Returning to Luzerne Hall to begin another year of college. Junior year to be precise. I dreaded this moment all summer long and now I was living it. Uncertainty stoked the flames of my worry engine. How could I handle working with new staff members, taking 18 credits, being in a new student government leadership position and graduate on time? Preparing for student move-in week with my staff distracted me from thoughts. I spent my rare moments of solitude in the lobby. Sitting behind the large granite desk in the lobby felt familiar and completely alien. I think it was the nostalgia of the previous year clashing with the current year.
Fifteen minutes pasted and my GHD (supervisor) along with a few other staff members clustered around the front desk. I’m not sure how, but suddenly I noticed our tall desk trash can was missing.
“Hey Max, do you know where the desk trash can is?”
Max scrunched his thick eyebrows together in deep consideration, “Hmmm…. I didn’t know we had a desk trash can? Maybe it was removed for some reason?”
Of course. It always comes down to money. I unconsciously looked down to former spot of the missing waste basket, took a shallow breath, and muttered “budget cuts.” There was a tangible change in atmosphere when my gaze returned upward. Everyone was now staring at me in disgust.
Shit, did I just accidentally violate a social norm again? What? I just wanted to know where the trash can was!? STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!
Max eventually broke the silence, “Barry………..what did you just say?”
“Um, I said ‘do you know where the desk trash can is?’”
Frustration seeped on the corners of Max’s face, “No. I mean after that.”
This is very strange, why am I suddenly on trial?!
“I said ‘budget cuts’, since they probably removed the trash can to save money.”
The tension in the lobby began to deflate. Max’s facial expressions slowly eased up too, “Oh. Good. That’s not what we thought you said haha…”
That’s absurd! What bad thing could “budget cuts” possible be misinterpreted for?!
“… It sounded like you said bunch of c*nts.”
Oh. That would be bad. – Barry
During the summer, I took a deep dive into the world of self-help/personal development. I read a ton of biographies, listened to hours of podcasts, and watched a bunch of Ted Talks. After immersing myself in the wisdom of the most talented and successful people on the planet I gained ONE major take away. I know, Just one? Yes, just one piece of crucial advice. Here it is:
Start small, be consistent.
At first glance, this advice seems… underwhelming. And yeah, it may not be as sexy as “follow your dreams” or “never give up.” That’s exactly why it is the best advice of 2017. Let me explain. Back in May I just finished reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. While searching for a new book a buddy recommended The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The whole premise of the book is mastering consistency. My favorite line in the book is, “Learn how to do the small things well and eventually you will be trusted to do the big things.” The Slight Edge helped me realize you cannot achieve success with mastering consistency first. Small wins help us build momentum that propel us to go even further.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, master it – Barry
Tim and I strolled into the Multipurpose room and scooched our way through the audience into the back row seats. Tonight a Guest Speaker from the Center of Leadership and Engagement (CLE) was here to talk about….Public Speaking? Leadership? Honestly, I have no clue. The key words highlighted on the event flyer were “Free Food.” Oh, and I needed to do this to win a bet against Tim.
“Yo! What’s with these seats? Why are so far away?” Tim complained loudly.
“This was YOUR idea. You said, ‘we should sit in the back’. Look, the front row is completely empty if you want to move.”
Tim’s face grew red at the suggestion, “Nahh chill man! I’m not sitting where everyone can see me!”
Ugh. What a child.
The small assemble room lights dimmed as Mrs. Presenter Lady began presenting the workshop. Still no sign of free snacks yet. Mrs. Presenter Lady began with a question, “What is leadership? How can students become role models and leaders on this campus?” Mrs. Presenter Lady communicated with a powerful lyrical cadence in her voice. Before I long I found myself invested in the presentation.
“Pssst! Yo!” Tim whispered loudly.
Just ignore him. Pay attention.
Since we were sitting right next to each it was hard to fully ignore him. I could hear Tim fidgeting around in his chair. Finally, I turned to him, “Would you relax? It’s almost over.” From the outside, we must have looked like an old married couple. Mrs. Lady wrapped up her PowerPoint with the lights flicking back on soon afterwards.
“Told you it was almost over.”
He let out a salvo of yawns before finally standing up. “Hey man, wait!” The excitement in his eyes pointed to the discovery of the snack table. As students slowly filtered out of the Multipurpose room we closed in on the snack table. After devouring 6 cookies chocolate chip cookies each Tim notices something incredible.
“Look! A whole 8 pack of donuts! And they aren’t open!”
“Oh yeah, too bad no one opened it yet”
Just then Tim flashed me a sinister grin, whispering “We should just take them!”
Alarm bells immediately sounded off on my ethical conscience, “What! Are you crazy?! How would we even do that?”
Tim turned his back and reverted to a oddly calm demeanor. “Oh? Sorry, I didn’t realize this you were a coward.”
The blood in my veins thickened with anger. Damnit! This is oldest trick in the book, yet somehow it was working! Ego can lead a person to do stupid things. A stupid decision is guaranteed if that Ego mixes with male testosterone. I turned around to do a quick sweep of the room. Including us, only a few people still lingered around.
My eyes narrowed back at him, “Take the damn donuts! I’ll cover you.”
Without missing a beat Tim quickly began stuffing the rectangular box of donuts into the inner left pocket of his jacket. The donuts box stuck out comically underneath his jacket. I stood to the left of Tim in an attempt to avoid any suspicion. My heart pulsed quickly, with my emotions becoming a cocktail of excitement and anxiety. I feel like I landed in a real-life scene of Ocean’s Eleven.
Okay, steady now. Just stay cooool.
We reached the double doors to exit the room when I made the mistake of turning around one last time. In that instant, I locked eyes with Mrs. Presenter Lady who was beaming a chilly glare in our direction.
It was almost as if she witnessed two dumbass kids awkwardley stealing a box of donuts. – Barry
What do Hollywood, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and your friendly neighborhood tin-foil hat wearer have in common? Answer: An obsession with Universes. In the case the Hollywood and Tin-foil hat Dave, we really wish they would let it go.
Back in 2012 Marvel burst open a giant money piñata when they released The Avengers, a movie that brought together a bunch of popular superheroes that existed under one cinematic universe. Since then the Marvel Cinematic Universe has oozed out cash none stop. Hollywood executives saw a chance to pillage the “Cinematic Universe” gold mine and began copying Marvel’s formula…..badly. Very badly.
The DC Extended Universe, The Transformers Universe, The Dark Universe, The X-Men Universe, The Conjuring Universe, The Star Wars Universe. Why? Why, Why, Why? Every franchise in the world does NOT need a universe. Universes are big complicated endeavors that require heavy planning and meticulous attention to detail. You can’t just stick on an end credit scene and shout “Universe!” That’s ridiculous! Movies that spend too much setting up a sequel typically fall prey to sloppy storytelling. As a frequent movie goer, I prefer stories that stand on their own. Not half-baked unfulfilling cinematic appetizers that promise “the next one will be better” (ex. Suicide Squad, X-Men Apocalypse, Justice League).
Alright this isn’t a movie blog, consider this rant is officially over…. Or is it?
Until next time – Barry
Over Thanksgiving Break I found myself in the Stroud Mall. Strange creatures masquerading as humans love to roam freely in the Stroud Mall. I do my best to avoid them. Always. Who knows what attracts these extraterrestrial fedora-wearing teenage beings into that tiny shopping complex?
Probably Auntie Anne’s pretzels.
Susanna followed me all the way into the Men’s department of Sears. She stood in the aisle waiting as I drowned in a sea of jeans. Slim fit jeans, Boot-cut jeans, stretch fit jeans, Extra-blue jeans, black jeans, ripped-jeans, gene jeans- the variety can be dizzying. Vertigo outright smacked me when I saw the price!
$70!!! For jeans!! They better shave off a few pounds for that price!
Sadly, the tag did not indicate weight loss features for the jeans. Maybe I’m just cheap.
“So what are your plans for after Grad School?” Susanna asked
“Umm? Move to San Diego is my only plan right now,” I replied hastily. “Why are jeans so expensive?”
Susanna ignored my second question completely, “San Diego? That’s cool and you could even visit Mexico too.”
Susanna and I looked at exchanged confused looks. The mentioning of Mexico brought in an uninvited participant to the conversation.
“Me and my buddies went to Mexico a few years ago, beautiful country…”
Um who are you?
The stranger in question was a short middle age man in a dirt splattered black sweatshirt and grease stained jeans. His appearance resembled that of a homeless person, not someone who could afford to go to Mexico. Giving him the benefit of the doubt I continued to listen. Susanna did the same.
“Yeah my buddies decided to take me to a cathouse in Tijuana. They said ‘listen here man, we’re going to get you laid’…”
“Oh? That’s umm….” Leaving the sentence, I unfinished I tried to think of a means of escape. A cloud of unease rested around me. I did not expect a story about prostitution while jean shopping. I’m officially uncomfortable.
“… and everything is so much cheaper down there. I bought a Sombrero for $3 USA, hell I could have bought a house! I had $15,000 in cash!”
I threw glances and every nonverbal signal in the book at Susanna to get us out of there. She caught none of them. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying this stranger’s tale. Why does this always happen to me?! With no way out I let him drone on for 10 more minutes.
“And also the Tequila there is no joke! None of that watered down American bullshit! I drank a shit ton of Tequila and blacked out. To this day I refuse to drink Tequila…. And another thing”
Finally, Susanna intervened, “Well I think we need to get going now!” In the parking lot I could help but to be annoyed by the fact that we left the mall with no jeans and oddly personal anecdotes about a strange man’s adventures in a foreign country.
Maybe I should buy jeans from Mexico – Barry
November creeps to an end as December looms over the wintry horizon. In a little over a month, 2017 while be another year in the history books. Now is the perfect time to look back before moving forward. Below is a list of positive things I experienced this year. Listing only positive things was difficult because bad memories stick more. Luckily, life is not a series of unfortunate events. Search hard enough you can find something to be glad for. While making this list I surprised myself with the number of great things that happened this year I forgot about!
Started Grad School
Road Trip to Rhode Island
Road Trip to Long Island
Service Key Award
Made Raspberry Pi Console
New Blog Name
Read 26 Books
Went to March for Science
Relay for Life
Meet the new University President
Hired as a Grad Assistant
Baby sister was born
Moved into a new apartment
Wrote a post a day for an entire month straight
New blog logos
Donated most of my clothes to charity
Interviewed for a podcast
Started recording audio
Shared great stories
Coffee and Code meetup
Listened to new podcasts
Reconnected with old friends
Made new friends
Learned new skills
Connected with other bloggers
Started exercising regularly
Voluntarily watched a horror movie
If you decide to make a 2017’s Great Hits list please link it to this post! I would love to read what others have to be grateful for this year! – Barry
I pledge allegiance to me
A creature full of possibility.
To protect and serve this mind
So that control is always mine.
One duration under God
Live, die, and applaud.
November in Pennsylvania. I could begin this story by conjuring sensations of the penetrating effects of cold. How it cracks the skins seeps straight down into the marrow of your bones. Bundling Maybe describe the howling winds that banish away warmth on impact. Maybe. I could fill your mind with images frost scarred students strutting around in thick wool beanies, heavy black Timberland boots, and puffy insulated Patagonia coats. I could do all these things, but I won’t.
Somehow, I found myself walking outside in the cold. A lapse in memory made me forget why I left my apartment in the first place. I strolled along for a few blocks until the cold forced me to retreat back towards home. Logic says I went outside to go somewhere, but where? Think. Think. Think. My fingers shivered in my jean pockets. Only another block before I was back inside.
“HEY! BARRY!” a loud voiced echoed from a distance. My neck immediately swung around to answer. Scanning up, down, and all the round. Still don’t see anybody. My frenzied head movments earned me a dirty look from a scrawny old lady leaning on a parking meter. Someone called out my name! I’m not crazy!
Maybe I was just hearing things?
Later that evening I lounged on my sofa ruminating. I wonder who shouted out my name? Maybe they actually said “Harry” not Barry? It’s a simple mistake to make. No I feel like it was directed toward me. No one else was outside on the sidewalk beside that strange old lady. Maybe her name is Barry too? What if that old woman shouted out my name just so she could pretend not hear anything and give me a dirty look!? That scoundrel! Is this step one is kind of convoluted conspiracy? How far up does this thing go?!
Investigating this incident produced more questions than answers. Evidence has dried up and I’m fresh out of leads. The trail has gone cold. I will go my entire life not knowing who shouted out my name.
Let this be a warning: it could happen to you – Barry
Pursing an education takes a lot a work. It can be even more difficult if you feel uncertain about what it takes to be good student. As a recent college graduate and first semester graduate student I can walk you through the intricacies of learning to become an excellent scholar.
The First Assignment – Getting Started
Hooray! You received your first homework of the semester! I glanced over the rubric, the assignment looks straightforward. The due date is a week from now. I have a crazy idea: let’s get it done early!
Great! Now just get out your laptop and we can get started.
*Pulls laptop out of bag. Shakes the cookie crumbs out of the grimy keyboard. Sets laptop down.*
Alrighty, so open up Microsoft Word and we can get this party started.
Okay…… I just need to check the internet for something first. It will only take a sec.
Alright keep it brief.
Yeah yeah, I will. *Opens Google Chrome* Another Star Wars movie? Cool. That reminds me, is Rogue One still on Netflix? Better check just in case I want to watch it again. *Opens Netflix* Looks like it is! Oh look at that! New season of Supernatural!
What the hell do you think you’re doing?!
Come onnn just one episode. Last season ended on a cliffhanger! I just need to know what happens and then I’ll focus. Promise.
Just one episode you say? Promise?
Yeah just one and done. Promise.
Okay, one episode couldn’t hurt.
TWO DAYS THREE HOURS TWENTY-SEVEN MINUTES AND ONE FULL SEASON OF SUPERNATURAL LATER:
WOW! What a great season! I can’t believe Dean did that!
….. What happened to just one episode!? That was a whole season! 22 episodes!
Look that was my fault. I didn’t think there would be so many cliffhangers. You know I don’t do well with uncertainty.
Ugh. Whatever let’s just close out of Chrome and open Microsoft Word.
*yawn* Would you look at the time? Almost midnight. I can’t do my best work if I’m tired. I will definitely start tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes and goes. Another tomorrow comes and goes. A string of tomorrows come and go.
Night Before Deadline
Bloodshot eyes strain to stare at the blinding white glow of the computer screen as I type feverishly. Is easeability a word? I feel like it is. Shakespeare invented words, why can’t I? Oh jeez, I should done this sooner! Damn you Netflix!
This is what happens when you don’t listen to me! – Barry
The second end credits scene rolls and the theater lights turn up to full brightness. My fellow movie goers escape into the hallway buzzing with their reviews of the movie. Meanwhile, I linger in my reclined seat for a moment. Thor: Ragarnok? Not sure how to feel about this.
This is a side effect of writing movie reviews for three years. My mind is not allowed to form a definitive opinion until I’ve mentally sifted through the all merits and flaws of the film. I continue developing my list on my way to the Men’s restroom. That is a side effect of drinking a large blue raspberry ICEE during the movie.
I liked the tone I suppose. Very different from the previous Thor movies…
Someone is already using the urinal to the far right. Naturally I move to an open one on the far left. AMC decided to do without the urinal dividers, so now I need to use extra precautions to hide my man tentacle. Great.
Out of my peripheral I see the guy on the far right flush the handle and brush the residue onto his jeans. He heads toward the sink, checks the mirror and exits.
Something feels off . *Whoosh*
I finish up soon after and release the pee water to the sewers. I walk over to the soap dispenser next the sink and nearly empty the entire container into my left palm. Jets of water stream out of the automatic faucet. After methodically scrubbing my hands I reach for a paper towel. That when the flash back hits me. Oh god! I replay again just to be sure. A wave of disgust slams into me like a full body tackle.
HE DIDN’T WASH HIS HANDS! What’s worse is I am the only witness to this gross violation of hygiene! What if he touches someone!? What if he shares a popcorn with someone?! They would know he didn’t wash his hands! He has man tentacle germs on his hands! Ew!
What’s that famous saying again? “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.”
I can never un-see that heinous act. Maybe I should go into witness protection? – Barry
That noise perfectly illustrates my life lately. Everything feels so repetitive, mundane, and flat out boring. This plague of Chronic CB (Continual Boredom) I’ve contracted is killing me. Nothing can release me from this dire slump. No cure is within reach.
Stranger Things 2? Nope.
New Car? Yawn.
New Marvel movie? Eh.
My guess is this Chronic CB stems more from my desire for a different environment. I relished my four years of undergrad at Bloomsburg University, but my cabin fever is through the roof! You can only enjoy the same sights for so long! Gray November skies make me yearn more for the sweet Californian sunshine.
Intellectually, I know I should enjoy the present moment. Emotionally, my heart lies somewhere else. What I’m feeling can best be described as what one author calls “the space between stories.” The space between stories signify those transitory phases between big life changes where everything seems to stand still.
Time to enjoy this story until the next chapter begins.
Looking forward to the future – Barry
Everyone can benefit from self-centered.
Not self-centered in the traditional sense of the word, meaning to be selfish and narcissistic. My observation comes from a literal interpretation of being “self-centered”. Splitting the phrase apart leaves the two words “self” and “center”. With this perspective, the term self-centered is redefined to mean “centered in one’s self.”
What exactly does it mean to be centered in one’s self? Like sailboats out at sea all people have an anchor. This anchor serves as the focal point of what defines our individuality. At first glance it feels synonymous with our identity. A true center lives in an internal space within ourselves, devoid of our external identity. In that space we experience the freedom to be our most authentic selves. To be centered outside of one’s self is dangerous. It leads us to be tethered to external forces: objects, habits, people, jobs, etc.
Self-centered = centering myself. Finding the core of who I am and operating from that place.
Cluelessly wandering the aisles of Weis supermarket is a cherished pastime of mine. I never leave that store without discovering something new.
Balsamic ketchup? Ooooooo that sounds interesting! Maybe I have a coupon for it. What’s this? Chocolate scented soap? Hmmmm…..
Yes, my hobbies resemble that of a retired elderly woman, but no one asked for your judgement. This is my story. OK?
Ummm take it easy man.
Without any clear direction or purpose, I drifted along some more. I ended up among rows of fresh colorful produce. Walking very slowly, I pretended to seriously consider purchasing something healthy. Oh, wait- that requires money. Nevermind!
My eyes casual glazed over the price stickers until one snagged my interest:
MACINTOSH – $6.99
HUH? Weis sells computers now? And for that cheap? This deal sounds too good to be true.
Directly beneath the sign lay a bunch of greenish-red apples.
Ohhhh a Macintosh is a type of apple.
Of course, Weis doesn’t sell computers. Yet another question remained:
Why are those laptops called a Macintosh?
Mental gears slowly churned to solve this conundrum. The chance at an epiphany felt imminent. Finally, it happened! The light bulb turned on at full brightness! Everything became crystal clear
“Apple makes a computer named the Macintosh……….because a Macintosh is a type of apple! Wow!”
Clearly, I’m a genius – Barry
Interacting with random Bloomsburg Townees is always an interesting experience. These moments typically occur in a few seconds, but they are definitely worth sharing.
Close your eyes for a moment.
If you listen closely you can hear the air currents swooshing with the flow of traffic. A low of active machinery rests in the background. Pistons firing, while engines madly churn with raw horse power. Your heart jumps at the piercing screech of a sudden stop, at the obnoxious honking of a horn, and the whining scream of a modified muffler. Without looking you can picture the black sedans, red SUVs, and gray mini-vans endlessly streaming through the road.
My apartment overlooks a busy four-way intersection. The scene above describes my current reality. Watching traffic drive by can be incredibly mesmerizing. This day I left my window open to let in the autumn breeze. Down below two women attempting to cross.
Jodi: “Should we go now?”
Vanessa: “No, not yet.”
Few seconds pass.
Jodi: “Okay, what about now?” Continue reading
*Squawk* “Your order is almost ready!” *Squawk*
“Yippie! Did you hear that Barry! The pizza is almost ready!”
Cecelia only orders from Domino’s because they have the annoying online pizza trackers with the sounds. Her favorite order tracker is the tropical theme with the squawking parrot. After breaking up, Cecelia and I decided to stay friends. We made a tradition out of ordering a strange combination of toppings and cheeses on a large pizza from Domino’s. Sure, it’s expensive, but that’s where the emergency credit card Cecelia’s parents left her comes in handy. When your hungry everything is an emergency.
“Cece why do you like that parrot so much? He’s pissing me off.”
“I don’t know haha. Don’t judge me!”
Too late. Wayyy too late.
*Squawk* Your pizza is here! *Squawk*
Cece’s cell rang short after. A brief exchange later she hung up and stared at me. Continue reading