Saturday, December 31, 2011

Was going to make this a vlog, but I'm even lazier


1) Took an AP class, rode across the country in a car for ~4 days, Tumblrd, got in a car accident. . .quite an exciting list of things.

2) Didn't even make them to begin with.

3) 'Murrica the beautiful. 

4) More confidence, more of a voice, peace of mind regarding my future, a paying job, TFiOS, and a guitar. (whoohoo materialism!)

5) January 8th (see #1)

6) Ehhhhh. . . performing poetry I'd written in front of a group of people and not having things thrown at me?

7) Panic-stricken inability to drive a car and subsequent refusal to try again after Driver's Ed ended.

8) *Not "for me" but it wound up in my possession* My duvet, which is fantastically warm and constructed out of solidified tears of joy from angels and. . . I just like it a lot.

9) Didn't keep track (hooray money-managment skills!), but probably books or iTunes (because I'm a GOOD PERSON and buy music legally).

10) EX: 1 (for exemplary memeness, and if you haven't guessed it correctly Tumblr taught you nothing this year and you should be ashamed of yourself.), 2 (because reasons, mostly inside joke related), 3 (was actually on the radio a lot which is the traditional answer to this question)

11) Eating food, spending time with relatives, arguing with racist/sexist relatives, more eating, and intensely competitive games.

12) With Flight of the Conchords! :DDDD (with persons, strictly speaking, no.)

13) Bumped, Tales of the Madman Underground, Angela's Ashes, The Name of the Star. . .

14) Horrifically unfair question which I refuse to answer on moral grounds such as that 2011 was possibly the biggest year to date of "me caring about music at all" so that every discovery was equally great etc etc. . . but for the sake of survey completion, also Flight of the Conchords.

15) Went to school, came home and ate cake (on the day itself, anyway); 16.

16) See anything in #4.

17) I prefer to think I kept sane of my own accord, but probably Tumblr, other people, music in general.

18) No one for a notably extended amount of time, luckily.

19) EVERYTHING. ALL THE THINGS. Um, "authentic" red beans and rice. (via Disneyworld, shhh.)

20) Tumblr is the best thing on the internet known to mankind; it's extremely unlikely that everyone hates me and I shouldn't assume that (more reinforced than learned).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Because I'm lazy

End of the Year Survey

If you want to answer them yourself:

1) What did you do in 2011 that you had never done before?
2) Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions?
3) What countries did you visit in 2011?
4) What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
5) What dates will remain etched upon your memory and why?
6) Biggest achievement?
7) Biggest failure?
8) Best thing someone bought for you in 2011?
9) Where did most of your money go?
10) What song will always remind you of 2011?
11) How did you spend Christmas? (or, y'know, whatever holiday you celebrate)
12) Did you fall in love in 2011?
13) What was the best book you read in 2011?
14) Greatest musical discovery?
15) What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?
16) What is one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
17) What kept you sane?
18) Who did you miss?
19) Best thing you ate?
20) What lessons did you learn in 2011?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Look at all the italics

Everyone experiences the same basic human emotions, but it's really how we deal with/express them that makes communication hard. I, for instance, tend to leave things in draft blog posts (my last actual one was nearly two weeks ago. er. Belated merry Christmas and that jazz.) or type out extremely lengthy notes and musings to myself that will never see the outside of my head or my hard drive. I withdraw. A lot. I withdraw from the internet even, reduced to lurking and maybe a picture of cute otters on Tumblr.

In response to Alex's (currently) most recent post, I feel like it illustrates a lot of the differences between us. I'm not saying this is good or bad or anything, just different.

Firstly, I didn't particularly care for Catcher in the Rye. Holden's narration is alright for, say, a blog, (if 50s prep school kids had blogs) but is off-putting in an entire novel. But more the problem I have with it is just my reaction to all the feels that Holden expresses in the book. I am not Holden. I'd never (I'm tempted to say "whine" here, but I recognize my own bias...) be that open about the aforementioned all the feels. I certainly didn't cry when I read it nor did I care about other people who had.

I have a different example that kind of illustrates what I want to say better.

A verse from a blatantly anti-suicide song*:

"Oh no, love, you're not alone.
No matter what or who you've been
No matter when or where you've seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I've had my share, I'll help you with the pain
You are not alone."

Which is a wonderful message, and if it helps anyone I invite them to take their own personal meaning out of it, help is oftimes necessary and should be sought in the form of people instead of songs etc etc, but when I first listened to it (when the knives were metaphorically lacerating my brain), I kind of raged against it. I wanted to be alone. I didn't want to be encouraged by or connected to anything. Which is kind of what Catcher in the Rye did to me. I refused to relate to it.

What I have connected to recently though--initially in a really self-pitying way that has gradually (in three days**) turned more uplifting--is Eagle vs. Shark. (I text-posted a bit about the self-pitying on Tumblr. Tumblr is good for things like that.) While I was drawn to it because it seemed in the vein of Juno and Napoleon Dynamite and suchlike cinematic indie fluffiness I hold dear to my heart, I wound up really emotionally invested*** in the characters and their fictional relationships. I didn't care about connecting to other (real) people's histories; I loved that the atmosphere of it was so personal, so close that viewing it seemed a little voyeuristic (which is kind of a given, considering that major hunks of plot take place in a two-person tent). Nothing existed but the characters and me, the only person watching them.

My reaction to this particular film (one of many media portrayals of Romantically Entwined Socially Awkward People--made by Socially Awkward People, for Socially Awkward People.) was viscerally horrible. My thought process (resulting either from my inability or unwillingness to separate Fiction from Real Life) was along the lines of "God, look at them. Even these two awkward nerds with intensely dysfunctional backgrounds can find love, and I can't. I can't even do quirky-indie-film-romance right, let alone real-serious-romance. This is undeniable proof that I'm going to die alone." But the female lead's--Lily's--optimism was infectious to me. At a different point in time I may have found it sickening, but not right now, and I'm embracing it.

This movie is not proof that I'm going to die alone. It's not "real" proof of anything, strictly speaking, except that good dramatic-romantic-comedies still exist. While I've come to realize that my success (present or future) as a person can't be determined by comparing my life to those of fictional people, fictional representations of hope and humanity can still be valid. Which is basically what I've been looking for, in any context. That's the important thing, whether found in classic literature or hipstery foreign films. There's nothing selfish about that.

*  Ironically (?) called Rock 'n' Roll Suicide.

** I've literally watched it three times in three days. Between the hours of midnight and two o'clock when Tumblr starts getting slow, I'll shove it in the slot in my computer and focus intently on one thing for 88 straight minutes, which is something else I haven't been doing a lot. (It's probably a bit more selfish/lazy to rely on a movie for comfort instead of a book. There's a lot less effort involved in watching something on film, and it also allows for mindless consumption of candy.) The repetition, the familiarity has become weirdly soothing, knowing the end doesn't spoil it, "You're a bitch, and you're going to die of diabetes." has not once failed to make me laugh, without caring that diabetes is not a laughing matter and so on and soforth. I don't know why I even re-watched it (wanting to wallow in self-loathing more because for some inexplicable reason I'm a sadist? Probably.), considering that my initial reaction should have stopped me, but I'm glad I did.

*** Such a scary phrase. I've been avoiding it lately. (I can't tell if this is a conscious effort or mere happenstance.) Gosh, so much italics in this post. So many titles. So much emphasis.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

so, hey, um...

I might be completely off my rocker crazy but I think that the three of us should all go to Leaky Con this summer because it is somewhat conveniently placed in Chicago and it would be 100% awesome.

And no, I did not spend the last hour researching transport. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.


p.s. okay, yeah, it's possible I'm just creating hypothetical summer plans to cheer myself up because I had a somewhat less than utterly fantastic day. Is there anything wrong with that, I ask you?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dishes and dissecting gender roles

[As a disclaimer even though disclaimers are usually unnecessary/eventually undermined: I respect both of my parents. They both work incredibly hard. Neither of them are radical, but they're both pretty progressive people. None of this is meant as a slight against either of them.]

This afternoon and evening, my mom and I spent most of the day cleaning the house to get ready for our Christmas guests tomorrow (well, she spent most of the day cleaning; I spent most of it alternately cleaning and shirking my responsibilities to go on Tumblr) while my dad went to work and then to church. This fact preyed on my mind as I was drying off our decorative kitchen china, newly liberated from thick layers of dust. It annoyed me. I don't especially mind doing household chores. I just question why I have to do them.

Yes, that sounds incredibly bratty. I understand that as the child of the household -- and also just a decent person who tries not to be an active burden on other people -- chores are expected of me. And that's fine! It makes sense. What I mean is why I, as a girl, get stuck with the drying dishes and setting tables.

In my case, it's easily explainable. I don't have any brothers, so any chores for the offspring would of course have to fall to a girl. I really mean this in a broader context: why is it that women in general still get stuck with the domestic work while men work outside of the home?

This is not a revolutionary perspective, I realize, nor has the thought failed to occur to me before. I bring it up because it directly relates to my parents and how conflicted I feel about their established roles in our family. Both of my parents work paying jobs and both of them work around the house. But the dynamic is still undeniably traditional: my dad makes the most money (though my mom gets the health benefits -- thanks, public school system) and my mom does a definite majority of the laundry, cooking, and so on. My mom also works a job that she is ridiculously overqualified for (it requires some college classes; she has a master's degree).

Now I hesitate to criticize this for two reasons: firstly, because I do believe that the true liberation of gender roles means that it has to be okay for people to choose to perform their traditional gender roles as long as it is truly a choice. Secondly, my mom genuinely loves her job and says that she ultimately is glad that she didn't stay in her first profession, speech therapy.

And that's great. But it pisses me off that this is still the trend. Why do women have to be the ones to sacrifice the professional jobs to stay home and raise the children?

Yeah, this is changing. Yeah, there are a lot more single parents, parents who both work, and stay-at-home dads. But overall, it's still the mothers who make the career sacrifice, mothers who have the double role as the keeper of the home and a career professional. Again, this isn't inherently bad. I think it's when it's part of a whole culture -- and it is -- when it's a problem.

I guess it's difficult to criticize my parents because I look up to both of them a lot, and I know them both pretty well, so I can explain away a lot of things that I might see as flaws in other people's relationships. So maybe part of this is a lack of failure on my part to imagine other people's relationships complexly. But I think that it also needs to be looked at from a broader perspective: when so many people choose to fulfill the same gender roles, doesn't that by default screw over all the people who reject those roles?

Mostly all this aimless, conflicted annoyance on my part has only made me sure of one thing: I most definitely do not want the same type of dynamic that my family has right now. I might want to get married, I might want kids, but I simply can't see myself ever wanting to sacrifice a career for that lifestyle. I want everyone in my family to be equal.

Parenthood is a totally noble path, don't get me wrong. It's just when so many people "choose" to do the same thing, I have to wonder how much of a "choice" it really is.


Anyway, on that cheerful note, Merry Christmas! (I believe you both celebrate it, Alex & Rena.) I sincerely hope that you all have a wonderful holiday.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

library copies of the catcher in the rye

I decided the other day that I need to reread The Catcher in the Rye. I was on tumblr, as I will be, and saw a picture that made me yearn for Holden's story in a way that I never have. It just seems so imperative that I read it at this exact point in my life.

I had a spare afternoon on Friday, so I went out to this tree that I like to climb and sat there for a while. There's this weird feeling where you're sitting in a tree and you can see people passing and you wonder if they see you. On Friday, I didn't feel that way because there was no one passing through the park. It was like I was utterly alone, sitting in that tree.

But not lonely--and that's an important distinction. When I say that I've been identifying with Holden Caulfield a lot in the past few daysweeksmonths, I don't mean it in a 'I'm standing in a phone booth with absolutely no one to call who I want to talk to and wants to talk to me.' Luckily, I have people to call. The way that I'm associating with Holden is more of a 'What happens to the ducks when the pond freezes over?' type of way.

Eventually, I hopped out of the tree and went to the library, in search of The Catcher in the Rye. They didn't have it in, unfortunately, so I put it on hold and headed up to the bookstore. My mom, upon hearing about my journey, proffered a copy of the book and I held it. The pages we neat and the spine wasn't cracked and I just stared at it for a while. Eventually, I put it back on the shelf and and walked out and my mom didn't understand why I didn't buy it, being a person who sells books and buys books and doesn't see why you should wait for a library hold when the book you want to read could be yours for 6.99. But I have my reasons.

You see, library books... they have history. When I check out The Catcher in the Rye from the library and the front cover is bent and some of the pages are folded at the corners and there's even some underlined passages or a scribbled note in the margins, I know it's been a piece of someone else's story. I can imagine someone sitting alone in their living room in a comfy chair and being swallowed up by Holden's tale. I can see the book clutched in someone else's hand as they lie in bed one morning or sit at the back of the bus or in the corner of Starbucks on their lunch break. I can imagine that this very copy of this book has changed someone's life.

And as I was walking home from the bookstore, empty handed, I couldn't help thinking that maybe that's selfish of me. Maybe it's selfish to want preexisting history instead of starting fresh and making my own, buying a new copy and highlighting my own paragraphs. Then again, I never claimed I wasn't selfish.

It all reminded me of this quote from my favourite book which I'm about to totally take out of context but here it is: "These people have history and I crave history."*

I crave not being the only person to cry on a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. So I'll wait for my library copy, thanks.

*Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

i just... i just have a lot of feelings

It's like we can't be sad unless we need to take medication to get better. Or like there can't be something wrong with us unless it's diagnosed. Or maybe it's that there's nothing wrong with us, not really, just that we've fallen out of this common paradigm -- or what we thought was the common paradigm -- and can't find our way back in (symptoms: feelings of alienation, loss, helplessness, and hopelessness).

It's like going from moping around in a blue mood to watching a doctor scrawl "depression" on a prescription form changes something fundamental about our feelings.

Or it's like thinking we're broken and need to be fixed. It's like thinking that changing location will change you, but then you get scared that maybe you're the thing that's wrong. Not wrong. Just a jigsaw piece when everyone else is part of the slide puzzle. Maybe you're the missing square.

It's like you don't want to insult the medical profession or people with weird chemical levels in their brains but sometimes you want to be recognized too. Sometimes you want to be called crazy so somebody can fix you and you don't have to think about it anymore. Sometimes you think maybe that makes you a sheep. At least sheep are warm. You think you probably aren't important enough, though. Some people have real problems.

Can't I be scared without having a phobia? Can't I be unsure without being questioning? Can't I be sad without being depressed? It's like we have to compartmentalize ourselves, tick off down the checklist, stick a label on our foreheads before we can be serious when we say we have problems. How can you tell who has the Crazy chemical levels and who's just figured out that brilliant secret that everything is meaningless? Since when is everyone a doctor?

I don't know. I say that a lot but I really don't know. I don't like complaining all the time but I don't like being apologetic about it either. What I really want is to just be happy but it seems like that's a difficult state to be in, for the default to be reasonably content. I think my median line is too far down the list.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Regional loyalty

~~I've been more absent than usual from the internet today/lately. I slept until around 4 pm, actually. Feels good man. I missed a lot of the p4a hullaballoo but it was worth it. Today is a day of necessary unwinding. I present a daft post I wrote a few days ago:~~

I will mock and continually express my massive dislike for my hometown*, that is, the 40,000-people-40-churches-and-tea-and-olive-oil-and-smoothie-shops-and-sports-obsessed-high-school seemingly idyllic slice of purgatory. If I were not a minor and the people I love and need for support weren't here, I'd move in a heartbeat.


I love the city.

("the city" being a vastly differing term depending on where the nearest large city is relative to the speaker's current location. My "the city" happens to be Chicago, where I claim to be from for internet-ease and am from in spirit/actual birth.)

I love its memetically horrible sports teams. I love the food. I love its perfect amount of distance. I love that it's familiar to me but not too familiar. I love Millennium Park and its crazyass architecture everywhere. I love having been to places in John Hughes films. I love that it feels like 100 different places depending on where you are. I love the museums and the zoo and that sort of third-grade-field-trip stuff.  I love that its university's mascot is a motherfucking phoenix:


There's some other stuff I probably left out. It's not much of a blog post, this love letter to a place.

* public library exempt due to high concentration of awesome.
** ultimate dream for the foreseeable future is to go here, the eighth best university in the country or thereabouts. What kind of fucking standards am I setting for myself? This is more a note to myself, to say, if you, a-couple-weeks-into-the-future-self, are reading this, do something pertaining to your higher education over break, for fuck's sakes.***
*** I swear quite a bit at myself when I'm talking to myself. It's just one of those times.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Half formed opinions that will probably haunt me later

I've been having a heated argument on Facebook with a fellow Nerdfighter about LGBTQ* rights. It's insane to me how some people are still opposed to them. In fact, a definite majority of people world-wide oppose LGBTQ* rights, which is terrifying. There are a lot of terrifying things happening right now. I think most of them stem from a basic fear of anything different and a profound lack of respect that people hold for each other.


Said argument has somewhat liberated me, though. I am confident in certain things now that I probably knew before but didn't put into practice: primarily that apologizing for certain viewpoints is a harmful concession. That being polite is no excuse for a prejudiced attitude. That I refuse to apologize for refusing to accept prejudice as a valid difference in opinion, regardless of how nice the other person is.

Which leads me to this: the thing is, when you meet homophobic people, or racist people, or people who hold some undesirable quality, it's almost more jarring when they're also nice. There are plenty of people in my life who hold harmful opinions about things about a multitude of political issues who are on the whole lovely people. Over the internet, or anywhere with a pretense of anonymity, it's easy to write people off as "homophobic" and assume that they are bad people. But in real life, it's entirely possible that I would grow to like a person and then discover their harmful opinion. I don't think that negates the good things about them. I think it's a reminder, more than anything, of how our society mandates so much of our attitudes towards everything. How is that generally lovely people can believe such an awful thing? I won't say brainwashing. I will say... it sucks.

I will also say that I love Margaret Atwood's poetry. Granted, I've read a grand total of two of her poems so far. But they were a good two.

Also -- Alex -- sorry for stealing your day? I know you said you're feelin' Wednesdays. I am feelin' Wednesday today too. Bitches get stuff done.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mr. Pizza Guy

I live in suburbia. It's kind of slowly killing me and I'm strongly contemplating leaving. But my story is about pizza.

Ordering pizza is a skill that I have yet to perfect. I'm not sure why I have an aversion to calling strangers on the phone. I don't remember the first time I dialed and ordered a pizza but it was probably a pretty intimidating event. I'm getting better now and practice helps. What has not helped is this relatively new idea of ordering pizza online.

The Dominos website is laid out in a seemingly easy to interpret fashion. You've got the menu, you've got coupons and then there's the order online tab. It's kind of neat the first time you try it; you check all the boxes for the toppings you want and it arranges it visually for you. If you're not already hungry, it's fun.

For the event in question, I was at a friend's for book club. My friend also lives in suburbia but farther away from the centre--where streetlights are few and driveways far apart.

I opened the website and started building the pizzas, one of which was intensely complicated. After ordering about ten of the special lava cakes, I went to the payment page and, surprise, you can't order online for anything over $50. Thanks Dominos, thanks for informing me BEFORE I spent fifteen minutes crafting the amazing pizzas that I would like to consume sooner rather than later. THANK YOU.

By the time I had called them on the phone and repeated the order verbally, the book club members were getting peckish. Forty five minutes later, we were more than ready for pizza.

From the layout of the games room we were sitting in, we could see flashes of cars passing between the hedges in front of the house. When a small car drove by the driveway extremely slowly, we sent delegates out to retrieve the pizzas.

I can't tell you the next part of this story firsthand. I stayed inside. What I was told is that my two friends ran outside and saw the pizza guy walking up the driveway of the house across the street. The followed him and, in desperation, one of them called out, "Hey Mr. Pizza Guy!"

They brought back the pizzas and lava cakes in triumph and I couldn't stop laughing at the cry for Mr. Pizza Guy's attention. When you think about it, what else can you yell when your pizzas are being delivered to your neighbours? What more is there to say than, "Hey Mr. Pizza Guy!"? I really don't know.

As it turned out, the pizzas weren't what I ordered. I'm not saying we stole the neighbours' pizza, just that the woman on the phone misunderstood what things I wanted on each half of the pizza and put it all on the same half. I chalked it up to more ordering experience and ate my delicious and chocolaty lava cake.


I think I'll blog on Wednesdays, to start. I'm not sure why but I'm feeling a strong affinity for Wednesday. Apart from that, maybe we can just have some days up for grabs, for kind of spontaneous blogging? This could give us a bit more freedom to write whenever we want and it could also result in no one ever blogging on those days. Thoughts?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

weird life stuff that happens (eloquent title is eloquent)

I broke three mugs today. This was after I discovered that my favourite sweater shrank (grammar? anyone?) in the wash. And I don't even know what happened. It wasn't pretty.

My life feels kind of soap opera-ish right now. I'm not super comfortable spilling this all over the blog because it's the internet. But use your imagination/fill in the blanks with your own dramatic problems.
It just seems like an excess of drama, like someone else's life but it isn't. I don't know what to say, don't know why I even started talking about it. I guess I'm just trying to make sense of my flip out after breaking things this afternoon. It wasn't really about the mugs is what I'm saying.

I do this thing where I kind of suck in all the emotions that I sense around me and store them in my body. It's like empathy on acid and sometimes it's literally painful. So I'm rereading Jellicoe Road and going for walks and climbing trees and trying to take care of myself. 

And on that note, I was wondering if anyone wanted to switch blogging days with me. It's cool if not, I can try Wednesday or something but I feel like I'm in a rut and I keep forgetting to blog or pushing it away and I genuinely enjoy the time I spend writing to you guys.
What do you say? I understand if you guys feel possessive of your days. It's been over two years of Thursday and Sunday being "my days" but I feel like I want to mix it up, at least for the month, to see if it shakes me out of my habits. Are you with me?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

RP goes multi-media and multi-platform

I posted this on Tumblr earlier (juxtaposed between posts about nipples--such is my DEPTH) but if Vita can do it, so can I. :P (And I don't want to reply to comments with a screenshot.)

  1. Juh-if.
  2. David Bowie: for people who like ALL the genres! (Or BBC crime shows!)
  3. INTERNET FOREVER. (You guys know I include you/Nerdfighteria in my "the internet makes life better" point, don't you?)
In those two list items I just managed to reference the same Hyperbole and a Half post twice. Kill ALL the memes!

Additionally, Alex and I have been having discussion on Tumblr re: my ability to phrase things and preconceived vocal notions. (I find your judgment flattering, because I don't really phrase things as much as stick words between "uh", "like", "um yeah", and sighs that are also laughs and pauses.) But apparently my voice is pleasing to other people! I could work as a newscaster or recite audiobooks for a living. Call me, John. You could have a real 16 year old girl saying, "and then I took off my bra.". . . actually, I wouldn't be able to say that without laughing. So, no.