hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

26 September 2012

Two Scapulars

I have two scapulars. If I die wearing them, I will be saved.
I have a metal one to wear during the day. It is heavy enough to lie flat against my chest and not slip free of my shirt. I will notice if it falls off. I have a cloth one to wear at night, when I sleep. If I toss and turn and it begins to strangle me, I can tear it off. To avoid death by irony.

25 September 2012

The Disgustingly Delicious Blimpy Burger

During my freshmen year of college, the rock-climbing center had a deal for St. Patrick’s Day: wear green, climb for free. So I gathered up a couple friends and forwent the drunken flow. We meandered through the streets, rampant with intoxicated minors flaunting their Irish pride in green apparel, on our way to the climbing center. After making use of our free climbing privileges, we called it good and headed out for dinner. The late afternoon sun was unseasonably warm for mid-March in Michigan, so it seemed like a great day to lose our Blimpy Burger virginity. We walked up the steps to the little burger joint and darkened its doorway for our first time. It reeked of French fries and sweaty bodies. The floor was sticky and covered in dampened straw wrappers and blades of grass. We admired the numerous grease-stained awards hanging crookedly on the wall beside the large picture of Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Having been unique enough to attract the attention of Food Network, this place deserved a chance. Like a notable stripper, Blimpy Burger had quite the reputation, and didn’t accept plastic. So we crammed in line behind the miniature ATM to get some singles. After about fifteen minutes of waiting in the severely undersized restaurant, like patients at an unorganized dentist’s office, we got to have the disgruntled attention of the burger-flippers. They berated my friend Dan for ordering a chicken burger.
“I want to eat healthy.”
“Do ya know where ya are?” the guy said, slapping a patty on a puddle of grease.

After getting our burgers, we sat on the rickety porch outside and watched the drunken passers-by. A group of five students speaking slurred Chinese hobbled by us on the sidewalk before one of them collapsed on the trashcan and dropped his head inside to spill his guts. Inspired, a couple of his friends joined in on the fun. Shockingly unperturbed by the stench of beer and sights and sounds of vomiting, we continued on with our meal. Crushed beer cans were scattered across the sidewalk and a shoe was clogged in the storm drain along the curb. About halfway through my burger, the puking people straightened and wiped their mouths with their green “Kiss Me I’m Sober” shirts. Like Romans exiting the vomitorium, they staggered up the stairs of the porch.
“What’d ya think you’re doin’?” yelled a large bald man sitting behind us, like a bouncer.
“We’re just getting food, man, chill.”
“You already ruined my meal, throwin’ up while I’m tryin’ to eat. Now you’re gunna go in there and puke all over the food?”
“I’m all done, I’m good.” They pushed open the door.
“No! Get out!” The man stood up and stormed after them as they ran inside.
I turned back around to find a tall and skinny black man rummaging frantically through the bushes in front us, his dreads swaying from side-to-side.
“Yo, any o’ you gotta lighter?” he asked, leaning over the table beside our burgers.
“Uh, no,” I responded, patting my pockets, “Sorry, man.”
“Yeah, I don’t think…” my friend Ian started, stopping as he looked down at the dirt beneath the bench. Like a convenient gift from the heavens, a rusted lighter was between his feet. “Actually, there’s one right here,” he chuckled, handing him the lighter, “Go for it.”
“Oh great, thankya sir.” The man snatched the lighter and flicked it exactly seventeen times before it kept a steady flame. He squealed in giddiness and started shuffling through his dreads with his other hand. Withdrawing a joint, he stuck it in his mouth and held it up to the flame. Once lit, he sighed, slipped the lighter in his dreads, took a puff, and was on his way. My friends and I exchanged glances as we finished our meal. A burger never tasted so good.

24 September 2012

If We Could Kill the Middleman

The mind generates these little bundles of joy, like some heavenly Keebler Factory. They're packed up and delivered down the arm, through the muscles, to the hand. The pen, being squeezed between the fingers, plays stork as it deposits these packets through the portal. They land on the physical medium, the startling white page, and flow forth. Flourishing, they conceptualize and grow and metamorphosis into something greater than they were before. Freed from the cage, the abstract mind in which they were held captive, these fragments of beauty bloom across a two-dimensional landscape. In the form of words, these particles of ideas spread across the page in a transferable, agreed upon medium. Other eyes can then compile and encode these into their personal mind, back to the abstract world from which they came. Ideas leave one mind as words so they can enter another. Imagine burying the pen and paper and silencing the echo of words. If we could kill the middleman, writing would not exist.

16 September 2012

4 x 4 Rubik's Cube

Freshman year of high school, I took the bus home from school on the days I didn't have wrestling practice. My school was a mixture of rednecks, trailer trash, suburb rats, and commercially-zoned apartment dwellers. I came from Marne, the little hick town who's only attraction was the Berlin Raceway--the redneck hive. When I hopped on the cheese-wagon after school, I was engulfed in troublesome territory for an hour. I was the final stop. The last one off the bus. While the rest of my suburb friends got on their well-behaved bus back to their neighborhoods, I sat on the weed-reeking and profanity-rampant bus to Marne. Kids hopped over seats and punched one another. Passers-by were given the finger and the poor bus driver was cursed at incessantly. Middle-school boys boasted about their 'new' quads and janky dirt-bikes while high school girls whined about drama and called the flirtatious bad boys bastards but agreed to hand-jobs in the back of the bus. While some got real action, perverts pulled out the pornos and emo-kids scraped patterns into their forearms. I shrunk in my seat, next to the strange kid who read about Russian bombs and smelled like rotting pumpkins. He never talked and neither did I. While he read about bombs, I pulled out my Rubik's cube. It was a way to pass the time and dissolve from the world of hooting rednecks. For weeks, I played with it until I learned the algorithms. I scribbled them onto scraps of paper until I had them memorized. By the end of the school year, I could solve it in under a minute.

As years passed and I got my driver's license, I no longer needed to ride the cheese-wagon. I began to master the cube on my own as I formed an identity and discovered who I was in high school. It wasn't as complicated, for it was only a 3 x 3. I knew I was neither a redneck, trailer trash, suburb rat, or any of that. I was a nice and intelligent guy who was too afraid to talk to girls.

Having thought I had known who I was, I left the cube aside for a while until I entered college. My freshman year at the university was a fresh start. Yet little did I know how little I knew about myself. In previous years, there was less to figure out. There were only three layers of cube to solve, it was much simpler, more basic. But now I needed to delve into a whole new level of understanding. My uncle bought me a 4 x 4 Rubik's cube for Christmas. Like my life, there was a greater complexity in solving this puzzle. There were new dimensions to explore and nothing to center it around now that I was on my own. At home, I could center my morals on those of my family, and have something to revolve my life around. But now, I had no center. I had to figure out how to orientate myself with the world. Before I could solve the greater complexities of the cube, I needed to find my core beliefs. I could arrange my religious and political views for something to go off of, but I needed to constantly adjust them with changing circumstances.

Mimicking my freshman year of high school, my freshman year of college involved me sitting on a crowded bus with engineers, musicians, late-night partyers, and graduate students toying with a puzzle and trying to figure out who I am. Yet again, I was none of them. I ended up solving the 4 x 4 cube by the end of the year, having cycled through many difficulties and gaining a greater understanding of myself. But like high school, with three years still ahead of me, I have time to work things out and master the 4 x 4 as I had the 3 x 3 in the simpler stages of life.

I can only imagine what it will be like to solve the 5 x 5. Maybe by then I will have a greater knowledge of how to approach this situation and task. As each stage of life cycles through, more challenges test our character and understanding of the world. We must learn to pick up each puzzle we are given and see where our colors lie. Being aware of this changing state gives us potential.
One day I may solve the 7 x 7, but for right now, I need to work on the 4 x 4.