20 November 2010

On a moment past

Due to a washing machine issue, I found myself at the laundromat for the first time yesterday. Special experience, I know. After starting my loads of lights and darks, I situated myself in a chair which allowed me to keep an eye on the machines and the door simultaneously (a very important thing when I'm in a new place - especially one so foreign and mysterious). I pulled out my book, started my music, and that is when she entered.

At first, I knew only that I recognized her, but after stealing several glances, I figured out who she was. She was a member of my high school graduating class. Appearance wise, Stephanie (for that is her name) hadn't changed much. But then, she could probably have said the same thing about me. It's good to know that someone else hadn't changed her hairstyle for six years either. She also wore a baggy sweatshirt and jeans - an outfit common to any high school. These factors gave me a sense of relative certainty regarding her identity. Throughout high school we had been friendly, but not particularly close. Our school was fairly small, and because we had several friends in common, we ate at the same lunch table most of the time. But I don't have any specific memories of her. After figuring out who she was, I considered saying hello.

I came up with a fairly decent plan. I would say her name with a tinge of hesitancy, mention our common place of education and drop my name (just in case she didn't remember me, although I suspected she did), and then I would ask her how she was. Her reply would dictate how long our conversation would last, and I had the easy out of "needing to check my laundry" if I wanted an escape. I was ready to tell her about the miniature deluge that had happened the day before and the consequent need for visiting the local Suds 'n Duds.

All I needed to do was find the right timing. But she had come with someone else, so I didn't want to interrupt their conversation. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would just be incredibly awkward. I began to dread that potential uneasiness. Pretty soon, I was folding my clothes and they were heading out (all their shirts would be wrinkled by the time they got home tsk tsk tsk).

I was left to my thoughts. Where's my sense of community? Why didn't we say hello? What did she think when she saw me? And where did that other black sock go? I decided my actions (or rather my lack thereof) were pathetic, but typical. I often find myself waiting for that perfect moment and miss my chance completely. We had spent over an hour in the same space, but hadn't exchanged a single word. We could have had a nice conversation. We could have shared our lives for a moment. I might have found a new person to attend concerts with (I seem to be lacking in that department). Instead, however, I did nothing, and am left with just my thoughts and this blog post.

14 November 2010

A list of my fears

In preface, I would say I'm not a very anxious person. Certain people take that for granted. My mother, for example, takes my relatively mellow personality to mean I never worry. She's wrong, and to prove it, I made a list once. Lately, my music shuffler has been favoring the following song, so I've thought about fear too much for my blog not to reflect on those ponderings.

The Rational:

*Being wrong
*Being a burden to people
*Never becoming the person I want to be
*Being blind to a person in need
*Offending someone who won't tell me
*Getting cancer

The Not-so-Rational:

*Bugs crawling into my ears at night
*Going blind or deaf
*Street gutters (falling down one, breaking my ankle in one, a monster/big snake coming out of one)
*That everyone around me is lying to me (when they say I'm smart, funny, interesting, etc.)

I like to think it's a manageable list. 

08 November 2010

A small, but annoying problem

I write down quotations. Constantly. When I'm walking past someone who makes a ridiculous comment (like the teenager who said "I don't know what it is, but your shirt reminds me of some Asianness" to her friend in the obviously Chinese-inspired top). When I see a t-shirt I like ("Prague: Czech it out"). Or when I read the newspaper (yeah, I still do that). I have a couple notebooks and Word Docs started with my favorite quips. I find myself adding to them constantly.

Consequently, I think of them frequently. I could take just about any topic and remember something Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, or Nelson Mandela said in reference. Sometimes I fear my reliance on them to evaluate life is dangerous. Well, as dangerous as mental rabbit trails can be.

Still, I find myself drawn to them. Usually, I copy them with great (OCD-like) accuracy and include the proper attribution. Sometimes, however, I forget, or my writing is unclear, or I don't know who to give the credit to. A quick Google search will generally tell me who said it and why, so lately, I haven't cared much if I forgot to write down who said the particular piece of wisdom or wit I decided to transcribe.

I've included all that information because I found a post-it yesterday with an excellent quote:

(In case you are having trouble reading my writing it says "The problem with most people isn't that they set the bar too high and fail, but that they set the bar too low and succeed.")
I'm not sure when I wrote it (like I said, I do this frequently), although I can understand why it would have seemed important to do so. The words resonate with me. I get so caught up in meeting small, somewhat insignificant goals that I ignore the big ones. I'm good at the here and now. The long run seems insurmountable. I know I can substitute teach for a day, but I'm not sure I can get a job I really want/need. I find myself content with low standards. I like my petty triumphs too much.

But that's not what bothers me. Right now, at least, all I seem to care about is "Who said that?" I really need to know. Well, I don't need to know, but I really want to. An extensive search (via Google) has lead me nowhere. I tried to convince myself that something is true no matter who said it, but I have this unshakable desire for context.

Has anyone heard it before? I tend to think it was from a book, or a movie, or perhaps just a youtube video. Alas, I will have to be more cautious when writing these things in the future.

03 November 2010

Acceptance (the good and the bad)

I find myself going back and forth regarding society's obsession with acceptance.

One the one hand, something should be said about loving people for who they are - flaws included. So what if my friend is a tad rude before noon? Who cares if my brother doesn't remember half the things I tell him? I can smile at my mother's constant stream of unsolicited advice because I love her.

Also, our perceptions need continual improvement - it's easy to judge when we don't understand. Differences are hard to ignore and often difficult to appreciate. We are too easily trapped by what we have grown accustomed to. Too quick to favor what we've seen since childhood. I wonder what beautiful things we would see if we weren't distracted what makes them dissimilar.


Sometimes I hate when popular opinion forces me to accept everyone. Giving every personality, every lifestyle, every outlying theory automatic validity simply because it exists is foolish. People have gotten too good at justifying selfish habits, supporting ludicrous claims, and building a defense for every character flaw they have.

People have learned to thrive on acceptance, because it relieves them from feelings of guilt. We act as though guilt is an enemy to truth, when often it is the light we need to see it. I can eat all the cookies I want if the guy who loves me is willing to accept my being overweight. I suppose this point is what makes love and acceptance to very different things. We can love someone without accepting their faults. We love them by urging them to improve. Isn't that the point of relationships? We learn from one another. We grow. We change.

Acceptance dispels the need for action. It just makes us feel better. It alleviates discomfort.

Love - the kind that withholds judgment, but speaks up when it sees someone faltering - is what society needs, not acceptance.

To borrow a quotation from Junebug
God loves you just the way you are. But He loves you too much to let you stay that way.

01 November 2010

What do I post now?

After posting every day for the past month, I thought I would take today off. But then the freedom of posting whatever I wanted to was far too alluring. So, since I am no longer compelled to answer questions about myself (unless, of course, you request such a thing), I have decided to post an amazing video from yet another TED talk. I know it's long, but don't you wish all wonderful things were?

On people who are smarter than me, funnier than me, and get more exercise during conversations than me : Clifford Stoll

It also gave me a new Christmas present option for my brother who majored in Aerospace Engineering and is also much, much smarter than me. (although I think I may be funnier)

31 October 2010

Day 30: Write a letter to yourself

Congratulations on making it through an entire month of posts. I didn't think you could make it. Or perhaps, I didn't think you were capable of talking about yourself so much. Clearly, you have a bigger ego than we thought. 
I'm am, however, impressed you didn't lose followers when you expressed your thoughts on religion or politics or getting pregnant. Perhaps you have been wrong to change the way you act around every person you know. Although I would suggest you continue to tread softly. I've also noticed that on this blog you've had a chance to write to people you know very little about, and yet, no one has told you you're dumb, silly, or boring like you thought they would. Or perhaps those people are the ones who visited, but didn't come back. Either way, you worried too much.

Still, you have a lot to do. You have said many things that require follow through. Perhaps you still need to share more of yourself and not worry so much about what other's think. You pretend not to care, but I cannot be fooled (by you anyway). So keep changing, growing, sharing, thinking, and working. Every morning, resolve to be a better person than you were yesterday.
Stop settling for mediocrity. Stop letting other people live your life for you. Stop letting your fears consume you. Stop being what you think people expect. Work hard. Speak up. Get out there. Let your curiosities and interests overcome your reservations. Surprise people with your abilities, your knowledge, your love, and your generosity.
We're in this together, I'm pulling for you.

P.S. I also know you're not crazy for talking to yourself for so long - don't let anyone tell you differently.

30 October 2010

Day 29: Something you hope to change about yourself

One thing always comes to mind. I've said it before (see here, and here).

I want to be a better volunteer.

I want to make decisions without being prompted first.

I want to overcome my fear of being wrong and start doing something right.

Because for right now, I don't think I'm doing enough.

I am capable of more.

But even though I know what I should do, my inhibitions restrain me.

29 October 2010

Day 28: What would you do if you got pregnant

Another topic I don't entirely appreciate, but will answer anyway.

1) I won't be getting pregnant. I have taken/will be taking precautions.

2) I won't be getting pregnant. Ever. I've decided it's not necessary. If at some point in the far, far distant future, I am unable to shake those motherly desires most women have at some point or another, I am going to adopt. Why would I bring a child into the world when there are already children who need to be taken care of and loved? Just don't tell my mother.

3) I won't be getting pregnant. But, for the sake of argument and that unshakable "what if" . . . If I were to get pregnant, I would be the best mother I am capable of being. Having an abortion or giving it up for adoption are not even considerations. I, no doubt, would have to rely on help from family and friends, but if I create a child, I will take care of it. Life is precious, even if you didn't plan on it.

I was told the movie's boring, but they are pretty cute.
 (oh, if I were to get pregnant, I would skip the prego pics. They always look odd)

always - see awkwardfamilyphotos.com for more

28 October 2010

Day 27: What's the best thing you've got going for you right now?

As usual, I couldn't come up with anything, so I let a website do all the creative work for me today.

See Wordle.net and make your own :)

27 October 2010

Day 26: Have you ever though about giving up on life

Yes. But that was a long time ago.

I was an awkward middle school student. My mother and I weren't getting along. It seemed like everyone in my life was changing (and I didn't feel the same either). My life felt pointless and insignificant, and in some ways, I felt my existence did more harm than good. So I thought - why not end it? I had heard of suicide pacts and there was something . . . romantic about them (provided you don't have a strong grasp on reality).

Luckily, however, teachers seem to figure out the need to address this issue. After several classes, lectures, and workshops - I realized the permanence of the action compared to the temporal nature of my problems. I still have moments where I don't feel as though I truly matter, but those moments should give me resolve to be a better person, rather than give up.

Also, I found an amazing book - After the Death of Anna Gonzales - which contains 30-something poems expressing the thoughts of characters after Anna has committed suicide. It's well-written, relatable, honest, and balanced. Here's one of my favorites from it:

Jordan Smythe

Once I had this jigsaw puzzle.
I worked on it every day.
It was the hardest thing I’d ever done,
But I finally got it all finished
Except for one piece,
Which was missing.
I looked for it everywhere,
Under my bed, behind the table, in the closet,
But the piece was just gone.
Pretty soon, when I looked at the puzzle
All I could see
Was the missing piece.
So I threw the whole thing away.
All my hard work, all my effort tossed in the garbage.
The next week I found the missing piece
But, of course, I no longer had the puzzle.

So why am I thinking about this puzzle today
When I hear about Anna Gonzales’s suicide?

I don’t know.

Maybe it’s one of those metaphor things.

Clearly, the audience intended to be young adults, but I still find these words a great reminder of how small our perspective can often be.

26 October 2010

Day 25: The reason you believe you're still alive today

One reason? I think not. 

Here are a few of the reasons:

*God (and all things included)
*My parents love me and stopped me from doing stupid things
*I never rarely played with matches (one of many warnings)
*I drive responsibly (because my dad told me to)
*I have never fought in a war (because my mom wouldn't let me)
*I ate my vegetables
*Others fought/fight for me and my country (including my brother)
*The kindness of strangers (on whom I have always depended)
*DJ and Stephanie (Full House) made most of my mistakes for me
*I spend most of my time reading rather than partaking in other, more dangerous activities (like sky diving or horseback riding)
*I always park my car under a street light (luminescence scares away murderers, thieves and other unscrupulous characters - an email told me so)
*I chew my food slowly
*I don't live in a place with earthquakes or hurricanes, and tornadoes are relatively easy to avoid
*I'm still in my twenties
*Just lucky, I guess

Confession: I was bored and played with the font - it's still readable right?

25 October 2010

Day 24: Make a playlist for someone and exlpain your choices

My sister and I are very different. I mentioned that previously. Everyone in my immediate family knows this. I've noticed, however, that people looking in from the outside cannot seem to get over our similarities. And we do have our ongoing jokes, our shared mannerisms, near-identical complexions (minus the freckles on my part), and the same color of brown framing our faces.

Still, our personalities and tastes are often as different as night and day. Music is a big example of where we diverge. Sure, we have some mutual appreciations (I've developed a playlist for that in case we're caught in the same car together), but the majority of my music she calls "trash," and most of her music I dub "cheese."

My biggest problem with her musical preference lies not in someone she likes, but rather in a group she does not. She hates The Beatles. I cannot seem to get over that. Who doesn't like The Beatles? She's crazy. Her defense: She says they sound too whinny and rough. She doesn't like the choppiness of some of their music and calls is old.

Warning: This is not a list of great Beatles covers (although some of them are pretty great). This list is intended to be ones my sister would like.

*To start, surprisingly we both like The Muppets. They covered several, but I like the jokes before this one the best. I don't, however, understand why they felt the need to include all the dogs.

80'stees.com has this on a tshirt!

*Across the Universe did its best to cover so many songs, but my favorite was when they used Oh Darling as part of an argument. Although, I think she would probably prefer the ones sung by Jim Sturgess.

*You've Got to Hide Your Love Away doesn't seem to have many good covers of it. But I did find one from Keane.

*Pesonally, I prefer Johnny Cash's version, but the sis doesn't appreciate him either, so I found a version of In My Life covered by Jason Mraz (who has a voice she likes).

*She's still warming up to Belle and Sebastian, but Here Comes the Sun is easy to get right. Coldplay and Rob Thomas also sing it pretty well.

*I think I am moving farther away from the type of musicians she likes, but I love Robin Williams and Bobby McFerrin's cover of Come Together.

*Across the Universe has been covered by some great artists, but Fiona Apple's version was great - I still think about Pleasantville when I hear it.

*If I Fell is one of my favorites, and I found this version a while ago.

Well, it ended up being a short playlist and I doubt she will like many of these versions either. She tends to like only artists who are still recording albums. It's sad, but I'm in the mood to cater. Any suggestions?

24 October 2010

Day 23: Something you wish you had done in your life

I feel like this topic implies my life is essentially over. Is this, my 24th year, the year in which I should stop talking about what I want to do and start nostalgically looking back on what I did/didn't do? No, I'm not ready to take on that perspective. I'm still too busy living - or at least trying to sort out this thing we've named life.

Henry Miller, as flawed as he was, certainly had an admirable way of seeing our existence. He jumped in with both feet and recorded his keen observations for anyone who didn't censor literature. Some of my favorite quotations are attributed to him. The above one is pretty good, but a much more better one is his command to "Develop an interest in life as you see it, the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself."

I suppose if I were to limit myself to one thing I wish I had done. I wish I had found this statement earlier. Life is so much more amazing if you're just willing to take an interest in it. There are too many things to see, read, feel, hear, and discover to be bored. How much have I missed because I was distracted by my own petty desires?

23 October 2010

Day 22: Something you wish you hadn't done in your life

I've made mistakes. Some have taught me valuable lessons. Some were useless. One of my least favorite mantras is "no regrets." While I appreciate the value of experience, some things are best learned vicariously. My life has saved over and over again because I have seen the poor choices of others and avoided those choices myself. Still, I do wish I could have bypassed a few things. Rather than trying to pick one, however, I am going to resort to one of my lists.

Things I wish I hadn't done:

*Gone through a period of life listening to country music (I blame my JH softball coach)
*Watched the 3rd and 4th seasons of Heroes
*Skipped assignments in high school
*Kept an unprotected journal (my mother read it)
*Worn those pink jeans in grade school
*Waited so long to read Cry, the Beloved Country (and other amazing books)
*Taken the time I had with my grandpa for granted
*Committed myself to the major/career my parents preferred
*Quit taking piano lessons
*Ignored the litter on my walk today

If you can't learn from your mistakes, at least learn from your regrets.

Day 21: Is just ridiculous

I'm skipping this post. It's too far-fetched for my tastes. Also, I don't generally fight with friends, nor do I believe a fight a few hours before would alter my reaction to an accident.

I would, however, like to add an addendum. (Is that redundant?)

I feel like I said "drugs and alcohol are stupid, but I won't stop you." That wasn't my intention. It is easy for me to judge something I have no interest in. I suppose those who don't like blogging (do people like that exist?) could easily say the time I spend online is wasteful. We put a lot of energy into the things we enjoy. What I meant to say was you should be free to do what makes you happy. I just think some people can't find something to be happy about so they just try doing what everyone else seems to like.

22 October 2010

Day 20: Your views on drugs and alcohol

First, I should admit my extremely limited consumption of alcohol and my complete abstinence from any nonprescription or Tylenol type drugs. In high school and college (when movies tell you it should happen) I was never offered anything. I wasn't even invited to the parties where I would have been offered anything. I guess my reputation as a straight-laced-Daddy's-girl prevented any attempts. And truthfully, I have never, nor do I intend to experiment with anything illegal. Although, if something were to become legal . . . yeah, I probably still wouldn't try it. Why? Keep reading.

I have strong reservations about taking drugs or consuming large quantities of alcohol because I'm a control-freak. Not so much that you would immediately notice, but I really, really hate losing control. I think it's the main reason I don't get angry or overly emotional. It might also contribute to various trust issues and my inability to watch 2 year olds for long periods of time.

Drugs and alcohol also - from an expense standpoint - don't make sense to me. I am reluctant to invest money into something so . . . unnecessary. An addiction to any drug is going to waste money and time. I could be saving kittens, sweeping sidewalks, or recycling. I'm not sure getting high appeals to me - where's the value?

In addition, alcohol and drugs affect people differently, require heightened restrictions, and a great deal of personal responsibility. But what you do for fun, relaxation, or socialization should be up to you.  The battle against alcohol is already lost. And one illegal drug in particular seems  acceptable in certain forms. Either way, it's not for me to decide and it's certainly not up to a government heavily influenced by pharmaceutical companies to decide.

Making something illegal does not decrease it's use. Might I suggest giving people something else to live for instead?

21 October 2010

Day 19: What is your opinion of religion and politics?

Today was a better day than yesterday. I therefore have no excuse to evade the topic any longer. Although, I guess this post doesn't have to be about my particular beliefs - I could just talk about overgeneralized and easily corruptible institutions, but that could get rather dull.

First, Religion. From the outside, it's a quick label. Yes, I'm religious - meaning I have a deeply-rooted faith in God. I read the Bible. I study what it says. I pray. I take comfort in the relationship I have with Him. My faith gives me so much - joy, hope, peace, love, morality, integrity, understanding, and purpose. My faith begins with Christ. Basically, I believe He was who He said He was. Starting there, everything else falls into place.

a couple pages from one of my Bibles
Christianity sometimes (often?) gets thrown under the bus. People scrutinize it, find fault with it, and reject it at the first sign of trouble. Sadly, the criticism is frequently deserved. We hold ourselves to impossible standards and then act shocked when others fall short as well. We purposely err on the side of caution and then demand those carefully discerning what is right to be overcautious as well. We judge too quickly and take up a defense when we should repent, ignore, or accept. We give people truth when they need love and grace. Then again, perhaps I have held Christians to an impossible standard. We are all fallible people right?

Politics. They're everywhere right now. My parents are very definite about what they (and I) believe. I used to be definite too. I bought in to all the propaganda. Then I went to college and learned to think for myself. I realized the faults of the party to which my parents were so committed, but I reluctantly voted for the "lesser of two evils" in the general elections that came by. I've never really liked the party lines anyway. I don't understand supporting an unreliable person, let alone a party full of unreliable persons. I prefer to support ideas - the trouble is finding someone who supports them as well.

Some ideas that are important to me: Life is sacred. It's precious and must be protected, defended, and cultivated. People are precious and must be provided for, taught, and loved. But life isn't just human, we have a responsibility to take care of all life - including the earth. Personal responsibility is another important issue for me. I don't want the government taking care of every little detail of my life. I am responsible for my communities needs. I am responsible for my mistakes. I am responsible for meeting the needs of those around me. Finally, individual liberty is immensely important to me. Restrictions often just make bad people more creative. Obviously, some borders have to be drawn, but as much as is possible, I must be free to make my own decisions. So should you.

Sometimes I just want to vote based on names.

20 October 2010

Days like these . . .

A few days ago my mom had a PET scan come back clean - for the first time in five years. It was kind of a big deal. I hadn't realized how tense I was until I heard something allowing me to release that tension. It felt good. We told everyone. Everyone was relieved. We went about hugging everyone we met - even if we didn't particularly like hugs.

But a couple days ago my mom insisted they check out a bump on her leg - a tiny thing that we didn't think would matter. Today they told us there were cancer cells in it. The supposedly all-knowing PET scan had missed them. Days like these, I hate the concept of false hope. After five years of surgeries, treatments, and doctor visits, we wanted some good news. But we wanted that news to be true. This weekend was great, but today hurts more than the first day we learned she had cancer.

So, even though I'm supposed to write about my religious and political beliefs, they don't seem all that important. I hope you'll forgive me. Days like these, I don't care about the latest attack ad or what our incumbents say they'll do this next term. I don't care about what label I've adopted regarding my faith in God.

Days like these, I want to go for a long walk with a bunch for 50's crooner music playing in my ears. I want to watch an old movie with lines I can say in unison with the actors. I want to read a book set in a completely different time period - maybe even universe.

Days like these, I look up youtube videos of squirrels, kittens, and puppies (don't judge me). I open my Bible to my favorite Psalms. I write emo poetry (and apparently emo blog posts). I hold back tears and look for things to smile about, laugh about, and talk about. I remember quotes like "Hard is hard. It's not bad; it's not impossible. It's just hard." I reflect on the things I am blessed with, but take for granted.

Days like these, I'm glad I find writing cathartic.

19 October 2010

Day 18: Your views on gay marriage

I'm not sure why this topic comes before I give you any background regarding my political and religious beliefs, but even though I'm tempted to switch the days around, I feel as though I have fiddled with this list enough. I am certain, however, that many thoughts I share today will be reiterated tomorrow. Also, I apologize for the seriousness of these posts, but I don't generally joke about politics - which is sad because it shut out several potential career paths.

First of all, people lose all sense of decency in this discussion. They throw in red herrings, build up straw men, pursue non sequitur arguments, and commit just about every other logical atrocity there is. It's embarrassing. I rarely voice my opinion for fear of increasing the absurdity, intolerance, and tactless behavior. And I'm not talking about one side or the other - both sides are making the same mistakes.

Second, marriage and homosexuality are two different topics. Marriage (we'll start there) is something I have become increasingly disillusioned with. Perhaps I have lost faith in men and therefore cannot see myself putting up with one long-term, or perhaps I'm worried about becoming a nagging, manipulate wife obsessed with getting a better couch, but I'm not interested right now. I've seen so many people get caught up in their passions causing them to ignore advice from friends and family. They get married simply because it seems to be the next logical step, but they aren't committed to the relationship - just the happiness of the moment. Marriage is more than taking the next step, it's an unbreakable resolve to love someone "til death" regardless of circumstance or momentary emotion. Many people are so selfish the aren't capable of loving someone that much. I guess I'm saying that marriage is broken. It's become a means to combine income and pay less in taxes. Therefore, arguing to "preserve marriage" seems like a lost cause.

Homosexuality is one of the most personal topics in existence. It's talking about who you love. It's the entertaining of certain curiosities and feelings. It's mentioned in the Bible; it's mentioned in the Qur'an. Most religions address it in some form or another. Many condemn it. That's hard. It's difficult to listen to someone say your feelings are wrong. It's difficult to say someone's lifestyle is wrong. Luckily for me, that isn't the topic. The topic is gay marriage - or whether or not the government should allow it.

So here is my opinion (did you think I would ever get there?). It's not the government's job to determine the validity of a union. It doesn't do that anyway (see divorce). The government is merely interested in monetary concerns, visiting rights, and census counts. The only reason to fight gay marriage on a state level is because it complicates things. All the forms have to be changed, all the statements reworded. What do we do with the people who believe it's wrong? Hard questions have to be answered. But that's just laziness holding back a system. I believe you have the right to enter a union based on personal preference. None of my other beliefs should stand in the way of that.

18 October 2010

Day 17: A book you've read that changed your perspective on something

I'm tempted to make a list rather than pick a single book. It seems like everything I've read has changed my perspective to some degree. Whenever I open my mind to someone else's line of thinking, I realize just how limited my thoughts can be. 

But even though the books I could list are many, I've decided to go with the most recent. I just read The Invisible Gorrilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabis and Daniel Simons. It's based on a fairly well known study regarding our perceptions, and I've included a youtube video of the version I like the best (it works even if you've seen the original). Feel free to watch it before I bias you towards it's contents.

The study and the book demonstrate the ways common illusions can manipulate our ability to see the world accurately. We are biased by what we expect will be, mislead by what we think we will remember, overconfident in our abilities and in our knowledge, incorrect in judging cause and effect, and too often distracted by potential. What I'm trying to say is there was a lot to digest. It's a book to make you second-guess yourself (which I thought I was already prone to, but now I'm not so sure). Judgment is too often clouded by desire and familiarity and blind acceptance.

The Invisible Gorilla is both fascinating and enlightening. More than once I have thought about how easily my senses are mislead and misinterpreted by my own mind. I wonder if I've been giving the world funny looks lately. Also, it's case studies remind me of reading Malcolm Gladwell's books (which I love and recommend). Ultimately, this book is for anyone who believes too strongly in the power of intuition.

Hmmm, now that I think about it Blink by Gladwell actually argues for the opposite concept (i.e. trusting your gut reactions). I wonder what he would think of this book.

17 October 2010

Day 16: Something (or someone) you could definitely live without


After long consideration, I conclude that gambling is one thing I never have to do. I have no intention of buying a lottery ticket, pulling down the lever on a slot machine, placing a bet on a horse, or even using more than pennies to play poker.

Now, I don't believe there's anything morally wrong with gambling . . . it just doesn't appeal to me.

At first, I wasn't sure why. I mean, I like games. I love playing poker and I certainly enjoy the thrill of winning. Casinos are bright and flashy and part of me likes to hear the sound of a ball circling a roulette wheel, but something taints the experience for me. Actually, three things come to mind.

First, I hate to win at the expense of someone else. I suppose beating the house is a nice enough concept, but most of the time if you're winning, someone else is losing. I can't get over that. I am not a competitive person (just ask any of my previous coaches, they're probably still frustrated with me). If we play monopoly, I will probably let you win. Why would I waste money on a lottery ticket, when I could spend that money on something I will definitely profit from - like a caramel macchiato? Then, everyone wins - including Starbucks.

Second, local economies seem far too dependent on casinos. In several states, it's the only way they come close to balancing the budget. That scares me. Depending on an entertainment/unnecessary industry to maintain and finance government responsibilities seems like a terrible practice. It's not my field of expertise, however, so I won't belabor that point.

Third, it can consume you. I had a coworker who incessantly talked about playing craps. He carried a pair of dice in his pocket at all times, and whenever we had a break he would toss them. He would then try to explain why he won or lost, but I never could follow him past the pass line. If he had lost at the casino before coming in to work, you could tell. And if he had won before coming, you were in for a chatty evening. The only thing I knew would change his mood was another trip to the casino. He had two daughters, but I hardly ever heard about them. He seemed happy enough, but to me, his life was always a bit sad.

So, honeymooning in Vegas is a bust. Guess I'll have to find a different playground.

16 October 2010

Day 15: Something you couldn't live without (because you've tried)

My immediate thought is coffee, but a quick search for blogs revealed 50 million results. I hope some of those were duplicates, but I did see several blogs devoted simply to coffee. But even though I'm not being original, it's the only topic that appeals to me at present. Probably because I just got a new creamer to try out. I would try it now, but it's a tad late. Clearly, the half-hearted attempt I once made to rid myself of the addiction was ill-fated from the start. And I'm glad. Coffee consumption is easy to justify.

Justification #1: Heath Benefits

*Preventing Cancer - several studies show coffee prevents certain kinds including decreasing one's chances of liver cancers, intestinal cancers, and even ovarian and prostrate cancer.

*Preventing Type II Diabetes - research is more limited, but a few have suggested that cancer decreases this risk as well.

*Preventing Gallstones - studies show regular coffee drinkers have a decreased risk of developing gallstones.

*Preventing Parkinson's and Alzheimer's - studies conservatively say there is an "inverse relationship" between coffee and the development of these neurological diseases.

*Improved Liver Functions - research is ongoing, but coffee and livers seem to mesh well.

*Exercise Benefits? - this one surprised me, but caffeine (when consumed in moderation) can be an "ergogenic aid" which means it can increase performance of certain systems, in coffee's case it can improves how well muscles work. So don't start drinking decaffeinated blends just yet.

(Most of this information was taken from Positivelycoffee.org)

Justification #2: Snob Appeal 

*Photo ops are plentiful when coffee is present, especially when reading. Also, using a coffee mug to cover the lower half of one's face is an easy option for the shy profile picture. See right, I don't know the guy, but I feel the need to copy his mug idea.

*Excuse to use snazzy words like "macchiato" and "percolation" and "huehuetenango"

*Plenty of readily accessible decorating themes

*Reason to hangout in a coffee shop with your computer - makes checking facebook a much more satisfying experience

Justification #3: Enhanced social situations

*Coffee is the world's most popular choice of drink and an immediate source of ice-breaking communication (see "do you like your coffee the way you like your men?" and other questions). Also, coffee houses essentially brought about the period of Enlightenment just by putting a few crazy, coffee-loving minds into the same room.

*Some of my favorite moments with friends have been at coffee houses. I don't think I'm alone in that.

*Coffee is great for lapses in conversation - one always looks thoughtful when sipping coffee and you can do that several times before you have to say something. Also, with the extra stimulation you're bound to have something to say.

Well, I feel better about this slight addiction.

15 October 2010

Day 14: Officially Skipped

I admire people, it's true, but I've had no "heroes" to speak of. People are fallible; I learned that at a young age. So I can't tell you about a hero letting me down. Instead, I will share a book I read recently (because it was delightful).

I didn't read any great literary works this week. I ignored Shakespeare, Dickens, Hawthorne, Austen, Dostoevsky, and the like. Sure, I currently have library books entitled Death in Venice, The Fountainhead, Age of Innocence, and All the Pretty Horses, but no, I have not read them.

This week I opted for humor.

It all started when I asked a friend for a book fitting 3 qualifications:

1) it was written by a female
2) it was NOT chick lit
3) it was not Age of Innocence (because that's already on my list)

She thought about it for a day or two and then sent me here.

After reading the first essay online, I was hooked and decided I didn't care that it was old news (printed over two years ago!), so I traveled to the library and checked it out. I carried it around with me for several days, reading its pages and a laughing at it contents - often eliciting inquiries from those nearby.

I could tell you she's witty, keenly observant, audacious, etc., but I'd rather just include a few of my favorite jokes from the book.

It is my belief that people who speak of high school with a sugary fondness are bluffing away early-onset Alzheimer's.

. . . ten-year-olds of the world, you shouldn't believe what your teachers tell you about the beauty and specialness and uniqueness of you. Or, believe it, little snowflake, but know it won't make a bit of difference until after puberty. It's Newton's lost law: anything that makes you unique later will get your chocolate milk stolen and your eye blackened as a kid. Won't it, Sebastian? Oh, yes, it will, my little Mandarin Chinese-learning, Poe-reciting, high-top-wearing friend. God bless you, wherever you are.

What annoyed me was that I so often attempted to weasel out of things on purpose, it killed me to do it by accident. It seemed like a waste of whatever detailed lie I was going to have to come up with. 

I thought we had reached an understanding, the institution of marriage and I. Weddings are like the triathlon of female friendship: the Shower, the Bachelorette Party, and the Main Event. It's the Iron Woman and most people never make it through. They fall off their bikes and choke on ocean water.

14 October 2010

Day 13: A band or artist who has gotten you through some tough times

Before responding I must voice a few concerns.

1. I'm not sure how many truly "hard times" I have faced. The hardest trial of my life so far has actually been watching other people face some tough realities and work their way through some difficulty.
2. Music is wonderful, but it's not going to be the difference between getting through a tough situation and giving up.
3. I listen to too many different artists and appreciate too many lyrics to give credit to just one. Therefore, I am going to make a list and I hope not to tread too much on the playlist topic still to come.

Music for when you're down:

Rachmaninoff - classical music filled with passion - I love getting lost in it. Just don't listen to Piano Concerto Number 2 - it will inevitably remind you of "All by Myself" which will defeat the purpose. Unless you wish to dwell, in that case, dwell away. This video is a humorous rendition illustrating some of his seemingly impossible chords.

Crooners - I don't know if it's because they included terrible puns in their lyrics, because they each had their own funny quirk, or because they loved to hear the sound of their voices too much, but I love them. Whether it's Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Mel Torme, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, or any other names Wikipedia might include, when I need I lift - I often turn to them. Escapism at it's best.

Smile - My favorite song from any crooner, I felt the need to include Nat King Cole's version (all others fall short). Sometimes peppy music seems cliche when you're feeling somber. This song is real, it's honest, and it's beautiful.

Brandi Carlile - I don't know if I would call her music uplifting (well, some of it is), but I would say I have gained much perspective listening to the ideas she explores through music. I keep coming back and back to it. I would have included a song of hers, but I couldn't decide which one.

Be Ok - Ingrid Michaelson has a way of making me smile. Also, this song was recorded in an effort to raise money for cancer research. In that context it gains greater meaning, because when dealing with certain burdens the goal is not to feel happy, but just to feel normal.

Details in the Fabric - I feel ridiculously girly for including a Jason Mraz song, but whenever I start to feel overwhelmed (instead of counting to ten) I just recall to mind the simple, but soothing lyrics of this song.

That's Life - Michael Buble (yes, another crooner) singing an amazing song made famous by Sinatra. I love it. And don't worry, the image clears after a 15 seconds or so. It was hard to find a good version of the song on Youtube.

13 October 2010

Day 12: Something you never get compliments on

(feel free to ignore this one)

I have ne'er been praised on the curve of my nose
nor the shape of my chin,
nor the length of my toes.

I have ne'er been revered for my wonderful cough
nor my fabulous sneeze
though they've been heard a lot.

I was going to write something better than this
but naught seems worthwhile
when you're feeling sick.

12 October 2010

Day 11: Something people seem to compliment you the most on

How many times do people have to say you're nice before it's definitely true? Whatever the number, I'm certain I will qualify. 

I think most people intend a compliment when they label a person "nice," but I'm not sure it is one. I hate to take a negative spin on compliments, but whenever I hear the statement, I can't help but believe they really mean "bland" in the place of "nice." I describe people as "nice" when I can think of no other characteristic to comment on. 

I would, however, prefer to considered a boring nice rather than an off-putting mean or rude or inconsiderate.  

I'm keeping this post short because well, I'm a tad bit sickly and colds tend to inhibit my ability to think clearly for long periods of time (or is that the medication?). I'll end with a quote from one of Austen's most enjoyable novels.

 "I am sure," cried Catherine, "I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should not I call it so?"

"Very true," said Henry, "and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement -- people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word." 

11 October 2010

Day 10: Someone you didn't want to let go

I was surprised by how quickly I thought of someone I once tried to hold on to for too long. So even though I never intended to discuss boyfriends, here it is. The story of the ex-boyfriend. Yes, I have had only one significant romantic relationship. I like that. I don't want to date dozens of guys before I find the right one. I'm not good at dating anyway. But all that is beside the point. Whenever I talk about relationship-oriented things I tend to follow several rabbit trails. Be prepared. (If you're not interested, stop reading now and come back tomorrow)

I started dating him despite several reservations. He was immature, he was just as (if not more) insecure than I was, he wasn't a reader, and he wasn't musical. Not even a little bit. He tried singing to me once. It was awful. I'm uncomfortable when being sung to in general (see happy birthday and other related tunes), but when someone is sitting in the back of a car singing a mushy country song off-key and making googly eyes at you throughout . . . yeah, that's the definition of awkward.

Anyway, I had the naive notion that love, should it develop, would conquer all these undesirable traits. Either I would someday find his off-key romancing cute, or he would learn to stop. The trouble started, however, when he wanted to say those 3 magical words or as he said: "upgrade the 'l' word" that we are already been putting "really" in front of (I put in quotes were he indicated with his fingers). Before I make him sound completely ridiculous I should also say he was hilarious, fun to be around, sweet, sincere, and all-around a great guy. Still is, as far as his facebook page seems to indicate. (Yeah, we're still friends.)

At any rate, because I realized he thought he was in love - although further conversation revealed our true stage was the I-love-spending-time-with-you part of a relationship, but I didn't wish to argue semantics - so after he said "I love you," I followed suit. In other words, I lied. For 6 more months I kept on lying until I almost believed the words myself. When I looked at the future, he was in it. I grew attached to our relationship. I was comfortable in it.

Then, he figured out he didn't love me. He didn't tell me, however, he just started drifting away. We drifted for a month before a mini-argument prompted a talk about our relationship. That day, I wanted to hang on. I didn't want to let go, because I didn't want to fail at something so huge. I had grown accustomed to a world with him in it, and I didn't want to lose it. In the end, we decided to take a step back (it was right before finals - we didn't want the pressure) and act more like friends for a while. It was another month before we officially severed the knot. At that time I was ready and he was dragging his feet. We both knew we weren't right for one another, but there is something about ending a relationship you've put so much into that makes things difficult.

It was hard to let go, but it was right.

10 October 2010

Day 9: Someone you didn't want to let go, but he/she just drifted

Wow, I think someone noticed another one of my character flaws. Almost every relationship in my life has ended this way. I haven't lost many people to death (something I am deeply grateful for); I haven't parted ways with someone after an intense argument revealing "irreconcilable differences" and considering the amazing ability we have through technology to keep in touch with anyone, anywhere, I can't honestly say I somehow "lost contact" with someone. I could probably find them on facebook if I really wanted.

So drifting is the way in which I tend to lose people. Any close friend from high school would make the list of drifters. I tried to convince myself that graduation wouldn't mean good-bye, but once I had been gone a couple years, I realized how little I had in common with those friends. I think we were merely united by experience. We witnessed the same bullying, listened to the same teachers, and struggled through the same assignments. After school, however, we had different experiences which changed us just enough so that we can no longer relate the way we used to.

Most college friends have drifted too. I had several roommates, but keep in contact with just one. Considering also that I was in 4 weddings due to college relationships, it's sad to think I have seen only one of those friends since (although I am not counting subsequent weddings). All in all, I keep up with 3 friends from college - a small number considering how close we once were. Again, I think we were united by situation and I just naturally clung to the people with whom I genuinely share similar interests.

If I'm close to family, it's because they insisted. My mother's family has this ridiculous habit of staying connected. They have made it a priority so it has happened. (Quick example: When I was asked out for the first time I got a call within a couple hours from my grandpa congratulating me. He had heard it from my grandma, who had heard it from my aunt, who had heard it from my other aunt who had heard it from my mom whom I had told, emphasizing that it wasn't a big deal. Did you follow that? Information travels fast.) You can't drift away from the family - they would never let you.

Again, I guess I wasn't specific, but I'm not much for naming names.

09 October 2010

Day 8: Someone who treated you poorly

After quite a bit of consideration, I actually thought of someone. I subbed at my old high school yesterday (odd, very odd indeed) and wandering through it's halls nostalgia reminded me of some drama from my freshman year in band.
Check out sodahead.com :)
Some background: my high school was/is small - consequently the band was/is too. In this setting, you don't have to be an amazing musician to be the best. You pretty much just have to practice - and practice is something the perfectionist in me insisted upon. Also, my freshman year was when Mr. W (pronounced Dub-ya) came. He was fresh out of college and full of ideals and enthusiasm. He was completely different from our previous director. Before him, we sat according to age - presumably the older band members would be the better players. But Mr. W had the crazy idea that we should have chair placements - determined by quick auditions. He arranged us according to (gasp) our skill level.

What I am trying to say, was I sat first chair as a freshman. As we know, flutists can occasionally be petty (though not nearly so much as the those who play the clarinet) so the demoted seniors and juniors didn't appreciate the new seating arrangement. Instead, however, of blaming their lack of practice, they directed their scorn at me. For two months I was confused by their glares and snide remarks. I'm a nice person. I smile a lot. I go out of my way to make people happy. But nothing seemed to work.

One day I overheard a conversation in the bathroom (apparently they didn't think to check the stalls before gossiping) and like a scene from the Disney Channel they started making fun of me. They said all these cruel, untrue, and exaggerated things that I would roll my eyes at now, but as a freshman it was hard to hold back crying until they left. After regaining my composure, I went back to the band room where a friend of mine noticed a rare tinge of sadness on my face. Caving under her pressure, I told her what had transpired. She reassured me that they were the horrible flutists, that they were stupid, and that it was just pathetic jealousy.

I realize now that jealousy was the obvious reason for their actions and it shouldn't have taken so long for me to figure it out. But as a freshman, I was completely oblivious to these kinds of things (I still tend to be a bit oblivious). The two seniors quit band the next semester and I haven't thought about them for a long time.

Looking back I understand their insecurity (because we all know jealousy is just insecurity directed at someone else). They had waited 3 years to be on the top, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by a new director and some freshman kid with ridiculous looking bangs. I hold no grudges; in fact, I'm tempted to find them and thank them for the revelation.

08 October 2010

Day 7: Someone who has made your life worth living for

I have no spouse to get mushy over. I'm not raising a child I've nicknamed "light of my life." I'm close to family and friends, but there isn't a single person my mind is latching onto. I think this topic is fundamentally flawed. Therefore, I will rely on a quote and make a list of some great people.

The quote - well, it's actually a song lyric. It's a list of people an things thanking them because "They shaped my life; they made me love who I am today." While the song is not particularly profound or enduring, I found it fitting for the occasion. (The link will send you to youtube is you wanted to hear/see it. I realize not everyone will appreciate the artist, sorry.)

Second, the list - people who've shown me how to live:

*My parents (Dad for teaching me to laugh and over-analyze, and Mom who pushed me to do the things she deemed important - and was usually right about)
*My teachers (Even the boring ones teaching science, but mostly the English and Social Studies ones)
*My grandparents (I still have 3 of the 4 and I cherish every minute I can spend with them)
*My close childhood friends (although the memories are now fuzzy)
*My high school friends from band and choir (yeah, I was a bit of a geek)
*My college roommates (I learned so much about people and the habits from them)
*My friends via major (United by our classes and projects)
*My friends via work (United by complaints and shared struggles)
*My friends via interests (United by mutual appreciations - occasionally overlaping from previous groups of friends)
*My favorite authors (For all the wisdom I've gleaned)
*The authors I've forgotten, but whose words I've taken to heart
*Great people of the past and present (the kind who make it into textbooks and TED discussions and inspire people to do more)

Part of me wants to include everyone I've ever met, seen, read, or heard about, because everyone has had some sort of impact. But I believe I have written enough tonight.

What people have made an impact on you?

07 October 2010

Day 6: Something you hope you never have to do

I am going to add the word "again" to this writing prompt for three reasons:
     *I find it difficult to dismiss something I haven't tried at least once.
     *The only things I can think of involve human waste.
     *I don't want to talk about human waste.

I have a recurring thought. Whenever I apply to a job, or whenever I haven't worked enough as a substitute I think "I really hope I don't have to work a custodial job again." Just so you know, I don't hate cleaning (there's great catharsis to be found in making something dirty look clean again), and I don't think the job is beneath me (no one is too important to vacuum a rug). I just hate the associations attached to the label "janitor." Well, that and men's bathrooms (seriously guys, what's up with that?).

When I'm cleaning, people assume a lot about me. For one, they surmise I'm never thanked for what I do. At one place I worked, people daily recited something to the effect of "I know you work a thankless job, but I just want to let you know that I appreciate what you do." They acted as though they were making up for all the faults of the world with one magnanimous remark, but what I wanted to say was "actually, someone thanked me for taking out the trash no more than 3 minutes ago." I know I should be grateful for their gracious sentiments, but it's not as though I took the job for their "thank you" - I'm in it for the paycheck. I'll take your appreciation the form of cash too.

Second, people aren't sure you're capable of talking about anything else, so they make idiotic remarks about the state of the tiles on the floor, or the pattern of streaks on the mirror, or even the number of stalls in the bathroom. I'd rather discuss Shakespeare, foreign films, or even the latest episode of Glee if you'd prefer. Oh, and my least favorite remark usually happens when I am doing something tedious like washing the windows. Dozens of time I've heard, "well, at least that's job security for you." Really? Why is this job secure? I don't need to waste this time washing the windows if you could just open the door by the handle. You know - the way it's designed to be opened. I could be helping someone get a better grade on a paper, understand the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, and comprehend symbolism in The Great Gatsby, but no, that job is something the school can't afford because they have to spend their money on time spent wiping your hand smudges off the windows. (Whew, rant over. You have no idea how quickly I typed that. Breathe in, breathe out.)

Third, people believe janitors should do so many things the culprit could have just done himself (I leave in the unintended sexism, because 9 times out of ten, the request is in fact made by a man). As a custodian, I was constantly confronted by a lack of personal responsibility. If I track in dirt, I clean it up. If I spill something, I take care of it. When I throw things away, they make it into the garbage can - not beside it (unless, of course said object can be recycled - then I find a greener bin). I have no desire to hinder people with my sloppiness. My mother taught me well. I expect the same from others, but they must have a different mom. If you can clean up your own mess, do it - don't call for help.

I hope I never have to return to my college and post-college filer job, but I know if I'm hard-pressed to pay back my student loans, I might just have to return to the old broom and dust mop.

06 October 2010

Day 5: Something you hope to do in your life

Hmmm . . . should I share a big, idealistic hope or a tiny, practical one? I believe I shall choose the one that is sadly a bit cliche, but it's the thought pressing the most on my mind.

I hope to travel more.

That would, however, imply I have traveled at least some. I wouldn't say I have. Sure, I've been around the United States. I've seen both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In Europe that distance would have crossed over several countries. But I don't want to travel just so I can put pictures on my facebook. I want to experience cultures drastically different from my own.

While I completely believe in vicarious understanding (i.e. if I watch enough French films I will have a decent grasp of their culture) there is something special and powerful about actually visiting Paris. You can't duplicate that no matter how many times you watch Paris, je t'aime.

So that's my hope. Specifically, I want to teach overseas in the not-too-distant future. Learn from them while I share my own knowledge. I also hope to take a train through Europe, get lost in a castle, and visit a real Oktoberfest.

I hope to drink a cup of coffee with someone who has a completely different worldview than I and just talk - maybe we'll discuss the weather.

05 October 2010

Day 4: Something you have to forgive someone for

Wow, another forgiveness one. If I had looked ahead I would have waited until now to share my thoughts on the subject. But I've already done that. I can honestly say I am harboring no grudges. I have tried considering the parent angle (who doesn't feel as though their parents have "wronged" them at one time or another). However, I got over that in college. I'm no longer interested. So, I have little else to say tonight. Although, I do wish to share something.

I ignore most hardware stores. I'm not renovating and have no projects waiting for me in the garage, so looking through the rows of screws, nails, light switches, and tools doesn't interest me. I did, however, accompany someone to give my advice on carpet samples. While wandering through the aisles, I came across this sign.

I know putting words in lights gives them a certain awe factor, but not even neon can make something as boring as Vinyl seem ritzy. I also wonder what the people making the sign were thinking.

04 October 2010

Day 3: Something you have to forgive yourself for

Sometimes I wish I had made some horrible mistake in my life. Something like playing with matches and setting my room aflame. Or maybe not paying enough attention to my little sister and letter her get lost at a park. Or not checking under the car before leaving and ending some poor kitten's life. It would sure make answering this question easier.  (I am, however, grateful I don't have a burden like that to carry - especially the cat thing.)

Sorry about the cat picture -  it won't happen often, I promise.
But no. My mistakes are small. Innumerable to be sure, but rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things. A single error simply won't surface. Of course, that might also be because I am constantly dwelling on the failures of my past. I still lie awake at night considering the lies I told in grade school, the homework I cheated on in high school, and the unkind words I've spoken to loved ones throughout my life. Everything I did, but wish I didn't and everything I didn't do, but wish I had is clouding my thoughts so none are readily distinguishable from another.

I've never thought about forgiving myself, because I've seen no value in it. I prefer . . . ruminating over my decisions (especially the poor ones) and trying to make reminders for my future self. "Remember how awful you feel right now the next time you decide to eat McDonald's." I won't be making that mistake again.

I suppose, however, it is time I let go of a few things. Maybe all the regrets I have from a failed relationship. Maybe those sarcastic comments I wish I hadn't said. Maybe there are a lot things I shouldn't be holding onto. One rock isn't too heavy, but I wouldn't want to carry around a backpack filled with them. Perhaps I need to start forgiving the little things.

03 October 2010

Day 2: Something you love about yourself

This topic was harder. I hit a wall earlier today. I gave up for a while, but now I'm back and hoping to finish in the next hour and 45 minutes, because that's all the time left before today turns into tomorrow. Clearly, I am much more comfortable with self-deprecation than self-love.

I did, however figure out something I love - my musical abilities. Before you set your expectations too high though, I should tell you I am no virtuoso. I have no intention of pursuing music as a career or even as a hobby. I can sing, but only in the shower, in a car, or in a choir. I play the flute, but not very often. And I can play around on the piano, but only when I'm alone. That's it. Musically, I would say I'm above average, but nothing to get excited about.

For a long time I wished to be more musically gifted. I daydreamed about having a high ranging soprano voice just perfect for the lead in The Phantom of the Opera, but in reality, I never made it out of the alto section. I was the first chair flutist (no laughs please) throughout high school, but never good enough to make all-state. I wanted to be skilled enough at the piano to at least play Jessica's Theme from The Man from Snowy River with ease, but could never do it justice.

But over the last year I haven't felt the need for more. I could never make it as a performer (I doubt I could make it through a karaoke tune). Sure, I like recognition and applause, but not from large audiences. What I do love is my ability to read music easily, carry a tune, improvise some harmony, and appreciate a variety of musical styles.

I haven't studied too much musical theory, but I can hold my own while conversing with a music major. I don't completely understand what Pandora means when it describes a song with the terms "extensive vamping," but I can recognize influences and identify chord progressions. I like the balance I have found in appreciating technical elements and just listening to music for fun.

I've met people who couldn't tell you the difference between a major and a minor key, or find middle C on the piano, and I've met people (like my dad) who can't appreciate a song if the singer's voice is too untrained. I think my musical abilities and limitations have given me a balanced appreciation for music. That is something I love.

*Oh, I looked up vamping. It's no longer a mystery.

02 October 2010

Day 1: Something you hate about yourself

Assuming I should come up with something I hate more than my nose, ignoring the fact it seems an odd way to start a self-reflective journey, and forcing myself to pick just one thing, I am going to say I hate that I'm slow. Not mentally slow (although I haven't ruled that option out), but rather slow to act, to respond, and to make decisions in general.

Don't ask me to plan an trip, pick a restaurant, or play chess. You'll hate me for taking too long. I'll hate you for making me decide. I'll hate myself for causing so much frustration. That's too much hate going on.

Sometimes I've tried to explain my hesitancy. I blame it on my need to please people. I don't want to make a decision you don't like, so why don't you choose? I'm not a picky person - I'll be happy if you're happy. I don't want to suggest a burger joint if you're in the mood for Italian. I like Italian too. I don't want to play Scrabble if you're in the mood for Monopoly. Sure, the latter choice would have used more of my vocabulary, but I'll get to be a business tycoon for a few hours.

I'm not a leader; I'm a follower (see my twitter account). But even though I use that to justify my indecisiveness, I still consider it a problem. I hide behind maxims like "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread," rather than confront my shortcomings. I have such an intense fear of being wrong, I often don't do anything at all. I hate that.

*Sorry about the lack of pictures, I didn't have time to find one that worked. Congrats to those who read the whole thing without the visual stimulus.

01 October 2010

30 Days of Truth

What is it?

A collection of 30 questions - developed by someone, and answered by many. I found several blogs including them, but no informative websites of official looking pages explaining the concept. (Probably because it's so simple) I will probably add a page of them later.

Why am I doing it?

I have this tendency (and I know I'm not alone) to show only the pieces of myself I like or have decided to examine. I hide parts of myself I am ashamed of. I like the idea of taking someone else's questions and making myself not only answer them, but also share those answers. 

Why now?

I found a blog (called Life of Cynicism) who was going to start it and I thought the concept was interesting . . . then I stumbled upon a forum seeing if anyone else was doing it (on 20SB) and I thought perhaps I should try it - you can see that from my comment. :) Also, October has 31 days, so with this introduction and the consecutive days, I can make it a month-long journey. It's a schedule I've never adhered to before, so I welcome the challenge.

What do I like about the questions?

They are obvious and general, but ones everyone should consider. They leave room for great diversity in answering, so I doubt any answers would be the same. They are questions everyone should be able to answer.

What don't I like about the questions?

Some are contrived and seem to be a little too reflective of current events (see gay marriage). Some are a little too stereotypical, psychological questions (what do you love/hate about yourself). Several included swear words (which you may notice I don't use) and I'm not including them because they are poor attempts to intensify feeling and draw attention. 

Am I changing any?

At the moment, I am only changing the wording of a couple, but once I start truly answering them, I reserve the right to replace an impossible/uninteresting question with a better one.

Anything else?

I could easily make all these questions about my faith and religious beliefs. I'm not going to do that. I didn't intend for this blog to be about my faith - although my beliefs greatly impact it - so I'm going to answer the questions in the same manner. Also, I still intend to post regarding other topics, so I hope the next 30 days doesn't overwhelm you.

28 September 2010

Let forgiveness beat your anger (please)

One morning, my grandpa and I were watching a televangelist lecture on the dangers of anger (strange, I know), and he turned to me and inquired "I don't think I've ever seen you get angry, do you?" I shook my head, shrugged my shoulders and answered "not really." That calm summer morning, I realized just how temperate my nature was.

I'm not an angry person - you will have to push several buttons on an already bad day if you want to get a rise out of me. But even then, my wrath won't last long. Still, I found myself irritated this week as I watched the various stages of a ridiculously drawn out argument. I felt their anger start to rub off on me, and I had to work hard not to join the fray.

Whenever I caught glimpses of their argument - I thought about how easy it would be for them to reconcile. If either person asked for forgiveness (because both were in the wrong) the strife would end. Instead, they decided to remain angry, held fast to the unhelpful position of "I'm in the right," and made us (the ones unfortunate enough to have witnessed the exchange) walk on eggshells.

I'm not sure how the quarrel ended - probably by a few mumbled "I'm sorry's" or maybe nothing at all - maybe they just got tired of bickering and moved on. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about the importance of forgiveness.

Most people think forgiveness happens like the time in grade school after that guy who tripped you was forced by the teacher to repeat the words "I'm sorry" in your general direction and you, standing straight and lifting you chin said, "that's okay." I suppose in some small, pathetic way that is forgiveness. But true absolution starts in the heart of the hurt long before it's requested. Pardon should be readily accessible so as to remove any barriers hindering a relationship.

Why cling to anger, when you could forgive and move on?

Said Alexander Pope