Category: Let’s Call It Random


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-The Blue & Whitin’ staff

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My future still remains unwritten. However, as I take a step back and reflect upon the life that I have written so far for myself, I have realized that, like writing, discovering my truest self is a continuous process of editing and revising as each story unfolds with its own unique cast of characters and plot lines. This collection of stories that I have compiled over the course of my Carolina journey contains a plot for each that usually involves some challenge. These challenges provide an opportunity for me to confront deeply-held perceptions about myself as well as empower myself to take ownership over my thoughts and feelings to overcome adversity. Moreover, it was in my stories of challenge that provided moments for immense personal growth. These moments of personal growth served as a catalyst for an opportunity to reinvent myself towards evolving to a better, more true version of myself.  More than anything, I have learned that my relentless drive to seek the fullest expression of who I am as a human being can only occur through challenging myself towards achieving nothing less than my full potential.

For example, I love the challenge behind articulating the right words to express myself which serves as a way to find my voice-the essence of the many selves that make up my identity as a way of grounding me against the crushing and sometimes overwhelming waves of everyday life; this trail of words becomes a map for how I discovered my truest self. On a more personal level, writing empowers me to accept no one’s definition of my life and to define myself until my words ring true. Furthermore, I am constantly seeking the fullest expression of myself as a human being capable of sharing myself as a whole and authentic being with the world. While much of my future remains unwritten, word by word, I slowly become a little bit closer towards discovering and shaping the person that I desire to become. As I continue to embark on the many adventures that Carolina has to offer, I believe that these words I write will illuminate the path and guide me towards dreams and goals that I have yet to explore. As I continue to change and reshape the words of my story-past, present, and future, I hang on to my blossoming sense of self as a beacon of light leading me toward my truest self.

More than anything, I have discovered that every moment in life is an occasion to rise to the challenge. Rising to the occasion of your own life story requires you to raise the standards of what you expect from yourself. Upon critical reflection of the times that I truly effected change in my life, it was the moments that I strove for standards higher than I expected for myself in times of adversity and challenge. By believing in something greater than yourself-raising your goals and expectations, you empower yourself to become a better and truer you. Our lives are an occasion, let’s make them extraordinary. After all, the rest is still unwritten.

-Michael Lau

I readily admit that I have always been one of the more dubious, skeptical types when it came to Valentine’s Day. I never quite understood the thought process behind such trivial and often, frivolous gestures for expressing love. However, a recent conversation with a friend of mine deeply challenged my views on Valentine’s Day. He shared with me that in other languages, there existed nearly forty ways of expressing the word, love, while for us English speakers, we were left with only one word. A thought then dawned upon me: I began wondering about how limited and narrow our perception and definition of love must be with only one word to represent all the various types and manifestations love can take. I propose for a more diverse and open interpretation to the many forms of love.

I am sure that I have not been the first to point out the limitations of using only one word to express love. I propose that rather than view Valentine’s Day from such a narrow definition of love, we instead take this opportunity to celebrate all the wonderful ways of expressing love. Whether that love be the nostalgia of one’s first crush to cherishing the company of good friends to treating yourself out to a manicure, take this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the infinite facets of an emotion that goes beyond our one word for expressing love.

As an individual who identifies as gay, I know that I will allow myself, for the first time, to celebrate the nostalgia of my very first crush and how wonderful it felt. The word love in its traditional meaning evokes too strong of an emotion that cannot adequately express how much I enjoyed having my first crush on a guy, and I cannot help but use this Valentine’s Day as a moment to contemplate the wonder behind the feelings of how real and affirming it felt. Who knew how empowering celebrating Valentine’s Day could be? I know that for me it will be a celebration of the deep friendships that I have developed over the course of my college journey as well as how far I have come towards loving myself. For Valentine’s Day, I hope that each of you will find something worth celebrating for-I challenge each of you to expand the definition of love beyond the traditional sense to all the many shapes and forms it can take. Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Michael Lau

When I Was Little…

I want to go back to my childhood, a time when I would look up at the Carolina blue sky and wholeheartedly believe that one day I would climb a mountain or a skyscraper, or jump onto a fluffy cloud and sink into its incomparable softness as I close my eyes for a celestial nap. I can’t pinpoint the exact age when I realized that the closest I’d ever get to dozing off on a cloud would be in the mall at Brookstone, where shoppers can be found on the Tempur-Pedic mattresses in a narcoleptic state, eyes droopy and drool slightly strewing out of the corner of their mouths.

When I was little, I also believed that there existed a magical land inside of the small closet my father kept locked at all times. Maybe he stored power tools in there, or maybe it was just a space where the boiler was hidden. To this day it remains locked, and whenever I pass the hallway closet, I am transported to the past. I can clearly envision the magical place in that closet. It had grass and a swing set and a slide, and the two kids from Candy Land board game were there to meet me as soon as I found a way in. Maybe I’d been watching too much of the Alice in Wonderland program aired on Disney Channel in the mid-’90s, and maybe I longed for what I didn’t have growing up in a concrete jungle: a backyard with monkey bars that I’d inevitably fall off of, plunging safely into the brown mulch beneath me, and vibrant flowers that would greet me as I got up and shook the mulch from my shoes.

So I never had a bright pink Barbie Jeep…it’s time to move on from the past, but I still keep in touch (through my mind’s pretend Styrofoam cups attached to string) with the seven-year old-Kristen. Childhood fostered the growth of my imagination. Though I barely fit into the yellow plastic playhouse with blue shutters and the Pepto-Bismol pink door (who hired that Architect? what gaudy taste!) that we kept in my playroom in our upstairs apartment, and though I’m too big (too big in weight, I swear my leg could fit the length of the Children’s Place pajama pant if it were a bigger size, and I’m pretty darn short) to fit into the warm feety pajamas that I wore when I was six, I refuse to outgrow my young spirit, regardless of how my body changes as the years go by (Is that a shadow or dimple on my thigh?)

Physical aging happens, and you can’t truly buy youth— not the valuable kind at least, in which can only come from within. No matter how tough life gets, don’t let it get so serious that you forget to laugh and play! Cultivate your imagination the way you did when you were a kid: get dirty, lose those inhibitions and create something with your hands. We were so hands-on back then. I remember getting screamed at for rubbing Purple Jelly into my mother’s brand new white carpet. I was merely expressing myself artistically, but she didn’t view it that way. And when I was three, I ran naked from the bathtub and took all of the Aunt Jemima pancake mix and poured it all over myself and the kitchen. Fine, white powder fell everywhere, draping the kitchen appliances in a snowy landscape. I think it’s important to be silly and spontaneous. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t get out of the shower and start making snow angels in a pile of pancake mix scattered on the floor unless you were seriously inebriated, but it can be a truly liberating feeling to try something silly for no reason, to try something new and unusual.

Here’s what I’m asking you to do: step outside your comfort zone the way kids do – they have no walls up, they can’t even spell “inhibition” and the word doesn’t even exist as a concept in their brain. They just do things, they wonder and they create from their limitless imaginary power. Evoke the past and hold on to that feeling of flying on top of someone’s feet, with their legs in the air and with your stomach is on their feet and they move you back and forth while you repeatedly shout, “Super Man!”

-Kristen Cubero

Believe it. I don’t know if I’m the first person to see this or the last, but it all makes perfect sense now.

Like many of you out there (I’m sure), I have put a considerable amount of thought into opening a restaurant once I get old. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet — nothing special, probably a classy burger joint or sandwich shop or something — but, entrepreneurial instincts ablaze, the inevitable questions have been racing through my head: what’s going to make my restaurant different from the rest?  What’s going to draw a crowd and keep them coming back for more?

I could go the cliché way and say my delicious cooking. But then again, I’m not that good of a cook at the moment, and who knows if I have the will or the patience to become a five-star chef? No, I need something else, something truly revolutionary.

Along this line of thinking, I considered all the restaurants I had ever eaten at and what could be better about each experience. And as I went down the list, one theme constantly resurfaced — discomfort.

What restaurant have you ever been to that you can sit in your seat comfortably for an hour without your butt going numb, or you wanting to lie down or something? Seats are never tall enough for cushioned headrests, and in most restaurants customers have to resort to huddling in their chairs, wishing it were a recliner (or had wheels).

Choose your discomfort.

Comfortable chairs are good in theory. But I almost immediately noticed that despite how awesome cushiony recliners would be, it would put a severe economic and sanitary burden on any restaurant. Spilling food and drink on your shirt would become commonplace if you could lean back 45 degrees comfortably in your chair. Nice chairs look all that much grosser when they get ketchup and grease on them.

And quite simply, people just wouldn’t want to leave once they sat down. Customers could easily fall asleep, accidentally or otherwise, slowing the flow of business. I know eating a good meal tires me out.  Who’s going to be monitoring the customers every second to make sure they don’t faceplant in their fries? And worse, imagine trying to force a full-stomached, bleary-eyed, cranky customer from a nap-worthy chair.

Maybe a different approach is necessary. Maybe I can open a bar-hotel (not the other way around) in which people can get wasted and have someplace to crash. It would keep drunk drivers off the road. I could even make a room called the Vomitorium for those who inevitably drink too much (ladies, hold your “ew”s, I’m being serious).

Or maybe that’s an awful idea. I don’t know. It’s a process, planning all this out.  My quest to create the perfect dining experience continues.

– Tim Freer

Here I am, blogging again for the first time in eight months, and already it’s clear to see that it will be different this time around. Before anything else, I would like to get something off my chest: this blog will decidedly have NO direction, and I have NO idea how well I can write in this style, for this setting. Whew, okay, that was easier than I thought…

Now that the pressure is off, and I can feel comfortable with failure, I’ll share with you the reason for my uncertainty. Though I’ve done a lot of writing in my day and even had a blog once, I haven’t written like this before. I wrote for the DTH as a columnist, which is somewhat similar, and I’ve written a couple of novels, which is not at all.

The one time I blogged, I was in Europe and writing about my travels. Man, was that easy. The hardest part of writing that blog was not finding material to write about, but rather chopping a book’s worth of travel experience up into a few 400-word segments. I often had to pick and choose just the very best parts to do my trip any justice at all.

Alas, today I find myself in a different position. No longer do I have an indefinite pool of inspiration to draw from; I’ll have to rely on my wits and my instincts to find topics that readers find worthwhile. At the moment, I’m considering such categories as: philosophy, politics, world culture, environmental science, popular media, psychology, and random pet peeves. Ambitious, I know.

Admittedly, I am new at this. But before you write me off quicker than I myself can, remember well the wise words of Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”  True, I don’t know what form this wet clay of creativity lying in my hands will take; but if I have learned anything in my many years as a writer, it is to trust your instincts blindly and then learn as you go.

Don’t know what to expect from me? Honestly, neither do I. For one thing, I am weird.  I don’t expect any of you to share my views or my opinions, but I will exercise my right to express them here.  I do have a wide range of interests and I’m very curious by nature.  I am brimming with random ideas that may or may not make sense—I’ll let you be the judge. Either way, rest assured that I’ll do my best to make for an interesting and entertaining read.

Despite my uncertainties, I am very much looking forward to writing this blog, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.

– Tim Freer