind me speaking an Eastern European(?) language. She’s being a little loud for the likes of the woman seated across from her, but she takes no notice. And the woman doesn’t do anything more than scowl over at her. 

What does it feel like to be 21? Our society says that’s when we’re legally adults. We can be tried as adults when we turn 18, but at 21 we’re trusted to “drink responsibly” in public places. Funny, our system of rites of passage. We can drive a metal death machine at age 16, but can’t be trusted to make national political choices for another two years. We also have to wait this long before we’re able to decide whether or not that “Edward + Bella 4EVER” tattoo will stay looking good on our lower back for the rest of our lives. At 18, we can apply for an apartment lease, or to be exotic dancers, or buy cigarettes. We can even decide to tie the knot without our parents’ consent.

And then we can’t take so much as a sip of social ethanol until three more years after that. It’s really no sensible system at all.

In some cultures, we’re adults when we’re 13 or when we hit puberty – when our voices and bodies change. For girls, when we start to bleed. In this grand old culture of the U.S. of A., all we have are arbitrary distinctions. One day, you can be sent to juvie. The next day, you can be condemned to death by a jury of your peers. What a mess.

In Taiwan, where my family is from, and in many other countries, there virtually is no drinking age restriction. It may be different from social group to social group, but in public restaurants and properties, no one really gives much mind to how old you are when you drink. And is it a surprise that alcoholism here and in such countries is lower than that of the United States? When will we as a society learn that forced prohibition never sustainably works?

The girl’s quiet now. I feel self-conscious typing so loudly now.

I have nothing planned for this momentous birthday. I hear that all birthdays after this one aren’t even worth celebrating (or lamenting). Maybe the decade birthdays. How depressing. Soon, I’ll be able to go into those places with the NO MINORS signs. “Haha,” I’ll think, grinning from ear to ear, “I am no longer a minor in this society. Fiddle dee dee.”

Whoop di doo?

Seriously, when will the actual feeling of adulthood start creeping into my head? As far as I know, I’m still a kid. I’m still a wandering pup in a big wide world still looking for a warm belly when I can. Just because the invisible law of this country deems me to be an “adult,” doesn’t mean I am one. It doesn’t mean I’ll ever really feel like one.  Society’ll do all it can to pile on bills, taxes, 8-to-5 jobs, and other “adult responsibilities” to trick me into thinking I’m one. Who in our culture is truly mature? I feel like we’re all domesticated puppy dogs – a culture of unrealized wolves. It’s all a farce.

It is just way too quiet now. What is this, a library or something?

Can someone help me contain my excitement?

But look at this, I’m being such a bore, such a yumm yucker. I know I’ll have enjoy myself – if not on my birthday, then later on in life. Christ, I’ve already had a great deal of fun. There’s nothing to complain about (without getting existentially angsty). Being 21 and beyond is going to be pretty all right. Also, the quiet life sounds nice, but even moderation needs to be taken into moderation. The party-hardy and rave scene will never by my regular diet, but it sure sounds like fun to try out here and there like Grandma’s super fatty, ultra salty, so damn bad yet so damn good home cooking. We can be in danger of having too much ice cream, but we can also be in danger of having too much broccoli as well.

Here is where I sigh a sigh of resignation and acceptance. Adulthood’s going to have to be taken just like everything else. One step at a time. And what the heck do I know? I’m still a baby. I still got time to be proven right (but hopefully oh, so wrong. Hopefully.) And I’m going to put this one last thing out there, that no matter how introverted anyone is, they should soak their big toe out in the waves just once [in a while] at the very least. Really, we only live once, as the kids say. And that’s all I my wandering mind has to say about that.

So Happy Birthday, Sigmund Freud, George Clooney, and Maximilien Robespierre. May 6th is going to be a lovely day. Even if it didn’t work out so well for the Hindenburg.

Oh, she’s started talking on the phone again. I don’t feel so bad anymore.

I may have posted this before, but it’s a video worth watching at least twice.

Do you remember turning 21? And if you aren’t yet there, what are your feelings on looming “adulthood?”

Advertisements

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?

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.

For No One Can See Me and Live… Until YouTube

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

First of all, I am no man.

Second of all, I have no second point.

Well, folks, I’ve decided to take a step out of the shadows of anonymity and start making YouTube videos. To be honest, I have no clear reason or idea why. Do I want to expand my brand? Perhaps I’m an attention whore at heart. Maybe it has to do with daddy issues, abandonment issues, Ben & Jerry’s issues, etc. For whatever reason, I have a YouTube account now and I’ve posted my first personal video. I already had a few Richard Dawkins videos up, but I only just recently uploaded one where I show my face.

For now, I have no focus on my YouTube channel. All I know is that this blog will still be my primary outlet of [not so] creative expression. My YouTube channel will be updated even less frequently than this site is. For now, it’s still in the experimental stages. I was just really excited that I got a ukulele and I wanted to share it with the world because I have no friends. Just kidding. Not kidding. Just kidding…

So what did I choose to do for my video debut? Why, sing and play a Monty Python song on the ukulele, of course.


So subscribe to my YouTube channel stressingoutstudent and see the fears, worries, and screaming pathos in 3D*!

Bring it on, YouTube. Let’s see what you got for SOS.

*Not actually in 3D