Update: The Final Countdown… with a Vengeance

Here’s your earworm to suck on (to hell with keeping metaphors straight):

Greetings, fellow bloglings,

Stressed Out Student here with a final countdown at the Stressing Out College blog, my first blog baby. Let’s not get too sentimental here, but I have some fond memories of this blog, some posts that make me smile (and oftentimes cringe), and many posts that hit me with a feeling of foreigness. It’s been a lovely run, but never fear! I am not leaving the blogosphere forever (I know, you were desperately worried, but I got you).

I’ll be continuing my journey over at my brand new blog baby The Lonely Tribalist, where I’ll chronicle all that is mundane in the new and subsequent chapters of my life, focusing on the phenomenon of 7 billion tribal creatures each living surprisingly lonely lives. A world filled with tribes of one.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep it light. And snarky. I hope to see at least some of you over there. I’ve truly missed the lot of you.

Cheers and see you soon,

SOS

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Update: Three Weeks into the Academic Quarter… What the Hell Am I Doing?

My eyes feel like they’ve been run over by a Mack truck carrying a trailer full of elephants covered in wet laundry. But god, life is good.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s sprinkling – not that I can really see it from my window at 1:30 in the morning. If I focus hard enough, the streetlamp in the courtyard becomes blurred behind the sheer veneer of rain. The sliding door across the room is ajar, letting the cold in just the way I like it. The summer was too hot for this Portlander. Now, we’re in the season oft symbolic for change.

The last time I posted was toward the end of June – shortly after my final exams and shortly before I flitted into the woods to rejoin a surrogate family. Since then, I’ve traveled across state lines, grappled with the usual “what the Hell am I doing” angst, moved into a new apartment, started working again, started school again… and have returned to grappling the “what the Hell am I doing angst.” Isn’t it lovely when it comes full circle?

As I said in this interview with A.A. Forringer (thanks again, A.A.), there’s only so many ways I can talk about how fun/stressful/delightful/terrible college is. Adding in a Monty Python post or reference can only last for so long *nudge nudge wink wink*. This is one of the reasons I’ve been devoting a little more effort into my other blog, The Big Blog of All the S#!t I Knowunder the name BBK with my partner Moose. It’s a different sort of outlet, where I’ve been ranting about different aspects of my worldview pertaining to subjects such as sustainability (not just recycling, but true paradigmatic attitude shift), feminism and gender, and a bit deeper emotional ruminations. So it’s the same sense of humor… just smeared with s#!t.

And as much as I have shifted my energies into that blog, I can’t bring myself to drop Stressing Out College completely. It is my first baby and as long as I’m actually still in college, I still have plenty to write about. Heck, I don’t even write about college most of the time anyway. You know I’m flat out awful with resolutions and I’m terrible with pinky swears, so there will be none of those. I’ll simply end with this:

I have missed you, Lovely Readers. And I hope to read more of y’all’s blogs as I get back into writing.

Cheers,
SOS

Seattle Center International Fountain  | Stressing Out College

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?”

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?

Shelf Life Expiration Review: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Slowly but surely, I’m flipping through the pages of the books I’ve hoarded and neglected and will be giving mini-reviews on what I think of them in the new segment Shelf Life Expiration Reviews.  Last month, I took to task reading the philosophical narrative Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder. What a powerful read.

Sophie's World | Shelf Life Expiration | Stressing Out College | stressingoutstudent

I’ve had a mild fascination with the history of major philosophies for quite some time, having read a little here and there throughout my hefty academic career. However, I had been having a hard time figuring out where to properly begin my sojourn into the world of philosophy – something more put together than a series of Wikipedia articles, but that would take less effort than reading translations of interpretations of translations of old texts?

Sophie’s World was my answer.

Gaardner opens us into the cradle of western thought in Greece and guides us through the cliched whirlwind tour of the history of western philosophy. At first, the metanarrative seemed like a cheap, lazy veil of a story to carry the history lesson through. But it ended up taking a brain-picking turn for the unexpected. Socrates, the Renaissance, Hume, Hegel, Darwin. It’s by no means an exhaustive look at the history of western philosophy – he gives Nietzche a mere sentence of a mention – but it’s great for newbies like me. And the index at the back makes for easy referencing.

I still don’t understand all of what happens narratively in the novel with Gaarder toying with questions of perspective and reality, so I suppose I’ll just have to read it again sometime. Not complaining here. Sophie’s World gets the Shelf Life Seal of Approval from me.

This is the first Shelf Life Expiration Review of hopefully many more to come. I’ll try my best to read a non-school-related book each month from my Shelf Life Expiration List and tell you how great, mediocre, or terrible I think it is. Have you read Sophie’s World? Or any book like it? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below.