Spring Break: Pittsburgh

Over spring break, I traveled to the completely foreign city of Pittsburgh, PA. Now, Pittsburgh isn’t really thought of as a Spring Break destination spot, but as I am coming up on my graduation from UNK, this trip was more to see how I like the city as a possible place to live.

Next year I will be going to grad school to get a Master’s in Library Science (yes, librarians must get Master’s degrees in order to work in libraries). But one of the places that I was accepted was the University of Pittsburgh. I, along with my mom, had never been to Pittsburgh before, so it was definitely an adventure navigating the city.

One thing that we don’t really have in Nebraska is architecture that is over 200 years old. At least very grand architecture. The University of Pittsburgh is over 225 years old, so it was really interesting to walk through several of the buildings.

Overall, it’s really crazy to finally be at the point where my future plans have become tangible. Now I can put a place to the name as I make my plans. While there’s still a lot to figure out, I’m glad that I was able to spend spring break where I’ll be living come fall.

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Barista’s: A coffee shop just like every other, except not.

20130326-181933.jpgThere’s this coffee shop I love to go to that’s tucked away directly off of a major highway with close proximity to campus. Word-of-mouth gives this place its business. Unless you know someone who frequents the coffee haven, then you most likely won’t know about it. The close walking distance means you’ll see students and professors as well as families in this place. The back door is its best feature. Tucked away but painted as if the entrance to the secret garden rather than the best study place in Kearney.

When you walk in, stop for a moment, if you’re visiting during the day, this is important because your eyes will need to adjust a bit. The baristas are laid back and chalkboards announce the plethora of specialties and comfort drinks in the crowded yet organized fashion of coffee shop menus.

Worn wooden chairs, inviting booths and a nap-worthy sofa all create a welcoming feel to study and discuss religion, philosophy, politics as well as lighthearted and heart-felt conversations. Soul saving and soul healing. A long table for friends to play games and laugh, or for battle-ridden studiers finding comfort in the mutual affliction.

Constant comings and goings of real friends and coffee shops friends provides continual relief from the incessant nagging of deadlines. Coffee shop friends being those that you met there and only see here. Sometimes you don’t even know the other person’s name, but you’re friends because you’ve commiserated and celebrated together because of the little things.

The trickle of pouring espresso beans and occasional grinding of coffee beans regularly pierce the nondescript music that allows some to concentrate and others to be distracted. The constant murmur of conversation whether nonchalant or serious adds another layer to the constant buzz.

The constant noise, however, is still muffled creating a calming and studious environment regardless of the volume. Customers debate on whether to order something new or stick to the regular. Familiar customers are called by name because of familiarity. Questions of weather and who’s routing for who in March Madness sneak through the protective bubble of concentration. Snippets of conversations float through the air causing laughter or confusion from afar because you really want to know what caused that to be said.

Espresso. The smell permeates everything, causing everyone to smell like coffee for hours after leaving the shop. Occasional fragrance of tea and flavoring come across, but only if it’s sitting near you.

At this time, it’s relatively quiet. But it’s only safe to call it the calm before the storm. It’s unknown when the next wave of studiers and coffee fiends will flood the shop creating bustling commotion and the anticipation of seeing people you haven’t seen since the last time you were there. On any given day you’re sure to say hi to at least 3 people you know. The barista’s are making drink and cleaning to keep the place looking nice and comfortable.

Your use of ‘fellowship’ is ‘inconceivable!’

My whole life I grew up in a Christian family and attending church quite regularly. Anyone who has gone to church, whether all your life or only once, knows that Christians have their own set of vocab that tends to be thrown around quite casually, regardless of whether it’s being used correctly or if anyone even knows what it means.

As Vizzini the Sicilian favors “inconceivable!”Christians have their own words. One that has come to my attention recently is the word fellowship. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, fellowship is a community or interest, activity, feeling or experience; a company of equals or friends; and the quality or state of being comradely.

In the Bible, the word fellowship is used to mean a coming together of fellow believers to encourage and strengthen one another. While both of these definitions are similar, there’s been a growing trend in the church to use the word “fellowship” at every mention of people (who happen to be Christian) getting together to hang out.

The other day, a friend of mine said that we were going to fellowship and watch “The Princess Bride.” Now, this was after our Navigators (a Christian ministry on campus) meeting, so I understood what she meant, but why must we use the word fellowship? It didn’t quite fit the situation nor was the context completely accurate.

If it were another situation, one not including a church-like setting, the word “fellowship” wouldn’t have been used, but “hang out” or something of the like would have. Christianese (as it’s called by many) is something that I have grown up around my whole life, but I’ve never understood the compulsion to call every gathering that happens to be predominately Christians, as fellowship, rather than another synonym of the overused word.

The six stages of grief for Facebook redesigns

Facebook is doing it again. Brace yourselves for the flood of complaints and whining that will fill your Twitter and Facebook feeds. It’ll be breaking news. And after it happens… nobody will care… again.

Facebook is giving us a new redesign and seems to be taking a leaf out of Apple’s book with a fancy explanatory page to show you all the details. While this is all well and good, Facebook is taking extra care to forewarn its users that changes are happening so they best be prepared.

I’ve been a Facebook user since the moment they opened it up to those who were not in college (anyone else remember the humble beginnings of that version of Facebook?). Needless to say, the old FB has had many facelifts and our reaction to them has always been predictable. In order to get through this trying and confusing time, we must acknowledge the six stages of grief for Facebook redesigns.

1. Denial- “I refuse to believe they’re changing the layout again.” I have honestly heard this statement. Nobody wants to believe that they will have to relearn where the “Like” button is. Many of us begin our journey through our frustration with FB through denial. It’s simply impossible that they could come up with another way to confuse people again. Do they do this for fun or something?!?

2. Anger- Around the time of the impending doom changes, everyone realizes they can’t deny that FB is inconveniencing them again. So they do the most natural thing and get angry, and they refuse to be alone in this anger. In order to drag those of us who really don’t care about the changes, the angry users post endlessly about how much they hate the changes. Which in turn, makes you angry. Misery truly does love company in the nasty cycle of this stage.

3. Bargaining- Remember how you could opt in to the timeline design? Remember how many people refused even though it was a futile battle? Yeah, these people are the bargainers. It’s almost like making a deal with the devil, that’s how passionate and paranoid these people become. Rather than accepting their fate they blind themselves and play hide and seek in broad daylight. Big brother was still watching you, timeline evaders. Now, not everyone walks through this stage, but we will try to understand and sympathize.

4. Depression- This stage lasts about how long it takes to distract a puppy, but it’s a valid stage in the progression to FB design change. Everyone gets a little sad that first time they log onto their page and everything is new. Perhaps it’s our connection to the way things once were that causes us to become sad when Facebook changes its layout…

5. Acceptance- And after five seconds of the depression stage we see a squirrel. New emoticons and the streamlined design become harmless after taking that first step to explore the new design. It becomes and adventure. Kind of like when you get a new electronic device, rather than read the directions, you just discover its features in your own time. You then let FB out of the doghouse and back into your life. (Not that you really kicked it out in the first place.)

6. Memory Loss- “Remember that time when Facebook took away our ability to see our status at the top of our pages at all times?” -said no one ever. Relatively quickly, we forget completely that we were mad at Facebook for changing because we can’t even remember what it was like before. Perhaps that is an uneasy foreshadow of the near future, but I would prefer not to think about it.

The long lost art of good music.

Two years ago, my computer hard drive crashed and I lost everything. Subsequently I lost a lot of music. But recently I stumbled upon my iPod Classic and decided to plug it in. As I scrolled through the ancient (it’s four years old) iPod I rediscovered one of my favorite bands on the entire planet, Wavorly.

My guess, is that very few people have ever heard of this band. For one, they fall into genre limbo. They are a band, whose members happen to be Christians, but their lyrics aren’t blatantly religious. So, they aren’t “Christian” enough for Christian radio and they’re “too Christian” for mainstream. Several amazing bands slip into this category, but this is another story altogether.

Besides being ignored and passed off as music not deserving of respect, their career as a band was minimal. In their time, they released one full-length album, an EP (extended play) and a farewell collection. That’s it. And it’s a tragedy.

Since none of you have heard of them, pretend I’m talking about a favorite band of yours that never seemed to take off as you’d hoped. The sad story is so common among bands who actually write their own music and need sales in order to survive. As hard as they try, they don’t seem to fall on the same stroke of luck as the few in the Top 40.

Wavorly, who has release two previous albums under the name Freshman 15, released their first full-length album, Conquering the Fear of Flight, produced by Flicker Records in 2007. The first time I listened to this album, I was captivated.

Their style was unique, the Intro transports you to another era, reminiscent of film soundtracks for Victorian England inspired films. But also sounding similar to Panic! at the Disco. All the while incorporating the themes of C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” without it seeming like it. (Everyone should be ashamed now for rocking out to Justin Bieber.)

Wavorly manages to weave philosophical insight with haunting melodic string passages in order to create a unique yet easy listen. They manage to tell a story from beginning to end rather than just a collection of random songs that have no cohesive meaning.

After the release of Conquering the Fear of Flight, the band went silent. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Slowly I forgot about them. They, along with many other deserving bands either because of lack of resources or not enough sales, weren’t able to get more exposure and more success. After I stopped using my old iPod, they simply became a band I once listened to.

In a time where songs titled “Stupid Hoe” can make the top 100 on the charts, our society is in desperate need for music that has substance. Instead, we blast our radios with many artists who autotune and don’t even write their own songs. Songs that require thought and ingenuity are a lost art. Instead, the music we are forced to endure stays catchy and shallow.

Unfortunately, the artists that create music that goes further than repeating the same five words over and over again, tend to be the ones who suffer the most. Their time spent making music easily comes to a quick end.

While there is a time and a place for catchy and shallow, there is a vital need for music that truly pushes the boundaries, and I don’t mean the ones that compete to see how many poor radio edits it can get.

 

The long lost art of good music.

As many of my fellow Americans, I have gone through the motions of iPod upgrades. But recently I stumbled upon my iPod Classic and decided to plug it in. After waiting several minutes and resisting the urge to treat the screen as touch sensitive, I was able to talk a walk down music memory lane.

Two years ago, my computer hard drive crashed and I lost everything. Subsequently I lost a lot of music. As I scrolled through the ancient (it’s four years old) iPod I rediscovered one of my favorite bands on the entire planet, Wavorly.

My guess, is that very few people have ever heard of this band. For one, they fall into genre limbo. They are a band, whose members happen to be Christians, but their lyrics are blatantly religious. So, they aren’t “Christian” enough for Christian radio and they’re “too Christian” for mainstream. But this is another story altogether.

Besides being ignored and passed off as music not deserving of respect, their career as a band was minimal. In their time, they release one full-length album, an EP (extended play) and a farewell collection. That’s it. And it’s a tragedy.

Since none of you have heard of them, pretend I’m talking about a favorite band of yours that never seemed to take off as you hoped. The sad story is so common among bands who actually write their own music and need sales in order to survive.

Wavorly, who has release two previous albums under the name Freshman 15, released their first full-length album, Conquering the Fear of Flight, produced by Flicker Records. The first time I listened to this album, I was captivated.

Their style was unique, the Intro transports you to another era, reminiscent of film soundtracks for Victorian England inspired films. But also sounding similar to Panic! at the Disco. All the while incorporating the themes of C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” without it seeming like it. (Everyone should be ashamed now for rocking out to Justin Bieber right now.)

After the release of Conquering the Fear of Flight in 2007, the band went silent. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Slowly I forgot about them. After I stopped using my old iPod, they simply became a band I once listened to.

In a time where songs titled “Stupid Hoe” can make the top 100 on the charts, our society is in desperate need for music that has substance. Songs that require thought and ingenuity are a lost art. Instead, the music we are forced to endure stays catchy and shallow.

While there is a time and a place for catchy and shallow, there is a vital need for music that truly pushes the boundaries, and I don’t mean the ones that compete to see how many poor radio edits it can get.

Who knew cars and makeup had so much in common?

I’ve become consciously aware of two important things this week. I am helplessly incompetent when it comes to my car and makeup. While I understand the rudimentary elements of both. I can’t put eyeliner on to save my life.

But, this week, I’ve been learning. I had to by antifreeze for my car as an attempt to try and fix it. (Long story there). While the well meaning elderly gentlemen in the Walmart parking lot asked if I was having car trouble because I had my hood open. I was trying to figure out what exactly I needed to buy to fill the engine coolant container.

Cue the phone call to my dad. He explained what I needed and I was left to search some foreign terrain known as the auto center. It took awhile to find what I was looking for, but eventually I did. I even managed to refill my antifreeze without a funnel. It took some talent.

Now to the other incompetency. I was never much of a girly girl. I didn’t faun over dresses or beg to wear makeup. It wasn’t until college that I decided I should try out the whole makeup thing. So, with the basics from my mom, (and the free Mary Kay) I was able to get the gist of it. However, every time I walk into the makeup aisle in a store, I feel as lost as I did in the auto center.

There are too many choices. And why does it have to be so expensive? But, I have to learn. I won’t get into why I sometimes feel that the concept of makeup is ridiculous, but I, along with the majority of women, have been brainwashed into thinking that it’s necessary. I’m not a feminist, but it’s kinda true.

I needed more mascara. I also wanted to attempt eye liner again too. So, I had to venture into the unknown. The first attempt was a near failure.

When it comes to my car and makeup, I’m so used to having others deal with the decisions. My dad takes care of my car, and my mom provides the makeup. In my defense, I’ve only had a car since August and the whole makeup thing never interested my that much anyways, but I have to start learning to take care of these things myself.

It might just take awhile…. and I have a feeling I’ll never master eyeliner.

 

This was originally posted on my personal blog Curiously Thinking.