There’s nothing quite like a walk to clear one’s head. Nothing quite like fresh air and new sights to stir the dusty cobwebs of the mind. Take a deep breath–look up at the sky instead of the concrete beneath your feet.
Warning: Rambling Post Ahead… Proceed With Caution
This post is very overdue. I started off the year on an overly ambitious note, and I realize that now. Between taking five classes, working almost full time, and just life in general, something had to give… and unfortunately, for this semester at least, that something was blogging. As this semester wraps up, I look forward to blogging on a more regular basis once again, but until that time, a regular schedule seems doubtful. I have been writing over the last few months, even more than I was writing in previous months, but I just haven’t been editing and posting the content. The reason? It’s all homework at this point. That’s right… I’m taking Creative Writing as an elective class this semester, and it’s my favorite course so far! (Sorry Biology, Trig, and Accounting… but not really). So stay tuned and please bear with me. Life has a habit of being busy and unpredictable. That’s a poor and overused excuse, but it’s true. And now to the chase: this post itself is actually part of a school assignment for my Mass Communication class. Our most recent chapter covers the Internet, and how it has forever altered communication as we know it. Our professor asked everyone in the class to do a brief blog post on all the ways we use the Internet in our daily lives. So here goes… a walk through the day of a technologically dependent college student.
. . . .
I’m only on my first cup of coffee, and already logged on to the Internet. Monday through Saturday, every single morning, I update the blog for ReRun Consignment Boutique and post on the Boutique’s social media. As I get ready for the day and pack my bag for school/work, I listen to The Briefing by Albert Mohler, and then Pandora. At work, I rely heavily on the Internet as I research retail prices and values of different clothing brands. On the college campus, reliance on the Internet is even more obvious–right now, I’m camped out in the library, hooked into the campus network. Professors post content, materials, assignments, quizzes, and even exams to Blackboard. Emails fly back and forth between professors and students about classes, material, and due dates. And at the end of the day, YouTube is usually inevitable, as is Facebook. (For those of you who are of a similar nerdy/geeky bent, be sure to check out Sci-Show, VlogBrothers and Vsauce). As a writer, I enjoy reading writing prompts and articles on Pinterest. Brain Pickings also has some excellent insight for creatives. And if I mentioned by name all the personal blogs that I regularly read, this post would run far too long.
. . . .
So there you have it… for those of you who had any doubt, I really am a sleep deprived, technologically dependent college student. Unfortunately, the Internet saturates nearly every waking moment of my day. What do y’all think about our dependence on the Internet, and technology in general? Personally, I think it’s a good idea to take a break sometimes. In fact, this summer I’m planning on doing a weeklong technology fast (with the exception of work-required technology of course). I like the idea of disconnecting for a short amount of time. What do y’all think? Will you join me? Just as an experiment–we can all log back on and blog about the experience afterward. I wonder what kind of insight could be gained by a technology fast, especially for writers?
Monthly Musings! By way of introduction… we discussed imagery in Creative Writing last week. My professor brought up an interesting point: ours is a very visual society, and as such, we writers tend to rely heavily on visual descriptions whilst underwriting the other senses. An interesting idea for sure, and it demanded a little more digging.
. . . . .
A sensory exploration, for those overly burdened by sight.
“Gorgeous… absolutely beautiful. Everything is so green!” My cousin gushed in excitement.
I turned my head at the sound of her voice. “What does it look like? The color green?”
Silence. I waited. Then footsteps. Crackle-snap; the crunch of pebbles and broken twigs. My cousin climbed up beside me on the rock. “Well… I suppose it looks the way it smells. Here.” She thrust something leafy in my hands.”
It was sharp, minty, and fresh. I breathed deep, but could still feel my brow furrowing in frustration. “How else does green look?”
My cousin took my hand. With slow and careful movements, she slid down the rock, and I followed. We walked a little ways, until the ground grew soft beneath our feet. “Here… touch this. Green looks the way it feels.”
I knelt down beside her on the grass, running my fingers through the lush carpet. “Does green only feel like this?”
“No.” She laughed. “It also feels like this.”
A fresh, new leaf—there was still a trace of sap on the stem. I smiled a little smile, at last understanding. “Alright… but what does the color green sound like?”
“We’re in the perfect place. Just listen.”
We sat. A gentle breeze, as if hearing our beckon, whispered through the little valley. It shivered through the treetops, tossing and rustling the leaves. It played through the grass, caressing each blade, and set the whole meadow murmuring.
“And what does green taste like?” I asked, as the breezed died down.
“Hmmm…” My cousin rummaged in her pack. Her metal water bottle thumped against a book, and there was a soft ping as her pen struck the bottle’s side. “Green, green… ah!” Triumph. “Here… this is the way green tastes.”
Hard, smooth, round. I sniffed it. An apple. I took a bite, savoring the burst of flavor. Not just any apple, a Granny Smith. It was crisp and tart.
“What did you say?”
“I said, ‘this is the way green tastes’.” She replied, puzzled.
“No, no. Before that… back there, at the rock.” I pointed.
“Oh. I said ‘everything is so green’.”
The breeze picked up again—full and fresh. I breathed deeply, and thought about leaves, grass, and apples. I imagined whole hillsides laden with their scents, sounds, textures, and tastes. “Yes, you’re right.”
Even though I couldn’t see it, I knew there was a smile on my cousin’s face.
“Everything is so very, very green.” I continued. “And it is beautiful.”
We sat in silence for a time, just enjoying green. “Do you know… you have green eyes.”
I smiled wide, for the first time in a long time. “Thank you.”
It has been a long (and unintentional) hiatus. Circumstances have prevented regular blogging. In addition to work, and normal holiday busyness and travel, my brother came down with pneumonia, my dad caught the flu, and I had my wisdom teeth removed. So I beg your forgiveness… (insert sheepish excuses and general foot shuffling)… I’ve been reminded that as much as I would love to post 3 times per week, it’s not realistic at this point. I will continue to post Wednesday Wisdom and Weekend Poetry, but Monday Musings really needs to be changed to Monthly Musings. Spacing my larger articles out in this way will allow me to focus on particular topics, and to go more in depth with each. In light of this, perhaps the first Monthly Musings should be on the topic of New Year’s resolutions… hmmm…
It was the sort of day that is typical of November. A trifle warm perhaps, but the banner of vibrant golden orange triumphantly unfurled against the turquoise sky left no doubt as to the season. And as the sun sank behind the city’s horizon, lighted windows beamed kindly on the streets and the pungent tang of smoke began to rise from the silhouetted chimney tops.
I sat cross-legged on the flannel quilt clad bed, staring at the scholarly mound dominating my desk. Textbooks and spiral bounds stacked together, with odd Post-it notes and sheaves of paper crammed between their layered leaves. A messy—and yet oddly organized—trail, tracing the path of the numerous assignments that were all coming due in a week’s time. All were at least started. One was done—o sweet relief—another was near completion, and two more in the works. But in a week’s time it would be over, for better or worse. Not ultimately over (there were still finals to be reckoned with). But the hardest part would be over.
I stared at the piled books. The books stared back at me. Soon, it would be over—for good. Not truly for good (there was still the degree to earn). But the semester would be over, and Christmas break would arrive at last. Just three short weeks, and then no more papers, no more homework, no more exams. No more gallon mugs of coffee, no more five-hours-or-less of sleep each night, no more looming deadlines, no more turning down friends because of the semester’s chaos. There would still be work to do of course—scholarship applications don’t fill themselves out on their own, nor do application essays pen themselves, or transcripts transfer themselves. But it would be a change, work of a different sort, and would offer a sense of purpose and direction to an otherwise unstructured vacation.
And there were one’s family, friends, and enough fellowship to fill all the waking hours of every day. Yet even then, there would be time left over—time to read, time to draw, time to paint, time to write, time to listen to music, time to bake, time to do everything, and even time to do nothing at all.
I stared at the assignments. The assignments stared back at me. I blinked, and I swear, the double-spaced title on my final paper blinked solemnly back and nodded his head. Yes… it would be a good Christmas vacation. I unfolded myself from my perch on the flannel spread and up took my place behind the mountain of paper. Three weeks—never had an eternity seemed so short.
– – –
**Please Pardon the Writer: finals loom on the near horizon. Any excerpts, quotes, or poetry posted before the end of finals will be sparse. Much writing has been accomplished, however none that would necessarily interest the readers of this blog. If the writer is mistaken concerning this point, she is deeply apologetic–excerpts of government, geology, sociology, and British literature essays are available upon request**
The word went out, and spread like wildfire. Joyous shouts were heard, laughter and song. The people turned out into the streets, arrayed in their finest garb, to join the dancing throng. Banners were unfurled, flowers scattered, and streamers drifted lazily from second story windows. It was an hour of feasting, of revelry, and of enjoyment. New friends were made, and old friends remembered. Passersby looked on in wonder, whispering to one another as they pondered the tidings that sparked such jubilant celebration. In a few hours time, all would return to what it once was—but for now ‘twas all forgot. A few more hours would see them meekly to their duties once again, yet it was not yet a few hours time. Now was the time for rejoicing. For indeed, there is no throng so joyous, so jubilant, and so lively as that of students whose morning classes have been cancelled.
Light of every imaginable color dappled the whitewashed planks. I tiptoed, pausing to watch the shifting colors beneath my feet. The rainbows swam, and somewhere high above my head a rafter began to creak in protest to the sudden gust of wind—wind that set the trees outside swaying and threw dancing colors at my feet, fractured and projected by the stained glass. I found myself near the front, but not quite. Too modest and self-conscious to kneel at the worn carpet stairs, I slipped instead into the second pew at my right hand. Why the awkwardness? Hundreds, surely, had knelt in that spot. More likely, it was the thousand thoughts and memories swirling through the air like so many dust motes that gave me pause. There were shadows and years close beside me—sitting next to me—and they hung back in silence, watching me. Somehow, it did not seem fitting to waltz in and make myself so at home. I slid into the pew, bowing my head and squeezing my eyes shut as I did.
I’m not a believer in the so-called sixth sense, but I felt the hair on the nape of my neck prickle and a long shudder scurried up the length of my spine. I knew he was sitting next to me, before I even opened my eyes. And yet somehow, it wasn’t startling to see him there. He belonged, as much as the stained glass, the dappled light, the hardwood pews, the carpeted stairs, and the plain wood cross. His presence should have surprised me, but it didn’t. Actually, there was something marvelously calming about the way he fit so well into the surroundings. Fit into? No, not quite—he was part of them.
“All may approach, sister. There is no separation, save the insurmountable walls you’ve built up within your own heart and soul.”
“They crowd my mind, brother. They keep me back.”
“Perhaps you should not give them reign: it’s a dangerous thing. Pray for strength, little sister, and ask our Father to tear down the walls you’ve made.” He smiled, and the crow’s feet beside his milky eyes crinkled.
It wasn’t the weight of the years and the souls that once filled the chapel—it was not these that blocked me. Raising my eyes once more to the carpeted stairs, I understood. There were briars. Horrible, thorny bushes—wretched. The kind that gleefully snag on the thinnest thread of clothing and find no greater delight than in tearing at exposed flesh. They crowded the isle and surrounded the front most pews, rendering passage to the stairs and the cross impossible.
“I can’t uproot the thorn trees, brother. Believe me, I’ve tried, but they only come back thicker, stronger, and crueler.” Even I could recognize the note of plaintive desperation.
“When did I say anything about you uprooting them? When did I tell you to pluck them up and cast them into the fire? You can’t.”
“But what should I do?”
“You know what you are to do.”
“I can’t. I’m not good enough.”
“He is sufficient.” The ancient eyes wandered to the cross, then focused back on my face.
“Maybe I won’t like them being gone. Perhaps just sitting here is better. Maybe I enjoy them sprawled there, though they block me. Maybe… maybe they’re not even a block at all.”
“Do you really believe that?” He inquired quietly.
“… no. But it would be almost easier if I really did.”
“I don’t know how.”
“Your soul knows how, e’en though your mouth be too weak to find the words.”
I squeezed my eyes shut again, ignoring the tears that had begun to seep between my lashes—and I prayed. I prayed for the briars. I prayed for those ugly, pesky, hideous briars that forever crop up, tangling the path and tearing at my feet. I asked Him to take the briars away, to uproot them and cast them aside. I gave him all my ugly, wretched briars.
I opened my eyes. The stained-glass chapel was gone. Once more I was among ruins. Standing stones, half-buried wood, and the remains of a few steps leading up to… sky. There was only sky where the cross had hung. I knelt at the steps, and cursed the sharp prick of pain from the briar barb that embedded itself in my knee as I did so. Briars. There were still briars. But there were not so many as before. There were only a few, and even they look pale and sickly. Gently, I traced the outline of the thorns with the tip of my finger, pushing aside the brush and twigs—hidden, cradled, and sheltered, a tiny rose greeted me.