Monday, May 30, 2011

oh hi there

You know those times in your life when you're bounding towards something, single minded in the extreme, and then it ends and you're floundering, seemingly purposeless?

I do.

I've been thinking to myself that I haven't been blogging lately and when I have, I haven't really enjoyed it. I could say that BEDA took a lot of blogging energy and May has been a month to replenish. I still don't like it, the not-blogging.

I love blogging. And I hate when I get so caught up in being busy that I don't do the things that I love. Like playing ukulele and making bagels.

May (the month) seems like a blur to me because I wasn't doing those things. I was getting ready for my road test, stressing and over-thinking, and then camp and now they're both over and I just want something new. Purpose. Passion. I'm tired and I'm tired of it. I've seventeen! I want to celebrate and live!

So here goes another shot. At sleeping and eating properly. At doing something with my days (other than reading. Reading's great and all but writing is good, too, as is going outside once in a while). Here's to counting down until June 22 and then July 15. Here's to enjoying the things I love and filling my days with passion and purpose.

I'm ready for my umpteenth wind, a spurt of energy. But first, sleep.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Herbivority

Hello! I'm glad to see that we all survived the rapture! Let's see if we can last until 2013!

I'm thinking about becoming a vegetarian. That sounds like a conversion, doesn't it? I shall join the cult of the vegetables... worship them. Worship them!

Ahem.

This is somewhat of a difficult process, however. Firstly, I'm not sure that I have the willpower to do so. Secondly, while I like vegetables, I don't know if I like them that much. Thirdly, the world of meat is expansive and delicious.

However, it's something that I want to do. I don't have any inherent grudge against eating animals; people are omnivores and that's perfectly fine. I only have an issue with meat eating in the United States and in my own life. I'm pretty sure that, like most Americans, I eat too much meat. It doesn't seem that much to me but I've heard that the recommended portion is about the size of your fist (or smaller?) and if you go to any restaurant you definitely won't get that. Also, I really have issues with how the animals are treated both on an ethical level and because of the increased risk of disease and infection that arises from their horrible living conditions. Also, I'm on an ever-stalling quest to be more healthy and I think vegetarianism is a step in the right direction.

Anyway, I'm not going to start this week -- there's way too much going on right now for me to abandon my comfort food. Also, I need time to figure out what I'm supposed to be eating, vegetable-wise, because I would rather not be malnourished. I'm probably going to wait until summer vacation starts and try it out for a month to see how it goes. It may be a complete failure, but hopefully not.

Alex, I'm pretty sure that you're mostly a vegetarian, and Rena, I don't know if you have any special eating habits, but if you have any tips, I would appreciate them!
- What do you do when you're eating at somebody's house and they serve meat, not knowing that you don't eat meat?
- Does it inconvenience your parents/do they make vegetarian food for you or do you just make your on?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some Serious and Non-Serious Rapture-Talk

It's 5:58 here in the good ole heartland.

And if you're reading this, than neither of us are dead, so that'll be great. My Rapture day has been spent in my pajamas, listening to the soundtrack to Grease and being quite hungry but otherwise okay. Oh lookit there, it took me two minutes to type that.

Things I will now be able to do that the rapture would have interfered with:

Eat dinner.
Turn 16.
Watch Doctor Who.
See Deathly Hallows P. 2
Vote.
Finish this massively large and important Government project.*
Continue to live.

Fun and worthwhile things, every one of them.

Serious time, though. It's easy for the majority of people, flippant nonbelievers of this one 89 year old Bible thumper, to make fun of this supposed prophecy. I'm not going to try to estimate how many people actually believe in this, but think about what they're going to have to deal with, now that their beliefs have been shattered. What will be their rationale for absolutely no one in the world, not even themselves being raptured? Sure, other people are nonbelievers who are full of sin and deserve to rot in hell on earth. But them, no, of course not. Will this whole thing be enough to shake their belief in God or just Harold Camping? Either way, I'd venture to say it will be unsettling for them.

People in cults or who believe in conspiracies and the like are really interesting to me. Not from a "LOLZ, ur so dumb."** standpoint, but sociologically and psychologically. These things are real to them, and they have reasons. They're very unlikely to change my way of thinking, but worth hearing to some degree.

Footnotes:

* I feel the need to clarify that I don't mean the actual government, but the class I'm required to take. But seeing as there is no Canadian or Indonesian government course, and humans love abbreviations, Government it is.

** Alright, maybe a few lulz.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

a sense of broken vitality

I love walking home when it's warm, feeling the sun on my back as I leave no footprints in the familiar sidewalk. I've always had a pretty impressive internal compass. I'm not sure if being directionally oriented is genetic or learned but my mom is the same way. Somehow, I can usually tell which direction is home and, with one earphone in, I can get there, one step at a time.

Lately I've been listening to the same six songs on repeat (my favourite of Plain White T's) and it hasn't become boring yet. Maybe it's because when the songs mix with the sounds of traffic and fleeting birds and my heartbeats, there's no constancy to hold onto. Whatever the reason that I continue to love the diverse monotony, it's a great soundtrack for coming home.

I don't even know if I can describe how great it feels to come home. Today, I was alone and though I can be a social walker at times, I love that. I love the introspection and observation. How I feel completely out of my body and perfectly in it. I love noticing the telephone poles with countless staples that once attached my neighbours' declarations and calls for help in finding beloved pets. I love the spring and I love cherishing the fact of my existence, as the breeze blows cherry blossom petals into my face like overly large pink snowflakes.

But today there was also a somberness in my tread. Ever since watching this video, I've been constantly astonished at how I can feel for someone whose name I don't even know, whose path my life will probably never cross with. Last night, four blocks from where I sit at my computer, a pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run car accident.

Not only as a newly licensed driver but as a pedestrian, this event horrifies and saddens me. It's scary and upsetting and I'm sitting here with this awful feeling of loss and grief for a woman whose face I probably wouldn't recognize. And she's gone and it's terrible but it amazes me that I have this capacity to empathize with the people who knew her and will miss her, to appreciate that her life was valuable and precious, even if I was never a part of it.

So I was walking home, crossing the intersection where a car delivered that fatal blow and then drove away,  with this broken sense of vitality. How can the world be simultaneously so beautiful and terrible? How can I go on breathing in the essence of spring to my lungs' full capacity when all around me, death is imminent? Our world is full of so many contradictions and contrasts. I've no conclusions. I guess we just have to deal with it the best we can.

Monday, May 16, 2011

on men and women and books

Note: Before you read the rest of this, I'd like to point out that as this is a somewhat involved subject, I could have done it more justice by editing this and not just posting my raw train-of-thought typing (which is how most of my first drafts for everything start), but I'm not being productive tonight and I need to go to sleep so I can wake up and be productive tomorrow, so you are getting the rough version of this (that's what she said). Look out for all the "buts" in the third paragraph.

This whole question of sexism in art fascinates me. I need a better word than "art," though -- I'd use "popular culture" but it's not really only a question of that which is popular -- I suppose I really mean books, although it applies to television and films as well. But I'm most familiar with books, so I'll stick with those.

I just tried to Google some examples of people complaining about this but I couldn't find any. True, I only looked at the first three results, but this, I believe, is insignificant. So maybe I'm just making all of this up inside my head. But anyway, you hear a lot about how there is much sexism in books because lots of main characters, especially in popular series, are male, and how males (and sometimes females) tend to only read books with male main characters. But this leads to the question of how we can combat this problem, or perhaps more interestingly, whom do you blame for this? You can't just put a cap on the number of books that have main male characters and then declare that all other books published that year must be about girls or women. This is also similarly an issue for me when you see books get slammed for being sexist when they have weak female characters and strong male characters, and when that book doesn't have a feminist reason for doing so (to satirically point out the flaws in society's treatment of women, for example). When you look at a large number of books that do that, it seems to be a real problem trend. But on an individual level, how do you tell who's being "sexist" because that's what the book called for (art is rarely politically correct, after all) and who is just a "male chauvinistic pig?" Like, I'd really love to see the day when having that weak female/strong male scenario isn't seen as sexist in the slightest because there are so many examples of the opposite and of combinations that it's just seen as another facet of life being portrayed. Because right now, I don't think we're at that point at all.

Because I think you do have to write male and female characters differently because male and female people aren't identical. But you also can't fall into the trap of "writing a boy" or "writing a girl" because within each sex are billions -- and within the fictional world, another several billion -- of unique individuals who defy gender stereotypes all the time, not to mention the whole realm of gay/lesbian/transgender/etc., etc. characters. But then again, you can't ignore the fact that sex and gender play large roles in the personalities of people, even though sex and gender don't necessarily define a person. But it may be possible that sex and gender aren't even that important in terms of characterization in novels; we just think they are because that's how it's always been. But, personally, and I truly don't think this is sexist of me, I do think that the sex of the main character alters the rest of the book, not that it makes it automatically better or worse if the main character is male or female, but it does change the book and it does change how readers view the book, I think. For one thing, as most people have probably experienced, it is often quite easy to develop slight (or rather large, in some cases) crushes on fictional characters, which I think changes a lot based on how the main character sees them. Like, if the main character is a girl and has a crush on some male character, I as a reader would probably see that differently than if the main character was a boy and had a crush on a female character, because I am already inclined to be romantically attracted to males rather than females, so I'm already looking at the book from a different perspective. But I think it also affects the book and the reader in subtler ways than just as far as romantic interests go.

It's like the "straw that breaks the camel's back" syndrome, only less linear. Whom do you blame? It's a total diffusion of responsibility. Because as an author, at least as a good author, you have a responsibility to yourself and to your story to make it the best it can possibly be, and sometimes, oftentimes, that means including a main character who is male. But then when do the girls get a chance to be the multi-dimensional heroes other than in YA novels, where they are rampant and plentiful (although not always multi-dimensional...)? I think the solution is to write what is best, not what is politically correct. And hope that the problem corrects itself as people slowly start to realize that Being a Girl is not a sign of weakness and Being a Boy is not a sign of power. And that the opposite isn't true, either, because there are tons and tons of weak (in the traditional sense), needy girls. But there are also tons and tons of strong, independent (as independent as a person can be, which is truthfully not very, but in the colloquial sense) girls. Personally, I would be way happy if people would just publish some damn books that have female main characters who aren't annoying as fuck. Goddamn. I can't even tell you how many YA books I end up, not hating, but certainly not enjoying to their fullest, because the main character is a stereotypical feminine girl (which isn't a bad thing to be, but is often written really annoyingly), or she's purposely the opposite of the stereotype, which is really just as painful to read. I think sometimes authors over-correct by focusing more on the fact that the character is a girl than by focusing on the fact that character is a person. So basically, if you ever write a book, don't do that.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

skip the title for now

I don't want to write a blog right now. That's why I'm lying on my bed comma (you can write that comma the word comma comma it's artsy. Unless it's annoying) talking at my sister who is dutifully transcribing my fragmented sentences into this empty white space.


People who don't text me back soon enough,
WHY? Why must you make me wait?
Signed, 
A hypocrite


Vita,
Your post on embarrassing moments reminded me of how I may have called someone Karl Marx by accident last Monday. I was horribly ashamed even though I don't actually remember the moment myself and I only know because my mom told me afterwards. So obviously now I must recount the tale to everyone, including the internet.
Yours in embarrassment,
Alex

Rena,
Your post on staticness last Tuesday was remarkable and relatable. My friends are impressed with your eloquence and powerful word use. You are brilliant. 
Sincerely,
A fan

That's all. Thanks, Maddy. You can hit publish post now.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Embarrassing Moments

Hello, internet! This message is flying to you via the interwebs from the tips of my freshly nail polished fingers. I decided that indulging my delicate side and practicing my mastery of the English language would be an efficient alternative to actually studying for my looming AP French exam. In related news, I'm probably about to accidentally spill nail polish into the crevices of my keyboard. I hope you appreciate the risks that I take for you.

Earlier today, I was just on the phone giving my personal information to a stranger. It's not as bad as it sounds. I was orally signing up for a (possible) September volunteer position at a hospital near my house. Anyway, I practiced using my best CONFIDENT voice, which strangely makes me sound about thrice as much like a valley girl, which is a plus for me because I hate talking on the phone. I inquired about how one would go about signing up for said volunteer position and said something to the effect of, "Is there some process I have to go to to sign up for volunteering?" and the lady was like "Well, if all the places were full for June, don't you think there'd be a sign up list for September?" To which I sheepishly answered, "Yeah..." Then as I was giving her my name I totally forgot how to spell my last name and she was like, "It is your name, dear." To which I replied, "Yeah, I know..." It was the silly naming thing you have to do that confused me, where you have to give a word that starts with the name of the letter. Also, in my defense, the only thing the hospital website says is to "Call our Office of Volunteers for more information!" and gave no other information on how to sign up for stuff. So. Take that.

Anway, as far as embarrassing things go, this is pretty minimal (I'm not all that ashamed to know that an anonymous woman -- who admittedly knows my name and where I live -- now mistakenly believes that I never passed kindergarten), but my desire to share it with somebody does remind me of all the many times when something legitimately embarrassing happens and it's only made better if there is a friend (or anyone non-judgmental) with whom you can laugh it off. Like, in your head, you know that you shouldn't be that embarrassed by something, but until you can vocally acknowledge that you did something silly, the weight of the embarrassment just sort of weighs down on you. You know what I mean? It's like we all have to prove that we can laugh at ourselves, or maybe we just want confirmation that it really wasn't that big a deal. Or maybe we want the strangers watching at us all judgmental-like to know that we are normally functioning creatures of society because look, we have friends! That's normal! I'm not sure why most people (myself included) react this way. It's just this incredible urge to share that experience with someone. Falling down the stairs (provided you don't actually hurt yourself) is really shameful when you're alone, but when a friend laughs with you, it's suddenly hilarious.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just a whole big blob of angst today, carry on.

I feel static.

Definition:

static |╦łstatik|
adjective
1 lacking in movement, action, or change, esp. in a way viewed as undesirable or uninteresting : demand has grown in what was a fairly staticmarket | the whole ballet appeared too static.Computing (of a process or variable) not able to be changed during a set period, for example, while a program is running.2 Physics concerned with bodies at rest or forces in equilibrium. Often contrasted with dynamic .(of an electric charge) having gathered on or in an object that cannot conduct a current.acting as weight but not moving.nouncrackling or hissing noises on a telephone, radio, or othertelecommunications system.short for static electricity .informal angry or critical talk or behavior : the reception was going sour, breaking up into static.
In all the above ways. Lacking in change, unable to change, unmoving but yet still buzzing, crackling, hissing, angry. I'm everywhere and nowhere at once in my mind, consumed simultaneously by the desire to hyper-act and let this unbearably humid evening sedate and dissolve my very being. I feel everything but can do nothing. I'm like this far more than I let on, far enough down this cliched metaphor for life that is a path, far enough to know that this is temporary; that it's fabricated by my mind (though unconsciously), and that change will come eventually, but not far enough to avoid being wrapped up in its unpleasantness.

(Wow, I take on a really weird syntax when I angst. My faux-tortured-poet soul has a mind of its own. . . I realize this may be disruptive to the rest of the angsting, but make of this what you will.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

About ten seconds ago, I decided that I needed to stop looking at pictures of myself on Facebook and start writing this blog. And now here I am. Magic. I don't know why I fall into this trap of flicking through digital albums of the past four years of my life. It could be my self absorption. It could be plain old procrastination. I'm not sure.

Whenever I add a person on Facebook--most times, I should say--I then review my own profile just to get a sense of what kind of idea my new "friend" is going to get from it. I look over everything I have down for books, movies, quotes, stupid 'About me' and pictures. Sometimes I feel an urge to change something, take down a band, rephrase a sentence, untag a photo and then I tell myself not to--mostly it's the pictures. I feel like changing your profile because of what other people might think is like changing who you are and then I have this sense of shame for even considering it. Why would I hide who I am, try to detach myself from pictures in which I don't find myself looking favourably? That's still me and there's nothing wrong with me so why do I have a problem with others seeing it?

I think that's the fascinating thing about Facebook. In most respects, we get to choose how we are portrayed to the world while at the same time being asked to fit into different boxes, have political and religious views, be interested in men or women, friendship or a relationship. Pick your favourite books or games or sports or movies and write down your favourite quotes. Apart from the silly 'About me' section, there's no real space to make your own. You can't invent your own categories or expand what you want to say. When signing up for Facebook, you confine yourself to its framework. And when you start to forget that, start to think of friends as nothing more than a database of people and relationships as just something that has to be somehow measured online, that's when it gets scary for me.

But that was something of a tangent from where I was going. An interesting tangent but let me take us back to my Facebook album, all the pictures I'm currently tagged in. It's like a visual history, the moments that have apparently been relevant in the last four years of my life. Four years of friends, travel, awkward smiles, action shots,  vanity and self consciousness. It almost trivializes my memory to be able to flick through these moments in a few minutes online.

This is probably only magnified by my looming birthday. I'm so many contradictions at this moment. Looking at those pictures of 13-year-old me, I feel like I've grown so much and yet so little. I'm so different but still the same. I feel so much older but what's changed? The failing of the pictures is that they don't tell me any of this. You can watch the change of my face shape but not the internal growth. You can see some of the things I cared about versus the things that I didn't pay attention to. It's like a visual guide to my life but, to anyone but me, not much more.

Of course it has personal meaning but without the internal monologue going on, memories rising to the surface as each image triggers some special moment, what does this look like from another perspective? Would it mean anything to a stranger and does it even matter whether it does or doesn't?

These are the kind of things I think about as I chart the changes in my physical appearances, photo by photo. Who am I in 'real life' as opposed to the person plastered over different facets of the internet? Is it more harmful or helpful to be able to highlight or cover different parts of yourself when online?

I'll leave you there. Hopefully this wasn't too meandering or pointless. Farewell, friends.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

in the air

I dedicate this to you, Vita. Sometimes I believe that our wands were made from twin cores. Know that I'm sending my good vibes your way.

It rains here. Fantastic drops that hit the pavement because that's all they've ever known how to do. They do it well, but sometimes people chitchat with criticism, cynicism, for lack of anything interesting to say. We all have the weather in common, right? It's like hockey and grad dresses and new nail polish shades. You don't have to know a person personally to have a meaningless conversation about the one thing you're pretty sure you share.

But that's not all why share. It's the air.

For as long as any human being has breathed, argon has been circulating through our atmosphere. It's this tiny gas that sticks around forever, more common that carbon dioxide. The word is derived from something Greek meaning 'lazy' or 'inactive.' It's hard to push argon's buttons; it usually won't react. Exhale after inhale, moving from one lung to another, never altering itself to suit surroundings, we've been breathing the same argon for as long as anyone can remember--and a lot longer before that. You might be breathing the same argon as Jesus right now. Isn't that mind blowing?

These days, I step outside and inhale until my lungs are as full as the glass of water that I wasn't able to carry across the room without spilling. I recycle argon like I always have and I dwell on interconnectedness.

I'm high on spring, rain splattered concrete and tulips and a world that's awake again. Every flower petal and bud is in clear focus as they reflect the glow of my smile. I could survive for the rest of my life on the smell sticking to my nostrils, a smell that I can most aptly describe as life and hope.

For weeks months years, I've been listening to people wistfully wish that summer would hurry up and get here. But why? Summer's always over too fast, like a good dream that you're already forgetting. It's spring that you should hold on to. Spring that says, Look around. There is light, life, love, vitality--they're coming your way.


A lot of idle words are thrown across empty space when it rains, how yucky the weather is, how we long for the sun. But wait, let's hesitate
a second longer. On the idea that the scent of flowers is stronger after a shower. On the fact that water is our life source. On the clearer, brighter, livelier colours that make appearances only after rain drops paint our gardens.

Rain brings things into focus, like the breath you just inhaled that is 0.93% argon--argon that's been on this planet for longer than you can contemplate. The smell of spring is ripe outside and it's telling you clearly that everything is going to be okay. You don't have to decide anything today. Just listen to the argon, so constant yet seemingly lazy. Enjoy spring. You'll be okay.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Morality of Assassination

Um, Osama bin Laden was killed.

So that happened.

I don't feel like getting into the implications and retaliations and other stupid shit that is of absolutely no purpose at all. Terrorism is throwing an idea at someone and making it stick. It doesn't have any real purpose. It's like war, except instead of fighting over something tangible like land or money (not that those are good things to fight over), you're fighting over feelings. Fling hate at one country and receive hatred in return. It's honestly one of the worst ideas humans have ever come up with.

I just want to say, that normally I am 100% against the death penalty. That's mostly because there is almost never any way of being certain that a person is guilty of a crime and it's completely barbaric to kill a person who has any chance of being innocent. Not to mention that it's sickening that we want to exact justice by extinguishing a human life. The death penalty makes me sick. However, I am in no way, shape, or form sorry about bin Laden's death.

He was a murderer. He was a terrorist. He killed, he terrorized, he tortured. He made twin towers crumble and a field burn and a five-sided building fall. He oppressed and he hated. I don't feel sorry for a man like him. Maybe from a religious perspective, people feel obliged to pray for him. But I don't see how anyone could legitimately feel bad about his death. I don't believe in Hell. I don't think he's going to get punished in an afterlife. I think the best anyone can do is eliminate him from this world. To give the order to take another person's life sounds cold-blooded. Maybe it would have been better to capture him (although it sounds like that wasn't really possible). When you're feeling conflicted over his death, remember that literally thousands of people -- Americans, Afghanis, people all the way through the alphabet -- died and suffered because of him and his ideals. I'm sorry, but there are some people in this world who don't deserve to be looked at through a moral conscience because they don't have one of their own. Like, is anyone actually sorry that Hitler shot himself? If you are, how can you live with yourself? Obviously bin Laden and Hitler were completely and totally different, but they both carry something like evil in their hearts. When people say that they don't think he deserved to die, it almost makes me angry. When they say that no matter who he was, he was still a person, it makes me a little angry. How dare you equate him with any human? How dare you equate him with the people he killed? It's like a personal insult, like a do-you-not-understand-who-he-was? Do you not know what he did?

I am in no way supportive of extremist policies. I do not support assassinating opposing political leaders or punishing war criminals without trials. I don't want to shoot every terrorist in existence. I am against violence. But I do not regret his death.