Month: September 2013

  • Under Glass

    Maybe y’all have had a similar problem. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been going on, but I am baffled. There are several of you who have green thumbs, so I hope you can either tell me what the issue is or how to think about it.

    A few months ago (June), realizing that my home is rather sterile, I undertook to convert some old glass containers into terrariums (terraria?). I thought it would be nice to have some living things in the house. Plus, this was kind of a cool way to up-cycle some defunct glass containers I had.

    I laid a layer of rocks a couple inches deep and then another layer of soil (I left out the charcoal–I couldn’t find any at the store and I had an afternoon to do the project, so I just thickened the layer of rocks since the charcoal is mostly about drainage). I had already picked out plants that had similar light and water requirements. I can’t tell you what the plants I got were, but one had tiny leaves with pink spots/splatters and grew kind of bushy close to the ground. The other one was relatively taller and felt much waxier. It was variegated–yellowish and green in color. In each of the small pots I had, there were multiple plants, so I split them and put half in each of the two glass containers I had. After the “potting” process, I had two glass containers, each with two types of plants in them. I thought it was a rather handsome addition to my eating area.

    For a while things were going well. Being in the eating area, they never received direct sunlight, but got plenty of it in the afternoon. Both containers have removable lids, so when the sides got really foggy I just took the lids off to let things air out a bit. Since they are terrariums, I didn’t really have to water them–there was usually at least some visible moisture around the rocks at the bottom. But, I did water when things looked dry or limp.

    Sadly, one day I noticed that the pinkish plant had turned dark and got very limp. Within a few days, it was almost completely indistinguishable from the soil. In the meant time, the same plant in the other jar was doing well, as were the other plants. A few weeks later, the same thing happened to the plant of the same species in the other jar.  Recently, the waxier, taller plant in one of the jars also turned really dark and limp. And again, the plant is indistinguishable from the soil.

    So, of the four “plantings” I had in the two jars to start with, I have one surviving plant–but it’s survival chances don’t look so great in the scheme of things. My impression is that it looks like their environment got too humid and something (bacteria, fungus, etc.) got to them. But, I’m certain.

    SO! If anyone knows what’s happening to these plants, please let me know. I will field any suggestions. If I had a camera–or a smart phone that was actually smart enough to establish communication with my computer–I’d post pictures. But, that’s not the case, so I don’t.

    And really, it’s not that big a deal–the plants were small and inexpensive. I think I paid $5 for the both of them. Long ago I made a decision not to worry about mistakes that cost less than $10. But, the curiosity is killing me. Plus, I am considering getting some new plans to put in there (with fresh soil), so I don’t want to make the same mistakes if I can avoid it.

  • Two Weeks

    Today I realized that it has been two weeks since I shared a meal with another human.

    I think the majority of the other meals have been in front of the TV. A significant part have been in front of the YouTubes. I think the rest of the meal-time accompaniment was an even split between my phone (probably because I’m at a restaurant) and a word document/other homework assignment.

    I made this realization today when someone extended a lunch invitation via e-mail (I am much relieved that it wasn’t on the spot). Ordinarily I don’t decline, but I don’t really know the other person all that well and I have zero confidence in my conversation skills. While trying to think of a nice way to say “No. Not now, not ever,” I realized that I could legitimately say, “No thanks, I don’t eat with other people.” The last time I remembered sharing a meal it was my birthday–a special occasion. And I don’t remember the time before that. But, it was probably at least two weeks.

    I don’t think I’m opposed to eating with others–just with people the idea of sharing a meal with whom makes me uncomfortable. Restated a little more articulately: As a general rule, I’m not opposed to eating with others. However, the idea of sharing a meal with certain people makes me uncomfortable and I would almost certainly turn down those invitations. Then why not eat with anyone else? It’s one of the most natural things that people do.

    For me, I think it’s a product of my schedule. Usually I’ll eat twice a day: once between 2 and 3 or so and then again later, usually between 8 and 9. For most people, these aren’t normal fooding times, so there just aren’t others around to eat. Also, I don’t know anyone, which is probably a bigger factor than the first one. But, they two are somewhat interrelated.

    So, I’m curious now: how often do you eat with others? Also, how often should someone eat with others? In my quest to better understand my humanity, I don’t know if this is something I should change.

    Also, do you have any good ideas for how to tell someone to nicely bug off? If you have a “it’s not you, it’s me”-type speech, I’d love to hear it.

  • Thanatopsis

    Perhaps this post isn’t so morbid as much as it is exploratory–like the difference between a colonectomy and a colonoscopy. One is much more serious than the other, but they both kind of stink. This is kind of whiny/down—but I really wrote it to ask the question at the end–so maybe just skip to there? I’m in the middle of exploring what “big issues” make people interact the way they do and how I relate/agree/differ from others on those points.

    Recently, I’ve discovered that, unlike many people, the idea of dying alone doesn’t bother me. I don’t remember why this came up, but it did. Maybe in the context of future plans/will you have a family/why don’t you have any friends/something equally existential? Perhaps after drinking? But, it seems like many people try to fill their lives with people to avoid the lonely-death scenario. I don’t get it. And, in a recent trend, I’ve decided to stop buying into/accepting premises that I don’t understand.

    SOOOOoooo, all that said, there’s actually not much more to say. Oh, except that I’ve embraced the possibility that I might die alone–maybe in a nursing home, maybe not. That’ll depend on how fast Alzheimer’s sets in and how fast I can spend down my assets, create a Medicaid plan, etc. That is, presuming I don’t have a sudden and traumatic emergency that otherwise leaves me permanently breathless.

    To be clear: the idea of dying painfully is still upsetting and is something to be avoided. But, dying alone, in an empty room/house, even messing myself in the process, not so much. The end of life is as much a part of the life cycle has the beginning and the middle.

    Meh. Maybe my parents just raised an independent child?

    I am curious, though, why, if you have this fear, is the idea of dying alone loathsome/a factor worth motivating current conduct?

  • Status Update

    …because I have nothing else interesting to say…

    As the internship seems increasingly certain, it’s been increasingly difficult to pay attention in class since getting the internship means dropping classes and no exams. But, a sudden and unforeseen twist of events complicated my life today.


    Tuesday, I sent an e-mail informing the UN: 1. that my visa application arrived; and 2. that they need to send the employment letter to complete the visa process. By some stroke of fate/luck/coincident, I had included everything in the application that I needed. The employment letter–understandably–has to be sent directly to the consulate from the “employer.” Apparently, the country is pretty protectionist in that it wants to make sure that all of its own citizens have a job before it lets foreigners in. I get it–but, it’s kind of a pain.

    Anyway, when I woke up this morning, I had received an e-mail telling me that the employment letter was forthcoming PENDING FORMAL APPROAL OF THE INTERNSHIP. Apparently, I’ve been running around putting all my little duckies in rows and this is isn’t a certainty on their end. I imagine “formal approval,” is little more than a background check and rubber stamp–especially in light of the fact that it’s unpaid. Still, I will be very frustrated if the consulate returns my application because the UN hasn’t sent in the letter, which is not an onerous task. Basically, it must say: ”Yes, this person applying for a visa has a job/reason to stay in this country for more than 90 days.” Not hard, but must be done. And probably should be done soon.

    This afternoon I received an e-mail from the consulate that said they received my application and are waiting on my employment letter. DUH! Once the letter is sent, I should receive my passport back within four days…and then I can hop on a plane and fly in in just a matter of days after that. I feel like I’m so close to such an awesome experience–and at the same time painfully aware that it could fall apart for reasons beyond my control at any time…I imagine that it’s something like this feeling (although on a much GRANDER scale) for parents all the time with respect to their children. Of course, all that anxiety and stress will dissipate if I can get formal approval AND a letter quickly–or at least know when I’ll know whether I have those things.

    I don’t know what to do to light the fire under the pants of an organization that has unfathomable bureaucracy. So, I simply forwarded the e-mail from the consulate to my contact in the UN telling her why I sent the e-mail, thanks for all their help, etc. Hopefully I’m not wearing out the person on the other side of my e-mails. I’ve tried to keep them light-hearted, to the point, and as few as possible. I only e-mail when I have an update and then I try to say “thanks, you’re awesome” as many times as I can. Hopefully she doesn’t hate me by now.

    Do you have any suggestions about how to compel an employment letter?

  • I’ve Figured it Out!

    On occasion, I’ve bemoaned the fact that I am probably the worst Texan ever. First, I don’t own cowboy hats or cowboy boots. Second, I’m terribly allergic to horses so I’ll never be able to rope or ride’em. But the final straw that often blows people’s minds around here–I just don’t get football.

    There are so many things about this game that just make no sense. Mind you, I understand in general terms what the rules are and the scoring system (why there are six points in a touchdown, I’ll never know). I even bothered once to research the origins of the game–it’s almost entirely artificial. Basically, one guy just sat around one day and decided to think up a game. The result was football. And everything about the game is largely arbitrary and capricious without a real root in human endeavor, behavior, or goals for excellence.

    Furthermore, the idea of a “team ethic” in football is absurd. There is not one team, there are two. When the ball starts to travel a different direction, an entirely new group of people come out to try to either make the ball move the new direction or to keep the ball from moving in that direction. They’re not even supposed to be on the field at the same time!

    So, there’s a lot that about teams on the old grid iron that I don’t get. But, today, I realized why I don’t think of football as an actual “sport”: there’s no discussion of skill. There’s often talk about statistics: catches made, yards rushed, speed, etc. But there’s not really a discussion of the technique of the actual playing of the game. In tennis, for example, the way one handles a serve or delivers a backhand is key–and the object of much conversation. In soccer, the skill and technique one develops to kick the ball into the goal is crucial. Even in baseball, the mechanics of a pitcher’s throw determines the type of pitch that he makes. In football, in contrast, no one seems to discuss what a player does apart from saying “he’s really good because (statistics).” This is the bulk of a football conversation. Sometimes I’ll hear someone say “tight spiral”…but generally only one person throws a football. It seems that a lot of what happens on the football field is about “getting done,” and not about the whys that caused it. That’s boring.

    So, when you look at football, what have you got? Two distinct groups of people under one banner with very different objectives, trying to work under a set of complex and completely arbitrary rules that have little human dimension.. There’s no discussion of the particular skills or reasons that anything in that game; it’s all about what did or didn’t happen. So that it’s it, in a nutshell: football = Congress. Now I feel like I can finally justify my disinterest in this lame-o sport.

    I do recognize that there are many people out there who do enjoy tossing pigskin (err…seeing OTHERS toss pigskin?), and I’m not trying to take that away from you. I’m just saying–YOU ARE DELUDED IN THINKING THAT THIS IS SOMETHING WORTHWHILE. But, in all sincerity, I am curious: What is appealing about football?

  • Unthwarted

    So, it appears that I got the internship, which is exciting news.

    But, it’s unleashed a new set of processes. I have to get a visa and marshal all the documents that the UN wants to see. It could take a while. The scariest thing is that I physically have to send away my passport for the visa so it can get a stamp or something. The idea of it getting lost is TERRIFYING, but that’s just the way it has to be.

    The good news, though, is that once that’s done, all I should have to do is hope on a plane and show up, get a security badge printed and put my nose to the grind. I’m hoping it will be a good–even if exhausing/not immediately rewarding experience.

    Also, tonight I made a vegetable Stromboli. It. was. delicious. (and unintentionally vegetarian!) When you get to a point where only butter and sausage/bacon will improve a dish, you’ve done most things right.