Friday, December 22, 2006
The only problem with the holidays is that they're so much the same every year and that they're almost always so happy. The traditions and memories are great, and most of the time it's good for the holidays to be happy... but having a ton of happy memories of things always being the same can make things hard when they're not so happy and somehow different.
I'm sorry if this entry is kind of depressing, but I've been less excited about Christmas this year anyway, and then a recent death in the family has kept me thinking.
The year my dad died, in '98, we went away for Christmas. Every single year we spend Christmas at home in Indiana, going through the same routine of Christmas Eve at church and my grandma's to celebrate with my mom's side of the family, Christmas morning opening gifts at home with my immediate family, and Christmas afternoon getting together with my dad's side of the family. The year my dad died, my mom decided she didn't want to be home, going through the same routine, where my dad's absence would be painfully obvious. Instead, we went to Disney World. We opened presents the afternoon before we left, got a family Christmas picture with Mickey and Minnie, and wore shorts on Christmas Day. Our dad was still on our minds, but Christmas felt so different in so many ways that none of us could dwell just on him.
Even eight years later, the holidays sometimes feel funny without my dad. Sure, in some ways, I'm used to him being gone-- I can remember about as many Christmasses with him as I can without (I was eleven when he died). Still, though, it's hard when he's not here, especially because his birthday is the day after Christmas.
This year, Dad's birthday is going to be even more emotional than usual. My aunt Lucy, my dad's sister, died yesterday morning, and both her viewing and funeral will be on my dad's birthday. I know it won't be fun for me this year, but I feel even worse for my cousins, whose holidays will forever be a little tainted by this year's events. Things won't be ruined, but I'm sure they'll never quite be able to forget. I'm just glad that they're old enough to have plenty of memories of merry Christmasses, too.
I don't mean for this to be a sob story for my family and me; we're just examples. A friend of mine recently had a grandpa die, and the season's been especially hard on her grandmother because the grandma is still receiving Christmas cards and letters addressed to both her and her husband. While going through his things, she found Christmas gifts that he'd bought ahead of time but not lived long enough to give. Even when there's not a death in the family, things changing are hard. My cousins moved to Florida, and the change in climate and lack of family close by has made the holidays feel a little lonely and strange, at least at first. I know another person for whom it hasn't been easy to adjust to the differences of Christmas after a divorce.
This feels like a really depressing topic, but... I guess the older I get, the more realistic I get, and the more I see the unhappy parts of the holidays. Some of the things that are great about the holidays are the very things that can make them unbearable. The traditions are fantastic until something changes, and suddenly they just make you sad. The special things you do together are so much fun until you can't do them together anymore.
It just makes me miss being a child, I guess. I like being smarter and older most of the time, but I think Christmas is one case where ignorance is bliss. I appreciate my childhood Christmasses so much more now that I'm too old to ever see it that same way again.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
My mom tells me about times she'd take me to the grocery store. I'd entertain myself while we shopped by picking up the cans and food items and making them talk to each other, weaving a story out of green beans and corn.
She's saved many things I wrote as a child- books I wrote (usually on one of my dad's yellow legal pads), sometimes finished with illustrations, sometimes leaving space for illustration later, and sometimes not quite finished. A few of the books were saved after I entered them in Young Authors conferences or similar programs.
Writing was always something that came easily to me, and I enjoyed, and I know it was very closely related to my love for reading. One time, in second grade, I got to pick a prize from the teacher's stash for some reason, and I picked out Into The Land of the Unicorns. In the front of the book, my teacher wrote something to the effect of "Great job. I look forward to reading one of your novels someday!" Obviously, her belief in me was something that stuck with me. Maybe I have a little talent, but honestly, I consider any writing skill I have to be the product of tons of reading. I'm proud of my writing, but I don't think I really have the passion or drive to pursue writing as a career. A part of me wishes I did; I do enjoy writing, and I respect talented writers a lot. Plus, I'm a little jealous of people who have a strong 'calling.' I've had so much indecision in my career choice- and still do, to some extent- that I can't help but envy people who know what they want and are meant to do for the rest of their life.
Anyway, one of the books I read for my Media for Children class this past semester was Kate DiCamillo's The Tiger Rising. Although many people in my class didn't like it much, I really enjoyed this book- perhaps because I could relate to it in some ways. After reading the book, I read the author's page in the back of the book. Kate DiCamillo (also the author of Because of Winn-Dixie) wrote about her motivation for writing the story, and I realized that this was what was missing from my writing. This is what I'm jealous of.
Kate DiCamillo says of THE TIGER RISING, "Rob Horton first showed up in a short story I was writing. I finished the story, but apparently Rob wasn’t finished with me. He hung around for weeks afterward, haunting the other stories I was working on. Finally, I said to him, ‘What in the world do you want?’ And he said, ‘I know where there’s a tiger.’ Like Sistine, I said one word back to him, ‘Where?’ THE TIGER RISING is how Rob Horton answered me."
I surely couldn't pin down the feeling in a word or phrase, but ... I want that. I want to be such a great writer that my characters become real, even to me.
I guess I'm not really sure why I wanted to blog about this; I guess I just really liked the quote. I feel like that's the way writing- at least fiction- should be.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Anyway, this is just a post because I feel lame. I submitted a couple of secrets to LJsecret, the Livejournal community much like PostSecret, as I've done a few times before. I was 'published' twice this week-- and there's something of a thrill in seeing your creation out there for all of the Internet to see. You wonder if anyone who knows you will guess that it's you, and you wonder what random strangers are thinking about it. The sheer fact that I have a secret posted kind of feels like an exciting secret itself; unless I tell someone, admit something very specific, use a recognizable picture, or, basically, choose to-- my secret being posted is another secret in and of itself, and kind of a fun one.
I honestly don't feel lame for submitting a secret, or feeling a bit of joy seeing it posted, but... LJSecret is somewhat different from PostSecret in that anyone can comment- either anonymously, or signed in- on the secrets posts, and the secrets are numbered to distinguish between them. I've commented myself, before- sometimes I can relate to the secret, sometimes I want to offer words of encouragement, sometimes I agree or disagree, sometimes the secret is just pretty... and when I've posted a secret, I always glance over the comments to see if my secret particularly stood out to anyone enough for them to leave a comment.
The last secret I sent in that got posted not only got a comment, but got a lot. It was simple, and vague, but apparently people thought it was really creative and awesome. And so, I feel incredibly lame because a bunch of people liked something I made using Paint and MS Word in about 5 minutes with a random picture I found on Google... and I'm proud.
I keep going back and checking to see if anyone left more comments about my secret. People posted that they loved it, that it made their day, that it's their favorite secret ever... and I am seriously proud of this.
I think I need a hobby.
P.S.-- I realize that, with only a little work, someone I know can figure out which secret I'm talking about. That's okay; this secret's vague enough that you won't be exactly sure what I'm talking about anyway! :)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
It's not fool-proof; I'm sure some things won't fit with every guy or every girl. Still, I think it fits most situations and most girls pretty well. Let me know what you think, and thanks to any guy who's been awesome enough to help inspire my list! :)
1. We appreciate small gestures.
It might seem like all girls want five dozen roses or a diamond ring- and some girls do- but little gestures mean a lot, especially when for no reason at all. A single rose or a plastic ring you got from a machine for 25 cents may not seem like much, but it lets her know you’re thinking of her, and it’ll make her smile. Notes, especially, might not seem like much- but to a lot of girls, a random Post-It or text message is all it takes to feel special and loved. (Note: a 25-cent ring or similar gift may not be quite so appreciated on a special occasion.)
2. That said, a big gesture every once in awhile will also be appreciated.
Especially for a very important occasion, don’t be afraid to go a little over-the-top. You’ll want to make sure that it’s something the girl is okay with- if she’s easily embarrassed, she might not enjoy a personal serenade by you and five of your closest friends in the middle of downtown. A big gesture, especially one on which you’ve spent a lot of time, effort, or money, says that she’s worth it. (Note: I said a lot of time or effort, not just a lot of money—not all big gestures are expensive!) Sometimes you can use a talent or skill you already have, but personalize it!
3. Personal gifts mean the most.
Contrary to what some lists on Facebook will tell you, not every girl wants the same thing. While some girls would love you to buy them a box of chocolates and a teddy bear, not every girl would. Guys should find out what their girl likes- and if it’s one of the “classic” romantic gestures, fine. The important thing is that you’re getting her roses because they’re her favorite flower and you know she loves them, and not because she’s a girl and ‘girls like flowers.’ Giving a really good gift is hard, but it’s a great opportunity to show a girl that you know her and care about the things she likes and talks about.
4. We’re not all the same.
Try not to be sexist. Sometimes it’s not even intentional, but try not to assume things. Offer to take us fishing sometime; invite us to watch football with you. Yes, some of us are girly girls, and do things like stress over breaking a nail, obsess over Mr. Darcy, or not leave the house before our makeup is done. But there are girls all over the spectrum, and expecting us to be girly all the time is like us expecting you to be manly and macho all the time. Do you really want that?
5. Our friends mean a lot to us.
There may very well be times that friends come first, even above you. This isn’t because you’re not important; it’s just that sometimes it’s even more important to be there for a good friend. This also means that you should be civil, at least, to our friends. You may not get along with them well, but that’s not always a deal-breaker. If you are consistently rude or mean to a girl’s friends, though, it really doesn’t look good. She likes those friends for a reason, and she might just decide that anyone who can’t at least try to like her friends isn’t someone she should try to like. Plus, getting to know her friends can be helpful when you need a gift idea or some help to pull off a surprise.
6. Chick flicks are not always that bad.
Seriously—not all chick flicks are the same, and they’re not all terrible movies. If your girl really likes them, give them a chance. If you can’t stand chick flicks, even after watching a few, try to compromise! There are lots of movies that have a love plot as well as another one- such as comedy or action- that might hold the attention of both you and your lady. And if you do get stuck watching a chick flick and you hate them… my only advice is to try choosing one with a leading lady you find attractive!
7. Whether it’s a book, a ballet, a musical, a television show, a certain music artist, sports team, whatever- please show at least a mild interest.
You don’t have to like everything we like, but we love it if you take the time to find something out about an interest of ours. Be willing to try it- don’t knock a television show that your ladyfriend loves if you’ve never even watched it once. Even if you don’t like it, learning the basics about something a girl is interested in shows her that you actually care about the things she likes and talks about. As an extra bonus, learning about her interests may give you something to talk about with her if you’re struggling for conversation, and may give you insight on something that would be a great gift later!
8. Respect us.
I could list a million examples, but the important thing is this: treat us as an equal. We are not dumb; we are not incapable; we are not objects. On the other side, we are not better than you; we don’t deserve anything just for being a girl; we don’t need to be worshipped. We want you to do nice things for us because you want to make us happy, and not because you think we need or deserve your help or courtesy.
9. If something is upsetting you, tell us.
You don’t have to tell us what’s wrong, or talk to us about it, if you don’t want to. But it helps if you tell us at least that school’s stressing you out, a friend’s making you mad, or even just that you’ve got a lot on your mind. Especially once we know you well, it’s very possible that we’ll notice something’s wrong whether you tell us or not, and if you don’t tell us, it’s easy to assume that we might be part of what’s bothering you. Besides, we may be able to try to cheer you up, or try to help the situation if you tell us about it.
10. Don’t be afraid to compliment respectfully.
I think some guys get a little afraid of compliments being taken as “objectifying.” This kind of thing differs from girl to girl, I’m sure, but I know very few girls who don’t like to be complimented. The most important thing is that the compliments be genuine and respectful. Respectful may depend on the situation; ‘sexy’ might be more appropriate if she’s wearing lingerie and kind of going for that. Terminology can also help determine how respectful something is; obviously, ‘breasts’ sounds a little more respectful than ‘tits.’ Also, while any compliment is nice, sometimes specific compliments are especially great. “Your eyes look so beautiful when you wear that shirt” may sound more genuine than a vague “You’re pretty,” and helps add some variety!
11. Be proud of us.
You don’t have to show her off, take her everywhere, or talk about her constantly, but you should never act ashamed of a girl you like or date. Be willing to be seen in public with her, tell your friends you’re dating her... that sort of thing. If you’re not proud to be dating her, you either shouldn’t be dating her, or you care too much about what others think!
12. If you say you’ll do something, do it.
There are some valid excuses, of course, but really… it’s easiest to just not promise things you’re not sure you can do. It’s just plain disappointing, otherwise. If you consistently fail to follow through, girls (and, really, people in general) won’t be able to see you as dependable… and that’s definitely a great trait for a significant other to have. We’d rather you say “I might call you after work tonight, if it’s not too late” so that our expectations are at least realistic!
13. Listen to us- and talk, too!
Some people talk more; some people talk less. But, usually, when people talk, they want to be listened to. Listen to what we have to say, and then respond. Ask questions, state your opinion, offer advice; basically, engage in the conversation. Sure, listening can be informative and make her feel valued, too, but good communication is also just plain vital to a great friendship and relationship.
14. Be polite.
The definition of polite varies from girl to girl; I, for one, burp loudly and often, and wouldn’t at all mind a guy who did the same thing… other girls wouldn’t be able to stand it. Still- there are some basics. “Please” and “thank you,” for instance, are great. Most girls will be impressed by you opening a door for them or offering to pay for them, but not all—it’s best, I think, to get to know the girl you like. If she curses like a sailor, it’s probably okay for you to. If you’re not sure, ask her! If in doubt, be more ‘gentlemanly’ than you think is necessary. Extra politeness around family and friends can help make a good impression, too!
15. Treat us as a priority.
Every person’s priorities are different, and every girl probably has a different opinion of how high she needs to be on someone’s list of priorities. Family, close friends, academics, a sport—anything very, very important to a guy may top his girlfriend without much squabbling, depending on the girl. But, no matter what, we need to feel important too! Make an effort to make time to see us; be sure to talk to us; ask us about our lives, too. And… if you choose us over something else important once in awhile- it makes us feel really special!
16. Don’t get stupidly jealous.
You’re allowed to be a little jealous. It’s perfectly okay, and even a little sweet, to get slightly protective of your ladyfriend, but there’s definitely such a thing as overprotective. If you don’t have a reason to doubt us, don’t look for them! Many girls have guy friends, and it doesn’t mean that we like them as anything more than friends. Unless there is some blatant reason you shouldn’t, trust her!
17. Be honest.
If we find out you’ve lied, we’re going to wonder why- and, essentially, what you were trying to hide. It just doesn’t end well. A fib here and there- especially when it comes to our insecurities- is okay; optimism that’s a little unrealistic when we’re really upset might be okay, too. Most of the time, though, lies are just a bad idea. Honesty really is the best policy- especially if you want it in return!
18. Don’t assume it’s PMS.
There are plenty of reasons why a woman might be upset. Sometimes, PMS is one of them- but this is only true, at most, a fourth of the time. Even then, not all women get cranky during that time of the month. If you suggest to a woman that it’s just PMS, you’re minimizing our concerns (and probably making us angry). You should at least hear us out and consider what’s bothering us whenever we’re upset. It doesn’t mean we’re always right or that our concerns are always valid, but we do deserve the respect of you at least listening before you pass judgment.
19. If you’re wrong, admit it. If you hurt us, apologize.
I don’t mean to buy us things, though a lot of girls wouldn’t object to a gift; I just mean that you shouldn’t be stubborn if you somehow screwed up. A sincere, heartfelt apology does a lot to make things better and shows that you respect us. If you feel bad about something, even something little, it’s worth mentioning that you’re sorry. Willingness to admit mistakes is admirable and humble.
20. Don’t pressure us!
If you really care about and respect a girl, you won’t push her to do anything she doesn’t want to do. This definitely applies physically/sexually, but in other ways as well. The great thing about a relationship is that two individuals have a connection- but it’s important that you still remain individuals! Offering advice about what is best for a girl is okay, but she should remain true to herself, her values, and her morals (just as you should). If you like the girl already, as she is, why ask her to change?
Well, there’s my two cents. I realize, of course, that no list can apply in every situation, for every girl… but I tried!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
From the website's tutorial, I gather that Fly Pentop computers can "read" what you're writing. This seems a little incredulous to me, but apparently that's how it works. In the homework or calculator modes, it can then offer you advice or the solution. It sounds like it would be cool if it worked, but it might not work for everyone's handwriting. But maybe I'm wrong.
Apparently, the computer has a few modes, including calculator, algebra, translator, FlyTones, and Scheduler. (FlyTones is a program in which you draw a keyboard and drums, and then tap them with the end of the pen to 'make music'.) If that's not enough, you can purchase extra kits for use with your FlyPen, like FlyGreetings, FlyFriends, and FlyJournal. The company makes money through the pens themselves, these extra kits, and the FlyPaper, which the pen apparently doesn't work without.
I'm dubious that it works as well as in the commercials, but if it did, it sounds cool.
From a teacher standpoint, I think I'd have mixed feelings. The translator mode might be great in some ways, but if a kid uses it too much (like any dictionary or translator), they won't really learn the vocabulary. Although this particular model "talks" through the answers, if this kind of thing is ever changed so that it's silent, teachers would have to be very careful to check what types of pens and pencils their students were using during tests. The FlyTones was probably added as a feature to make a homework-helping device more appealing to kids, but it could also be very distracting while kids are in class or working on homework. Still, I think overall it's a pretty cool product, if it works as well as it says. I like the algebra mode, especially-- the idea of talking kids through each step doesn't just give them the answer; it forces the student to find the answer and helps them learn the process.
Anyway... has anyone seen one of these in action, or tried it? I want to know how well it actually works!
P.S.-- Probably due to reading some of the things my friend Erica has written about advertising, I noticed that their website is pretty much awesome. It helped me understand the product, too, after seeing a 30-second commercial on TV. Might want to check it out. :)
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
While reading this entry, I'd like to suggest a fitting song: "The Mixed Tape" by Jack's Mannequin. You can listen to it here, if you don't have it. Looks like it's a live version, but it'll do. (On an unrelated note, the last 'blog' entry is kind of interesting, too. At least, I liked it and thought it was well-written.) If you don't think you like Jack's Mannequin, don't worry. There's more music to be found later in the entry!
When I was younger, I used to make mixtapes. Usually, I'd do this while I was working on something like cleaning my room, but near the end of a song, I'd go over to the stereo and get ready to press record if I liked the song. I ended up with tapes that have the beginnings of songs cut off, or the DJ starting to talk at the end, but they included the music I liked. CD burners and mp3 players have pretty much rendered this kind of thing obsolete. Kind of crazy- it hasn't been that long since I was a kid, and it makes me feel old when I think of how much some things have changed. Even so, listening to my old mixtapes makes me smile- I hear them and remember songs that I loved, lyrics that I sang wrong, meanings I didn't understand yet, and memories involving the songs. Sometimes I'll even hit on something like a DJ saying "Z93" (the station has been Z92.5 for years now), and it cracks me up.
Some people use mixtapes, kind of like in the Jack's Mannequin song, as a gift for someone- to tell someone something, or let someone know how they feel. Even though this kind of thing is much easier with today's technology, I think it still holds almost as much of an emotional impact. Sure, it might not take as long to make, but it still takes a lot of time and thought to decide what songs to include to say just the right thing. And while there are many ways of expressing something... music, at least to me, is one of the best. Sometimes it's the lyrics; other times it's the melody; sometimes it's the instruments. Maybe it's because I'm somewhat of a music nerd, but sometimes I agree with my old band director: "Music expresses that which cannot be said but must be heard." Sometimes, a song is the only thing that says it right, or can really express what you're feeling, and someone picking out a whole tape or CD of songs just for you... it's got to feel pretty special, and mean a lot.
So... even though technology has eliminated the need for mixtapes from the radio as a way of listening to a variety of songs in a row, mix tapes and CD's definitely still have a place, I think. In the mood to try this out yourself, quickly?
This site, the one I found using StumbleUpon, allows you to listen to some music, and send a song out to others (as a secret admirer, even). The intros to each song are mega-annoying, but some of the songs are fun. I haven't listened to all of them, so let me know your recommendations:
- "Dangerous," "Kiss on My List" and "I Melt With You" are all songs that you'll probably know, even if you don't think you do from the title.
- I highly suggest "Yellow" for a much unexpected and surprisingly cheery version of a depressing Coldplay song.
- The song "Sandwiches" is also hilarious, which such lyrics as:
You know I wanna do it too
Out here on the dance floor
We can make sandwiches
You can be the bun
And I can be the burger girl"
So... go, listen to some music, if you'd like, and maybe send someone a song :) Show them how you feel, or just make them smile because they know you were thinking of them. It's like a mini mix-tape, via email, and it's a quick and easy way to brighten someone's day. Happy Mix-taping!
(cross-posted to my personal journal, because I felt like it.)
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Some actual gifts aren't any better, in my opinion, than a gift card. When I get a gift like a random Bath and Body Works lotion or a candle or something else generically usable by a teenage girl, it is sometimes even worse than a gift card. Unless it's a specific scent that someone picked out for me or a certain kind of lotion they know I like... it's as generic as a gift card can be, without at least giving me any choice. Last year for Christmas, I received a candle from some family... but I don't ever light candles. I'm not allowed to at school, and at home, it's too dangerous with fire-curious cats. Another time, someone got me a generic bottle of lotion, but picked a very strong flowery scent... and I couldn't stand the scent. It was nice of them to think of me, but I haven't used either one.
I also think the gift card matters. If I was one of those people that lived with iPod headphones in my ears constantly, and someone bought me an iTunes gift card because they knew my music was very important to me and that it was a gift I would both use and appreciate... it would be different than someone who has no idea what my interests are buying me a giftcard to a superstore like Wal-Mart. Especially in cases with relatives or someone much older than me... in some cases, they just aren't great at knowing what I'll like, even when they try. Sometimes, I think this is as much a product of the age gap as it is their relationship to me, and I don't think that it's necessarily a bad gift if they give me a gift card instead.
That said... with people very close to me, I'd hope they'd get me a gift that wasn't a gift card. Even if it's something little that costs less than a gift card they might buy, it really does mean a lot when someone manages to find a really great gift that you don't have to pretend to absolutely love because it's just perfect for you.
I know that some people don't share my opinions on gifting, but for me... it really is the thought that counts. It makes a difference if Grandma is knitting me a blanket because she knows how to knit and she needs a gift for me, or if she knits me a green and gold blanket because she knows I love the Packers and that I could probably use an extra blanket either at school or at home. The thought really does matter, and while gift cards aren't evil... they should be a last resort and bought less for people you know better.
It's hard to believe it's almost Thanksgiving... I'm already starting to think of gifts for people, and it's not easy, in a lot of cases. But it is fun- even when it's frustrating. :)
Thursday, November 09, 2006
What does Love mean?
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8
year-olds, "What does love mean?"
The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have
imagined. See what you think:
"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her
toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."
Rebecca- age 8
"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."
Billy - age 4
"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and
they go out and smell each other."
Karl - age 5
"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries
without making them give you any of theirs."
Chrissy - age 6
"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."
Terri - age 4
"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before
giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."
Danny - age 7
"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing,
you still want to be together and you talk more.
My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss"
Emily - age 8
"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening
presents and listen."
Bobby - age 7
"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who
Nikka - age 6
"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it
Noelle - age 7
"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends
even after they know each other so well."
Tommy - age 6
"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at
all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."
Cindy - age 8
"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."
Clare - age 6
"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."
Chris - age 7
"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
Mary Ann - age 4
"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes
and has to go out and buy new ones."
Lauren - age 4
"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars
come out of you."
Karen - age 7
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."
Mark - age 6
"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean
it, you should say it a lot. People forget."
Jessica - age 8
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
Some internet investigation tells me "Piano Bar" might be the original song, but I'm not really a fan of the version of that I can find (Peter Sterling Radcliffe). So, I doubt this will turn up any answer... but if anyone happens to know who plays "Swinging Piano Bar" or has an idea where I can find out, that would be fantastic. :)
*edit* I found an mp3 download of this here, but I don't know if it's worth trusting this random site, or if it's even the same song. :-\ rawr.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
My roommate recently saw me curled up in my Packers blanket and joked that I should trade it in for a Colts blanket. I kind of chuckled and casually mentioned that I wasn't going to be a fair-weather fan... and while I said this nicely to her, in my mind, I was much more adamant.
Don't get me wrong; I like the Colts. I've lived in Indiana all my life, and I have always cheered for the Colts and hoped they play well. Except against the Packers, that is.
But some people seem to expect me to suddenly change, now that the Packers aren't doing well and the Colts are doing extremely well. I don't get it-- I wouldn't be able to consider myself a true fan if I didn't like the Packers no matter what. I've seen them win a Super Bowl, and I could see them go a season without winning a game and still be a fan. Part of what I love about the Packers is that they have an extremely devoted fanbase. Year in, year out, winning, losing; cheeseheads support their team. Every Packers home game since 1960 has been sold out. The current wait for season tickets is 35 years.
Meanwhile, Colts 'fans' have miraculously doubled in the past couple of years. It's great if they've truly gotten some new fans to follow the team, but I wonder how many of them will disappear back into the woodwork the moment Manning retires.
It drives me crazy. I definitely see myself as a true Packers fan. I'm certainly not the most dedicated fan out there, but I definitely keep track of the season and almost always watch them whenever I can (oh, how I wish I lived in Wisconsin sometimes!). I receive email updates and discuss the team with members of a LiveJournal community. I regularly refer to the team as "we" or "us." I'm not afraid to scowl at or argue with Bears fans, friend or not. I've been to Green Bay once, and would love to go back for a game on the frozen tundra to see some fantastic football, a Lambeau Leap, the crazy fans, and the retired numbers and memorabilia of some of the Pack's greats.
I'm thrilled to see new people become fans of a team, no matter when it is. Really. It's just tough for me to see so-called fans jump on a bandwagon, Colts of otherwise, and then jump ship as soon as the team isn't doing so well. It may be more fun to cheer on a winning team, but if you truly have an "intense, overwhelming like" for a team, it doesn't depend on their record.
That all said... go Packers! Here's to turning around the season, learning to finish out a game, and tackling in the secondary!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
That said, sometimes I see or hear something about a student that makes me sad. There is a student in my class now who apparently was moved by his family to the school he's in now because his previous school had diagnosed him with 'autistic tendencies' and wanted to give him special services. I'm not sure if they had him in a special classroom or still the general education classroom, but his family decided that they didn't want him to be classified like that and moved him to another school.
I can understand that families are afraid of the stigma that comes with a diagnosis of a learning or emotional disability, and they're often worried that teachers or other students will treat their child differently. I'm sure it's hard, because every family is naturally going to be somewhat defensive when it comes to their child.
I have a really hard time understanding how families can deny the opportunity to test their child or let their child receive special services to help them, though. I think an involved parent can be very involved in the making of the IEP (Individualized Education Program) and making sure that it's fair for the child and also keeps the child in the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment). The law requires this anyway, but a parent who's concerned can be very active in the process and can choose not to sign the IEP if he or she doesn't agree. It's not like the school or teacher is going to make all of the decisions concerning the student's treatment.
It just makes me sad for students that could receive therapy or academic help of some kind and don't. Especially nowadays, most children with some kind of disability spend most, if not all, of their time in the general education classroom, alongside children with no diagnosed disability. Sometimes the special treatment for these kids will include working with them to understand what they have difficulties with and how they can combat them. It's something the student is going to be living and working with all of their life, so it makes sense to me that we should help the child (especially if he or she only has mild disabilities) learn strategies to help themselves succeed so that they eventually don't need any extra help at all.
It's a difficult position, because parents are naturally going to be defensive when it comes to their kids. But parents should realize that most teachers also want what's best for their kids, and teachers have the added perspective of seeing many other children at that same age level. A teacher in a third-grade classroom knows, probably better than most anyone else, what a "typical" third-grader looks like, and so it's probably easier for the teacher to see differences between children than the parents, who most likely have had less experience with third-graders. It's not to say the parents are wrong... I just think that in some situations, the parents are misguided, and what they think is best for the child isn't necessarily right.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Some people, in anger over Steve's death, have killed stingrays. I don't get this at all-- Steve was a conservationist and loved animals- even those that hurt him. I don't think there is much question among Steve's true fans as to what he'd think of stingray mutilation, and hopefully these were just a few scattered incidents.
I was a bit worried, when the news came out, that people would start to be really scared of stingrays. There have been only seventeen recorded stingray deaths worldwide, so obviously these animals are only dangerous in extremely rare circumstances. I was worried that people would shy away from stingrays, but as this article shows, there hasn't been a significant drop in the amount of people partaking in excursions such as Stingray City to swim with wild stingrays.
I'm really glad, mainly because a couple of years ago I went to Stingray City in Grand Cayman, and it was incredible. Basically, your boat goes out for about 20 minutes into the ocean, and suddenly you come along a sandbar. It's about waist-height, and the water is absolutely crystal clear and beautiful. As the boat pulls up to an area of the sandbar among other boats, you can see people out in the water, and you can see large dark blobs swimming toward the new boat. The stingrays have been conditioned; they know that a new boat means more food. We get out of the boat, and the stingrays are everywhere. They brush against your legs like cats begging for food. They're so soft and smooth, and their swimming is fluid and beautiful. The tour guides had told us a little about stingrays on the ride over, and now one of them took a stingray and picked it up to show us the different parts of the stingray (the mouth, the tail barb, etc.). If you want to feed one, the tour guides first show you how before offering you your own squid. You have to place the squid in your fist so that the top sticks out, almost like if you were gripping a pencil in your fist. You have to be sure that your thumb is down. Once you have the squid, you hold it underwater for no time at all, and a stingray will come and swim over your hand. You feel suction, almost like a vacuum, pulling the squid out of your hand and into the stingray's mouth, which is in the center of the bottom of the stingray. It was amazing to be so close and interactive with these huge and beautiful animals- the tour guides were experienced, and would hold the stingrays so that we could kiss them. The guides would ask us to turn around, and they'd lift the stingray out of the water so that he'd flap against our backs... a "stingray massage." The stingrays would swim up behind you and brush against your legs, startling you, and we were careful to try to steer clear of the tail, but I never felt in danger at all. In fact, our visit to Stingray City was probably one of my favorite parts of the cruise.
I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I'm just glad that Steve Irwin's death isn't holding many people back from experiencing these amazing animals themselves. Steve wouldn't want it any other way. :)
Monday, September 11, 2006
Five years ago, I was a freshman in high school, in Mrs. Swan's SRP, and I remember Mrs. Swan being pulled out by another teacher before coming back in and turning on the TV in the classroom. By that time, the first tower had been hit and the second was hit within a few minutes of us turning on the TV. I think it seemed sort of surreal to most of us, and a lot of us knew it must be a big deal but it didn't quite seem like it yet. It seemed kind of unbelievable, and everyone was surprised and buzzing about it, but I think few of us in the middle of Indiana felt a huge connection or realized what a big deal it was right away.
Before the attacks, I'd never heard of the World Trade Center or Twin Towers. I'd never been to New York, didn't know anyone who lived there, and the entire event seemed really distant. Yes, the footage and stories were terrible, but despite it being in the same country as me, things didn't "hit home." I feel sorry for people who lost loved ones or went through part of the experience, but it's hard for me to distinguish between 9/11 and traumatic events in other countries or other time periods. For a lot of people, I think 9/11 signified the first time they felt threatened here in this country- the first time we felt vulnerable. I guess, honestly, I never felt that vulnerability.
I think initially I felt as shocked as almost anyone, but the media has desensitized us to 9/11. It's not that they tried to, but there was so much media coverage, so many pictures released, so many email forwards sent out, so many television specials (there is nothing else ON tonight), so many ceremonies, even a movie... the shock has worn off. I've heard so many stories of heroism that they're no longer inspiring and amazing; rather, it's just another story among many. The videos that at first were shocking have become familiar, like an action movie replayed a thousand times and losing some of the excitement.
Sometimes I feel kind of bad for not ever getting really upset, or for not really doing anything specifically to remember 9/11 after the fact. Some people would probably see me as a terrible person, but I would rather not participate in elaborate remembrances and such if I'm not sincere. I would rather appear unsympathetic than fake sorrow. It's not that I don't appreciate the sacrifices of 9/11's heroes or the courage of those on the planes or the loss and sorrow of so many people-- it's just that, for me, 9/11 didn't affect me personally, and didn't feel real or close to me. I'm sad, but I can't feel a particular connection to the tragedy. I wonder how many other Americans have similar sentiments... and how many would admit it.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
College is extremely expensive on its own, but it's ridiculous that, each semester, books cost a minimum of hundreds of dollars. Part of the problem is that even used books are very expensive, and sometimes they're not available because teachers switch to a new edition as regularly as they're produced (and, let's face it, most editions do not add that much vital information) or the book comes in a pack with the workbook or other consumable products.
What bothers me is that textbooks or the things they come with aren't even vital for some classes. Some classes require you to buy books and then only test you over the material gone over in lecture. I think I've had one class, yet, where I used the included CD-ROM (but it was not required). Surely the CD-ROMs add quite a bit to the cost.
It also kind of bothers me when teachers write their own textbooks, and then require that you buy them- the newest edition, of course. I understand that it makes sense, in some cases, to have a book specifically tailored to what they want to teach. But it also seems kinda crappy that the teacher is getting paid for teaching you and ALSO gets some money for your buying the textbook (which you didn't have much of a choice in).
I know that the books- especially hardbacks- are somewhat expensive to produce, and many people go into making them. They have to pay for rights to pictures and charts and things. I get that. But really-- the average college student is paying over $600 for books alone- never mind tuition. And if you live away from home... there are many, many more costs. If you're in-state, at a community college, living at home, college is STILL expensive. There's something wrong with that!
Obviously, I value education-- I'm in college, I've done pretty well in school in the past, and I'm going to be a teacher. But I believe that any person should be able to get schooling beyond the high school level. It doesn't have to necessarily be free, but, come on! It has to be reasonable, or how will people ever advance in life? Education has to be POSSIBLE for almost anyone- or else of COURSE our country isn't going to be very smart.
There are lots of reasons education is expensive-- I just think textbooks would be a good place to start. Yes, I'm bitter because I just dished out about $500 for my books, but still. I think it's ridiculous that I have to pay that much money, and then even if I try to sell back a book, I can rarely get anything close to what I paid for it, regardless of the book's condition. It's an added, huge cost, and I wish someone could do something about it. Apparently legislators have tried, but it's not easy. I just think that when America discusses education failing, one thing they should look at are the reasons why education is so expensive. Textbook prices don't just affect college students; if school districts could spend less money on textbooks, they could spend more money on other supplies, school renovations, or teachers. There are lots of other things to look at when trying to figure out how to "fix" America's education system... but book prices would not be a bad place to start!
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Reading this kind of annoyed me. I understand Ms. Heller's point- the "Gossip Girl" books should never, ever be compared to Jane Austen, kids are reading books far above their age level... but who is she trying to blame here? The Gossip Girls and A-List books (both of which I have read) may not be appropriate for young girls, but, as she said herself in the article, they're supposed to be marketed towards ninth grade and up. Sure, these books will do more for increasing a girl's vocabulary of designer brands than they will for her SAT vocabulary. But who's to say escape literature is entirely wrong?
It bothered me that much of Ms. Heller's argument seemed to center around the fact that girls, in particular, are reading about older girls' lives. "High school students... are reading "The Gossip Girls"/"It Girls"/A-List series or have graduated to grown-up titles entirely." As she admits, "Much of popular culture is like that. Disney's breakaway smash is 'High School Musical,' not 'Fifth Grade Rocks.'" I guess what I wonder is... how is this new? I have always looked up to people older than me. Seeing the priveleges that older kids are given make growing up appealing, and from where I'm sitting, pretty much always have. How many 9-year-olds play with just Skipper barbies? And how many Barbies are given 9-year-old lives? Come on-- in my typical playing, a Barbie would marry a Ken and drive her car to the mall to go shopping. Even before the days of "shop lit," girls read above their age level. I had long since stopped reading the Babysitter's Club books (about high-schoolers) by the time I entered high school. Dreaming about more grown-up life is common.
Even further, dreaming about the impossible or improbable is more common. Why are shows like Cribs, Laguna Beach, Sweet Sixteen and Desperate Housewives so popular? Part of the allure, I'm sure, is that the lives of the people or characters featured are incredible- hard for the normal person to fathom. Part of the allure is in the distance from one's reality. It's almost like a fiction book about a foreign country or even distant world- and it's desirable. Who wouldn't love to escape their boring life once in awhile to vicariously live a more exciting life of a rich, beautiful, and spoiled person? It's the same old "grass is greener on the [older and richer] side."
I see the author's point, that parents need to know what their kids are reading... but I don't see how "shop lit" is so very dangerous. Ms. Heller glosses over the possibly argument that "at least they're reading," but I don't think it's that easy to ignore. With the entertainment she references ("the tube, the screen, the Internet and iTunes"), there are worse things kids could be doing with their time. There are certainly better things kids could be reading, but I think I would rather my kid read the A-List series than hate reading.
I guess part of what annoyed me about this article was the direct impact she assumed for this kind of literature. The moral implications of this type of book, it seems, encourage promiscuous and bad behavior. I'm by no means perfect, but... I've read multiple books from at least two of the series mentioned (Gossip Girl and A-List), and, if anything, these books have taught me that this kind of crazy life is anything but normal. I understand I'm a lot older than some girls that are reading this kind of literature, but... if you're to say that reading about sex or sneaking out or getting away with things teaches bad behavior and shouldn't be read, then many of the classics would be out as well.
I think a lot of the problem is the marketing-- many times the books for high school and older girls are grouped in with those for middle school and a little younger. When series like the "shop lit" ones are popular, they're prominently featured. The titles sound fresh and current; the book covers look new and modern; the girls on them look mature, beautiful, and sophisticated. In comparison, my copy of Sense and Sensibility features lots of serif font, an old and somewhat ugly painting, and a slightly wordy title. Which one looks "cooler" to a young girl?
The thing is, while TV, movies, books, music, and all other parts of culture certainly contribute to kids' perceptions of normalcy, they can't be fully blamed. Parents don't need to prevent their kids from reading certain books; instead, parents just need to parent. So long as the parents instill good moral values in kids, culture alone is not going to sway them. Parents should, as the title in our paper said, "be wary of what their kids read." But instead of wary, I'd say... be aware. There's a slight difference, and I think it's important. Parents should know what their kids are reading, and discuss the reading with them if they feel it's inappropriate. But they shouldn't be afraid of what their kids are reading- even if characters do wrong things, the kids are reading, thinking about the situations before they are thrust into them, in some cases seeing the consequences, and the parents are often given an opportunity to bring up the topic.
I guess I just thought that Ms. Heller was trying to play two roles here- the shocked and overprotective parent who's afraid of her little girl growing up, and the pompous columnist and literary critic who's trying to fight consumerism with vocabulary and references to the classics. Maybe it's my age (19), but her call to arms made me annoyed more than anything else. I've read Jane Austen novels, but I've also read and enjoyed Gossip Girl novels. I have read lots of "shop lit" and seen "Sex and the City" without resorting to even caring about designer labels, much less reckless spending. I've read about or seen in shows people having casual sex as teenagers, and I'm a virgin. I've listened to rap and rock without ever doing any kind of drug, and barely doing any drinking. Sure, these "children's publications" might be doing some harm, but they're not to blame for the problems of society's teenagers.
(I realize this wasn't a very organized or well-written rant, but I don't feel like going back to fix it. So... enjoy. :)
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I kind of wonder sometimes what the obsession is with reading others' secrets. Even though a lot of them (especially on LJsecret) are "I love my best friend" or "This lesbian picture is so hot... but I'm a girl"-type secrets, I enjoy reading them too, and I've even sent a few secrets in myself. But here are my theories as to why people have become so addicted to reading and telling their deepest secrets:
1) Sheer morbid curiosity.
As in... there are really people who believe that? Some of the secrets sent in are gross erotic confessions or awful admissions of guilt. Some of them might just be fake- sent in for shock value- but I'm sure some, if not most, of the shocking ones are real. And it's interesting to read just how incredulous they can get.
Finding out that someone shares the same weird secret as you makes you feel a little less alone. And in communities like LJSecret, you can make comments to tell someone else you agree or they're not alone, and when it's your secret and you read that... it makes you feel a lot better about yourself.
3) Feeling better about yourself.
Even better than someone sympathizing with you is to read someone's crazy secret and realize your own aren't so bad. Reading someone's depressing secret about their life could very well make you see the bright side of yours. And while it's kind of a sick way to improve your morale... it works. It also helps when people leave comments- it can make a person who feels alone and ignored feel cared about and listened to.
Admitting a deep-dark secret, even anonymously, can help someone get it off their chest. And we've all had something that we wanted to tell someone but were too ashamed or scared to tell-- so to get it out there, even anonymously, makes people feel a little better about them.
5) Publishing pride.
To be "published," even if it's your secret, makes some people proud. I'm not gonna lie; I got a bit of a thrill seeing my secret posted. It's also, for some people, a way to be creative and, in some cases, get that art noticed. On PostSecret, there's not so much of a way to respond to the secrets... but on LJSecret, people often comment about the artwork- good or bad- of certain secrets. It's fun to play around in PhotoShop, and even more fun when someone compliments your secret later, I'm sure.
So, there you have it. My random and somewhat uninspired speculation about SecretObsessors. Fin!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I totally bought it for $1.
And it still comes on a floppy disk. Hahaha.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Basically, this is one of those random obscure holidays... and, in this case, it's exactly what it sounds like. Unless you're from Britain, in which case "no pants" means the American equivalent of "no underwear." While one could just wear a skirt, shorts, or something else that isn't quite pants but is still a normal covering of one's lower unmentionables... the point of this holiday is to proudly sport boxers, briefs, bloomers, slips, or something else un-pants-like all day in public in lieu of normal attire.
Sounds like a lot of fun to me. Actually, sounds a lot like a day-long game of Ankles (in which at least two people pull down their pants and stand there looking at each other until one person- the loser- feels awkward and pulls their pants back up).
I think this would be fun to spread around Purdue, especially since the first Friday of May is, a) a Friday (and therefore there is a good possibility of improv- though maybe not that late?) and b) either during dead week or finals week, and would be an excellent way to relieve finals stress, in my opinion.
Pantsless fountain run, anyone? :)
Monday, July 24, 2006
I found some of the stuff that came with a few of my favorite games from when I was younger. Of course, we've given the actual games away... we just have the booklets on how to play them or the cases they came in. Still, it was a nice trip down memory lane.
Gizmos & Gadgets- This game was awesome. You had to build a vehicle, and you were given a plan... but you had to go find the parts. To find the parts, you had to trek through a warehouse and solve science puzzles behind doors (build a circuit, use simple machines, etc). You had to watch out for the chimps, who would steal the parts! But if you had bananas, they'd go away. Once you built your vehicle, you could change its color and which parts you used before racing it against the bad guy's vehicle. It was definitely an educational game, but it was also a lot of fun and I remember playing it during recess in elementary school as well as at home.
Midnight Rescue was another game in the Super Solvers series (like Gizmos). Morty, the same bad guy, is trying to erase the school by midnight. You have to find clues in notes and stories, as well as taking pictures of Morty's robots, to find out which robot is really Morty in disguise this time! Of course, this game is designed to test reading comprehension and teach vocabulary and that sort of thing, but it was a lot of fun to hurry to press the space bar as soon as you saw a robot so you could get a picture of him in time and to figure out which robot was the bad guy and make him disappear. I was actually trying to think of this game a few days ago for some reason, because I remember it being so much fun.
Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, now packaged as Zoobinis: Logical Journey (because there are apparently more Zoombinis games now and I did not know this?!), was definitely one of my favorites even in the later years. My second grade classroom (that I spent time in this past semester) had this game on their computers and the kids still loved it. This game was big on logic skills (imagine that), as well as patterns, math, and reasoning. You started out creating Zoombinis with various attributes- they could have different feet, eyes, hair, and noses. For some games, you had to use these attributes- for instance, you had to place every Zoombini on a boat and on either side it had to touch Zoombinis that it had something in common with. Other games were different, such as having to figure out what kind of pizza toppings the villain wanted by trying some toppings and seeing what worked and didn't work. The games started out easy, but as you traversed the same path with more groups of Zoombinis, the games would get increasingly difficult. The Zoombinis are deathly cute, and I'm quite sure that if I played this game today I'd still have fun, even at 19.
We had some other great educational computer games, too, when I was little- Math Blaster, The Oregon Trail, and Carmen Sandiego, for instance- but I think they're a bit more well-known so I didn't go into them.
I think I'm definitely going to have to buy a copy of each for my classroom when I'm a teacher. I'm pretty sure these games are timeless and could still help kids learn while being fun. That, and I want to play them again. :)
Anyone else remember some great old games?
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I want to write about one of my "best" friends. Anyone who knows me well will probably know who I'm talking about, but I don't care. This friend and I have known each other since my freshman year of high school (his sophomore year). We got to know each other through band, and quickly became really good friends. We hung out all the time, and evvveryone thought we were "meant to be" a couple. His parents would joke about us getting married. We went to prom both his junior and senior year, but I just saw him as a friend and tried to make that clear to him and everyone else. My senior year, he was here at Purdue and we started talking more than ever online. We really got to be close, and at one point he said something joking and kind of flirty, and I asked for clarification.
As it turned out, apparently the whole time I knew him, he had a crush on me. By this point, I knew him so well- we were best friends, without a doubt, and hung out together most weekends despite him being in college. I still didn't think I had any romantic feelings towards him, but he was my best friend and I didn't want to hurt him without maybe giving things a chance. I mean, he was a great guy, and there weren't reasons why I shouldn't like him... but unfortunately, that doesn't always cut it. We "sort of" dated, on a trial basis as to not start wedding rumors again, but after hanging out as "maybe-more-than-friends" a few times, I realized I still didn't feel any sparks. I was comfortable around him, sure, and I had fun... but there wasn't that attraction and excitement that comes with a crush. I let him know, and after a short period of awkwardness, we went back to friends as always. The next year, when I arrived at Purdue, we spent a lot of time together. At first, it was a lot of fun to go over, watch [adult swim], watch movies (LOTR marathon!), order food, and just chill there. But as time wore on, our Sunday night get-together became as much a ritual as a fun activity. Go over, pick up pizza downstairs, eat, watch tv/play on computers/do math homework for the week/ask friend and his roommate for math help. My friend and I ate lunch together everyday at my dorm, and dinner together with a couple of friends everyday at his dorm. For awhile, I really liked hanging out with him allll the time. But after awhile, I got a little bored. I was used to a million clubs in high school, and I was involved in absolutely nothing at school besides Women In Science. I wanted to do something besides just watching movies and TV every single weekend.
I tried to think about what I wanted to join. The dancing clubs all cost money, and by this point I was almost halfway through the semester. The newspaper- too late. I glanced through some of the flyers I'd picked up at orientation, and looked over the emails I'd been receiving from a few clubs. The improv club's emails stuck out. I'd done drama club in high school and always liked the few improv games we did, even if I was terrible myself. Plus, Benji's emails are funny. I decided that it seemed like an easy thing to just show up for, for free, and not have to do anything. And it might be fun. So I headed to improv, by myself, and had a good time. I met about 3 people, and was proud of myself for going alone and introducing myself to people, even. I went back the next week (I think), went up for a game during the workshop and actually didn't suck, met more people, and was invited to their Halloween party, where I started getting to know everyone (including Ryan). Especially since Ryan and I started hanging out soon after that, it wasn't very long before I was not only going to improv, but also going out with the group. I obviously liked the group a lot- still do- because they're a lot of fun and improv is funny and entertaining.
Excited about my new friends/activity, I invited my best friend to come along to improv, but was turned down. Soon after I met Ryan, the friend not only refused to come try improv once, but told me he wasn't sure he could handle hanging out with me that week- at all. More than half a year after I had told him I didn't like him in the same way he liked me, this friend couldn't deal with the fact that I was dating someone. He got over that in a few days, but I still tried not to mention Ryan, despite the fact I was really excited about my crush and it wasn't easy. I tried to wait, even as we'd been dating months, until my friend was ready to meet Ryan. I didn't want to push things or shove anything in his face.
Gradually, I started hanging out with some other people more- friends from my classes, friends from improv, and Ryan. And I was glad-- college isn't meant, in my opinion, as just classroom learning, and I don't think that hanging out with all people you knew in high school and not trying anything new really take advantage of the opportunities. That doesn't mean I don't want to keep high school friends... it just means that I want to make new friends, too.
What bothers me now, I guess, is that eight months after the Halloween party, this friend still can't seem to get over the fact that I'm dating. It would be acceptable to me if he had met Ryan and didn't like him, or had tried improv and didn't think it was fun, or had hung out with some of my other friends and decided he'd rather not do it again. But I don't want to lose his friendship, despite the fact that I'm branching out, and I've tried to invite him and include him in the things I'm doing, and... he won't even try. I really, really think he would get along well with a lot of the improv group, and yet he will not sacrifice 1 Friday of sitting in front of the TV to give it a try. He's hardly even civil in journal comments to Ryan. I hate it-- if he would just give things a try, I would be happy. If he did, and didn't like it... fine. But don't criticize someone you don't know at all. Don't refuse to try an activity when you have nothing planned and nothing to lose. Don't act like I have to choose you or my new friends, because I don't want one or the other. And finally, get out and do something. Learn something new. Meet people. Meet girls. You've liked me for, what, 5 years now?... and you know that nothing's going to happen there. It's been confirmed both by me telling you so, and by me dating someone else for 8 months. Grow UP, please, and accept that with me, it's going to be friendship or nothing. I can't help how I feel, and I don't want to hurt you, but it hurts ME when you refuse to do something that might be kind of uncomfortable for you but means a lot to me. If you care that much about me, you would want me to be happy... and you would want to do whatever you could to salvage our friendship. I'm not saying it would be easy, because I know I haven't been in those shoes and I know it's got to be hard, but you have to make an effort.
I know he can't get over me instantly. But it's been at least a year, now, since I said that I didn't like him as more than friends, and I think I've given him plenty of time to get used to the idea of me dating someone. I don't understand his total aversion to meeting Ryan or going to improv, I guess, and so it makes me feel like he's not trying at all to keep our friendship. And it hurts.
I know this sounds harsh so far, but I really do value our friendship a lot. It just feels like sometimes it's too much drama to even mess with anymore. And I'm unsure what I can do, at this point, to make things better from my end. Because I'm not going to break up with Ryan (because I still wouldn't like my friend, so what good would that do?), and I'm not going to stop going to improv and whatever other clubs I join (because I enjoy them), and I'm definitely not going to stop trying to make and get closer to new friends (because my newish friends are awesome). So... I feel somewhat helpless and sad, but also kind of stubborn and angry, about the whole situation, and I guess I just hope, but doubt, that things will get better with us soon.
*sigh* I know I've written about this a million times. I guess writing just usually helps me make sense of something that's on my mind. That, and I kind of hope someone will tell me if I'm being crazy or irrational... or that someone will confirm I'm not being insane.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Despite usually doing something and usually having some fun, I guess the 4th of July isn't as memorable for me because there aren't any family traditions, exactly. With a lot of other holidays, I can remember things we do every year... and when we have strayed from that, it doesn't feel right.
I do enjoy fireworks a whole lot, though... and I like the holiday. It's nice, and usually we do something outside because it's summer, unlike a lot of holidays. Plus, I think it's nice to think about our country and the military and our history, because although they are things that affects our everyday life, we don't often think about them during our everyday life.
So, happy 4th of July, everyone... hope you have a fun and memorable holiday. :) I'm off to go watch Beauty and the Beast with my momma~!
Friday, June 23, 2006
For those of you who don't know me personally or especially well, you may not know how I've spent my time lately. I'm working under a professor at my university who does some research on stomatopods (who I will most likely post about at some point because they are just about the most interesting animals evar) and coordinates two big outreach projects. I've been helping him with the outreach programs so far this summer, and I love it. Both biology and education are interests and either past or current majors of mine, so a mix of the two is absolutely superb.
The job also includes some super sweet perks, one of which includes room and board at the university during the biology programs (two programs at two weeks apiece for high schoolers). While about half of the high school students coming to the program are local or semi-local (commuting every day), the other half are from Indy and stay on campus in a residence hall (probably Purdue's nicest dorm, actually) during the week. I'm staying in one of the rooms, just like the students. Actually, I have a student roommate. Anyway-- all of these kids are from Indianapolis, and with the exception of 3 students, maybe (out of approximately 15? kids), all of them are African-American. (From here on out, I'm going to use "black" and "white" when applicable, because although it may not be considered politically correct, I find it both easier and more natural, and I don't think I'll offend anyone. Hopefully, anyway.)
A few days ago, the kids started a conversation about racism, and it was really interesting. Everything started with one black boy feeling offended by a white man making small talk with him and asking if he was a basketball player. This boy felt like the man assumed that because he was a young black male, he must play basketball. He handled it well, though, telling the man about the biology camp, and the man replied that he was part of a group there for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and had seen this boy with his two friends.
This boy told the other students and the two teacher/mentors about it. The first teacher, a white man who relates really well to the students, tried to explain to the boy that while it was perfectly possible that the man did make a racist assumption, there were other options. The man could have been thinking of the circumstances (a high school 3-on-3 tournament going on, seeing him in a group of 3 high school boys), or simply not thinking much (maybe he had basketball on the brain?). The teacher wasn't saying that the man absolutely was not being racist, because the teacher couldn't know, obviously... the teacher just wanted to make the point that the man might not have intended his comment in a racist fashion at all.
This makes a lot of sense to me. In my opinion, if a person of one race assumes that a person of another race is being racist... then that person is being racist. That's confusing, so let me try again. If Blue Guy assumes that Red Guy's comment or action is racist just because Red Guy happens to be Red, then Blue Guy is actually being racist against Red Guys. It's still kind of confusing, but maybe a bit better?
The other teacher disagreed entirely. She, a black woman, was quite adamant that if a black person gives the benefit of the doubt to a white person who said a questionably racist comment, that black person is failing to fight racism and failing to stand up for their race. I have a big problem with that, because she was essentially saying that people should assume the worst intent. Apparently a tactful inquiry into the person's action/comment is absolutely not even an option. Making an ignorant assumption is much better, in her opinion.
I'm not trying to say racism doesn't exist or shouldn't be acknowledged when it does occur; I'm also not trying to say I know what it feels like to be stereotyped in the same manner as a black person. But I feel like racism is only propogated by behavior like that. I don't think the racism of the past or present should be "gotten over" or forgotten-- but I also don't think that dwelling helps things. It's important to learn from what happened before and then to apply it to what's happening now to make things better. And, in my opinion, making assumptions about someone else rarely makes anything better. I mean, we all know how the word "assume" breaks down.
An example of this type of assumption... as the student group was leaving the restaurant where they had this loud and boisterous racism discussion, an older white man with a Vietnam veteran's hat stopped the white teacher. He asked the teacher if this was a rap group, and the teacher was at first somewhat taken aback. He corrected the guy, explaining about the science camp, and said something about the man making an assumption that a group of mostly young black students would be a rap group... and now the older man seemed surprised. "Oh, no, that's not what I meant!" he said. "I was talking about a WRAP group, like in the Vietnam era." Apparently in that time, it was popular for groups of students to get together and discuss issues and opinions, much like the science group had done that night. It made perfect sense, and the man didn't at all mean to be racist, even though initially it certainly sounded like he was stereotyping.
It was an interesting ending to the evening, to say the least. The incident with the older man just showed that misunderstandings are not only possible, but happen. It's all really intriguing to me, mainly because I've rarely felt the pressure of any stereotype against me. But I'm definitely glad for the opportunity to spend time with intelligent people and peers who can try to fill me in and teach me and tell me what they've experienced. I feel like my job is teaching me a lot of unexpected things. Guess that's just another one of the perks. :)
Saturday, May 27, 2006
For Christmas in '04, I received a Sony CyberShot digital camera with a four-year service plan from Best Buy in case something broke, so that I would hopefully have a working camera for 4 years. I then purchased a 256 mb Sony MemoryStickPRO to use with it.
Recently, this camera started acting up. The lens wouldn't open; instead, I could hear a nasty grinding sound. I took the camera in to Best Buy and they sent it out for service. A few weeks later, the verdict was that the camera was "junked out" by service because it would cost $175 to repair, which meant, I thought, that I was entitled to a product of equal or lesser value.
But apparently, the "product" part isn't true.
Best Buy will only give me $100 towards a new camera because Sony had an additional $50 rebate at the time my mom paid $150. That would be fine, except that they don't even have any cameras for less than $129.99. They don't have any cameras that use the Sony MemoryStickPRO other than one for $199.99, either, so with any camera besides that one, I would also have the cost of a new memory card.
So, without paying a minimum of $50 (difference of camera plus the cheapest memory card at the moment), I don't have a camera. And if I wanted the service plan again, even though there is at least 2.5 years left on the one I purchased for my old camera, I'd have to buy a new service plan altogether.
Part of me is annoyed with how this went down, and really doesn't want to get another camera from Best Buy because of the way they handled this. So, a salesperson told us he thought we'd be able to get store credit so that I could just use the $100 on other random stuff I wanted at Best Buy, and go elsewhere for a camera if I decided to. We asked at customer service, and found out that we can't even get store credit- that $100 absolutely has to go towards another camera within the rest of my 4-year service plan, or I can't use it at all.
Grrrr. I'm mad. We spent about 2 hours in there, first looking at Sony cameras thinking I'd have $150 to spend towards one, finding out I'd probably have to get a new memory card and looking at all cameras, then being told I'd only have $100, then looking at cameras again, and then being told I couldn't get store credit. Also add in some waiting for people to wait on us.
It is just frustrating to me that they won't give me at least enough money to get a camera. I could understand if they'd give me $129.99, the cost of the cheapest camera, and tell me that if I wished to upgrade to any other camera, I'd have to pay more. But it bothers me that because all they carry now are, at the very least, 4 megapixel cameras (even online), I can't get *any* camera. I understand that I will be getting a better camera, at least megapixel-wise, with anything at their store (mine was a 3.2). But mine was fine- I could use the pictures as a desktop background without them being blurry! I don't need more megapixels. If they had a 3.2 megapixel camera, I would take it. I'm not trying to screw them over and get a way better camera. I just want some kind of camera that works, and, if at all possible, one that doesn't require I spend another $20-50 on a new memory card when I have one that works just fine. Wanting a camera that works is why I got the service plan, and the service plan is only saving me $60 ($40 was paid for the service plan in the first place); it's not getting me a camera that works.
Grrrrrr. I miss my camera. :(
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Logan's adorable. Sometimes a bit bratty, but for the most part he's a good kid. And he really, really enjoys hanging out with me. Whenever we visit, he wants to spend every second with me. I miss him a lot, but it's probably good that I don't see him too often- that way, when we do, we have fun and I rarely get annoyed by him. Besides, he completely wears me out. For the most part, he's really growing up, but he still says and does some really funny things. I think this is my favorite:
My aunt cooked dinner, and one of the sides was tater tots. As we loaded up our plates with yummy food, my aunt asked Logan what kind of potatoes we were eating. He confidently replied, "Tater-totters." Aww. :)
Sunday, May 21, 2006
I'm not sure how I became interested in horses, but it probably had something to do with my animal-loving mom (see about two entries ago). She passed down some of her favorite horse books, her Barbie horses, and a love of the animal. While my obsession waned, I still love riding horses and would love to own one someday.
Today, I watched the Preakness Stakes. Most people know of the Kentucky Derby, and fewer know of the Triple Crown- a most famous and difficult trio of horse races beginning with the Derby and continuing with the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. Only eleven horses in the history of these three huge races have ever won all three in the same year. It's difficult to do because the three are within the same five weeks, held in three different states, and are three very different lengths. Most horses are better at shorter or longer races, but the Triple Crown requires mastery of three very different lengths with little time between for rest or preparation. Since Affirmed in 1978, no horse has won all three legs of the Triple Crown. The fame awaiting the next Triple Crown champion is great, and the money awaiting the owners and jockey are probably much greater. The Triple Crown champion himself, then, will probably retire to a comfortable stall, asked for little but occasional performance as a stallion (...that means sex). Not a bad life, to be sure, but the Triple Crown has proven elusive for the quickest thoroughbreds for longer than my lifetime.
Each year, horse fans like me (who may not even have a particular interest in horse racing) tune in for the big races of the Triple Crown and follow the Derby winner to the Preakness with high hopes. When a horse wins both the Derby and Preakness (I believe the most recent example was 2002's War Emblem), the hype increases considerably.
This year's Derby winner, Barbaro, was the favorite today at the Preakness. He hadn't ever lost a race, and his trainers had prepared him somewhat unconventionally before the Derby, which apparently paid off. He had broken away from the pack in a Derby which was expected to be a close race on all accounts. Barbaro was expected to do well at the Preakness, and some even speculated at his chances for the Crown.
After nearly all of the horses were loaded into the gates, Barbaro broke out of his early. His jockey struggled to slow him, and they led him around to re-enter the gate. Perhaps he was a bit too raring to go. In any case, the race started soon thereafter and Barbaro bolted from the gate with the other horses. He was in good position when suddenly he appeared to step down wrong on one of his hind legs. Soon, it was obvious that he was trying to gallop on only three legs, struggling to keep his balance while his jockey steered him to the side of the track. Veterinarians rushed in as Barbaro stopped and held his right hind leg in the air, something obviously very wrong. Once the race finished, an equine ambulance carried him off the track, and he headed to a world-class medical facility for horses where he was diagnosed with a career-ending and potentially life-threatening double leg fracture (both above and below the ankle). Broken legs are extremely dangerous injuries for horses- much more so than for humans.
I guess I just wanted to write about this because it made me really sad to see it (Barbaro was in obvious pain), and I really hope he's okay. I'll definitely be praying that his surgery goes well.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I've already talked about America's Next Top Model (I missed the series finale, dang it... I was on my way home and forgot entirely that it was Wednesday night). This show is currently on UPN. My other favorite show- my very favorite- is Everwood. This show is currently on the WB.
For those of you who haven't heard, these two networks- UPN and the WB- have merged to create the CW. The CW's schedule recently came out, and while many favorite shows- including Top Model, Veronica Mars, Smallville, and One Tree Hill- have returned, Everwood is strangely missing from the schedule. Even 7th Heaven- which had its series finale last week, has somehow returned for another season.
I started watching Everwood three years ago because I watched 7th Heaven and Everwood came on right afterwards. I missed the first season, but started watching at the beginning of the second season and got hooked. (Plus, 7th Heaven started to really suck- somehow half of the plot had nothing to do with actual family members and everything became predictable and cheesy and downright ridiculous.) I received the first season of Everwood on DVD for Christmas, so I've now seen all 4 seasons of Everwood and stopped watching 7th Heaven all together.
Why, you might ask, do I like this show so much? Well, this critically acclaimed series covers many important issues, but often chooses to focus an entire plotline spanning a few episodes at least on the issues, rather than glossing over them in a single episode. Better yet, the show will often present more than one view of an issue, rather than forcing one opinion on viewers. There are some really big but very realistic problems facing the characters. I can't tell you how many times I've cried because they hit the sudden-loss-of-a-parent nail right on the head. One of the main characters had to struggle with finding out he was a parent. Sometimes things are dramatized, to be sure; there aren't that many high school girls who lose their boyfriend to a coma and then for good in a later surgery. In most episodes, though, there is very much a sense of realism. None of the characters are impossibly rich (or at least show it); Everwood is a small, conservative town. The focus is not just on teenagers, but on adults and sometimes children as well. There is still plenty of relationship drama and, of course, most of the characters are good-looking, but overall the show feels more mature than most dramas out there, especially on the WB.
Besides the issues it brings up, Everwood has plenty of entertainment to bring to the table. The two doctors have abounding quick wit and sarcasm, while Bright makes ironically dumb comments in nearly every episode. Some couples in the show seem to 'fit' together and you almost can't help but root for them to get together. I'm not sure the cinematography could be ugly; the town of "Everwood" is in the mountains of Colorado (actually, it's filmed in Utah), and the scenery is gorgeous. The music, similarly, is outstanding- often poignant and fitting for the situation besides being enjoyable. There's also lots of beautiful piano music (Ephram, one of the main characters, is a piano virtuoso who at one point was attempting to audition at Julliard). There are a few things that make the series a little more multicultural, too, despite the mostly white conservative town- the Brown family is Jewish, and Edna and Irv are a biracial couple. Both of these are rarities in television. Basically, though, Everwood has made me laugh and made me cry; it's entertaining television with engaging characters and thought-provoking plots that keep me coming back week after week to watch it.
Four more weeks, though, and I may have to resort to watching my Season 1 DVD's over and over (I would watch the other seasons as well, but they haven't been released). I understand that some shows have to be cancelled, but I have a few beefs with this show in particular being cancelled.
1) The show has traditionally had low ratings, despite critics loving it. But somehow, instead of aggressive marketing or placing the show in a less competitive timeframe, Everwood has had to fight for viewers with popular shows like 24 and (I believe) The O.C. Is this really giving the show a fair shot?
2) In a recent interview with Dawn Ostroff, president of the CW network, Michael Ausiello of TVguide asked about the connection between 7th Heaven's return and Everwood's lack thereof:
Ausiello: One of the theories going around is that the moment you decided to bring 7th Heaven back, Everwood died.
Ostroff: (Crickets) It was, you know... It really came down to those two shows. It was such a tough call...
Ausiello: I hear the decision to renew Heaven was made after the ratings for the finale came in. True?
Ostroff: It [drew] over 7 million people. It's hard to ignore that.
So, it came down to Everwood, or 7th Heaven, which just had its series finale. It bothers me that Everwood is being compared to the series finale ratings of a show that had been running for a decade. Of COURSE lots of people tuned in to see how they tied up loose ends on 7th Heaven. I nearly did, and I haven't watched the show in the last few years. More people always watch a series finale... just because 7 million people watched the series finale doesn't mean 7 million people are going to watch 7th Heaven next year.
3) Ausiello: No, I'm talking about leaving Everwood where it is at 9 pm after 7th Heaven.
Ostroff: We wanted to put a new show on the air and Runaway is a really good show. We couldn't have the whole schedule of returning shows.
Okay, because leaving Everwood there means an entire schedule of returning shows. I don't even understand why that's a problem. If you're going to have to draw people into a new network, I would think it'd be easier to keep shows with a dedicated following...
Basically, I'm just frustrated. Everwood isn't a soap opera of spoiled rich kids in the sun... it's different. It's one of only two shows that I really really try to watch every week. And now, because of some politics and a show (that's already been on long past its prime) being continued again, this is its last season. Rawr. I think I'm going to find this Dawn lady's address and write to her, because I am not happy, and most of her reasoning in her interview with Ausiello (here, if you scroll down) made me even angrier. Shows that I feel shouldn't have been renewed were brought back to fill in precious space over Everwood, and I don't think the WB has ever done much to fight for viewers for Everwood... so I'm *quite* angry. I wish there was more that I could do to save my favorite show. :-
To make me even angrier, Everwood was previously on the schedule and even had a space on the CW's website. Grr!