(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dannotated editions

Books don’t tend to stay in my possession for long, which isn’t to say I lose them. Unlike my brother, I’ve never had to pay the library for a book I’ve lost. No, when I buy books, it’s usually an impulse buy because the title sounds cool or I like the author. Sometimes I’ll just be walking through, wasting time on my way somewhere else, and something will catch my eye, and I’ll be drawn to a certain book. I trust these feelings more than I think most people.

I remember the first time it happened too. I was in a Waldenbooks located in my hometown’s mall with friends. We were just browsing, making general not-so-nuisances of ourselves while we hung out when I saw it, The Zombie Survival Guide. It must have been right after Christmas or something, because I happened to have cash in my pocket.

Seeing that book made me remember a conversation I had with this red-headed kid I’d met the previous July. It was a debate really, on what my plans would/should be if there were to be a Zombie plague upon the earth. The fact that a single title could make me remember in oddly specific detail a conversation from months before is what sealed the deal. I had to buy the book and send it to my Canadian friend.

But I didn’t just buy the book and immediately entrust it to the postal service. That seemed rather pointless considering I had the book in my possession, so I read the book. As I was reading, it reminded me of a used book I bought where one of the previous owners had annotated it, writing notes in the margins about the plot and the characters. That book to me had such personality.

So I took this copy of The Zombie Survival Guide and when I finished reading it, I read it again. As I read it again, I wrote in it, leaving marks and scribbles. Sometimes a word or a smiley face, often underlining important survival techniques because it’s a survival guide so knowing which bits will help you live through the undead holocaust could very well come in handy.

About a month later I turned this into a tradition when I Dannotated (yes, that’s what I called it, and while that may seem egotistical, it fits both my name and what I did to the book in a beautiful schmooshing of words) a copy of The Mistfits by James Howe for a friend’s birthday.

There was this guy I kind of had a crush on a few months after that. I had a book sitting on my shelf that I thought would be the perfect book for him, though I didn’t know exactly how much so until later: Lucky by Eddie de Oliveira about a bi soccer player in London. Didn’t really end up getting me anywhere relationship-wise, but I got to draw a bloody question (a literal interpretation of the British colloquialism).

Most recently, I was caught by I Am The Messenger. What grabbed my attention about Mark Zusak’s latest release was the fact that it involved cards, because I had recently taken an interest in card reading.

This one went to another summer friend and pen pal, and he’s told me that he wants to find someone who he can send it to and thus pass on the message. I kind of like the idea of that, partly because of the book in question, and partly because it means I’ve started something.

Books don’t stay in my possession for very long because I prefer to give them away. Some people would accuse me of ruining books. I just call it personalizing them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On Being Early

You know how you always hear about the people who are chronically late? You know the ones: It’s hard not to notice them. They come in the door right as the professor/teacher/pastor is about to speak looking all shy and demure, maybe even trying to fold into themselves as all attention instantly zeroes in on them.

I’m not one of those people.

In fact, I’m the exact opposite. I’m chronically early. Note how I didn’t say on time. No, I said early. As in I’m there before I need to be there. I think it’s partly a fear of being late, partly a misjudgment of distance and time on my part. I always leave early because I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get where I’m going. I walk quickly, so my feet eat up distances faster than time can pass. What I expect to take 30 minutes takes more like 10 or 15. I don’t mind this usually. I mean, there are definite advantages to getting somewhere first.

As a lefty, this pans out to mean that I get first dibs on all the good chairs. And by good chairs, I mean the ones on the end. I for one won’t end up fighting to get out in the event of a fire.

Being early also has its advantages in social situations. At parties, I know I have personal time with the host, which means if things aren’t exactly going my way, they won’t mind if I skip out a little early.

The dark side of being early is, well, who wants to be early? It’s not socially stigmatized per se, but it’s really kind of pointless since everybody else is late anyways.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Belated Tidings

My friend Saylah's roommate is getting a bunch of us together today to throw her a surprise belated birthday party. Her birthday was over winter break, so none of her college friends got a chance to celebrate.

I'm excited, this is a wonderful chance to meet people and explore bits of Bellingham and the campus that I wouldn't get to otherwise. We're supposed to dress up in as Saylah a manner as we can manage. I think it's time I revived the ocean shirt.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hallway Yoga

So in these, the first days of my college career, I've been far more of an early bird than most people would expect. My first and second mornings I awoke at 4am, and today, my second day of class, I was fully conscious around 5:30.

Some people might attribute this to my roommate's snoring. This is not the case, for if it were, I would be woken far earlier in the night or as was the case last night, I would not be able to get to sleep in the first place.

No, my problem is a matter of assimilation and acclimatization. I'm not yet used to being in this strange room I share with this strange boy. So rather than fight myself to ween a measly extra hour or two of sleep out of my morning, I get up.

I find the morning peaceful. And, looking at the ResTek bandwidth log, I find that my internet connection is a little bit faster with next to nobody logged in.

I shower, I brush my teeth, I get ready for my day.

Part of getting ready for my day that I would like to continue is a morning yoga routine. It would be easier in a class or with a video to follow, but I've done enough yoga that I can do some rather basic and informal stretching routines and sun salutations from memory. However, since I'm sharing the space of my room with someone else and I personally find the idea of waking up to seeing downward facing dog an unpleasant concept at best, I've made it a point to remove myself from my room.

Instead, I practice my ujjayi breathing in the hallway. I don't have quite as much area for my arms to extend in when, say, I stretch them out wide and up before starting a swan dive downward, but in the quiet of the hallway it's a lot easier to focus. Strangely, the idea of the other males on my floor witnessing my routine is a lot less worrying than disturbing my roommate's sleep with it is.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Why did the Power Rangers never have helmet hair, and other musings on the television shows I watched when I was little.

“It’s Morphin’ time!”

I remember that the show was rated Y7 because of the gratuitous cartoon violence. Okay, I’ll concede that The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers wasn’t a cartoon, but considering how you never saw blood and the monsters disappeared in a blast of special effects, I think I’m perfectly justified in calling it cartoon violence.

It was the first show I ever really watched. Sure, there was Barney and Sesame Street, but you can’t really count the shows your parents put on before you were able to change the channels on your own. As a small child, I was mesmerized by the bright colors, the attractive actors and the choreography.

Like most people my age who were the show’s target demographic at the time, even now I can still name all the characters. Of the original Rangers, there was Jason (the jock), Kimberly (the cheerleader), Billy (the geeky one), Trini (the Asian one) and Zach (the token black one). Eventually they added Tommy (the mysterious – see hot – one) as well.

The intergalactic floating head Zordon and his robot sidekick Alpha5 were the rather ineffectual watchdogs who gave the Rangers their powers in order to constantly interrupt the daily lives of five ordinary teenagers and use these American kids who could fight like a specially trained team of Japanese ninjas to save the city of Angel Grove from the evil space witch Rita Repulsa and her various alien goons.

It still puzzles me why Rita never expanded her operations beyond Angel Grove; her base was on the moon after all. It at least made sense why Zordon needed the Rangers as his acolytes, he was a floating head in a tube and Alpha was by no means a battle robot. Despite being a mostlypotent being, he really couldn’t be an active participant.

And before I forget, what was up with the Zords? They were the coolest part of the show. I get that the Rangers never called the Megazord right off the bat to step on the monster before Rita threw her wand and made it grow (How did she get her wand back every episode?) as a kind of pacifist never-make-the-first-aggression deal, but seriously, it would have saved them a lot of trouble, even if it did defeat the whole purpose of the show.

If you can get past the corny spandex and rubber suits, the bad acting, the predictable and formulaic plot, the subpar choreography and in some cases on the early episodes, the bad dubbing, it really wasn’t that horrible a show. Maybe the appeal was less about quality than it was about its connection to that childlike wonder and imagination. If those five more-or-less-normal, highly-stereotyped teenagers could be recruited to the intergalactic fight against evil, maybe it could happen to the seven year old watching it.

Looking back though I’m not sure how I could stomach it now. It was always after school special without ever hitting any of the hardcore issues you’d expect to see. Nobody had sex, got pregnant or did drugs. Hell, the Rangers didn’t even have helmet
hair when they de-morphed. In the city of Angel Grove, there were no eating disorders or suicides or homosexuals. In all honesty I think Degrassi stole it from them.

Not that I would ever admit to watching Degrassi, but seriously, how many problems can those kids have and still be compared to real teenagers?