* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are celebrating the second and final week of Zane Shetler Half-Month, or as it is now known, "Two Weeks That Didn't Quite Change The World, But Hey, We Tried!"

Thus Spake, Ran, Drank Zarathustra

By:
shetler.zane@gmail.com

ZARATHUSTRA’S PROLOGUE

When Zarathustra was thirty-some years old, he underwent a crisis and he left behind the comfort of his living room and went running forth into his neighborhood and the adjoining parks and trails. There he jogged and he did not tire of his solitude nor his running mix for many months. But at last his heart turned and he muttered to his playlist:

Great song selections, what would your happiness be if you had not these ears for your sick beats to entertain? Would you not grow weary if it weren’t for your being heard?

Behold! I am likewise weary of my wisdom. My cup overfloweth with the science of running and the nuances of trail etiquette. I am like a pair of shorts that has gathered too much sweat and mildew. I need hands outstretched to take them and wring them out.

I should like to give this knowledge away, and Zarathustra wants to be man again. Thus Zarathustra went to a pub run.

OF THE GEAR-WEARERS

Zarathustra stood among the runners gathered in front of the brewery. They were eager to exercise as one and then enjoy a post-run beer and socializing. Just like the others, he mingled awkwardly and jockeyed for position to be nearer the graduate student females stretching on the sidewalk. They did not look at him when he spoke, but he knew he would soon have disciples among a crowd so clearly desperate with spiritual yearning:

I wish to speak to the despisers of the body, those who hide their true selves under reflective gear, specialized running caps, and wrap-around sunglasses. “I am a runner, body and soul” — so he speaks. And why should a gear-wearer not speak such?

But the enlightened man shows up gearless and says — “I need not your rigmarole — special dry fits and light-up vests, watches and GPS. I fear not that I shall get lost and perish from dehydration on tonight’s three-mile loop!”

This is the man we should yearn to be. We should aspire to be he who’s Self says to the Ego: “Feel thirsty!” as he forsakes his bandoleer of two-ounce water bottles and runs proudly into the night with little more than the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet.

Such a man is our hero. He would also rise to any challenge — every possible impending 5K!

OF THE THREE METAMORPHOSES

The crowd was silent, somewhat stunned. One man asked if he had an upcoming race he was trying to announce. Zarathustra waved him off like a fly and continued:

Of course, there are important events on the horizon. But there are changes that must occur first to cause a man to seek out a pub run such as this — I dare you tell me it is not so. Indeed, he must undergo three metamorphoses that lead him to this point. I will describe them:

First, as a boy, he must wrap himself in the sweet warmth of identity that is high school athletics, despite the fact that he is a verily un-vital factor to that same team’s success.

Next, he must leave behind the world of youthful competition to be borne aloft on the wings of his first job, second job, third job, during which a once laughably easy Turkey Trot comes to pose a daunting challenge. He must rise to the task with equal parts confidence and shame.

Then the third metamorphoses. The most important! There must be a catalyst: a tremendous break-up, a psychosexual upheaval that occurs when his running career is at its all-time low, thus resulting in his rededication to running, a forgoing of Netflix, and swift action upon that hitherto unquenched desire to garner greater friendships and meet more potential love interests.

Then, and only then, does a man attend a pub run.

OF THE APOSTATES

After speaking thus, Zarathustra began to weep. A young woman asked him if he’d been drinking already. Another asked if he was going to make an announcement or not, because they’d like to get started already. Zarathustra turned to them and yelled:

There are always those who go against us. There will be those who say, “Why must you clog our thoroughfares?” There will always be those men who ride along upon motorized wheels, who honk and flail their limbs, chastising us for daring to cross roads the way we see fit. And to these beasts, our laughter rules supreme. We giggle and we flit around the bend.

But alas, there are enemies we cannot easily escape. They are the naysayers among us. They claim to pledge allegiance to the brotherhood of the light feet, but their hearts — and feet! — are in fact heavy with despair. Flee from their sly vengeance. Flee these apostates!

Avoid he who runs far ahead, so seemingly fast and stolid in nature, to all eyes giving forth the intention of going the distance — Yet no! The pack watches in horror as he slows up, massages a cramp in his side, stumbles behind a bush and presumes to vomit.

Flee too the man that wears headphones and says unto himself, “I shall run together and apart at the same time” — for he cuts himself off from the lively flock and in doing so undermines the foundation of our sacred bond.

If you meet these apostates, look them in the eye and profess that lesser acts of treachery have felled empires. And if you, yourself, are the men I decry, run quickly away and don’t stop till you’ve run full away from yourself!

THE SIGN

In the meanwhile, evening had come and the impatient runners were talking over him, for even curiosity and disgust grow tired, and Zarathustra realized that his teachings had fallen on deaf ears.

“They are sleeping and running, their dreams are reality to them. Yet the ears that listen to me do not heed my lovely truths.” Zarathustra said this to his heart.

“My suffering and my pity — who cares about them! This is my night, my time to shine: rise up now, rise up, great noontide!

In a last effort to save face, Zarathustra leapt onto the picnic table and clapped his hands together before announcing:

Hark! Um, guys? I guess what I’m getting at in a roundabout way is that there is a fantastic 5K Fun Run downtown next Saturday. It’s supposed to be really great weather. Just a five-dollar entry fee and all proceeds help fund my trip to Nietzsche’s tomb in partial completion of my philosophy PhD. I hope to see you there!

 

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where grammar is always very, very personal, no matter how impersonal it may seem. We are also delighted to announce that this is week one of Zane Shetler Half-Month, possibly the most thrilling literary event of the last part of August.

Grammar 101, Tinged By Resentment

By:
zshetler@gmail.com

Good morning class! I hope that your weekend was enjoyable. Mine was certainly very eventful. Remember how we talked last week about the difference between internal and external conflicts? Well, I found my weekend to be full of both.

But okay. Deep breath. I feel good. I’m here, with 35 students in front of me. Let’s get going with today’s grammar lesson: we’re going to focus on common grammatical mistakes and traps.

Now, first off, let’s look at the difference between your and you’re.

Your signifies possession. For example, “This is your fault,” as in the fault belongs to you. Not me. Some other examples are as follows:

Your friends are coming to dinner with us again?”

Your lack of interest in any form of commitment is staggering.”

Or, “I don’t think your face is something that I want to see like ever again.”

Notice that in each example, the noun that directly follows your is not something that I possess or that is within my sphere of control to change. It’s on you. These are your issues. Your totally separate-from-me-now issues.

As for the other you’re, with the apostrophe and -re, it should be very easy to remember that it’s a contraction of the two words you and are, for example:

You’re a scumbag.” See, you could also say, “You are a scumbag.”

We can also flip it, go aspirational and more self-affirming with our you’re’s.

As in, “You’re not going to spend any more time fretting over this bullshit, because you’re a truly beautiful soul who is a great inspiration to all these malleable youth — our world of tomorrow.”

And, you know what, “You’re going to start going to run club where you’re going to meet somebody super hot and chill whose idea of a good time is not playing videogames with a bunch of bros till four a.m. on a weeknight, hotboxing the 400-square-foot apartment that you’re paying the entire rent for, all while he looks put out when you ask him to pay for pizza, saying, ‘I’m just trying to find a job that doesn’t compromise my values as a writer.'”

Unfortunately, I’m seeing a lot of these kind of homophone errors in your writing so far this semester. I’d like us to nip these mistakes in the bud before you find that your most valuable years are gone and your sweet young adulthood has turned out to be nothing more than a shamble of wasted days, a repository of bitter memories.

Okay? So let’s look at whether and weather.

Whether should be used to introduce alternatives. As in, “I’ve been trying for some time to decide whether the new TFA Biology teacher down the hall would make a better partner than you.” Note that there is no mention of sunshine or precipitation.

Another example could be, “Maybe it’s time to find out whether or not Tinder is a viable dating platform. I hear it is very easy to use.”

Or, “Some time during season three of House of Cards I realized that whether I’m totally alone or whether I find someone else, I’m still going to be a better person just so long as I’m not with you.”

As for weather without the first h, it should only be used to indicate the actual weather, as in the temperature, the wind, the clouds, etc. You know, just like, “Check out that foggy weather out there. I hope that you’ll get lost in all that fog and fall into a lake and drown while I’m cozy at home with my new lover — a caring, working class guy I haven’t met yet, but who I’ll no doubt meet at the public library when we both reach for the same copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”

Lastly, I want us to take a look at peek and peak. These are interchanged all too often and I’m hoping that a quick lesson on their differences will set us all straight.

Now peek with two e’s means that you are getting a quick look at something, as in, “I got a peek at your Gmail last week.” I think it is easiest to remember that this peek is related to a glance at something because the two e’s in the word are representative of the two eyes we each have in our head. Yes, two eyes that allow us to see the truth, even when someone tries to keep it hidden, buried, stashed away in a folder ostensibly labeled “Work Stuff,” despite the fact that work is a concept as foreign to that person as the concepts of loyalty, dignity, and self-respect.

Another example could be, “I got a peek at your Facebook messages and a peek at your texts and a peek at your direct message Tweets too.”

Of course, be careful not to confuse that peek with peak with an a, which means a summit or the topmost point of something…or evidently the private parts of some gym skank, like, “Sharon, from the climbing gym, who thinks it’s appropriate to send e-mails requesting that you ‘summit her peak with your nut tool,'” whatever the hell that means.

To which I counter that I might have wasted several important years on you, but it doesn’t even matter, because, “I’m still healthy and vibrant and I’ll be damned if I’ve already hit my peak and wasted my best days on you. I mean, I got miles to go before I sleep, amiright Rob Frost!?”

Well, we’ve covered a lot of grammatical ground today! I have to say that I feel particularly relieved to have worked our way through some of these issues. Anybody have any questions? Nope? Good.

I’ll be passing out worksheets to review these concepts.

If you get stuck or have any questions, just let me know. I’ll be using this time to update my relationship status and untag six years worth of Facebook photos.

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