Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Oct 19

You Live, You Learn (And Why Wouldn’t You Want To?)

I have been meaning to write this blog post for some time.  It’s probably good that I didn’t get to it before now, but I won’t be able to explain why until after i get right into it.

One of the crucial elements of who I am is that I like to learn. I rediscovered this a little over a year ago when I dove head-first back into reading. My focus was on science, and I loved nearly every word of every page.

I have since then devoured books by Nye, Sagan, Feynman, Hawking and more. I’ve dying to read more books by Mary Roach, and my eBook wait/hold list contains far more nonfiction titles than fiction.

But it’s not just books. I like podcasts that teach me new things. Blogs. TED talks. I go to events hosted by the historical society. It’s downright nerdy.

You might call me an epistemophiliac or epistemophile:

one who excessively strives for knowledge, or has a preoccupation with it

I want to know, and I want to know more.

In fact, I have said more than a time or two that I have little time for fiction because what’s happening around us in the real world is already so fascinating. I mean, teach me how and why something works — even if  I don’t necessarily care about the subject — and I will find it mildly interesting. Who knew I had an interest in astronomy or economics, for instance, before I delved into them? Now, I listen to podcasts (like these) on them on a weekly basis.

While not every subject will be riveting, I could certainly appreciate an engaging conversation about the science or history of most topics. Say, a sport. Teach me something, and I will try to take something away from it.

On the other end, I will often excitedly go on about something I recently learned and cannot keep to myself. I can only hope I’m a fraction as endearing as Carl Sagan with his childlike wonder.

It comes easily to me, to be honest. I may have forgotten how much I liked learning and may not have been super proactive about it, but I still liked it. That leads me to my main thought of this post:

I do not understand people who don’t enjoy learning, who aren’t curious about the world, who don’t want to add to their knowledge.

It’s not just that it’s a simple pleasure. It’s practical, pragmatic. Seeking knowledge helps you do more, save money, hold better conversations and feel more self-assured to name just a few benefits.

It might lead you to skills that are sellable and better jobs or more prestige. Although, those things are less of a concern for me. I may spend too much time learning things that are of no immediate use.

Because learning is fun. And it’s easier than ever, thanks to the Internet.

Maybe I can’t understand the way people don’t care for or actively dislike learning; although, I certainly don’t mind not allowing myself to understand this shortcoming of others. Forgive me that pretense. I am sure you can understand.

As a general rule, I don’t find people who don’t enjoy learning new things — and occasionally learning them from me — to be particularly interesting. I want to learn about the world and have discussions about ideas and things that are greater than gossip, your 9-to-5 job, or the weather. Sorrynotsorry.

Don’t get me wrong. I have surrounded by myself with people who enjoy learning or who, at the very least, appreciate my love of learning. It still just boggles my mind that anything doesn’t.

Now, the reason why waiting was a good idea? After my friend died, I enjoyed a lot of mindless/easy media. I consumed more comics than books on science. I pretty much stopped listening to podcasts because, when I did, I found myself tuning out. 30 minutes to an hour would pass, and I had no idea what I just listened to. I couldn’t make myself care.

I wouldn’t write this post passionately while I was in that stage. I hope I’ve done it justice this morning.

With that, I’ve got more Sagan to read.


Oct 04

Things Are Improving.. Finally?

As I type this, I am feeling pretty good. I am listening to music and connecting to it in a way that I haven’t been able to do in a while. Unlike my previous posts, in which I discussed some of the difficulties life decided to throw at me this summer, this post will be more upbeat.

I am especially happy because I’ve been able to achieve my daily step goals these last two days for the first time in weeks? Months? I thought I had twisted or perhaps sprained my ankle and tried to take it easy, but it didn’t really get better. Ther another day I happened upon a description of Plantar Fasciitis and realized it sounds exactly like my issue (shooting pain and stiffness when waking up or after sitting down). I decided that trying some of those stretches won’t hurt even if that’s not my issue. It’s been only two days, but I already feel better. Not perfect but much better.

Since this pain started around the time I got some new shoes, I decided to buy a different style than I usually buy (it’s new shoe buying time, anyway). Hopefully, I’ll be at minimal pain and maximum mobility in no times. Which is good because I’m not digging this weight gain or my inability to play Ingress like a boss. Ha! The endorphins are also much needed after such a trying summer.

I no longer find myself crying (read: sobbing) all the time over my friend who passed. I will miss him forever and occasionally tear up, but I don’t feel the need to stay inside a blanket fort and avoid my life. He would appreciate me getting on with it, anyway. Part of this is because I have a house guest, and it’s a bit of a distraction.

My friend’s death really cast a pallor on all my other summer activities. Sure, I saw the eclipse, heard Adam Lambert + Queen in concert, enjoyed John Mulaney’s standup in person, had a story published in a zine that I have yet to open, visited a plethora of museums and traveled to or through nearly a dozen states.. but it all just paled in comparison. It was so difficult for me to enjoy the fact that I had done any of that.

It didn’t help that it all involved being in so many cars, trains or buses! While I will likely take at least three more road trips before the year wraps up, I had to slow down my pace so I wasn’t so exhausted and depressed.

Once I finish Halloween decor this week (boy, am I behind!), things in my life will begin to look more normal. I am going to pass up hosting my own party to save money and effort, but I am excited about my costume no matter where I wear it!

I’m even managing to catch up on writing reviews, entering giveaways, and email communications (including pitches to companies, which I haven’t done at all this year!).

But, first, I must hack some portals!


Sep 05

Sometimes You Just Need to Build a Blanket Fort

I am 31 years old. According to many, I am strong. I have my shit together compared to many that I know, and I’ve managed to make a way for myself that confuses and, perhaps, intimidates most people.

But this has been a trying summer. It started out fine if not busy. It quickly went downhill as my friend Collin’s health declined. His death was hard. I knew it would be. But it was harder than I imagined.

When people ask, I’ll tell them that, but I’m not sure they realize what it means. It means that there are days when I find myself crying a dozen times. Of course, there are days when I don’t cry at all. And there are no days when I don’t also laugh or bring a smile to someone else’s days. But there’s never a day that I forget, and I don’t think there’s been a day since his passing when I felt entirely myself.

I am not alone in this. Although, sometimes I feel more alone than I would like. I’ve also felt a little less safe than I would like to, you know, emotionally. Now, I am not one to decry that those who need safe spaces are weaker than. But it’s never something I thought I would need myself. As it turns out, it might be.

So I made myself a blanket fort. At first it was a silly idea, perhaps encouraged by the silliness of a new friend. I considered it and even joked about it my mother, who encouraged me to build a blanket fort.

To be honest, I can’t ever remember doing it as a child, so I began to plan it out (like kids do that! lol). It became a distraction as I dragged kitchen chairs into my living room. And I built a thing.

Blanket fort 1.0 wasn’t the best. I could sit in it, but it was small. I decided to renovate. Soon enough, I had a larger space I could lie in, and my cats could explore. It wasn’t entirely comfortable because I was on the floor.

After a couple hours in my newly-expanded blanket fort (and one roof caving in CATastrophe), I wondered if I could fit my air mattress in it. The fort was slightly more narrow than my mattress, but I squeezed it in there successfully.

It was starting to feel plush. And comfortable. Safe. Phantom crawled in next to my frequently. Goliath took longer to warm up to the idea. He was nearby, but he didn’t join me until after I fell asleep last night and the temperature had dropped quite a bit.

Yes, the whole thing was silly and childish. But it was more than that. It was a needed break from my routine, both my daily and mental routine. It was carefree and silly. And while I can’t say I didn’t shed a tear while in my blanket fort, I can also say that it felt good to be in.

Now, I wouldn’t want to need a security blank or a security blanket fort to get through life, and I don’t. I spent a day being silly, reading and playing games from within the comfort and confines of a malleable, semi-permanent living structure (as I coined it in a Facebook life even update). I slept there.

Then, I woke up and took down the “walls” and returned to my normal life feeling a little bit better and a lot more like myself.


Aug 13

A List Of Things That Are Bothering Me

We’ll start small.

My apartment is full of flies. I’ve never had more than 1  or 2 the entire time I’ve lived here. I’ve killed twice that in the hour I’ve been awake and a dozen were taken down last night. I don’t know what to do with them, and it’s not like it’s disgusting in here (aside from the flies). No room seems off limits. Sigh.

Then get big.

One of my best friends died three weeks ago. I suspected it was coming and we even got extra time with him. But it sucks. Period. He was younger than I am, and it seems so unfair. You can argue that he died as he lived — fearless and on his own terms — but it doesn’t make me feel much better. And I feel guilty in ways. That I don’t feel bad enough. That I maybe didn’t spend enough time with him when I could have. That I let discomfort prevent me from visiting him. That I checked out of our friendship during his last days because I couldn’t handle it. That I should be stronger. That I am letting this affect me too much for someone who was not romantically involved with him. Basically, if you can feel bad about it.. I do.

On the subject of loss.

Two of my close guy friends decided to move this year. One to another city and another a few miles away. It shouldn’t be such a big deal, but that’s 3/4 of my guy besties who aren’t accessible, two of them when I might especially need friends who will go on miles-long walks with me. And I’m not entirely sure these decisions are wise (though I recognize that it’s definitely not my place to say so). I can’t help but wonder if some of this pain — on both sides — could be mitigated by not leaving to begin with.

One friend’s move is only a reminder of how our friendship has atrophied over the past couple years. So while he might finally be moving, that era perhaps has already seen its end. And that’s difficult for me to come to terms with.

It would perhaps be easier to deal with these things if I weren’t so painfully single. That’s something that’s been weighing on me lately but only because there is someone who I like. And that terrifies me. Admitting it is scary. Trying to make something come of it? Terrifying! I’m pretty much in preparing-for-it-to-not-work-out-mode while simultaneously putting off acting on it more because I don’t want to usher in the inevitable end.

I’m pretty bummed that my eclipse plans seem to have fallen through. The friend I assumed I would go with can do it. I realized I made hotel reservations for the week after. Ugh! All the trains to the place where I wanted to spend the eclipse are booked, not to mention hotels. I don’t see how I can make it happen now. And that sucks. I was so looking forward to it.

Add to that loud, thoughtless friends, selfish people, pettiness, weird weather, missing out on legendary Pokemon, a potential foot/ankle injury and weight gain and.. everything is just sort of “meh” right now. =/


Jul 03

Death Becomes Her

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately and not in a way that’s morbid  — at least, not in the way that would consider morbid. I recently finished reading Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, which I may or may not get around to reviewing on Reviews by Cole, but it’s certainly gotten me thinking.

Here’s what I’m thinking; the two most viable options for human remains are among the worst. In fact, many people don’t realize that any other options exist and, in some locations, they’re so difficult that you might as not well consider them options at all. And that’s pretty awful.

I don’t want an expensive casket to entomb my decomposing body while I take up precious space that’s better left for the dead nor do I want to be incinerated in a process that’s not environmentally-friendly or contributory to science.

So what do I want? First, for my organs to be donated. There’s not a single reason not to do that. There are about ten options from there, however, and the following is my personal ranking of what I’d like done with my body from most to least desired.

  • Scientific research – A local university is the most viable option for corpse donation, but it’s certainly time-sensitive. I like this option and take no issue with any type of research. If it’s helpful, I am down. I would especially like to be used for studies done in labs dedicated to ballistics and car accident research, however, because it’s so necessary and exactly the type of thing that others shun. If the service allowed me to leave a note to those who might be working on my body, I think a pun or a bad joke would fit the bill. Ideally, any remains would be composted. Realistically, they’ll be cremated, and I would be just fine if my cremains wound up in an unmarked grave with other cremains.
  • Composting – composting isn’t a thing yet, but it could be by the time I die. Composting is posed to be economical, practical and ecological; although, it doesn’t have a scientific purpose. One proposed method relies on freezing the body, using vibration to break it up, removing liquid and turning the rest into compost. Cool!
  • Natural burial – a natural, above-ground burial doesn’t advance the scientific community, but it does seem like a pleasant way to go. Skip the embalming and fancy packaging and let nature do its part in due time. Caskets aren’t actually a requirement in the state of Wisconsin, so it may be a viable option if I know someone who has the land!
  • Body Farm – You might think that someone who is writing a blog post about her preferred methods of corporeal dispensement who seems to have an affinity for science would like her body being delivered to a body farm and, you know, it’s far from the worst option to consider. It serves a purpose: teaching people more about the decomposition process of human bodies. But it’s just not very appetizing. It’s not practical for me personally, either, because there are no body farms near me.
  • Burial at sea – I imagine this to be a costly final destination that is incongruent with who I am as a person. But sleeping with the fishes is more eco-friendly than some of the other options. At least it’s EPA-regulated.
  • Necrophilia – Look, it’s weird. As a living person, I am not at all attracted to the bodies of people who have already passed, but it’s more productive than some of the other options, right?
  • Cremation – Cremation is the lesser of two evils when it comes to the big two. It’s more affordable and requires less space, but I’m not too keen on what it does to the environment. If someone wanted to keep my cremains close by, however, I would be okay with that. And there are so many cool things you can do with cremains. Being inturned with seeds is one option; although, it’s really of no benefit to the tree.
  • Mummification –  This option isn’t my favorite. It requires my body to take up space while it decomposes more slowly than a natural burial because of the embalming process. But in several thousand years, the process will complete.
  • Cryonically frozen – Listen, I like science fiction as much as the next person, but cryonics just isn’t scientifically viable. It’s a demanding use of resources that neither I nor the world should spend. I also have no desire to beat death even were it possible.
  • Casket Burial – Literally the worst possible thing that could happen to my body. It’s not economical, and it doesn’t serve any purpose. I love spending time in cemeteries as long as my body is animated, but they won’t do me a damned thing of good when I’m dead.

So this might be a weird post for some of you — or not. You know that I’m not exactly traditional in many ways!


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