Monday, November 28, 2011

B. E. M.

Ah, Thanksgiving break. A time to sleep until noon and eat until you never want to look at a yam again.

This year, my dad's girlfriend offered to cook for all of my extended family, so we could do just one meal instead of two. Because she can never do anything halfway, and unless I'm much mistaken, she actually started preparing things on Sunday. Mind you, the bulk of the cooking, including all of the hot stuff, was done on Thursday morning, but the days leading up to it were crammed full of cleaning and fretting. She cooked two turkeys and had a third on standby, just in case. And that's just one dish. Shall we talk about her homemade stuffing and her orange-flavored yams? So much yum.

Around noon-thirty, my flavorful assortment of cousins and such began arriving. It was a joyous afternoon. The Thanksgiving meal is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. It's all about pacing yourself. I only gave up halfway through my third slice of pie. I felt like a failure, but the wise man knows when to admit defeat. Once everyone could eat no more, we sat around talking and laughing until we couldn't breathe, the mashed potatoes a painful stabbing in our guffawed-out sides.

I always find the TV schedule on Thanksgiving supremely odd. One channel was playing Ghostbusters. Another had an all-day marathon of Bones. I vividly remember a Thanksgiving several years ago when some channel had a Home Improvement marathon. Who decides these things?

Through the succeeding days of the break, I woke up later and later each morning. On Friday, I only ventured out of the house once for an hour or so of girl time (pedicures). I don't understand the Black Friday phenomenon. Black Friday makes me want to bar the doors and board up the windows and stay huddled on the couch with a shotgun and a box of Twinkies.

Football: I am not happy with Dennis Erickson being fired.

I spent the rest of the weekend reading The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, which I highly recommend, and playing games on Neopets. Represent, yo.

Monday morning was tough. Somehow I managed to do exactly no homework over the break, so I had to hurry and cram it all in before Institute. The eye strain from having to read the aforementioned book on my computer was not helping. I don't know what went wrong, but when it came time for me to check out my digital library loan, it turned out that my hold had been placed for an Adobe EPUB book, even though I am dead positive I clicked the button for the Kindle format. Ah, well. Such is life. And that dang novel was worth it, let me tell you.

I feel like the end of the semester has snuck up on me. I got back from Thanksgiving break, and suddenly my teachers were announcing crazy things like there were only three class periods left before finals. I still don't quite feel like the semester has really begun. It can't be time for it to end already. I'm not saying I won't thoroughly enjoy the time off. It's just that my brain is not adequately processing this information. What is time? Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, that's what it is.

Excuse me. Netflix is calling.

Listening to: Doctor Who
Reading: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On vlogging.

I've been feeling peculiar all morning. It's like my movements require no energy or effort, like I'm in my body, but I'm just along for the ride. I'm hyper aware of my own gestures, and each is somehow 100% efficient. I'm not even being philosophical. It's the best kind of weird.

The weather is beautiful, the break has begun, and "Iris" was on the radio. This is, as they say, living.

However, none of that pertains to the purpose of this post. After two weeks of radio silence, it is my pleasure to present to you a vlog.

Because I had delayed writing about so many things, I decided that making a video would be quicker than bushwhacking my way through a dauntingly lengthy written post. In one respect, I was right. In another respect, I was very, very wrong. Filming the video and moving through all of the events I wanted to cover took far less time than writing them out would have. Editing the video was a horse of a different color. If filming the video was a lovely bay, then editing it was a dapple grey someone rode into a paintball battle and then left out in a downpour laced with food coloring.

I don't think Windows Movie Maker likes me very much.

Trimming out the the "um"s and "anyway"s took longer than writing probably would have, but it felt like less work. I didn't really notice the time passing because I was too wrapped up in rewatching tiny segments of video to make sure I cut the clips precisely where I wanted them. It required just the right amount of brain power.

It was after that that Movie Maker decided to be a jerkwad.

Pretending to be a real vlogger, I decided to make an end screen with my YouTube name on it. My poor computer freaked out when I opened Photoshop and Movie Maker at the same time, which is understandable. Of course, then Movie Maker freaked out when I tried to import a song to lay over my picture. Troubleshooting that probably took me about an hour. I had to try several different websites for converting music files and convert my mp3 into two different formats before I found a combination that worked that Movie Maker would open for me. I don't know whether the Windows website is lying about which formats it accepts or whether the program just hates me.

It took a good 25 minutes to publish as a .wmv file, and then another half hour to upload it onto YouTube, only to discover that Movie Maker hates me even more than I thought and what they claimed was a 16:9 format was, in fact, not.

I had to delete the YouTube video because I couldn't stand looking at the squashed image. I may not know much about making videos, but I still have my pride. At that point, also known as 3 AM, I called it a night and went to bed.

It was a good thing most of my classes got canceled today because I woke up late, and by golly, I was going to upload that video before I went to school if it killed me. I tried three more publishing settings, and even busted out some math, before I found one that preserved the widescreen format. Movie Maker is a lying liar. The hostility between us is mutual.

Even after all that work, I think the video that I finally uploaded is actually grainier/more pixelated/whatever the term is-er than the original. The one publishing setting I found that preserves the 16:9 format has slightly larger dimensions than the original footage, and in true computadorian fashion, the video did not expand well. The difference is smallish, but it still bothers me.

Of course, what will probably bother most viewers is the length. This thing clocks in at a whopping 9 minutes and 33 seconds. Vlogging: I'm doing it wrong. Among professional vloggers (yes, that's a thing), the general consensus is that videos should generally not exceed four minutes in length. I just didn't know what to cut! Everything I kept seemed important to me. I wanted to include all of the events that I'd put off blogging about, but I also wanted to include all of the humorous asides and tangents that cropped up as I was filming. My silly rambling generally seems to be people's favorite thing about my work.

Some of you asked for long and detailed. The rest of you can blame them if you're unhappy with the outcome.

And because no blog about a vlog would be complete without video:

Listening to: The Remus Lupins
Reading: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Monday, November 7, 2011


Two years. So many things in this life take only two years. An associate's degree. A term in the House of Representatives. A mission.

Two. It's such an unassuming number. It's a single digit: 2. Spelled out, it only takes three letters: T-W-O. Most of its fame comes from a type of pencil lead. That, and being the loneliest number since the number one.

And yet...

So much can happen in two years. Lives can change. They can settle into a groove. People can grow. They can stay the same. They can get together or fall apart, step up or let down, continue on or turn around.

If you're counting cookies, two is a very small number, but if you're measuring lives, it's as long as forever and as quick as a wink. It's 24 months. 104 weeks. [insert Rent song here]

Two years ago, I started a blog, inspired by a friend who is now halfway through spending two years on a religious mission in Sweden. It's like a recurring theme.

But yes, that's right. This is another post about blogging, cleverly disguised as philosophizing. Or is it philosophizing cleverly disguised as a post about blogging? Not important.

Two years ago, I wrote about pizza and football. A year ago, I was evaluating my life. Today? Well, my last post was about football, and there's been an awful lot of self-evaluation going on behind the scenes.

At a glance, not much has changed. But a life cannot be measured by glances. The gauge of a life is the long, piercing look, steady and constant and unflinching.

This blog has been filled with anecdotes, captain's logs, musings, poetry, pictures. With things said and unsaid. There have been periods of prolificacy and periods of silence, periods of exuberant joy and periods of quiet despondence.

At a glance, not much has changed. But under the gaze of that long, piercing, steady, constant, unflinching look, so very much has changed.

I could list the qualitative changes within me, but I'm not sure even I fully comprehend the most important ones. For now, it is enough to know that I have changed, that I am changing, that I will change.

It is a far, far better person that I become than I have ever been. It is a far, far greater place that I go to than I have ever known.

Here's to two more years, and two more, and two more...

Listening to: Dizzy Up The Girl by the Goo Goo Dolls
Reading: Matched by Ally Condie

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunburn #2.


Which happened over a week ago.

...My bad.

I don't mean to let so much time pass between posts, but I'm acutely conscious of how much time it takes to do large events justice, and there are so many wonderful distractions on the internet. Distractions named exciting, exotic things like Hulu and YouTube and Neopets. But enough dilly-dally!

Friday, October 28th was a busy day. After going to the temple, sitting in on another Latin class's worksheet day, and going to my own Latin class, I had to stop by Joann's for fabric and notions (that's what the random bits for sewing projects are called) and then go to a sketchy cab company office to pick up the football tickets I won.

Yeah, so my friend works for a cab company, and they had a contest wherein whoever posted the best picture of one of their cabs to their Facebook wall would win two tickets to the Homecoming game. First, no one goes around taking random pictures of cabs. Second, you had to friend them on Facebook to be able to post on their wall. All of which was fine by me. Being the only person to enter the contest drastically bolstered my chances of winning. After picking up my tickets from their office in a derelict car lot, I hurried home to begin work on my costume for Saturday.

Solis Diaboli (our classics club) assembled the full Greek Pantheon for the Homecoming parade. I was their Artemis, so my accessories required a crapton of silver spray paint.

In the midst of all this spray painting and sewing, I decided it would be an awesome idea to take a break, drive all the way to Tempe, and walk up a windy hill with a candle so I could stand at the top for an hour with several hundred other people. Oh, I meant to say, "and participate in the Lantern Walk." It was actually kind of fun. Sure, I lost count of how many times my candle went out, and it's really hard to walk uphill, protect a candle, and explain the Festinalia at the same time, but there was something amusing and enjoyable about the whole thing. Maybe it was the six full minutes of fireworks. I'm a sucker for fireworks.

Back at home, I spent a good hour making sure my peplos would fall just above my knees. It's Artemis's signature look. And a huge exception to how long peploi usually are.

After working until 1:30 in the morning, I caught what sleep I could before getting up at 8 so I could be ready for my friend when she got there at nine to help with my hair. Our timetable was running flawlessly at that point.

On campus, we (a different we) gathered the Pantheon and found our place in the parade staging grounds. They stuck us back toward the end with the fraternities because the Classics Honor Society is Eta Sigma Phi. I guess the planning committee didn't realize it was an academic organization. In addition to the Pantheon, students from some of the Latin and Ancient Greek classes came in togas and stolas. The mortals carried a giant stuffed cow, and we had ourselves a right proper sacrificial procession: sacrifice in front, mortals following, gods bringing up the rear. It was so *ahem* epic. Yes. Yes, it was.

After the parade, and the subsequent (authentic) toga contest (which, strangely, featured only one toga as the rest of the contestants were females in an assortment of stolas, peploi, and chitons), my dad and I headed over to Sun Devil stadium, where I proceeded to earn my second sunburn ever.

My first sunburn was from the Homecoming game my freshman year. What is it about the late October sun streaming down over Frank Kush Field that so effectively reddens (or at least painfully pinkens) my skin?

We had great seats near center field, only 20 rows up, behind four Canadian guys who'd never been to Arizona before and had no idea who Sparky was. They'd come down for the weekend to escape the snow and to golf. They were downright uproarious. They spent the first half of the game making bets on every play and passing money back and forth as they won or lost, occasionally asking people to break larger bills or settle a dispute about the terms of some wager or another.

As for the game, we creamed them. Like corn. All thanks to our very own Jolly Green Giant, Brock Osweiler. And, you know, everybody else on the team. Because our receivers are boss.

And our defense! This is how mind-blowing our defense is (not talking about the heartbreaking results of last night's game): Colorado got the ball to the goal line and we stopped them. 2nd and goal from the goal line, and we held the line. 3rd and goal from the goal line, and we held the line. 4th and goal from the goal line, and we held the line.

They would snap the ball and all of the players would fall to the field like a building collapsing in on itself. The refs would move in and pull guys off one by one to find were the ball was, and somehow it was always a few inches to the wrong side of the white line. With three tries, they should've been able to get it in by accident. Brock Osweiler could've done it. Of course, all our Goliath has to do is trip and bam! yardage. Vontaze Burfict, our most notorious linebacker, is a beast. That boy came at them like William Wallace.

One of the best parts of winning the game was all the bison burger jokes I got to make afterward.

I was supposed to meet up with my friends to read Macbeth around a bonfire after the game (we're hardcore), but what with all the walking and the wild cheering, I just couldn't bring myself to drive over there. My calves were in revolt. I went over to my dad's girlfriend's house and watched Hocus Pocus instead.

For Halloween on Monday, I stayed home and passed out Mike and Ikes to the few groups of trick-or-treaters who stopped by. In these tough economic times, I would expect more children than ever to turn out to collect free sustenance from those strangers willing to spring for fun size Snickers to fuel their tiny sweet teeth, but no. One of my teachers told us that she bought ten pounds of candy and only had one customer. What is happening to our nation?

In between proffering my bowl to small superheroes and petite princesses, I watched Practical Magic ( <3 ) and Labyrinth. The latter has become my Halloween tradition since coming to college. I don't know what it says about me that that's the scariest movie I own (thanks, David Bowie), but I'll gladly accept whatever it is.

The end. Oh! and a picture.

Listening to: "Dance With The Devil" by Breaking Benjamin
Reading: Matched by Ally Condie