Tuesday, January 31, 2012

thoughts from places: Tour de Nerdfighting

I know I'm not the only person in the world to claim to not possess the talent of making friends. This social awkwardness seems to plague more individuals than myself, I realize that, but I want to share with you a three part breakthrough I had last night which starts with a road trip.

On Saturday, my family and two friends piled into a rental car and headed south. After forgetting the tickets and realizing this fact as the border guard handed back our passports, we drove five hours to Portland with no tickets and the hope that we could reprint them somewhere before the show the next day. (spoiler: we did. It turned out fine. Yay.)

It's a dalek, you guys. A DALEK!
Portland is an excellent city. I haven't had enough experience there to accurately describe its loveliness but I will say that if an opportunity ever floats by you to visit, I encourage you to seize it. The architecture is delightful, the food is amazing and there's something about the feel of the place--enhanced by signs featuring sci fi beings instructing you to not block the sidewalks and rainbow umbrellas wherever you look--that makes you want to stay and explore.

We took the bus to the theater on Sunday. It was raining and there was a line that snaked down the sidewalk and around the building. There were also so many really awesome t-shirts. I talked to the people next to us in line a bit and then went hunting for a massive umbrella that was sure to make us many friends with its vastness. This plan did not work out due to the fact that it stopped raining but, before it stopped, I heroically held the umbrella over the carts loaded with TFIOS copies as they ferried the books   down the line and received some cheering. Let me just say there was a lot of cheering in that line, despite the precipitation. There was also a lot of people telling other people that their stuff was really awesome, mostly because there was a lot of really awesome stuff and it's easier to be vocal about that in the kind of space that was created there. It was just so comfortable and excited and connected and caring. 

The show was fun. John is brilliant and Hank is hilarious and their collective energy was entirely captivating. The signing process went very smoothly and I was only mildly embarrassed when I stumbled over basically telling John that his books mean a lot to me. I had some solid eye contact with Hank and then we were shuffled along which was fine.

Adorableness does not completely diminish the creep factor.
The next day, we drove to Seattle, took pictures with the world's largest and arguably creepiest bridge troll and then made our way to the Seattle tour stop. I pretty much immediately struck up a conversation with the people next to us in line, some of whom were vaguely familiar to me. As it turns out a couple of them were of Bizarre Fruit fame*. 

And it was just so natural and not forced and we started to play Apples to Apples which lasted only one round before we were moved into the bookstore but was still pretty great. I exchanged info with one of the girls and we went to find seats**.

After the show, I was leaving the washroom when I looked up and recognized justmargaret whose tumblr and youtube I follow and, without even thinking about it, I just walked over and started talking to her. I can't explain the thought process because it doesn't make any sense to me in retrospect. I completely surprised myself with the lack of doubt and total and immediate commitment. I just strode across the bathroom to where she was waiting in line and said something along the lines of hi, I watch your youtube videos and your blog is my favourite part of tumblr and I'm sorry for obnoxiously liking practically everything you post. It was almost like reuniting with a friend who didn't actually know me and the whole thing was so surreal I can't capture it with words. 

Proceeding that, I had an extended fangirl moment as I explained the encounter to my friends, blushing in excess, and they looked at me and asked, "Who is Margaret?"***

The last guy I met was named Eli. He came up and gave me a high five after seeing my 'YA SAVES' tshirt and so I followed him when he ran away from me and we started chatting. He'd been at the Maureen Johnson event I went to and actually lives very close to me. It was also kind of strange, in a fantastic way. I made a note on his annotated copy of Paper Towns and it was all very swell.

I left with usernames and this feeling of satisfaction that was hardly even related to being in close proximity with the Green brothers. (I didn't actually get to go up to the signing table in Seattle because the security was really tight and we had to leave early because of the two hour drive home. I didn't mind.) I tried not to fall asleep on the way home and then was so ridiculously tired that I couldn't fall asleep when I got into bed, all of the events of the weekend swirling around in my head.

It's absurd when you meet people in person whose tumblogs or videos you follow avidly. It's strange being forced to wrap your head around the fact that people are just people, whether or not they have an online following. It's weird to hear John talk about his severe social anxiety and how he has to pretend we're not there to be able to function on stage. It's odd to be in a place where there are so many nerds that the very idea of being self conscious doesn't even cross your awareness.

And I mean all that in the very best way.

*which was featured on the vlogbrothers' Nerd Factor
**which ended up being in the front row. Not sure how that happened but it was really cool.
***eventually they figured it out because I had previously told them all to follow her on tumblr.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Well, according to Erikson I'm doing alright for myself

(Background: Psychology references, anyone? Going on the assumption that people do not generally read ahead in textbooks for fun--Erikson categorized human life and success into 8 stages, each with a question to answer and a challenge to overcome, in the form of [good trait] vs. [bad trait] to be added to the personality based on whether or not said challenge was met.

Ages 13-21 are based on Identity vs. Role Confusion. What's interesting about the question ("who am I?"/"what can I be?") is that's it's arguably the most philosophical and the the only non-yes-or-no question of all the stages. This is why teen angst is a thing, methinks. But anyway, the main issues include developing a stance on politics and sexual identity. I'm going to muse a bit on the latter.)

Okay, so, just generally, gender is a socially constructed concept and I personally think the gender binary is kind of bullshit, and I regret that inserting phrases like "socially constructed concept" and "gender binary" makes my point inevitably sound a little (or a lot, judge as you will) pretentious.

I don't particularly know if I'm exactly straight. I don't know if I'm bisexual, either. I don't know if I'm pansexual or just lonely or what. The reason this is a difficult question to assess is because, of course, I have had no experience with. . . anything. Like, should a female human with a pulse and in my general age range express a desire to spend time with me in an even vaguely romantic context, and I felt a reciprocal such desire, I wouldn't refuse. (As in heterosexual relationships. Why should I limit myself to strictly dating people based on the compatibility of our genitals? Why should anybody? No one is attracted to everyone of the opposite sex, no one is attracted to everyone of the same sex. I don't know. I'll stop my filthy hippie ideology for now.) How much of this is my desire to be wanted, and how much is my rejection of conventional sexuality? Ehh, some and some. I will freely acknowledge the attractiveness in people, and since attractiveness is subjective, it can be said that I find select females attractive. But do I want to be Emma Watson (as an example) or know her or date or her or crawl into bed with her? It's quite a spectrum. I've been speaking in hypotheticals for most of the last paragraph, anyway.

I also think I might be a transvestite. (Play this song at your leisure. ;))* I've never tried it because there are no suitable male clothes lying around my house. Basically I dress like this. I don't aspire to dress like a male version of this (which wouldn't be hard), but in terms of formal wear, I'd much prefer wearing  this** to, say, this. Matter of preference, etc. I don't want to literally be a man or even pass as one, but suits are both more aesthetically pleasing and confidence-boosting to me than other forms of clothing. I realize that the dress in that last picture isn't even what some people would classify as formal, except maybe for the fact that it's black. Some girls wear dresses to school all the time; I consider myself overdressed for my mandatory job of learning if I'm wearing black pants that day.

This is a bit more personal than my usual blogs lately (because I've barely been blogging, whoops), but I guess I've done it so this will be out on the interwebs, and maybe someone using Google to try and define their identity will find this and know there's someone in the same boat.


* Also featuring about half a minute of sheer gems of dialogue. This isn't the junior chamber of commerce, Brad!

** Ahem, minus the gun. I'm using iStockPhoto, cut me some slack.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yay, books

Carrying books around is considered a marker of intellect, or being an introvert, leading to long, wish-fulfilling schlock urging guys to "date a girl who reads"--insinuating that girls who read are inherently more datable, not taking into account any of said girl's other personality traits, and/or that girls who "don't" read (even though it's almost literally impossible to get through life without reading at all, the literacy rate in the US is 99.3% or something, etc) aren't worthy of the reader's attention. This was meant to appeal to me and people like me, the readers. But it just dawned on me that that's kind of a shitty thing to perpetuate.

Okay, so aside from that paragraph being little more than an extremely run on sentence, I actually had a point to make in this blog (I was reminded of a Tumblr post that I reblogged a long time ago and got sidetracked, c'est la vie), going back to carrying books around. I finished TFiOS in a day. In the week or so since then, I still keep it in my bag like a homesick kindergartner who brings their favorite stuffed dog to school. I'll pull it out, open to a random page, and read for a few moments when I can find nothing else to do but still want to look busy. Looking busy is an old and valuable tactic I crafted in freshman year, when I wanted to sit alone at lunch without being approached by people. Not really a sociable maneuver, but it worked.

Just knowing that TFiOS (or any book--I will be practical about it and keep books that are assigned for English with me for this purpose, but this week was a special occasion) is within arms' reach is comforting in a way, going back to the kindergartner-and-stuffed-animal example. This is just a more sophisticated version of that, with the bonus of creating an air of scholarly demureness. I realize this was not actually about TFiOS itself, but I can't quite do it/my opinion of it justice coherently. Anyone else want to try before me?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

so in love

My life is so ridiculously full right now. There are letters and TFioS and endless mugs of hot chocolate. There is hand holding and hugging and a fair amount of cuddling. There is road trip planning and games of Uno and just the right amount of cheese. My smile is nearly perpetual and the number of winks per day is dramatically on the rise--even if most of those winks are directed at my own reflection. ;)

These past two weeks of January have been pretty excellent. I just feel so good that I almost can't believe it. I don't trust myself enough for this to last. But, god, I hope it does.

Just felt like sharing. I wish you both the best of Januarys.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I have so much to say and yet nothing to write and it's like it's all stuck somewhere on the way from my brain to my fingertips. Sometimes I let myself forget that the internet is a place where anyone can hear you and that you shouldn't just say everything you want to--even if it feels good at the time to purge the words, watch them spill out onto your screen.

I'm way too melancholy for my own good. Maybe I just need to get back into situations where I like myself. I miss not feeling like a crazy person half the time. I think I'll sort that shit out tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Simple Things and Beauty Queens

(Or, The First Lurve Blog of 2012!)

This post comes to you in two vaguely related parts.

Thing 1: I just kind of want my life to be this song is that really so much to ask.

It's cuter than my usual tastes in sentiment and musicality, but (beyond admitting that) I'm not going to apologize for wanting a relationship like the one described in the lyrics. What I want is to be in love without the beginning processes of falling in love, the "Jesus-Christ-are-my-eyebrows-the-correct-shape-am-I-breathing-at-the-correct-pace-I-just-want-to-stare-at-your-face-without-being-creepy-and-overt-about-it"-stage. I speak from extremely little experience, (Remember this tidbit of blog? We are in the same Spanish class. Everything was going swimmingly until (December 1st) I was informed that he has a girlfriend now. And then I was (only slightly unreasonably) upset about that for around two weeks. To date, this one human being is the only person to have inspired in me such girlish mental frothing, during and after our quasi-flirtation. I hated myself for it in those two weeks, having prided myself on not frothing over much of anything, least of all a guy.) but this seems to be a prerequisite for behaving like a normal person around someone you hope to attract. (Or it's an unfortunate presence of YA novel cliches in my life.)

Basically, I want to skip the awkward uncomfortable bits (especially when the frothing turns out to be for naught) and settle painlessly into the creamy, fluffy-clouds-of-nougat center that is adorable contentment.

Thing 2: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (references things but contains nothing that is necessarily a spoiler.* You should read it if you haven't already. End PSA.)

In the book, Adina goes through pretty much the same Frothing Dilemma I had. I granted myself 0.0 license to Be Frothy**, and once it went over that 0.0 came the Sense of Conflicting Self Loathing but Not Stopping because I Like His Everything.***

On an unrelated (and probably almost contradictory) point, I present a paraphrased quote:

"They [society, corporate marketing, etc] make it so hard for us to love ourselves."****

To which I say: really? Blaming society is tres en l'mode***** for disillusioned youth, but to play devil's advocate, I have to say: it's also kinda your fault for giving a shit what society thinks.****** Until the advent of literal mind control, you can just choose not to give a shit, which is part of the conclusion the titular queens come to. Unless you want to argue that society makes you care about society's opinion of you, which is, also to quote the book, "one more meta than I like."

Regardless, the above quote and similar opinions on Tumblr got me thinking. I'm really in a minority on this front. I do, for the most part, cliched as it is, love myself. (For the sake of avoiding the cliche, "accept" myself really is more accurate.) I'm fine with the fact that I'm not perfect mentally or physically, but I'll admit I'm not a troll (either sense of the word). Moreover, I've never ascribed my various character flaws to simply having a vagina. Maybe they are and I'm deluded in the opposite direction. Maybe I've repressed memories for the sake of making a point. Maybe I'm just lucky to have fallen into a non-traditional-gender-roles family from birth, with supportive parents, supplemented nowadays with bunches of kickass forwarding-thinking-people on the internet. Maybe it's just the perfect storm. Fingers crossed this type of upbringing becomes less rare, like with this awesome little kid.

But I see plenty of evidence that it's not. Pieces of paper written on in Sharpie and posted on Tumblr with thousands of notes saying stuff like, "I wish I was good enough.", "I'll never be yours.", and it's horrible and I wish people didn't think like that, but as we've discussed, mind control is currently impossible. Sigh.

* Okay, maybe except this: disabled-maybe-pansexual-Illinoisan chick gets shit done. REPRESENT. (I'm heavily biased in this footnote, read it for the other awesome characterizations too hey hey what what.)

** I clearly can't do adjectives right now, so have an extended my-brain-as-a-Starbucks-beverage metaphor.

*** Look At All the Random Capitalization someone Please Stop Me.

**** I'm going to add, "as girls" to the end, implied based on the usage of "ourselves". The book does eventually delve into "not every issue is attached to being female and guys are festering holes of insecurities too sometimes", but not at the point in question.

***** a.) Excuse my mangled French.
            b.) I've probably done this in my head, and can't promise I won't again. I'm making not giving a shit sound way easier than it is. But for now I'm in an empowered sort of mood. I include my less-enlightened past and/or future self in the general "you".

****** re: "loving yourself". Please give all the shits you deem necessary re: legal procedures and such.

Now that I've noticed that footnotes can be made a smaller font size (thanks Alex!), I feel like this gives me permission to add them in copious amounts. I hope you've enjoyed reading them.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I started this at 4:30am so... beware

Don't blame me for being incoherent. Blame yourself for not residing inside my head at 5 o'clock in the morning on January 1st.
What? Did I just say that? It's staying. Obviously.

1) What did you do in 2011 that you had never done before?
Sheesh. A ton. I lived in a house with no older sisters and took a 14 hour bus trip all by myself. I got my license. I learned a shitload about colonialism which has made me a far more radical person that I ever thought I'd be. I had what I will call a legitimate crush--well, more than one, I suppose. I STARTED WATCHING DOCTOR WHO!!!!! (Vita...). Also tumblr.

2) Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions?
I only really had one which was to be more patient--vague and unhelpful. But I really can't say if I'm more patient than I was 365 days ago. I like to think I am but I'm probably not, at least not by a wide margin.

3) What countries did you visit in 2011?
Basically nowhere. I mean, I went to the States more than once but America is practically Canada anyway (BLASPHEMOUS-ANTI-NATIONALIST-CRAZINESS). Shhhh.

4) What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Cuddling. Not that I particularly lacked it in 2011 but there's always room for more. ;) Also, hugs.

5) What dates will remain etched upon your memory and why?
January 4th is when my older sisters went away on planes for extended periods of time. May 17th is when I passed my driving exam. July 15th. Harry fucking Potter. December 26th/27th. Yeah.
Actually, I'm remembering a lot of my December as days. Such as, this happened on a Thursday and that happened on a Monday and so on. I'm not sure why, exactly, it's just something I've noticed myself doing.

6) Biggest achievement? 
Not murdering anyone with a vehicle? Or anything else, really. I don't actually know. I don't think I'm a person that actively "achieves" things.

7) Biggest failure?
Likewise, I don't think of myself as someone who has failures. Or maybe I'm just really good at repressing my memories. I suppose I've pretty effectively failed at imagining complexly people who don't ask for what they want and then complain about not getting it later on. I'm working on that.

8) Best thing someone boughtmade for you in 2011?
A TARDIS. I kid you not. 

9) Where did most of your money go? 
Chai tea lattes and sweaters. I like to buy sweaters. I'm trying to stop.

10) What song will always remind you of 2011?
Tik Tok Together. If you have not heard this, I don't even know what to say.

11) How did you spend Christmas? (or, y'know, whatever holiday you celebrate)

Moping and watching movies and texting and YouTubing. And then dinner was nice and delicious. And then more moping, unfortunately. Chocolate egg cake! Let's move on.

12) Did you fall in love in 2011?

Define 'fall in love.' But yeah, maybe, I think so. Maybe. I don't know. :)

13) What was the best book you read in 2011?

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta. Honourable mentions go to Hold Still by Nina LaCour, Irma Voute by Miriam Toews and A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson. 
I'm so glad I have GoodReads for situations like this. 

14) Greatest musical discovery?
I don't even know. I've been rediscovering a lot of stuff.

15) What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?

I remember the day after my birthday ridiculously clearly but the memory of the actual day I turned seventeen is evading me. It was a Tuesday, I know that much.

16) What is one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Make out sessions. No, but seriously... I think if I had figured out that being authentic was more important than trying to make everyone happy earlier. Or maybe if everyone else did more dishes.

17) What kept you sane?

Tumblr, the vlogbrothers, Gilmore Girls, my family. Donnie (hi).

18) Who did you miss?

My friend Alana, who has spent Christmas in Florida. She's coming back soon, though, so that's good.

19) Best thing you ate?

ALL OF THE THINGS! Probably Nelson food, though. Or this amazing panini I had in Calgary. Cranberry, apple, brie, SO GOOD. I love food.

20) What lessons did you learn in 2011?

a) If you're going to tell someone important things, don't chicken out and only go halfway there. Seriously. Just person up and say what you need to say.
b) As I kind of said, authenticity is something I've realized I value intensely. Sometimes that means quitting. Quitting is actually not always a bad thing. Who knew?
c) I think an important thing I learned is that I'm going to be okay. I used to get incredibly sad and think I was never going to feel anything but this forever but at some point I figured out that things do get better and just because I feel crappy now, doesn't mean I will tomorrow. The way I phrased that makes it sound like I don't get sad anymore. I totally do. More than I'd like. But I'm tying to focus on the moments when I'm incandescently happy and work from there.
d) Final lesson (at least that I am going to scribe here): Do your fucking dishes. Like actually. Here is some news: no one else wants to. Take responsibility for yourself. Make good choices.