On the Agenda

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back in the Saddle

To accompany the wholly cliche title of this post, I should begin with the also cliche apology for a long gap in posts. But all I really want to say is that I don't know what to say or where to begin. Here's a new school year with new classes and a new roommate (same room). There are new jobs and new friends (keeping all the old ones). There are new projects and new aspirations that will doubtless be trod down beneath all of my schoolwork and my general lack of self-discipline and motivation.
However, sitting here with a steaming bowl of ramen noodles (oh, the cliches keep rolling in), amid newly purchased posters and kitchen supplies (which I obviously didn't break out for the ramen), surfing newly discovered Web sites and surrounded by newly loved publications, I feel like a new college student all over again. I'm sure all of these things that are new and beloved to me have been new beloved and then old and discarded for many people for a long time now, but now it's my turn. I really feel that I dropped the ball (cliche!) on my freshman year pretty much entirely, and although last year was much improved, I think I could have done better. So viva junior year! And here I go into nothing I know well enough to be comfortable with. Maybe this time I can succeed at something new instead of retreating into the safety of my dorm room.
Anyway, here are some of my new beloveds:

Threadless T-shirts: The Web site lets anyone submit their own t-shirt designs and then all the users score them. Every few weeks the head honchos pick the top "pre-sellers" and print them into amazing American Apparel shirts. With my psychic powers I foresee the death of my paychecks to such a site. (P.S.: If you use the above link to purchase something, I get referral points for it which = free stuff. Thanks!)

Utne Reader: The magazine's slogan is "Understanding the next revolution," and from the issue-and-a-smidge that I've read so far I think they're doing a pretty good job. Utne keeps its readers abreast of all those important social/economic/environmental responsibility issues out there and brings up a lot of the cool new stuff, too. The first one of these I got my hands on I seriously read cover-to-cover... something I can't say I've ever done with a magazine before. The Sept/Oct issue features articles about the porn industry and what it's doing to America, addressing issues in relationships, censorship, etc. But I think my favorite regular feature of the Utne is the Street Librarian, which reviews multiple other publications. This issue reviews all publications that begin with the letter 'Z.'

The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World: So I have this friend who is a year younger than I am and has decided to drop out of college and go work at an orphanage in Haiti for the coming year. While that's not something that I hear often (or ever) from people I know well, this news was not at all a surprise for me. Of all the people I know she is the one I would most expect to do such a thing. At the same time I was learning this, I noticed my friend was reading this book. The Revolution addresses 12 of what the publisher calls the "most pressing social justice issues on local and international levels." The 12 essay authors come from varied Christian backgrounds, and the books appendices include multiple ways to get involved and many organizations to check out. It's refreshing because it doesn't feel in-your-face or unrealistically idealistic, if that makes sense.

EuroCuisine Yogurt Maker: For my birthday I got a gift card to my favorite kitchen store (which you will discover if you choose to click the link), and I decided to use it all for one rather unconventional appliance. Yes, I bought a yogurt maker. And yes, I am well aware the yogurt is sold at a rather reasonable price at pretty much any market establishment in the free world. But it's a lot of fun to make your own. It takes a little work because you have to boil and strain the milk and mix it with already-made yogurt in order to transfer the proper bacteria, but it tastes really good and gives a very accomplished feeling. The maker also comes with other recipes, and since my purchase I have come across numerous Web resources as well.

BookSense.com: This Web site joins the ease of Internet shopping with the local appeal of shopping at independent booksellers. Before shopping, just enter your zip code and BookSense will hook you up with the most local indie store if can find. Then when you shop online, BookSense will order the book from your indie store and mail it right to you. In fact, this is how I ordered The Revolution.

Pleasant: (I apologize if the link doesn't work; the site seems to be having some issues.) When I finally get away from home, the first thing I like to do to assert my independence is to spend money on something. So about a week ago I went into the record store near campus and I did something I had never done before. I bought an album I had never heard of. No one recommended it to me; no on told me about it. And it's great. Half of the great probably comes from the purchase itself, but I love the music, too.