[Breaking this into three parts because there is a lot of good stuff to read. And I need a vacation.
Recently a friend told me he’s been to more funerals than he has weddings. He told me that life is a gift; it’s no guarantee. I think that’s true, and while I have a tendency to feel guilty about the fact that I exist while the environment goes to shit and small children die of preventible diseases, I choose to feel grateful rather than guilty. Besides, what’s a better response to a gift?
Celebration. Thank you to everyone who participated in celebrating this blog’s 100th post. Reading your responses made me feel really
guilty grateful to have you in my life. Thank you. Today honestly feels like a second birthday. And now, THE READERS!
Benjamin ‘gopher padfoot’ Wegner]
Being with my family and having them tell me about their lives is the happiest time for me.
[How do you use your time? What’s a ‘typical’ day?]
My typical day is rising by 6:00 a.m. After coffee I read the paper, check email and say my morning prayers. I pray The Lord takes care of our family, gives grandpa a good day.
Right now my healing after surgery is changing my activities. When I am healed I will again take the dog for a long walk, go to Yoga class and volunteer with Cosmo at the local hospital and library. I belong to the grief ministry at my Church which has taught me a lot. Also in the Church choir.
[What is most important to you?]
Most important to me is my family. I enjoy to see how all have grown and matured. Being with them and having them tell me about their lives is the happiest time for me. My religion is very important, I need and get strength from my faith.
[Thank you so much, Grandma. For those of you who didn’t catch that, my grandma visits sick children and seniors with her dog, Cosmo. I’m very proud to have such a wise and compassionate grandma- who reads my blog every Monday morning!]
My name is Whitney Peterson, Wide Faced Wendy, or something along those lines…
Memory is a strange beast. Our ability to forge meaning from chaos and contradiction is truly astounding.
[a story (in your own words) about a time you had with me]
I don’t know what I was doing before or after this particular event. I was somewhat successfully (depending on how you define success) balancing on the handlebars of Padfoot’s bike. Or perhaps it was my own kleines Fahrrad. The chilly mist in the air reflected the glow from the streetlights illuminating the cobblestone streets. As we picked up speed, I pictured Padfoot losing momentum and my body smashing to the ground, as it had done twice already in the previous months. A drunken joy and excitement soon clouded my initial panic. It was one of those spontaneous moments when you think to yourself, “I am going to remember this.” I suppose we made it to our destination, but that small window of time is what stands out most. I’d be interested to know if Padfoot remembers this at all.
[I remember. It was night- and as you say- frosty. We were past that tunnel, the one under the train tracks where during the daytime people sold flowers and cheap pastries. We were headed somewhere far enough that walking seemed dissatisfying. I suggested you ride on my handlebars and was baffled by your ready assent. The hardest part was what you described, but what I remember most vividly was riding along the limestone path at a steady clip past two Germans who were looking at us with unconcealed admiration. Boy was I drunk. Haha!]
[your favorite blog post]
I liked time is not wasted if it’s deliberate because I have also been on at least two dates with myself at the Chicago Cultural Center [you have!?]. Even though it is geographically located in an ideal location for tourists/self-daters, the place seemed somehow forgotten [right!?]. I believe it used to be the old central library [it was]. Part of me wishes it were still filled with books [me too]. I also enjoyed reading The Man Who Couldn’t Cry. I was compelled by the way you wrote with awareness of your inner conflict which later manifests in regret. Perhaps regret is most significant when we know we will regret our actions at that very moment of indecision [omg yes]. You also wrote a post about your experience tripping on acid, I believe, for multiple weeks through finals?? Solid work. Perhaps I shouldn’t be impressed [a couple of my professors weren’t either]. All in all, you have a strong honest voice that emerges through your writing. Keep it up.
[what you are doing with your life]
What am I doing with my life? Yikes. I am currently doing some kind of balancing act trying to make everyone happy and not tip the boat. At some point in the very near future, I hope to be in the open water swimming in whatever direction pleases me [bravo!]. Since I left Chicago, I have been working at Manzanar National Historic Site, a place where Japanese Americans were confined during World War II, two-thirds of them citizens. Perhaps the most rewarding part of my job has been conducting oral histories with people who were confined at Manzanar. It is amazingly difficult and enlightening to speak with people who have experienced the world for over 80 years, especially when they are verbalizing memories that they have never talked about. Memory is a strange beast. Our ability to forge meaning from chaos and contradiction is truly astounding. Since January, I’ve been working at a library, which has proved more challenging than expected. I thought access to free books would make people happy. Apparently this library is a place where people feel entitled to do as they wish by treating people and the poor, helpless books with blatant disrespect. It’s all a fantastic learning experience though, right? When I am not working, I’m usually navigating the rugged, isolated wilderness of the Eastern Sierra and Death Valley. It could take ten lifetimes to really get to know this place. The end.
[You have a strong honest voice that emerges through your writing. Thanks Whitney, look forward to seeing you again.]
It gets much, much better!!! Be patient. It really does!
[How do you know Ben?]
We came from the same uterus
[Do you have a ‘ritual’ for reading the blog?]
Yes. I normally read it on my phone either right before going to bed, or early Monday morning, depending on when I go to work.
[Are you a writer?]
[What do you write about?]
[Anything you want to get out there, to an audience verging on the 20s!?]
Hmm… I would say to myself in my 20s just what I would say to myself in high school, “It gets much, much better!!! Be patient. It really does!”
[Pets- do you have pets?]
[oh no, have you seen where I work?]
[Do you have a question for me?]
What advice would you give to a teenage you? A ten-year old you? A five-year old you? Are any of those sage words still applicable?
[Great Question! Teenage Ben- If you learn moderation you might be able to keep enjoying these things you’re enjoying so much. Ten-year old Ben- don’t completely abandon spontaneous play for organized sports. Five-year old Ben- Get a job! No really, listen: America is actually really weird; stop drinking corn syrup.]
[What is one thing you’d like to see covered on Underspecialized?]
I want to see videos and/or music that you collect along your daily journeys!
[OK, it’s in the works!]
[Thanks so much Kristy. Long ago you brought me out of the cave and into the light, and things have never quite looked the same. Love, Your Little Brother]
Kathy “Catheter” Wegner, aka no longer Mommy, but Mom, Mum, Ma, and “What do you know?”
[Wow. See where I get my sense of humor from?]
The reader learned the author has a rich sense of humor and loves to play games with people, systems and institutions.
[Your favorite blog post or reading ritual?]
My favorite blog was the “Five Paragraph Essay” from August 2012. It was easy to understand. Everyone can empathize with it. There were hidden meanings in this blog. You can see that the “Five Paragraph Essay was the best blog.
First, the “Five Paragraph Essay blog is easy to understand. The reader didn’t have to comprehend difficult concepts such as philosophy or linguistics, characteristic in many other blogs.
Secondly, everyone can empathize with “The Five Paragraph Essay.” At some point in our education, we all probably had to write a five paragraph essay.
Finally, there were hidden meanings in “The Five Paragraph Essay.” The reader learned the author has a rich sense of humor and loves to play games with people, systems and institutions. His reluctance to follow the prescribed formula demonstrates his delight in being unconventional.
In conclusion, “The Five Paragraph Essay” is my favorite. The three reasons it is the best are it is easy to understand, everyone can empathize with it, and it has hidden meanings. Now you can see that “The Five Paragraph Essay” is the best blog.
My place in this universe is simple, to communicate. I want to communicate through laughter and song.
I like this piece because I feel completely in lock with Ben. Always honest, I feel like I am with Ben on the date, seeing the same things, hearing the same sounds. In addition to its clarity, I always walk away from Ben’s pieces with something new I have learned. Ben seamlessly works history and contemplative ideas into his work. I feel calm. I leave with a greater meaning in my head. Build your own ship.