January 29, 2014

Season's End

If you hadn't guessed, three posts in four days was sufficient to qualify as "caught up" after not writing over the three week winter break which is why the onslaught of "Con-Son-Slaught" abruptly came to an end following my last post.  Ironically enough, you also may have noticed that I haven't posted anything for about three weeks, reason being, I'm busy.  My work load for this quarter is really starting to pile up and while I can't say I don't have any free time at all, I found watching Wilfred on Netflix much easier than writing a blog post or sonnet or editing my NaNoWriMo novel.

Since my last post I've started some new poetry projects;  it's entirely probable they will join the 17 other sonnets I've left unfinished but these six most recent ones mean enough to me that I at least wrote more than one line, which, unfortunately, seems to be the way I work: I write down whatever line made me think it was such a great idea to begin with, and then, what took me less than a minute to write down, sits untouched for months.  I hope to finish a few sonnets in a timely fashion but with the way this quarter is hammering me over the head, that probably won't happen.

Speaking of a timely fashion (ha), with the completion of this post I will have finally reached the point in time that I was planning on going up to with my first, "season two" post back in October of 2013.  It has been a rather drawn out process but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way; had it been any different, both quality of this blog and my satisfaction in its expression would be severely diminished.

After three months of writing, here it is: the final chapter of "The Past One and a Half Years of My Average Life."  Before I get to that, though, I'd like to cover the still relevant topic I said I might revisit -- windsurfing.  When I first mentioned it in A Lahar of Tea and Fruit Snacks all I said was, "holy crap was it a workout."  I actually don't have anything more to add about windsurfing; I just wanted to use it as a segway into my trip back to Minnesota after the Alaskan cruise. 

A large portion of my time back in Minnesota was spent trying to get my uncle's old windsurf from about 1980 back in surfable condition.  I must have spent a good ten hours trying to find all the parts, clean 30 years of filth off them, and figure out how they all fit together.  Anyway, long story short, I spent all that time and sweat only to use the blasted thing twice.  In my defense I'd like to say it was too windy in the wrong direction and, I'd like to add (though I may not be entirely telling the truth), it was the equipment that was faulty and not the operator.  It wasn't the same kind of rig I used for my Beginning Windsurfing class, true, but how much of a difference in design can 30 years make, really?  "Apparently quite a bit," so said my exhausted, puking form, collapsed in the shallows from having to paddle halfway across the lake when the wind pushed me there and I realized I wouldn't be able to surf my way back.

When I wasn't busy feeding the fish, I spent many enjoyable hours laying in the sun, reading A Song of Ice and Fire, and catching up on Breaking Bad.  I went to visit some old high school friends too, but it's hard to catch up when you live 1,576 or more miles away, are on different school schedules, and only have an hour over coffee to do so.  I still enjoyed the company of my friends but compared to other times, this visit felt different; I felt like a former employee with a visitor's badge -- an outsider.  I guess that's bound to happen when everyone goes their separate ways to college and beyond but, all the same, it was disheartening to feel less than comfortable around the wonderful people that made high school as enjoyable of an experience as it can be.

I came back from Minnesota with a farmer's tan, slightly less of an esophageal lining but a greater sense of pride and determination, and a resolution to stay in better contact with friends, lest the only pillars I've built beneath a facade of indifference come crashing down.

I honestly don't remember much of what I did between Minnesota and the start of Fall quarter.  That's not just because I spent a weekend up in Vancouver with my brother and mother sipping wine and stumbling/floating around Olympic Village, but because I just didn't do much of anything exciting; unless, of course, you consider sanding my mother's new kitchen cupboard doors with a power sander exciting.  Coming back to school was just exchanging one grindstone for another.  Most anything of significance that has happened these past two quarters has been incorporated sporadically throughout the retelling of these past few years, with the exception of seeing Ryan Stiles perform live in October.  I haven't laughed that hard in years.

Lastly, I need to mention that I'll be attending the International Summer School at the University of Oslo, Norway this summer.  More info on that to come soon.

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Don't worry.  Though this may be the end of another "season" of Concerning Sonnets, there won't be a year-and-a-half hiatus after this one like there was after the short-lived season 1, which ran from February 28th to April 11, 2012 if you wish to check the archives.  These aren't seasons like those of a television show: there's no life-or-death cliffhanger at the end before a two year intermission (*cough* Sherlock *cough*); they're merely an imagined distinction between the phases of this blog.  Season 1 was focused primarily on the poetry aspect while Season 2 has been focused on the retelling of my life since the end of season 1.  Looking to the future, I hope to combine the poetry aspect of Season 1 and the journaling aspect of Season 2.  I'd like to write more poetry while keeping up to date with current events in my life and maintain the spirit of creativity by recording any observations, anecdotes, or fanciful contrivances that come to mind in my day-to-day living of life.

Be sure to keep an eye out for occasional "interim" posts I'll use to put out a poem or two and as a way to keep you up to date on events as I finish up this busy school year and prepare for the "premier" of Season 3, which I hope will be sometime shortly after my return from Norway.  But as can be imagined, most of my energies from now until then will be directed toward schoolwork, the editing of my NaNoWriMo novel, and the creation and population of a new blog devoted to my trip to Norway.

I apologize for the rather spasmodic nature of this post but there was much I wanted to cover before setting down the pen, so to speak.  In addition to that, writing this over the space of a week hasn't lent itself to quality or continuity.  Nevertheless, I hope you've enjoyed reading it along with all the sonnets, stories, and straightout shit of seasons now past.  Here's looking forward to much of that and more; see you next season. - Neal Lee Digre

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January 9, 2014

A Cruise & Course of Action: The Chundering of the Mind

Now that classes are kicking off I actually have things to do, which, ironically enough, makes me feel both less stressed and comfortable enough to be procrastinating on homework by watching Netflix and, if I'm in the mood, blogging.  Still, I'd like to keep up with my writing.  At some point I'd also like to start editing my NaNoWriMo novel but at the moment that seems far more time consuming than simply jotting down whatever my brain pukes up.

The writing process I go through for most of these posts isn't simply sitting down at the computer and pounding out the entire thing.  Usually I'll start out by listing the events or ideas I want to cover as soon as they come to mind -- the chundering of the mind, if you will -- which might be weeks or even months before they're in a form read to be posted.  Once I have the basic skeleton, an ample amount of time, and preferable but not necessary disposition for writing, I sit down for a more traditional extended period of time to get as much written as I possibly can.  Often it takes many of these sessions to get something I feel resembles a complete post.  Sometimes during this process I add a paragraph -- like this one -- just for the heck of it even though it wasn't part of my original idea.  This way the post maintains an organic style that reflects what I want this blog as a whole to reflect: my unfiltered thoughts.  Usually I'd take a few days to edit until I'm satisfied with what I've written but because I've been trying to post most every day this week, there has been minimal revision.

I now return you to this week's regularly scheduled chunder.

To refresh your memory of where I left off in the chronology of my life, I had just finished my summer courses: Sociolinguistics, Morphology, Tolkien's Imaginary Languages, and Beginning Windsurfing.  A week after my last final I embarked on a cruise to Alaska, courtesy of my grandmother.  As impressive as my family was with its matching bright red t-shirts -- complete with our names printed on the back (Yes, we're that family) -- lined up like bloody ducks in a row, we paled in comparison to the mind-numbing enormity of the ship: A seemingly immovable hulk of elegant exorbitance; but as with anything in this world, money somehow manages to transport tons of hollow luxury through the rough, briny waters of pecuniary straits, crowded by small, barnacle-covered fishing boats struggling to remain afloat in the wake of the ship.

The ship did have some redeeming qualities: 765 of them.  I had much respect for the enthusiasm, hard work, and talent of the 765 crew members employed on the ship.  With a smile on their face, they served, entertained, and waited hand-and-foot upon 2,435 pretentious passengers, even when their guests were less than polite.  One morning at breakfast I saw a voluptuous woman yelling at her waiter because he had tried to take what must have been her third plate of food before she'd finished the last bite of seared ahi tuna.  Of course, that isn't an accurate representation of all the passengers; many of them -- my family included -- were appreciative and respectful.  It may even be that most passengers possessed a temperament similar to that of my family but a "free" all-you-can-eat buffet and 24-hour service can do unspeakable things to a person.

My general distaste for the pompous had very little affect on my overall enjoyment of the cruise; when forced to be aboard the ship I avoided or ignored them, spending my time reading for hours in the warm comfort of the solarium.  Over the course of the seven day cruise, I think I made it through the first two and a half books of "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R.R. Martin.

Relaxing as this was when the seas weren't rough, the shore excursions were the core of the cruise; and you can bet your bottom dollar that as soon as we were allowed to disembark I was off that floating pile of asphyxiating extravagance.  From bear watching to whale watching, zip-lining to fish-taco-line-ing; from Craigdarroch Castle to Butchart Gardens; from Scenic Railways to phonemic word-plays; I did, I saw, I rode, I cleverly expressed.  All for the pure and simple beauty of it.

Yet the most beautiful and awe inspiring sight of the entire cruise was the Dawes Glacier in the Endicott Arm Fjord with the Mendenhall Glacier coming in at a close second.  To see a wall of ice the height of your 11 deck cruise ship shimmering in the early morning sun, flashing it's brilliant blue smile that can only hope to be replicated in the ungraspable depth of a fair blue sky, is a sight that I will never forget.  The experience was made even more meaningful by the Geology course I took last fall.  Something my professor said -- getting choked up before he dismissed the class -- moved me deeply: Unless my generation does something about CO2 emissions and Global warming and finds some way to fix the shit sandwich we've been handed, his children and my children and my children's children will never have the opportunity that I had -- to gaze upon the historical layers, wonder, and beauty of a glacier with their own eyes.  The hard truth, though, is that even if we immediately reduce or eliminate anthropogenic causes of climate change, by the time it has an effect the world's glaciers will already be irrevocably diminished.

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This post got a little depressing towards the end but I hope that anyone reading this takes it to heart and does something, anything to slow the undeniable climate change that is going on right now and ruining the beautiful planet we live on!  If we don't, who will? -NLD

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January 7, 2014

Debugging a Case of the Post-Break Blahs

As its title suggest, this post is an expansion on my last post.  In addition to discussing the symptoms of the post-break blahs, I take the liberty to type at you about stress in my life, in general.  It is something that I have worked very hard to manage over the past year and while this may not be a complete summary of the stressors in my life, I try to cover both the primary and most amusing ones.

Because of my inactivity over winter break I now find myself incessantly stressing over a multitude of things, some of them directly caused by said indolence while others are merely exacerbated by it but ever present.  This is what I like to call "a case of the post-break blahs."  Two weeks, three weeks, perhaps a month spent doing not much more than that which is absolutely necessary to continue living; such is the life of a college student on break.  For most college students this is enough -- to be relaxed, to be content doing nothing.  For someone like me that bases his worth as a human being on how much he accomplishes -- whether that be the goals he set for himself or projects completed on a whim -- doing nothing for the entire break is gratifying at the time but every goal not achieved by the end of the break is a cinder block on his mind.  That isn't to say I can't ever allow myself to relax; like I said in my previous post, winding down every now and then for a period of time long enough to relieve stress but short enough so that it doesn't become a habit is a good thing.  It is when I do absolutely nothing for weeks or even days on end that it becomes a problem and leads to the post-break blahs.  And with each passing week of inactivity the "blah" gains momentum.

The blah-momentum gained over an entire break of lethargic wanderings from meal to meal smashes me into the next quarter like a fly that hasn't annoyed anyone into the windshield of an Infiniti EX37 traveling at top speed.  (For a more impressive statement, I was going to say a Bugatti Veyron instead of the Infiniti but my tuition isn't quite so high as that.  It only would have convoluted the simile even further).  I guess what I mean to say is this: the fact that I have to be a functioning, productive human being again after weeks of sloth-ing about is a bit of a rough transition.  I beat myself up for all the things I didn't get done in addition to now stressing over things that I need to do for school.

I'm sure I'm being too hard on myself and should instead focus on the things that make me happy in the moment and not care so much about keeping to such strict time limits on achieving my goals.  As nice as that sounds to me, it's not how I'm programmed.  Sure, I can go in and change some code here or there now and then to increase my overall happiness or what have you, but trying to make any really significant changes to the code will only result in some bug that creates more problems than what I had to begin with. #CSmajorProbs

Anywho, back to the blah.  When I get back to school the first thing I do is stress over getting everything unpacked and organized.  Usually organizing things is very relaxing but, for some unknown reason, following a break I go bonkers until everything is where I think it should be -- clothes are hanging up or folded neatly, food is arranged in the drawer corresponding to its proper meal, my backpack is filled with any binders, pencils, or notebooks I'll need for the upcoming quarter.  Once that's done I'm left free to worry about the first day of classes.  I don't think this has so much to do with the blah as it does with me always being slightly anxious for the first day of anything new to me.

A relatively recent development is that along with the stress -- or any thought that worries me, particularly those concerning the future -- my neck and jaw tense up.  This may be where my body has always stored my stress and I just didn't notice it until I started college but now whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed my neck and jaw get very tight, as if I'm cold; which, as a matter of fact, is how I started to notice this as a side affect of being stressed.  When I'm walking around campus with nothing particular on my mind and it's cold enough that my neck and jaw automatically tense up, I automatically start to think about something that stresses me out.  I don't know if this is because my body now associates stress with tension in the neck and jaw but it always seems worse at the start of a new quarter, especially winter quarter.  As the chill passes, so too does feeling stressed.

That's really all I can do: Wait until the stress passes while doing my best to not let it get the best of me; at the same time facing the stress, analyzing it, so I can type out a new snippet of code that covers the base case and recursively reduces the amount of stress associated with a certain stressor.

Now on to the fun part where I reveal the silly things that stress me out.  A brand new stressor from this quarter was the amount of food in my dorm room.  Looking at it now I don't think it's a particularly large amount (maybe because I've already eaten quite a bit of it) but when I first moved back in and got my homemade soup, lefse, butter, brownies, orange juice, milk, and various other perishables all organized I was honestly stressed about how I was going to eat it all before it went bad and, if I did manage such a feat, how fat I'd be as a result.  These are, of course, irrational things to be stressed over but at the time they were serious enough to warrant a tweet.

Just as silly though slightly more serious -- getting to bed by a certain time stresses me out.  I've always been fairly diligent about getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep (National Sleep Foundation) and if it seems like I'll need to stay up late enough that I won't get that amount I get stressed out.  Silly, I know, but true.  Instead of working on the paper or program that's keeping me from bed in the first place I'll sit at my desk all tight-jawed, not getting any work done, glancing at the clock every few seconds, calculating how many hours of sleep I'd get if I went to bed right that second; and that's if I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow -- a rare occurrence as my mind is usually too busy thinking about the contents of this post.

I've worked very hard this past year to not worry so much about the time I get to bed or any other stressor in my life; I simply focus on what I absolutely need to get done that day and after that do whatever will be relaxing and make me happiest -- such as staying up until 1:30 in the morning blogging -- even if it prevents me from getting as much sleep as I'd like.

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That's all for today.  I hope it's been as entertaining for you as it's been therapeutic for me.  To give you an idea of what my next few posts will be about, I'd like to resume where I left off (duh) in the story of "The Past One and a Half Years of My Average Life."  If you've forgotten where exactly in the story that is -- don't worry you weren't the only one -- you can go back to A Lahar of Tea and Fruit Snacks to refresh your memory.  I hope that by the end of the week I get caught up to the present day so that when I resume my normal posting schedule of once a week I'm free to blog about whatever catches my fancy.  Who knows, I might even get into the habit of blogging more and continue to post more often than just once a week.  We'll see.  For sure, though, I'd like to get back to writing sonnets because it's been too long.  I don't even have a terrible pun to leave you with today.  Oh well.  Thanks for reading! -NLD

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Unpublished material, ©2013 Neal Digre 

January 6, 2014

Absolutely Nothing and Virtually Everything

Well, this is embarrassing.  It's been almost a full month since I last posted and for this I apologize profusely; Not to you, of course -- I can guarantee the world kept on spinning despite my lack of babbling nonsense to clog the internet -- I'm apologizing to myself.  Before winter break began I told myself I was going to get a lot of stuff done: keep up with my Japanese, blog more often than once every week, start editing my NaNo novel, teach myself old Norse. (That last one is only half a joke.)  I didn't do any of those things.  Granted, I did read three sizable books but it still feels like I let myself down because I didn't accomplish the goals I had set for during my time off.  If this blog post can't eliminate sloth and make the world a perfect place, it'll at least -- I hope -- put everything in my own mind to peace.

Once finals were over and winter break began I had much to do but did absolutely nothing and virtually everything.  By this I mean my days were spent racing cars and crashing into fences in the virtual world of Asphalt 8: Airborne.  At least I was able to multitask and watch Netflix, too.  Instead of working on the things I told myself I would work on over break, I sat around in my pajamas all day either playing Asphalt 8 on my iPhone, watching Netflix until I felt hungry enough to get off my butt to get a piece fruit because it involved less work than making myself a peanut butter sandwich, or reading a book that I couldn't put down.  I'd like to think that the book being so captivating is what kept me from working on other projects -- specifically, the editing of my own novel -- but when I wasn't reading there seemed to be plenty of time to play Asphalt 8.  If I can't balance turning pages with tearing them apart word by word, I'll never be the level of writer that, in turn, can keep a reader glued to their seat and prevent them from getting other, more important tasks done.

As pleased as I am with how much I read over the break, it did not occupy the majority of my time spent.  As aforementioned, most of my time was spent playing games on my iPhone or watching Netflix.  No.  That isn't right.  A significant majority of the day was actually spent reading but I'm so distraught with myself over how much time I "wasted" playing games -- as little time as that may have been -- it seems far more important than the positive things I did over break.  Such is the way of my mind: A small negative devours larger positives until only wrongs in my mind remain.

During break, I would have said that it has been excellent.  I was able to spend time with family, see a myriad of movies, watch U.S. Olympic Trials, and, in general, engage in activities that were very relaxing.  I felt that it was a much deserved hiatus.  Even sitting around doing nothing can be beneficial.  However, I now find myself with a case of the post-break blahs.  A little break is good but taking a break to the point where I panic when I have to be a responsible human being again is definitely not.  I do nothing for so long that I forget what it's like to have structure in my day, to have things I need to get done.  This is a mental state I go through during and after every break but more so after winter break because it is so long (nearly an entire month).  All I can do is stay busy, take a day at a time and wait until the stormy sea of my thoughts calms down.

To anyone else this may seem like absolutely nothing more than the idle ramblings of an anxious college student but to me it's virtually everything.

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Forgive the stream of consciousness writing, unless you dig that sort of thing; I'm a little out of practice.  To make up for everything I didn't write over break I'm going to try and post every day or at the very least every other day until I think I've caught up to where I want to be.  I hope that I'll finish a sonnet or two along the way but I can't make any promises.  This week, instead of a sonnet I'll leave you with a poor excuse for a pun.  Have a good one! - NLD

Not with Asphalt 8 but sitting on my ass, fault lies in my mind.

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December 11, 2013

NaNo Narcosis

This post is going out a little later than usual, I know, but it's not like anyone cares enough to look at my blog before I post "New blog post!" on Facebook and Twitter, anyway.  Between finishing projects, studying for finals, watching Netflix, and staring at the ceiling as my roommate played Assassin's Creed until 4:00 in the morning, I literally had no time to write so I apologize for my excuses.  I also apologize for the shortness of this post but after the verbosity of some of my earlier posts I don't think you'll mind too terribly much.  It's just that writing an entire novella in one month can make a person feel like they need respite from writing.

I won NaNoWriMo with a grand total of 50,068 words!  In more comprehensible terms, that's just over 90 pages in Microsoft Word, Times New Roman, 12-point font, one-inch margins, single spaced; or 175 pages double spaced -- the equivalent of 35, five-page papers.  Of course, when the only objective is writing as many words as possible, quality tends to be slightly less than that of a paper written entirely the night before it's due.  Still, it's 50,068 words I didn't have at the beginning of the November.  Not only did I meet my goal of surpassing last year's word count that plateaued at 40,000 words, but I actually like my story!  This surprised me more than anything.  I'm the type of person that once I set my mind to accomplishing a task or goal there are very few things that can prevent me from doing so, so I knew I could win; it was just a matter of how much I wanted to kill myself by the end of the month.  Come November 30, I didn't want to kill myself.  Some of my characters may or may not have been so lucky.

Now that November's over, what's next?  Well, once I've had sufficient time to forget about my story, I'll let loose my inner editor and keel over backwards, stunned by the atrocious writing.  But that is what I've been looking forward to most since October 31.  I want to transform the raw, unfiltered ideas into a coherent story.  Who knows?  Maybe one day I'll even get it published.  But I won't get ahead of myself; all I can do is edit, revise, and become a better writer.

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No sonnet this week, I'm afraid.
To all my fellow college students, good luck on finals!
To everyone else, have a great week!  -NLD

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December 4, 2013

A Manner of Speaking

I have been super swamped with final projects and studying for finals so I haven't had the time or brain capacity to write a full blog post.  Excuses, excuses, I know, but I feel like a geology lab final mapping project, a computer science planetary gravitation animator program, a Japanese vocabulary quiz, and a Japanese final exam are valid excuses when condensed into a three day period.  It's been a while since I last posted a sonnet, though, so I'll tag in a sonnet I wrote earlier this year.  I'll get my NaNoWriMo debrief out once I'm not up to my ears in schoolwork.

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I started writing this sonnet over a year ago but only finished it a couple months ago.  That is mainly because of the long periods during which I didn't work on it but also because it just took me that long to get it right.  The original idea I started with over a year ago was to write a sonnet using only idioms.  So here it is:



A Manner of Speaking

Though silver streaks this cloud contains, please hold
Your horses -- specially Charley.  Someone beat
Him for a bucket kicked in moment's heat
And kept his eye for on the rest.  All told,
Should canny cat possess my tongue then cold
My blood will run till thoughts I think on feet.
So hungry for coherent words I'd eat
Your horse and pay with arms and legs I sold
For less than heads and tails.  But Charley brings
A gift of verse; don't look him in the mouth.
Yet still I'm on a limb, no room to swing
The canny cat against the clock.  Should things
From wrong directions rubbed on you go South
I'm leaving you with this: a piece of cake.



How many idioms did you count?  Leave a comment with your answer.  The first one to get it right gets a virtual high five!  Woo!  Once finals are over I'll do my best to get the backlog of posts I say I'm going to post posted.  That's all for now.  Have a great week!  -NLD

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November 26, 2013

Homeward Bound! But Where's Shadow?

I'm posting a day early because today is the day I'm actually going home for Thanksgiving Break; I thought it would be more appropriate, considering the title and content of this post.  This post is mainly my unfiltered thoughts from when I wrote it at 1:30 in the morning so if they seem a little abrasive, that's probably why.

If you're reading this on the day of its posting, good for you; but for me there are only four and a half days left of NaNoWriMo!  If you're not reading this on the day it was posted, I assume you had a hideous eye-infection that prevented you from doing so.  Just as it doesn't really matter when you're actually reading this, the last four and a half days of NaNoWriMo don't really matter because I've already achieved my goal of writing more words than I did last year.  Scratch that.  IT MATTERS!  I've come way too far not to finish now.  Once November's over I'll finally be able to unleash the natural editor inside me that I've kept chained and padlocked in a dark and lonely cell with walls three feet thick and only one key -- "The End."

NaNoWriMo has been a bit of a wild ride for me.  There was a week at the very beginning where I liked my secondary characters more than my main character but since then I've suffered from a severe case of the neglected subplot.  I'm okay with this, though, because I can always go back and flesh out my subplots during edits but I have to resolve my main conflict one way or the other by the end of the month.  Next week I'll probably do a brief debrief before continuing on with the story of my summer.

Right now, however, I'd like to write about something that's been bothering me this past week.  Over the past few months I've felt the best I've felt about myself in a long time.  I can wake up in the morning, look in the mirror (after I've showered, of course) and say to myself, "What a good looking, smart young man you are!"  I've managed to do well in all of my classes -- even the one with a difficult professor.  Heck!  I'm writing a freaking novel!  How cool is that?  In addition to all that, I have a great group of friends that I have dinner with more often than not, even though I live halfway across campus.  The best analogy I could come up with for how I feel/felt is Sassy the cat from "Homeward Bound."  If you haven't seen "Homeward Bound" you must not have had a childhood.  Anywho, Sassy nearly drowned after plummeting down a waterfall -- my grandfathers' deaths -- but was nursed back to health and is now back stronger and sassier than ever.  (Believe me; I have my sassy days.)  I'm homeward bound -- in the home stretch -- both for NaNoWriMo and this quarter.  Soon I'll be home enjoying the comforts of family and real food.  But something's missing.  Where's Shadow the golden retriever?

This past week I've felt as if something is missing from my life.  I noticed that I've been listening to songs that have a powerful cathartic effect on me -- "Into the West" from "The Return of the King" soundtrack and "Fire with Fire" by the Scissor Sisters, to name a couple.  I even dug out the slideshow I made for my high school graduation.  It could be that I'm just anxious to get home and see my family but if my subconscious is honest with me, I don't think that's it.

A few nights ago I had a dream with a meaning as clear as lake water.  A certain well-known YouTube violinist/dancer came to my school to perform.  After her performance she decided to hang around the dorms for a few days to get to know people.  For some reason, she took particular interest in me.  We became friends and would sit around eating apples as we chatted.  Things never progressed beyond that.  Even though she's quite a bit older than me I still find her to be a very attractive young woman so I was confused as to why my subconscious wouldn't capitalize on such a fortuitous situation.  As a boy I woke up disappointed; as a friend, happy; as an individual, restless.

I may just be shoving words into the porcupine's mouth, but I definitely feel like that dream means something.  Even if it has no meaning, it made me analyze my friendships and think about what it is I want from them.  I feel like an ass typing this, but most -- if not all -- of the friendships I've formed since coming to college are supplementary to my studies, meaning, I use my friends and the adventures we have as a method to blow off steam built up in the pressure chamber that is my Computer Science class.  That isn't to say I don't genuinely care about my friends because I do; it's just that if it comes down to a choice between spending an entire Saturday working on things I want to get done or going to Vancouver with my friends, I'll choose to lock myself in my room with a bag of potato chips until I've finished whatever it is that I wanted to get done.  I'll dispense with the hypothetical pretenses and just say that this is exactly what happened last Saturday (11/23).   But apparently, working nonstop on Japanese homework, Computer Science homework, a study abroad application, and 2,117 words for NaNoWriMo from 11:30am to midnight wasn't enough, because I stayed up until 1:30am writing this blog post.

As much as I ended up getting done, it wasn't without much deliberation that I declined the invitation to Vancouver.  The reason, I think, goes back to that dream I had a few nights ago; what do I want out of my friendships?  Could it be possible that I'd like something more than just eating apples and chatting?  It's possible but my conscious mind tells me that's not it.  I think what had a larger impact is this: "I have trust issues."

I keep my own true feelings well guarded not because I'm afraid somebody might hurt me but because I fear that my feelings will hurt someone else.  It makes absolutely no sense, I know, but because of this I find it very hard to trust anyone but my family and a few of my closest friends from high school.  Yes, I will tell someone -- you, the reader of this blog, for instance -- personal details about myself but it is very likely I'm only doing so because it's something I've already incorporated into who I am as a person and don't think should really matter to anyone else.  Sometimes it does.  It's not anything I wouldn't tell any of my friends, it's just a matter of who wants to know about it.  You're still reading this blog so I would hope that you give a ripe banana about what I'm writing.  If not, eh, that's your choice.

Another of my trust issues -- and perhaps one of the more irrationally understandable ones -- is that if someone gives me any reason whatsoever not to trust them, I will tend not to, especially in situations where serious injury is possible, such as being a passenger in a car.  If I know the driver has a history of less-than-intelligent decisions, I will automatically feel uncomfortable no matter how safe of a driver they actually are.  I don't quite know how I developed these trust issues but they're there.  Maybe it has something to do with the Minnesota Vikings.

So what am I missing?  I have no idea.  Maybe it's my family.  Maybe it's friends that I don't spend enough time with.  Maybe it's a trustworthy companion like Shadow I can share more than just smalltalk with.  Maybe it's that character in my story I just killed.  Maybe it's something completely different.  All I know is that if I'm going to sit around waiting for some famous, attractive girl to walk up to me and hand me an apple it's going to be a long wait.  The sad thing is, though, that might be what I'm waiting for.

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 43,047

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I started working on a new sonnet but because I'm posting earlier than usual it didn't get finished in time.  Perhaps I'll post it later this week.

If you're in the United States, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the food and the company of your family and be thankful for all the things in your life that make you who you are -- both the good and the bad, the triumphs and the failures, the known and the as of yet unknown.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Until next time.  -NLD

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Unpublished material, ©2013 Neal Digre