#53: Duolingo

black and white book business close up

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Language. So many languages to learn, and so much to study and hear about in our short lives. Languages dominate communication, and although we live in a more “globalized” world where language differences are less problematic, if you want to be more cultured, you have to learn more languages. Unfortunately for me, I only know one language, and I’d like to know more if given the chance.

But therein lies the problem. I attribute it to chance, rather than personal initiative. Personal initiative is always much harder to take; it requires motivation, which I don’t always have in large supply. Being motivated and depressed at the same time is difficult to maintain completely. Let’s talk about this a bit, framed around an application I’ve used in the past to learn new languages: Duolingo.

Duolingo, to me, represents my inability to focus on one task for an extended period of time. It showcases, essentially, my ADD in action; when I commit to doing something, but it blows up in my face after inactivity seven to ten days later, that’s my inattentiveness showing up. When I say that I would like to start relearning Spanish, what I really mean is, “I want to commit to a long-term task and actually complete it, and Spanish will be my current endeavor.” You never know whether it will actually pan out the way I hope it to, though it often doesn’t. Here’s hoping 2019 leads myself further in that direction. I want to take charge of myself and my ambitions more, and I want to be focused rather than drowsy, taking initiative on goals that I have rather than watching them fester and explode, like a raisin in the sun.

Pardon the poetic metaphor, but I’m a fan of Langston Hughes!

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#52: The Barbecue

food chicken meat outdoors

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Barbecue food is some of my favorite, and as someone who’s a tad overweight, I like to imagine barbecue food is probably one of the reasons for my status. It’s irresistible; some spicy pork, some bbq brisket, nothing better. The spice hits my teeth and upper mouth as the brisket goes down my throat, and my face explodes in deliciousness and joy. Something about the crunch as I bite into the meat adds to the deliciousness formula here, factoring into my enjoyment somehow. Mouthfeel matters when it comes to food, as it’s one of the primary reasons why I dislike some staple foods; the texture in my mouth isn’t enjoyable or interesting or takes too much work to get through to get to the good stuff.

The other day, Alex, Bella, and I went to Dinosaur BBQ for dinner, which is just down the street from our apartment complex. Shout out to Mom for covering our dinners! I tried something new this time, the BBS, which I’m not sure what it stands for. Bella got a cheeseburger with bacon, medium, and Alex got an indescribable salad (indescribable because I don’t remember much of it, just that it was a large mass of a salad and that the server didn’t bring it back when we asked for it to be brought home.) Dino BBQ didn’t disappoint, as the food was excellent, the atmosphere was enticing, and the music was popping. Unfortunately, as mentioned a bit before, the server was in another world of his own, not really paying any mind to our table. To be fair to him, the restaurant was packed full, and the line outside the door when we left probably prompted them to work faster.

We also noticed two people standing near our high table, by the bar, who stood for an hour straight with their beers, talking to people without ever sitting down. I would hate to go to a place like this and not have the option to sit, but they did have the option; they just forgot about it or were ignorant to the idea of sitting. A total conundrum.

#48: Michigan

Michigan, a new frontier. Not moving there, but we are exploring for a few days while we can. By this point, I will already be in Michigan for the first time, my first romp through the midwest. An inaugural trip lasting four days long. Michigan state, Alex’s home, is elusive to me, as the majority of my knowledge about it consists of Frankenmuth, Detroit, Flint’s water crisis, the great lakes, and the most recent midterm election. Go Whitmer! Make people feel proud again!

Michigan reminds me most of its neighboring states in the midwest, but I feel strong Connecticut vibes from Alex’s descriptions. The strip malls here are a bit different, but the state turns into a wintery hell during the right season, and I know what that feels like. Snow so high your eyes need to adjust, towering far above you. But on top of that, Michigan has a rugged, rustic, against-the-weather reputation to it that must resonate with central and western Connecticut’s general attitudes. It’s difficult to describe, but rest assured that both sides enjoy their fair share of rustic expats from the south. Connecticut is a bit too small for the size of its ego, though, and Michigan is more appropriately sized. In the former state, Dunkin Donuts abound every five miles or so at least, often with a smaller range than that. In the latter state, you can drive for miles through blizzarding conditions just to get to the nearest grocery store. There are definitely some unique comparisons to be made between these burgeoning states.

Michigan is where some people belong, a home away from home that invites, excites, and brightens the way for visitors, too. I am looking forward to my trip there, and I hope for the best. I’ll review the trip with some level of detail in a future blog post, depending on when I feel like writing about it. Usually the topics I choose are that simple!

#23: The Traveler

scenic view of forest during night time

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The Traveler is both a character and setting in Destiny 2, serving as the spiritual deity for the guardians. The name “Traveler” comes from its exploratory nature, and the fact that it moves throughout the universe. It also provides the Light through which guardians find and harness their power. As guardians are the playable characters in this game, players have a close connection to the Traveler when they embark on their missions. When the Traveler disappears at the start of the Destiny 2 campaign, the guardian loses their hope, spirit, and magic. The idea that magic originates from a planet-sized celestial that bestows it upon players is fascinating to me, and provides for a thought-provoking story about dependency and spiritual growth. The characters are made to reckon with the idea that they cannot survive without this being.

In reality, traveling is distinctly non-celestial. Yet it bears some of the same magical effects upon us. The act of traveling can cause us to gain hope and strengthen our spirit. There is nothing inherently otherworldly about traveling, and yet it is like discovering and embarking on a journey into another world. When traveling to a foreign country, for example, the differences in cultural norms, proclivities, even geography can be jarring at first if you are not sufficiently educated on the new place you are exploring. Traveling allows you to take on whatever new magic is in the atmosphere of this new place. When I traveled to Paris, I felt a magic in the air that was unlike any other city I’ve been to. Historical, cultural, national pride exuded through every part of the center of the city. And new places have new magic to explore.

This past weekend, I traveled quite a lot, taking four different methods of public transportation to make it to New Jersey to hang out with a few old friends. It was late at night, approaching midnight when we arrived at my friend’s place, and I could still barely contain my exhaustion from all the walking, waiting, and sitting around. The darkness outside added to the somber mood of things. It often does, even without thinking about it much.

Plain

Remember the woods in our backyard?

It always scared us, then and again

When our dreamy, exploring minds

Craved fantasy and wonder.

I can’t imagine a yard without life

Breath, Wind, Sun, Space abound

Childhood creativity impossible

Without room to grow

Spaces to fill with predictions

Amass the ideas into a collective

And share with the world with a

Yell, scream, shout from the voiceless.

I loved childhood when life was

Plain