Scary Temptations

Photo ©2014 by Laurence Simon [C.C-by-2.0]
Photo ©2014 by Laurence Simon [C.C-by-2.0]
I looooovvveee scary things. Whenever it’s my turn to choose a movie to watch with my friends, almost always, I opt for the scary ones. Even for books, my favorite genre is horror. But… I’m a scaredy-cat. A HUGE scaredy-cat. During scary movies (even the ones I chose too!) I cover my eyes during the scary part. It happened so often that it’s almost a habit to do it. I’ve gotten slightly better at watching the whole movie (I watched You’re Next the whole way!!) but sometimes it just happens. Continue reading

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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.

Limbo In Spring Break

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With exams and projects crammed into the Friday before Spring Break, I think many of my peers are glad that Spring Break is finally upon us (I know I am). Just a few days ago, I kept thinking to myself as I was studying for a History quiz that once Spring Break starts, all I would do is eat, sleep, and watch movies (rinse and repeat). However, now that I’m finally in Spring Break mode, I feel like I’m stuck in a sort of limbo. It’s like before Spring Break, all I could think about was how the grass would be so much greener on the other but now that I’m on the other side, it’s just “what now?”. I feel giddy but there’s a worry within me that there’s a whole day that I’ve wasted just lying in bed when I could be hanging out with friends or watch the movies I had put off last week to study. Two days of Spring Break are gone and we’re stepping into another day so there’s only five days left. Every time I look at my calendar, I feel overwhelmed of the amount of tests I have to study for, homework I have to do, etc. Last year in my English class, we had to do a presentation about ourselves because we were reading All Quiet on the Western Front and I remember one classmate of mine said his favorite quote was something along the lines of “the time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time”. That applies to me now more than ever as I feel the clock ticking away the last seconds of my Spring Break. Continue reading

The Halls Are Alive with the Sound of Music

Displaying 20150405_101543_resized.jpg
                                                                                             some Easter festivities

Ah, there’s nothing better than a Sunday night and the comforting knowledge that you have no responsibility to wake up to tomorrow morning.  (Let’s not mention the piles of homework I’m hopelessly behind on or the number of AP tests I should be studying for.)  Even before the weekend, while I was still moping my way through school, I could feel the salvation of spring break coming nearer and nearer.  Just one more week, just one more day, just one more class.  And now it’s finally here.  And things have been going pretty well so far.

I’m gonna start with Friday because my mind starts going into weekend mode once it hits Friday anyway.  Friday was really cool because the orchestra does this thing called spring grams where they go around the classrooms and deliver cards and leis to people, in combination with a performance of a prearranged pop medley – on spring instruments, of course.  I love being able to hear violin across from my Spanish class and I also find it really amusing that my friend has to drag her cello through the halls (they draw the line at the string bass).  And this was pretty much the inspiration for the title of this blog post, which really only references this paragraph, but let’s just move on.

I think Saturday was a weird transition day because it’s technically the beginning of spring break, but you already had Friday night and you know Easter is tomorrow, so you just kinda shrug your shoulders and let the passage of time do its thing.  Most of my Saturday was probably spent making plans for Sunday.  That and finding out how to do card tricks from my cousin and the assistance of the internet.  After that, I spent the rest of the day doing who-knows-what and sleeping very very late knowing full well that I would have to wake up early the next morning.

I woke up groggy but with the happy realization that it was Easter, so my cousin and I rushed out to the neighborhood park where they set up festivities every year.  We did some arts and crafts, ate quite a bit of barbeque, and snuck a couple of plastic-shelled eggs into our bags before heading home.  Then we took my dogs on a really spastic walk, I lost miserably at Battleship despite having been at an advantage for the first half of the game, and we practiced our card tricks while sipping on various fruit-flavored beverages.  And now I’m here and I’m typing this blog post, too tired to find a way to incorporate a rabbit hole pun into my story about Easter.

My apologies for the characteristic incoherence,

Mad Hatter

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

Progress Report

book pic

After months and months of deciding what was going to go into the book, we are finally in the stages of laying out the pages and ordering the physical copies.  It’s pretty exciting, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.  I spent a couple class periods figuring out how we were gonna group our essays together, and now we have to choose what illustrations we want to add, what fonts we want to use, and what we want our back cover to say.  Plus, I haven’t titled, um, any of my essays, so I think I should probably get on that.

The site we’re using to make our books is blurb.com and it has a ton of different options for making books, most of which are pretty affordable.  But one thing that’s a little difficult is the program they require you to use to layout your book.  It’s called Bookwright, and it’s kinda tiresome to have to transfer all your text from a different source (don’t even get me started on having to convert all the Word documents to Google docs), and you have to format the margins and everything yourself, instead of the borders being pre-laid out.  And if you make one mistake, it’s such a pain to have to go back and reformat everything.

Besides all the stuff I just mentioned, we still have to double check all the essays we’ve inputted, finish laying everything out and make sure it’s the right number of pages, format our back and front cover, insert all the illustrations and give credit where needed, write a dedication page, and fundraise to buy and distribute the books.  Sorry, this post kinda just turned into a list of complaints, but I know it will all be worth it in the end.  We had our own poetry books made in sixth grade and I still remember how amazed I was to be holding the copy in my hands and open it to find the words I had written myself.  I can’t wait to feel that again.

~Mad Hatter

Back on Track

Photo ©2011 by Walt Stoneburger [C.C.-by-2.0]
Photo ©2011 by Walt Stoneburner [C.C.-by-2.0]
“Read everything.”

My English teacher repeated the phrase after our class looked over previous AP Language and Composition essay prompts and realized that they were asking for our opinion about certain issues. I had always loved to read but I haven’t been reading much since the beginning of 2015 mainly because I was always procrastinating my homework so I never made time for reading. However, after hearing my teacher repeat “Read everything” again, I realized it was about time I picked up one of my favorite pastimes again. Continue reading

Click, Click. Are we Machine or Are we Human?

3249292348_5bb5cf7877_bI was planning on drawing again, but then I wandered upon this beauty by Flickr user Tobias Higbie.

Although I indirectly blogged about it last week, I didn’t make it quite clear.  Mr. John Steinbeck couldn’t have hit the nail on the head with the shocking claim that man created an intangible machine, an idea.  More or less, it’s the idea of a hierarchy and the concept that humans are replaceable; a mindset, I would like to point out, that may have been catalyzed by the Ford assembly line: faster, more efficient, one job, quicker, do it better, one task, another can easily take your place, work harder, better, “rinse, wash, and repeat.”  And what sprung forth from that idea was an unfeeling, uncaring, and selfish society.  I stated that “We are President Snow” referencing this machine, or rather one of the effects its had on us– tunnel vision.  But this time, (like March Hare) I plan on addressing what it’d done to us overall.

Everyone is taught that if you don’t catch up, you will never catch up.  If you get to the top, you are bound to be surpassed.  If you don’t match up, no one will care, you are replaceable, disposable.  There are so many amazing people, smarter and more modernized people, what makes you special?  Why should we keep you if all you do is hinder the company from its full potential: maximum profits?  The companyMy company. That companyCompanies.

In this era, people do dealings, but the status of the company is what matters.  Not the health of the people working their butts off to making it successful.  Not the good the company or the people in the company do, good deeds are usually commended for a few seconds and tossed aside.  Of course, we’ll listen to the scandals that a company employee did or a board member.  Ooh the corruption.  Let’s throw them out.  We’re not making enough revenue.  Just to back this up, here’s a list by Forbes of CEO’s, who also happen to be the founders, who were thrown out of their own companies.

How did we get so tangled?  When did we matter so little to those around us?  When did we become so worthless?  Since the machine took over.  Since we as a society valued scandals, profits, money, material wealth, and shortsighted gains over the lives of other.  Somehow we now find it easier to care for the well-being of an idea, an intangible thing, than we do other humans. 

Human… Are humans in high society even human anymore?  Aren’t we all a series of the same thing over and over again?

Wake up at 6, maybe 7 if we’re lucky.  Get up.  Stretch.  Rub the sleep out of your eyes.  Brush your teeth.  Brush your hair.  Wash your face.  Dress.  Greet your family.  Grab a breakfast.  Grab a lunch.  Say goodbye to the family.  Start the car.  Grab a coffee.  Go to school. Sit in a class.  First Class… Second Class… … Fourth Class… Lunch…  … End of the day.  Go home.  Greet the family.  Do homework.  Use technology.  Click buttons.  Scroll.  Click “Like.”  Repeat for thirty minutes.  Eat dinner.  Sleep. … Back to school.  … Take tests.  … Graduate. … Get more education.  … Train for a career. … Meet someone. … Settle down, but never stop. … Have a family. … Greet the family. … Go to work. … Grow old. … Love. … Regret. … Sleep. … SleepGoodnightForever

Continue reading

Some Sort of Storyline

I think we’ve all been taught to believe that our life is a collection of moments, and with each passing milestone, we get to put a little check next to our imaginary list and continue on the path waiting for the next big thing.  I mean, I’m pretty sure that’s how they made the board game.  But what happens in between those big, defining moments?  Lots of stuff.  You have a conversation with a friend, make your mom her favorite meal, pet a couple dogs.  Really cool things.  But somehow we don’t put as much value in these little moments as we do the more obvious things, like our high school graduation or our eighteenth birthday or our first Christmas away from home.  And it’s just weird because those “big days”, in the big picture, are such a small portion of the life we live.  Our lives aren’t really like the TV shows where something new and exciting happens every episode and we get to look forward to the season finale.  It’s more like that book that’s kinda hard to read because the author has spent way too much time describing what the protagonist does in her free time even though it has nothing to do with furthering the plot.  But while we’re certainly the protagonists of our own stories, I don’t think we’re living in our own novels.  If anything, we’re probably living in those journal pages that you see on Tumblr with the messy scribbles and the random poetry with the occasional breathtaking illustration.  Wild and unpredictable and just an overall mess.  I’m sure we’d all like to believe we all have some sort of storyline in mind, but in the end, we might just be hoping for a good plot twist.

One structure I’ve found interesting is these things called intercalary chapters.  They’re chapters that drift away from the main story, but somehow manage to find a way to relate back.  And I think the time between our milestones are a little bit like that.  They might not seem super important to our story now, but they really do matter.  Because the story wouldn’t be the same without them.

~Mad Hatter