A First

As I was walking home from copy editing with the newspaper; as I passed by the small public library, its parking lot lit with ugly, spiring street lamps, I looked up into the orange glow to see a cloud of white flakes above me, descending silently.  I stopped short to watch.  Tumbling softly over each other, these flakes fell further and further until one single snowflake gingerly stretched out a finger to touch the ground before committing entirely.  I saw that snowflake before it tumbled to the concrete, and after.  I walked out into a clear night, and was still walking when it filled with snow.

Out of all the firsts that all of humankind has witnessed, from the first human mother to hold her first human child; from the men who looked out at the pale expanse of the moon before it held footprints, and who were almost sorry to see its dust stirred into artificial ridges; from  the very first time pen was set to paper, and the very first person discovered the indescribable beauty that lies in describing absolutely anything one pleases; I suspect that my first was rather insignificant.


Badlands, South Dakota. Summer, 2012.

But it felt to me, as firsts often feel, like I had discovered the most important thing in the world, and like, for that first minute, the universe was allowing me to keep it to myself.  I basked, stock-still, for my one minute, and then continued toward home, gazing fondly at the white coating on street and building, as if I had brought it all about.

Of course, my sentimental reverie ended abruptly when I neared home, and remembered my truck, which is still–despite yet more valiant efforts on the part of my gentleman caller, some ice melt, and me this afternoon–stuck on the ice in front of my house.  I wondered if the snow would provide the friction needed for the tires to lurch free.

In Which I Learn a Lesson

This afternoon, my friend George and I were sitting in the MCSA office, talking about a couple who had just broken up.

“I don’t mean to be nosy (who was I kidding?  I totally wanted the scoop), but what happened between Clara and Marlon?”  I asked.  “They seemed so happy together!”

“Well, I texted Marlon after it happened, saying that I was sorry and that I’m here to talk if he feels like it, and he replied that he was confused.  Apparently, Clara said she loved him and two hours later she broke up with him,” said George.

Shocked, I wondered aloud what had gone wrong.  “Clara doesn’t seem like the type!” I exclaimed finally, “I don’t know her very well, but I don’t think she would hurt him like that without a good reason.”

We speculated back and forth for some time.  Then lunchtime rolled around and we parted ways.

Tonight is University Register night.  It’s the last issue of the semester, so spirits are high and Peace Tea is flowing like wine.  I went upstairs to use the restroom, and while I washed my hands, I heard someone else clomp up the stairs.  Then I heard sobbing.  And Clara talking, presumably on the phone.  “I feel like everyone is talking about us, and Marlon keeps telling me how sad he is, and I know I did the right thing, but it’s hard!  I just want to go home!”

Drying my hands on a half-ply paper towel, I exited slowly, not wanting Clara to know that I had heard.  She was sitting on the top of the stairs, but stood up quickly as I approached, turning her puffy face toward the wall.  I put my hand on her shoulder and smiled what I hope was an understanding smile, and then went back downstairs to the U.R. office, where Joey was wearing his panda hat, and Zak was grinning, and Sam was toasting with his coffee thermos.  It smelled like pizza rolls and Pine Sol (Miles cleaned).

But as I rejoined the copy-editing minions, I reminded myself, for the thousandth time, to think before I speak, and to reserve speculation for the gold fields.

Gone Translatin’

I’m holed up in the old copy editing office again, marking articles with my red pen and chuckling at comments overheard from the other room:

“Everyone, a local candidate running on the independent ticket will be here in ten minutes to discuss placing an ad.  Nobody say anything snarky, or I’ll hurt you.”

Grammar and Language class today was phenomenal.  After lecturing for a half hour on Germanic languages and runes, the professor handed out two sheets: one listed the symbols of the runic alphabet, and the English letter equivalents, and the other contained the photograph below.

“Start in the top left corner, and decode the runes,” the professor said, grinning widely.

So we did.  We translated runes. From the 8th century BC.  Probably one of the cooler undergraduate assignments I’ve ever been given.

Copy Editing

Last night, although it held on until 2 this morning, was glorious.  There’s so much more to copy editing than quiet and the flick of thumb or pen against paper, even more than the good-natured debate about the merits of the Oxford Comma.

Copy editing, at least in the context of the University Register, of the University of Minnesota, Morris, means piles of musty papers leaning against one another in all corners of the office.  It means the smell of stale popcorn and the occasional crunch of the occasional SweeTart underfoot (leftover from the Activities Fair).  Copy editing means an office like a sauna; it means the main office and the smaller one take the fan in shifts, grudgingly lugging it back after two hours have passed.  It means ordering a pizza at 10 pm because we’re hungry and because all of E-Quality’s extra pizza was eaten before we knew it had been offered.  It means trooping to Higbies for coffee, for smoothies, for fresh air.  It means barely stifling moans of anguish at the appearance of another NASCAR article.  It means AP is God.  It means the combination of people’s surnames, scrawled across a whiteboard to uproarious delight.  It means actually finding an earring that, lacking a back, slipped onto the floor of the Student Center without my knowledge.

Eventually, perhaps, if you care to wait up until the tired paperboy walks the campus, depositing a pile of newspapers at every building, copy editing means a publication we can all read without cringing.

Excuses, Excuses

I’ve been failing with this project lately, and I want to let you know that I am very aware of it.

I’m busy, yes, incredibly so, but I was busy last spring running a campaign, and I managed to post then.

I’ve been having trouble thinking of things to post about, yes, but isn’t that the entire point of this blog?  That by writing even when I have nothing to say I will be forcing myself to move away from the idea of writing as glorious inspiration, and toward the idea of writing as mostly hard work, with spurts of glorious inspiration?

So here’s what I’ve been busying myself with when not blogging:

1. Learning to diagram sentences for my Grammar and Language class.  I always suspected that I’d enjoy this class, and thus far I’ve been happily right.  Learning the finer points of grammar is like math for people like me who are miserable at math.  Grammar has the structure, the right-or-wrong answer, the tidiness, the rules that math does, but without the general headache that seems to stem from crowding numbers together into an equation.  Additionally, as we talked about last week in class, much of grammar (unlike much of math) is instinctive.  We’ve all been using it since we were two.  We know what’s up.  Sure, some of the official names for things (predicate, adverbial, etc.) are unfamiliar, but the arrangement of sentences is innate.

2.  Gathering copy editing minions to do my bidding.  The first edition of the year of the UMM school newspaper (The University Register) comes out Thursday.  As I have been voted Head Copy Editor, tonight I will be huddled in the copy editing dungeon from 8 pm to 2 am using my red pen all over submitted articles.  So far, I have about 30 people willing to join me in this task, which is quite encouraging.

3.  MCSA.  Always and forever.  Besides my secretarial position, I’m currently in charge of planning the Fall Retreat, am serving on the election commission, chair the Student Services committee, and am the head student representative on the larger Student Affairs Committee.  Luckily, I’m passionate about this stuff.

4.  Work: Higbies (coffee counter on campus), Social Science Division Office, library Writing Room.

5.  Socializing.  Of course.  I mean, I haven’t seen most of these people all summer.  Plus, it’s senior year; I plan to leave UMM with as many friends as possible.

6.  Sleep.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes I sit in class and daydream about it.

7.  My birthday is next Saturday!  While I’m trying desperately not to think of the implications of turning twenty-two (aka being old, not having any more significant birthdays until thirty, etc.), I am planning a birthday party for myself.  I don’t think I’ve had a “friends” birthday party since I turned eight.  I remember that party fondly, although I’m thinking my twenty-second won’t feature a scavenger hunt with Lip Smackers for prizes.

I’m Here Til Thursday

Yes, I missed a day, but here’s the excuse: I’ve been in the University Register office since 6:30.  Seven hours.  Copy editing.

To be fair, however, me and the team have done more than copy edit.  We’ve discussed the merits of the Oxford Comma.  We’ve discussed the former Disney Channel show Fillmore (Remember, ’90s kids?).  We’ve made an ominously long and unbearably awesome bucket list for next year.  We’ve stolen a stuffed fish from the Assistant to the Editor in Chief and held it for ransom.

And now, surrounded by spilled bags of popcorn, piles of yellowing newspapers, sleep-deprived teenagers, and the random Al Franken campaign poster, I’m experiencing, for the first time, what it feels like to wait around for writers to submit their damn articles.

While I wait, I’ll show you some pictures of my shady new office:

Note the framed photograph of an unidentified man on the windowsill. Nadine, the graduating HCE, claims she was last person to know who the man is, and she's forgotten. Unsettling, at best.

Artsy ceiling shot. I couldn't resist.

Only The Bear Has Time For Shenanigans

I’m working in the Humanities building tonight, turning on my cell phone light whenever I have to enter the dark hallways to get a drink.

There is pop art on the wall; four framed pictures put together spell out “damn everything but the circus.”


There have been few shenanigans this weekend, unfortunately, as I’m strapping in for the busiest few weeks of my life.  I did, however, do some ill-advised climbing (location undisclosed) that may have left me bruised and sore.  Entirely worth it to get to the top, however.

I was convinced to run for/ran for/won the position of Head Copy Editor at UMM’s newspaper, the University Register.  Not my ideal spot, but a spot I think I’ll enjoy that entails minimal all-nighters in the UR office.  Plus, I get my own office.  When have I ever had my own office?  Never!

In closing, here is a video a friend showed me in the MCSA office this evening.  It was shot by his uncle, who also plays the role of the green-booted bear-warner:

Note: The fun begins at 1:40.