Category Archives: time


PIE, but not the kind you're thinking of

nope. just kidding.

Even though that pie is strawberry rhubarb, which has to be one of my favorites, PIE stands for Proto-Indo-European, the theoretical language root of Indo-European languages (a vast linguistic grouping), and is probably the most fascinating thing in the world. Then again, it might be the most fascinating thing in the entire universe, thanks to its starring role in Prometheus.

I remembered PIE this morning while researching the etymology of seminary, and from thence semen, which has roots in three non-Romance languages. Ridiculously entrancing. Meaning that the next step was for me to research Oxford’s DPhil program in Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics.

And from there, sadly, to be overwhelmed by the abundance of things in this world that I want to learn and know everything about. Or, as Cosmo Brown says in the first 10 seconds of this video:

And then I got excited because I thought of heaven, and of the possibility of learning for all of eternity, of becoming a physicist, a philologist, a philosopher, and other pursuits that don’t even start with the letter P. But mostly I thought about being a Professor of Philology at the . . .  uh . . . Pearly Gates Institute for Universal Language . . . I’m getting carried away now, but the question that gave me pause was this.

Will our language evolve in heaven?

We’ll all be speaking one language, obviously. (Although the presence of babel fish or a TARDIS isn’t necessarily out of the question, for the purpose of this argument I expect one language.) We might even be speaking PIE.

But PIE, as we know, over the years, became Old Church Slavonic and Phoenician and Latin, and Italian and Spanish and Romanian . . . And somewhere along the line came this bastard child of all languages, English, which has taken its own road from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Proust, and not to esteem myself so highly, but I bear this mantle too.

Any quick search of a good etymological dictionary will show that over time words change in meaning, and new words are birthed, and dialects are formed and branches split off, and suddenly we’ve cursed our own heaven-reaching towers and spread far and wide, each to his own tongue.

But does this natural turn of events continue in a perfect world? Will meanings continue to metamorphose as they whim, or will we have finally reached the Perfect Understanding, where evolution is an exercise in blasphemy?

This prods at the sleeping question–does change imply imperfection? By naturally morphing, does language define previous meanings as inherently bad?

In case you were wondering, I don’t have any answers. I just ask the questions.

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Embracing the Other

Societies have a tendency to be distrustful of and hostile toward those unlike them, to the other.

Christians, persecuted.
Heretics, burned at the stake.
Slaves, treated as property.
Women, denied civil rights.
Sauerkraut, renamed “Liberty Cabbage.”
Civil rights marchers, set upon by dogs.
Peaceful protesters in every era, attacked violently.
Gay couples, legislated against.

When we look back, these treatments reek of extremism. But at the time, these trends in America were just that, in vogue with the regular populace.

With upstanding Christians.

Gay marriage is by any estimation an enormously controversial topic, but it’s paramount to remember Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).

I’d rather, of course, that we didn’t have any enemies, even more that the church didn’t consider the gay community an enemy. But because this rift exists, it’s time to apply the charge to love. To love those who believe differently, act differently. To love unconditionally, not requiring others to conform, to change who they are to be accepted. To foster communication and understanding. To love the other.

That’s what’s most important.

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Rediscovering the Library

I was recently reminded that public libraries exist and are manifestly awesome, so when my mom and brother took a trip this afternoon so he could take his practice SAT, I decided to tag along.

I thought perhaps I would find some nice books to browse in my time there, but I was categorically ambitious in my check out choices (after renewing my library card following years of disuse).

Seriously. The food is taking up arms. Like zombies.A lovely cookbook by Jamie Oliver- I looked at every single picture on every single page and quietly salivated to myself. I’m inspired to make some of the more British dishes. I also would like this for my birthday.

The Survivors Club - Ben SherwoodRecommended to me by Evan and Becca- I read 84 pages in the library this afternoon, sprawled on a comfy chair, probably to some patrons’ consternation.

Hannah Coulter - Wendell BerryWendell Berry comes highly lauded by the Rabbit Room, of which the highly esteemed (at least by myself and all persons I consider to be worthwhile) Andrew Peterson is the proprietor, so I thought I would do well to discover his writing for myself. Plus I wanted to encourage my library to continue carrying good literature (I trust AP).

I've not yet started a coffee shop, fyi.I’ve been wanting to open a coffee shop / used book store / fair trade goods marketplace for several years now, and although this venture seems to be nowhere in my future, this seemed a practical tome.

I'm still not fluent in Spanish.Yes, a Spanish textbook. I’ve decided that French and Spanish are two of the most common languages in the world (at least in the Americas, Europe, and Africa, which is a good portion of this planet), and since I would like to be a conscientious citizen of the world, it would behoove me to learn them.

I'm guilting myself by titling these photos. There is a sad lack of Spanish fluency in my life.Hey! I have 30 days to spare! How practical. You know, I thought it would only be fair to my children to learn another language, since I expect them to pop out bilingual. (According to Laura Vela, they will say to me, “Hola mamacita!”)

I don't know French yet either.Then we went to Border’s, which was having a store-closing sale, and I went halvsies with Peter on this, which cost us a grand total of $6.41. Maybe when I’ve mastered French and Spanish I’ll tackle Mandarin. or Russian. or perhaps modern Hebrew.

I’ve decided to forego any computer games or TV-watching if I’m doing it by myself. Instead, I’ll read, and learn how to survive, cook, respect nature, start a business, and speak two foreign languages. Well, French might wait until the summer. Time to put my library card to good use!

Found in a Used Book…

A postcard marked for Alexandra Smith, East Sussex


09 June 01

Dearest Alexandra,

I’ve been trying to write this for 2 days. Wednesday was arrival and “Beauty & the Beast.” Thursday was a bus tour of Manhattan. Friday was Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island and dinner on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center. Right now I’m at Yankee Stadium. Through it all, my thoughts are of you. I love you. Love,

[Unintelligible signature]

[love is waiting]

Thank you, Brooke Fraser, for these words:

I could write a million songs about the way you say my name,
I could live a lifetime with you and then do it all again.
And like I can’t force the sun to rise or hasten summer’s start,
Neither should I rush my way into your heart.


I’m feeling weird … I’m nostalgic over things that have never happened.

I sit in a comfy chair writing a paper as the rain whips against the windows, and I think, If only I could go back to that cabin and be writing that novel again. I was so productive then.

Never mind the fact that there never was that “then” for me.

And I thought back to that same cabin when my grandchildren used to gather around me and I would tell them stories and we would snuggle and drink cocoa. The blankets, the warmth, the solidarity. The good old days.

Except for the small part in which this never happened.

I don’t understand! Am I going crazy?

Freud would have a heyday with this.

I must be growing up.

And here are the signs:

  1. I actually understand the point of reflection assignments.
  2. I have a post office box.
  3. I just requested information from 863079369296838 grad schools.
  4. I take out the trash on my way to work.

A Day in the Life of the Caffeine-Intoxicated

Yesterday I stayed up until 3 in the morning writing a midterm, and then proceeded to wake up at 7 to go to class. I came back after my 8:00 class, kept working on the midterm, and made myself a pot of coffee. Yes, an entire pot. According to the American Psychological Association, I was intoxicated.

As you can imagine, the lack of sleep plus the hyperconsumption of coffee made for strange brain activity throughout the day. I jotted down notes about what I was thinking … and it makes me now say, “Oh dear.” Here we go…

9:30 a.m.: I looked outside my window and I thought to myself, “Oh man, it’s really windy today!” (it was) “It’s so windy the wind is going horizontal!” (I’d like to see a vertical wind day…)

8:00 and 11:00 a.m.: Yesterday in Abnormal Psych we talked about drugs. What they do to your body, what they look like, what they’re called on the streets, how one uses them. And then in Research in Psych we were talking about experimental designs, and somehow the example experiment to help us remember had to do with Mr. Stevenson’s pussy gonorrhea slides. Sex, drugs … now all we needed was rock & roll. However, the next two classes did not deliver.

11:00 a.m.: All my inhibitions about not being able to draw melted away, and I drew this in Research:Drawing1Scott walked by and was like, “Um, Chupp? You like coffee, eh? … love of my life? Really?” By the way, the Solomon Four-Group Design is the creme-de-la-creme of true experimental designs.

12:10 p.m.: I was sitting on a couch in the library with my computer on my lap, and I had the strange feeling that I needed to put on a seat belt.

12:30 p.m.: I really don’t know how I can be so eloquent (at least, use such big words) in such a state of mind … check out this sentence. “In addition, his subordination to the preeminence of science cuts deeply at the foundations of Christian belief. ” Wha…huh??

This is my current desktop background (yes, I’m such a girl, I know):

Paul BettanyIt was just so that my midterm sat on the left side, and the internet browser was in the bottom right, so Paul Bettany’s eyes stared at me while I was writing about the integration of psychology and Christianity. It was kind of distracting at times.

1:00 p.m.: I drew a lot of pictures in Persuasion & Influence. A lot. For example:

Drawing2Exhibit A: A razor blade and some heroin. Obviously influenced by Abnormal Psych.

Drawing3Exhibit B: A lovely rendition of the overhead projector, with a small monster emerging. Also some extra credit.

Drawing4Exhibit C: Some lady sits among random swirls and notes about metaphor.

Drawing5Exhibit D: An awesome guitar. Inspired by Laura Vela.

Drawing6Exhibit E: I am not sure what this is. But I drew it nonetheless.

2:15 p.m.: I don’t remember why I said this… we were talking about candy for some reason in Hebrew class. And we mentioned how candy is much more fun than Hebrew. So then my next logical thought (and subsequent exclamation) was “Exegesis of candy!”

3:00 p.m.: I return from Hebrew and open up my computer to madly finish my midterm in two hours. …and it’s frozen. The brightness won’t turn up, the mouse won’t click, the dashboard won’t come up. Dang. So I close my computer, pray a tiny prayer, and open it up again. Nothing. Black. No screen. So I did what seemed most reasonable – freaking out. Then I called Jesse and Colgan, who were almost stumped. They were about to install Linux or something when Charles Wallace decided he wanted to live again. It was very exciting and I typed in my password and then my desktop background popped up. I said, “uhh….well, I’m a girl!” and thanked them for their help turning on my computer, and ran upstairs.

3:45 p.m.: Almost done with paper. 2-second mental break to view desktop background. Tempted to go look at my folder of nice pictures. Reprimand to self: “What is more important, Joe Anderson, or your midterm??”Joe Anderson 4*sigh* … my midterm.

You know something’s wrong when you stop typing and your hands keep shaking. And when you’ve listened to the same playlist of undistractable, semi-lyricless songs 5 times in a row.

Menu for the day – 2 strawberry pop tarts. 1 pot of coffee. 1 chicken wrap. Barbecue chicken sandwich, mac & cheese, french fries. So healthy.

(oh what a day)