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September 04, 2020
Let's Get Personal
by Andrew Coenen
Today, at the behest of my mother, I am going to write about one of the most difficult topics for me to discuss: myself.
Well, I say I don’t like to talk about myself, and for the most part that’s true, but I feel like everyone has that little piece of themselves that actually loves to talk about themself. It’s probably our egos. In any case, I am no exception, a part of me will surely enjoy this blog. Let’s hope it’s the part that can write.
My name is Andrew Coenen, son of the owner and proprietor of Jai Dee, Michelle Aalbers. I’ve been writing blogs for Jai Dee for a while now (this is my eighth). If you’ve read those, I feel like you probably know me better than I could describe myself. They say in writing classes to “show, don’t tell,” which is good for me I guess, because I’m really bad at telling. Anywho, I’ll get the boring stuff out of the way first: I’m going to school at the University of Minnesota for math education, with the ultimate goal of becoming a high school math teacher.
I skim over that because that’s the kind of small-talk stuff that doesn’t have much substance to me. I guess that’s one thing I can say about myself: I don’t like small talk. Generally, at least. I strive to be sincere and straightforward in all my communications with people, and small talk is rarely that. I like to say things only when I have something to say, so I’m often a wallflower in social situations, chiming in from time to time to make a comment or terrible joke. I love to observe other people and find that I learn a lot more by listening than I do by talking.
I’m also a huge nerd, in several senses of the word. I’ve had a passion for science and learning about the universe for as long as I remember, and the more I learn about it, the more I appreciate it. Realizing how tiny we are in the grand scheme of the universe really puts our everyday lives into perspective. To some, I know this presents an existential crisis when they realize what tiny specks of dust we are in space and time, which I have certainly experienced to some extent, but to me it really makes me appreciate how special it is that something so small and improbable as Earth can be as unique and profoundly beautiful as it is. The number of things that had to go exactly right in the universe for us to even be here is mind-boggling. It gives me an appreciation for the world that has stuck with me my whole life.
Because of my genuine interest in learning, I did well in school. I developed a solid work ethic and became focused on my schoolwork to a fault. All the way into and through high school I didn’t seek out new relationships or friends, and because of that, I spent a lot of time alone, which, being the introvert I am, I thoroughly enjoyed. I have a few close friends I’ve known since elementary school (who I’m extremely lucky to have, they’re fabulous), and for me, that’s been enough. However, while I was honing my mental and academic skills, I completely dismissed and ignored my social ones. My lack of social practice has rendered me a tactless buffoon nowadays, a quite problematic issue that I am currently in the process of trying to improve.
In any case, my nerdity also extends beyond academics. I love fantasy and sci-fi, as well as games of all shapes and sizes. My favorite games include Magic: the Gathering trading card game, the Legend of Zelda video games, and the Terraforming Mars board game, as well as all sorts of tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. I like to make carvings of characters and artifacts from games out of wood in my free time. I’ve even been designing my own board game lately, a drafting game about the formation of the solar system. If you want to have something to discuss with me, games are a pretty good bet; just yesterday my brother came into my room to tell me something and we ended up talking for a half-hour about Slay the Spire strategies. Games are an outlet for me in two ways: for one, they present unique and interesting challenges that let me solve problems in novel ways, and for two they can create compelling, immersive worlds for storytelling and exploration. Oh, and I’m a sucker for good video game music.
Those are kinda the big things about me. But honestly, to me, it isn’t just the big things that make a person who they are, it’s also the little things. Here’s a rapid-fire sampling. I love walks in the rain. Nothing makes me happier than the pure joy of meeting a dog. I doubt I’ll ever understand music, which makes me appreciate it even more. I will not laugh at a bad joke, at least a little. Sad songs make me happy in a weird way. A part of me still hopes that someday I’ll awaken some hidden superpower inside me. I am afraid of losing my memory. Whenever I walk past a brick wall, I push on a few bricks just in case there’s a secret doorway. I’d rather be awkward and accepting than charismatic and cold. I’ll take the smell of freshly cut cedar wood over the smell of coffee any day. I squeeze too hard when I hug.
Heh, here I said this was going to be hard, and I went and wrote my longest blog yet! Welp, in case you were wondering who it is on the other end of the blog, now you know. That’s me!