Peace of Mind

I’ve never really been one for beaches, at least the ones where I live, but that’s mostly a matter of wind.  The breeze down by the beach whips past me like I’m made of air and leaves any exposed skin feeling kind of sticky.  Strong wind always makes me feel really brave though; I like to stand, let my hair fly around my face, and imagine that I’m actually on a boat headed to an exciting novel adventure.  Note however, that’s not the impression of the beach that “Oceans”, by Puscifer gives off.

In one of my previous web-browsing escapades, I was lucky enough to chance upon this song, which has become my theme song for the week.  The slow tempo and hazy tone make “Oceans” so relaxing, I can almost hear the waves meeting the shore and then pulling back.  These are no mid-day, sunbathed waves fit for surfing.  They are the 5 o’clock tide, ebbing away as the sun fades.  Facing the sun are blunt, weathered rocks, split neatly into curvy shelves.  They’re the kind of rocks you just want to sit on and contemplate mind-boggling mysteries while watching the sun set.  What if the sun leaves before you find your answer?  It’s no biggie.  There’s no hurry.  It’s a moment that never leaves your head; it only goes on vacation until you decide to recall the memory.  Rather than a new beginning, “Oceans” feels like you’ve reached an understanding.  You’ve seen ocean: tempestuous and vengeful,  vibrant and beaming.  But you’ve never seen the ocean / not like this one.

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No rocks or sunset here, but I’ll leave that to you to picture.

Simply Being You

When I was little, I liked dolls and tea sets.  I had a couple of Barbies, including Odette from Mattel’s spin on Swan Lake and Erica from Barbie: Princess and the Pauper.  Not to discount their fancy dresses (because I really liked their dresses; they were pretty), but what I really liked about each doll was that they had a special feature that other dolls didn’t have.  Odette had a pretty pair of detachable light-up wings and luscious, soft hair while Erica had a button on her back that would play, if I remember correctly, a small portion of two songs from the movie if pressed. Though I acknowledge that my dolls were pretty, I didn’t envy my dolls, wish I was as picture-perfect as they were, or hate myself for not being like my dolls.

I feel like the anti-Barbie sentiment that is currently running amok is barking up the wrong tree; Barbies are not the problem.  Virginia Postrel’s “Dolls and Standards of Beauty” points out that dolls are simply meant to be enjoyed.  In her article, Postrel argues that “Lammily”, a doll made of average measurements reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, does not fit the image of the average girl better than a Barbie does.  In striving to be the “average”, one ironically never touches the “average” girl.  It’s like the saying that the average family has 2.5 kids.  Do the families really have two kids and a half of a kid just running around?  No, but that’s the average.  Some families might have one kid, two kids, no kids, or four kids.  The glorification of average is really no better than the harmful beauty standards that Barbies are rumored to create.  Wouldn’t that just continue a cycle of body image problems?  Instead criticizing themselves for not looking like Barbie, girls would examine their figures and wonder why they couldn’t look more like the “average” girl.  Though carried out with good intentions, actions taken to empower girls might wind up putting them in another box.

A particularly poignant time that stands out to me was my late elementary and middle school years.  I strongly rejected traditional female things like skirts, dresses, makeup and the like, because, I said, they weren’t really my image.  I tried so much to fit in with a more tomboy image, it was kind of embarrassing.  On the outside, I scoffed at girls who squealed over Justin Bieber and gushed over whatever so-and-so actresss wore at the Oscars, but on the inside, I was more conflicted.  Over the actress part, not the Justin Bieber part, that I was staunchly against for appropriate reasons.  It seemed that everyone didn’t like girly things, so I shouldn’t either.  But worshipping male-oriented things like video games, blue, skateboarding, rap and all that jazz wasn’t any better.  In rejecting one form of “conformation”, I had subscribed to another.

Since then, I have largely come to terms with the fact that actions and hobbies can’t be separated into “girly” and “tomboy”.  People are just a mixture of things.  I still feel pretty uncomfortable wearing skirts and dresses, but I’m working on it.  I’ve heard it all my life to “be yourself”, but I find that it’s much harder than it sounds.  I don’t think that we can hear it enough; even though I heard it multiple times, it took me a while to actually understand it, and ask myself if  I was really happy with what I was doing.  Maybe it’s curled hair and blue-eyeshadow one day and bare face the next.  It doesn’t matter; no one is keeping track.  Do what you feel like.  It doesn’t matter if you prefer ‘boarding to Barbie.  Just be you.

Spring Break: Plans and Possible Reality

So that joyous time of year has finally come around again: spring break!  The light at the end of the tunnel (there were no days off at all in March; I shudder at the the thought).  However, with great happiness comes great sadness.  As many of my teachers have so graciously reminded me, Advanced Placement (AP) testing is coming up soon, so I’ll have to get ready for the tests I’m planning to take this year.   Continue reading

Sleep and Your Average Teenager

A few days ago, when I was sitting in one of my classes, a couple of students came in to take a survey on the average amount of sleep students get per night.  As they called out the choices (3-4 hours, 5-6 hours, so and on), we raised our hands.  When they had left our classroom, our concerned teacher asked us why we were not getting enough sleep.  We answered, jokingly and seriously, that we had taken too many AP classes, to which my teacher replied that we shouldn’t have taken so many if it was compromising our health.

Not too long ago, I was reading John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and I happened across an interesting passage:

“And the migrants streamed in on the highways and their hunger was in their eyes.  hey had no argument, no system, nothing but their numbers and their needs.  When there was work for a man, ten men fought for it–fought with a low wage.  if that fella’ll work for thirty cents, I’ll work for twenty-five.

If he’ll take twenty-five, I’ll do it for twenty.

No, me, I’m hungry.  I’ll work for fifteen.  I’ll work for food.”

The migrant workers are pushed from place to place, hated and reviled by all though they are simply trying to make a living.  They are desperate for work, work at any cost, work at any price.  When they ask who it was that made them migrants, they get no straight answer.  All trails lead back to “the bank” or “the trust”, a merciless, immortal monster.  The migrants, who had previously been farmers, had been working in direct contact with the land for years and they could observe the direct give-and-take relationship between man and the land: plant seeds, care for the earth and the earth returns the favor by producing crops for sale and for the farmer’s own consumption.  For people with that mindset, it’s hard to imagine something that they couldn’t solve at all no matter how hard they tried.  It’s frustrating to hear and horrifying to think about a mysterious force that controls you like a puppet.  What is there that can hear your troubles?  It isn’t a person, but rather a corporation; how do you kill one of those?

Students are in a somewhat similar situation.  Though the students at my school are lucky enough not to worry about getting our next meal, we are impressed into a vicious competition against each other.  Do any of us really want to be competitors?  None of us do, but that is what we live with.  We enter high school as shaky, unsure freshmen, but in the assembly line of high school, we become jaded and grim.  Sure we could elect to do what we really want to do and not take as many AP classes, but what holds us back is the knowledge that there’s a lot of people out there who are taking many AP classes and excelling in them.  We wonder how we’d stack up against those sorts of people, who take challenging classes and excel in sports, dance or music.  Thus we push ourselves to the limit and sacrifice sleep to get good grades in the classes we take and participate in extracurricular activities to stay competitive in an increasingly challenging college admissions process.  We all say we’re tired, but there is no rest for the weary.

And in the end, how much does all this unhappiness pay off?  Will the end be worth it?  We have no idea.

It’s a sad reality, this life mentality.

We’re All in This Together

A long time ago, my friends and I announced our purpose in creating this blog: to share our writing and eventually write a book together.  Well finally, that day has come.

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  In the beginning, we were kind of lost.  We couldn’t read signs and we walked with the caution of a newborn fawn.  Writing wonderland was a great unknown.  However, throughout the year, as we slowly got more comfortable with our surroundings, writing became much easier.  As for myself, I don’t think so much when I write anymore; that sounds really bad, but what I mean is that I don’t overthink my posts anymore.  Overthinking used to lead to not posting at all, which is a lot worse once I got into a rut of just not posting.  Today, we post regularly and on a variety of topics: sometimes those topics are hot and trending, and other times they are more obscure and quiet.

Now that we have become familiar with our surroundings, it is time to turn our journey to our next destination.  Together, we are compiling our essays and blog posts to make a book.  This sounds pretty daunting, but I’m sure that this will be a bit easier with my friends working alongside me.  There’s still so much to do–editing, choosing essays, making a book layout, making a cover–but if we can’t start, then when will we?  To quote a very wise group of high school students, “We’re all in this together. . . We make each other strong.  We’re different in a good way, together’s where we belong.”

The Prince’s Dilemma

Credits to Farrukh on Flickr. Check out more athttps://www.flickr.com/photos/swamibu/.

Hi guys.  The piece of prose down below is entry in Figment’s March Madness Matchup: Round 1.  This is based off of a quote from Machiavelli’s The Prince: “The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.”  

Continue reading

Letter to a Plant

To the withering, glaucous invalid in the corner of the kitchen counter,

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Yes, you.

I admit that the conditions in our house are rather deplorable for the flourishment of even the hardiest of plants.  Even with the shutters fully opened and positioned in an optimal angle for each hour of the day, the direction our house faces admits only a ailing, pale stream of sunlight at best.  Sometimes we forget to open them all the way in our haste, and further cripple sunlight’s ability to grace your pasty leaves.  It is also of little help that we tend to rush from one place to the next and use the house merely as a train station of sorts, a checkpoint in our destination.  Our impatience breeds a narrow focus from stop to stop, blurring, our surroundings into a deep gray, in which you are unfortunately situated.  When you meekly raise your voice and politely request water, we reason that you can get by.  If you cry out for long-needed attention, we grudgingly shell out a couple of seconds to dump water on your parched self.  Yes, your habitat is by all means, no place for a young plant.  Continue reading

Girl in Love

While I was sitting in class the other day, I was thinking about listening to a certain song that my teacher occasionally put on in class.  Thankfully, I saved myself the pain of having a song stuck in my head by remembering a couple of the lyrics, and found out the song was called “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke.

The melody isn’t in the same key and the video is a little faster than the one my teacher played, but those are moot points.  It’s a charming, folksy, endearing tune, but it also got me thinking about something I did love. Continue reading