Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcome, 2011

If only I were a person who could change their life without the deadlines and due dates that come along with New Year's resolutions.

However, I am not. I won't say if that's a good or a bad thing; it's simply a reality of my life. If I want to get anything done ever, I need the checkpoints along the way. It's most helpful when they're set by someone else, but since I control my own life, I absolutely have to set them for myself, too.

And that, my friends, is why I am a fan of New Year's resolutions. Yes, they're often impractical. No, most people don't fulfill theirs. But anything that encourages people to make a good fresh start is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

Normally I either forget to make New Year's resolutions or I completely disregard my own by the end of January, but this year I feel this intense internal pressure to do everything -- and I do mean everything -- on my List O' Goals.

See, for the past few years, I've been in a funk. I couldn't tell you when it started, but for all practical purposes we'll say it was in ninth grade. I wouldn't call it depression, exactly; to call it such seems to take away from the many people who actually have chemical imbalances and only fake smiles and all the other shit of which I have no real authority to speak because I'm not depressed. If I lived before the age of psychoanalyzing away every last fidget and blink, they'd probably call it A Lack of Motivation and tell me to Get Over It and Get a Move On. Whomever they are, however they spoke back then. Whenever "then" is.

The point is this: there hasn't been an extensive period of time over the last three years when I've been truly happy or truly satisfied with my life. I've had many good moments. I haven't had any real hardships but nothing truly great has happened and nothing I've done has made me truly proud of myself. If I were a line on a heart monitor I'd be the comatose patient, squiggly lines indicating that I'm not dead, but there's certainly nothing to get excited about. Stable yet disappointing.

I could take this space to get into a whole list of my flaws and my personality and who I am and what I want, but I'm afraid that if I started, I'd never stop. As I said on Twitter (oh, Twitter, sometimes I wonder if you were ever meant to exist for a purpose other than an outlet for complaining about one's life), I'm fairly certain -- almost as certain as I can be without going in for a blood test -- I have a mild form of anemia.* (That would certainly explain my perpetually freezing fingers and toes and the fact that by the end of a school day, I am thoroughly exhausted (more than the average person seems to be). Additionally, it apparently makes it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork and, uh, regular work, so then I could scream from the rooftops that, at long last, my procrastination is validated!**) If I do, that's only half the problem. I don't believe that any medical illness, aside from mental disorders of any kind, stop people from being whom they wish to be. It puts limits on what you can do, sure. It gives you a hell of a good reason to be grumpy, of course. But I truly believe that anyone can become a person who can look in the mirror and say, "I'm proud to be these eyes and this nose and this mouth and this irregularly shaped head and this hair, or lack thereof, and this forehead and this skin and everything pulsing and beating and coursing and living inside of me." That's who I want to be. That's who I will be.

There's much more that I want to tell you, and maybe I will later, but this post is already getting hella long. For now, let's focus on these New Year's resolutions/life goals/changes (for the record, I wrote these to myself, which is why I use "your" instead of "my"):

- Find your copy of Hamlet. If you can't, pay for it?
- Study for your math unit test until you actually understand.
- Don't procrastinate on your homework for the rest of this quarter.
- Actually study for your midterms this year; don't just flip through your notebooks and expect it to magically seep into your head.
- Go get a blood test to see if you have anemia, and if you don't, figure out why you're so tired all the time. Subsequently, sleep more.
- Get a real harmonica and learn how to play it. By the end of this year, you have to be at least decent at it.
- Start studying the classical guitar for real. Practice a lot more, and especially learn a lot more about the technical aspects of the guitar. Put yourself through a mini guitar-specific music theory class.
- Figure out what you want to do with your life, and I don't mean an inflexible plan, but at least get some ideas about jobs you might want in the future/where you might want to live/etc.
- SERIOUSLY: start looking at colleges; see what colleges you want to attend and which colleges might accept you.
- Fill out your goddamn CAS forms; this is not going to be a repeat of your mad scramble to fill out the paperwork for your MYP hours.
- This summer: find a paying job.
- In preparation for this summer: find an internship or volunteer job that you're interested in, and apply for it soonsoonsoon!
- Freaking stop eating so much junk food. You need to sit down and figure out what kinds of foods you should be eating. Go to a freaking dietitian if you have to.
- Subsequently, freaking exercise more. (Important: go to a doctor to see if you have low blood sugar or something.) You also need to make a realistic plan for this, because if you don't, you're just going to go running once and then wallow about feeling sorry for yourself.
- Start and COMPLETE NaNoWriMo 2011. If you find yourself simply incapable, at least get halfway done.
- Start writing regularly. It doesn't have to be one project; keep writing those strange, short, philosophical/descriptive pieces that you love so much.
- Read all the unread books in your room (there are a lot) and read a lot more.
- This summer, spend at least 2 weeks without any internet at all.
- Make an active decision to be more outgoing. You're a natural introvert and that's fine, but sometimes everyone else around you is a little introverted too and they just want somebody to say hello.
- Do the things you say you'll do. If you can't/won't/don't want to do them, tell people upfront instead of waffling about.
- Use your big hanging calendar! You're never going to be naturally organized, but you can at least keep track of things better.
- Be more inclusive of all the new people on Set Dec. Most of them don't have the huge influx of fellow freshmen to rely on, like you guys did in ninth grade.
- Speaking of Set Dec: be waaay more organized. You don't have to be totally anal about it, but take initiative (even though you're only assistant chief :] ). If something needs to be done, get on it. Talk to Ms Davis & co. about what you need, realistic goals, etc.
- Get back on track with blogging. Don't use the excuse of being too tired; you're tired because you procrastinate so gosh darn much. It's only two days a week, and you enjoy doing it.
- Additionally, improve the quality of your blogs. Sadly, your earlier blogs were better quality than your recent ones, even though you were nearly two years younger.
- Have an honest conversation about your parents with religion. Keep calm, but don't back down.
- Be more assertive. I know you hate confronting people or even asking for help sometimes, but your problems multiply when you let them stew.
- Freakin' study for French...? Let's face it: the rest of high school is going to be substantially less fun because of French, but you have to take this class. You're not going to become fluent or anything, but at LEAST learn enough to do decently in the class and get at least a 5 on your HL exam.
- Stop procrastinating. Fact: you're never going to completely stop procrastinating. Fact: the extent to which you procrastinate is not normal and definitely can't be healthy. Get it under control.
- Find an EE topic that you love; something that you can actually get excited about writing. Don't procrastinate on writing your proposal, and actually refer to your EE adviser.
- Watch all the Doctor Who that you need to (you know what I mean).
- Don't use the internet on your phone unless you NEED to.
- Clean your room. Keep it relatively clean. Redecorate this summer.
- Organize your backpack. Seriously.
- Study for the SAT. I know you think it's dumb, but you need to retake it. Talk to Dad about developing a study plan for the math section.
- Organize your iPod. Catch up on Pottercast.
- Go to at least one Wrock show.
- Go to the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows. If possible, do something within the fandom.
- Develop a good skin care routine.
- Get your driver's license! :)

It occurs to me that I am more honest on this blog than I am with most of the people I know offline, despite the knowledge lurking somewhere in the back of my head that millions (billions?) of people technically have access to this information. It's a strange thought but not a particularly nerve-wracking one. It's not that I say anything I wouldn't want people to hear; it's that most people don't want to listen. Not that I expect them to. You can't care about everyone, not on a I-earnestly-follow-your-exploits-on-a-blog-that-you-neglect-to-update-half-the-time level. I suppose that anyone who reads this blog cares just enough about what we have to say, and if you're willing to take the time to listen (figuratively speaking) then you've earned the right to my honesty.***

* The trouble is, of course, once you go about trying to self-diagnose on the internet, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell if you actually have those symptoms or if you're just twisting your body to fit the label that you want (sometimes we're all just big masochists at heart, aren't we?). As far as I can tell, I do, although there is a curious one about possibly having a desire to chew things, which of course led to a train of thought something like this: "A desire to chew on things...?" Wait... I like to chew on things! I used to chew on paper and wet dishtowels all the time when I was little! And I like to chew food! Oh my gosh I totally have this symptom. Make a room for me at the hospital right now. Actually, I kind of want to chew on something now... mmm... wait, no, do I actually want to chew on something? Or is that just some subliminal messaging going on? Okay, think of the last time you chewed on something that wasn't food...
** Okay, not really. Procrastination is a) not validated and b) present in many non-anemic people's lives. But how great would it be if I could just take iron supplements and actually feel focused?
***Pretentious blogger is pretentious. :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

resolve or lack thereof

I hear a lot of mixed opinions on New Year's Resolutions. My mom disagrees with the idea but I'm not entirely sure why. I think it's something about the wording. She calls them Intentions. Kayley Hyde (of 5AG) says she likes to think she can change her life at any time of year.

But I like the idea. I like people reevaluating themselves and their values. I like it when everyone gets ridiculously idealistic. It warms my sometimes shamelessly idealistic but mostly just jaded heart.

With all of their optimism and dreams, I find that a lot of people have similar type goals. Eat better, exercise more, read more (if you're nerdy like that). I want to do all of these things. But why start January 1st? Why not now or yesterday or tomorrow or next month? And what percentage of resolutions actually become reality? Am I being too cynical to assume that most of our hopes and aspirations for the new year get pushed back to the next, trampled and forgotten or guiltily nudged away? Don't we all want to be healthier every year? Well I've been alive for sixteen--you think I would have got around to it by now. And yet I don't have a formula.

A part of me wants to make a set list of goals and rules. I will spend X time running and Y time aerobicizing and buy less processed junk and drink less Starbucks beverages. But at the same time, I don't want to live my life off a piece of paper, counting the number of restrictions and having to ask if I'm allowed to eat this, or buy that or sit on the couch instead of doing yoga. That sounds vaguely suckish.

So without the lingering prospect of guilt or disappointment, because I won't let myself feel those emotions, here are some of the things that I'm foreseeing as being important for me to do/be in the new year in a couple of categories. Don't quote me on any of this.

Continue to pursue creative endeavors

  • Blogging, of course.
  • Novelling. Specifically, I'm attempting to spend 50 hours editing this past year's NaNoWriMo in January. And after that, who knows where I'll be. 
Learn stuff. "What?" you ask.
  • maybe some more Spanish
  • more writing craft and publishing tips.
  • how to play the ukulele (now I just need a ukulele)
  • continue attending Philosopher's Cafes and asking the questions that you can never completely answer.
Self ... improvement? Which I guess all of this kind of is.
  • The main bullet point I'm going to write here is Patience. That's right, capital P.
  • Imagine people complexly and eventually cease being disappointed when people fail to meet my unrealistic expectations. Respect people for who they are and don't expect more.
  • Listen to recommendations and consider them and then potentially read them.
  • Nonfiction for pleasure.
This is a pretty short list, or it looks like it to me, but it could grow. It actually seems exceedingly lame at this moment but I'm hitting publish and we'll see how this goes.

Q: Do you get resolved?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Disorganized Christmas Blog!

Alright, so I'm starting this on Christmas Eve.** That doesn't necessarily mean this will be properly bloggily organized by tomorrow, or that I won't be collapsed from exhaustion by the time I have 10 minutes in which to hit the magical orange button which releases these fragments into cyberspace. So I'm planning ahead, or something like it.

Mess of craziness as it may be, Christmas is awesome, especially because someone in my household still believes in Santa, so I'm allowed to get pretty vicariously excited. I also have SEKRIT KNOWLEDGE (different from knowledge acquired through SNEAKERY, mind you--I was told what it was so the giver could see my reaction to it beforehand, instead of my nerding out over it in front of people who wouldn't care. . .) of one present I will be receiving*, so that's just cool.

Tangent: Much as it may seem to send the message, "I am broke and/or an elementary school student.", I like giving and receiving handmade gifts. Even if (especially if, really) they are of dubious quality (in the style of MJ's crapfts) and/or are novelty items. They speak of the giver's knowledge of the receiver's sense of humor, which is, of course, the key to true everlasting friendship.

SKYPE: Not today, (it's 10:27 and I must sleep, in order to awake at a reasonable hour, in order to spend 50 minutes in hell*** whilst metal is extricated from my mouth. I would much rather spend the night on the Internet.) Earliest I'd be able to would be Tuesday afternoon/night, failing to coincide with Alex's schedule, then Sunday afternoon (if Skype ever loads on my computer, and if I'm not roped into actual socialization.****)

Original engaging comment question: How was your Christmas/how is your holiday season going so far?

* It's a piggybank shaped like Gringotts. (No, spellcheck. I do not mean "Gringos".)
** And posting on Boxing Day, note the chronologically backwards footnotes.
*** Known to persons who don't overuse hyperbole as "the orthodontist".
**** Wow, I'm tired. I read that as RAPED and decided I needed to clarify. I've never been raped, and I don't loathe human interaction that much. But you get the point.

This seems like the longest blog I've written in a while. Is it? Have I been devoid of a topic for that long?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

reality and belief

I don't know when Santa stopped being as real to me. I never remember asking my parents if Santa was real and, if I did, I doubt I got a straight answer. No, my question was, "Mom, do you believe in Santa?"

If there's something I really value, it's my mom's opinion. And sometimes this is useful and nice; I love the support and sureness she can give me. But sometimes it's crushing. I have this down to a stream of logic. I think it makes sense yet despite knowing it, it can still hurt to feel it in action.

In action: I like something (ex. Taylor Swift songs) > my mom voices a negative opinion of it > I am offended and hurt. Why? Because I care. I care what she thinks and when she disapprove of something I like, it's like she disapproves of a part of me, which stings.

There. Logic. Even knowing that, though, I can't quite detach myself from the pain of knowing it's not me she doesn't like. But back to Santa.

Maybe I asked my mom if she believed (rather than if Santa was real) because I knew reality is fragile and I didn't care if Santa was real or not. All I cared about was my mom's opinion. And so that's what I asked for.

I'm struggling with reality lately. Is this worrying to anyone? I just don't know if there's anything that *isn't* real. Or, on the flip side, if anything at all is real? Even dreams and imaginings are real, right? Or are they? Like Harry Potter and... you guys. You're real, right? Or are you some figment of my imagination created by my subconscious in the vivid dream that I'm currently having?

How can I know? I can't.

This is what becomes of me when I don't have a topic or anything on my mind really except working tomorrow (which I'm excited about, weirdly). But I remember when Vita said she likes reading my blogs even if they are somewhat meandering and pointless. I don't mean pointless in a bad way, just in a 'I don't know if there is a point to any of this, thesis less' kind of way. So I'll sign off.

Merry Christmas. Think of me tomorrow, packing groceries in the madness.

Oh wait! SKYPE. WHEN ARE YOU FREE? Sorry, excited. Anyway, I am.... not really that available after Christmas. I'm working on Boxing Day and then going away from Monday-Wednesday next week. But if you guys want to Skype sometime on Christmas Day or Boxing day after 6:00PST, that would be cool. Otherwise, it'll have to be after the 29th. Yeah. Let me know.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

sisterly affection

I don't know how I feel about the following reaction to my saying "I have three sisters":
Your poor father. 
Variatations are... varying?

But seriously? Like what? We're not that bad. On one hand, I'm like, That's a burn and on the other, I don't know if that qualifies as sexist or just kind of close minded. Or is it a joke? I guess my previous reaction has been to give a fake laugh because that's what I'm trained to do in awkward situations. Force a smile and retreat.

I love my sisters. (and so does my dad!) I love having three and I don't feel like a greedy grabber at all. And yet we're getting so old and I'm afraid to let go where we are. This year has gone by so ridiculously fast, as every year seems to by December, and I have no idea what the next six months are going to be like.

It has always seemed to scare people that my sisters and I are close friends. We have the same friends, we read the same books, we don't just tolerate each other but enjoy each other's company. And yes sometimes I want to slam doors and stomp my feet and not talk to them for a couple hours but we're friends. I just find it strange that some people are weirded out by that.

My big sister is coming back from England tomorrow at three o'clock and I love picking people up from the airport--the anticipation, the peering around pillars and trying to see through translucent glass doors, the moment when you see them and they see you and there's nothing more pressing than the need to run and hug them because you haven't in almost a year. Whoa. Run on.

What's scary is that both of my older sisters are leaving in little more than two weeks, either back to England to continue nannying or off to Calgary to live with strangers and I can't seem to stop letting that hang over me. It's like this ticking clock until I'm alone again (with my parents and younger sister, of course). Caitlyn's not even here yet and I can't stop thinking about how hard goodbye is going to be. The lead up to watching your sisters disappear behind airport security's perimeter is a kind of tricky to navigate but I'm doing my best.

Why do they both have to leave on the same day? Why can't fate* have given my easily provoked tear ducts a freaking break? Two sisters leaving on two planes in one day? It's a bit much.

Ah well. I'll survive. Life is exciting and terrifying and everything is exactly as it should be. Adventures will be had. All is well.

*not that I believe in fate but sometimes it's necessary for dramatic effect.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lip Synching at a Funeral

Una dia muy loca en la casa de Rena. No puedo hablar la idioma correcta. Es tan loca.

Srsly, folks. I'm going to start with an analogy:

Remember what Vita said about guilt over not crying during Deathly Hallows? Today was like that.

Oh, the things Catholicism does, even to the non-practicing association. To be fair, I didn't know the dead guy. Or if I did, I hadn't seen him (or almost anyone else in attendance) in 11-12 years. No emotion connection to be mourned, more a general realization of mortality itself and how much it sucks.* I'm not saying that being in a church during a funeral mass wasn't awkwardly depressing, it was. At points I cried out of guilt that I *wasn't* crying previously, which makes no sense at all. Other times I stared at various windows intently (one thing about churches--and maybe I'm just nerdy enough to appreciate this--but the architecture is really awesome to look at) and mouthed the occasional response to a prayer or some such. Also reflected upon my own funeral (morbid and selfish, but why not. . .) and pondered music selections.**

I didn't mean for this blog to sound as awkward and un-relatable as it may be, but it's how I spent my afternoon. Moral of the story: Death sucks, let's all live until science has figured out immortality.

* Crass as it is, there are some times when the adverb "balls" is effective and necessary. Mortality sucks balls.

** The only qualification now withstanding is that all songs be in English.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

resenting turkey

Sometimes when I'm doing monotonous tasks I have conversations in my head with the people around me. I'm not sure why this is. I guess it's my constant need to imagine beyond reality. 

I went to work in the commissary of my grocery store chain's today. And for those of you who, like myself, did not know what the word 'commissary' means until today:
A catering facility, restaurant, or any other place in which food, containers, or supplies, are kept, handled, prepared, packaged or stored; A distribution facility that prepares, stores, or supplies food to a mobile unit or other retail food facilities.*
Yeah. Quotes. It's where they make most of the stuff they sell in the deli (potato salad, macaroni, wraps, salads, etc.).

Anyway, it's a pretty small grocery store chain, only 8 stores in the Lower Mainland of BC but, at Christmastime especially, there is a lot of food going through that kitchen. And a lot of turkey, most of which, I must have vacuum sealed today for four hours. So much turkey.

I have these conversations to entertain myself or whatever as I place turkey roast after turkey roast in the bags and onto the sealer thing (official name unknown).

One such conversation I made up with a boy who I knew when we were eleven/twelve but haven't seen very much of in recent years except for through his sister and sometimes when it so happens that we are both working in the kitchen that his dad manages
Me: I am very close to placing my head in one of these vacuum bags and sealing it. That's how bored I am.
Him: *chuckle*
Me: So suicide jokes are funny to you?
Him: *chuckle*
Me: Yeah, that's what I thought. Also, nice hat.

Anyhow, I'm exhausted. Time for bed in which I hope I don't dream of airtight packed turkey or hairnets gone wrong.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Dog Days are Over

I'm seriously concerned about the quality of the food that has been introduced to my inner digestive tract over the past week or so. I can't remember eating decent food between the hours of 3 pm and 12 am, save for dinner at around 6 pm. To complicate matters, over the past couple of months, my coffee intake has somehow zoomed up from once every couple of weeks to every day. I mean, I realize some people drink coffee multiple times every day but I don't want to be one of them. Unfortunately, I enjoy the taste of coffee. This is a problem because ever since I started Psychology and learned about, like, brain malfunctions, every minute twinge of discomfort in the upper half of my body qualifies as cause for alarm. Therefore, I'm convinced that I'm going to have a heart attack if I continue on like this. My mind jumps immediately to what I ate that day and then I think oh my god at my autopsy everybody is going to know that I am an obese person trapped in a thin person's body. Not that that's a well-kept secret.

I'm not the world's healthiest eater, but it's not usually this bad. I've just been so ridiculously stressed out these past couple of weeks. The few days when I haven't had much due-the-next-day homework I was so out of it that I didn't even take advantage of the opportunity to get a head start on, I don't know, this freaking 100 point Hamlet essay that, as it lies blinking on my computer screen right now, is more akin to a steaming pile of dog defecation* than to an actual coherent essay. I mean, I know I complain that every single rough draft I've ever written sucks (which is mostly true, to be honest) but this one is actually terrible. How can I impart upon you the extent to which this essay sucks? How about an nice excerpt:

"...she clearly cares about Hamlet a lot. Ophelia sounds like she really wants to convince her father that Hamlet is a good man; her use of heavenly similes shows this. Ophelia reports that while she was 'sewing in [her] closet' (which makes her seem very innocent), Hamlet caused her to be 'affrightened' and proceeds to list all of the horrible things that Hamlet did (2.1.85-87). "

Where's your formal -- screw it, intelligent -- language? It's more readable this way. Analysis? Unnecessary. Transitions? Nope, don't need those either. Relevance to thesis!? It's more of a stream-of-consciousness jaunt.

(There is no need to shower me with your "Oh, it's just a jewel in the rough" comments. It sucks. I know. You can't truly appreciate its awfulness unless you read the whole thing, which is um, how can I say this, a tangent of an essay that barely resembles its thesis? Like, it's just a rough draft, so I'll most definitely change, uh, all of it before next Tuesday, but still! It's a travesty. I feel like I'm besmirching the good name of Hamlet.)

Anyway, I think it's a combination of stress eating, sleep-deprivation eating (is that a thing? It is now), and the general hunger that accompanies you into the depths of the night/early morning. My #1 New Years/'s/s' (oh my god, back we are again to the realm of misplaced apostrophes. Already?!) is most definitely to get back into shape. Seriously, I feel gross. Blerg.

Anyhoo, besides all of this lovely regurgitation of pent up anxiety and the fact that I just want to go to sleep boo-hoo-hoo, life has not been treating me too badly as of late. The work I have to do for school is pissing me off, but school itself is keepin' on, as it does. I like some classes, others not so much; it's the same for the days. At any rate, I've only got eight more days of school until winter break so at least there's an end in sight. I hope you all are doing well and I'll see you tomorrow!

* You're welcome for that lovely image.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

forever unfinished?

Lately, I've been starting a lot more blog posts than I've been finishing. I guess this may be some kind of symbolism for my life--but no, I finish things. Things like knitting projects and novels, both written and read. Is the way I spend my time indicative of my priorities or do my priorities indicate how I spend time? And is it possible for me to care about the things I don't commit to spending time on or does the fact that I chose not to spend time on it mean those things aren't important?

I ask so many questions. In this way, I should be producing a blog a day but the thing is, I suppose, that you can only ask so many questions at a time. My opinions on everything lately are half formed, with flimsy arguments and I can't make up anything definitive which is why my blog posts have no endings. Everything really is up for debate or recall. As it grows closer to the end of the year, I feel like I should be coming to a few conclusions about life--something to show for my sixteen and a half years on this planet--but all I do is realize how unstable and foggy my world is. Not in an emo, depressed way but in a 'whoa, the world is so big and I'm so small and I really don't know a thing' way. I still pretend that I do know stuff, though.

There have been some interesting situations in my life recently. My mother, due to working in retail at Christmas time, is a bit more fragile and tired than I'm used to. My friends and I are kind of in some sort of peaceful time, while hostility is directed elsewhere. My Ranger group is having a kind of revolution. My oldest sister is coming back from across the pond in a week and two weeks after that, both my older sisters will be leaving, Caitlyn back to England and Rachel to Calgary. At this point, on January 5th, there will be only three of us in my house (an unimaginable number to me, as I've always been used to a living with a bustling 5-6 people and the loudness that brings) and I will be the oldest child. And I can't help like feeling that everything is going to change. Which, as big a fan as I am of the thing itself, is scary.

Obviously, I've turned to dissecting the lyrics and spending a lot of time on Harry Potter.

Things are so much easier in Harry Potter's world. I mean, yes, he's an orphan and, yes, his life is pretty freaking horrible but there are some pretty clear answers to his problems. There's good and there's evil (only not really in the later books, I guess, as Harry starts to actually grow up). There's a quest to be fulfilled. Harry knows what he wants. Also, Harry doesn't really care what people think of him. He has these great, loyal, fierce friends and he knows who he is. There are no passive aggressive emails or cold silences from supposed friends. When Harry says the wrong thing and hurts someone, it's always understandable whereas I have no excuses for when I act horrible.

And yes, I have been thinking about this way to much.

Maybe one day I'll go back and finish those blog posts. Maybe every draft will one day be published. Maybe we should even have a month next month where we clear up the drafts folder on Raving Persuasions. You guys up for the challenge? How about Draft January? Rather than start fresh, we can go back to the start of all of this and finish each other's incomplete messages. Maybe some blogs have to gestate longer than others.

Or maybe some things can just stay unfinished. There's something immensely satisfying about that in a backwards way. Like a '...' sentence that can trail off and go absolutely anywhere.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Could Watch 3 Hours of Filler and Die Happy


Deathly Hallows: Cons** (I'll try not to be redundant; general agreement to what Alex & Vita have said.)

-- That radio. It's shown, but pointless. No Pottercastwatch? It seemed like it was going to be significant, and then was just abandoned.

-- The animation shift for "The Three Brothers". On the whole it's very Tim-Burtonly-cool-looking, but it made the scene less fluid.

-- Pettigrew survives. Sigh. I don't want to wait until the second movie to see his death. There should be some kind of rule in films with excessive death. Number of good characters dying = number of evil characters dying. Eye for an eye, as they say. . .

-- CGI Dobby, as has been said. Maybe because I like Chamber of Secrets more out of nostalgia, but he just didn't look right.

-- *Incredibly superficial postscript con* Harry with stubble. JUST MAGICK THE HAIR OFF YO DAMN FACE.

-- Everything except everything else I mean seriously come on.

-- The comedy, first and foremost. Especially considering the deathy horrible sobfest Part 2 is bound to be. Everything that made me laugh (E.g. George cheerfully watching Ginny and Harry kiss, De-Polyjuiced Ron kissing that guy's wife, etc.) made me laugh a little more than it should have, just for the sake of breaking the tension.

-- Delicious, delicious filler. The dancing, haircut, all the little tidbits that probably detract from the plot, but are there for the sake of detail. Over the whole course of the movies I like the filler the most. We all *know* that plot is fantastic, but the embellishing is just fun.

-- Verbatim dialogue FTW!

-- The acting, duh. I know these are vague, but they're accurate, and it's late.

* © Rena, must be used with permission.
** Always start with the bad news.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

feels like cheating - a Wednesday treat

"What do you think about social media as providers of useful social skills - is it true? What are these skills and how will they be beneficial once youth move into a more adult world?" 

I've been doing a bit of reading on social skills and youth and social networking sites. And I'm thinking about all of this and asking questions at the tea table and not really delving into it further. I don't know if it's lack of interest or something else but I've pushed it kind of aside. So I suppose this is my way of trying to reinforce my motivation: a blog.

I'm honestly not sure if social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter teach social skills. Well, I'm sure they don't "teach" them. But *can* we learn something by using them? I think the answer to that question is yes because there's some sort of social skill to be learned from any experience. But whether teens actually *do* pick up any skills using Facebook is negotiable.

Both my mom and dad pretty much automatically said no. But I could be misrepresenting this as it was at least a month ago that I brought it up.

"But there has to be something," I said so naively, "There has to be one skill that can be taken away from using Facebook or Myspace or whatever. One beneficial lesson that not everyone will pick up but some will."

With no idea of what that skill could be, though, my argument is flat.

I don't know whether online social networks are more harmful or helpful. But I do think that those kids who already have some sort of social IQ are going to use their online network in a more fulfilling way than the people who aren't already fulfilled IRL. Because email and instant message do hinder us in a lot of ways. As much as I love writing, not everyone can express themselves in empty characters. I hope we don't lose the ability to read tone and expression simply because there's no smiley emoticon to send into the world. 

Anyway, as you can see, I don't have a formed opinion. But this is kind of an assignment and I thought I've give a half assed attempt to ask the question to someone.

Can social media provide social skills to youth that will be useful in our lives and, if yes, what are some examples of those skills?

If you feel like attempting to answer in the comments, I would be grateful, but if not, I will get my responses elsewhere (or cry in my room). Do what you want with your life.

p.s. This article talks about kids reclaiming their private space. Our lives have become so structured with homework and extracurriculars and juggling all kinds of relationships that we struggle to hold onto the space where we can be together without a schedule--online. One of the resources I read that I found interesting. Just wanted to share.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This would've been about Harry Potter

But it isn't, because (the return of the LISTS! Have you missed them? I have. So short, yet so informative.)

1. I've been running halfway up and down the stairs trying to explain the coordinate graphing system to my brother (and subsequently also my mom). Aerobic exercise, being helpful, and testing my ability to paraphrase. These things get increasingly difficult.

2. I'm juggling conspicuous little nips at the shiny flashy Internet between typing a symbolic analysis of Bless Me Ultima. Oh BMU, whenever I feel the need to abbreviate you in my (ineffective) notes, I almost always write BUM. And, you make no sense. I feel guilty over you, BMU, because this has been the first time I--being a reading-oriented nerd--haven't actually read you--being a book assigned for academic assessment--entirely, but am basing my opinions on the fact that I couldn't force myself to get through you. (Oh, second person pronoun. I wish I could quit you.)

3. I want to write a thoughtful post on HP, and am now not quite up to maximum thoughtful/analytical capacity.

Other list of more positive/entertaining yet disjunct things:

1. Uglydancer. Swedish pop music + ENDLESS DANCE = Loads of perfectly wasted time.

2. There's ~5 inches of snow on the ground (voice of never-ending pessimism says: Yes, but it's freezing cold out and everything is turning to ice. Not melting away, not staying untouched snowy wonder. ICE.)

3. Michael Cera (The new millennium's posterchild for adorable awkward nerds), was in Braceface, a Canadian cartoon shown on American television that I remember really liking as a kid despite forgetting everything about the plot now, save the fact that the protagonist wore braces (magic, electrified braces?). The things Wikipedia reveals. . .

4. I got to hassle (by "hassle", I mean passive-aggressively accuse of plagiarism) a fast food chain via Twitter.

What did you do today, everyone? *listens intently in comments*

Friday, December 3, 2010

Small Towns

Perhaps as product of living in the same relatively large suburb for 7/8ths of my life, I have developed this incredible fascination with living in a wilderness town when I'm older.

Okay, not actually a wilderness town, whatever that is. The log-cabin-and-no-neighbors-for-eight-miles-around life is not the life for me. Really, what I want is to transport myself to Stars Hollow (from Gilmore Girls, if you're not familiar), extract that small town/unrealistic banter/quirky yet lovable characters dynamic, and inject it into a leafy-but-not-foresty/coastal/I don't care as long as it's beautiful and surrounded by nature but not in an overtly dangerous way town, bonus points if the residents of said town have Scottish accents.

Not that I'm picky, or anything.

Actually, if you've read Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle, I pretty much want to live in that perfectly snowed-in mountain village. Honestly, I'd be happy if I could just be transported into that actual town every winter. More bonus points if I get to keep the teacup pig.

There's something about small towns -- the ones that aren't overrun by Walmarts and McDonalds and a general sense of streamlined asphalt highways -- that intrinsically fascinates me. I'm probably romanticizing the idea, but all the same, I feel like everything happens in those kinds of towns. Not the huge corporate deals or the making it into the big time but the meeting the people and the growth of some sort of culture that is impossible to replicate. Those are the kinds of places with personality. Yes, that is a dumb saying, seeing as everything has a personality (dull as it may be), but the sentiment still stands.

As Liz Lemon once famously said, I want to go to there.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lookin' Turtlesexy

(What had you said a while back, Alex, about my hooking title phrases? Yeah. Convenient verbal plagiarism.)

Subtitle: NaNoFiMo Is For Mediocrities.*

No excuse, really, except that I wrote over 50 percent of my novel over Thanksgiving break last year, but this year I was loaded down with crap (I feel the need to add in this parenthetical statement that I don't mean this in the literal sense. But you knew that. Most words considered even remotely vulgar fall, quite interestingly, into one of three categories: a.) blasphemous, b.) fecal, or c.) sexual. Oh, taboos, you're funny in the way you don't actually mean anything.), so that fell by the wayside. I also don't have an ending, but whatever. The ongoing state of noveling is more exciting than the one month constraint to me. There's more time to be thoughtful, and there's no time constraint.

Still haven't seen Deathly Hallows, as if anyone who follows me on Twitter didn't already know that. But it's definitely worthwhile to go in a group of likeminded nerds, so what if the likeminded nerds are also all suckish at planning things?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go dig through the Once-Awesome-Cupboard-Under-The-Stairs-That-Is-Now-Filled-With-Crap-Nobody-Wants-To-Clean-Or-Look-At-But-Everyone-Deems-Necessary-To-Keep, to find pictures of excruciatingly specific events my Spanish teacher assumes everyone has. My family is not a very photo-taking-ish bunch, or at least they haven't been since the late 90s. It's my fault, I confess. Anyone know how to say, "I look homicidal because I was forced to wear a skirt" in Spanish?

* Thing I learned today: "Mediocrities" is the plural for people who are mediocre. I didn't know there was a noun to describe us.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Grocery Antics

Due to my employment at a natural foods grocery store for the past three months, I have a few new problems. I shall list first and explain second.

  1. Identity crisis
  2. Burgeoning obsessive compulsive disorder.
  3. Crazy muscles 
  4. Money
Okay so maybe the last two aren't problems, so to speak. But they are realities.

To address the first item, not everyone at work calls me Alex. My full name is Alexandra and I put this name on my resume and other formal documents which led to my nametag reading Alexandra. And that's fine. I don't have a problem with the name and there was a point in my life when I wanted to be called Alexandra, despite it being a mouthful of letters. Even though I introduce myself as Alex to everyone, there are a few people who call me Alexandra because that it what my nametag says. That's fine.

For a while though, my immediate manager (I have a few managers but this one is the grocery manager which is my department) has been calling my Alexandria. And that has been weird. 

You know when people call you by the wrong name or pronounce your name wrong and it feels weird to correct them and you don't want to make them feel like an idiot so you don't say anything and then every time they do it in the future, you let them because if it was awkward the first time, it gets extremely so to say anything and then two months pass and you're finally like, 'Okay, enough, this is ridiculous. I have to to something.' It got to the point where another person started calling me Alexandria too even though I had him on my side before. He was brainwashed. My name on the schedule is Alexandria. And so I finally told the first guy.

His reaction was weird. All I said was, "You can call me Alex if you want," and then he had this weird expression on his face that I cannot logically explain. Since then, he has still been calling my Alexandria. So I'm giving up.

My sisters and I are constantly joking about all of this. Pretty soon, I'm going to think my name is, in fact, Alexandria. I was very close to writing it on the yogurt I put in the staff fridge. Very close.

to be continued when I have the time (i.e. after NaNoWriMo--almost done!)

Friday, November 26, 2010


I’ve written two entire blog posts. They’ve both been reasonably well developed and reasonably well written. Neither of them is flat-out negative.

But they still seem too negative, given the season, given today, given everything. Lately, hasn’t it been so difficult just to be happy? Everything comes with strings attached.

Well, happiness shouldn’t be like that. Happiness is love in the air that everyone breathes in.

So, why am I happy?

I’m happy that I have a wonderful nuclear family and a pretty damn great extended family, even if by “extended family” I mean “the extended family that I know,” which mostly involves my grandparents and a few aunts and uncles.

I’m happy that my sister is home from college until Sunday and that she’ll be back home again in less than a month.

I’m happy that I have friends. I’m happy that I have friends that make me happy. I’m happy that I have friends who I may disagree with, theologically or politically or musically or whatever-ly, and yet I’m still friends with them and I don’t think any less of them. I’m happy that I know it’s possible so that I will still have those kinds of diverse relationships when I’m older. I’m happy that I’m realizing that people aren’t linear and that there are always new opportunities to become friends with people. I’m happy that there are always new friends to be made.

I’m happy that I’m making a conscious effort to be more positive.

I’m happy that I started my homework on a Friday night.

I’m happy that I went out earlier today.

I’m happy that I’m seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows again on Sunday.

I’m happy that I’ve decided to become the person I want to be. I’m happy that I might actually stick to that plan this time around.

I’m happy that I have food and water and a warm, cozy bed.

I’m happy that I’ve discovered that I love to help people. I’m happy that I’ve decided to actively pursue that passion in the future.

I’m happy that books still exist in print form. I’m happy that no matter how that may change in the future, the brilliance and poignancy and quality of great writers’ minds won’t deteriorate in the future.

I’m happy that I’m wearing fingerless gloves to keep my hands simultaneously toasty warm and free to move about.

I’m happy that I’m part of this blog and that I have two wonderful blogging buddies. I’m happy that this blog has become a part of my life, as cheesy as that may sound (no pressure).

I'm happy that many people, especially Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor, make music.

I’m happy that 30 Rock exists.

I’m happy that a lot of things exist, including but not limited to: Youtube, wizard rock, houses, music, education, vaccines, fainting goats, and cheesecake from the Chinese bakery semi-near my house.

I’m happy that even though I popped a tire on my family’s car today, nobody was hurt and the damage was easily fixed.

I’m happy that I get to go to school, flaws and all. I’m happy that I have an opportunity to learn, because even when the system is broken, it’s better than no system at all. I’m happy that literacy is being spread.

I’m happy that the Christmas season is either soon to arrive or already here, depending on your opinion and your feelings towards Christmas music before December.

I’m happy that even though my life is far from perfect, I have the ability and the means to work up up up.

I’m happy that even though the world sucks, our lives are still worth living.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hopefully Formed Thoughts On Deathly Hallows part 1

If you're expecting me to be spoiler free, you are sadly mistaken. I have opinions, you know. So yeah, this is pretty SPOILERIFIC. Proceed with caution.

To preface this, and it's not entirely unrelated--just mostly, it's been snowing on and off here for the last week. It started on the way to the Deathly Hallows midnight release at about 7:30. Then it seemed to go away. Then I went camping (yes, in a tent) and it snowed some more. That time it stayed and now it's snowing more. Yay?

Now, I know I live in Canada and we're supposed to live in igloos and ride polar bears to school. And I know I lived in Ontario until I was 8 and this weather is normal there but in Vancouver, BC... it's not. Normal. Its weird. We maybe get snow once or twice a winter and it usually turns to slush the next day, killing snowmen and making drivers everywhere breath a sigh of relief. Fortunately, it's supposed to rain tonight and maybe this situation will be resolved.

But seriously, these highs of -2°C (I did the math for you Americans, that's 28° F) and lows of -8 (17° F)? Not cool. I'm so cold and I hate going outside. Except maybe today when my mom tells me it's less freezing and the snow is coming down all prettily. Maybe I'll go outside today...

***In the time of these stars, I went outside, came back inside, went outside again and shoveled people's sidewalk. I like shovelling.***

I really liked DH part 1. I thought it was beautifully done and probably the most true to the book movie save for the first two. Regardless, I have to start with the PROBLEMS I had with it. I have narrowed down my discrepancies to just three major ones. Who is proud of me?

  1. I felt like in the movie, they really ignore Harry's faltering relationship with Dumbledore. I find that a huge theme in the book is him really losing trust in the one man that has always been a sense of certainty to him. He always believed in Dumbledore and thought he knew what he was doing. In J.K.'s book, you really see Harry struggling with this trust as he finds out that Dumbledore isn't the perfect man Harry thought he was. He's flawed and had a past that he never shared with Harry as well as a whole bunch of Voldemort-killing details that he didn't feel like letting Harry in on. That really hurts. In the second half of the book, he comes to terms with this and kind of accepts Dumbledore and decides to continue trusting, despite it all. I really enjoyed seeing Harry take a magnificent step forward in his emotional journey, so to speak. And they pretty much glossed over it in the film. I'm hoping they'll reopen it in part 2 but I'm currently learning to live with the disappointment.
  2. It seemed too easy. I thought they did a great job of showing how emotionally hard it was on all of the characters, with the fear and straining relationships and such, but physically, it was all brushed over. In the book, it takes them a month to plan their invasion of the Ministry. In the movie? A split second jump cut and here we are. They never touched on what they were eating when camping and how starving they all were. It seemed too easy. And I realize there are time constraints on this but I thought the point of having two parts of the book was so it didn't feel like every other second we were jumping to a new scene. There was such great pacing and I loved how they kept the story moving along every moment but sometimes it felt a bit rushed to me. Lastly for this, where was Voldemort? Voldy was supposed to be on his way to Godric's Hollow and was supposed to see them disappearing out the window. That is dramatic. Why did they cut it? He was also on his way to get Harry in the Malfoy Manor scene but whatever. I guess these things aren't that important but it makes it scarier and more immediate.
  3. There were some really interesting continuity issues. I know it's not as big a deal for us book nerds who can fill in the blanks with the knowledge we have from years of pouring over the thick volumes but if I was purely a movie watcher, I would be baffled at times. I'm talking about things like the shard of mirror never being explained, the invisibility cloak never being brought out, Phineas Nigellus's picture frame never being mentioned. I mean, come now, how are they going to explain how Snape knew they were in the forest of Dean? Like... what??!? Also, no taboo? How did the Death Eaters/Snatchers find them? Stuff like that simply bugged me. J.K. gave them such an amazing web of interlocked details and information to follow and I feel like in some areas they just decided to try and strike out on their own, to no avail. There's a lesson here for film makers everywhere. But I am not a filmmaker and I understand how naive it is to simply say "stick to the book," no matter how tempting.
With all of that said, I was minorly upset when Dudley did not get his moment to say his bit about how Harry wasn't a waste of space. I was hoping I'd see that but I guess I'll get over it being cut. I was also sad that Kreacher lost his story but I'm over it, too.

  1. Dobby. I don't really care about his graphics or any of that but I thought his lines were hilarious and touching and sweet. "Dobby, you mean you can apparate in and out of here?" "Of course, Harry Potter, sir. I'm an elf." (or something along those lines) I didn't cry the first time I saw it because I was wearing mascara and it wasn't waterproof. I did cry the second time around.
  2. The dancing scene. I can see why some people would have thought it was fluffy, annoying and unnecessary (or is that just my dad) but I thought it was adorable and incredibly important.
  3. The trio, especially Ron. I was really impressed with all of them.
  4. The Ministry scene. Even though the jump cut that eliminated all their efforts planning it, I thought it was incredibly well acted, as Vita said. I totally believed it.
  5. Hedwig. For a minute, I convinced myself they wouldn't kill her in the movie, but I was glad she didn't have to die in a cage.* 
  6. Harry seeing his parents graves. It's weird but I never really thought about how hard life is for Harry, being parentless. He's such a good sport and doesn't dwell on it that much so I never really have. And it was sad to watch.
I've been working on this way too long. I need to publish. *hovers mouse over orange button*

p.s. Does anyone find tacking on that 'part 1' awkward? It's so weird to me. I keep seeing these 'Deathly Hallows part 1 reaction' type things and thinking, 'There's going to be a second part to this 10 minute long reaction? What?'Anyway...

*As my sister so eloquently said, "Hedwig got what she deserved.   ... That sounded really terrible. I didn't mean it like that."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Deathly Hallows Excitement

I intended to post this yesterday, honestly... but then I took a "short nap" at 3 pm and woke up twelve hours later, so that didn't happen.

WARNING: this is a review of Deathly Hallows, so if you haven't seen the movie, DO NOT READ THIS. SPOILERS. THANK YOU.

You know how there are some stories that nobody seems to care about? You tell one person, then two more people, and even though everyone responds with the same blasé "wow, that was fascinating..." snort, you feel compelled to keep relating that story over and over because somebody somewhere will appreciate you for it?

I embodied that personality yesterday at school. People would ask me what I thought of the movie. After the expected verbal explosion of praise and "I'm not going to spoil it for you but YOU HAVE TO SEE IT NAO"-ness, I'd say, "It was sooooooo good, but the two people I went with were sobbing through the whole thing and then this girl on the other side of me was either sick (she said she had a fever) or crying and I was just sitting in the middle not crying and surrounded by misery."

I think that was my way of coming to terms with the irrational sense of guilt I feel for not crying... at all... during Deathly Hallows. As I've said before, Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books of all time and I expected to start sobbing from the moment Hermione Obliviates her parents' memories (like my friend Faye, bless her). That didn't happen. I genuinely loved the movie; it's absolutely the best one so far (other than Sorcerer's Stone, which I adore primarily for sentimental reasons). Come to think of, though, I can't remember crying until the last few chapters of the book. It's been a few years since I first read it, of course, so maybe I broke down earlier than that. Sobbing while Harry uses the Resurrection Stone, that's what I remember. Love the book. Love the movie. Love them. Didn't cry. I know that doesn't make me a bad fan; it would have been nice, though. It sounds weird to say that you wish you had cried, but sometimes crying makes you feel better, you know? Ahh. Weird. Anyway...

Good things: (Basically the entire movie, so I shall list just a few of the highlights:)

- Bellatrix. Helena Bonhem Carter toned it down a little for Deathly Hallows -- AWESOME. She wasn't quite as WAHHHHHH I'M A CRAZAAY MOTHA EFFAH; it was more of a calm, collected crazy/evil with crazy explosions inserted at appropriate intervals , which was so good. I'm so happy with her!

- Hermione/Bellatrix torture scene. Emma Watson is most skilled at screaming.

- The trio's relationships with each other. I could rave about it for years, but everything was perfect -- they didn't seem like actors playing the trio, they felt like *the trio,* which has never really happened before.

- The trio in general. They've all gotten so much better at acting! Ron/Rupert Grint had a chance to actually have emotions other than vague befuddlement and he totally pulled it off.

- The dialogue. There were so many lines lifted directly from the books! And when new dialogue was added, it almost always seemed totally appropriate.

- Snape. He was in it only very briefly and those few seconds/minutes were breathtaking. I loved how even though he was still very stonefaced (as he should be) he managed to convey his conflicted emotions without ever cracking a smile or crying or whatever. Alan Rickman is going to kick so much ass in Part 2.

- The adult actors during the Ministry scenes. Their facial expressions and movements and everything were so perfect that, as my other friend commented, "I had to keep reminding myself that they were adult actors, not the trio in disguise."*


- Kreacher and RAB: they cut out the entire back story! I realize that the story would have done little to advance the film's plot and probably would have been lost on the general movie-going audiences, but SAD TIMES nonetheless.

- Dobby's appearance. This is a hugely superficial complaint, be warned: he didn't look real. Huge improvement over Chamber of Secrets, but he still looked, well, fake. I guess it's because I'm so used to seeing HUGE REALISTIC EXPLOSIONS that I forget that it's still hella hard to create CGI humans (or human-esque creatures). Nevertheless, his personality was perfect and I'm generally pleased with his character.

- Ron didn't try to escape from the jail at Malfoy Manor. Definitely not detrimental to the film, but the moments when he throws himself at the walls trying to get to Hermione (in the book) tears your own heart out and throws that at the walls, too. (It's worth noting that Hermione/Ron interactions elsewhere were excellent, though).

* I got the phrasing wrong, but she said something to that effect. Technically. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In which a young woman rants

*sounds of intense frustration fill the air around my mouth*
*fingers pound keys as if the letters are to blame*
*glares are sent in the general direction of American Republican senators*
Yeah, that's right, I'm looking at you guys. (not you guys, Vita and Rena, those guys. Just clarifying.)

I had something else planned for today's blog. I'm not sure what it was but if it was organized and formulated, it's gone now. It has been replaced and drowned out by the news my mother told me over breakfast that yesterday there were a whole bunch of idiots sitting in their fancy suits and voting, under the guise of representing what the American people want, about whether or not women should be paid fairly. And they ended up saying, "You know what guys? Let's not pay women the same amount of money that we pay men for doing THE SAME JOB. Let's put our foot down on equality and revert to the same unjust principles we had before. Let's put women back in the kitchen, where they belong, and pretend none of this 'fairness' ever happened. Sound cool?"

I'm not American. But I am mad. And not only at those Republicans who will vote how they're told and try to eliminate the equality that the rest of us are fighting for. I'm past being mad at them. No, I'm angry because when I checked my email this morning, I was not bombarded with news stories about this horrible event. I'm disappointed that there's no Twitter trends to reflect how plain wrong this is. I'm aghast that I'm not hearing about women rioting in the street all over America right now. Why aren't there more hits when I Google this incident?

Does no one care? Are we that ready to hand over those 23 cents for every dollar* we make? Are we that prepared to go back to ironing and keeping quiet and letting men speak for us?

Next thing you know, they're going to be telling women we can't vote anymore. Will we all raise our fists then?

I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop thinking about 58 people who have mothers and sisters and wives and daughters and who could actually vote against what is fair. I can't stop imagining how anyone could justify taking that fairness away. To prove they could? This is appalling.

And so I write out this blog, screaming these frustrated words into the internet because this can't be real. Do I really live in a world where a government actively takes rights away from women? Can this actually be happening? The scary truth is that it is real and it is happening.

On one hand, I'm in despair, hopeless for this failed attempt at human consciousness. What is one thing we humans have got right? Maybe we should be dissolving, making way for a worthwhile species to inhabit this planet.
On the other hand, I'm wondering what we're going to do about it. Maybe this will be the moment when we get to define ourselves. Something that pulls us together and snaps us out of our apathy. This could be our time.

As I said, I'm not an American. I am a woman, though, and I am affected by this. I'm also enraged and this blog is only a tiny step but it's the first of many. I'm urging every one of you who is reading this to get furious. Speak up, talk to your friends, family and acquaintances, call your politicians. We are allowed to be ANGRY.

This isn't fair and I decided a long time ago that I was going to stop taking it. We, and not just women but everyone, need to put our foot (feet?) down. And this is the sound of my own sock foot hitting the floor of my dining room. Metaphorically.

What does your foot sound like?

p.s. It's funny this happened the day before the midnight release of Harry Potter. I find it fitting, really. Honestly, if there's one theme (other than love) that rings through in the Harry Potter series, isn't it about equality? Isn't it that we're all worthy of rights, whether we're Muggles, Muggleborns, or the spawn of known Muggle/Muggleborn haters? Hasn't Jo said a thousand times that we need to promote, protect and fight for our fairness? There's something in that.

*That's an average of $10,000 dollars a year that each woman makes less than a man of the same profession.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wilderness Survival

I collect keychains. In truly masterful procrastinator form, I decided to sort through them before doing anything pertinent to schoolwork. (Because, you see, the cloth zipper-pull-thing from bag in which I haul textbooks--VERY important, school-wise--has fallen off, and if I replace it NOW with something, in the long run I'll save myself time trying to grab at the leftover metal ring. This makes total sense. And I'm avoiding writing a narrative for English.*)

Most of these can be categorized into one of the following:

-- Cartoon characters (from when I was about eight years old, and looking for an excuse to hoard things. Pop culture + time = Important pieces of history)

-- Free promotional things, with the names of banks/car dealerships and the like.

-- Miscellaneous SHINY TRINKETS.

-- Tiny versions of useful objects:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I could use them. And about 22,000 more.
(If the picture is of crappy, vampiric quality, they are [L-R] (this feels so professionally photographic now): a thermometer, flashlight, comb, watch, compass/thermometer/whistle, and a bottle opener.)

So yeah. If I'm ever stranded somewhere with nothing but my stash of knickknacks on my person, I am set for life.

On an unrelated note, I've started listening to Christmas music. The cheer is simply inescapable.

* I'm already writing a narrative. Screw your predetermined educational topics, curriculum.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Look Ma, I is growin'!

Speak Now
"'Cause twirling is my thing."
I don't know what your feelings are on Taylor Swift. I think I may have talked about her in at least one of my blogs on here in the last last year and a half (!). Anyway she's released a new album recently and I have kind of been obsessively listening to it for the past three days. I think it's really good and I love how I feel like I've seen Taylor Swift grow over the past couple years. She's like my far off friend who I have a small amount of contact with and I love her because she's a hopeless romantic who is always falling in and out of love. And she's sweet but I hate how much she can pine over guys and I feel like I know her but I don't really.

It's like I get to watch her change and evolve from afar without actually knowing what's going on in her life.

When I was at a friend's this weekend and we were sitting around her kitchen table and singing along to Taylor Swift's songs, some new and some old, she said to me "I thought you hated this song."
I seriously didn't know what to say. Fancy though. I replied after a second that I sing along to all of them but it unsettled me. I didn't know if it was an accusation or just a confused outburst or what.

I thought about it. For the next ten minutes, I considered myself hating the song*, what that meant and why I gave such a strong impression that I disliked it that much. But the actual thing I realized was not about the song but just about the fact that in the past year since my outburst**, I've changed a lot. What previously might have been hate has turned into casual indifference and a lingering sadness that some of us feel helpless to seize the reality we want. And while twelve months ago, her comment might have really bothered me with its judgmental tone and implications, today I can calmly leave those hurt feelings at the door and move on.

The other thing about her album is that, on her website, she posts a small bit of back story on each song. It's not extremely specific, she doesn't say which song is about Taylor Lautner (though she didn't really have to), but it clears some things up. I'm torn about the idea of this because as addicting as it is to listen to the song while reading the lyrics and then get her explanation afterwards, it takes the song away from me, the listener. Because if John Green is right and books belong to their readers, don't songs belong to their listeners? Shouldn't a piece of music be about whatever you feel when you listen to it? When the musician actually gives you a play by play of what emotions are expressed in their music, I feel like it not only takes the listener out of the music but kind of dumbs us down, like we're not intelligent enough to figure out what the song means on our own.

But that's just me, the girl who, about fourteen months ago, seemed to hate a couple of Taylor Swifts songs.
I'm mostly undecided now. About a lot of things. But Taylor and I are growing together. Her songs and my blogs are a pretty good record, I think.

*which I believe was Teardrops on My Guitar and, if you're interested in my opinion, I simply think it's sad that a girl would spend so much time and energy wishing that a boy would see her in a romantic light. It's just so sad and I can't help feeling like she's indulging the feeling by spending more time to write songs and sing about it. But I'm unforgiving and I guess if she needs to let those feelings out publicly, she can feel free.
**So there was a rant in which I complained that she is pathetic and slightly cowardly and she should move on or say something to this guy. I suppose this could have left some people to believe I hated the song. What I really hated though is what the songs stands for which [in my humble opinion] is standing by and waiting for things to happen to you rather than actively being the leading lady of your own life. I hate the idea that girls have to let things happen to them, especially romantically, rather than take control of their situations and act. And maybe that's why I get so passionate about it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Is it sad or fulfilling that it's 10:37pm and I'm exhausted?
Today was a day of firsts for me. Well, a lot of days are but this one particularly. I'm into lists lately in case you haven't noticed.

    Scary Tornado of Fury Maker

  • It was the first time I had to entertain sixty 5-7 year olds for an hour with nothing but hula hoops and a repertoire of campfire songs that NO ONE WANTED TO SING. Still a bit angry about that.
  • It was the first day of my NaNoWriMo experience in which I did not reach that day's projected word count.* I should have had 18,337 words today and I have 16,829. Weirdest part is I mostly don't care.
  • It was the first day of being older than 16 and a half. Yeah, that's right, November 10th is my half birthday and I celebrated by eating a half a bagel.**
  • It was the first day that I had to push a car. Yes, I'm serious. Picture two teenage girls in a dark, serial killer movie set, parking lot with cloth bags full of groceries that they are taking to a cooking competition and then they get in the car and it won't start. So they don't know what to do but notice that the car has been rolling due to the emergency brake not being on. They get out and must push the car back into the parking spot that it is not in anymore, only they're laughing so hard about the ridiculous situation and orange lighting that they don't get much progress. Then the car miraculously starts on the next try and they drive away smiling. Yes, my friend has a car. That's what you get when you hang out with older people and their parents give them cars.***
  • I used on one of those vertical hand mixer things. Apparently, they're not good for whipping mousse, hence the "Chocolate a la Alex" (i.e. melted chocolate in lukewarm whipping cream). 
  • My feet smell. I guess that's not a first but it's definitely valid.
I'm going to bed now. It's been an interesting day of parades and poppies and cooking experiments gone wrong. And my feet don't just smell, they also hurt. Standing gets tough after a while.

VITA, You're welcome for the blog. It took me way to long to write so I'm glad you got some enjoyment. I may have come up with some new theories in the meantime that negate my epiphanies but that's a blog for another day. Also, good luck swimming the tide, or whatever that phrase is. I'm not a fan of the ocean, either. Unless it's the Caribbean. Though then there's sharks.

RENA, I LIKE YOUR EXCERPT. Not sure what's up with the ALL CAPS. But, um, yeah, you have some good banter going on there and it's very frank and fun to read. I lol'ed.

*By this, I don't mean that it was the first day of NaNoWriMoing that I didn't write 1,667 words--there've been plenty of those. I mean it's the first day that I wasn't ahead of the total word count and that is because I wrote exactly 40 words today.
**And then the other half of the bagel.
***Unfortunately, driving laws in BC decree that she may only drive one person outside of her family unless there is a fully licensed driver over 25 in the vehicle. So, she can drive to my house and pick me up but if my older sister, Rachel, is coming, Rachel has to drive because I am her family and she can drive me plus one (the one being my friend with the car). Crazy laws.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Treat

Novel excerpt time! I am being simultaneously brave and lazy in doing this, because I have little more to say than an uninteresting, disjunct series of thoughts about things no one other than me cares about (e.g: There's a beetle crawling around in my lampshade, buzzing and near-death. It's annoying.), but also because I think this is the one part of my novel that is good (not the very beginning, but the start of the things that actually matter, i.e introduction of the male main character.) I know it shouldn't be good without my having edited it, but that's why I only have 2,444 words total, I edit as I write. Must stop this practice. Without further ado, 776 fictitious words I have written in the past 4 or so days:

A blurry, haloed-looking figure comes toward me, tall and lanky, the only other person here my age, most likely. At first I think it might be Jane, my only other close friend, come to drag me to the movie theater or to see some oddly shaped leaf on the other side of the park. But it’s a boy. His skin is pale but lightly pockmarked with either acne or nicks from shaving, or both. His wide, feminine lips are spread into a smile, and he strides over as if I am just the person he wants to see. His hair is dark and ruffled, like it’s been slept on. His eyes, too, look sleepy and heavy lidded, and are a candy-like shade of brown. Suddenly I want to rip his irises out and covet them like a rare Halloween prize. My use of flowery adjectives is enough to make me want to kick myself, but he captivates my thought processes so. I can’t help but wonder if he is thinking of comparatively sappy ways to describe me. I mentally scan myself: short, pale, wire-rimmed glasses in front of swampy-colored eyes, waist-length hair the dark reddish-brown of an old scab (a burden in August, but it’s all I can do to loosen the curls that made me my mother’s little Annie in childhood, only fully Rhiannon in times of serious trouble). I am staring at him so intently that I don’t realize he has stopped in front of me and is staring back. At a rather downward angle.
“Can I help you?”, I say sarcastically.
“No. I came over here because you looked sad. And you have nice boobs.”, he responds, now looking me in the eyes. If I had fully comprehended this statement I would have blushed, but I am unmoved.
“Honesty is the best policy, right?” I laugh weakly, continuing my attempt at humor, “I fully expect you to now humbly admit your burning desire to steal my virginity.” He sits on an empty swing between me and two young girls. “In front of the children.”, I add.
“Exactly, m’lady. Though I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance for the merest of minutes, obtaining your body for sex--whether you be willing or conscious or neither--is now my ultimate goal in life. I must have you, you saucy tease.”, he soliloquizes loquaciously with a light English inflection. I am unable to decide whether to laugh or be flattered or slap him or take his face in my hands and caress it the way one would handle an abused eagle. I want to touch it.
I search his face for signs of sexual advance, but I find only mischief, not malice. My face cracks as I try to stifle a snort, but I continue the banter with exaggerated English dignity, “Ooh, I am overcome by your passion. But, dear sir, we mustn't! The townsfolk would think me a rather unsavory tart.” He laughs and takes off swinging. I won the unspoken competition of not laughing whilst sounding ridiculous (was it even a competition to him? Is he so naturally deadpan? Being deadpan is hard, but I still won. Small victories. . .), and follow his lead in a fit of giggles. I’m not a giggly person, but I doubt he’ll call me out on it. If he does, I can blame the heat. The preparation feels good, considering this is the farthest I have ever been romantically. It’s like a condom for thoughts: always have some way to back out. For a moment I am almost delirious with happiness, my head tilts back to see the sky whirling back and forth in my line of vision. The swing was poorly timed; I go back as he goes forward.
“Did you really just make a tart pun?”, he shouts in an unaccented voice.
“Yeah.”, I call back, “What of it, you--you, you BOOB STARER you?!” I’m near hysterics and stuttering. I should really get to know his name. Had he said I looked sad earlier? Wistful, maybe, but not sad. The fact that he cares scares me, even more than the possibility of sexual harassment. This might be what love feels like--the creepy type of love with an unknowable possibility of requital. On the one hand I so desperately crave romantic love, because it is love that happens by choice, not a relative love that happens by obligation. It’s like saying to another person, “I love you for who you are, not for your genetics.”, which is a powerful implication, and an implication I feel I will never deserve.

**I use way too many hyphenated words.**

Monday, November 8, 2010

even after a hiatus, i manage to complain about homework

Whoa. It's only been fifty bajillion years, jeeze.

I haven't been feeling motivated lately. My school workload comes in waves, right, and with everything else that's been going on, I'm just working to swim with the tide, or whatever you're supposed to do in that sort of situation.

(Why yes, I am the type of person who is not-so-irrationally convinced that wading deeper than standing level in the ocean = certain death. Thanks for asking.)

Like, I get so adamant about needing JUST ONE DAY OFF but then I get a day off and all I want to do is sleep and shit. It's unfortunate. Plus, I'm frustrated at myself about a whole lot of things that I would love to share but cannot given that the internet is not, as it were, a private location. And then there's The Laramie Project -- which is wonderful in the sense that it is extremely well-performed and a damn good piece of theater but is terrible in the sense that it snips, snips, snips away at your heartstrings before straight up punching you in the lungs -- consuming half my life and I'm not even acting in it.

Hello, when did this turn into my own personal diary? Focus. Focus.

ALEX, thank you for that lovely well-thought-out post about NaNoWriMo. Thumbs up on the achievements thus far and I salute you for the rest of the journey, soldier.

RENA, also thumbs up on the NaNoWriMo achievements thus far and I salute you as well. Also: agree about the bang situation. Why does that section of one's hair always grow infinitely more slowly than the rest of one's hair?

As for myself, well, if I go into that now I'm just going to complain more -- and I very much would like to stop complaining* -- so let's just say that I'm dubious about my ability to, yet determined to, finish by the end of the month.** I'll update you on Friday.

I must go and memorize Europe now (just Europe... all of it) and then perhaps host a Unit Circle after-party, starring myself and Trigonometry.

I LOVE Europe circa 1715

(Man, you can't see it in that picture, but the middle of Europe gets CRAYCRAY. It's gotten cramped to the point where I can only read what I've written because I know what it's supposed to be. The slightly waxy colored pencils don't help with the pen-writing, either (I'm lookin' at you, Crayola). And I still have to add seven things to it tomorrow because they're not on my atlas -- why are you such a failure of a map, H-26 of the Historical Atlas of the World? --and, yeah, memorize it. Fun times are being had at this household.)

* A life-long quest, it would seem, but I'm actually determined to not complain at all tomorrow
** Let's ignore the horrendous grammatical structure of that sentence and move on

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week 1: Success?

I know, I know, I did a NaNo post on Thursday and I need to find something else to talk about but no, no I won't. Because a) It's still November and I've had some pretty big epiphanies this week that I haven't shared yet and b) I have tips which you may or may not need/find useful.
Therefore, this comes to you in two parts.

Part 1 - Epiphanies
Within this part are two parts. Cue bullet points:

  • Epiphany #1: Just write. 
They tell you this when you read the NaNo intro page and in every peptalk. You could recite it all back, Quantity, not quality. But you can read it as much as you want. Until you accept that you are not going to get 100% on the first try, you will be disappointed. And as much as I would love for you to come away from this paragraph and say, "Wow, Alex really convinced me. I have to write stuff like 'He said, she said, I scratched my head, they raised their eyebrows' and use it as practice," I know you won't. It's a personal thing and I cannot, try as I might, shove it into your brain. 

I won't hide that I had a really hard time re-accepting it this year. I'd written my first novel and been trying to edit it for the past year.* I knew the brutal truth: at the end of nanowrimo, you have a bloody, somewhat horrifying (but beautiful and fulfilling) thing that, after extensive editing, might someday resemble a novel. There are really, really good parts. There are also really, really bad parts. 
For 2010, I wanted to write something better. I wanted to be artistic and thoughtful, like John Green. I wanted my words to paint beautiful images and feelings, like Cassie Clare. I wanted to be "perfectly paced and brilliantly plotted," like Suzanne Collins. Hence the psyche out. I expected way too much of myself.
It was only after I gave myself back that permission to write three pages of back story and an extended paragraph to describe each character that I started to enjoy it again And I know that that back story is chunky and poorly written and won't make it into the final draft but I wrote it and I know three pages more about my character now then I did before and that, my friends, is not a waste of time.

Only you can give yourself permission to use this month as extended practice. Your practice doesn't have to be good at all--think back to learning to write a capital 'G' in cursive**. Don't call it a first draft, even. Call it a zero draft or a really long outline. Just know that if you don't write it, you won't write it. So think about granting that permission. It's worth it (and you'll have to trust me on that).
  • Epiphany #2: Do what works [for you] (this one'll be shorter, I promise)
I started off on November 1st with past tense even though I wanted to try present. Why? 1. I went to a writers conference where more than one person told me that present tense is distracting and a lot of people don't like it so stick to past until you really know what you're doing. AND 2. I was worried I wouldn't be able to pull it off.

I wrote four chapters in past tense and then, after nearly 10k, decided to switch. I was feeling it and it was so invigorating, I can't even tell you. I don't even care if it sucks. That's how enjoyable it was to write.

Lesson? Do whatever you want. I don't care if the world thinks vampire romances or bad boys with daddy issues are played out. Your novel isn't about what the world thinks. It's about what you want to write. This is your chance to rebel. Write whatever you want because if you don't want to write it, you won't enjoy it. And I happen to like misunderstood bad boys with daddy issues. It's hot. Class dismissed.

Part 2 - Tips
I'm not the most qualified person to be handing out writing advice but I will anyway.
  • Inflate your head.
If you write something that you're really proud of it, don't be modest. Be anything but modest. You're going to  write a lot that's less than noteworthy so if you churn out something you really like, cling to it, brag about it, smile to yourself and think about what a genius you are. If you're brave, post it on your blog. YOU ARE A GREAT WRITER. Get with the program.
  • Write Chapter 8
You do not need to be linear. I got stuck on Friday because I didn't know what happened next or maybe I did but I didn't want to write it. Instead of beating my head on my desk, however, I hit enter twice, typed Chapter 8 (my last chapter had been 4, by the way) and started in on a scene (and if you don't have a scene in mind, start with an emotion). I don't know where it started or where it was going but that's a good scene and you can read it here: 
  • Don't stress it.
You probably don't need to be told this but just don't, kay? If it's not working and it's not working, it's not working. Do something else, or write something else or something. But don't force it. That's no fun. And we could all use some reminding that this, above all, is about fun. It's about a love for writing and a challenge.

That is all.

*That's really hard. Editing is when you get to figure out just how broken your writing is and try to fix it. What I'd found out is that my 2009 NaNo isn't great. It's not bad, per se, and it doesn't make me violently ill but it's not as fantastic as I thought it was as I wrote it. Which is fine with me, actually.
**Am I the only one who had a really hard time with that?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Anecdotes 'n' Odds 'n' Ends

-- I owe about half of my novel to the NaNoWriMo forums' characterization game. For this I am eternally grateful, even though the question was seemingly so insignificant*. My word count is lagging (the main problem being I had no beginning, just random scenes in the middle I've yet to get to. Though I suppose I could write them out of order and just fill in, which would be quicker), but at least I've managed to write every day.

-- Today is the first day of the fall I've worn slippers. I missed you, slippers.

-- I love Daylight Savings time dearly. So what if it's dark out at 5 in the afternoon (evening? when does afternoon end and evening begin)? 5 p.m. doesn't concern me much. 6 a.m. does. SLEEP. Another on the growing list of Reasons I Love Benjamin Franklin.**

-- The "b" key on my keyboard is sticking. Not beyond the point of usability, but just enough to require and extra amount of pressure to work and an unpleasant cracking noise when it does.

-- Instead of devoting myself to noveling and ignoring the written works of others altogether, I've become more ravenous for/in awe of books, now that I understand how hard they are to actually write. In addition to rereading Deathly Hallows (as is my personal tradition before the release of the movie. . . though I guess it'd save some time if I only reread the first half. . .), I'm reading books I've put off but wanted to read.*** Being a nerd is so time-consuming sometimes.

-- Random question: Was the subject of Hermione Granger's attractiveness ever described after Goblet of Fire (the book)? Emma Watson is, of course, fantastically talented; and the film industry rightly assumes that moviegoers enjoy looking at attractive people, but as a bushy-haired nerd girl myself I've always held some resentment over this book v. film deviation. I got bangs when I was seven specifically to look like Hermione (silly child, so easily influenced by the media. . .), loved them for a few months, and then spent years growing them out.****

-- Within the context of my novel, my knowledge of late-1980s-model RVs is sadly lacking. To Wikipedia!

* "What do you wear to bed?" I only had two main characters developed at that point, but the answers were hard to come up with. I decided on "Whatever is clean and comfortable, with socks year-round." and "Nothing at all, ladies. However, if you'd like to apply for the position. . ." Thus, CHARACTERIZATION. And innuendo is fun to write.

** Joke title with serious prospects. May post later.

*** The Mortal Instruments Trilogy, among others. City of Bones is so good I am jealous.

**** Do not ever do this it takes so freaking long.