Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Visit from Dr. Dium

Dear Dr. Dium,

I think my girlfriend is seeing another man! The other day I was at the store and I saw her holding hands with someone I don’t know how or why she could do this to me! I’m so upset! I want to KILL that guy! I thought she loved me! 

What do you think I should do



Dear Jeffery,

Heaven spare me this madness.

For future reference, my blind acquaintance, there is a key on your keyboard two keys to the left of the shift key you seem to favor so much. On it there is an angle over a dot. If you press it, it will create the marking we call a period. In other countries they call it a full stop. It looks like this: . I don’t even want to discuss your utter ignorance of my good friend, the question mark. Your excess of exclamation points only discredits you, and I can only hope you learn to type properly soon.

Did it ever occur to you that there should be more evidence than this simple scenario to cause you to think thusly? Surely if your girlfriend was seeing another man she would have slipped up in her texts or emails or conversations. She would have had unexplained activities at night, mysterious phone calls, perhaps unexpected gifts. Were this a serious relationship the evidence would eventually come forth.
In that case, you should be patient and see what happens.

At any rate, if she is no longer interested in you then she will call off the relationship as soon as possible. People do not cling to objects that have no sentimental value to them. For example, as soon as I am done writing this epistle, your letter will be going straight down the shredder.

Surely you also considered that perhaps this was not a romantic interest? In complete truth, females require the confidence of touch much more than their male counterparts. Perhaps this man was a father, brother, or close cousin. These are all people she would not love romantically (one would hope) but still might hold hands with in public because she holds affection for them.

In all likelihood there must be some logical explanation because if you are in love as you say then she would not have done this to you. If she did, then I can only recommend ending your relationship and making sure you do not see her again soon.

On a side not, as a professional I do not recommend killing anybody. Unless you are James Bond (which I know you are not, because his interpretation of girl trouble is the times when his girlfriends or wife are slain) it is illegal. And even if you were James Bond you would require a very good reason.

In fact, if I recommended killing someone my own business could be put in jeopardy. Therefore you mustn’t.

As a recap, unless you have seen more evidence than your girlfriend holding hands with someone else, it is very likely that your girlfriend still loves you and there is no need to kill anybody.

What would I do? I would get all the facts straight before coming to people like me and wasting their time. But then again, I can only expect people with brains to do that.


Dr. Orpheus Dium

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Blurry Interviews: Literary Liz

Hi Liz, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for a Wandering in a Blur interview! As you know, we're all about art, literature, science, history, and all that great stuff. Let's start with something easy: What is your favorite piece of literature, and why?

Favorite piece of literature... I would say it's a tie between A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Watership Down by Richard Adams. The two are very different, but both are well-constructed stories with extremely lovable characters - and extremely hateable characters, for that matter.

Ooh, what are some of the hateable characters?

Miss Minchin in A Little Princess - she's the woman who runs the school  in which Sara Crewe, the main character, lives - and in Watership Down, General Woundwort, the tyrannical (not to mention violent) dictator of Efrafa, another warren.

I'm familiar with Miss Minchin. I've seen the movie, and also Sierra Bogress was in the musical a while back! I really like when we get to see literature in many different forms—I think of Pride and Prejudice based on our *cough* previous discussion. Do you like seeing literature brought to life in other ways, and do you have any examples?

I always find musical adaptations of literature fascinating, though it doesn't happen very often - a few years ago I saw a musical version of Sense and Sensibility and liked it a lot. Apart from that... I'm mostly disappointed by movie adaptations, unfortunately. And of course I'm always up for seeing live/filmed performances of Shakespeare and other plays, if that can be counted as literature!

Yeah, movie adaptions are a little tricky, for all of us. But if the AP Board says that Shakespearean plays are okay on the test, I feel like we can count it as literature, too! Switching gears a little bit, let's talk about art. Define art.

Art. Oh, goodness. That's really, really tricky. See, I recently took a class on art and music and basically the end argument was that art is whatever you say it is. For example, there's a piece called Fountain - created by Marcel Duchamp, a Dada artist - which is literally a urinal laid on its side. That's it. I think it was supposed to be a political statement. On the other hand, you can have something that's purely created for aesthetic appeal or whatnot, like many of the commissioned pieces from before the 1800s. That being said... I suppose I have to agree. Though I personally like art better when it's created for aesthetic reasons, or at least romantic ones (looking at you, Fuseli) art is, at its core, whatever we plop down and say is art.

As Guinan might say, it's in the eye of the beholder. How do you incorporate art into your daily life?

Short answer is, I don't - not intentionally. At least I think I don't. The closest I can get would be that I tend to notice things about the world around me that could be called artistic, whether it be the symmetry of a flower or a weirdly shaped roof or the drawing technique in a Calvin and Hobbes comic. Other than that - I don't think I incorporate it much.

It's funny, because whenever I come to your house I feel like it's always so much more artsy than mine. Your brothers are musical and inventive, and there's always books and rich discussion hanging around, so it's funny that we should have a different perspective of your life. All right, one last question. Wandering in a Blur is about life and the blurry messiness we all experience as we live. What is a question you have that is part of your blur? 

Blurry messiness, huh? I guess the primary question (always in my face when I'm at college) is "What are you going to do with your life?" Sometimes I think I know, and sometimes I think I have no earthly clue.

Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Thanks so much for doing this interview with me!

Liz is a Colorado humanities student, which means she studies all things awesome and having to do with how great humans are at their humanness. In her free time—and even in the time that isn't free—she reads obsessively and terrorizes her residence hall as the "crazy book girl." She can usually be found wrapped in a comforter, recovering from her latest book hangover. You can find her at her soon-to-be-blog, Literary Liz!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Adventures of George Washington

“George Washington came first and he was perfect.”

I think Jonathan Coulton’s song sums it up pretty well. You know, we put him on our one dollar bill, we put him on our nickel, he’s half the reason we celebrate President’s Day, we have myths and picture books and stories about him—in a lot of ways, George Washington is the American rock star.

I wonder if he’d hate it.

First of all, he had a temper, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he would blow up at some people. Secondly, he really admired self-control, honor, and service, and strove towards those things [source]. I think he could probably be proud of the service he gave to the United States, but with those virtues, I imagine he also had some element of modesty to him.

Yes, he was pretty awesome, but as a later president would say, “Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.” [source]

If George Washington held himself to a high moral standard, and was committed to being not only diligent but humble in service to his country, do you really think he’d approve of the fame we’ve slathered on his memory?

It is impossible to know. He is dead. He has been, for a very long time. However, I like to think that he would want his legacy to continue in our own attempts to live lives of morality and diligence, rather than idolizing his image.

For this reason, I am okay with The Adventures of George Washington.

The Adventures of George Washington comes from a Tumblr series, wherein the portraits of George Washington are captioned with dialogue—Washington’s captioned persona is flippant, impatient, forceful, and at best, unkind.

I don’t think Washington himself would fully appreciate these. After all, they are more or less making fun of his character, and I doubt he’d enjoy that kind of disgrace.

However, I do think they’re okay in principle, because over the years, we’ve forgotten that George Washington was just a man. A great man, but still a man. It’s fun to put him in anachronistic situations, and to show him using our slang—Adventures turns Washington back into a common man.

As a series, I think they’re hilarious. I love these things. I fully hope there to be many, many more in the future, because some of these are just to die for.

I shall show you my favorites, because I love them.

Who are some of your favorite heroes? Do you think it’s better to remember them as great people, or do you think they’re better remembered as common people who served their communities?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015



Hi. I’m still alive, although it’s been three weeks since my grandma died.

It was the week the rain started—the week that began the huge downpour that has flooded my basement and also my life. I knew better than to walk home in the rain (although that’s another story), so I borrowed a phone to call home.

Dad picked up. Dad has a nine to five job—it was two. I think that’s when I knew, but he didn’t say anything. Mom didn’t say anything when she picked me up, either. Maybe I’m wrong, I thought.

I put my stuff down, and that’s when Dad told me. “I’m home early, because Grandma Twila died this morning.”

“When?” I asked.

“Around ten this morning.”

I nodded, and kept putting my things away. “Okay.” Maybe it seems heartless, not to burst into tears, or to start crying, or anything—but for me, it felt like I had lost my grandma a long time ago, and this was just the end of a long time coming.

“Are you making grilled cheese sandwiches?” I asked, noticing the griddle.

“Yes. Do you want one?”

My mom does most of the cooking at my house, but you don’t say no to a grilled cheese sandwich from my dad. You just don’t. The bread was the crispy butter brown that Dad has seemed to master, complete with pepperoni, ham, and the gooey white goat cheese that knows my heart so well.

So we sat together, and ate grilled cheese sandwiches—I don’t remember what we were talking about, probably things to do (there are a lot of things to do when someone dies) or telling my sisters, but I remember that my friend Emma came up as I told my parents her story.

Last night, she was in her room and saw an enormous spider—and then she lost track of it. Like any sane person, she ran up to her parents’ room and said, “We need to burn my room down, there’s a spider!” (My parents laughed here.) Her mom, half-asleep and hardly paying attention, put her head up and said, “Thou shalt not kill.” Even funnier to my parents was that she couldn’t remember the episode the next morning.

Today the sun came out again. I live in a place proclaiming 300 days of sun a year, and I was starting to worry—rain used to be beautiful because it was so rare, but after twenty days of stifling wet weather, early mornings vacuuming up water in the basement, and legs frozen by the weather, it’s become more of a nuisance.

But today the sun came out. Life goes on. You sometimes have to do the things you don’t want to do, and sometimes that means writing this blog post, or preparing to get back to editing a novel I’ve lost track of again.

And sometimes it means laughing over grilled cheese sandwiches with my parents, and knowing that a woman who was with us isn’t here anymore. And that it’s okay. And that there are still chances to smile in the rain.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Somewhere Only I Know

It's a Saturday night, and I sit on a sofa with a laptop and two books. Music is playing, and I am trying to listen and hum along to songs in vain.

It's a problem I have increasingly encountered. I want to read, but the temptation of the laptop is overbearing. And I idly visit websites - Quora, my email, Reddit. Ultimately, I get bored and move to Spotify, that great bastion of music. It's the greatest thing since the Internet, I do believe. Being able to stream nearly every song you want in mere seconds - I do not take this for granted.

So I sit, and listen to Keane's "Bend and Break," and almost immediately, want to listen to a certain song lyric by The Kinks. So I listen to "A Well-Respected Man," which invariably reminds me of Collective Soul's "A Smashing Young Man," so I start listening to that. Then after, the awesome epic guitar riffs remind me of Nirvana and Bush, and off I go looking for my grunge playlist...

This is ADD made manifest. Something has happened to me. It has crept up on me, slowly, quite carefully. Consider. Once upon a time I would carry a book around with me everywhere, looking for every opportunity to read. I recall the beginning of seventh grade, when I discovered Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. I borrowed the book from my teacher's library, and took it home and began to read. My uncle came, and took my grandmother and I out to lunch, and I brought the book with me. Afterwards, I went with my dad to the Home Depot, and guess what I brought with me?

This was five years ago, I recall. Today, in this year of grace, 2015, I sit with And Then There Were None mere inches away from this keyboard which I use to type this message. I have picked it up occasionally this evening, glancing through a few pages, remembering the great mystery surrounding Indian Island, the shocking murders, the unbelievable ending which to this day never fails to fill me with amazement and awe at Agatha Christie and her clever mind.

I cannot fully read the novel, though. This is not such a surprise, however. I have only ever reread one book without jumping around and skipping parts. And that's okay. The pleasure of rereading is to enjoy a book without all the introns and parts one may consider dull. One can go to a beloved chapter and reread it, word for word, and ignore the rest.

The discerning reader of this piece can't have failed to note that I mentioned there are two books on the sofa next to me. The second is a curious work that goes by the name of Titus Groan, by the most interesting of authors: Mervyn Peake. Peake's a most interesting person: a painter by trade, he wrote his most famous works, the Gormenghast trilogy, over a period of ten years. Peake was born in China to missionary parents before the Great War, and the memories and reminiscences of Chinese culture would stay with him. During the Second World War, Peake worked on propaganda posters for the British government to earn his bread and butter. Sadly, Peake died of Parkinson's (or Lewy Body dementia? the details are unclear) and suffered a great deal in his last years. His writing and artistic abilities largely disappeared, as he underwent electroconvulsive therapy. He died in 1968 at the age of 57.

I bring Peake up as the perfect metaphor. An artist, especially one such as Peake, is cautious, delicate. He creates a world so vast, so carefully and methodically, that it sneaks up on one. It is much like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or else Susanna Collins' amazing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, or the vertiginous, hilarious The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. However, what they all have in common is that they require time. They require patience and many hours spent in a room, preferably with rosewood chairs and a pot of warm jasmine tea. Nothing less will suffice. I have not gotten past the first 10 pages of Titus Groan, because I understand this. I need time. The dilemma? I actually do have time.

I have a busy schedule, now more so than ever: an issue of the school newspaper I work on came out yesterday. AP exams begin Monday, and I am taking four this year. Several teachers have given nothing but tests in preparation, and I have been dutifully studying. (This, by the way, is my rather pathetic excuse for abandoning this blog for the past few months. Heather has been the very picture of grace, maintaining this blog and continuing the spirit of the Blur.) But for every night that I have spent up working on academics, extracurriculars and life in general, I have had an hour or so to myself, which I have largely frittered away on listening to Spotify and rechecking my email. School is the same way: during lunchtime, I could easily spend time reading. My lifestyle has created a false sense in me, the false idea that I do not have time to read.

But I will change. Two weeks hence, I will be done with all exams. I will still have work to do, but it will not be as much. And seven weeks hence, I will be done with school. And I will read. I must. You see, despite my aversion to reading that has started of late, I still want to read. There is this excitement, the idea of reading my way through a large stack of novels. Mervyn Peake may have devolved into a tragic insanity, but I will recover from my own tragic insanity.

Reader, you may have experienced this yourself. I encourage you to follow my lead, and disconnect yourself. Nothing is as important as time spent thinking and improving yourself. I have always been a fan of self-improvement and self-education, and reading is nothing less than that. A stack of novels, sitting on my desk and elsewhere, await. I will read my way through them.

I must.


Friday, April 24, 2015



When did I first hear the first word of poetry?

I can remember sitting in a lap that was bigger then, and there was a man who wrote all the best books about one fish and two fish, Mr. Brown who moos, tweetle-beetle battles, and oh, the places you’ll go.

I can remember third grade, when we had our poetry unit. I wrote limericks, haikus, open form, other things. I can remember sharing my poetry book with my family, and my mom cried when she read what I wrote about my friend who had moved away.

My grandfather is a poet. I’ve read his poems on warm sunny days in a room painted with the brightness of a smile. There was something about that day last summer—and I don’t know if it was the softness of the cotton comforter gluing me to the eons or the fact that I’ve touched the hand that wrote the words, and it’s different.

We study poetry in my Lit class now. There are items like SOAPSTTone and lit devices, meter, sound devices, structure, more. Little pieces that are confusing and intricate but as juicy as worms dug out in the backyard. Maybe not beautiful but still good.

And when did I hear poetry?

It’s one thing to watch Dead Poets Society or Four Weddings and a Funeral and smile and cry because it’s poetry and God it’s good.

But it’s another—entirely another—to stand up to the sun and shout, “THIS IS POETRY!” so that it knows to shine extra-brightly. And when did I first start shouting?

Perhaps I’ll never know.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015




Say it out loud. Listen to the way it rolls off the tongue—lyrical, magical, filled with promises and memories of hot cookies on Tuesday nights.


Whisper it to the wind. Caress the brittle pages of the books Dad used to read when he was a child. Smile and shy from the smell—old, piercing, dusty books. But they’re stories. That’s why it’s beautiful.


Fingernails and paper cuts. Remember the little streaks of blood on all the pages and the stains from tears and chocolate and ink and worse because books aren’t sacred and they long to be free.


The stilted words and the jagged voice that makes you feel like your eyes are going up against a cheese grater. It’s terrifying. Enchanting. Boring. Wondrous. Not so much. That’s the opinion of it all.




Pages and pages and pages and pages of yellow black white red blue and the smell of jasmine leaves and camel sand, distant places and dreams that come from dirty lamps and bottles that tell you what to do. Unfortunate colors, red wings, white wings, the things that make us fly tie us down to the world, but that’s all we have to go off of. So go we shall.

They get married in the end, you know. Or they all die. To be or not to be—it’s always the same question. Whether it’s sharper in the mind to record the flips and flops of literature—just literature. Yellow bellies, blue blood, red coats, white men with black minds and not even God to save them.

Passion, perdition, purgatory, peace.


It’s a trip.