Monday, February 28, 2011
I just redesigned my blog. Though I loved the whole Eiffel Tower thing, I decided it was time I change it up again. This is kind of less pretty, but it's simple-- it kind of goes with me not knowing where this blog is going. It still has a bit of the Eiffel Tower, and the banner (I made it with Paint and Word...) is made up of some of my favorite pictures from France (and one from Italy). It's interesting, if anything.
Making that banner made me think that I should do a round-up of my favorite pictures from France. I already have a pretty good list, but I have THOUSANDS of pictures. Not really sure what else to do with them, so maybe sometime in the upcoming months, I'll make that.
I don't think I'll be posting daily in March. I have a few posts that I know will be coming up soon-- tomorrow, expect a round-up of all my February posts and on Wednesday, I'm participating in an FFB blogging event, so that will be posted then. But other than that, I really don't know what is in store.
I've really enjoyed writing every day for the last month, and I would definitely like to continue that. It's been awesome to see how many people have been reading my posts, and I've had so many great comments from you guys. I'm incredibly thankful, and I'm glad that my words made you feel the need to respond. I hope you continue with the commenting, because it makes my day every time! It's like I'm getting to know you guys, and part of me just wants to call you all my friends (some of you are already), but either way... thanks, friends :)
OKAY. I'm going to stop being ramble-y now, because I have things to go do (and books to read, I just got two more from the library today... it just feels like a reading week for me), but I'll see you back here tomorrow!
Questions for today:
- What do you think about the new blog design?
- What do you want me to write about in the future?
Sunday, February 27, 2011
So, today is the second-to-last day of daily blogging! And I really did nothing of interest today. I wen to the library and re-shelved books for a while (volunteering is FUN.), and then I wandered down to the YA section to see if they had any of the books I've been wanting to read.
After yesterday, I was just thinking too much about too many things, which seems to be the norm for this month, so I purposefully sought out books by authors I like and some of the silly, mindless chick-lit that I gravitate towards when I am reading with the express purpose of NOT thinking too hard.
I hate to be a stereotypical teenage girl here, but... it's like Chick Flicks. A shameful secret, but I do kind of adore the sensation of engrossing myself in a cutesy-vaguely-romantic story, even if the writing is awful. Also, I'm completely okay with books that I can read quickly and not have to dwell on for long after. It's exhausting to have to analyze everything in a book, sometimes.
So today I picked up The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart (I keep seeing it at the used bookstore that I love, but I didn't think it was worth spending money on...) and Kiss & Blog by Alyson Noel (I've read another of her books before, and I wondered if this was any better. And I admit, I kind of love books that have a main character that blogs, because I wonder if I can relate.) I got exactly what I bargained for: crappy teen romances with little substance. Kiss and Blog was particularly poorly-written and frustrating, and I'll probably be reviewing it on Goodreads later.
I don't feel bad about wasting several hours of my day on these books. It's nice to read for fun. But at the same time, some of the issues I found in the books are ones that rile up the feminist part of me and I wonder about the quality of literature and of female characters, and even the validity of "chick lit". What an awful name, too-- chick lit-- as though it's somehow inferior to other literature. (Though in this case, it was... I mean...)
I'll be participating in an FFB (Feminist Fashion Bloggers) event in a few days, so look for that. But I think that I could definitely write about Chick Lit and female protagonists sometime, but since today is my day of mindless reading, I am not going to go into a rant that requires actual brain power.
What do you do when you don't WANT to think? Do you have any shameful pleasures that you usually don't share?
(Also, if you know what goodreads is, you are AWESOME.)
Saturday, February 26, 2011
I'm emailing this to my blog from my phone because I kind of doubt I'll want to write it later when I get home. It's very possible I'd forget to post altogether.
If you know me in real life, you know I'm awkward. Even more so when you put me in a situation that is out of my comfort zone. Case in point: tonight.
Every year, Habitat for Humanity hosts these dances for local high schools, and the cost of the tickets goes towards their work. It's a win-win for area teenagers-- you get to socialize and "dance" with the added bonus of seeing people from other schools and pretending that all of that is merely to benefit charity.
I avoid such things on principle, but I kind of regret missing out on some of these events in the past. Tonight, however was the neon dance, and for the first time in my high school years, I went.
I can't say I was really impressed. It was exactly what I expected, and I was so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn't even fully enjoy it.
I fully believe that everybody should try something out of their comfort zone at least once. But, I understand the reluctance, too. Because doing something completely different from what you would normally is TERRIFYING. It's awkward and you look around constantly, searching some other option-- like escape.
There's nothing that quite makes you feel so powerless (and, again, awkward) as being in a room full of people that know what they're doing while you cross your fingers and your arms and try to maintain the carefully constructed mask of indifferent confidence. Especially when all you really want to do is bury your face in your hands and run from the room, maybe even screaming, but potentially crying because it's AWFUL.
But you don't and you walk around and breathe (in my case, breathing in the heavy scent of sweat, body heat, and booze...) and hope that by the end of the night you find some semblance of courage.
The thing is, even out of my comfort zone, horribly and awkwardly out of place like christmas carols in July, there is something to learn in moments like these. However, I have yet to know what, exactly. I'll let you know :)
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Friday, February 25, 2011
Well, this is the 100th post. Not much, is it?
I wasn't sure what to write about today, but I keep posting relatively heavy things, so my friend Lindsey suggested I write a post about things to be happy about. I figured that was an appropriate celebration of my 100th post, so...
100 Things to Be Happy About:
- The beauty of weather.
- The ability to see and interact with the world around you.
- Bizarre conversations that have no purpose.
- That moment when you realize that somebody else knows EXACTLY what you're talking about.
- Not failing at high-fives... or even better, high-tens.
- Unplanned meetings with friends in the middle of the hallway.
- Hearing a song that feels perfect for that moment.
- Knowing how to be alone.
- Planning for the next great adventure.
- Alternatively, planning nothing at all and just DOING.
- The moment right after a hard run or a hard day when you realize that you survived.
- The scent of spring on the air, and the first flower buds emerging from the ground.
- Writing poetry.
- Reading a book that distracts you completely from your life.
- When people listen to what you have to say and offer exactly what you need in response.
- Baking and cooking for pleasure.
- Dreams of the possibilities of the future.
- Meeting new people & making new friends.
- Getting past the awkward getting-to-know-you stage.
- Learning a new instrument and not even caring how terrible you are.
- Feeling confident.
- Stepping outside of your comfort zone and not regretting it.
- Days when worries are forgotten.
- When you find yourself smiling for no reason at all.
- Laughing uncontrollably.
- Dancing in the rain.
- Spending a day watching favorite movies.
- Reading outside.
- Creating something beautiful.
- The first moment of summer vacation.
- Reconnecting with old friends.
- Achieving a goal.
- Catching 11:11 and making a wish.
- Being reminded that you are loved.
- Overcoming a challenge.
- Having an epiphany.
- Eating the last bite of something delicious.
- Giving presents...
- Especially for no reason at all.
- Waking up and knowing that today will be a GOOD day.
- Fresh, clean towels.
- Modern medicine.
- Learning something new.
- Re-reading favorite books from your childhood.
- Following a recommendation.
- The warmth of sunlight.
- Cuddling with a pet.
- Finding a hidden treasure.
- Remembering something you had forgotten.
- Traveling by train.
- Feeling invincible.
- Dancing around the house when nobody else is around.
- Singing loudly in the shower.
- Feeling beautiful.
- Looking through photo albums.
- Wearing awesome socks.
- Expecting the worst but hearing the best.
- Pleasant surprises.
- Inside jokes.
- Sharing once-embarrassing stories.
- Forgiving somebody.
- Being forgiven.
- Volunteering for a worthy cause.
- Doing something for yourself, not because you expected to.
- Knowing that people have heard you.
- Finding the perfect "thinking spot".
- Reading old journals or stories.
- Going barefoot when the ground is damp.
- Snow days.
- Blasting music in the car while driving.
- Staying up late and actually accomplishing something.
- Watching movies in the middle of the night.
- Counting down to an event.
- Watching movies with friends.
- Holding hands.
- Trying on silly hats.
- Having a clean room.
- Taking pictures of nature.
- Beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
- Meeting somebody you admire.
- Receiving mail.
- Starting to write in a new notebook.
- Finding old notes from friends.
- Writing nonsense songs.
- Whispering secrets in the middle of the night.
- Filling your day with happy things.
- Walking through a park.
- Being optimistic.
- Beautiful quotes.
- The internet.
- Testing a new recipe and having it fail-- but enjoying the process anyway.
- Saying "I love you".
- Enjoying the silence.
- Being complimented.
- Having an honest debate about opinions without getting offended.
- Just... living.
Well, I could probably go on for a long time, but... this is just 100 things I thought of that I think you should be happy about. These are things I am happy about, anyway!
Thank you so much to Lindsey for inspiring this list, and to all the people that have inspired particular reasons to be happy on this list. To all the readers-- the one about being heard-- that's for you. Thank you all so much for commenting and reading!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I'm not sure what to write about today. This is my 99th post and all I can think about is how today was just a good day. Not a memorable day, but just a good day-- or at least good enough that I feel good right now.
I have a confession to make. Nothing bad.
Tomorrow, I have to turn in the title to an essay I have to write for my Shakespeare class that is due in 4th quarter. I only had one idea-- the role of women in Shakespeare, particularly Ophelia in Hamlet and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. They're two VERY different characters, and it's kind of along the lines of feminism (which I've been thinking about MORE lately since I joined FFB). However, over the course of a quick conversation with my teacher, my new topic will be Sociology in Shakespeare, as in how does Shakespeare represent societal issues, stereotypes, and ideas in his works? Like antisemitism in the Merchant of Venice, religion in Hamlet, women in any of his plays (but particularly Taming of the Shrew), racism in Othello... I'm already really excited about writing it, though I wonder how I will fit all that I could find to say into a four or five page paper.
I'm sure it's obvious by now, my confession is that I'm a bit of a Shakespeare nerd. It's completely unsurprising, actually; I've talked about my Shakespeare class a lot over many posts, and I love spending time at the bookstore looking for books that are inspired by some of his works. I find his sonnets to be beautiful, his plays to be wonderfully complex, and his language to be enchanting. I love his characters, and they're written so well that I can't help but marvel at his mastery. I mean, granted, some of his characters annoy me to no end, but I think that's a good thing-- they're so real, enough that I respond emotionally to their stories.
Earlier this year, I had never read Shakespeare before (my education has been lacking; usually freshmen read Romeo and Juliet but my class didn't). I had only heard about the class from some of my friends over the years (all positive reviews), but I've also heard bad things about Shakespeare's works-- how it's confusing and complicated and overwhelming and the language is dull or hard to understand. My mom is particularly fond of informing me that she couldn't make it through three weeks of Shakespeare in high school and she thinks I'm insane because I love it.
The thing is, I wanted to learn Shakespeare. I wanted to take this class, if anything just to read classic literature (I love most classics); as a writer, I figured learning the stories that are ingrained into our culture would only help me. But taking this class has been one of the best decisions I've made in high school. I doubt that I could have started reading Shakespeare on my own, and I doubt that I would have loved it as much if I had just read that one play as a freshman; I fear that my view of it would be skewed by the opinions of my classmates and a general reluctance to understand. But as I spent time in France (and had to read a bit of Shakespeare to French class... in English...), I thought about how sad it was that I had never read anything of his. How sad it was that I was missing out on such an important part of English literature. So I signed up for Shakespeare 101 and 102, which turns a semester class into a two-semester class and I have enjoyed every second of it.
At the beginning of the year, my teacher asked us if we had read Shakespeare before-- most had read Romeo and Juliet-- and if we had a favorite. The answer was no, we didn't have a favorite, due to lack of exposure.
I still don't know what my favorite would be. I still can't choose. I love his comedies (we read the Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado about Nothing)-- the puns and insults are hilarious! The Tempest (one of his romances) was powerful and there's that one speech... The Merchant of Venice forced me to think and sparked incredibly interesting debates in my class. Henry V is a history, but the tale transcends generations (also, comparing the movies was fun). We spent too much time on Hamlet, but I really didn't mind because I still love it despite the fact that I spent 9 weeks working on it in English and in Shakespeare 101. And now we're reading Othello and there are mysteries to be solved in each character of the play. I'm intrigued. The point is, I don't know if I will ever be able to choose a favorite.
Anyway, now you know. I'm a Shakespeare nerd.
Confession time is fun. Any confessions about nerdy pursuits? I'd love to hear them, especially if you share my love for Shakespeare!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I was looking for unused journals the other day--- I have loads of those-- and I found the writing notebook I was keeping in 2009. It's a notebook from a friend; every so often a quote or lyrics from a song interrupt the still-blank pages, but this notebook holds poems (I don't remember what they're about) and the list I was keeping of Things I Learned in 2009. I never completed the list, mostly because I forgot the notebook at home when I went to France, which bothered me while I was there. Anyway, I apparently wrote this poem on January 18th of 2009 while riding in a car. (Because travel inspires me.) I'm going to type it up as it's written; nothing is altered.
The fading light
turns the dried dead
reaching for the sky.
The indigo and peach
out of range,
I so love
the pink hue
joining the two-tone
Framed by shadowed
in this grassy valley
split by grey lanes
and yellow lines.
to notice the
waiting for the
The line of trees
on the highest ridge
and a path
cuts in between
by bared feet
in cold winter
by two days of
shadows and snow.
(Side note... unwalked? Not a word.)
Also, this is post number 98. The 100th post has already been written, and it's set up to publish on the 25th.
What do you think of my early 2009 poetry?
... I just found a different poem that works perfectly with a story idea I had in 2010. Wow. That's exciting!
P.S. Thank you for all the comments lately! I wish that blogger had threaded comments so that I could reply to each and it still make sense!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I went to the hospital today to visit a friend that was recently in a car crash and is now recovering. He's partially blind in one eye now, and I can't help but think about sight. Not just the physical ability to see, but to "see" as in to understand, and of course the different ways in which we see each other.
Has anybody ever asked you which you would prefer-- to be blind or to be unable to hear? What about speaking? I still don't know how to answer that. I rely on my eyes; beautiful images inspire me, but I love music and the sound of voices. And honestly, I talk too much.
It's weird though, to think about how we take such things for granted-- the senses that build our world. I can't imagine living without one or the other; it is hard to imagine how my vision of the world would change with my ability to experience it in so many different ways. How would it be to be deprived of one of those senses? Would the world change dramatically? Would you miss the sense that you lost? Would your perception of yourself change?
That's the other question I have about sight. We all see the world differently, of course, but literally-- what is the difference? We don't have a way to tell. Do you ever wonder about how other people see you? Or the ways that you see other people? Do you see them clearly? Are the colors the same, the faces? How does that differ from how we see ourselves? I mean, not just physically-- when we are looking at others, do we perceive them as their physical selves or as something else? Do we see them through rose-tinted glass?
Are we capable of viewing people objectively?
I always wonder how people see me. I know well enough how I see myself and though I shouldn't care about what others think, I'm honestly curious about the way they perceive me. What am I to the people around me? To friends, acquaintances, family...?
Are our perceptions of people locked or do they change?
I think our perceptions can change, as our eyesight does. But as our eyes grow weaker with age, do we see better or worse than we did when we were younger, at least in the figurative sense? How would we perceive others if we could only "see" them through a certain sense?
Do we associate particular senses with particular people? Like, when we think of friends, or we notice something about somebody that is customary to somebody else, how do we associate it? (That didn't make sense. ... ha, punny.) For example, do you associate the scent of a person most with them or their voice? How do all of the senses come into play when we "see" somebody?
I wonder sometimes if I am seeing the world in a way that is clear-- do I see the people around me as blurry lines, or do I see them like I would characters in a novel? How does my perception of people interact with their reality and their perception of me?
I guess I'm trying to say that sight is complicated. "Seeing" physically and perceiving are different from each other, and even then, everything is skewed. Our senses allow us to "see" people, but we could be misunderstanding.
Sorry about the fifty million questions in this. If you have your own answer for any of them, I'd love to hear! (HA.)
Also, sorry about all the puns. :)
Monday, February 21, 2011
I have lots of thoughts in my head again today. I have songs that are reminding me of emotions and provoking thoughts, images that are causing me to dream, videos that are making me think, words that are spilling from crevices in my brain.
Did you ever realize how many poems and books are dedicated to the message that death is inevitable? Why is it?
I can only imagine that our fascination with death comes from our fear of it. Death is terrifying, the idea that all things end is an unpleasant truth. It's hard to think of loss, the void created by losing friends or losing yourself-- of everything you are familiar with coming to an end. There are so many things about death to be afraid of and to wonder about. The afterlife or lack thereof; what is it like, if it exists? How will we each die? What will our legacy be?
The other day my friend Kimm said, "In the end, the dates on your headstone will not be what matters-- the dash between them will be." If you take that literally, then it really says nothing important, but I understand what Kimm is trying to say: it isn't our death that matters, but the span of our lives. Even if our lives are cut short by one thing or another (there are far too many possibilities), what matters most is what we did with that life.
I think we're foolish to dwell on death the way we do. Death is coming, yes; everything is in the process of dying. It's depressing and overwhelming, but true. I think our problem (if it's even a problem at all) is that we only KNOW life. I mean, we know it as much as something unpredictable and illogical, but we enjoy LIVING.
I keep thinking about how many characters in literature seem to have this same fascination with death and dying. Think of Hamlet and Frankenstein. Voldemort. Classics and modern literature alike, characters frequently seem preoccupied with death-- or how to avoid it. How to become immortal in some way. Immortality is our poison, our addiction: the idea of living forever. Maybe it is because we think immortality is the same as power, or maybe we are just obsessed with the idea that we can avoid the Great Perhaps of death. (Looking for Alaska reference)
Maybe when we think about death, we think of how we aren't ready for death. What if we're NEVER ready? What then? Will we be okay with letting go of life?
I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing-- to be frightened by death. I think the reason it's so present in literature is because we can all relate; we know what it is like to think about it and to want to avoid it or to wonder about the value of our own lives. It's humbling and it's terrifying, but it reminds us to live-- to seek out whatever it is in life that will make us feel like our time here is valuable. One day we will seek a Great Perhaps, even if we're reluctant. But life is our first adventure.
Once again, I deviated from my point. I'm getting really bad about that...
(On the bright side, it's sort of relevant to the theme of character! :) )
Sunday, February 20, 2011
So... I really didn't know what to say today. Last week was a week of posts with quite a bit of content. That's exhausting to do, and honestly, for most of this weekend, I have been insanely busy. Nonetheless, I thought about my blog for a lot of the weekend.
For those of you new readers/followers (hello! Thank you, Olivia, for sending so many people over!), thank you SO MUCH for reading and commenting! Seeing so many views and comments on my post about Feminism was fantastic. I just wanted to acknowledge that I read all of your comments and I hope you find something here worth sticking around for!
The thing is, this blog is called "Aly en France" because I am obsessed with France, and I went there for 7 months last year. It used to be a blog about that experience and France-related things. Kind of like a journal of my thoughts and adventures while I was there, and I expected that when I came back, it would be largely France-related. Well, last NaBloPoMo (that really occurred over 4 weeks rather than one month), I just wrote food-named posts that were largely related to what was going on in my life at the time, with the exception of this post about a vacation I took in June while in France. None of it was really of high quality, but this time around, when I'm actually blogging every day for one month, my posts are changing quite a bit.
I'd like to think they're much better quality now. They're longer, but they're not as focused. I've been focusing on things that have been on my mind and things I've written, but I have strayed a lot from what I thought this blog would be. I really have NO IDEA what my blog is now. I'm not sure where it's going or what other posts I'll be writing. I've been touching on slightly more controversial topics (feminism, religion...) than I did before, and sharing some of my writing (an excerpt from my novel, a narrative about math class, and this...). It's still my blog though, and there's a fair amount of me just talking about my day or whatever. I like the more interesting/content-heavy posts better, to be honest. They're fun to write and I'm learning so much about how I write.
Either way, I have no idea what my blog IS any more. I don't know what purpose it is serving or what you guys are expecting from it. Thanks for reading, though, and I hope you'll enjoy whatever this blog turns into!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
So, I've been meaning to write this post for a week or so, but I needed time to put my thoughts in order first. (Read: procrastination)
Franca wrote a blog post a while back about what feminism means to her, (which I thought was brilliant), so I decided that I should write a similar post myself, especially since I'm blogging every day this month and this is a topic I have a lot to say about.
Last month a woman came into our Shakespeare class-- she's one of the English teacher's daughters, and she's directing a modernized version of The Taming of the Shrew in April-- and one of the first things she said was, "I don't consider myself a "feminist", but as a woman in the 21st century, I am." Everybody smiled and laughed, because "feminist" to many people still seems to mean bra-burning and excessive body hair, which isn't necessarily true. I loved that a really awesome grad student was proclaiming herself a feminist, but not in the way that people automatically assume.
I consider myself a feminist, at least in the way that I see world. My fascination with sociology means that I spend a lot of time thinking about the way society affects individuals; how we are poked, prodded, molded into one thing or another at the bidding of the world around us. It's not as though we don't have a choice in the matter, but for the most part, it seems like individuals can be powerless. I think feminism is a necessity in our society: there are still barriers to overcome, issues to discuss, stereotypes to change. That's what I think feminism is.
I consider myself a feminist because I look at the way I see myself-- and the way other women see themselves and I see how fragile we are. Not because we aren't strong-- on the contrary, most women I know are incredibly strong individuals-- but because we aren't always allowed to see ourselves as strong or beautiful or smart or any number of things.
We are told to be a certain way (thin, pretty, etc.) and then we're told that we're not enough of one thing or another.
We're supposed to be strong and independent but we are told that we need to be looked after because we don't know how to handle ourselves (coughTwilightcough). We're supposed to be talkative, loud, and outgoing-- but only if what we are saying is mindless or unimportant. Otherwise we should be quiet.
We should be studious/good at sports (but not the Dangerous Ones, the ones reserved for boys)/ be confident/be humble/give time to charity and family and friends.
We're supposed to be helpful/volunteer/dedicated to a particular goal, so long as it is Good.
We should be interested in fashion/skinny/not have an eating disorder/wear makeup/try harder.
If we're single, we're not good enough/need to wait for boys to ask us out/hopeless/unattractive/too much of one thing or another and guys are idiots/jerks/can't think, yet we shouldn't be able to live without them/should want a boyfriend/should date by the time we're in high school/have a perfect first kiss/not have sex until we're married/be flirty but not suggestive and we aren't allowed to make stupid mistakes.
Basically, there are lines and expectations and limits everywhere. For some, the lines are thicker or more faded than others, but the restrictions and stereotypes are everywhere. To me, feminism is seeing these things and making an effort to change them. Defying stereotypes or allowing yourself to see not through the eyes of society, but through your own eyes. I think feminism is thinking of yourself as strong and capable of more than is expected and recognizing that you do not have to be what people think you should be.
I think being a feminist is hearing people say things like "make me a sandwich!" and getting angry at the insult (it may be in jest, but it still perpetuates the idea that women should STAY IN THE KITCHEN, where they "belong"). It's learning how to respond to statements like that and accepting or denying the implications. It's taking control over your own life and ideas, supporting other women.
I consider myself a feminist because I want to change how women are viewed and the expectations society has of us. I believe I can be anything I want to be and I will not allow myself to be restrained by what I should be. I will make choices out of what is best for me, rather than what the proper reaction would be.
I am a feminist because I know that women are so much more than society wants us to be.
...Well, that didn't turn out quite as thoughtful as intended (or philosophical), but that's okay. I just started writing and this is what happened.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
and unclear thoughts
in the torturous movement of my muscles
Disjointed and outoffocus
Head in clouds of ink
pages pages pages
Flying over my head
I am slow
hearing meaningless babble
Strings pulling me
up-and-down the stairs
repeated repeated repeated
incapable of movement.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I was planning on writing a blog post about feminism today, but that is temporarily delayed because other things came to mind today.
Do you remember my New Year's resolutions?
Well, if you don't, one of them was to find balance in my life. I'm learning that this is REALLY DIFFICULT. I mean, seriously! This week more than ever, I'm realizing how badly I need to find balance and how hard it is to find it. I am a teeter totter, never quite equal, always leaning to one side or the other. Or scales. I don't know, choose a metaphor. Balance beam, teetering gymnast. Possibilities are endless but what it all boils down to is that I am currently incapable of keeping my life in any sort of equilibrium.
This week, it feels like I'm being pulled in all directions. I'm trying to sort out my suddenly very complicated and backwards social life, apply to Important College-y Things, work hard on school stuff, starting track, blogging, trying to figure out plans for this weekend, trying to figure out what to do for my friend in the hospital and when I can visit, and attempting to have enough time to sleep, eat, and talk to my family. EVERYTHING is being thrown at me at once, and while most of it isn't bad, I don't know how to handle all of it at once.
How am I supposed to pick priorities? I mean, obviously, some things are more important than others, but some things I want to do more than I want to do others. What should be most important, the needs or the wants? The needs, traditionally, but where does one find value in life? In doing what MUST be done or by doing what you WANT to do?
I mean, I know the "right" answer to that. Needs, obviously. Basics. But nothing in life is really basic (other than food/water/shelter, but let's be honest here, those are not overwhelming me right now). Basics are not a problem for me. Sleep is a basic, too, but that doesn't end up being a priority. I can function on five hours of sleep, but I'd rather not. So sleep is sacrificed. School is a Need, because education is important and school matters enough to my idea of success that I can't allow myself NOT to do it. But the homework is time-consuming, and there's that one class (math) where I struggle endlessly, and it feels fruitless. I'm not deriving (ha, punny!) any pleasure from doing the work that I don't fully understand, despite paying attention and taking notes. The homework feels endless and it's frustrating. Is that a priority? Work harder, until I understand? (Well, that's what I'm trying to do, anyway.)
I consider family and friends to be important. I mean, I like having dinner with my mom (and my brother when he's around/if he comes upstairs), and talking a bit. But lately I feel like I'm home far too often, and never see my friends. My social life is in a state of flux as I try to figure out what's going on with whom and where my relationships with different friends are at right now. And now time is eaten up by track and I find myself exhausted and sore, confined to a set schedule, the same old thing, monotonously repeated every day. Wake up, finish homework (I'm a night person but I focus best in daylight. I make no sense.), go to school, go to track, come home. There's no room for adventure when time is cut into slices that must occur in perfect order.
The thing about balance is that it's orderly and I am typically a mess. I'm disorganized and forgetful, a procrastinator (sometimes to the extreme). I'm terrible at prioritizing and choosing Important Things over my own interests (I'd much rather learn something I want to learn than work on something I don't want to do). Maybe I cling to what was too much, unable to move on or separate what's happening now to what I'm used to. Am I resistant to change? That's a different question entirely, but the point is that I am finding it incredibly difficult to balance my life as is and my life as I want it to be. There's no way to do everything I want or to be the best at everything, but at the moment, I'm not even sure where to start. I have ideas, sure, and I'm working on it.
Balance is elusive and difficult, something I think that not many people are good at. That's why it's one of my resolutions or goals or whatever they are for this year-- I want to change that in myself. My fear is that it will be impossible to change though.
So I'll start with this, the acknowledgment that balance can only ever be temporarily. Things shift and change and the balance is thrown off; I can only move in the opposite direction and see if I can get it just right.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
He smirked as he pushed the door open and they stepped out into the cool night.
Daegan turned to smirk at Livingstone, who stared at him with wide eyes. Gently, the sorcerer shut the door behind them and strode towards a street that loomed in shadows ahead of them. The moon had begun its descent and clouds had turned the night into a deeper shade of blue, effectively concealing the two sorcerers.
“That was almost too easy,” breathed Livingstone as they reached the line of houses, leaning against the wall and breathing heavily as their hearts beat out an erratic rhythm.
“It’s a quiet world tonight,” said Daegan. “Darkness looms…” His words brought up the image of the dark creature from the forest in his mind and he shuddered, closing his eyes and reaching out for his connection to Rista.
“You’re alive, I see,” came a voice from the darkness. Daegan froze. A Guard.
A man walked towards him and Livingstone, smiling. “I knew I could trust you, sorcerer. What a joy to see you again! How long these months have been, waiting for your glorious return. Of course, the second you stepped into the city, we knew of it.”
“Who are you, exactly?” demanded Daegan, stepping forward so that the moonlight illuminated him as well as the man.
The man laughed coldly. “You have been gone for far too long. Have you honestly forgotten, Daegan? Do you not remember who I am?”
Daegan’s eyes narrowed, travelling over the man in front of him, whose body was relaxed, his eyes glinting with his secret.
“It worked well, then,” the man said. “You’ve forgotten.”
“Who are you?” growled Daegan, taking the tiniest step forward.
“I’m the Torturer…” said the man. “The one who gave you those wounds.”
A flash of recognition passed through Daegan’s eyes. “Oh, I see you haven’t forgotten after all. You know who I am, sorcerer. I’m the Mage that captured you.”
“You’re a traitor,” hissed Daegan.
“You only say that. Bad blood between us,” sneered the Torturer. “Jealous, brother?”
“You renounced our relation when you became a slave to the Crown, Mage.” Daegan’s words were cool.
The man’s eyes, so like his own, narrowed. “Daegan, Daegan, Daegan. When will you ever learn not to provoke me?”
The man sprung forward, swinging his staff through the air, intending to bring it down on Daegan’s head. Daegan jumped backwards, pulling his knife from his waistband and the stick into the air.
“You haven’t lost your spirit, brother,” said the mage, taunting. “Sad, too. Those wounds must run deep… can’t you feel them now? Burning you?”
“I feel nothing,” hissed Daegan, springing forward to engage his brother. Their movements were fluid, feet shuffling back and forth as their bodies battled for dominance. The motion was familiar, the battle between brothers never forgotten. Childhood games of war and deceit that had come to be reality in this one moment.
“Brother, brother,” said the mage through his rapid breaths. “We both know who always wins these fights.”
“Things change,” panted Daegan, pushing forward again, driving his brother back. The mage laughed.
“You can’t win, Daegan. There’s no point. We’re by the Government Seat. The Guards are merely waiting for me to capture you.”
“You’re a lapdog of the Crown, Mage. No reason to live but to serve your hidden masters, to play your games with sticks. You never were strong enough to be on your own,” said Daegan, voice dripping with hatred.
“Oh!” laughed the mage. “How that stings! Like poison!” He crowed, spitting at Daegan, who jumped away.
“Oh, very good, brother,” said the mage, circling him. “You recognize that bit of magic.”
“Your dirty tricks,” replied Daegan, poised and ready to strike, watching his brother pace in front of him.
“So, how’d you get out this time? I wasn’t there for you to trick… how’d you get in?”
“The Head Guard,” said Daegan easily, eyes flashing.
“Oh, Percival. Good friend of mine,” the mage’s eyes glimmered. “But downright dirty man. How did it feel, Daegan? Your knife against his throat? His blood between your fingers?”
Daegan’s eyes narrowed. “You should know the sensation, Mage. How many have you killed in these months? How does fire feel as it rolls from your fingers?”
The mage laughed, the sound echoing between the buildings. “Clever, brother. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you know me too well.” He sprang forward again, staff seeking weak points in his opponent’s stance. Daegan held strong, knocking back the blows.
“If I knew you any better, it would be much easier for me to beat you,” retorted Daegan, spinning and slicing upwards, slicing through the fabric of his brother’s sleeve, drawing blood.
His brother laughed, seeming unaffected by the wound. “You won’t be me, brother. I’ve already decided. I can’t let you escape that easily, not after everything you’ve done to me. I have a duty to the Crown.”
“Duty? Who are you to speak of duty?” said Daegan, scoffing. He pretended not to notice the similarity in his brother’s reasoning and the same reasoning he used against Hazel’s argument the other day. “You are the one who ran to the Government Seat the second you saw that I was magical, too. You were intimidated by my talent. You’re a traitor to your family, a duty you failed at.”
The mage chuckled, glaring at Daegan. “I had reasons. Reasons you aren’t willing to face. What about that girl? You thought you could save her. Who are you trying to save now?”
“It was you that tried to kill her,” growled Daegan. “I was only trying to protect her.”
The mage laughed maniacally, raising his staff in the air and bringing it down towards Daegan’s head. Daegan stepped back, slipping into the shadows once again, backing away from his opponent.
“Are you going to run now?” taunted the mage. “That’s right, little brother. Flee into the shadows. Hide again.”
He brought the staff to the ground, howling out a spell. Daegan ducked, dropping to his heels and then springing up as the spell started flames behind him. He dashed forward, tackling his brother to the ground.
“You will never get the better of me,” he growled, pinning his brother’s hands. “I am not a coward, and I am not a traitor. Have you forgotten so easily? Have you lost your soul completely?”
His brother opened his mouth, about to speak.
“Shut up,” hissed Daegan. “I have business to attend to, and you are no brother of mine.”
“Are you going to kill me, then? Like you killed Abels?”
Daegan laughed. “No. I have other plans for you, brother.”
He raised the knife in the air, drawing it down and slicing neatly across his brother’s face, drawing a line from just under the edge of his eye to his mouth.
“Don’t forget me, dear brother,” he hissed as he slammed the end of the carved stick to his brother’s head and stood as the mage’s eyes drifted closed. He stood, shaking dirt from his cloak and looking through the darkness. Livingstone stood in the shadows, frozen as he regarded Daegan warily.
“You’ve become cold, Daegan,” observed Livingstone quietly.
Daegan ignored him, striding back into the center of the town, leaving his brother lying in the street.
“Are you coming, Livingstone?” he asked into the darkness. Livingstone heaved a sigh and followed him.
Since yesterday's post was all Love and such, I figured I'd throw a scene of betrayal out here. This scene is from my NaNoWriMo novel from 2010, The Locket. I know it doesn't make sense out of context, but I quite like it, even in this unedited state. Though truthfully it's more fun to read if you know who all those people all.
But, the short explanation, for those of you that are genuinely curious!
-Daegan is a sorcerer. He's also a convict. He's good though.
-His brother is currently unnamed, but called the Mage or the Torturer. He tortured Daegan when he was imprisoned.
-Livingstone is the Librarian, an old friend of Daegan's that he just helped escape from the same place he was tortured little over a year ago.
-Percival Abels, the Head Guard was killed by Daegan an hour or so before this confrontation with his brother.
Yep. So that's it for today!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Happy Valentine's Day, for those of you that find such holidays important. I like it for the chocolate, and all the lovey-dovey stuff is cute, if sometimes excessive. Oh well.
Valentine’s Day is a day where we honor love. The thing is, we sometimes forget that love isn’t just the romantic kind of love. It’s the love you have for your best friends, for your family… and we lose that sometimes.
So, yeah. I’m single on Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean that I’m without love. I have friends and family that care about me, people that I really don’t know what I would do without. There are people that have given me valentines today, even though I didn’t expect it and they did it as friends. They get it. They see that Valentine’s Day is just a day of love. And although the argument could be made that Valentine’s day is a purely corporate holiday that manipulates people into spending money on worthless things (I definitely agree with your point, I mean… all the hearts have been all over the place since after Christmas…), but I like it. (I especially like the abundance of chocolate.)
I don’t really care if I’m single on Valentine’s Day. I’ve all of my life being single (except of that month-and-some and those silly “relationships” when I was really young), and I don’t wish for a Valentine. I’m okay with spending today with friends (even if that means that we complain a bit about the single-on-Valentine’s thing) because there are much bigger things to worry about than whether or not I’m “in love” or whatever. I’m not rushed to fall in love. But I like the sentiment of Valentine’s day, at least in the understanding of an appreciate for love.
Maybe it’s just because I’m a romantic. I think love is beautiful, but at the same time… I think all kinds and forms of love are beautiful (though not the creepy-stalker/Edward Cullen kind).
My main complaint with this day is that we have a tendency to categorize it as only a thing for couples. So, if you’re single on Valentine’s Day, well… me too. And plenty of other people are in the same boat. Tell the people you love that you love them (you should do that most days anyway), and enjoy the one day of the year dedicated to a beautiful emotion.
And finally, because it’s Valentine’s Day… a list! Ten people I love (without names, because I don't want anybody to be offended if they're not on the list. It doesn't mean I don't love you!). (Because I’m sappy.)
(La Bande) Vous etiez mes mellieurs amis quand j’etais en France. Je pense souvent a vous, de nos jours passee sous le soliel a midi, a Ville Aurelienne, en centre-ville et dans les cours. Je pense de nos blagues, les chansons (et les danses!), tous mes memoires de vous. Je reflechis sur mon temps en France et je realise, si je n’avais pas les amis comme vous, je n’aurais jamais survivrais. Sans vous, je suis deconnecte sur MSN et je parle jamais en francais. Vous me manquez. <3
You would probably be surprised if you knew you were on this list. The good news is that you rarely read my blog. I think you’re an incredibly interesting person, and I’m very lucky to know you (even if I don’t always understand you). I’m glad that you trust me, because though I don’t talk to you often on a regular basis, I still consider you one of my best friends. I try to remind you every now and again that I care about you (not in a romantic way), but I think you forget. Try to remember that I’m here for you, and that I am a friend, even if I’m sometimes distant.
I’ve only truly become close to you this year, and I realize how unfortunate that is. I love hanging out with you and going on random adventures (even if they don’t always end well), and I’m glad that we’ve been making a point to hang out more. I’m glad that I can call you friend, and that you understand my weird obsessions and listen to my unnecessarily long rants. Your nearly-constant Skype presence always seems to ensure I’ll have somebody to talk to. Also, thanks for the poem. You’re the best.
I have no idea when you became one of my best friends. I really have no clue. It’s like you just appeared in my life and BOOM! We were friends. It’s only been this year that we’ve gotten fairly close and you’ve shared some of your secrets with me. I worry about you, probably unnecessarily (you know how to take care of yourself), but I can’t help it. It’s hard to see that you’re struggling, but I hope you realize that you have somebody around that cares.
Sometimes I think I don’t get you at all anymore. You’ve fallen almost completely out of my life, except for those brief moments where we fall back into old habits. We’ve long since broken those habits, but it’s nice to pretend for a moment that I tell you everything and our conversation will never end. And even though I’m sometimes mean to you for no apparent reason, I hope you realize that I do miss having you around. We really need to follow through on the plans we keep trying and failing to make, because I haven’t talked to you in far too long.
I know you only hear from me periodically, but I promise it’s nothing planned. I just forget. I get carried away by the internet and life and everything that is going on here. You live so far away that it’s almost too easy to forget about you, to get caught up in HERE rather than ask about your life. I know I’m going to regret it, not saying enough as often as I should, but I hope you know that despite my silence, I’m incredibly grateful for everything you’ve done for me over the years and that I love you.
Sometimes I think that I’ve lost you completely. I mean, that’s not entirely a bad thing—being independent of others is good, right?—but I do miss having you around CONSTANTLY. It’s kind of strange to be here and you NOT being around. I keep expecting that you will just be there at any moment and always have the answer to whatever it is that’s on my mind. And although we’ve lost some of our closeness, I know that it is impossible for me to lose you. You’ll always understand me incredibly well, even if you don’t always understand me best.
I know what you think of me. I know what you expect from me and who you think I am, but I don’t always agree. I can’t be who you want me to be, and I don’t expect you to fulfill a role that you can’t fulfill, either. That wouldn’t be fair. The thing is, despite our frequent disagreements on far too many topics, I still love you. I’m incredibly thankful for all the things you’ve done for me and I hope that you remember that when we’re arguing about something pointless again. You’ve influenced my life more than I want you to believe.
This list wouldn’t be complete without you on it. I mean, seriously. I may not talk to you as often as I like (that seems to be the case with a lot of people), but you know very well that leaving you off this list would be ignoring one of the people I care about most. Our conversations are the best, if less frequent than they used to be. I listen to what you have to say and I value your advice. You may be family, but you’re a friend, too. I’m glad I can trust you with as much as I do, and only wish that I lived closer to you so I could see you more often. There are so many adventures we should have, and I hope that we have a chance to have those adventures sometime. In the meantime, I’m just thankful that you care so much about me, too.
You’ve felt the full force of my sappy/rambly-ness before and seriously... I could probably top my own record. I love our random trips to Starbucks and the entirely ridiculous conversations we have. I think you’re brilliant, if insane (no offense, but you know it’s true). I never see you in the hallways, and our habitual hangouts have almost entirely died out. I know that you were probably annoyed about Valentine’s Day and being single (again), but once again, we prove that our lives are freakishly parallel. Thanks for listening and understanding my psycho-babble.
Well, as I finished THAT list, I realized that I could go on basically forever. I love so many people, and I realize that many of those could go for several people. Choose whichever one you want for yourself, and pretend I’m writing it to you. It’s possible that I am.
Anyway, to all the people I love (on this list or otherwise), thank you so much for everything. You’re amazing and I love you. Also, we should hang out/catch up/have adventures/make plans/send emails/etc. soon!
-AlyP.S. A SONG. Which kind of inspired this. Well, this and John's vlogbrothers video (yes. I do spend too much time on youtube.)