buoying spirits unawares

I go back and forth on the whole idea that people are often the answer to our prayers unintentionally. Not that I expect a theophany every time I ask for something. It's just, well, it seems too coincidental. And also sort of self-centered. It seems likely that people just do things regardless of what we need or want. To assert otherwise sort of makes me uncomfortable.

I say that, but then sometimes things happen that make it seem like maybe there really is a God who engineers even tiny, inconsequential stuff.

To wit, I've been having a sort of rough patch. Nothing serious, just a run of kinda lousy days and some little prickly bits, too. Like failing to turn in the electronic version of a paper that was already done. Being given work tasks that make me feel sort of clueless. Getting a speeding ticket. Stuff that just sort of sours otherwise uneventful days. It's the sorts of thing that aren't that out of the ordinary but which, for whatever reason, feels moderately overwhelming at the time.

But then, in the last couple of days, someone I just met told me they'd heard good things from one of my professors about me and someone whose life I've envied practically since we met (it's soooooo cool. honestly) told me that she was, in fact, jealous of my life. My bland, sort of frivolous life.

These are dumb things really. Tiny things. And these people have no idea the difference they made. But, they did. For a little moment there, I was reminded that, hey, maybe things just seem a lot worse than they actually are. It's weird the power small things can have. And, whatever the source of these interactions, I'm so, so, so grateful for them.


My Hebrew professor, in discussing the etymology of some words has been known to contemptuously spit out that the root comes from "the Indo-European storehouse". He's not exactly a purist, but I can see the problem. Why borrow words from a system that doesn't really meld well with your own? Especially when these words aren't particularly complicated semantic undertakings. Though, some languages like to borrow. It's what they do (I'm looking in your direction, English. You're pretty much willing to invite any morpheme into your bed, aren't you?)

So, that said, borrowing a word here and there doesn't seem like such a problem. But, what if you're Greek? And, say, it's the 5th Century and you've created small things like drama and democracy and vase painting and Classical architecture. Why on earth, when you were smoothing things out like this didn't you bother to regularize the word for "to carry"?

Remember how you guys did the Golden Mean? And even went so far as curving parts of the Parthenon so it'd look straight? Yeah, you have a thing for order. That's cool. But, seriously, order begins at home.

For those of you reading who don't do Greek, here's how the verbal system works, at least theoretically. When you learn a verb, you learn six principal parts, related to different tenses. This is partly because ancient languages are needlessly complex at even their most regular bits, but also because the rules are sort of mishmash and it's generally easier to just memorize things.

So, a nice, regular verb looks like this:

παιδευω, παιδευσω, ἐπαιδευσα, πεπαιδευκα, πεπαιδευμαι, ἐπαιδευθην

Even not reading Greek, you can see this guy "παιδευ" sort of hangs around and gets stuff added to it.

Then, there's φερω, the word for "to carry". No real problem there. But then you look at the other forms which come out:

οἰσω, ἠνεγκα, ἐνηνοχα, ἐνηνεγμαι, ἠνεχθην

WTF? Three DIFFERENT roots? Sure, just pull anything you want out of Proto Indo-European. That's a good choice. Oh, and while you're at it, could you chose one root that likes to lose part of itself sometimes? That'd be swell.

I hate you sometimes, Classical Greek. Sometimes, I think you should die in a fire. Or, y'know, at the hands of the Romans. You pick.

At Oran like elsewhere

I spend way more intellectual energy and effort on carefully my crafted Facebooking than I really should. The curating of photo albums takes a good deal out of me. I. must. be. funny. And status updates are (generally) reserved for something rather clever*. They don't always have to come from me. In fact, a fair amount of the time, I just take a quote of some sort and tweak it.

However, on days like today, that pretty much beat me up for no good reason, I'm stuck. All I can think of are things from Camus, Sartre or the gloomier works of Graham Greene and Julian Barnes. Not particularly cheery, eh?

This leads me to wonder if these fancy degrees I have slash am working on did anything worthwhile other than giving me more beautiful ways to describe my dissatisfaction with my life. A life, btw, which is ridiculously good. I guess, if that's really the sum total of my education, I should wait for someone who chose more wisely and studied something useful to make a time machine. Then, I'll just go back in time and tell 18 year-old alea to pitch it all and go for the accounting degree. Then I'd be happy.

*Or, what I find clever. Because I amuse myself. And no one else.

Cheetos and starbursts are totally a meal

My sister works an irregular schedule, with several days of very long shifts and then a block of time off. According to her, this contributes to her eating patterns being Pavlovian. That is, without the cues of working, she loses track of the need to eat. She’s, obviously, not bothered by this. However, some of the rest of us can be. Because, see, we go to visit her when she’s not working and (if you’re me) are too timid to admit that you need food.

What’s weird, though, is that, left to my own devices, I’m not a very good eater. I don’t think my eating is Pavlovian, though. I think it’s social. If other people are around, I eat. If not, I don’t. It’s not that I avoid eating. It’s just that it doesn’t seem to happen. Sure, I snack. I nibble. I maybe even nosh a little bit. (Oh, let’s be honest, I’ll munch on some chips or consume some candy). But I don’t eat.

The fact that, periodically, my body decides that taking in calories in any form is beneath its interest doesn’t help my tendency to suddenly realize Sunday night that I have, in fact, gone two days without eating anything. The thing that usually gets me to realize this is trying to figure out why my head should be hurting so much.

On the plus side, this method of eating really cuts down on the grocery bills. On the downside, my body hates me. But then, I see this as some appropriate payback for all the times it’s decided it didn’t want to play nice.* I think, though, it's probably in my best interests to get out of this bad habit and, y'know, learn to take care of myself.

*Naturally, I refuse all blame from those situations.