Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Unifying Power of Noodles

Noodles are awesome. Almost every country in the world has its own uses for noodles. Notably Asian countries and Italy, but hey. We have noodles shaped like Scooby Doo characters and slathered in artificially orangish cheese sauce.* I don't exactly know where I'm going with this but if you happen to be browsing the draft posts (or just reading this as is because I am lazy but also have some kind of blogging complex wherein the fact that I haven't blogged here properly in over a week is significant to me...), I guess it's that there's something comforting about the fact that one thing we have in common, on an international scale, is something as basic as noodles. I realize the placement of this post after Vita's eloquent and kind of horrifying one might detract something from it, but hey.

* Canadians actually buy more Kraft brand mac & cheese dinner than those of us in the US do.

Monday, June 27, 2011

All I want is to eat some real food

I was going to attempt to write an eloquent and persuasive post about the horrors of the modern food industry, but let me instead share with you an entry I wrote in my journal a few hours ago:

I'm watching the documentary "Food Inc," part of which I watched in Enviro this year. It's so disgusting how food is made in the U.S. I hate how even though you're told to eat more fruits + veggies, even THOSE are usually genetically modified + filled w/pesticides. Like, as a recent convert to vegetarianism, I've noticed that it's a lot easier to stop eating meat when I think about how DISGUSTING the meat industry is. Forget about the ethical issue of animals being TOTALLY abused for a second (even though that's sad) and just think about how STUPID this is. People get sick, e. coli, allergies, from this crap AND NOBODY CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! The animals get sick AND ARE JUST FED ANTIBIOTICS AND WASHED "CLEAN" WITH AMMONIA + SOLD ANYWAY! THAT IS SO FUCKING UNSANITARY! AND PEOPLE STILL REFUSE TO ADMIT HOW TERRIBLE OUR FOOD SYSTEM IS! I just think that it's so unfair that ALL of us pay the price for people being dumbasses and not caring about their health, and then for companies totally exploiting that. I just don't think that it should have to be a BATTLE to eat healthily.

Perhaps in other countries as well, and certainly within the U.S., people tend to follow capitalism with almost religious devotion. While the well-trained American within me definitely thinks that capitalism is the best economic system, there comes a point where you have to step back and realize that a totally "free market" is not worth totally screwing over everybody except for the companies that have monopolies on the market. Get some regulations up on that shit.

The problem that I have with genetically modified food and industrial food is not that it exists. To parallel, I am not overly concerned with fast food and junk food: I know it's bad for me and I tend to avoid eating it (fast food, that is. Still working on junk food), but other people are free to eat it if they wish, especially since they probably already know it's bad for them. The difference, however, is that there are plenty of alternatives to eating fast food and junk food. There are very, very few alternatives in the U.S. to eating industrial food. The most obvious is organic food, but that is legitimately more expensive, and I can't ask my parents to only buy organic food when I'm not even the one who has to pay for it.

One of the saddest parts of Food Inc. is an interview with a family in California. The mom talks about how she feels guilty for feeding her kids with Happy Meals but, as she points out, she can get a full meal for the price of a few vegetables at the supermarket. Her husband, who drives trucks as a main source of income, relies on two relatively expensive medications to keep healthy and so to keep his job, so the family has to choose between keeping the father relatively healthy on his medication or on keeping the whole family healthy through a better diet. There is no reason that people should have to make those kinds of choices. There is no reason that fast food should cost less than nutritious, healthy food. The actual reason for the skewed prices, which are to some extent beyond my knowledge of economics, revolves around the massive food companies, which are subsidized by the federal government. Organic farmers are not only not subsidized by the government, but they also have to pay extra costs to certify and then label that their food is organic. These massive food companies don't even have to label that their food is genetically modified! How insane is that?

I'm just saying: Republicans preach about family values. Making sure your family doesn't get sick from the food they eat is a pretty goddamn strong component to keeping together that family. Democrats are all about social justice. Holding companies responsible for completely destroying the integrity of our food, not to mention the integrity of smaller farmers and factory workers, sounds pretty socially just to me. The only people who don't possibly benefit from a mass upheaval of the food industry is the people who own the food companies. Unfortunately, they wield an absolutely astounding amount of power, among consumers, among the farmers who provide them with raw materials, even among the government and its regulatory agencies.

The other extremely disturbing thing about this whole food mess is the stigma around people who push for better food. By writing this post and having this perspective on food, I would probably be classified as a "foodie." Let me clarify, I am not in favor of depriving people of all the food that they love, nor do I intend to belittle my friends every time they order a hamburger. What I want is to be able to eat natural, healthy food at reasonable prices, and for the government to do their job and actually regulate the safety of food, rather than bending to the interests of the food companies. Yet people have this intense opposition to "health nuts," and I don't understand why. Sure, it's annoying to having people criticize your food choices all the time. But why on earth would you be opposed to making the food you eat healthier and safer? Nobody is going to come and snatch your cookies and pizzas and candy bars away from you. All I want is the knowledge that biting into a tomato isn't going to increase my chance of getting cancer and that my future kids won't develop food allergies and health problems from ingredients that have no business being in children's food.

I really, really, really, really recommend seeing "Food. Inc" if you haven't already. You should really also watch the TED talk I mentioned earlier. Opponents talk about skewed science, misrepresented facts, but I think what we have here is an issue of common sense and basic health. It's true that the issue isn't totally black and white. There are arguments in favor of genetically modified foods, most centering around increased food production -- the problem is, these potentially beneficial aspects of food modification are truly not used to better the lives of the hungry, but for the sole purpose of driving up profits, at the sake of the health and integrity of huge percentages of our food. It really should not be a challenge to find genuinely healthy food. Nobody should have to sacrifice their health -- short-term and long-term -- just to avoid starvation and placate the gigantic monster that is the food industry.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

that's life ;)

Sometimes, days pass and it's busy and I am a horrible email correspondent but I can still look at it all and think, "That's life," and smile. Most of the time. Other days, I look at the magnificently terrifying pile of messages in my inbox and want to sob.

But that's life.

Some Sundays, I wake up and think, "I'm going to write a terrific blog today," and then I have plans of father-daughter breakfasts and walks and family solitary reading and I get home and have to sort through some emails first and by the time I get around to blogging my eyes are strained and tired and I want to close them and sleep.

So hi. How are you today? Are you okay? Is life good, in general? I'll see you on Thursday but, just so you know, I'm working so I may be tired which is why I sometimes miss our supposedly biweekly chats. But I'll try to be there because it's important to me. I hope you understand. I'm pretty sure you do.

Bye now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blurring the Lines

So, Vita's blog post is actually extremely relevant to my life right now. To such a degree that it warrants a blog post at least partially in response to it.

Backstory: I was (and still am) a quirky, nervous sort of child. I had the "typical" fears of the dark, of bees, of needles. The base and unavoidable things like pain and the unknown. And also oddly specific ones like overhead lighting fixtures falling, and my family dying via ~fill in gruesome method of the day~. Over the course of a few years I developed a collection of superstitious/ritualistic behaviors* to prevent these things, which I followed religiously and without question.

The "without question" part has changed, (obviously, or I wouldn't be writing this. It's been a while since I've started this post, and it's beginning to strike me as vastly uninteresting. Sorry, y'all. This isn't necessarily one that's meant to provoke intense discussion. You can comment if you want, but this is mostly for the purpose of me venting.) and I've been using the all-knowing wonder of Dr. Google to sort out what is normal-yet-unnecessary superstition and what is actual obsessive compulsion. Through it, I've kind of accepted the fact that I have some form of OCD. OCD is such a variable mental illness, though, anyone with the ability to stretch their imagination can see themselves fitting the symptoms. Maybe I am trying too hard. Even though I'll be the first person to recognize these things are irrational (and also annoying as fuck), to the point where a professional opinion seems like a good idea.

This is another can of worms in itself, though, because my mother believes mental health disorders (and the treatment thereof) are largely hokum**, making the already awkward conversation of, "Hey, mom, I suspect a problem with my overall mental state and would feel better about the whole situation if it was evaluated by someone with a degree instead of the internet." way more awkward, because what I see as a legitimate concern she sees as nothing, a normal emotion turned into an imaginary condition developed to sell drugs. Le sigh.***


* I'm not going to bore you with the details; suffice to say they involve arbitrary and repetitious things like touching doorknobs and mostly interfere with my sleeping habits.

** As a result of several books about how drug companies are manufacturing huge buckets of pills and lies.

*** I don't know about whoever else may be reading this far, but I'm slightly uncomfortable with the utter seriousness of this post. Here, have a video of a cat. :D

Monday, June 20, 2011


So here's how it is: people have a desire to be special. People also tend to look for sympathy. Put them together and you have a large subgroup of people who want to be special by having problems. This, I think, leads to a lot of people who exaggerate their problems even to themselves, leading them to think that they have some kind of mental or other disorder, when in actuality all they have is a few too many problems or perhaps a deep-seated boredom and a need for some attention. Understandable.

This less than groundbreaking discovery comes to you by way of an introspective discovery I made about myself tonight. Since forever, I have had an irrational disgust with clusters of small things -- insect/animal eggs on leaves, groups of white mushrooms, a lotus pod, magnified cellular structures -- which I just found out is called "trypophobia" and something that other people suffer from as well. This lead me to read an article about it, at which point I realized that I don't have trypophobia, but rather its watered-down cousin. I really do get grossed out by that sort of thing, but that's as far as it goes. I don't get itchy, I don't freak out and cry -- I just shiver a little bit, feel grossed out, and look away. A couple of minutes later, I realized further that I had been trying to make myself fit the symptoms, as if I wanted to have the phobia. Which I then realized (I was quite insightful tonight) that I did sort of want to have the phobia. It feels like the kind of thing that you can whip out as a party trick. When other people comment on disliking dogs or hating clowns, you can upstage them all by saying, "Yeah, well, I throw up every time I see groups of small holes," at which point everyone (presumably) feels sorry for you and you are the special snowflake of the night.

Of course, anyone thinking rationally would never wish to have a phobia. When you're scared of something -- really, truly, irrationally scared -- your life gets a lot harder. Imagine if I had a severe case of trypophbia: I'd start crying every time I saw a bowl of blueberries. I'd never be able to watch nature documentaries. It would suck. What people want, I think, is not the problem but the consequence: the sympathy, the recognition of a unique difficulty.

The closest thing I have to a phobia, really, is probably quite common, and is the physical aversion I have to insects larger than a gnat or very small fly, especially when indoors. Flying bugs, scuttling beetles, silverfish that inconveniently rest on the ceiling of small rooms -- I simply cannot force myself to get close to them, and when in close proximity to them (especially by myself), my heart starts racing and I get hot and sweaty (gross, I know). An aforementioned silverfish shows up fairly regularly my bathroom ceiling and inconveniences me for a good five minutes as I debate how to proceed. Sometimes I cover with a tissue the head of an old hobby horse and smush it from a reasonable distance, but even that takes effort as I force myself to stab at the bug. One time late at night, I saw a possibly dead silverfish on the side of the hallway connecting the bedrooms to the kitchen and I stood deliberating for a good ten minutes in four by eight foot space while trying to risk sprinting past it to get a cup from the kitchen under which I could then trap the silverfish. Still, I don't know if this counts as a phobia. It's inconvenient and persistent, true, but the independent idea of insects doesn't gross me out and I actually enjoy looking at magnified pictures of them. Now that I think about it, I think that my not-trypophobia and fear of insects are slight related. Disgustingly, when I'm trying to get rid of a bug, I can't help but imagine it flying into my ear and laying eggs or something nauseating like that.

Perhaps tellingly, my aversion to insects is a fear (if not quite a phobia) that I sincerely wish I could rid myself of. I know it's stupid, and it's certainly annoying to be petrified by a harmless organism a thousandth (or smaller) of my size, but the message doesn't quite translate to my limbs. This is probably far too narrow a statement, but I feel that the desire to rid oneself of a problem is often a defining line between the genuinely afflicted and those hungry for attention. I would guess that most people with real depression, a real broken leg, real phobias, and so forth desperately wish that they didn't have those, while the rest of us know we shouldn't want them, but sort of kind of sometimes do.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


It's four minutes until 11 and my eyes are not wanting to show me the world anymore but I'm still upright and in the end, that's what counts. Right?


This week is staring me in the face and its cold demeanor and general fullness is a bit intimidating. Tomorrow, I will be cleaning and teaching a friend how to ride a bike and talking about the future of my community. That's a full schedule. Then Tuesday is Value Village and work and I just realized something. This isn't interesting.

I have this weird thing going on in my brain lately where I literally question everything. Like, if someone says that coconuts are bad, I will actually ask myself what that even means, how one determines the definition of the words 'bad' and 'coconut' and then whether it even matters. You know what's one that gets me? Fair.

What is fair? Is it everyone getting the same resources and opportunities? Is it everyone contributing equal shares or is it everyone contributing what they can or is it people receiving resources and opportunities based on what they contribute? Are we obligated to help people out when they're less fortunate than us? Why?

I don't know if I'm playing Devil's advocate or simply looking critically at the basis of the principles I live my life by. Either way, it's kind of groundbreaking.

And you may be able to tell that I'm tired and everything is seeming far more profound than it actually is. So I will sign off. Goodnight. But what's good?

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Stupid Argument

Belatedly in honor of Flag Day (lolflagday) or very early in honor of the Fourth of July or perhaps just in honor of reasonable patriotism at any time of the year, I would like to present a defense of the American (U.S.-ian, if you will) National Anthem. Perhaps it is just in the Washington Post, which for all its respectability tends to publish rather incendiary editorials, but last month -- or perhaps earlier; around the time when Christina Aguilera apparently forgot the words to the anthem whilst singing it -- out poured a vocal group of people railing against the National Anthem. "It's too hard to sing!" they roared, "It glorifies violence!" "It's outdated and wasn't even that good to begin with!" others insisted.

Of course they're entitled to their opinions. Yet they annoy me because they tend to be the nit-picky types who fancy themselves to be clever although they are mostly just obnoxious. And, you know, I may not get paid for this and I may not have thousands of subscribers but I am still going to rebut their argument, gosh darn it. This will be short as it's a stupid debate to begin with and thus does not require much thought:

Firstly, people rarely sing the National Anthem. They tend to shout it. Go to any sporting event and you will see this is true. The people who have to actually sing the anthem are people who are supposed to be good at singing already; thus, the difficulty of the song -- which isn't even that difficult, if you don't add on all the annoying bells and whistles, which everyone does but nobody should -- should not pose a problem. Secondly, the American public generally does not have a problem with the anthem. I admit that I feel a swell of patriotic pride whenever I hear it played, especially when I'm with a large group of fellow Americans (or, really, anybody who likes the USA enough to stand around and listen to the anthem), and I suspect that most of my fellow citizens feel the same way. Also, like, good luck trying to change it -- you're definitely, absolutely going to get shot down as a devil-worshiping America-hating fascist. (Don't worry that the insult doesn't make sense. People just like to get angry.) Thirdly, maybe it's not the best song ever written, but it's a hell of a lot better than many of the state anthems. Take Maryland for example, whose state anthem is essentially a southern-sympathizing, anti-north, pro-slavery Civil War relic. It's not so much the fact that it was made the state song that's the problem... it's that it was made the state song in 1939. And nobody has changed it since then -- in fact, there's opposition to altering the lyrics on the basis of 'preserving state history.' Right, because the state song -- which nobody even knows, may I point out -- is the most important place to preserve the racist history of a state that never even joined the Confederacy. Oh, Maryland.

(I feel sometimes that I come across as super pro-American on this blog, which isn't really true in my general life. This is mostly because whilst I normally freely admit the many flaws in the workings of my home country, I still feel quite an affinity for it, and the annoyance at hearing people going on and on and on about how terrible the USA as if all other countries are perfect builds up over time and eventually provokes me to the point where I am driven to post a rant about it over here. Lucky you!)

P.s. I'm not well versed in the national anthems of other countries, but I must admit that I love "God Save the Queen" (or King) despite the fact that I'm quite indifferent towards the British monarchy. I quite like the Canadian anthem as well. Let song unite us all, etc. etc.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Seriously Do Not Understand the Concept of Flag Day

Happy Birthday, Vita!

(Also, it's U.S. Flag Day. Paaaartaaaay.)*

A lot of countries have a holiday commemorating the first use of their current flag, but I just don't get it. Disregarding its position as a kind of lackluster, in-name-only holiday, I don't even see the real point of it. As opposed to, say, Arbor Day. I can appreciate the driving force behind Arbor Day even though I usually neglect celebrating it.

It is commonly agreed that the flag is a symbol of the country, and also patriotism, in a metaphorical sense. It's not like a bomb-wielding anarchist is just going to take that day off in observance, so maybe it's a chance for the average-level patriots to step up their game? But hardly anyone does. Why, then, do we need a specific holiday on which to be patriotic?** It's like a cycle of Congressional pointlessness. Perhaps, Vita, (living in what I assume to be a more concentrated area of patriotism), or Alex (living in a country with different attitudes towards patriotism altogether), you guys can enlighten me on this/add to my musings.

Or you can tell me I'm being an overly analytical spoilsport, whatever you want.

* Whenever I abbreviate US, I always read it as the pronoun. Which is a.) grammatically incorrect and b.) kind of an interesting way of illustrating our Pocahontisian (here I know I could use some technical foreign policy term, and I choose to make a Disney reference. Deal with it.) "us or them" mentality.

** Or another holiday, if you count independence day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Even more parts!

Part One
Tomorrow is my birthday. I have never been a huge birthday enthusiast. Especially around my family, I have a longstanding trend of shying away from all the attention. I guess I just never feel like I do anything to deserve the presents and stuff. It's not like I hate myself, I just think that the way my family treats me is a gift in itself. That sounds super cheesy, but it's true. I've fought with my family before but not for extended periods of time and even though I definitely don't tell them everything we've always been close, although not in a hang-out-all-the-time, best-friendy sort of way, just in an easy-going do-your-own-thing sort of fashion. I don't know how to explain it. My birthday just feels awkward. To me, my birthday is like any other day except there's this pressure for me to be overly happy and have the most fun I've had all year. And it rarely is the most fun I've had all year because fun things happen spontaneously and randomly and there's rarely a date when I expect something to be a certain level of awesome and then it turns out to perfectly match that level of awesome, for better or for worse.
I sound inappropriately grumpy. This doesn't even apply to my friends. Generally, a perfect birthday for me would be for people to tell me happy birthday and then for a group of us to go do fun things that involve me (obviously) but don't revolve around me (hence my aversion to birthday parties for myself -- also I'm too lazy to plan them). That, coincidentally, is what I'm planning on doing tomorrow (I'm going to the National Zoo after taking a math exam that I don't much care about), so I think it should be a good time.

Part Two
There isn't really a need for more parts, but who am I to break the trend? Let's talk about more fun things. I just beat Angry Birds on Google Chrome. Lordy but is that game addicting.
No. That's not interesting. What is interesting, however, is the coming release of Deathly Hallows part 2. Anyone else planning on a reread of the series before the film premieres? TV has been eating away at my heartstrings recently, and while I certainly do enjoy a bit of weeping over fictional characters in any form, I need to rekindle the old literary flame. And I may as well start with what is (in my opinion) the best book series of all time.

~Angry Birds break~

Part Three
What to say, what to say. Anyone else feeling the need for a light internet cleanse this summer? I'm planning on getting out of the house and doing things. The need for actual material to blog about is not a minor factor in this decision. Internet, I banish thee! Temporarily. At some point in the near future.

Peace. Got to go "study" for math. Oh, school...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More parts!!

Part 1
I drove an SUV today and was a part of a convoy. Firsts! Butnoseriously, it worries me that I may be living a life today that makes the lives of future generations less prosperous. Maybe I'm the only person that thinks these kind of things when they're flipping through racks of clothing that were sewn in Nepal but it's true.

Part 2
I've noticed that writing songs is a lot like writing poetry only after I've written some words down, I pick up my ukulele and start strumming chords to see what fits and then saying, well singing, the words in different ways until I like it. Also, it's harder to know when I'm being original and when I'm ripping off other people's songs that are stuck in my head. Oh and the other difference is that when I finish, I don't really want to show it to people, no matter how awesome I think it is. Handing over a piece of paper is way less daunting than performing my work to an audience which I relate to opening yourself up and spilling all over the floor. Singing my own stuff is just so freaking personal and vulnerable and intense. And then there's that moment when I finish and no one says anything and I'm thinking, please, let me disappear. Maybe I'll get there someday, reach that place where I'm comfortable with my songs and self and can just play like a normal person. Until then, I'll be practicing in my room.

Part 3
It really bothers me when I'm too tired or disillusioned or both to be the person that I want to be. There was this incident last night involving people saying things that I disagreed with but, because I was tired and doubted that anyone would care or notice that I said something, didn't say anything about. It was like that moment when it feels like your last string breaks and it's not even worth it to argue because nothing you say will change their minds. And I hate that, that I didn't have the energy or willpower to be who I want to be.

Part 4
I went to the bookstore today and, on the sale shelves, placed seemingly for the sole purpose of mocking me were two books sitting innocently side by side.
Book 1: The Science of Sexy
Book 2: He's Just Not That Into You
It may be funny to you but it's even more hilarious if you are intimately acquainted with the goings on of my head and also my life. And on that note, I am going to go watch the movie, He's Just Not That Into You, which I got out of the library before it became applicable to my life.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Return of PARTS

(It's time for a PARTS blog. A blog in 2 PARTS.)

Part I: In Which Rena Recounts Technical Difficulties

So my lovely, faithful computer had its (less lovely, less faithful) mouse frozen for around 2 days. I did nothing about it except intermittently for clicking/jiggling it impatiently and then forcing it back to sleep. Today I get the bright idea to turn the power strip-thing off and turn it on again (thus forcing the power to kind of restart itself, I don't know.), and it worked. This is, I am aware, standard troubleshooting procedure. Why I did not do this sooner, I do not know. It's weird how things I know so often become things I forget. In the Venn Diagram of My Life, those circles overlap with worrisome frequency.

Small inconveniences like this force me to put my life into perspective, in a way. "My computer won't work boo-hoo I can't waste time on Tumblr for today." is a class-A first world problem. In the meantime, though, I've done a lot of reading. (Two books--both about 250 pages in less than 48 hours. Both very good. Summary/rant below.) Which I've been meaning to do more of anyway.

PART II: In Which Rena Talks About Books

The books I read over my little woeful computerless time were Into the Wild Nerd Yonder and Don't Stop Now, both by Julie Halpern. Which I thoroughly enjoyed and you should read. (Think what would happen if John Green were a woman. And still a novelist and not, like, a supermodel or something.) Even though I enjoyed them, I have some criticisms.

The first is about this girl who, once her friends have turned into pseudo-punk rock hipsters, realizes they were terrible friends anyway and goes off in search of new friends. These friends happen to play Dungeons & Dragons. And throughout this whole thing her inner turmoil is if she should abandon her (also sort of punk) roots and cement herself as a D&D nerd because that's where she'll be happier, or if having nerdy friends makes her a nerd.* I (as a self-professed nerd and punk fan) took a mild amount of offense. Life isn't black and white, yo.** Nor is life a neatly-divided-cliques John Hughes movie. I've had heated-yet-well-argued debates regarding 10th vs. 11th Doctors, as well as The Clash vs. The Ramones.*** I'm just a complex person like that. Everyone is/has the right to be. Maybe I'm being overly judgmental and/or overly analytical. The book doesn't necessarily preach giving up one subculture for another, it just implies that if one group is where the hipster assholes reside, then you might want to distance yourself from it completely. Eh. Just read the book and decide for yourselves.

The second I have less criticisms of, but am only a little pouty about because it had almost the exact same plot as my (as-yet-unfinished) NaNoWriMo 2010 novel. Except the published one had a third party being faking her own kidnapping and a kind-of-platonic couple roadtripping to find her instead of the protagonist being fake-kidnapped by her kind-of-platonic friend and a roadtrip ensuing for the sake of the roadtrip. You should read it anyway. It's longer than mine.


* This sounds really critical and is a pretty bad plot summary.
** I'm so gangster.
*** With the same person, nonetheless. We're bonded by a love of argument. (I was on the side of the latter in both cases, if you were wondering.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hockey and Its Implications

I've had this post in my head for a while, maybe even since the whole playoff* thing started. That said, I want to get back to my book, That Fluffy YA Romance**, so if this seems rushed... yeah nevermind. Let's get into it.

Hockey. It's kind of a big deal around these parts. I don't know if it's the same in the US or wherever else you reader people live. I always think of hockey being football's sideshow in the States. But in Canada, it is *the* show.

With Vancouver's*** hockey team (the Canuck[le Heads]s, as my dad affectionately refers to them) currently in the Stanley Cup Finals, it's kind of hard to escape. There are stickers in every window, posters on every wall and flags on a rather large percentage of vehicles--seriously people, two words: fuel efficiency! The hype has given me a lot to think about, too.

I see a lot of merit in sports but I really can't condone the violence. It's completely brutal and unacceptable and I worry that our idolization of these players somewhat desensitizes us to the violence of what they do to each other. I'm not saying that a guy is going to come home from watching a game at the pub, where players smash each other in the face, interspersed with commercials in which women are objectified to sell beer, and beat up his wife. I'm just saying that denying the linkage is obtuse.

But I can look past that, temporarily. As my mom said, "It's not the game I have a problem with, it's the way it's played." What I appreciate about it is the fact that hockey, and sports in general, bring communities together. When played with integrity, I think sports represent being united for a common goal and I am constantly amazed about how the Canucks having gone all the way to the Finals for the first time since the year I was born can bring complete strangers together.

I know people that are sports nerds (ahem, John Green, himself) and I definitely have to take second looks at things when there's so many people who feel so passionate about them. I still can't comprehend how hockey players make exponentially more money than, say, teachers when I would say that education should be more highly valued than entertainment. But that's almost another topic in itself.

I can't come to a solid conclusion either way but I think that's okay. I mean, pro: strengthening community, enjoyment/entertainment; cons: glorified violence, fractured sense of value/priorities. It's tough to call.

Personally, I feel arbitrarily invested, like I want them to win but I don't know why I care. It's a weird feeling. I will be keeping tabs on the game tomorrow, though, because I'll be at work. Yay.

Anything to add to my internal debate? For now, I shall go back to What Happened to Goodbye and bid you good night.

*fought really hard with myself about whether to put 'playoff' in quotes. Just saying.
**I just read two heavy books (re: teen prostitution and death, respectively). So I can read whatever I want now. Don't panic, I'm just regrouping with a little Sarah Dessen. It's all good. This is not to assume you were judging, mostly I'm just judging myself. And rationalizing. I'll stop now.
***I can't say 'our' hockey team, though many do. I just can't.

Monday, June 6, 2011

But not Teletubbies!

I think I prefer TV shows to films, on the whole.

I genuinely believe it’s at least partly because of my obsession with the internet that my attention span during movies tends to wane. Also, I cannot even watch films when I’m stressed out because I can’t stop thinking about how I should be doing something else. Funnily, I have less of a problem with watching TV shows instead of being productive. It’s probably psychological.

It’s not that I hate movies; there are many that I love and I don’t usually have a problem with watching one. However, the prospect of watching a film often seems unappealing to me. This is a fairly recent development because only a couple of years ago, I didn’t regularly follow any TV shows at all. Now, I only religiously watch two-becoming-three (30 Rock, Doctor Who, and now Bones, of course) but I’m getting more interested in other shows as well. I really love the idea of TV shows. You really get to develop characters and stories… or overstay your welcome and totally run yourself into the pavement, depending.

There are also several interesting limiting factors with TV and movies. In TV, you have perhaps more freedom to develop plots and characters, whereas in a film you have approximately 2 hours or less to convince your audience that you’re good. Yet with TV, it’s more risky with the actors, because after their contract is up, they may decide to leave, and then you’re short a character… you may have to write a death into the show! In a way, you’re more influenced by the realistic factors of the show — like, the necessity of the same actors to play the same character, for continuity. That can either contribute to the pace of the show or totally slow it down as the writers attempt to resist all changes to the nature of the show. That's one of the reasons why Doctor Who is so good, I think -- the main and supporting characters all change fairly frequently, allowing the show to retain the same personality whilst keeping it from becoming senile.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Vita's clairvoyant.

^ In the comments to Hank's video, I saw someone who identified as "flexitarian", which--although not recognized by spellcheck--I'm assuming is closer to what you, Alex, have struggled to communicate to your family. There are vegetarians who occasionally eat meat. There are non-vegetarians who occasionally eat vegetarian meals. People are naturally omnivorous (and I personally think it's pointless to deny that), some people just lean more to the herbi/carni sides of the spectrum. And that's fine. The world isn't black and white, good and evil, Muggles and Death Eaters, carnivores and vegetarians, you get the idea.

However, I am going to try going lunchetarian for a month.* More than that, though, I'm actually going to eat vegetables. (Starting tomorrow. See below.) Because there are plenty of vegetarian meals that don't involve vegetables at all. (If the cards are played right, technically vegetarian food can be pretty unhealthy.)

What I had for lunch today:

1. Pita bread with hummus (roasted garlic flavor)
2. A few miniature pickles (kosher dill)
3. A can of Coke (regular)

(This was even vegan, whooo. I could never really be a vegan, though. Cheese is just so good.)

Pickles, while still strictly speaking are vegetables, are like the salt-and-vinegar-mutant-half-siblings of actual vegetables. I've always been more of a fruit person** than a vegetable person, and I've always figured that this difference is like the difference between cat people and dog people; no real difference exists, and they serve the same purpose. Rationally, of course, I know that they contain different nutrients and things and because of this I'm going to try to implement change in my life.


* This is vaguely cheater-y of me, though, because it is now summer and I tend to sleep until late-morning, making the lunch hours my breakfast hours. I really dislike having to eat a large or even moderately sized meal soon after I wake up, so I tend to just graze on things. (. . .like a dainty little gazelle. "Graze" is such a weird word.)

** Excluding avocados. I hate avocados. I despise the taste, texture, and color of them. They remind me of baby vomit (whenever I make a comparison like this, one or both of my parents cleverly point out that I have never actually tasted the thing to which I am making the comparison. Hopefully you can understand the metaphor.); they are my nemesis. Like peanut butter is to Alex. (Do you mind if I ask why? I'm very pro-PB, and it boggles my mind to see someone so vehemently opposed to it. Unless you're deathly allergic to peanuts or something.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

confessions of a part time vegetarian

WARNING: Some of the tenses in this post are kind of screwed up. Sorry. I'm tired (the excuse of champions).

On my birthday, I was craving bacon. One of the things that I'd managed to convince myself for most of the four (five?) years I was a vegetarian is that I'm not a huge fan of bacon. Vicious lie, or at least it is now. Bacon also holds some negative memories in my mind, unfortunately, because of one of the last times I was craving bacon.

We were having a family breakfast--french toast, strawberries, bacon--and I sat there, staring at the red strips of greasy meat, wanting. And so I talked myself into it, told myself the foundation of my personage wasn't going to crumble if I had one tiny piece of bacon. I reached for it.

It's like I was waiting for one of my sisters to say it, waiting to hear my insecurities voiced, and one of them did. "Aren't you a vegetarian?"

Like a rubber band snapping, I withdrew my hand and left the table in tears.* I don't blame her but for a minute I wished that people didn't have to stick so strictly to what they say they are, that our society left some room for growth or shifting. So let me just say that 'vegetarian' is a label, not a way of life. As a teenager and human being, I feel somewhat entitled to change. This is me, asking for space to shift around whenever I'm uncomfortable in my skin, on behalf of myself and every other person who wants to change without judgement.

Jeez, I really needed to get that out. Thank you for being an outlet. But on to what Vita was actually talking about.

First of all, I have never been what I would call a "strict" vegetarian. I never chose hunger if something was cooked in the same pan as meat. I'd usually pick around it or go for side dishes. These days, I eat chicken whenever and some red meat sporadically.

Does it inconvenience your parents or do you make your own food?
Being the only non-meat eater in my family might have been awkward if we were an intense meat eating family, but we aren't. We eat it a few times a week, less since my older sister left, and when we do, it's usually optional/on the side. Considering how light on meat we are anyway and how easy going I am, I don't think it's inconvenient. I can't speak for someone who has a family that eats meat every day, though.

What do you do when you're eating at someone else's house and they serve meat?
That's tricky. See, once you've been a vegetarian for a few years, the places where you habitually eat catch on to your preferences. All my friends know so there's always a cheese pizza alongside the pepperoni. New people are usually pretty accommodating, too. I mean, I feel bad when people go out of their way to make me a salad because they're serving meatloaf or whatever but it's kind of nice.
As for advice, it depends on the situation. If you're comfortable with the people, mention it beforehand and see if they can keep the meat to the side. If you don't feel like saying anything, stick to sides. And if you don't care, indulge. I've done it to avoid making people feel guilty and because, well, I felt like eating meat. But the more you mentioned it, the more it will stick and people will be thinking of it automatically after a while.

Oh and protein. A friend of mine went vegetarian and then stopped because she was gaining weight from snacking on carbs all the time. The weight thing isn't so much of a problem for me but energy and hunger are so protein is good. I eat nuts and beans and humuus (peanut butter is an arch-nemesis of mine) but also a lot of bread and pasta. And the government technically recommends 7-12 fruit and veggie servings every day so that probably wouldn't hurt. Balance is key in any diet.

I hope that helps. Let me know how it goes.

*Yes, I am that sensitive.