Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meeting MJ

Need I say it? Maureen Johnson is freaking awesome. She is the physical embodiment of her online presence. Like, I hardly need to describe my experience because if you read her Twitter timeline, you can practically feel it.

Me and MJ
(this is misleading and we're probably the same height
but I was wearing high heeled boots)
I'm going tell you about it anyway but I just wanted to preface this with the fact that yesterday was textbook MJ. I could not have imagined it better.

I convoyed to the site with five friends and we were behind my schedule when we arrived at 10:30. For a 2 o'clock event. And there was no one there. After some mild deliberation, we left, bound for Value Village to do some Halloween shopping.

When we came back at 12, there was still no one there that we could see. There were some people hanging out in Starbucks who appeared like they could have been there for the event but still no line and Chapters seemed rather ambivalent about the whole deal. Soon, they seemed to realize that there was a thing happening and started setting up some chairs and a podium in a corner of the teen section. Naturally, my people snagged the front row, though this was a little intimidating. I started trying to nudge the podium farther away with my toe but it wasn't actually that bad. Maureen didn't stand behind the podium the whole time. Sometimes she stood beside it; sometimes she jumped over the audience to check out the extension pack of Settlers of Catan she'd never seen before; sometimes she got very close to sitting in my sister's lap.

You can't tell how close it was from this picture
but trust me, it was CLOSE.
It was great, you know. I'm not going to go over every detail because that might get boring. The easiest and possibly truest way to describe what Maureen did is rambled. She told us her events were pretty much exclusively q&a except a special brand of question and answer in which someone asks a questions and she rambles and answers a different question until she has forgotten the original question and then asks to be reminded of the question and then ignores it some more and then asks for another question that she can ignore. It's a pretty entertaining process.

After the questions ran out and several audience members had proffered gifts in the form of nanaimo bars and maple syrup, we all shuffled over to stand in line for the signing part. There were pictures and Sharpies and high fives and then we left. I'm slightly ashamed to say I didn't get anything signed to our blog--it only occurred to me later. Maybe the next one of us that crosses paths with the woman who threw us in the way of each other can get her to sign a badge that we can upload and stick in our sidebar. That would be cool.

I wish you guys had been there. It was jokes.

p.s. Can we all go to VidCon, please??? PLEEEEEEASE?

Friday, October 28, 2011

At least education taught me how to write these words

Disclaimer: I am posting this on Saturday and changing the date so it looks like Friday because I want to blog this week. Also, you should know that 90% of the time when I don't blog on Fridays it's because I go to sleep at 6pm, mostly by accident. One could say that I should just write blog posts earlier, but what do you think I am, a non-procrastinator? And yes, most of the time on Fridays I do just go to sleep early because I'm really friggin' tired; take your judgement elsewhere/I don't have any friends. Is this my way of apologizing for temporarily abandoning you, blog readers? I choose not to answer that mostly because I like to pretend that I have an aura of je ne sais quoi.


"If we wish to change the system of education in the U.S. -- in the world -- then we must now devise a concrete, sustainable alternative to the current model. We must define all of our goals. We must acknowledge what is good and what is bad and how fundamental is the flaw. How can we come up with a system for education so radically different, one that creates divergent rather than convergent thinking, halls less rigid than those of academia, without reverting back to the abysmal quality of education, equality, and life of the pre-Industrial Revolution eras? If we agree that standardized tests are bad, how so? Are they bad in the absolute or only unfit for some and what to replace them with? How to ensure good education with fewer regulations? Are we talking about changing the system of education or an entire culture?"

I wrote the above yesterday afternoon while sitting in my Physics class, rather than actually paying attention, which perhaps demonstrates one of the fundamental flaws of public education: more often than not, it is painfully boring. Another fundamental flaw: I'm only taking said Physics class because it is a commonly recommended class for polishing your schedule for college applications. To me, taking classes for college is as equally bad as a class that teaches to the test. That's not learning for the sake of learning; that's learning -- or more likely, memorizing and forgetting -- for the sole sake of advancing in the academic system. It's not like Physics is an unimportant class either; it's only an honors class, so obviously it's not all there is to know about the laws of the universe, but it theoretically should teach students about how the universe works on a very basic level. Surely that ought to be a better incentive to take the class -- how fucking crazy is it that people actually have discovered shit about why we don't fall of the face of the Earth as it's revolving?! -- but I doubt it's a common one.

It was also inspired by this video, which mirrors how I feel about the majority of inspiring quotes: they sound really nice, but when you get right down to it, they either are so broad that they are pragmatically impossible to follow, or they aren't actually saying much. What the lecturer says makes sense -- and I don't know if there was another part to his speech that was not included in that video -- but he offers no solution, at least not a practical one, and that bothers me. I agree with a lot of what he says -- not everyone is intelligent in the same way; lots of people get left behind because of programs like "No Child Left Behind" -- but how can we fix that? There are certainly ways in the modern U.S. to be successful without being "book smart" (or at least without following the typical school/college/career path) -- the arts immediately come to mind -- but those are perhaps more risky options liable to fail, and ones that many people can't follow either.

Allow me to present my own life as an example. I am not happy with the college/career path, but I also don't have any talents that would allow me to bypass that step and still be successful (as in, get paid to do something I love). I don't say that disparagingly; I say it bluntly. I'm not stupid or talentless, but I am not especially good at acting, writing, painting, singing, performing, and while I like many of them, I do not love any of those things enough to work at them hard enough to get to the point where I am really awesome at them. Additionally, while there are many things about school that I simply cannot stand, there are points that I enjoy. In an almost complete turn-around from last year, I once again genuinely enjoy my English class, and there are a few other classes that I like. Yet none of those classes are in subjects that I would want to pursue as a career. Another example: this year I'm taking Calculus with Applications: the first math class in a long time that moves slowly enough that I actually understand what's going on, and thus don't absolutely dread going to it every day (not to say that I actually like it), yet it's below-level Calculus about which it is easy to make disparaging comments. What's left? Pursue a career in something that is marketable and widely considered to be "good" -- business, a science -- but that I'm not good at and for the most part hate because I simply can't understand it -- or go off and self-study a tiny little niche of literature that has no relevance to the world other than that it makes me happy? And what right do I have to demand options for a job that is both decently paid and enjoyable to me when so many people in the world have almost no choice whatsoever in what they do for a career? I would hate to get a stereotypical "office job," but there are so many people who can't avoid them. Why should I get to pursue a dream career over them?

I don't have answers. I do have a whole lot more questions. I don't know what to do about this problem. And while I know that there are people who search for real alternatives to our current education system, I wish there to be more. It's been the time for a while now to stop inventing new tests and address the real, fundamental flaws of public education: but that means that a lot of people are going to have to battle it out on a very basic level.


P.s. Some of us who are getting to meet Maureen Johnson today should have fun. (Oh god. This passive-aggressive... jealousy? pent-up anger?... is strangling my normally semi-nice personality. OH GOD SOMEONE HELP ME FKGRARBBLEGARRBLELaksjfassssssssah... I AM SO JEALOUS ALL OF YOU ARE GOING TO DIE) [Sweet baby Jesus, 10:45 on a Saturday morning and I'm already delirious]) Really, though, I am happy for you, Alex. I'm actually pretty excited for this; I hope you don't mind that I'm going to temporarily be living vicariously through you, like a desperate little puppy who... is... desperate? No, really, it's so cool that one of us is going to get to meet MJ (hopefully that will eventually be all of us, but we have to start somewhere, yes yes). Kind of crazy that we have her to thank for this entire blog. Well, not really -- we're the ones who created it, not her, to give credit where it's due -- but she's the reason we met in the first place which is fucking crazy! Yet awesome.
Okay, I think this is getting out of hand. Let me leave you with something semi-sane: I hope meeting Maureen Johnson is really awesome, Alex!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"they call it an existential crisis for a reason"

I don't know what I'm doing. That's a lie. A more accurate statement is I don't know where my life is going and I have no idea how to figure it out and it's making me a bit anxious or ansty or just lame.

Hmmm. Like, I do stuff. Sometimes. I read novels and make pumpkin pies and drink chai tea lattes and protest economic injustice. But a lot of the time, I don't do much. I tumbl[e?]; I sleep in; I...  read novels. I almost wish I went to school because then my idle activities would be working towards something, even if it was just matriculation.

Maybe I don't have to know right now. That's nice, comforting, to think I don't have to have a plan or goals or whatever. But also worrying, you know? "What's the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?"*

I need a goal. This is one of the main reasons I decided to do NaNoWriMo this year, albeit in a way not endorsed by NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, I'm just drowning in a bit of self-pity because I am kind of awful at relationships and communication in general and my life doesn't appear to be moving me towards anything, or at least not at a discernible rate. When I think about it, I'm a pretty horrible Hufflepuff. I'm much too self serving and lazy.

I should get on with it. Finish my book (Irma Voth by Miriam Toews--really enjoying it), get some sleep. I'll keep you guys posted on my encounter with Maureen Johnson. And I'm curious: what are you guys being for Halloween?


*from An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sometimes I forget that everyone has access to the same internet...

(That could turn out to be the beginning of a pretty sordid sentence, but it's not what it sounds like.)

Today was the first meeting of "The Harry Potter Club".* A lot of people turned up, including a handful of acquaintances I'd grouped under the loose category of, "I don't know you all that well but you seem like a nice person", who were suddenly expressing interest in the same thing I was. A raucous, if nerdy, time was had by all. AVPM was quoted. The HPA and Pottermore were discussed verbally instead of through keystrokes. Hufflepuff was lamented, jokingly.

As it turns out, there are people who like things I associate with the faceless hive of *the internet* who happen to be flesh-and-blood humans I go to school with. Today, for some reason, this struck me as strange. Call it the first rule of Fight Club/Tumblr/what-have-you, but *the internet* and *real life*, have, so far as I've been a part of them both, been separate circles. Especially considering I've never been to VidCon or anything that blatantly converges the two. Sure, there's Facebook for that, but some strange, pleasant coincidence lies in finding out that the majority of our collective appreciation of a series of books has led to the same things online, and that everyone in attendance has such a level of devotion to said books (and a level of internet-savvy...) to seek these things out. I don't really know, there's just something genuine about internet-fandom that I enjoyed seeing overlap into *real life*.

I've seen this genuineness turn sour a bit--and call me an elitist if you think I deserve it--via a few people who just seem to be trying too hard to integrate internet references into everyday conversation. Eg: "Me gusta."-- pronounced "mee gusta". (*Slight rant* This doesn't even have anything to do with the meme reference, if you had a basic grasp of the Spanish language you'd know the e is short.) And use of "You are such a n00b." as an insult. Maybe there's irony in these types of things that I'm not exactly getting, but it falls flat as a means of communication outside of *the internet*, and it wasn't even that clever on *the internet* to begin with.

* "That's just to not confuse the freshman, we're calling it Dumbledore's Army."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

books that make you angry

I'm almost certain I'm not alone in sometimes getting frustrated with a book. Either the main character is too whiny or the author keeps hinting at something but never actually gives you the information. If you read a variety of books, I'm going to assume you've felt this way before.

I started reading As Simple As Snow a couple weeks ago. I was enjoying it, too. I saw a few parallels between this book and Looking for Alaska* which was interesting. Then I stopped reading for a couple days, got sick and started a three day volunteering gig that took up a lot of time and energy. Not a lot of reading time. Today, I stayed in bed and decided to finish it. Which I did.

I suppose there's an important part of this story I should add. It's a mystery, of sorts, about a girl who disappears, leaving a dress laid out next to a hole in a frozen river. Here's a review from the beginning of the book:
"As Simple As Snow is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. Galloway draws you into another world, and you'll be wholly involved from the opening line, with its blunt force. He awakens all our curiosities and then satisfies them, so that the only question left unanswered is how long it'll be until he gives us something else to read." -Kaye Gibbons, author of Divining Women
 My problem with the end of this book, it would follow, is that it proved that last sentence to be complete and utter bullshit.

Immediately, the ending coloured my entire experience of the book. I don't feel like I can look at it objectively anymore. And it's not that I can't tolerate a couple loose ends when I read a book--I can. I was just left totally alone, wondering what happened and feeling stupid for not being able to figure it out. It seems like this book is one of those ones that makes more sense the second time you read it but I doubt I could bring myself to go back and start again. Then again, maybe that was the point. Maybe I was supposed to be angry and there's a subtle honesty to it because we don't always figure things out in reality. Sometimes we just have to keep moving on, not knowing if the teacher murdered her or if she was sleeping with that main footballer turned Goth guy or if she ran away or jumped in the river or what.

I'm still mad that Kaye Gibbons lied to me but I'm sure I'll live and the book suffered no damage since I didn't actually throw it at the wall, no matter how much I wanted to.

In other news, I want to go to Vidcon. More immediately though, Maureen Johnson is coming to town and I will be seeing her this Saturday! Needless to say, I'm excited.

*probably because the reason I bought it was because John Green said it was a piece of his inspiration for LFA.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Evolutionarily, I'd be dead.

I've been thinking about evolution. I don't really know why, but thinking about it has made me realize, we should all pretty much be dead. (Er, not so much "dead" as "nonexistent", but for the sake of drama let's just keep it worded that way.)

Or we would be, if we were all still breeding for physical fitness exclusively. Eg: I am nearsighted, this gene must have started somewhere--prehistorically--and yet I exist as a nearsighted person. One of my ancestors may not have had the visual prowess to keenly spot all the hungry animals lurking about in those days, but compensated for it, somehow, and ended up not dying long enough to pass on their impairment.

Sheer luck could be a factor here, but that such slight genetic imperfections are relatively common in our species points to the fact that somewhere along the line, we started breeding for intelligence, too; possibly more so than mammoth-outrunning-abilities. Good move, species.

I don't even know if I'm making an interesting point or a modicum of sense. But, speaking on a literally fucking huge scale, it's comforting to know that we've progressed a whole hell of a lot, that we're a complex species capable of doing all this awesome shit. *arms spread out in an all-encompassing gesture*

So, so what if my hypothetical ideal mate hypothetically wouldn't produce offspring with me who would have enough excess fat and muscle tissue on them to survive the next famine? Generally speaking, this is not a thing that I should be concerned with, and I'm relatively secure in my attraction to males who happen to be pallid and visually impaired, not from any particular survival standpoint, but because I am a judge of personality and character. Most people are. Coming from primates, this is a kind of cool thing, to say the least.

I don't know where I'm going with this, honestly, and I don't know how to reach any sort of logical or entertaining conclusion, so I'm just going to end this post here. Auf wiedersehen!

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Lola and the Boy Next Door" Review


Despite the unhappy tears I shed inside whenever I look at the title and cover of Stephenie Perkins' two books -- they do such a disservice to the stories inside; I never in a million years would have picked up Anna and the French Kiss had it not been recommended to me by John Green (well, not personally) and a million other people (I suppose thus negating the million years) -- she really does know how to write a good romance story.

Lola and the Boy Next Door was cute, it was funny, and it does nothing to give real-life boys a boost, if you know what I'm saying. It definitely convinced me that I should continue to make an exception for "chick lit" when it comes to Stephanie Perkins.*

However, what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn't skip over the good parts and go straight to the critiques? (Oh, a normal one, you say? Shut up.)


- The conflict. The reason why she was initially so wary of Cricket seemed way overblown. I get the feeling that this could conceivably cause a huge rift in the friendship of a teenager, and I'm sure if I were in that situation I would feel the same way, but when you're reading about it, you're just like, really? That's why his house causes you painful palpitations of the heart? Maybe it's just because I'm not one for believing in "ONE TRUE LOVE," but man, it would have been nice if there had been, you know, an actual interesting reason for their estrangement. It wasn't too big a deal as the book progressed, but it was sort of off-putting in the beginning part. Points for not dragging out the "mystery" of their estrangement for too long, though.

- Max. It was a little hard to put up with Lola fawning over him since you knew they were obviously going to break up -- I think their relationship went on for too long. It seemed to serve as one of the main tensions in the story, but I feel that a lot of time was wasted with him when it could have been spent better developing the Lola/Cricket relationship, which seemed a tad bit superficial, to be honest. Also, like, Max is a jerk (though I guess that was pretty clearly emphasized in the book)... The age difference started feeling weirder towards the end. Yuck.

- Repetitive plot. I suppose this is why I normally avoid fluffy romance literature. You could totally see where this book was going... and I guess it's the sort of book that you read more for the content than the ending, since it's predictable and easygoing, but I still would like to have had something with a bit more oomph, something a bit less of the "quirky, unpopularish main girl gets the dreamboat" plot to every teenager romcom ever.

- Andy, Nathan, & Norah. I don't have gay parents, so I can't speak from experience on this one, so don't take this as an absolute truth (as if you would anyway, right?). The gay parents thing was fine, but I felt like having Norah there kind of undermined them. Now, the book is not focused on the gay parents, but I assume that at least part of what Perkins was going for was the assimilation of LGBT characters into normal contexts, which is cool, but I think having Norah there sort of made it seem like you do need a mom after all. It's just that Norah ended up becoming closer to them, and mentioning how she couldn't take credit for Lola, and how Norah sometimes slightly corrected Andy and Nathan's parenting styles. It's not that these aren't legitimate actions for the character, and maybe these are things that happen to some gay parents in real life; it just felt a little weird to include Norah doing them, as if the actual parents couldn't totally handle Lola on their own. I know that wasn't the intention and I don't think it was a huge deal, but I could have done without her.

- The too-perfect boy. Cricket is great, sure, and I liked him, but I felt he wasn't super developed, other than being ~the nice perfect boy.~ Even that was okay; it was mostly just that he never got mad at Lola, really, or anything. Like, fine, that's cool, but maybe it's my rejection of the one true love thing, but it just felt a little too fantasy-world-romance for me.

- Lola's costumes. I just couldn't get over them. I'm sorry. She was a likeable enough character, but I couldn't help but cry a little whenever she donned a wig. Crazy outfits I can deal with, but wigs just don't do it for me. Superficial, I know. And sort of important to the character... still. However, I did appreciate how she didn't stop it with her outfits at the end to show character growth.

Despite these flaws, I sped through the book faster than AATFK, even though I like the first book a lot more. Don't get me wrong, it was still an enjoyable read, and there's certainly nothing wrong with allowing yourself to escape into the semi-plausible fluffy romantic world of a girl your age. I did snort from laughter quite a few times; it's definitely entertaining. However, it lacked the depth that AATFK had -- not that either was a difficult read, but I felt an ability to relate to Anna, to feel that her hemming-and-hawing with St Clair was plausibly understandable and still good. Although in both it was obvious that they were going to get together, I feel that in AATFK, it was altogether more realistic, and thus overall better. I don't mean to compare the books so much, but since they're fairly similar in style, I definitely feel that AATFK was executed a lot more successfully. Still, if you liked AATFK, I certainly recommend Lola and the Boy Next Door as well!

*a) Obligatory "'Chick lit' is a stupid term" reminder. Probably I should just come up with another way to describe such books.
b) I say that as if I have actual rules as to what I read. I don't -- excluding my vow to myself that I will never read Nicholas Sparks for any reason other than so that I can validly criticize his books.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I don't even know

I have to work tomorrow. Oh, Mondays...

Today was good. I watched Doctor Who and washed dishes and made spontaneous pie from my leftover pie crust dough. And I tumbled, of course.

Can this blog just be a tribute to Doctor Who, tumblr and pie? Let's be serious, what else does one need in one's life? Lazy Sundays for the win.

I'm not sure what it is about Doctor Who. I can't nail down a prescribed number of bullet points as to why I enjoy it so. I'm not really into aliens. I can get into time travel as much as the next person but it's not the most thrilling concept I think about. But I like the show. I like David Tennant and Billie Piper and their chemistry. I like the British-ness of it, the quirky humour and excellent accents.

I don't know. It's nice to fall in love with something new.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Villains who aren't villains

I always seem to identify with -- or at least sympathize with -- disagreeable characters in books. Emma Bovary, Hamlet, Hedda Gabler, Holden Caulfield... Not in situation or in severity but in some fundamental feeling of dissatisfaction and offsetting wrongness with our way of life. I suppose one could contribute a lot of this feeling to the act of growing up, since that's when we're all meant to become adults and realize how harsh the world really is -- disillusionment comes with the territory.

I find myself wondering why I sympathize with these characters so strongly and how valid my empathy actually is. Like, how much of my defense of their character is based on the actual text of the novel? How much is it that I simply identify with the character and don't wish to criticize or condemn my own reflected thoughts or actions? I'm currently rereading Madame Bovary not only because I read it a month and a half ago and the details are starting to slip and I need to know if for school but also because I want to know if I'm rationalizing my defense of Emma based on what Flaubert actually writes or if I'm just projecting her situation to suit my own opinions. I overtly despise playing the victim, but I certainly believe that I subconsciously do it all the time. It's good to check myself.

I definitely think it's primarily the personal connection somebody, somewhere has with literature that keeps books alive so long. There's something markedly magnificent that in the fictional world I should identify more with a half-orphaned, vengeful prince from the sixteenth century than a sixteen year old girl living in the U.S. Sometimes I probably do accidentally victimize myself or try to make my life seem more tragic than it actually is, just so I can have a legitimate reason to feel sorry for myself. Still, more often than not, characters who don't fit into their community's definition of "proper" or "moral" or even "sane" have something valuable to say about the state of that community, whether or not we agree and even whether or not the character realizes they're saying it. Maybe that's one of the reasons why the "darker" characters are often the most interesting. I guess the only way to find out is to keep reading.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Haven't done a list in a while, let's do that.

Things I have done today:

  • School. Oh. School. If every period were one minute longer it'd be illegal, have I ever told you guys that about my crazy district?
  • Ran a mile in 11:28 (which is a middle-of-the-road exertion of my own abilities...)
  • Halfheartedly reviewed for the PSAT, even though it is the test that will DETERMINE MY FUTURE, so they would have us believe. I don't believe in cramming, it's a "standardized" test, meaning we should all know these things already, if I stress about it the night before I will most probably do worse, etc.
  • Learned that if I do well enough on the PSAT, with my "expected major", I could be sent to Social Sciences Camp in NY over the summer. Cool.
  • Rediscovered my love for mozzarella cheese and all that it chooses to be.
  • Considered doing a blog post about this book I am reading that is a scathing/utterly misinformed study of the largely scary topic (to adults) of TEENAGERS ON THE INTERNET.
  • Realized I am not done with the book and therefore should not be judging it/that I do not have the time at present to construct the sort of response this book deserves.
  • Read for fun for the first time in a week or two.
  • Blogged and slept and other inevitable near-future-y things.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

choosing the labyrinth

I feel like I haven't talk about what's going on with me for a while and for that reason--and also because it's almost midnight and I'm tired--I am going to refresh you all on the happenings of my life.

I just finished rereading Looking for Alaska which I started last week in honour of banned books week. I love John Green. Today, I started The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson's new novel. So far, it is enjoyable. Next on my list, in no particular order are The Accordionist's Son, As Simple As Snow and Madam Bovary (thanks for the reccomendation, Vita).

I love reading so much. Sometimes it boggles my mind that more people don't read. Like, 1., how would I ever learn things if I didn't read books and also, 2., how would I ever figure out that I'm not the only person in the world who is sometimes afraid and sad and lonely and having a hard time making decisions. I would be so much worse off without books.

Which brings me to my novel. I've been working on it in the past week, not changing much but working up to it. This is partially because I need a project and partially because a friend is reading it, piece by piece. I think I just have to write more. I'm not planning on participating in NaNoWriMo in the traditional way--even though it's SO tempting*--but I may draft my own National Novel Finishing Month. We'll see.
Writing is hard. Rewarding, but difficult.

I've been working a bit. I don't know. Not much is new on that front. Let's move on.

Thanksgiving (I guess I should say Canadian Thanksgiving) is this weekend. Also, Girl Guide cookie selling. I can honestly say I'm more excited for the former. I want to make pumpkin pie and roasted beets.

Speaking of food, I've been kind of healthy lately. Biking a few times a week; eating somewhat balanced meals... which is to say a lot of salad. I think I should start taking some vitamins and get into a consistent exercise routine but apart from that, I feel pretty good. Also, I should have a sleep schedule with some form of regularity. WHY IS IT MIDNIGHT ALREADY?

I tried to get an internship at a local bike shop but it's the offseason and thus not a very good time. I've been playing guitar and, when not playing guitar, lying on my bed listening to music and feeling so much. I am beginning to realize more succinctly the profound impact of music on my life. Every day, I am more grateful for how alive I can feel, just from listening to a song. And it's not just feeling alive, there's also sadness and happiness and brokenness and completeness and connectedness.

Books and music make my life livable. People, too. I shouldn't undervalue people.

I don't know. Sometimes I'm sad and listless and purposeless and full of ennui. I ask myself why I should do anything to justify the fact that I do nothing. And when people ask me what I'm doing with my time or how I am, sometimes I choose to lie because, to quote someone I admire, "the truth resists simplicity." But that's life, right? There's good times and bad times and I choose the labyrinth just like I choose to forgive and I choose to believe it'll get better. And sometimes I'm so incandescently happy and somehow it evens out.

That's probably more than enough for tonight. How are you guys doing?

*I don't know what it is about NaNoWriMo but I have such a good time doing it, even if I'm angsting half the month.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's that they say about an infinite number of monkeys locked in a room with an infinite amount of typewriters?

I can press keys and form words. Someone is going to read these words. At some point this assurance kind of dropped off into complacency for me, too. I mean, nine posts between us in a 30 day month, guys, we're all better than that, non? It's not that I don't want to do this anymore. Definitely not. When the process of pressing keys and forming words becomes so much of my "job" (aka school), it's not the first thing I turn to for entertainment/expression/relaxation/whatever we started this thingamablog for in the first place. This blog has become--stagnant? Formulaic? A chore? At least, something we can all agree (look, three consecutive posts!), needs to be changed. If the Zombie Apocalypse doesn't come this month, let the Renewed-Blogging-Effort-Revolution commence. I'm in.*

* NEVER MIND the fact that this post was little more than a poorly-organized paragraph.

Monday, October 3, 2011


So I guess I've had writer's block recently. On a blog, of all things.

Lately -- well, for the past several months -- I've been feeling like my two options are either to talk about school -- boring -- or not blog at all -- more boring -- which leads me to wonder why, in some ways, this whole blogging thing was easier in 2009 when I first started. I suppose it wasn't easier, exactly; I put more effort in on a consistent basis and felt more like I had to prove myself, whereas now I'm in a bit of a state of complacency -- I think we all are -- where we know we probably should blog twice a week but if we don't, it's not a big deal, and it will start no feuds or total wars. But I feel that I certainly had more to talk about, in 2009, other than just repeating the same mantra: "I went to school, and everything sucks, and I'm going to sleep now, goodbye."

Maybe it's the addition of a crapton of stress. Maybe being a post-exams second semester senior is a ball of fun, but right now being a senior freaking sucks. It's not just that I have a crapton of work to do or that basically everyone in my school annoys me more and more with every passing day; it's that I have to seriously consider my future... and I don't know how this goes for most other students in my position, but I'm not satisfied with the whole "finish high school and go to college" deal. I've been undergoing some several-month-long crisis of self, of being, where I question not only what I want to do -- wholly undecided -- but why I should do anything at all, and why anyone does anything at all, and feeling like I have to attempt to fit myself into a box of "living in the moment" or "appreciating my time on Earth" or whatever it is that non-religious people tell themselves in order to add meaning to their pragmatically commonplace lives, only trying to live within those perimeters totally does not work for me.

Ahh. There I go again with the complaining. I should probably stop that.

Speaking of audiences, though, it's both a motivator and a -- an opposite-of-a-motivator to know that you will probably appreciate what I am saying to some small degree, even if I am just complaining about my life, because you know me and thus my complaining about my life is marginally more interesting than a total stranger complaining about their life. If another total stranger stumbled into this blog from elsewhere on the internet, would they find my posts very interesting? Probably not, at least not a good portion of them. To a rather large extent, perhaps more so as time goes by, I feel like this blog is a bit of a open letter-writing project between the three of us -- me, Alex, and Rena -- that anyone is welcome to read. On the one hand, it fosters a sort of cozy nook on the internet where I can say pretty much whatever I want, however I want, and somebody will listen and think about it. On the other hand, it provides a bit of a lax standard. Alex, you said that having a built-in (albeit tiny) audience inspires you to put in more effort. I feel that that I've reached the point where it's almost the opposite for me -- I don't feel the need to impress friends, I suppose. I don't say that in a disparaging way -- just that I know that you probably won't hate me if I piece together some bullet-pointed rant about my day and then leave without even checking for spelling. But while I do appreciate the close-knit atmosphere here (god, I sound so cheesy), I do feel bad about not holding myself to a higher standard. I don't feel awful if I miss a few days when I'm meant to post a blog, but I do feel bad when my blog post, once I get around to writing it, is nothing special, nothing worth waiting for. I'm going to change that.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I've been thinking about letters lately. Today, I wrote one and a half because according the Barbara Addler, letters make the word a better place. She said that at the first (and possibly best) Freewrite class this year and continued that writing letters, especially for self proclaimed writers, is a good exercise. If you think about it, letter writing is the art of focusing on your audience and giving them what they want to hear.

Two things have inspired my letter musings. The first is somewhat blatant: I recently received a letter from a friend. The second is a bit farther away from my point: my sister told me that she preferred reading my posts on my personal blog, The Corner Notes.

Her comment struck me as odd, not just because I blog here somewhat regularly but because I hold myself to a slightly higher standard on RP(for the most part). I feel a certain responsibility to give you guys something of merit to read. Knowing that I have two readers locked down is also somewhat encouraging.

And so I started to analyse the differences. Here, I write a bit more opinion-y stuff; there I randomly post poetry. Here, I write as if I'm speaking to the two of you; there, I write as if I'm... talking to myself? No, that's wrong. Talking to the internet? Not really. Talking to my "readers"? I guess but I don't even know who they are because I get very few comments and Google Analytics can only say so much.

I realized, to bring it rather abruptly back around, the difference is audience.

As cool as it is to have other people reading this, the people I'm writing to in my mind are you too, Rena and Vita. Whereas on my other blog I kind of just sporadically publish whatever crazy thing I want, my posts on Raving Persuasions have a few more trends. I won't lie, a lot of the time I'm grasping for topics like a desperate bingo caller pulls numbers out of a revolving bin. But on some level, I stick to topics I think the two of you are interested in. Even when I don't consciously think about it, I'm trying to write what you want to read.

Here's a theory: maybe Rachel prefers my personal blog because this one is almost exclusive. Maybe she enjoys randomness and the audience being a seemingly empty internet. Maybe she just likes the layout better.

It doesn't really matter. I'm not about to randomly change the way I blog. Still, I think it's intriguing to think about audience and the subtle ways we tweak our messages and themes to suit the different people we think we're interfacing with.

I don't even know. Readers, if you're out there?* Do you feel like weighing in on this?

*this is a very Corner Notes-esque thing to say.