high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

Sitting here at my computator at home tonight, recently returned from the Fisher College, where I just completed the next to last class of my Master's.  I did get the confirmation last week that my final paper/project had been deemed satisfactory, so it's just the "finishing touches" left now.  Just like on a work of art.  A terrible, crappy work of art.

As I sit here I've managed to consume four cups of fine Aldi Breakfast Blend coffee.  Because I'm eating breakfast at 10:00pm?  Haha, no.  Because I need to stay awake for the next few hours to complete a project?  No, no, remember that my MLHR project is done now.  Because Aldi Breakfast Blend is actually slang for an illegally smuggled substance that I need to eliminate all trace of before the Feds bust down the door?  Nope.  Because I want to attain a new level of spiritual enlightenment?  Why yes, that's correct.

You see, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which represents the start of Lent in some Christian traditions.  I've never been part of a Christian tradition that observed Lent, but I do have an affinity for challenges of a certain nature.  Therefore, the decision was made to participate this year.  Not in Lent, but rather in The 2011 Lenten Challenge!  (BOOM!!  Oh look!  Confetti!)

Come Jesus, if not a loaf of bread, then surely a cup o' joe...
Now, it was a bit difficult to pick out something to give up for the Challenge, but in the end coffee seemed like a reasonable choice.  Giving up meat and dairy had already been done, and there wasn't any "guilty pleasure" readily available, so after consulting Almighty Jehovah, I came around to the Almighty Java.  It's something I really enjoy every day, I'm sure there is some element of addiction there, and from what I've heard about some diets that people use these days, I can expect that various toxins will be eliminated from my body over the next 40 days and 40 nights while I'm coffee-free, in an appropriately symbolic process that may or may not result in actual soul-cleansing.  I'm not sure how difficult this will be, because I'm not sure how addicted I am to coffee, but I'm confident I can withstand any temptation by having the right mindset.  Although I've never participated in Lent, I'm pretty sure I know how to approach the whole thing.  You can't fixate on the thing you are giving up.  Your outlook has to be "I don't need this.  I don't need anything, in fact.  I am whole and complete without any worldly baggage."  You know, like a self-actualizing release kind of deal.

One key to staying strong in Lent surely is the avoidance of temptation.  Nobody says that you have to actively seek out temptation to make your Lenten sacrifice "legitimate," right?  No doubt plenty of temptation will come along naturally to test you in the course of the day.  So, one way I will avoid temptation is by not walking past the little cafe at my office.  I typically don't buy anything from the cafe, but I will occasionally get a cup of coffee if a) I really need to wake up, and need something stronger than the free coffee available inside our office or b) I  just can't stomach the free coffee available inside our office.  Regardless of which scenario it is, I exclusively go for the Columbian Supremo.  It's quite delicious, and really is a nice treat occasionally.  There shouldn't be any need to go to the cafe with any frequency (and subject myself to temptation), because aside from coffee, the only reason I go to the cafe is if I want to get a packet of salad dressing for my lunch.  

Lassoing cattle down on the poppyseed vinaigrette
Just as I exclusively go for the Columbian Supremo when purchasing coffee, I exclusively go for Ranch when purchasing a salad dressing packet.  With all the health-consciousness these days, I think Ranch has gotten a bad rap.  But here's the thing: I don't think it has nearly as much to do with actual nutrition facts as it has to do with an elitist mentality.  Some people start the trend by shying away from Ranch in favor of healthy salad dressings with words like "Balsamic" and "Sunflower" in their names, and suddenly people want to be part of the in-crowd, so they turn away from Ranch in favor of salad dressings that sound more exclusive.  And you know what sounds more exclusive?  Anything with multiple syllables.  This sounds absurd, but it is the very truth, to the extent that even Ranch can be made to sound more appealing with the addition of a few syllables.  Ranch?  Please.  Blech.  But Peppercorn Ranch?  Oh, that sounds good!  I'll have that!  Cucumber Ranch?  Oh mmmm!  That sounds so tasty!  Well I've had enough, and I'm taking a stance on this.  You can keep your elitist snobbery, and I'll keep my integrity.  As everyone knows, you can't take a stance in society without being belligerent, and so from now on when I get my salad dressing packet at the office cafe don't expect me to be polite and say "Hello there, I'd like a packet of Ranch salad dressing please."  No.  I will walk up to the counter, lean aggressively in and just say "Ranch," really putting the inflection on the "Ranch" part.  That's it.  Walk up, "Ranch."  Then stare.

Then again, for Lent I may need to add a few syllables and make it "Ranch, no coffee."

Getting back on track, another key consideration when staying strong during Lent is finding things to occupy your mind and your time in lieu of the thing you're giving up.  The Lenten season really lines up very well with other happenings in my life in this respect, as I was anticipating getting back into the exercise routine again now that classes are concluding, and getting some physical activity in place of the usual evening cup of coffee will be a good tradeoff.  I'd fallen off a bit over the past few weeks with the final project and papers and all that, not running or lifting, and the duct tape on the back of my Rocky poster even failed, causing Rocky to fall to the floor in an appropriately symbolic way.  But I went for a run this past Sunday, causing my ankles and calf muscles to become nicely inflamed and achy, and I'm ready to get back to it.  In fact, the upstairs bedroom is almost complete now, so I'll even be able to stick Rocky back up on the wall, as I'm sure that push-pins in the drywall will be much more effective than duct tape on plaster.  This will allow Rocky to stay on the wall with much more endurance and longevity, again in an appropriately symbolic way.

As noted in my previous post, the floors upstairs were being redone, and this has now been completed.  They look pretty good, and we actually learned that the staircase is made of Red Heart Pine, an extinct species of tree.  This revelation was both cool (Our house has a rare material!) and disheartening (Our house contributed to the extinction of a species!).  We learned about the Red Heart Pine from the guy who refinished the floors, as he had an eye for hardwoods, which is not surprising at all given his line of business.

In addition to presenting us with a fact about our staircase, the floor refinishing guy also presented us with a key that he had vacuumed up from one of the heat vents.  Whenever they refinish the floors, they take out the grates and do a thorough vacuuming to make sure there isn't any dust floating around while the varnish is being applied.  In addition to the fact and the key, the guy also shared with us that he had found a metal box under the floor in the bedroom.  When Nate and I were pulling up the vinyl tiles we had uncovered a hole in one of the floorboards in the bedroom, and so prior to repairing the hole the guy had vacuumed down in it, as was his practice.

Well, the finding of a metal box under the floorboards would typically cause eyes to enlarge, pulses to quicken, and greed to be fueled.  But in this case, shoulders sagged, rueful smiles appeared, and great plans were reluctantly discarded.  The reason for this atypical reaction is the following: Upon finding the hole in the floor, and not finding any age-old treasure, the idea came to us to leave a time capsule for some future generation to find 100 years down the road, just as we had found a few objects from around the turn of the century (the 1900 turn, that is) upon moving into the house and starting to clean it out.  What a great idea, right?  Leaving behind a few objects for some future owner way down the line to unearth when he or she decided to remodel and take up the floor.  The objects were chosen with no little consideration, and included my most recent Columbus Marathon finisher's medal, a picture from middle school cross country, my MLHR acceptance letter, and a pearl from Jen's necklace.  These items were placed in a nice metal box (labeled Fossil for the wallet it used to contain - appropriately symbolic, eh?) which was then securely taped shut and inserted into the hole in the floor.

An MLHR acceptance letter?  Surely a moron use to inhabit this place!
At first I really was rather crestfallen about the fact that our grand time capsule had only made it a mere 6 days  before being "discovered," but this was partly due to the fact that I thought the floor refinishing guy had simply discarded it after opening it and finding that it did not in fact contain treasure (he admitted that his initial thoughts turned to undiscovered riches when his vacuum latched onto the box).  The objects, the Fossil box, the ideally shaped slot for insertion under the floor - it was all too perfect to try to do it again!  And we certainly weren't going to purposefully put a new hole in the floor after just having them refinished to a nice glossy shine.  But then we found that the floor refinishing guy had not thrown away the box, but had placed it on a shelf upstairs, so spirits were renewed.  The perspective quickly shifted from one of foiled plans to a much more optimistic outlook.  While the hole in the floor initially seemed like the perfect place, fate suggested otherwise, and the floor "spat back" the time capsule, surely because a more appropriate place is yet to be found in this house.  Maybe the right place will even come to me in a vision, like in the days of old.

A vision brought on, no doubt, as my spirit is being enlightened through coffee withdrawal.

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