Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gym Class: What's the Point?



There are two kinds of people in this world- the kind who like gym and the kind who don't. The athletic people and the rest of us. On both of these, I happen to be on the latter side. I'm a nerd who would rather have her head in a book than in the game.

I have received another request from an anonymous reviewer for a post so, having no other ideas, I figured I'd go ahead and give my two cents on the subject. While I already wrote about my own experiences here, I figured another entry wouldn't hurt. Is gym class really beneficial? Should it be mandatory? Should it receive some of the same cuts as the arts classes in light of our troubled economy?

Despite what many might argue, gym class has absolutely no purpose to the average person. Its sole purpose is to humiliate the weak and to subject us through torture. If not, then it obviously does nothing more. It is also a time where stupid asshole boys seem to find an excuse to goof off even more than they already do.

Some might argue that it provides exercise to those who don't exercise at home. My response? Bullshit. As a nonathletic person, I can tell you that I will not exercise if I don't want to (and have thought up a variety of different things to avoid it). Sometimes, I won't even get any exercise if I do want to. I do absolutely nothing in gym class the vast majority of the time, and I have done nothing in gym class since gym class started. I still get an A most of the time, unless I forget to come in with clothes once or twice (and don't feel like making it up). While the health benefits of gym might be true in theory, the reality is that gym class only seems to kill brain cells in my mind while I sweat buckets outside. If anything, gym actually has a negative effect on my health because it sets me up for dehydration and sometimes even hypothermia in the winter (and to possibly get hit by a volleyball or hit someone else with one).

I can think of a million different things that I could have done during all of the wasted hours I have spent in gym. I could have caught up on sleep or worked on my homework or even read a decent book. All of these would have been much better alternatives than sitting around and waiting to get hit. I would have much rather have spent my time in detention staring at the wall, because at least then I would have been guaranteed to have been in a nice, air-conditioned room instead of either freezing my ass off or melting into a big pile of Tori.

Now, where does the humiliating aspect come in doing nothing in gym class? The embarrassing times happen during all of those times I do have to do something in gym class. Usually, this won't involve any physical activity that will truly force me to do anything. I'll just have to hit a ball or kick something or run walk away from something to get to the other side. This is where the humiliation comes in and even the actual physical pain (when I don't do this correctly or someone else doesn't). Usually, I'll hit it so far off base that other kids will snicker or I'll have to deal with people yelling at me for not being good enough athletically or I'll be stuck having to chase after the other kids. It's especially humiliating during the Physical Fitness Test (the 1% of the time I do have to do something), when I usually come in last or get the lowest score because I'm so bad unless I happen to cheat. This doesn't even leave out those times before and after gym class in the locker rooms; while this isn't embarrassing to me, I do recognize that it is for plenty of other people and it also happens to be a pain in the ass. Even if any kid like me did experience any benefit from this, for this reason I think it would be cruel to subject us to this.

Since it accomplishes nothing for us nonathletic people, I believe that gym class should not be mandatory. However, I don't believe that it should be eliminated entirely. Many of those who do happen to be athletic need the gym/ sports program, so it would be selfish of me to say that it should be cut entirely. I do think that it should be offered as an elective but as an elective only. At no point in school should any student be forced to take gym.

Now, should gym classes experience cuts? Absolutely. The gym and sports programs need to undergo the same amount of cuts as arts programs do. After all, what makes my programs any more important than that athletic kid's? At least mine will serve some purpose when I'm fat and old, while theirs will not.

Gym and sports need to take just as many cuts as any other elective. The arts programs shouldn't have to take the full brunt of a shitty economy. I'm proud to say that my school district has actually cut some athletic programs including the five o'clock buses the athletes use and the freshman sports teams (freshman can still join the other teams if they make it, of course). However, other schools are often not so lucky. While arts programs are slashed, many sports programs only receive a boost. Obviously, this is wrong.

Despite the fact that my school district recognizes the importance of the arts, I've still experienced arts discrimination. Last year, the camp I wanted to go to wasn't being run because of renovations on the campus. The sports camp still was.

In an ideal world, both types of people would be honored. That isn't always the case. For this reason gym class is cruel and unnecessary and no one should be forced into it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brainwashing

A society is corrupted via a very subtle means. The weapon used is the enemy of reason, the enemy of anything resembling freedom. The mind is filtered, controlled and used but oh so subtly. That, of course, is through the means of brainwashing. The objects of prey are often the uneducated, the lazy of thinking and especially the desperate; the more of these kinds of individuals are present in a society, the more trouble it is headed in.  The more I see, the more I am thinking about the subject. I am thinking about both a comment made on YouTube and about a documentary that I just watched.

Every society that has been taken over by a dictator has been subject to this. It always starts out as little things that later turn into a lot. How else could Germany have been taken over without a single weapon fired? The media was controlled and manipulated to the point where Hitler's views actually made sense to the common person. He was everyone and everything. The same can be said for any other dictator in history.

Most of the time, the insecurities and fears of the people are taken and then exploited. They are made to believe a set of ideas that often don't make sense and go against everything they believe in. They are willingly forced to give up their own freedom, an oxymoron that seems strange and nonsensical without context. After 9/11 happened, politicians preyed on the fears of Americans to pressure us into a war we never should have entered and to force us to undergo invasions of our privacy that we never should have had to go through.

American media seems to using these very tactics more and more. Many people are unaware of how they are influenced by it, unaware of how subtle wording can gradually shift their thinking. Often this is done to support big businesses. Of course, creating a culture of consumerism and need for more (and telling the mass public how important it is that is) is directly beneficial to them and keeps this going. However, even the news outlets stoop to this. I have noticed their bias and brainwashing tactics including but not limited to Israeli-Palestinian relations, SOPA, Occupy Wall Street, and psychiatric medication (that's not even including the topics that many specific newscasts skew). Often their reasons have to do with creating sensationalistic story but often... Often it's something quite more.

And, of course, this isn't always something that occurs in a society alone. Sometimes it can occur in a cult too or even just a family. This brings me to my mention of the things that ended up inspiring me to write this.

Cults slowly draw people in. Just like with everything else, they say things that make sense and they make claims that are appealing. The crazier stuff only comes out once they've been there a while. Of course, if there are children involved, this really isn't even a necessary thing. One can just bring out the crazy thing and let it all out and they'll believe it; they don't have the proper critical thinking skills to differentiate right and wrong.

The commenter was stating how annoyed they were at the assumption that all religious people were brainwashed. I'm sure that plenty would disagree with this but I don't necessarily see how this is that crazy of an assumption. The morals that Abrahamic religions teach go against the morals of modern society and yet somehow people feel the need to cling to these religions anyway, cherrypicking which parts of it that they want to believe. They also happen to be scientifically impossible. Yet whenever its followers show the slightest bit of skepticism, they are told to squash these remnants of reason and have "faith". Many of these followers were indoctrinated as children, told that that particular religion was right and that was the only true way to go while being taught to sense for certain "spiritual feelings". Not to mention, these beliefs can often coexist with a strong belief in Hell, homophobia and other beliefs of intolerance. How is that not brainwashing? In many instances, many oppressive leaders used religion to not only justify what they were doing, but to convince people that it was right. Religion is only one example of brainwashing in our society; just like all other examples of brainwashing, the level of its severity can be varied.

While there isn't no true way that we can prevent ourselves from being brainwashed, I think there are definitely ways to prevent it. This can only be done by acquiring both education and proper critical thinking skills.

Hopefully, American society will one day encourage critical thinking and actual intelligence. After all, it could have consequences more severe than we would like to think if we don't. Until then, I guess we're stuck with Snooki and corrupt news agencies.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lazy Days



There are only so many opportunities for this. To just sit around, chill out and do whatever the hell I want. These are on lazy days. Lazy days when you're not in school and when you don't have anything booked. Lazy days are always needed for everyone and I think they should be mandatory.

This Election Day it seems that I am given the ability to do so. I can relax and lose myself. I don't have to worry about anything at the moment and it's been awesome so far. I can't wait until it's summertime and I'm able to do this all the time.

Lazy days, for one, allow me to sleep in. This is much needed considering that I only get seven hours of sleep if I'm lucky on the weekdays (yay for waking up at six in the morning!). I can work with my sleep schedule and thus wake up extremely late. The feeling of waking up on your own is definitely pretty great. I woke up and felt refreshed instead of feeling like I wanted to fall back to sleep again (how I usually feel when I wake up in the morning).

I'm able to sleep in on the weekends, of course, but I usually have something to do that day. Since my parents tend to be home too, I tend to use that opportunity to do something with them and that usually eats up my time.

On days that I'm off though, I don't have to worry about stuff like that. Instead, I'm able to do what I want when I want. I don't have to rush for anything and I don't have to worry about making myself up every morning so I look pretty. I can walk around and only groom myself in the most basic ways possible and then do what I want. I have no obligations to anyone or anything.

I'm just amazed at my ability to waste time. That's pretty awesome too. I can afford that, though, without freaking out about it. I don't have to worry about the next thing I have to rush to that day or anything of the sort. I can catch up on all the things I need to catch up on and still feel awesome.

Of course, that's not to say I'm completely scot-free today. I still have my homework to do and papers looming. I won't let myself worry about all that, though, because worry will only ruin the moment.

I have to live in moments like these. Savor them until stress comes into my life once again in the way that it usually does.

I'm sure a lot of the reason why people are stressed is because of this. They simply are not allowed to be lazy. Our culture encourages the hustle-and-bustle, work-as-much-as-you-can lifestyle but is that worth it? The lazy days seem to be what life is really about  (or should be).

It seems my lazy day is almost over, though. I'll have to go to school tomorrow and I'll have to go until Friday. And then from there, I still have a month and a half to go until summer comes.  

I should probably continue to soak up the lazy while it still comes. It's not like this opportunity comes often. I'm already going to have to hear how lucky I am to have off from my mom when she gets home.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Report Cards


Yesterday was a very special day. And no, I'm not talking about Marijuana Day or
The Day of Silence. I'm talking about Report Card Day. Report cards bring different reactions to different kinds of people. While the slackers and the stoners probably dread it, some people look forward to it. That is, those who get paid ample amounts of money for it.

I personally have mixed feelings about it. There usually is a mixed feeling of excitement and dread I get about getting a report card.

Report cards are a source of income for me. My parents pay me generously for each good grade and I get even more if I happen to be on Honor Roll or, even better, Distinguished Honors. In that respect, I look forward to report cards very much, especially when I very much need the money for other things (like I do right now after my vacation where I spent more money than I would like to report on jewelry and other such things). When I was younger, I used to feel this thrill and I used to imagine what kinds of toys that I would end up buying with the money.

Before, I also used to feel a sense of anticipation when I got them. Now that I can access my grades online and my mom can too, it's not the same. There's no sense of surprise or anything but it was pretty much ready to see from the start. When I was a kid, though, it wasn't like that. I didn't know my grades and my parents didn't either. The only time they might possibly be notified would be if the grades were bad. It's not like that anymore, though.

There still is that one little thing about report cards that bring on insecurity in me. Report cards make me feel that I can do better. That I can be better than what I did and that I should be better. Something tells me that I'm not good enough until I make straight-A's.

Despite the fact that I have made the Distinguished Honor Roll, I still feel stupid. I still feel inadequate as a student.

In reality, I know that this very line of thinking is stupid, not me. Still there is something inside me that feels like I am anyway.

Report cards are so simple. They are just letters in a column and maybe a few pre-selected comments anyway. They should hardly define you as a person, especially since it doesn't mark traits like kindness, wisdom or perceptiveness. But still, it gets to me.

Most other kids just tuck it away and don't say a word. It might start a conversation but they don't care. A few of them might moan about how they're just going to get grounded for bring home a bad grade but not me. My parents have made it very clear that they are proud of me, but I still can't make myself proud with my grades.

Like I said, I already knew about my grades before I got my report card. My mom checked the grade-checking program that we have to make sure that I was doing okay in Math and thus I began the bad habit of checking my grades whenever she or my sister was on it (she, like many students, use it to check how she's doing also).

There's a reason why I don't keep track of my grades, though. If I keep track, I get obsessed. I feel the need to focus in on those grades and work so hard that I'm stressing out about it all the time. I set super high goals and I feel inferior when I don't reach them. I figure it's not worth all of the stress that it causes.

I'm sure that this whole report card complex is more than it needs to be. I should probably shut up and spend the money. But there's a part of me inside that just keeps laying it on me and I'm not sure I can get it to shut up.

And so what if I'm not smart? I work very hard, people like my writing and I'm generally a pretty good person. That's worthy enough.

It's all about those little steps and small victories. I'm working on it. The day that I'm able to fully quell these voices is another day that I'll be closer to calm.

One stupid piece of paper won't label me anymore.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Day of Silence



Today in history- Hitler was born, Columbine happened, the Day of Silence occurred in 2012. I suppose the last event seems relatively minor in comparison but I think the events before it are enough reason to host it then. Both show the effects of hatred and cruelty.

Today, I participated in this event as a straight ally. I took the whole deal- both the silence and the duct tape- and I don't regret it.

I got a much more positive response than I had anticipated. While I did get dirty looks and a few stupid comments, it was all much milder than I expected. My teachers were all very supportive and my one teacher lauded the cause in front of the whole class. I did get the assholes but I just gave them the finger and moved on.

Many people asked me why I did this, even though they themselves support gay rights. The answer is multifaceted and a bit complicated.

I think the main reason I wanted to do this was because I am trying to give the voiceless a voice. Every time someone would pass me by, I would remind them about the cause I was fighting for. They may not have liked that reminder and they may be hostile towards it. They probably didn't care and won't change. But so what? By putting the duct tape across my mouth, I was giving them visibility. I was saying that LGBT youth and their allies exist and are a more prominent force than most people think. It wasn't even just LGBT youth, or at least it wasn't to me. In a way, I personally felt like I was personally venting my frustrations over all those times when I too felt voiceless. It's saying that the voiceless exist.

I think the Day of Silence is also a way of giving LGBT youth hope too. It says, "There are those who are out there like you and there are also those out there who support you for who you are." For a lonely, bullied person, that can mean the world. And if one of those people can feel something from this, we have made a difference. One closeted person who has hope.

We were all one voice. We were saying in a very clear way that we believed that homophobia is wrong. That bullying is wrong and that it hurts. This wasn't just a small number of people, either. I passed people with duct tape over their mouths multiple times today and I'm sure that there were more out there silent who didn't wear duct tape. We were saying that there are allies out there who care about gay rights as straight people.

Visibility is a bigger deal than many people thinking. When one is invisible, that is all they want. Today we gave invisible people acknowledgement, saying that they exist and their plight is real. It's a simple thing but it can have effects greater than people realize. At the very least, the Day of Silence was an acknowledgement of what was going on. It also got people talking as soon as I walked down the halls. This is a conversation starter and it's a way of speaking out for what we believe in without actually speaking out.

When thousands of American teenagers speak out, it sends a very clear message. It's telling everyone that the world is changing. It gets news organizations talking, which raises awareness for the people who are watching those organizations.

So was this a success? Was this something? Absolutely.

The Day of Silence isn't over for me, by the way. I'm totally bringing this up in my Social Studies class tomorrow and urging my teacher to talk about it as a current event.

As I wrote on one girl's page when she thanked me for participating, LGBT rights are human rights. We are all human beings and we all deserve the right to  be who we are, love who we want to love, and have some fun while we're at it. LGBT youth included.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Hunger Games and Our Society


A corrupt society would look like the following. The weak and poor are trampled on by the rich and strong. Exploitation is rampant as is poverty. People do not have the rights to voice their opinions about this or risk being silenced.  Worst of all, people are mindless in this society. While it looks like our freedom of speech will be able to be preserved for a long time, we are getting closer to this kind of society than we would like to think. Yesterday, I saw "The Hunger Games" for the second time and it was just as great as it was the first time.

Obviously, both the book and the movie have an excellent plot. While many might like to argue the implausibility of it, I don't think it's so far from reality. People stand aside in the face of injustice all the time and they continue to do so to this day.

For anyone with any semblance of a brain, the themes of the book are quite apparent and the movie only hit this closer to home. Seeing this only made me think about these themes even more and how they are apparent.

Collins claimed that this was inspired, in part, about our society's increasing desensitization to violence. It's everywhere, of course, from video games to reality TV shows to the media in general. Sometimes it really can be a little hard to differentiate.

I think the whole system of the Hunger Games are symbolic of injustice itself. As anyone can attest to, there is much injustice in our society and there are many people who stand by and do nothing in the face of it.

In our materialistic, capitalist society, there are so many people who get left behind. And there are so many people who sit by and let it happen.

In an ideal world, the American Dream is true. Anyone can rise above despite their circumstances. That really isn't true, though. Not everyone is created equal and not everyone is of equal circumstances. Some people simply do not have the intelligence and/or the resources to rise ahead. How is someone in a crappy education system with absolutely no guidance and no resources supposed to rise ahead? Particularly if they happen to be of average will, intelligence or fortitude? Do they seriously have the same chances as a person who grows up in the top 1% and has everything paved for them? Add to the fact that the former has dark skin and the latter has light skin and the chances become even less. That's ridiculous. Worst of all, there are politicians actively trying to take anything that might equalize them a little bit like libraries or school funding. The reality is that the rags-to-riches people are statistical anomalies.

Not to mention, there is a huge, huge divide between the 99% and the 1%. That gap is growing.  I don't think most people even realize how big that divide is. The rich in this country are the Capitol. By taking steps to keep their own wealth, they make sure we remain in our own social classes. They pit us in our own Hunger Games as we try hard to succeed while they sit on the top and smile.  For example, the rich are not taxed nearly as much as the middle class are in this country. Many CEOs in major banks have been known to do corrupt bank practices that bring their companies under and sometimes even the whole economy. Also, major companies have been known to use business practices that are meant to decimate the competition. In addition to all of this, it is getting harder and harder to have the funds to go to college without having massive debt from the interest even though one does need college to go ahead. The money you need to be in the 1% is growing, while the money you need to be in the middle class remains the same. While the Occupy Wall street movement wasn't as unified as it could have been, it did have a point. There is astronomical amounts of unfairness.

It almost seems like capitalism is the Hunger Games. People are pitted against other people to fight for the top. Everyone apparently has the same chances but that isn't true. Some people come from career districts and some people come from District 12. Some people are throwing food away and some people are literally starving in this country.

Also, people have been becoming more and more mindless in this country. It scares me how many people think they're informed just because they watch the news every day, even though American news is becoming increasingly biased. I'm also frightened about how many people don't think about what certain activities are doing to them. We have more knowledge at our fingertips than ever and yet so many people are loath to use them.

As a society, we get very clear messages. We are told to fight to the top and be successful. We are told that we are supposed to want, want, want, just because that kind of attitude is what keeps companies going. We are told to be cutthroat and materialistic in our quest to do this and to only want the best. The reality TV shows and violent movies encourage violence to resolve conflict while we are being told to be conformists by the media at large. As a whole, it seems that the general attitude is to be complacent and lazy and accept what you are being told without question.  Shouldn't it be alarming when se, a normal human need, is considered more disgusting than violence and is rated more harshly in the U.S.?  It doesn't seem like anyone is fighting this attitude and I'm troubled by it. There's not enough emphasis on activism and actually helping people in need.

I think my point is that the Hunger Games really isn't some far-fetched plot scheme. The whole practice is relevant to our society at large.

As always, we have two choices. We can sit aside and do nothing or we can do something about it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Evilness of Projects




It usually just comes out of the blue. It's usually handed in some pamphlet while you groan inside, bracing what's to come grudgingly. That, of course, is a project. The deadline creeps on you slowly like a ticking bomb. You don't anticipate it but it just comes. It plops itself down on you without invitation, coming at the beckon of some particularly sadistic teacher. Yes, that is the lovely little beauty of projects.

This year, I have had so, so many projects. Most of them have been from my crazy English teacher but I've had one in both Science and Social Studies.

Of course, I liked the one in Social Studies. My teacher there was nice and he gave us an ample amount of time to do it. Not to mention I didn't have to present the information in front of anyone so I didn't have to deal with any of that. I just had to write it in the format of a newspaper and then it was all good and I got an A on it.

I got an A in Science too but that was a pain in the ass. She had us make this super-complicated little contraption and stick facts about elements on it. Seriously? I could have looked up facts on my own and it would have just been so much easier. I had no idea why I even had to do that in the first place. If I didn't have my dad, I would have totally been screwed.

As for English... I have had literally had so, so many projects in that class. This guy is nuts with projects and everything.

I have a project in there now and it's been hell for me so far. It's definitely one of the more complicated ones and that's saying a lot. It's an ongoing thing and it's a quarter of our grade (we're also having the final this marking period, which is also a quarter of our grade).

He gave us two class periods to do it. We had to pick a country and an issue, think of a question and a bunch of subquestions and get going with it. The outline was due the day after break was over and the rough draft was due three days after that (today). Guess who had to cram it in before she had to go on vacation? Yep, me! On top of this, I'm going to have to present a PowerPoint on this.

To say I'm pissed is an understatement. At the very least, I'm being able to have some time to finish it and hand the final version in on Thursday.

It always seems to be like this. I'm always fighting to get things done and freaking out about them and I keep getting more stuff piled on.

I complained about research before. While research isn't as bad, it isn't nearly as bad as actually plotting things out.

Projects themselves require so much planning they make my brain hurt, especially when this teacher assigns them (with the amount of homework he gives us). I also have to worry about presenting a lot of the time, which I suck at because I happen a little meek and I mumble and I'm not good at talking in front of them.

Worst of all is when it's a group project. That requires collaboration. All of my friends are older than me too and none are in my classes, so I can't pair up with my friends. I can't do "the look" across the room (a look to each other and then a nod) to instantly become partners. Being as I am a perfectionist and nitpicker, I'm not the easiest person to work with. Since my anxiety is getting better, I don't freak out about the project and take it out on the people I'm with. At least this isn't one of those times, though.

Fortunately, I'm good with words and people seemed to like my paper during the rough draft. The presentation is a different story.

Bottom line, projects are evil. I fail to see the use for them anyway, except for as torture devices and a wrench in our schedules.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Coming Home



Home is where the heart is, or so the saying goes.  I feel that's applicable towards me right now. While I liked my trip to Utah and Arizona, I am definitely happy to be home! I may be that restless traveler but my home rests in the center of my heart. Plus, I am still really exhausted and trying to catch up with everything

I have to say it takes some getting used to, though. In fact, I woke up at quarter to one today. This is a record for me although, in my defense, it was quarter to ten in Arizona. Obviously, I still have some time zone adjustments to deal with.

Of course, as ideal as it would have been for me to go to bed at ten last night, I just couldn't. My fingers kept typing away and I couldn't get off of the computer. So I decided to write until I was somewhat tired which came at about twelve-thirty or one-ish (I can't quite remember). My family adjusted well enough, though, and went to bed at a normal hour.

I was exhausted but too exhausted to go to sleep. If it had been any later and if I hadn't slept on the plane, I would have been far more exhausted.

Coming home always does feel like a funny feeling. It's odd looking at your surroundings after you've been gone for a week. It almost made me feel like an outsider looking at my neighborhood and pulling up my driveway. Of course, it was easy to get used to everything in that regard but it was weird while it lasted.

It's disorienting. It's kind of amazing how only a week can totally take you away from everything and make you feel totally different. It feels so short at the time but it's long at the same time. It takes a big enough space in your memory, anyway, and that's definitely something that's pretty great.

Most of all, the weirdest thing about coming home is knowing that your vacation is over. Totally over. That's a little bit of a sad feeling, having to let go of all that. It's usually acommpanied by dread knowing that you're going to just have to go back to the life that you're living. That's definitely depressing and it almost makes you want to cry a little bit. No matter how bad a vacation might be, I always feel that way. 

At least I have the weekend to recuperate. I have no idea what I would have done if I had to go to school today (shoot myself, maybe?). I have tomorrow too and then I'll be thrown right into everything again after that.

Oh well. Enough of my self pity. I did have a pretty good vacation despite all of the hassle I've described here and I have some memories to go by. Vacations always bring a new sense of enlightenment and more things you can say that you've done. That's always worth it in the end, of course.

At least I can say that I'm writing these blog posts at home and that I'm writing them today. That's something

Now I only have to wake up at a decent time now...

Luck


Written on the plane ride from Phoenix to home today

Sometimes, the great dice of the world are cast in your favor. And sometimes, they’re just not. While we all hope these lucky dice will be there when we need them, so often they just aren’t. One might think they should be readily available on our vacation, but, of course, they weren’t. The great dice of the world have left my family frustrated and my mother telling our tale of woe to anyone who will listen (even though so many don’t).

Here it is. Our plane was delayed an hour and fifteen minutes. This wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t have a connecting flight to where we really wanted to go. We almost made it but then the plane before us hit a bird. Yes a freaking bird. So we just missed it. Then, of course, when we tried to get some sort of help, we had to run around the airport until we got some help after the fifth person or so. But, hey, at least we got a room to stay at overnight and a flight the next day (even though our luggage was in limbo, our clothes with it. Yay to the same underwear for two days!). Oh and I got molested patted down by a TSA officer because I moved (all of this was detailed here).

Okay, okay so the road to Utah wasn't the greatest maybe. We all thought it would end there, though. Utah was good so it was cool. Ending up at Arizona twenty minutes early would be a good sign, right? Nope. While we got there early, Hilton took forever to find us a room and the bathing suits were still in luggage. So we went to lunch in one of their dumpy hotel joints and it took an hour because there was a lack of service (oh and in that hour, I got an alcoholic
piƱa colada. While most teens would probably have jumped at the opportunity, it tasted too terrible for me to consume fully and I just took my medication).

The rest of the vacation wasn't that bad. It wasn't the greatest vacation I ever had but it wasn't the worst. The Bad Luck Dice chucked my mom upside the head and hid her prescription glasses (which we still haven't found) but the rest of us were fine. We also had a $360 meal at this super-expensive steakhouse (I'm not sure that's bad luck, considering it totally revolutionized my mouth. Maybe for my parents, though).

But then the tornado had to hit Dallas. This wouldn't have been a problem if we didn't have a connecting flight there. That meant my mom had to hassle for a ride home, which had to go in early (I woke up at five in the morning) to get paper tickets. And now the Bad Luck Dice has hit me and left me with a dead computer (that I charged last night) on this flight. So, on top of everything, the first draft of this blog is on paper.

This all has got me thinking about how arbitrary luck really is. While the Bad Luck Dice hit us pretty bad, it could have been worse. At least this is temporary. My parents might have worked hard for where they were, but my sister and I sure didn't. We could have been born inner-city kids. Or sick kids.

Luck really doesn't care. It's just luck. It hits without warning and it does so without a care or thought. All it takes is to be at a certain place at a certain time. To have one tiny thing happen to create a cause-and-effect chain of events impossible to stop. That's a huge thing to take in and quite a scary one. I'm a control freak but luck just comes in and tells me I can't control everything.

Some people are so scared of this idea that they come up with explanations to make this idea go away. Karma, a god who plans everything ahead of time. I can't do this and whenever I mention either, I do so as a figure of speech. I believe that the only way to come to peace with the ways of the world is to look a it head-on and to find truth in it any way you can. When I lied to myself, I was only shortcoming myself. Doing this, of course, only tends to bite you in the ass later.

Luck is that wind that blows you off-course to various places. It stares at you, ready to drag you to all sorts of places.

I only can hope it blows me home and, at least, drags me to things I can live with. I hope it does so to everyone else who reads this, too.






Thursday, April 5, 2012

Children


Written April 3, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona

They are the ones with the cute little smiles and curls. Their giggles are enough to make you smile too, despite yourself. They make you return to a time that you thought was lost. These little beings are children and they are utterly mystifying.

I’m seriously missing my little cousins (or to be technical, second cousins) right now. I kind of miss the sound of their little voices and feet thumping on the floor.

When I saw them, I was startled at their small frames and their mannerisms. Being a high school student who hangs out at malls and such, I’m not used to seeing small children. I’m especially not used to seeing small children so close up and I’m not used to talking to these small children. So it’s amazing what kind of effect that seeing them for a few days had on me.

First off, I’ve learned how to simplify things. I’ve learned how to dumb down my words better so that I could develop at least somewhat of a repertoire with them (although I really don’t think that either of them cared what sedimentary rocks were, despite how I tried to explain it to them). I’ve also had to learn how to take out the curse words out of my language, which was surprisingly easy to do around them. In a lot of ways, my mind almost became more childish in thinking.

I’ve also been acting a bit more of a child in terms of sharing food and playing (yes, Mom, I bought a skunk puppet so my beaver puppet would have a playmate. No, I don’t regret this). Maybe I’ve always kind of been like this but now I’ve learned how to deal with this now.

I’ve also learned how hard parenting must be. We went on a road trip and my cousins had to be entertained and kept in check. They also could be rather clingy at times, which I imagine would be hard to deal with.

Children have such simple wants and needs. It really struck me. My cousins’ strongest wants varied in the severity of their needs. If there was a toy near by, they wanted it. If they were hungry, they wanted to be fed. If one got something the other didn’t get, they wanted that. It was so much easier to define and sate their wants and needs than it would be for an adult’s.

At one point, my uncle’s camera hit my little cousin’s lip and she cried. I was shocked at how easily she would cry (of course, I’m not putting this against her as a five-year-old). I envied her, almost, for being able to cry that easily.

Also, their simple functioning in general made it a bit hard for me to relate to them. I’m more of a social issues and book kind of girl, both of which they are not into.

While I cannot relate to them, children really do add an interesting perspective to life and to the way I see the world. I appreciated the interaction.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Natural Wonders


   Written in my uncle’s house on April 2, 2012
 
When people think of “natural wonders”, they usually think about the famous ones. The Great Reef, the Grand Canyon, etc. However, there are subtler beauties that go unknown all of the time. Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park definitely qualify on this. The sights of Utah desert and everything were absolutely stunning.


 Hours of driving brought us to a great orange- red expanse. Yesterday, we went through Arches National Park and ended up staying in the town over. Of course, besides a quick drive, we didn’t really see it much.


Arches National Park. Not my pic
Today, though, we went to Dead Horse Point State Park which was nearby. My aunt and uncle took us up to the cliff and we watched it (there was a stone gate keeping us safe, though. We wouldn’t be in any real danger unless we hopped over it). It was absolutely stunning.

Nature and I usually don’t get along all that well. I am definitely a person dependent on technological advances. When I get out in nature, I usually end up longing to go back inside again. It’s too hot or cold for me, I’m sweaty, it’s too much work, I don’t like bugs and grass, etc. The only thing I’ve really like is the ocean and they don’t even have those in Utah.

Still, I was in utter awe. Absolute utter awe. The rock stretched across like the ocean and it was just so big that it blew me away. I wondered how nature could make something so beautiful. I admit that I was also afraid to go tumbling over the edge when I looked at it, especially when my dad challenged me to look down at this one space (at least blunt force trauma is a quick death usually);.

My cousin and I talked about mountains versus ocean. Utah has just about everything except an ocean but not having an ocean to go to during the summer would make me incredibly restless. She told me that she would miss not being able to hike up a mountain if she left. It’s all about what you grow up with, I suppose.

Anyway, on the way back I gave my little cousins a rock that acted like chalk and I explained to them (at different times, since they weren’t placed in the car together) about what sedimentary rocks were.

It was great, it really was. Even though the drive was long, I really did get to see a lot and truly enjoy myself.

The town near both, Moab, was especially fun also and it had a lot of cute little shops there (I now have three extra necklaces to add to my collection. I’m about $100 poorer. Yay!).

We’ll be leaving Utah for Arizona soon. I have to say the idea does make me a little sad, but it was good while it lasted.

Dead Horse Point State Park. Not my pic, either

Travelling

Written March 31, 2012 in Chicago O’Hare Airport

NOTE: I'm on vacation and I get the Internet sporadically. While I'm writing blog posts, I'll publish them when I get Internet.
The average procession to the airport for my family is as follows. We go two to three hours before our flight leaves. The drive to Philly is about a half an hour from our house, where we park in the parking lot of some vacation bussing service. And then that bus drives us to the airport. At the airport we usually spend an hour or so going through security and then we chill out until the plane comes.
And the travelling begins at this point.

                                               
                                  
Yesterday, my family and I embarked on our Spring Break vacation at the grand time of two in the afternoon. Our plan trip had been delayed a half hour or at least that’s what we thought.

Fast forward to when we actually were in the airport. We had found out that our plane had been delayed another half hour.

That usually isn’t a big deal. Unless, of course, you have a connecting flight like we did. Then you’re screwed.

 We were screwed. We were even more screwed in than a nail. We all knew this from the start and yet somehow the actual confirmation of this was enough to put all of my family members over the edge.

 My mom went on a total freak-out. Actually, that’s putting it pretty mildly. She and my dad we
re totally cursing off and my mom took everything out on the first woman that she saw. It probably would have been totally funny if I wasn’t as completely scared as I was, thinking about how we would remain totally lost in Chicago and meant to sleep in an airport that never slept.

Of course, American Airlines had to totally end up sucking with customer service. Whenever we went to get to try to get assistance, we were referred to another person. My mother was growing increasingly homicidal with each person until she actually found a person who was nice enough to help us.

It worked out. A hotel room at the Hilton had been booked and we got a flight for Salt Lake City the next day.

Of course, that meant another plane ride and another trip through security.

The Chicago O’Hare Airport has the body scanners, unfortunately. As I came up in line, my mom hissed at me not to say a word about what was going on despite how my civil liberties were being violated. So I went up and complied. The only problem was that the lady failed to tell me that I didn’t stand up long enough. Before I knew it, I had a bunch of guards after me. Despite how I could have easily just went back in line, a TSA official (female) then proceeded to thoroughly molested patted me down against my will (when she patted me down and asked if I had any sensitive spots, I bit my tongue not to say, “My vagina. That’s a bad touch.”).
                                 
                                                                 
Travelling, while fun, usually is more fun to just plan rather than actually be on. It seems to bring on more stress than relaxation sometimes and goes by more quickly than days usually go.

There’s that happy jitter but then that usual jitter tends to be broken by something terrible and unexpected.
          
And then there’s the plane ride. You know, that usual brings on the usual popped ears and boredom.

Hopefully, the Utah trip was worth all of the aggravation that we’ve dealt with. We’re boarding now so I guess we’ll find out soon enough.