Hope4Humanity

Even with my limited service background, I’ve recognized the fact that much of what people say about the homeless or disenfranchised is true: they are dysfunctional, they can be scary, and they can be difficult and manipulative. Still, they are human, and they are broken humans, and I never understood why people throw their anger against them. Like this video shows, I think: above all, a truth we can all realize is that they are human beings, regardless of the other labels we pile on top.

Truthseeker247

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Empty blue mattresses

June 24, 2011. Blue and white caps and gowns dotted the football field. From my chair in the front row, I remember thinking to myself, “I will never be in the presence of this exact group of people ever again.” 

Since then, I can count on one hand how many people from my high school graduating class I’ve gone out of my way to see since that June evening over two years ago (the answer is three –– not kidding).

But my lack of friends from high school is an entirely different matter; the real point here is that there are moments we seriously can never get back. And places, too. Physical locations are just as important.

Polka-dots galore, welcome to my freshman dorm room.
Polka-dots galore, welcome to my freshman dorm room.

I adored my freshman year dorm room. I have so many memories trapped within the walls of room 157 in Loughlen Hall. My friends and I watched Jenna Marbles videos and snuggled in my bed. We got fancy with wine the night before one of my finals and shoveled handfuls of classy taco cheese down our throats, the next-best thing to Gruyère.

It hits me when I remember that room doesn’t exist anymore. And some of those people in the memories don’t even attend the university now. We’ll never recreate that group of people or the place we once called “home.” The then-polka-dotted walls are back to their original white cinder-block state, with lonely bed frames housing empty blue mattresses.

I’m currently in limbo, picturing my dorm room from this past year instead of looking forward to a new white box to call my home. And what I’m thinking of and picturing doesn’t even really exist anymore. The frame does, the touches that made it Emily’s Room don’t.

Next time you’re in a group of friends, look around. Memorize facial expressions and laughter. Take the time to discover what each person contributes to the gathering and ponder what it would be like if he/she were not there. How do your surroundings make an impact? What if you could never return to that particular place? You’re living in a moment that may never present itself again. Cherish it.

I hope that if/when my parents sell my childhood home, the new owners take the time to look it over and imagine bare feet tearing through the different rooms and up the staircase. I know I will be.

The minute that “SOLD” sign is posted, I’ll have lost access to a portal containing countless memories; one that can never be reopened once sealed.

Carl Sagan

I’m a bit of a Carl Sagan junkie. I suppose it started the evening before Thanksgiving Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Societybreak my junior year, when my ride changed plans to leave the next morning. With an evening free, I scanned HULU for a show to kill time with. It recommended Cosmos, and after reading the glowing comments, I decided to check it out.

The name Carl Sagan was familiar, and I had seen his parted hair, turtleneck, and beige jacket parodied on television. I had also heard his famous Pale Blue Dot monologue at a talk from Bill Nye, who respected Sagan. I even met a professor from Cornell who got his office, replete with a hidden foot pedal to call campus police for unwanted visitors.

But the pieces didn’t connect.

The strangely nostalgic piano and synth-string theme played over an intro of star fields and passing nebula. The café around me softened into a whimpering white noise of scuffing tables, chatting workers, and clattering cups. Sagan spoke, his iconic cadences seeming to pick out words with the precision of tweezers.

“The sky calls to us,” he said. “If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.”

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Option overload

Standing in the tea aisle of my local Wegmans, my heart pounded and my head froze. Too many choicesThe prim, brightly colored canisters and shiny, cellophaned boxes stared at me, rows of them, emblazoned with brand names, alleged health benefits, and flavors. Some were fair trade, some were organic. Others were just cheap.

I didn’t know what to do.

In the end, I picked a compromise of price and quality. The anxiety seems crazy. And, as my dad quipped when I mentioned the issue, it’s better to have too many choices than none at all. True. But option overload has become an increased problem in the West.

As absurd as it sounds, too many choices can be a bad thing.

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Thoughts on friendship

Tonight, I go on my fifth annual road trip with a few high school friends. The six of us

From the Painting "Kindred Spirits."
From the Painting “Kindred Spirits.”

met in seventh and eighth grade making films. Now and for the past four years we’ve been going in separate places: different schools, different interests, different cities–even states.

Still, something has held us  together, for the past eight years. Sometimes, that’s hard to believe.

Dunbar’s number dictates we can only keep track of around 150 beings at any given time. If they’re too distant, they don’t make the cut and blur behind a thin haze of anonymity.

During our lives, few people make the cut. Those who do so consistently become friends.

Friendship has the rare honor of being part of “the human condition,” the seemingly universal and timeless experience that defines what it means to be human. I don’t know if anyone has ever tried to outline our condition, but I imagine that friendship would be on the list somewhere.

Despite it’s prevalence, however, friendship remains a brittle obscure topic. As Thoreau opens in his essay Friendship, “Friendship is evanescent in every man’s experience, and remembered like neat lightening in past summers.” It takes place for all of us, sometimes for just a fragile collection of moments. Yet we can barely describe what makes it so essential.

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Back home

I’ve been home for about three days now after surviving over 24 hours traveling, sustained by Cliff Bars, airline food, and caffeine. My mom barely held her tears in as she squeezed me near the baggage counter in the echoing spaces of the near-empty airport. The rest of the flight pooled around the carousel, frayed and wrinkled.

“It’s good to be home,” I said.

And it was. Four days before, June 30th arrived after weeks of warnings, anticipation, and scattered protests. Like a ruptured pipe, millions pooled into the squares and streets across Egypt. Tamarod, the grass-roots movement that organized the opposition, flaunted 22 million signatures to throw out Morsi while Tagarod, the pro-Morsi opposition, organized sit-ins.

As some graffiti said, “January 25 and June 30, our Revolution continues.”

Flags, fireworks, clenched fists, posters, and red cards colored the crowds. Couples, children, and friends held cards reading “Leave.” In a country with notorious disregard for timeliness, organization, and teamwork, millions gathered with a single purpose.

“It is the biggest protest in Egypt’s history,” one official told Agence France-Presse.

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