Still Alive and Kicking

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Well, today’s my birthday. Hooray! That’s right; 22 years ago today, I burst forth into the world – probably with a lot of crying and screaming. But here I am, 22 years later, and I’m still alive and well. It’s strange to think about that. But anyway, I decided I’d stay up until midnight hit – not because I’m particularly excited about my birthday, but just because I was already up fairly late, so I figured I might as well go a bit longer. And since I was up, I figured I’d take a moment to reflect and write down a few thoughts.

Thinking back over the past year, a lot of it was actually quite unmemorable. If I could use one word to describe my year of being 21, it would probably be, “settling.” A month and a half earlier, I had decided I was no longer a Christian. (I know, I know, I’ve written way too much about this – you’re probably sick of reading about it, and I know I’m sick of writing about it. But just bear with me.) That, of course, had the incredible effect of shaking the world right out from underneath me. I had a lot of things to discover, rediscover, and recover. So, while I did try to come back out of my shell a little bit, for the most part I stayed in there – first off, because I was comfortable, but also simply because suddenly the world was a dark and scary place again. So, like I said, much of it was unmemorable.

That’s not to say that it was not useful, however. In some ways, I ended up reinventing myself – not entirely, of course, but some of my values changed or grew stronger during this period. I decided that I wanted to be a more informed citizen, so I started reading a couple Canadian news sites online to try and keep up with current events. My interest in the environmental movement grew stronger during this time. And heck, a few months back I even entertained the notion of becoming vegetarian, something which I am still slowly implementing into my life (I realized I didn’t eat much meat to begin with, so it’s mostly been a matter of figuring out good vegetarian recipes that I actually have the skills to make). However, while these values grew, I still stayed safely tucked away as much as I could – at least for a while.

I can’t say I was entirely stuck in my shell. I did try my hand at drinking, which involved going to a few parties. Boy, was that a new experience. I mean, I’ve gone to parties before, but the inclusion of alcohol just makes everything different. Fun, but different. However, I can’t say that social activities like that were at all the norm. Most nights I spent alone in my room, either reading or watching movies. It was very much an enlightening process, and something I needed, but I realize now that I should have spent more time, you know, with other people. In the real world. Doing things.

But oh well. I don’t want to dwell too much on the past. The past is good for reflection, but not for pitching a tent. This fall, as a new 22-year-old, I have decided that enough is enough. It’s time to get back out there – first, because I realized that I have few friends (although the ones I do have are great) and need to meet some new people; second, because I’m just sick of watching movies most nights. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of that form of media, but there’s only so much I can take. So, this term I’ve made sure to sign myself up for a number of things. First off, I’ve been trying (largely unsuccessfully) to try to get a volunteer position as a research assistant. It’s something I’ve been trying to do for a few terms now, in order to get some valuable experience in the lab. It’s an important thing to do if I want to get into grad school, which at this point I think is my plan. I’ve been able to get a job as a coder, which isn’t exactly what I want, but it gives me a foot in the door. Basically, I’ve been given some data that I have to rate according to a number of dimensions. Then that gets analyzed in order to actually produce some meaningful results. I’m kind of interested to see what the study will conclude.

Anyway, second, I’ve also signed up to work at the UW Food Bank. It’s a resource for any students at the university, primarily for emergency purposes – you know, as poor, starving students, it’s easy enough to run out of food and money for periods of time. I have been donating canned goods to it weekly for a few months now, but this term I decided to go ahead and volunteer as well. It’s only an hour a week, and basically I just have to sit in the office and help visitors to get food – and let them know about the rules and limits and such. It’s a pretty easy job. I’ve had one shift so far, and knowing that I’m helping others really makes me feel like I’m (somewhat) pulling my weight around here. “Here” being society.

The third thing I’ve done is to sign up for the UW Sustainability Project. This is a club on campus that works to educate the university students (and others) about ways to become more environmentally sustainable, as well as work on projects to make the university as a whole more eco-friendly. It’s got a number of various projects going on, and I attended a meeting today explaining them all. I’m really excited about it, although at this point it’s going to depend on my schedule as to how much I can do. However, like I said, environmental issues have become of increasing importance to me, so I really want to jump in and actually get my feet wet in something in that area.

And, of course, last but not least, I still have schoolwork and group projects and tests and assignments and applying for co-op jobs and participating in psychology experiments and having a social life! It’s definitely more busy than I’ve been in a long time. But strangely enough, it feels really good. I keep glancing down at my agenda, which has furious scribbles throughout it, but it feels much better than I thought it would to be this busy. I am somewhat introverted, and need my “alone time,” but this in some ways actually helps to energize me. I’m finally back to volunteering in practical ways, getting to know some new people, and doing stuff that is actually going to be of use to others. That makes me feel great. And even though some days it seems like I have way too much to do, I have surprised myself by actually being okay with it. Strange! We’ll have to wait and see if that feeling continues throughout the term. I may end up deciding that I was an idiot for signing myself up for all this stuff. Oh well.

Anyway, now that I’ve looked back on the past, and looked forward to the future, I’ll take just a moment to sit here in the present and wish myself a happy birthday! I’m sure that this year will end up being full of surprises and plenty of awesome stuff, and so I’m excited to see what it has in store. But for now, I think I’m going to head to bed. I’ve got too much stuff to do in the morning…

6 responses to “Still Alive and Kicking”

Cori-Beth

Happy Birthday, Jeff! Are you really 22 already? Yawn…been there, done that! lol

Anyway, sounds like you have been busy, and will be for a bit by the looks of it. Just don't burn the candle (or wick, whatever) at both ends if you can help it. I've been there as well, and you will burn out if you do too much all the time. Up at 4am + bed at 11pm = not good! I know you know that, but just had to say it…

I'm like you where I need my alone time. I'm very much the introvert as well where I like to read and watch movies. And, oh yah, crochet! lol No I won't tell you how big the new blanket is getting… But I also like to get out from time to time.

Well, again, happy big 22! Hope you had a great day,

Corinne

feeno

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you happy bir…..OK, enough of that.

You actually share a Birthday Oct 1st with one of the coolest dudes I know, my brother. And it's weird because sometimes you remind me of him. Even tho he is an old school Presbytarian Minister.

I love spending time in the "real world" and spending time with family, friends, church folk and even strangers. But like you and Cori-Beth I not only like my alone time, I need it. And although I have many, many aquaintences and like them all, I have very few "friends". But I truly thank God all the time for those. I might have told you this once before but my brother (Birthday boy) once told me that a friend will help you move, but a good friend will help you move a body.

You lost me with all the coder/data/dimension and analyze talk but good luck in Grad school. I think my daughter is heading in that route too?

Well I think that most all the changes you are going through sound pretty cool. I also think (for what that's worth) that someone who is a Vegetarian and volenteers his time at food banks and other places to help out, and has a conscience about the enviorment etc. would make a pretty cool Christian.

Hope you have a great 22nd year of life, thanks for sharing some of it with us. I would like to hear more about some of your dates tho. I always liked dating around Christmas time. The weather, the snow, the lights, the joyous singing etc always added to that. I actually met my wife in Oct. we dated through the holidays and were married in March. Yep, we only knew each other for about 4 months or so before we got married, that was 25 years ago, damn she got lucky. So I guess I'm saying you could be married by March?

Happy B-day! talk with you soon.
feeno

Cori-Beth

Hey feeno! Good to see your words again. (: Just to clarify, Jeff's birthday is actually Oct. 2. I'm sure he will correct you as well, but, whatever. Still cool about your bro's birthday being one day apart.

Corinne

Jeff

Corinne: Well, this is my first time being 22….and my last, I guess, come to think of it. So I'll enjoy it while it lasts I suppose…

Thanks for the sage advice – I'm definitely trying to keep an eye out so I don't find myself overwhelmed. It's easy enough to do that, but luckily I'm fairly good at time management so I can hopefully plan things out if necessary.

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

feeno: Yeah, like Corinne mentioned, my birthday is actually Oct. 2nd. I messed up when setting the date/time of the post – I normally set it for when I complete the post rather than when I start it, and I started it before midnight. I changed the time but forgot to change the date – whoops! But it's fixed now.

Anyway, yeah, I totally know what you mean about friends, though. I never understood people that seem to know – and stay caught up with – everyone. I have few friends, but they are important people to me. I don't know what I'd do without them. Probably take a lot longer to move dead bodies, I suppose…lol

Well thanks. I think someone like that would make a good Christian also, but I also think they'd make a good Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or any other religion. In short, I think that people who commit their lives to helping others make good people, period. Not saying that I'm Mr. Perfect, but I'm trying to do my part. I don't think how good or bad you are depends in any way on religious belief – especially since people use religion to justify both really good and terribly bad actions. But anyway…with that said, thanks for the compliment 🙂

As far as dating goes, I can't say I have too many stories to tell, really. But if I do go on some more in the near future, I'll be sure to share them. That's pretty impressive – four months and you two were married?! Glad to hear that worked out for ya, 'cause I don't know that I'd be ready to take the plunge in that short of a time period. I guess when you know, you know, though…but I wouldn't put money on me being married by March, that's all I can say lol.

Anyway, thanks to you too for the birthday wishes!

feeno

Jeff

Hope all is well. Thanks for coming by my site, that was pretty cool to see you on there. You were the first person to ever comment, that was a long time ago and you haven't been back til now.

You are free to use anything I say against me. I know I'm no expert in alot of these arguments. But I don't think I have much of an ego, because I'm not really trying to "win" any arguments.

I think that we can still learn from one another tho. And maybe one day I'll say something that just might make enough sense to get you to at least question your beliefs? I know that I should try to stay at least a little informed on these subjects I bring up. I'm trying. I have read/studied the Bible for 20 or so years. Evolution, Science etc is a stretch for me, but like I told you a long time ago I will be studying. And I have but mostly get my info from fundies.

If you want to know why, you can read what I wrote on Hugo's blog. Don't know how to get there? But you can go to my last post and click on his name?

My youngest daughter just celebrated her 15 birthday, and my Dad his 70th and you and my Bro. Busy month for B-days. Woe, I almost forgot my wifes is the 23rd.
Any ways my daughter is already talking about her drivers liscence. I don't know if I can live through that again. My oldest daughter is a horrible driver and it shot all my nerves trying to teach her. I don't know if I have anything left for rebekah?

Later, feen

Jeff

Hey, yeah no problem. I've actually been by a few times since, but I think that was before you started updating it a little more regularly. Either way, I think it's great to have civil discussion on stuff like this. You don't know everything, I don't know everything…but when people collectively put their heads together, we can figure stuff out. Some stuff, anyway 😛

I read your comments over at Hugo's blog, and I think he's answering things pretty well, but I'll agree with you on one thing – it's definitely easy enough to find someone who agrees with you, no matter what you believe. If you want to believe something, there's probably a scientific paper or two out there to back you up. However, that's really not the best way to go about things. That's similar to what journalists do – they go out and they interview a scientist about his theory of "body auras" or whatever, and then they present it as fact. What they don't seem to realize is that individual scientists have their own biases. What is a much better strategy is to determine what the consensus of experts is – in other words, despite different biases, what do scientists largely agree on? That's where the real power of science comes in.

Now of course, that's pretty difficult for a layman to do. However, especially with a topic like evolution, it's fairly easy to find statistics about it. It's a well-known fact that the vast majority of biologists subscribe to evolutionary theory. Creationists/ID'ists try to paint the picture of there being a controversy, but most of the scientists they point to as people that disagree with evolution are really mathematicians, engineers, etc. – still smart people, of course, but not really experts on the issue. Anyway, this consensus of biologists doesn't prove that evolution is true (ultimately it rests on the facts), but because the experts are least likely to be wrong, and because nearly all of them agree, it is a pretty safe bet, even for those uneducated on the issue, to say that evolution is likely true.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you're trying to get info on the issue. Knowledge is power! Obviously the first step to deciding what you believe about an issue is to really understand what the issue is all about. So kudos to you for that! I know you mentioned that it seems like sites on evolution seem like "atheist propaganda" to you, but I'd suggest that you at least try to read some of it to at least look at their point of view. You don't have to agree with it, but knowing exactly what they mean at least means that you aren't likely to misunderstand them and not believe for that reason.

Anyway, now that I've talked too much, lol….oh boy, better watch out about the drivers license. It's bad enough to have one student driver in the family, but two! Well, that's difficult….lol but hey, maybe your younger daughter inherited the good driving genes 😀 Just better hope, I guess…

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