More Reflections 

It slipped by quietly and nearly unnoticed: March 19th. Not only was that day the ominous start of the Iraq war, but it also happened to be the very day that this blog began. I had been sitting in the computer lab staring blankly at the copy of MS Word 2000, trying to force something interesting to say about Moby Dick. But frankly, I was a little bored, burned out, and anxious about finishing up my undergraduate career, so nothing was really coming to me. I listlessly flipped through the pages of Melville's novel and the loose sheets of notes covering my keyboard and glanced around the room. The room was nearly empty, only about seven or so students in a room of forty computers. A few fellow procrastinators were trying to write papers like me, but one student was watching an Anime show online.

I think I believed that if I did some "free-writing," a brainstorming technique we often talked about in my English classes, something about the novel would come to me, and that would magically help the words flow into half-hearted B minus paper. At least, I hoped it would. I surfed the Internet trying to force inspiration and motivation, and somehow, I stumbled on to my friend's "web log." From there, I surfed to a few others, and then eventually, to the Blogger site itself. I rationalized that a little free-writing on a blog, with the exciting prospect of an audience of some kind, would just do the trick for me and my paper.

Blogging then was slightly different, clunkier and less intuitive. Blogger, at least the free version that I was using, did not have the ability to host photos for you, that came later. I'm not sure if I remember right, but I think you even had to have your comments hosted elsewhere too. And, if you wanted to see how many people were visiting your site, you had to pay for their upgrade. I know it all sounds very silly to talk about the old days of something that is only a handful of years old, but, in the dotcom days before Youtube and Myspace, this all seems like ancient history.

In any event, rather than write a long free form post that I hoped would spark the idea for my Melville paper I was putting off, I surfed the net for various third party blogger addons (like comments and a site counter) and began learning how to do some basic HTML to adjust my template. The layout of the site is essentially the same now as it was then, with only a few minor changes here and there.

Finley Wildlife Refuge - April 08

I eventually wrote my paper, but I really don't remember any of that. I do remember watching the bombs explode in the night over Baghdad on CNN, and noticing, as I walked back to the computer lab to print something out, how eerily quiet the streets of the town were. It appeared as if everyone except me, a couple of other students, and a bored lab attendant, were at home watching the Iraq war begin to unfold on the television. 9 p.m. might as well have been 3 a.m.

So, in an odd spirit of things, perhaps in the spirit of changes and transitions, this blog shares its fifth year anniversary with the Iraq War. Tonight, I finally updated some of the links in the sidebar, and removed the links and image tags for the third part blogging services that no longer exist. (Blogwise and Feedster are no more!) Furthermore, partially because this is an old HTML site that I am sure no longer meets any sort of web standards (if it even ever has!), and partially because I don't have the patience to learn how to fix it, the comments have been, well, completely borked. I've decided to take them offline. In its entire five year lifetime, my blog has had less than ten total comments anyway, so I don't think they'll be missed. But if anyone is really dying to say something to me, I still have my [contact] link at the top of the blog page.

My current school issues are, for the most part, all worked out. I am in the right three classes that I need for this term, and the instructor that was seriously stressing me out last term is thankfully not teaching any of the classes I am now taking. His method of teaching did not mesh with my style of learning. During the very last session of that previous stress-inducing class, I literally held my head in my hands while I, and the rest of the class, listened to his tirade about why the majority of us were going to fail in school and later in our future jobs because we could not meet his ridiculous deadlines. I suppose this could have been his way of motivating us to work really hard and do well on the final, but it felt manipulative and condescending.

Today, I went to my usual bi-weekly meeting in the "Southern City," which, as it can be, was cathartic in its way, but it was cut short as we had run out of time to discuss every thing we needed. After finishing up at the meeting and grabbing something to eat at MacDonald's, I found my way to the art store downtown and bought a few supplies: a pencil, a fancy pen, a sketch book, and a presentation portfolio. Later wending my way back north to home, I stopped off at the Finely National Wildlife Refuge for a brief visit, it being one my favorite places to relax at on these off Fridays. The seasonal hiking trails had just opened up, but as it was raining off and on all day, I decided to stay in the car. Instead, I took photos like the one you see above, and listened to the birds sing their various songs while I tried to process the meaning of life in general, and my life in particular. I know I am trying to get back on my feet financially and career-wise, but I sometimes feel as if life has spun out into a direction that I truly did not expect and can, sometimes, barely control. If that sounds a bit gloomy, I suppose it is, but honestly, I am searching for that personal bit of meaning, an emotional meaning, not a purely intellectual one, that I think we must all find in life. I like to think that the birds and their songs were trying to help.

04 April 2008
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