Happy Holy Days

2015-12-30 Holidays img01During roughly the past decade, the so-called “War on Christmas” seems to have made great strides in forcing average people to wish everyone “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” for fear of being considered an inconsiderate religious bigot.

After all, Christianity isn’t the only religion celebrating this time of year. Continue reading

Reinventing the Christmas Wheel

2015-12-10 Traditions img01Every year my family struggles to keep up Christmas traditions. It’s not that we find our traditions onerous or time-consuming, so much as that we don’t find many traditions at all.

A friend of mine helped illustrate my family’s dearth of traditions when joining us for dinner one year. When I asked what he would like to eat, he suggested, “Make me a traditional family dish.”

This request stumped me for a while, considering that my dad’s favorite description of my mother’s cooking runs, “Enjoy it while you can—you’ll never see it again.” Casting about in my mind, I recalled a variation on a favorite Mexican dish we had cooked up. Continue reading

Party like a Pagan

(c) Copyright 2005, Hoosier Photo[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D70 2006/11/19 14:59:28.2 Compressed RAW (12-bit) Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000) Lens: 18-70mm F/3.5-4.5 G Focal Length: 35mm Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern 1/4 sec - F/11 Exposure Comp.: +0.7 EV Sensitivity: ISO 200 Optimize Image: Portrait White Balance: Auto AF Mode: AF-S Flash Sync Mode: Slow Sync Flash Mode: TTL-BL Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV Color Mode: Mode Ia (sRGB) Tone Comp.: Auto Hue Adjustment: 0° Saturation: Normal Sharpening: Medium low Image Comment: Long Exposure NR: Off Group A: TTL Group B: TTL [#End of Shooting Data Section]“So, what is the most common ritual of pagan religions and cults?” a friend once asked me. He wanted a salacious answer, like human sacrifice or ritualistic sex.

“Feasts and fasts” was the answer he got instead.

Despite the fact that most of us eat food every day, there is something intrinsically special about eating, and eating with others. This doesn’t mean that everyone likes it, of course. I know more than a few people who view eating as a necessary refueling and nothing more. But there is a reason that, throughout the world, people generally eat in community. Continue reading

7 Ways to Beat the Clock

I wish I had more time. Don’t we all? After years of filling my To-Do list with a hose and emptying it with an eyedropper, I finally hit on the secret to getting more done:

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This 1996 book promises a miracle on its cover, and, believe it or not, its contents deliver. Aslett opens the book with several pages on the benefits of doing more with your time.  I’ll assume you are already persuaded, and dive right in. Continue reading

Concerning Hobbits: Narrative and The Shire

2015-9-24 Hobbits img01Perhaps one of the most delightful holidays of the year (for members of the Tolkien fandom) is September 22. This particular day is the birthday of two of the most important hobbits in Tolkien’s works: Bilbo Baggins and his nephew Frodo Baggins. Dedicated Tolkien fans all over the world remove their shoes and eat a second breakfast in honor of the beloved shire-folk. For that reason, a post concerning hobbits (even one sadly posted two days after the actual date) seems rather fitting. Continue reading

Of Lawyers and Localism

2015-4-30 Lawyers img01I am currently attending law school. Among the topics of conversation which my friends and I regularly revisit, future plans rank near the top. My peers have come from far and wide, and have many different goals for their careers, but I am struck by the uniformity amongst us in one aspect of our plans: Nearly everyone plans to end up in a large center of power, such as New York or Washington, DC. A few want to go to San Francisco, and a few more to London or Beijing. I virtually never hear a friend say that they plan to live and work in a small town.

According to one of my law professors, this was not always so. Continue reading

Home is Where

2015-4-30 Home img01Have you ever longed for adventure? How about for home? Do you ever feel unsatisfied with the ordinary, as though your lifestyle can’t contain you? Or do you wonder if you’ve ever really known what it’s like to have roots – to have a place that’s yours, utterly and indisputably yours, to identify with it, and to prize it more highly than any possession? I have had and do have these feelings, often. Usually it’s a paradoxical mix of all them at once, combined with an irrational urge to adopt the Pacific-Northwestern aesthetic. For lo, I am hipster. But I’m sure I’m not unique in these feelings: the themes of wandering and home have run through songs in all ages, from Homer’s Odyssey to John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.”

The American folk singer-songwriter genre especially lends itself to these themes. Continue reading

Getting Beyond the Garden

2015-3-28 introversion II img01Last week Nikola urged introverts to relinquish their self-oriented solitude for the sake of community. In this post, I share my experience with attempting to do just that.

I am an introvert. I come from a completely introverted family: We avoid answering the door or the telephone when it’s a stranger calling. When I was in middle school, I read books while walking down the hallway—the better not to see you, my dear. By the time I hit high school, I introduced myself to the girls seated on either side of me out of sheer desperation. I was tired of being picked last for group projects. Continue reading

Living Beyond the Garden

2015-3-26 Introversion img01A quick Google image search on “introvert” yields a plethora of infographics, cartoons, and memes glorifying introversion and instructing all of those pushy extraverts how to properly interact with the introverts in their lives. (Some of the most popular were helpfully compiled by Buzzfeed here.) Speaking as an extravert, I don’t doubt that we have it coming. It’s easy to see other people as means to an end (such as easing loneliness or getting validation). It’s easy to think that anyone who doesn’t choose the same lifestyle must have something wrong with them. Extraverts, when we do these things, we are selfish and wrong. Introverts, that doesn’t mean that you’re right. Continue reading

Unveiling the Sacred

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I happened to see something on television in which a woman bought a scant outfit to wear for her husband in order to “get his attention” when he came home. Having no desire to watch it further, I turned back to whatever I had been doing and promptly forgot about it. Then, for some reason, the advertisement came to mind a day or so later. Why did it pop into my head again? Who knows. But I found that it was bothering me, and at first I couldn’t quite figure out why. Continue reading