Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nerd History

So I'm making a blog-response (because this is too long for Youtube comments, I can't make video responses, and I need a topic/would like to discuss this with y'all in comments...) to Kayley's video. In it, if you haven't watched it or don't want to click the link, she discusses her nerd-history and also specifically the group of friends with which she shares her nerdiness.

Now, I'm not saying I don't have friends, but on a scale of 1 to Hank Green, most of them range about a 3.5, whereas I'm pretty significantly higher (or their nerdiness is in radically different categories than mine). At least, this is what is apparent to me, because I know myself far better than I know anyone else.

(Deep down I think everyone is a closet nerd in some sense.)

But as far as open discussion of my nerdy passions go, my best nerd-friends are my parents. All nerdiness stems from something, usually in childhood. It is not chosen, it is an inbred trait.* My dad is a math/sci-fi/WWII nerd, my mom is a Broadway/literature/music nerd connoisseur. I've been picking up a mix of these since I was really young (and impressionable). I take after my mother in the aforementioned areas, but I know enough Hitler-related trivia to fill a small book.** Also, surprisingly, (and pointing to the genetic factor in this) my dad and I recently found out we both love Doctor Who (different Doctors, but still).


* Which is why I found this to be utterly ridiculous. (Let's hope it's satirical?)

** And also disturb people. Example: did you know Hitler had terrible grammar and only one descended testicle? :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Different Muscles

I regret the fact that I'm not a very fit person. I am what Gideon's cohort (whose name I have forgotten) in the novel Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn would call "skinny fat." My body type is, if not athletic, slim and I weigh a reasonably small amount.When it comes to muscle tone, aerobic stamina and physical endurance, however, I am a mediocre level of pathetic.

I'm not a complete couch attachment, though. I walk a lot--mostly to the bus centre and the coffee shop (which are actually located at the same place--and I eat relatively healthily. I also use some muscles at work, lifting boxes and running to do price checks. But that's, you know, once or twice a week.

If you ask me how healthy I am, I'll probably respond that I'm moderately out of shape due to not enough exercise and I should probably eat more vegetables. And maybe my metabolism allows me to be lazy without apparent consequence but I don't feel like throwing blame around. I'm still fitter than some and there is hope for the future. Get ready for a jumpy transition.

A couple weeks ago, I was asked about my writing, how it was going, how much I was doing, etc. I automatically thought of my novel and said I was taking a bit of a break from writing. But that, like my 'I vote Green' button, is a lie* (or, at the very least, misleading). The more I thought about it, the more apparent it became that I have been writing. A ton.

Unfortunately, she dropped me off at my house at that point so I couldn't rephrase that I've been writing different things. I couldn't tell her that I've been blogging every day this month. I didn't get a chance to say I'm trying my hand at songwriting. I failed to mention how I scribble down poems in my journal randomly or how I wrote the blurb that will be read as my friend walks across the stage at her graduation ceremony. I've been writing countless emails to be sister. I've written tweets every so often.

I've probably given enough evidence. I've been writing quite a lot.

Unlike my physical muscles, I've been working in a lot of different areas of writing. Honestly, it's next to impossible for me to not write. It's a compulsion, something as natural as sleeping. In the exercise department, I could probably use a little more balance but as for writing, I think I'm doing just fine. Sure, I want to work my novel into shape but it's just as useful to strengthen my other writing talents. Right? Right.

*sigh* I really want to get into better shape. *thinks about exercise* I'll get there.

*Seeing as how I am underage, I do not, in fact, vote for anyone. But if I could, I would.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Party poppers are the key to my future

There's a little party popper in my room -- one of those capsules that explode confetti when you pull the string. Around the age of six, I pocketed it from a party, thinking I would save it for a special occasion. It lay in the top drawer of my dresser for years. Occasionally I would dig it out from amongst the other odds and ends I had squirreled away, rolling it between my fingers and considering pulling the string and ending the suspense right then and there. I would always put it back, though, and in that manner, it somehow accumulated a certain degree of importance simply I allowed it to do so.

I wondered on what occasion I would finally pull the string. Nothing seemed quite important enough. Birthdays rolled around and left for another year, fifth grade and middle school graduations passed, and still the intact party popper rested in my room. It wasn't that the actual act of pulling the string was really some monumental event. The thing was, by a complete accident, I had ensured that wherever I finally set that party popper free would be the most important event so far of my life. To pull the string in some way meant that I had declared my most important event. And I couldn't help but feel that once I pulled that string, once it was over, I would feel let down.

Eventually the heavy temptation to just pull the string subsided out of necessity into a vague curiosity that lingers in the back of my head. I still have that teal capsule somewhere in my room. I'm not sure where it is, but given its track record over the past eleven years, I'm pretty confident that it will turn up. Now, funnily enough, I'm reconsidering when I should pull it. I no longer feel enough affection for high school to let it loose at my graduation. Maybe at my eventual/possible/hopeful marriage, but then that would deemphasize the importance of my kid's birth, if that ever happens. At this rate, I'll be delegating somebody to pull it at my funeral, when nobody but me -- and I'll be dead, so I won't care -- knows why it's important.

And, to be frank, I'm starting to think that possibly, probably, when I finally pull that string, nothing will happen. My wrist won't be sharp enough, or maybe the little bit of whatever-it-is that causes the tiny explosion already expired five years ago. It's possible that the little paper confetti is stuck to the plastic that is maybe slightly melted. Somehow, I'll be letting my six year old self down. So maybe, at least for now, it's better to leave the capsule intact. Maybe if I never pull the string, I'm allowing every second of my future to be a contender for the Most Important Event. And maybe that's what I've really wanted all along.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

new driver overconfidence, anyone?

Parallel parking so beautifully that I literally wanted to sing and then maybe kiss the steering wheel was definitely a highlight of my day. It wasn't just a fluke either. I did it twice in a row and I knew exactly what I was doing both times. I'm still high on the joy of being a confident driver right now. It's unbelievably great.

My road test is in 23 days. Or 22. I'm not sure how countdowns work, really. And, you see, I would attempt to explain ICBC's graduated licencing program but it's not worth it. 1. It hardly makes any sense, and 2. I find it a little annoying (and, for the most part, ineffective). Suffice it to say that on May 17th, should I pass--which I will*--I will be able to drive without a supervisor in the car. And that seems pretty exciting.

At the moment, I'm feeling pretty good about it. I may be suffering from what chapter 4 of my book refers to as 'new driver overconfidence' but I'm okay with it. Apart from my present inability to steer the car backwards between two lines, I'm radiating competence. I can do the maneuvers. I shoulder check. I use my mirrors. I am aware of my space margins. I'm conscious of my speed. I obey signage. I stop in the correct position. I'm feeling prepared.

But I have three weeks to lose the calm facade and get it back again.

I feel like I should add something now, put a new spin on the 'learning to drive' rite of passage. But apart from feeling the habitual guilt of what could be seen as wasting gas, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions for the sole purpose of learning to operate a vehicle that may or may not be obsolete in coming decades due to exorbitant oil prices, I have nothing novel to add to the cacophony. So I'll just end it here.

* Note that this is not arrogance but a positive attitude.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Musical Internet Wars and why we wage them (a list)

1. Relative anonymity makes us bolder. If you had a friend who hypothetically was madly in love with Moe and the Lawns*, you might feel uncomfortable telling that friend outright that they suck, even if you really felt that way, because society has taught us to spare the feelings of people we like even if it means sacrificing brutal honesty, so it's perfectly normal. Suppose, though, that this immense hatred builds as it is bottled inside you, and you need an outlet for it. You may go out and search for others who are of the same opinion. But that isn't nearly as fun or as satisfying. So you go on Youtube and attack the masses. Trying to take people you don't personally know down a peg is much nicer than insulting your IRL BFF, right? It doesn't even matter if you construct a logical argument! Awesome!

2. Our likes and dislikes make us different. And we pride ourselves on this, no matter what it may be. Being in the majority makes us all feel unimportant, if only slightly. But some people need to exercise and publicize their differences, as if expecting praise for them, be they 11 year old Beatles fans shunning the mainstream in their own small way**, or the teenager always in search of the indiest of indie fare. We're all hipsters at heart, the credo that popular = bad engrained in our heads.

3. Furthermore, people who like popular ("bad") music are brainless sheep, and we, of course, are intellectually superior to them. We must show them the error of their ways, 'tis only a service to the brainwashed pop music-listening community.

4. Thirdly, and most importantly, according to this credo, even people who like the same band we do like them wrong. They like them for superficial reasons, or like them only after having been exposed to them through some mainstream outlet, or don't like them as much as we do. All very, very wrong, indeed.

I've never understood the huge fuss people make over music. We all have likes and dislikes (see #2), but I'd venture to say everyone likes some kind of music. And the experience is the same: the urge to dance, sing, hum, smile. The feeling that certain lyrics are so applicable to our own lives and situations it's scary. Liking a certain melody for the simple fact that it sounds good. These things are universal, and no one has the right to harp on that.

* Nerdfighter in-jokes, anyone?
** Nevermind that in their heyday the Beatles *were* 11-year-old-girl mainstream, and they don't particularly seem to be becoming less popular with time.

Friday, April 22, 2011

But nobody can win internet wars

Following in a sort of spin-off series from the vlogbrothers' (and most of the internet population's) hobby of typing something into Google and analyzing the 'suggested searches,' I've just spent a bit of time typing in letters in Youtube's search bar and clicking on the first suggestion. If you're curious, "A" suggests Someone Like You by Adele. I've never listened much to Adele -- for no particular reason; I know she's incredibly talented --but I scrolled through the comments on that video and came across a common phenomenon on the internet: the second most highly rated comment reads, "I love when people say gaga writes her own music. gaga writes SHIT music. Adele can write music! And she can write BEAUTIFUL songs!"

The first video under "B" is Lady Gaga's "Born this Way," funnily but not surprisingly enough, and one of the comments under it reads, "Am i the only one who realizes people judging other people on a songs about NOT judging people?! STOP HATING!" An encouraging statement, if a bit grammatically incorrect.

I don't intend to turn this into some sort of polarized "OMG Gaga's fans are so much nicer that obviously means Gaga is like so much better than Adele" blog. Firstly, every popular person has sane fans and rabid fans. Secondly, I don't think Adele is better than Gaga or vice versa because, thirdly and most importantly, I don't think there should even be a comparison between the two singers because their intentions and end results are so different. Gaga is as much a performer as she is a musician. I'm not saying she doesn't take pride in her music, but her everything from the Autotune on her songs to the outfits she wears are meant to stir interest and an intense sort of energy from her audience. Adele, I think, is almost completely focused on her actual music. She's not a performer, at least not in the way that Gaga is. So already there's no need to compare the two -- there isn't any competition between them. All the competition between them, and between pretty much every musician ever, is fabricated in the wild imaginations and furious fingers of their fans.

The real purpose of the above example is to raise the question of why we tend to feel so competitive about and so protective of our favorite musicians or writers or actors. Why do people deliberately go out of their internet-way to post a nasty comment on a video of an artist they hate? Sure, you can chalk it up to internet trolling to a certain extent, but this behavior transcends the internet and happens in real life as well. Mention Justin Beiber or Miley Cyrus in any decently crowded space and you're sure to get a solid round of borderline hateful jokes about them. Why? Seriously, why do people get so angry about mediocrity?

At least part of the reason seems to relate back to people's tendency to claim an artist as their own. Many people feel a little bit miffed when 'their' relatively unknown artist suddenly gets catapulted to stardom. "I'm a real fan!" they crow. "I knew them first! You're just hopping on the bandwagon! Dummy!" It's as though we all somehow seek recognition of our excellent eye for talent -- "We knew them before you did; we know real music." I think that in some ways the intense competition between the fans of artists follows the same vein of invented ownership. "I love this musician, so obviously this musician is the best." When somebody challenges that, it's like they're challenging us.

Or maybe we're all just jerks at heart. What do you think? I'd love to hear any alternative opinions.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

knitting, yo

I find that whenever content creators give advice to newbies there's usually a 'start with what you know' sort of part. Starting a blog or vlog? Write/Talk about what's important to you, your hobbies, your interests, etc. Dream of penning a book? Write what you know.

Actually, John Green said something in a live broadcast the other day about writer's being unable to write anything else. Like, giving the advice, 'write what you know,' simultaneously suggests that it is possible to write what you don't know. And if you don't know it, how can you write it? He said it better, but the idea is there.

That was a tangent. Back to the point at hand. You're supposed to write about your interests because it infuses your content with a feverish passion that's nearly impossible to imitate. Yet I feel like I've never really written about knitting which happens to be a hobby of mine.

Sure, I wrote this poem. I might have mentioned my knitting club in passing. But I've never written a post about how I love taking yarn and twisting it around itself until it's something wearable. I love the kinetic part of my brain being occupied while other sections get to chat or watch a movie or laugh at another banana cozy joke. It's so mediative and lovely. And sometimes frustrating. But the thing about knitting is that it's pretty transparent. You can look back at the first hat you made and it tells a story, the errors aren't immediately apparent but easy enough to pick out. You can tell when you were tense or stressed out--where the stitches are tight--and when you were preoccupied and lazy--when the stitches are... not as tight. I guess I also like it because it's one of the things I have in common with my friends and it's just such an effortless thing to do together.

Knitting just generally brings back good memories. My mom's aborted plan to get me and my sisters to knit different coloured squares for an patchwork blanket. A summer spent in The Harem, drinking tea and knitting practice swatches. Fruit cozies, "Just wait until I finish this row," and the simple synchronicity and synergy.

Knitting is just another level of my nerdiness. And I'm not sure what other epic thing to write to finish this blog post. Goodnight. See you on Sunday. If we live that long.

Monday, April 18, 2011

what are titles?

So today, as I spent my ever so exciting spring break cleaning my room, I wondered for the millionth time how anyone can be satisfied with a Kindle or other electronic reading device. I mean, even if you keep on buying tangible books, how can you bear to give up the real thing even to the slightest degree? Because, you know, a Kindle now is like a gateway drug. You say you're going to keep reading tangible books, too, but five years down the line every single book on your shelf is going to have about three inches of dust* and then you'll be sorry you ever started this downwards spiral. I can deal with substituting iPods for CDs, I embrace the expansion of the internet, I'll gladly change my 5% efficient light bulbs for the spirally green ones, but I refuse to sacrifice my library. If I'm going to kill the world, it's going to be through hardback, paperback, and falling-apart-back books.

Other things I did today:
- Woke up at 2 p.m. because I was up late watching Doctor Who last night. Very few, very minimal regrets.
- Cleaned the eff out of my room. I mean, an organized person would still probably be horrified, but I tell you this honestly: I don't give a fuck.
- Made a comprehensive to-do list and thought about how if I do all those things before break ends, I'll be a much happier person, but I really don't want to actually do any of them. Here's to hoping I will.
- Thought about how I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really (is this getting annoying yet?), really don't want to go back to school next week.
- Went to an Orquesta de Guitarras de Barcelona** concert and had my mind blown. Have you ever heard a guitar orchestra? Because you should.
- Read about half a page of my AP Euro book and then went to do other things. I am really screwing myself over here. Tomorrow...
- Made an appointment to get my head o' hair cut because I look like a frickin' nutjob from 1997.

I mean, I was relatively productive...

P.S. Alex, I would leave this as a comment but I don't know if you'd see it because it's been three days*** but: genuinely, thank you very, very much for your comment, and yes, we should Skype more (like maybe I should go online every once in a while)...

* Because apparently having a Kindle = you are a disgusting person who never, ever cleans their room...
** It's in Spanish, yes, so if you don't speak Spanish, shame on you. I don't speak Spanish either. Shame on me.
*** Related question: Does Blogger have a comment notification system? Like emails or anything? If it doesn't, it should.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

French onion soup

If there's any day when it would be suitable for me to write a thoughtful, retrospective blog, today is that day. Apart from my mom being home for fifteen minutes this morning--which, for the sake of this blog, let's say didn't happen--I was completely alone, all day.

In a way, this solitude was amazing and free but it was also lonely. A pot of tea gets cold really quickly if there's only one person drinking it and my witty commentary during Harry Potter 7.1 seems really pathetic when The Cat is the only one there to listen.

Reflection seems utterly inevitable at this point. As I was walking down the street, blinded by the sun, to the grocery store--which was closed, because it was 7 o'clock on a Sunday in My Quaint Town*--I couldn't help thinking about how distant I was. Even after venturing outside, everyone I passed was still behind a wall. It was weird, like I was so detached and just far away from it all that I'd forgotten that there were people out there with their own lives and problems and complexities. Hanging out with yourself does weird things to your mind.

When I got home, I made French onion soup because I've been fantasizing about it for the past two weeks. The last time I made this particular dish, I left the onions on the stove for twenty five minutes, thus melding them to the pot in a burnt mess. The time before that, I added white wine vinegar instead of cooking wine and, though I'm definitely a salt and vinegar fan, the effect was less than desirable.  Needless to say, I haven't had a perfect bowl of French onion soup in a while.

But I did tonight. I triple checked the recipe, I memorized the instructions and I did it all. So delicious. But it got me thinking, is the soup French or are the onions? Probably the soup.

'Twas a good day.

p.s. Rena: I don't know if you follow hockey at all, but it seems that our cities' teams are facing each other. Playing each other? Competing with each other? I'm not a hockey person so I'm not down with the terminology. Anyway, I hope the rivalry doesn't ruin our relationship.

*which, because internet safety been drilled into me relentlessly, will remain ambiguous.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The future? What's that?

Continuing with this introspective streak, if no one minds. Not that I do necessarily, it's just different. As opposed to, "Hey let's discuss this issue I've been thinking about via comments" this blog on the whole has turned into more "This is what's going on in my life I shall accept your comments on it."

Anyway, I've been thinking about the future. Or, more accurately, I've been forced to think about the future. Technically the future goes on forever and applies to everything, and if I thought about it in its entirety my head would be likely to metaphorically explode, but my future specifically--the one where I won't have the monotony of school and/or my mother telling me what to do and will actually have to decide for myself what to do with my life--is growing more imminent. I've always joked that I would end up with a BA in English and then live in an indie coffee shop whilst penning my Great American Novel, with a small apartment and a cat and a collection of glittery headscarves. Whereupon if I actually did that I'd end up homeless or totally dependent on other people's money. Which I don't want. If that fantasy ended up like I want it to in reality, then okay, that's not that bad. I wouldn't mind being an eccentric and writerly twentysomething. But if the second and more realistic side of that came true, I think I'd have some regrets. And so I'm trying to envision a future for myself wherein I can't immediately--even before they are implemented (huzzah for foresight)--see things I'd regret in the long run. I don't even think I'm going to major in English anymore. Which is different for me, considering it's the only thing that has come to mind in the past regarding the illusive future, as far back as elementary school. Since last semester, though, my mind has turned toward the social sciences--which at least have some practical application--or film--which is pretty much a revised fantasy, but at least one that doesn't quickly seem to involve my homelessness.

It's so weird to think that my junior year is 4 or so months away. Wherein, I've been warned, I will be stressing the fuck out over a myriad of different things. Which I don't want. Ooooh life is so hard.

And with that, I bid you all goodnight.

Friday, April 15, 2011

whiney whine

I'm not happy with myself.

...A statement which probably seems to be either ominous or whiny. However, it's true and I think it's probably been true for a while.

I dunno, I just feel like there's so much "wrong" with me that I don't quite know where to start fixing myself. It's not like I'm never genuinely cheerful. There's just always this underlying feeling of dissatisfaction and occasionally even contempt directed at myself. For instance, I was supposed to do two things, both involving other people, before this week ended that I have yet to do and I feel extremely guilty about that and yet it's incredibly difficult to force myself to do them because I hate personally uncomfortable meetings with people. I mean, it's to the point where it's ridiculous and I consciously recognize that I'm being ridiculous but I still can't quite force myself to go through with it.

I feel like my solution to everything is to run away or avoid the problem, which is probably part of the reason why I'm so anxious to get away to college -- I'm really not happy with my life thus far and I just want to start over. Of course, that's impossible, and I don't really have a reason to be unhappy with my life, which again leads me back to the feeling that something is really wrong with me.

Wow, this is getting really heavy. I apologize. If you don't know me I probably sound incredibly depressed. I'm not. I'm just generally unhappy -- although not at all generally sad -- which is different, I think.

Have you noticed how our blogs have become more introspective, on the whole? That's probably a true sign of teenagerdom or something...

Anyway, I'm going to go reread Anna and the French Kiss (such a shockingly good book) and/or sleep, so see you soonish (have I mentioned that I'm now on spring break? Woohoohoo!).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

meaningless kiss - my life in iTunes

I don't know why I'm so addicted to these things but we're almost halfway through BEDA so I thought it was time.

**NOTE: Format stolen from Libba Bray's Livejournal. All song titles and subsequent comments courtesy of my taste in music/brain.**
1. Put your iTunes/iPod, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
5. Everyone tagged has to do the same thing. (Except only if you want to, adds I.)(But whatever happened to four?, the inquisitive, observant readers will ask. You'll never know. *sinister shifty eyes*)

IF SOMEONE SAYS 'ARE YOU OKAY,' YOU SAY? I Want To Hold Your Hand. Interpretation of that seems like a 'you had to be there' thing. I mean, are there tears in my eyes? Or am I saying it in a happy-go-lucky fashion? Am I skirting the topic?
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF? Frozen. As Stephen Harper would say, simply not true.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL? Stop, Look, Listen. These kinds of safety discernment skills are important to me. I have standards.
HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY? Steady As The Beating Drum. Okay, so maybe not that steady. But rhythm *is* my life.
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE? Dress You Up. I find that somewhat offensive. Really, that's my entire purpose? I reject that idea.
WHAT'S YOUR MOTTO? Trust Me. No comment.
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU? Harry and Hermione. DELUSIONAL??? What are you trying to say, iTunes?? Say it to my face, why don't you?!?!
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU? So Far So Great. That's comforting except for the fact that I have a Demi Levato song on my computer. Where did that come from?
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? Rolling In On A Burning Tire. I won't deny it.
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY? Love Story. I'll believe it when I live it.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? Queen Ranavalona I. Role models = priceless.
WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL? Can You Feel the Love Tonight. I thought we'd discussed this. Can You Feel the Love Tonight is fine but I was thinking I Kissed A Girl.*
WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST? Helen Hunt. Yeah, I don't even know what to say about that one. I suppose my interest in Hank's music is making me seem kind of strange in this game.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR? Something. So obviously the fear is not ambiguity.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET? Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me). That's no secret, people. You only had to ask.
WHAT DO YOU WANT RIGHT NOW? Dig It. How did you know, iTunes? How did you know?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS? Let's Get Together. Only not right now. Right now, I'm sleepy.
WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS? Meaningless Kiss. Because that is my *true* life story. I don't even remember half of 2010. I'm referring to it as my Lost Meaningless Kissing Year. Catchy, right?

I'll catch you guys on the flip flop. Have a lovely 99th anniversary of the Titanic sinking/my sister's 21st birthday tomorrow.

*this was decided after a conversation with my cousin and sisters.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Uncomfortable? Why? Why?!

What is discomfort?

Not physical discomfort; not psychological torment; but the increasingly-difficult-to-suppress squirm; the nervous laughter; the underlying conviction that you shouldn't be discussing this or doing this. No one tells you to change the topic, except for perhaps the laughing protests of your equally as vaguely uncomfortable friend, but it feels as though your grandmother or school principal is always a half-step away from you, like you have to be extremely careful to maintain the environment and to control the variables.

It's that subject, the topic you have a strange and strong urge to hide, that intrigues me. Why do many of us find ourselves so inarticulate when faced with the dilemma of discussing sex?

There are other things too, of course, but I think about this kind of problem quite often. My mind constantly strains to theorize its way to the root of a problem: it asks questions and answers them, asks subquestions and answers them, until it comes up with an often incorrect but at least passably logical explanation for every halfway interesting event. So when I try to solve a question like one of discomfort, it's slightly frustrating but mostly fascinating that there doesn't seem to be a beginning, at least not one that I can mentally discover.

My thought process on why we, as a general group of human beings, are so uncomfortable with discussing sex, goes something like this: We are uncomfortable with discussing sex because sex is something that we consider to be private and meant to be kept private. We think it should be kept private because it requires a great deal of emotional and physical intimacy. We think that intimacy should be kept private because it's something that we logistically can't share with more than one person at a time.*

But that's sort of a dead end, so I try again:
We are uncomfortable with discussing sex because it has traditionally been kept private, usually between the couple. It's been kept private because it's viewed as something that, when done with keeping within the bounds of what is moral, should only take place between two intimate people. We have this moral view of sex because most religions in the world say that sex should only take place between two people in a committed relationship. Religions were constructed that way either because God ordained it, if you take the theistic approach, or because it was the most practical thing for society to do, in the atheistic approach. Since having sex is typically meant to create babies, it makes more sense to keep it within two people so that things don't get confusing when one guy fathers a truckload of babies. Of course, that actually happens in modern society and happened a heck of a lot in the olden days, so maybe sex as a private thing was done to ensure that women stayed loyal to their children.

I don't know. It's very convoluted. But I think it's an interesting question. Why are we so uncomfortable about sex? Virtually everyone will have sex at some point in their lives; we all either have one or the other lady/man parts; it's necessary to carry on the species; so why are we so afraid to talk about it? Does it matter? Is it better this way? Is this making you uncomfortable right now? Why? Regardless, why do we have this attitude?

*You with the dirty mind, stoppit. You know what I mean.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

An Argument for the Art of Letter Writing

Dear you,

How are you? No, really, tell the truth. Is the weather tolerable? Are you stressed out? Do you want to talk about it? You can talk to me, you know. I'm here.

I'm swell, thanks for asking. I'm busy, in a mostly good way. I'm excited, in general. It's probably going to rain all week but I'm fine with that. I'm happy. And I'm been thinking. About a lot of things. Like letter writing.

These days, it seems like the only people who write letters are the politically active and the unemployed. And me. For some reason, that disappoints me.What ever happened to longhand and stamps and waiting more than two seconds for your message to be delivered? It's not like people actually reply to emails promptly anyway, or at least not in my experience. What's so great about instantaneous communication?

Do you remember when you were younger, when you'd run outside, practically barefoot, to check the mail in the morning? You would lift up the flap or pull open the door of that promising mailbox and extract a letter, addressed to you! Maybe it was a birthday card from your grandmother or maybe it was your first bank statement but, hell, you could taste the happiness on your tongue as it radiated through you. Those moments were the highlight of your week and no one has ever been so excited about a paper cut.

Those days are gone, replaced with email, texting and Post It notes. 'Pen pal' is a foreign word to today's youngsters. Snail mail is nothing but a forgotten relic of a slower time, a way for technologically retarded people to get their phone bills.

Well I reject that reality and substitute my own.

Lately, I've been writing letters. It's not because I have a lot of time on my hands and it's not because I'm worried that technology will be the the downfall of civilization, though I won't negate that possibility either. Call me a Luddite if you will but I'm sticking to my opinion that letters make the world better.

Maybe I'm clinging to the past; maybe I should let the postal system slip through my fingers, let it fall into complete obscurity and obsolescence. But the piece of me that stores nostalgia in its fibers won't let go. In days of 'lol' and 'ttyl', I don't feel like abbreviating. I want to be thoughtful. I want to write slowly, with purpose. I want hand cramps and ink stains and the disgusting taste of envelope glue on my tongue.

Call me crazy but I'll continue to stick to this habit like stamps on envelopes. Letter writing feels good. You should try it.


p.s. I feel like this letter needed a postscript in order to remain true to form. That's all.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Retrospective

And some other stuff. Other stuff first:

1. I have openly been neglecting BEDA--I seriously prefer it in August, in hindsight.
2. Though I have kind of inadvertently been doing TEDA (Tumblr-EDA). Which is seriously less difficult than BEDA, because plagiarism is encouraged.

Some progressions in the life of Rena, April 2010-April 2011
(most of which are probably imaginary)

✴ I watch television a lot less.*
✴ The time I would have spent watching TV I spend on the Internet.**
✴ I'm more relaxed. (See bolded parenthetical statement.)
✴ Over the course of a year, I've gone from 14-going-on-12 to actually mentally 15, having stuck my foot even just slightly into the vast yet somewhat necessary cesspool of angst and self-realization. I feel. . .mature? (Says the jobless girl in pajamas at one on a Sunday morning. Whatever. It's a change.)
✴ I've adopted a hobby other people also have; listening to music. (By this I mean on a relatively frequent and independently chosen basis as opposed to only when I'm in my mom's car. Which explains my musical taste extremely well.)

It's 1:35 in the morning I can accomplish no task on the Internet without being distracted by tabs I'm sure I could think of more things so this post would be relevant but I should go to bed.


* Save anything from England, also a change.
** Specifically why the title of this little section does not say "improvements" per se, just progressions.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

day 7

This flawed haiku
is all you're getting, BEDA.
Suck it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thoughts From Places

Place 1: A car. More of a car. Almost 12 hours straight in a car.

At 3:15 on a Friday afternoon I stuffed myself into my best friend's mom's car. Already this wasn't quite the romanticized vision of roadtrippery I'd expected. I couldn't untwist my ankles for some time, because I was sharing my leg space with bags and bags of food, books, my sleeping bag, a cooler filled with equal parts Diet Pepsi and little syringes of medication, and another person. It was in this car that I spent the longest stretch of my life to date away from home. "Home" in this case being both people related to me, and my residence in suburban Illinois. Things I saw at 70 miles an hour ranged from beautiful (shale cliffs and rivers in Kentucky) to absurd (an field in Georgia with a lone black billboard proclaiming "HELL IS REAL") and back, but it never felt like I was in those places actually experiencing them. Places happened when the car stopped and I was disentangled from it, everything else fabrications and pictures.

Place 2: Disney World, Florida.

(Note that I'm skipping some places-- the parking lot of a Hardee's in the Indianapolis area, an interestingly graffitied gas station bathroom in Tennessee, the most rural part of Kentucky with scenery like a Tim Burton movie come to life--all stories for another day, children.)

Purportedly the happiest place on Earth, teeming with wide-eyed little kids, nostalgic parents, and cheerful employees whose pay (dependent upon their attitudes, I'm sure.) I'd pondered more than once. The first day I woke up around 7:30--always an early riser in strange settings. It seems like everyone is. (This may be some kind of evolutionary advantage. The unconscious ability to sense the foreign would come in handy.) It was raining. This is a contradiction in itself, people don't usually find happiness in rain, but we marched out, poncho-clad and determined to see magic.

Magic it was--the magic ability of a place to make its inhabitants 8 years old, its ability to strike conversations on a bus with people from Belgium and Georgia and everywhere else, its ability to make so many small things seem like magic--hot pastries,trespassing onto a purposeless stone table for picture opportunities, the way thousands of lights glint off rain after dark, everything and everyone spinning and screaming and constantly soundtracked by Disney music.

I'd never been more wet in my life for a longer amount of time (I caught a cold because of this, by the way. Funny how I had previously dismissed that as a myth. . .), and I'd never cared less. There were other days in other parks, but this blog is about the first and most vividly memorable, in the Magic Kingdom. There are some places 18 straight hours of rain can only enhance.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The "Real World" Myth

Brace yourselves, readers, for I am about to shatter some serious illusions. Ready? No, you're not. Or, at least, that's what the systems that define youth would tell you. Many would say that the purpose of public school is to prepare you for adult life, no scratch that, they're to prepare you for college or university which will then prepare you for adult life. Maybe. But does anyone realize that while they say they are giving you the tools you need to succeed, they are also building the shakiest support system they can imagine?* I know I'm throwing around some hefty accusations but somebody has to.

The phrase that I've heard so often, triggering various reactions from me as I've grown older, is "the real world." This is a classic fear tactic.

If I don't graduate high school, how will I ever be prepared for the real world?

At first, this idea confused me. What world have I been living in if not the real one? What's so unreal about my world? After that, I started to disagree. On my eighteenth birthday, I'm not going to open some mysterious door and transition to another realm of responsibility. If someone is going to push me into a "real world" after however many years of my life, bring it on. Until then, I'm going to continue living in *my* real world and cease preparations for the next one. And at this point, I'm a little angry.

Who are teachers and authority figures to belittle my world? Because that's what they're doing, even if no one realizes it. By waving some mystical "real world" over ours heads in which we have to take care of ourselves and deal with actual problems and face "reality" and issues beyond our comprehension, they have made our lives infinitely smaller. Frankly, I am sick of adults looking at teenagers and marginalizing us. I am tired of being seen as less when my opinions and problems are just as real as any other person's.

So this is me rejecting that arbitrary framework. No longer will I operate with the assumption that I have to prepare for a world of scarcity and imponderable challenges. I recognize that life isn't easy but I refuse to believe that I can't handle it.

I call for an education system that respects its students, a world where young people are not treated as invalids who aren't ready and can't possibly understand but as curious, naturally driver learners. I want to be treated like a person, not a teenager. I want to be thrown in over my head. I want to tackle problems that seem insurmountable. I want to put to rest this idea that our world is pretend and a little bit silly.

My world is just as real as yours. Thank you for respecting that.

*This isn't about teachers, mind you. I think teachers are great, though I haven't had a lot of personal connection with them. I'm talking about the system that teachers work within. The system, not the teachers, are where my accusations are aimed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Bloggomentary!

The Life of a Vita in the Wild: January -- April 1st, 2011

Observations of General Life
  • I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who. A lot of Doctor Who. Often in lieu of, you know, homework. Thus far I've finished seasons 1 - 4 (that's the 9th and 10th Doctors, mind you) and I'm on Ep.9, I believe, of Seasons 5. I don't feel like getting into my whole Who history now (not that it's extensive or confusing, but still), so I will leave you with this general assessment: whilst the 11th Doctor grows on me every time I see him* and the 10th Doctor has a special place in my heart for being my (and so many others') first Doctor and for being great (it applies to both the character and the actor [i.e. David Tennant... if you didn't know, I'm judging you. Kidding. Sort of]), I don't think I've ever loved a fictional character in quite the same way that I've loved the 9th Doctor. I'm sorry Christopher Eccleston didn't stay for another season because I do think that he actually lives and breathes the role. It's hardly even acting at that point. He just is the Doctor.
Point A: Doctor Who truly is one of the greatest pieces of television ever. Point B: Be it pathetic or encouraging, Doctor Who has, I think done a great deal in restoring my faith that every little bit of help counts. You can't save everything; you probably can't change the nature of a species; perhaps you sometimes intervene where you shouldn't or your moral compass becomes slightly askew; but the important thing is that you sacrifice and that you try your very hardest to make your little 'corner of the world' the best that it can possibly be. So.
  • Chicago and the One Acts. I've raved on, raved about these enough in the past. Essentially: my school put on Chicago; I worked on the show; it was awesome and fun times were had. Now we're doing the One Acts. Not quite so time-consuming. Not quite so fun. (Not awful -- just not exhilarating or anything.)
Eating Habits
  • Increased consumption of (many, many) delicious, buttery, French pastries.
  • Other food.
  • Addendum: basically, any food I can get my hands on. I swear, if my body mass actually reflected the amount of food I shove into my body, I would be my own one-woman obesity epidemic.

School Environment
  • A few posts below, I've already talked my feelings regarding school. If you would like more evidence of my slow descent into insanity: here are some inane ramblings on the college process and this slightly more intelligent annoyance at the regurgitation of books. Et cetera.
  • As far as what I've actually been doing at school that's been keeping me remarkably busy: Internal Assessments, busy work, essays, books, textbooks, tests, upcoming AP & IB exams, and other fun -- if I was saying that word out loud the sarcasm would probably give you radiation poisoning** -- things that are associated with one's junior year of high school.

Apparent Future Plans
  • BEDA. How could I miss our (wait for it) third anniversary? (Cue rainbow strobe lights and disco balls!) Is that too intimate? Does it matter? I think not. Curiously enough, despite having blogged on this blog for three years (well -- nearly, and if you don't count my suspicious recent absences) I've never been able to maintain a personal, independent, non-clingy girlfriend-esque blog of my own. I think I'll drag up the old Follow Alaska blog (that was a failed blogging experiment if I ever did fail at one***), so pop over there if you desire to fill your eyes and soul with more of the wonderful words that these fingers crank out. I'm hoping that this round of the old BEDA game will reunite me with my blogging Muse. As of late I've fallen into the habit of not blogging more than I have of blogging and, well, I can no longer let down this wide and expansive readership. You're welcome, each and every one of you. You. Are. Welcome.
  • Hopefully learning how to drive. There has been about a four month stall on the whole "getting behind the steering wheel and driving the goddamn car" thing, so I need to do that. Thing is, I really want to get my license and drive, but driving around neighborhoods is so. boring.
  • Summer? Vacation? What is that? As of yet, I don't know either. I'm hoping to hoof it over to a localish nonprofit organization and volunteer (read: save the world) but, as with all things, that plan has fallen into the void that is Procrastination. It will happen, though.
  • Let's be spontaneous. Spontaneity is good. Spontaneity is fun. Not combustion, though. I image that would hurt.
*Sounds like some bacterial growth. Ugh.
**Who even knows how that would work.
***Which, uh, I did.