Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Adventure 22 - The Atheist Case for Holidays

After all, the root of "holiday" is "holy day," and as someone who does not believe in deities or holy beings in general, I technically shouldn't be celebrating them. But in the light of the ridiculousness known as being politically correct and eliminating Christmas parties and replacing them with generic "holiday" and "winter" parties if you're lucky or nothing at all if you're not, I propose something I've done since before I cared about atheism (or really knew what it was), and that's celebrating everything.

Celebrating a holiday is not forcing your religion onto anyone as long as the option is provided, and it's not so much telling your guests what to believe in so much as teaching them about your traditions, which I find fascinating. For example, I went to a friend's party last night and got to watch the Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony and eat latkes with applesauce (which was most delicious considering it counteracted the bite of the onions) and mess around with dreidels, among other things, and it was so much fun, even though that's not what I celebrate.

The problem, I think, is that people are so intolerant of others and fail to consider that different traditions are just that, different, and not necessarily wrong. Granted, there are some beliefs that I consider wrong, such as forced gender discrimination and the denial of basic reproductive health rights, but in terms of things like whether you put up a Christmas tree or a menorah or nothing at all, there is no right or wrong.

My solution, as I said before, is to celebrate everything. Make it like elementary school, when we had those cute little worksheets that we got to color in and the little games that we played so we could learn what goes on during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Diwali, and so on. Not only was it fun, it was educational. It's not like our teachers were forcing anything on to us, and if someone decided "Hey, this is pretty cool," it's not the end of the world if they decide to switch religions.

If anything, it would be detrimental not to have these sorts of mini-celebrations at a young age because it is denying children, who are (and I hate to be cliché but I have to be) the future of our society, basic societal knowledge. For starters, we are all different and we celebrate different things but that's ok, and denying knowledge on any level is wrong. These people that are so concerned about being politically correct that they are in fact insulting everyone by preventing them from carrying on their own customs and cultures. If someone individually doesn't want to partake in anything, that's fine, but don't force people to not partake in anything, because that's just as bad as forcing them to partake in something.

Bring on the latkes.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Adventure 21 - Chaos

Also known as Christmas in my family.

I'll keep it short, but waking up at 4:30am for a 12-hour trip home, not getting to bed until midnight and then 4 Christmases will wear you out a little, especially considering I've only done two so far but I've had horrible allergies since I got home. I hope I'm not allergic to my dog. That would be sad.

Anyway. What I want most for Christmas is not something I can ask for, but I have a Squishable narwhal, so I guess that's a start.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Adventure 20 - The Cookie Hetaera

As your typical college student, I didn't really feel like spending what little money I have on Christmas presents for all my friends. I mean, here alone I had 10 people I would've had to buy for, and even little tchotchke things add up. Thus, the cookiepalooza.

Instead of spending a bunch of money on presents, I spent 40 bucks on supplies to make 4 batches of cookies for my friends. I know, that's a ridiculous amount of cookies, but the recipe I have calls for 3/4 of a stick of Crisco, and Crisco only comes in 3-packs, plus each of my friends wanted different kinds.

My roster for this weekend was:
  • 2 batches of chocolate chip (which was the original recipe and the most requested kind)
  • 1/2 batch of peanut butter chip (because one of my friends is a loser and doesn't like chocolate)
  • 1/2 batch of peanut butter chip and chocolate chip (because one of my friends wanted both)
  • 1/2 batch of snickerdoodle (because that was requested twice)
  • and the pièce de résistance, 1/2 batch of chocolate chip bacon (because I had a half-batch left, plus hello, it's bacon and chocolate chip cookie in one bite)
So after 4 hours in the kitchen, my cookies were done, and after walking to and from work in the snow and balmy 24°F weather, I started off on my delivery. I got about half of them done last night, between people not being home and the fact that I spent 3 hours BSing with one friend (split between me dropping off the cookies and him coming back for a refill), but I'll try to finish the rest today. The only issue is rationing off the chocolate chip bacon cookies 'cause I only made 12 and they're reeeeally good.

So why does this make me the cookie hetaera? For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a hetaera was the highest class of prostitute in ancient Greece, but instead of getting money for her services, she'd generally get gifts. Thus, instead of getting houses or farms in return for sexy things, I get hugs and a balloon animal for my cookies.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Adventure 19 - Thanks

I'll be the first to admit it, my current life plan isn't spectacular. I won't be graduating with a bachelors' in three years, and I probably won't have the money to pay for grad school after I do graduate. I'll be lucky if I have a job by then, and I'll be able to support myself (and my college bills eventually) but that's about it. I'll be working weird hours, traveling a lot and doing things that might make people mad at me. Seems like a pretty fruitless outlook.

But it is our job to tell someone's (or something's) story, and when you get personally thanked by a complete stranger for your work, it's a pretty damn awesome feeling.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Adventure 18 - Finally, An Explanation

(No, not to why I insist on procrastinating on this paper. Nice try, though.)

The latest issue of our school's alternative magazine, which I write for, came out today, and I'm really not trying to toot my own horn but I really like my article for it. The issue was all about the problems that our generation, as the ones dealing with the college nonsense, have it just a little bit differently than generations before us. My article was about how we're less religious than everyone else, and through my sources, I finally found someone to say basically what my philosophy behind my equal-opportunity heathenism is. Basically, he said that we're less religious because with all the advances in technology and science and society in general, we're starting to see that what we were taught by religion is wrong, and we're responding with, and I'm quoting this directly, "an emphatic 'fuck you.'"

Not only was that the best quote in my entire series of interviews, it's perfect. Granted, I can't say it's exactly what I've gone through because I was never religious in the first place, but it explains everything. I do my own thing because none of the tenets in religions (that I know of, anyway) make a whole lot of sense in the modern context. Take evolution for example. It's about as proved as it can get, and there are people that are starting to see "Hey, maybe it doesn't make sense that people supposedly rode dinosaurs...," yet there are still people pigheaded enough to maintain that Homo sapiens rode on the back of Spinops sternbergorum. Which, by the way, is a new dinosaur we just found fossils for and is the evolutionary stepping stone between Centrosaurus and Styracosaurus because, le gasp! Spinops has the curved spikes of Centrosaurus and the straight spikes of Styracosaurus. So the argument is really invalid.

(Also, I like dinosaurs.)

Anyway. I'm really proud of that article, and I hope I can get more in the future that I'm that passionate about. (As it is, my original article was more than 1200 words and they had to cut it down to 800...)