Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Gone

2012 came through like a freight train. It was pretty long and had a lot there but it came along faster than it seemed. And now, here we are. In a few hours, that freight train will pass and another will come.

This sort of nostalgia comes along every year and in every outlet. So I won't resort to all of that because it's definitely unnecessary. I know that just about every place has discussed this (and better than I will) but for some reason, I feel the need to write this now.

Now that the world is still here (the world was supposed to end this year), we can truly look back and smile.

2012 was a great year in terms of movies and music. Movies like Lincoln and Les Miserables made their grand entrance as Gangnam Style kicked Bieber off its throne. The entertainment industry has never been better (although it still has a long way to go to make it good but that's of no matter).

It was also a year of great sorrow. The recent Conneticut shooting summed up all of that tragedy in one although there were other shootings. There was news to make us cringe and want to turn away then.

2012 was a year of both strife and joy for me personally. I have had blessings but also other tragedies in my life.

And, now that 2012 is looming, I can only go forward.

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


The revision process can easily feel like cutting strips from my own skin or putting a pick through my eye. As necessary as it is, it can range from boring to painful. During this break, I've been revising, revising, revising. My fingers worked furiously on this story I've been writing and it's left me absolutely exhausted and I didn't even know how I was supposed to go about everything then.

Of course, revision is necessary. There were way too many bad days where my brain has been too fried to notice typos, too many bad days when I have had writing block so bad that it was incredibly, incredibly sparse. How many days when I have been so caught up in the story that my descriptions were incredibly confusing. And this, by the way, is on my second draft. So, obviously, revising is an incredibly necessary process, one I didn't even notice until I actually learned how to do it properly.

Yes, I'll admit it. There was a time when I didn't revise. I simply didn't know how. I wrote a book and then I stowed it away. The same went for my smaller short story pieces and my poetry. Sure, I touched up the grammar but, other than that, I didn't do anything with it. And then (and this is the painful part) I actually sent these pieces in to places to be published! Then I wondered why they didn't get published. I really want to facepalm my younger self.

But then I went to a camp that taught me how to revise and I also learned to "air out" my pieces for a few months to make them look fresh. Now that I have, I'm on a roll.

To an extent, poetry revision can be fun. It's fun to play around with lines and structure and a total remodeling of the story. Other than that, though, it's not fun at all. With proper revision, a writer has to look at both the small details that make up the story and also the bigger picture of what certain elements do for the plot, character developments, etc.; this can be incredibly exhausting, especially when creating a novel.

It's hard to decide which paragraphs make the cut. Sad to put a beautifully crafted story in the orphan file because it does nothing for the story. It's necessary but still sad. It still feels like I'm ripping out a part of my soul.

I'm doing whatever I can to meet my self-imposed deadline for my story's third draft and I almost feel like I'm cheating it by not giving it quality time. But what can I do? Even as I revise, I still agonize over what I've written. I almost feel like I can never get the story just right.

So far, I'm on chapter thirteen. The story has twenty-seven. I'm about halfway through this even though I have a long way to go.

I've weathered revision. Even though I know it's important, it's still hard.

On the bright side, though, I'm starting the New Year knowing that I've done something important. And that's what counts.

Revision, in a way, is a way to sort out the good from the bad and start fresh. That's the important part. In the end, it will be worth it because it will make my story better.

I need to look at this in a positive way. It's not peeling my skin but embarking on a journey.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Love Triangles in YA Literature

Nothing makes me want to chuck a book against the wall like reading a love triangle. Or at least the standard love triangles that are usually employed in YA fiction.

For one, they are in just about every YA fantasy book that I can find. They usually go like this: There is girl. Girl has best friend. Girl meets other boy. Best friend and boy both like girl and girl kinda likes both of them back even though she can't make up her damn mind until the end of the series. Nothing makes a girl look as much of a simpering, shallow idiot than this kind of dichotomy. While Twilight and Hunger Games set the precedent, it's time for YA writers to find a new way to express romance (to Suzanne Collins' credit, she did not make Katniss look like a simpering, shallow idiot although the love triangle present in the Hunger Games trilogy did cheapen the message of the book).

I'm not entirely against love triangles. I am only against this kind of triangle. At this point, using this kind of love triangle in a story is tantamount to littering a book with idiomatic descriptions. Actually, it's worse. Go ahead and use phrases like "cute as a button" and "sweet as pie" and I would read those descriptors gladly over having to endure this stupid, annoying trope.

The one straight girl/two straight guys love triangle will never, ever work at the present. That's just a fact. If you're an author who wants to write one, I strongly recommend you wait ten years or so before publishing it. All other love triangles need to be used sparingly and only after careful consideration. The author needs to ask herself the following: Will this cheapen the message I am trying to deliver in this story? Is this out-of-character for any character involved? Will this add anything to the story? If she answers yes to any of these questions, she should avoid this course of action. Most of all, this will only work if it unfolds in a realistic way and if the characters are real, fleshed-out people.

A love triangles, with the above model kept in mind, still can work if they have a little revamping.  And that's what I'm proposing here. Instead of having this tired old formula, maybe these writers can actually be original. Maybe, most simply, write in the point of view of one of the guys involved in one of these triangles. Or, an even more radical idea, write something else entirely!

For starters, maybe these YA writers can change the  genders and sexuality of these characters. A basic change could involve a complete switcheroo: a guy and two feuding girls instead of a girl and two feuding guys. Or, maybe, these writers could go even deeper. For example, Suzanne Collins, if she felt such a pressing need to include an unnecessary love triangle in an otherwise fine story, could have made Gale or Peeta gay. I'll go with Gale for simplicity's sake. Now, where would the love triangle come in? one might ask. Good question, dear reader. Gale could like Peeta, who likes Katniss, who likes Gale. Simple enough but interesting. Perhaps our beloved heroine could fall for Peeta later on in the story and, while still loving Gale, could end up with Peeta in the end. Similar love triangles could also ensue within YA books, making them a bit more diverse in nature and also increasing LGBT visibility in the process. Or, to make it more interesting and diverting it away from the Gay Best Friend of Girl stereotype, maybe make a guy fall for his lesbian friend who loves the girl who loves him.  The possibilities are endless and a million times more interesting.

Perhaps we could even throw in forbidden love in the process too. My favorite love triangle of all time is the one in the Wicked Lovely series between Leslie, Niall and Irial. Yes, it involves one girl and two guys. The twist? Basically, they all are in love with each other but none of them can successfully be with each other. Leslie is a human and Niall and Irial are faeries; being with them would be detrimental to Leslie and, accepting this, both let her go. As for Niall and Irial, they love each other but, because of a terrible betrayal that Irial has committed against Niall, Niall cannot bring himself to be with him. I love how Melissa Marr pulls this off and it definitely enriched the story.

I am writing this because I have had enough. I simply cannot handle any more of these tired, formulaic romances that have absolutely no basis in reality. Too many otherwise great book series (because it almost always happens in a series) have been ruined by employing this. Something needs to change.

A love triangle that hasn't totally been made cliché yet

What might have made Twilight slightly interesting

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Christmas Spirit

 As little children fall asleep tonight, waiting for Santa Claus to deliver their Christmas, it is there. As the Christmas tree sparkles and glistens, it is there. As the stockings sit waiting to be stuffed, it is there. Christmas spirit is not something tangible but something felt and experienced. Yet somehow, it is so very real.

It is my sister and I haggling with my dad over which tree to get, trying to find something that meets both of our specifications. It is listening to stupid, smarmy Christmas carols on the radio. It is the taste of cocoa and gingerbread on my lips, the smell of evergreen, the feeling of cold air blasting on my face. It is bright colored lights and ornaments and Santa Claus and The Polar Express. It is beating your family to the table, trying to sate your hunger and avoid your crazy relatives at the same time. It is days and days and days off from school. It is picking out presents for each and every family member and seeing their faces when you give out those presents; it is about unwrapping those presents under the tree one by one, feeling absolutely ecstatic as you do. Most of all, though, it is the warm, unadulterated delight that one feels at the anticipation and at actually opening those gifts at once.

Some cynics might say that Christmas season is simply a culmination of materialism manufactured by our culture, so wrapped up in gifts and so commercialized that it is barely anything special anymore. That it is so far removed from what it was meant to be. To an extent, they are right. Other people try to save it by saying "Keep Christ in Christmas" and other such things. But Christianity isn't what Christmas is all about and it never has been. December 25th has been a day that has transcended Christianity. Celebrating the winter season has been timeless. So ultimately, it is all about classic Christmas spirit (or that holiday spirit for everyone who doesn't/ hasn't celebrated Christmas throughout history), that warm fuzzy feeling you get at this time of year, and everything else is what we want it to be.

And, on this Christmas Eve, I am feeling this Christmas spirit and trying to savor it before it goes away all too fast.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Memories are us. We are comprised of so many memories that we might as well be one big collage of photographs. Memories haunt; memories smile; memories move us both forward and back. And it's funny, thinking about them all.

Today, my sister and I took two pictures with our grandmothers because we had both chipped in to buy them both "I Love Grandma" frames. I am sure that both of them will put it in their living rooms for all to see. And all we see that moment in time that we took that picture and their minds will craft a story behind that very moment with what they see. The picture holds so much and yet there are so many missing elements to it that only we know about.

The viewer wouldn't know about all of the other pictures we took that were not worthy of the frame. They wouldn't know our thought process behind the poses we took and with our decision to even take the decision in the first place. The lie we told to keep it a surprise for the both of them. The fact that it was even a Christmas present in the first place.

Photographs are the essence of memory, being as they preserve the moment forever to look back at later. Often, they contain so many other memories besides the one in that one photograph.So it's certainly interesting.

Of course, it's not just about photographs. Memories extend far beyond that. As I said, memories are who we are and they dictate everything that we do. That's a pretty powerful thing for sure.

And yet they're so unreliable. It's the reason law enforcement find eyewitness testimony so unreliable  Memories can be manufactured, altered, evaporated. They taint everything and skew all of the information we take in; if they had so much sway, one would think they'd be mostly accurate and yet they aren't.

Sometime they may not be what we think they are. Memories might not even be reality at all because our brain has forgotten too much and filled in the blanks. Each person remembers things differently and it's not until that moment when the family members reminisce that it really hits us.

Sometimes, we block out memories and sometimes we cling to them. And yet the ones we want to cling to fade the most and the ones we want to forget linger far too long. And how strange is that? Maybe that's why it's the unpleasant memories that make us who were are then; I don't know. It's only the amnesiacs that have them all go and even then a lot of them often come back to haunt us.

In essence, memories are only the brain's way of storing information to get us through the day and the brain is yet another faulty organ inside of us prone to mistakes. And yet, to us, they are so much more. What will I think years later when I lok at that picture? How will I feel? Will my memories be pretty unreliable too? We are our memories and we will be our future memories. I can't get over that because it's just so odd.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Now That The World Hasn't Ended

 Since it's the twenty second, the day after the end of the Mayan calendar, and everyone is still here, it's safe to say that the world hasn't ended. Yesterday, people sat together waiting for some sign of the apocalypse: a sonic boom, the collision of the planets, great earthquakes, something. Some even traveled to Serbia to be saved by aliens on a random planet. But, alas for them, nothing. Who knows how they will face homelessness, joblessness and the humiliation of being proven wrong? I don't know nor care. I do certainly think it's interesting.

The hype over the end of the world certainly brought about some pretty interesting things. I knew that there would be an increase of pranks that day and so I approached going to school reluctantly, unsure of my safety. It turns out that it was not my school that was afflicted but the other high school in my district. Someone was going to bring in knives and (unregistered) guns of various types to school that day to kill people with but someone saw his status on Facebook and turned him in (did I mention my town, like the one in Connecticut, also happens to be called Newtown?). Even though it wasn't exactly my school, my mother kept me home from school just to make sure that I was totally going to be safe. My friend's school was also afflicted, although it only got egged. Why people feel the need to be stupid just because of some silly Mayan prediction thousands of years ago is beyond me but whatever.

All of this drama and nothing happened. How pathetic. I wondered if those people on the mountain stopped mid-party in sheer disappointment or if they just went ahead and got more of the shrooms that they had to be taking.

On the bright side, a lack of apocalypse means that I can celebrate the holidays once more and live to see another year. I'm already feeling increasing excitement at the idea of Christmas, of racing down the tree in the morning to get my camera and other presents. I haven't felt this excited and in the Christmas spirit for a long time. It also means that I can live for the sleepover I've been planning with my friend.

Now that the world hasn't ended, I can get on with my life and with my potion on Pottermore.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Final Blog Post Before the End of the World

 If the doomsdayers have it right, tomorrow is the end of the world. A calendar that no one took stock in somehow determines whether or not the world will end. Forget NASA and common sense, of course. The Mayans were the ones who got it right after all of these years. If the doomsdayers are right, today will be our last day to be alive. And so, just in case my dear readers, I am writing my "last" blog post in the same way that YouTube vloggers are making their "last" vlogs. So here it goes.

It's interesting to think about what led us to this place where so many people take this so seriously. What led to this conclusion: some archaeological dig? Somebody's misinterpretation? Never mind the fact that Mayan calendars A) didn't include leap years and more importantly, B) is a Bronze Age mythology. But people are stupid.

Plus, what gives this particular doomsday prophecy any extra validity. I don't get why the Mayans have any credibility now, especially given how they no longer even exist. Not to mention, they couldn't even predict the end of their world.

If this is the end of the world, I have spent my last moments doing something that I love with people I love. Everything else is irrelevant. People so desperate, so frenzied to pack up and leave is incredibly sad to me. I will take my death peacefully and with honor.

So, if the world does end, this will be my last blog post ever. If not, see you around.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Life Expects of Me

“The point is not what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us.” -Victor Frankl

In Social Studies class, my teacher based a prompt on the following quote. What does (or should) life expect from us?

Note: I removed the first paragraph.

The following is my response:
What should life expect from me? If you asked me this a couple of years ago, I would have said it should expect nothing, that I only take from life rather than give to it. I would have told you that I was better off dead because at least my corpse would replenish the earth, would give life to new life in the form of organ donation, would stop using up resources that other people needed. I knew that so many people had expected so much from me and yet I felt that I could give them nothing. I did not expect anything from life because there was nothing there and, if it was there, I did not deserve it because I was too worthless, too weak, too pathetic.

And where am I from that day? I'm still trying to figure out the answer to that question, if I'm quite honest. Sometimes, I still feel like I did before although I know that feeling isn't logical. There is one thing, of many, that I am sure of, though. Life can expect that I will never try to intentionally hurt a living creature, and that I will do everything I can to help them.  A hug, an ear, advice, love, comfort, a smile, whatever… I’ll do it. I’ll do anything I can to make sure that no one feels alone or sad (when I said, “other creatures” I meant it. I’ll always hug my dog after my dad yells at her. Always). Life can expect that I will always be passionate about everything I do. Life can expect some poems and writings from me about these things that matter to me; it can expect all of the thoughts and creativity that comes with that. Life can expect my time, effort and “my parents’ money” (or my own, when I actually get a job). Maybe I can even start up a charity (something with books, I presume. Building schools in third-world countries? Starting up some sort of program in the inner city? Running a bunch of book drives? The possibilities are endless.

I disagree with the notion that you should expect nothing from life but rely on what life expects from you. It should be a combination of both, a reciprocal relationship. Neither notion should be relied on too heavily. I expect, or more so, demand, that life and the people in my life make me happy and treat me with respect. The rest is irrelevant. Everyone should expect that and they should expect the world around them to deliver fully. Sadly, that doesn't happen but I believe that it is possible.

I suppose life doesn't even know what to expect from me.  I don’t know what to expect from me. But I’m trying to figure it out.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Stories of Us All

Under every facial expression, every gesture, every step that we take, we all have a story. Sometimes, it's easy to forget that and to not realize that people walking down the street are actually human. The people who do horrible things are human, too.

I'm not going to comment on the Newtown shooting because I feel like what's already been said has been said. It has gotten me thinking, though, about the stories about us all. I was listening to the one father talk about his daughter (Emilie Parker, one of the young victims) and other people talk about the victims and the reporters talk about the shooters. All of these people had stories, all of these people's lives intersected on that fateful way on that terrible, tragic way. I was thinking of this before then but this made me decide to finally write my thoughts here.

Each of our stories belongs to us and usually us alone. It is a story that no one usually ever knows unless we tell them and even then, they don't know the whole thing. Even if we do tell our stories, we can never exactly make people understand them in the same way that we do because it is impossible to convey each and every sensation that you have felt, to make them experience it for themselves. Our life is one big tapestry that is constantly being sewed until the day we die and, even then, our stories often continue to be sewn as others speak of us. No one knows; they only make a picture of us based off of what they see of us.

And that's funny. Everyone knows how complicated they are, how contradictory, how multi-faceted. Yet somehow, we forget that others are the same way. We think we can know someone and their story based off of one fact, one gesture, or one detail about them. They usually don't remember until it's much too late, until their actions have had an effect on the story of that other person or other people far more than they could have ever guessed.

We may not know everyone's full story but we certainly see parts of them unfold, even if that means only walking down the street and passing them by. We are a part of that tapestry in ways both minor and major, positive and negative. For all we know, we could be a part of this of someone who will later become famous or important in some way. 

In a way, we can help people. We can be a part of people's stories in a positive way. We can help them when we see that their story is headed for the worst. So many bad things in this world happen because people don't want to play a part in helping another person because apathy and inaction are so much easier than anything else. That is the breeding ground for evil. And I, personally, want to help people and have a positive impact as I can. I am a human being and I make mistakes; I have a history that influences the way I act and the ways that I influence other people. 

It's so interesting to think about. Perhaps I think about this because I'm a writer, because I write characters that are beautifully flawed and have stories. I feel like I'm better for it.

It's appalling to think that so many little lives were cut short before they could even begin. That so many little lives are cut short every day, little lives that don't even get news stories. Their tapestry might continue to be woven but, sadly, they will be forgotten too just like all major news stories are. There is so much suffering in this world and it is probably because we forget this fact.

You don't know me; I don't know you. I can't help but think that maybe if the killer sat down and thought about this simple fact, he might not have done what he did. But, of course, there are so many people in this world who wouldn't care, even if shown this fact. 

And our stories continue to be added to and the world continues to spin. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dear Diary

When people hear the word, “diary” they get the following idea in their heads. They imagine that “Dear Diary” or perhaps something cornier like “Friend” or whatever is usually the typical way each entry begins. Date at the top, some sort of signature at the bottom, some poor, angst-ridden teenage girl pours her heart out to the pages of her diary that she keeps under lock and key away from pesky little brothers. Sometimes, that is indeed the case but angst-ridden teenage girls aren't the only ones who keep diaries and that isn't the only diary format. There are so many ways to go about keeping a record of your daily life.

So many people say they don't keep diaries because their lives are "too boring" or because they don't fit in with the above statement. I disagree. Average, maybe, but not boring (yes, there's a difference). There is a glamor to the ordinary thing. It all comes in how you describe said ordinary things and that usually comes with time. It takes practice to describe life effectively and in a way that doesn't make you totally bored of the whole thing.

There is a way to make it interesting, as I said. My diary has come to look more and more like a typical teen's and reminiscent of Anne Frank's style. However, it hasn't always been that way. When I first started writing in my diary (as in, my first successful diary that has lasted to this day), I had been intrigued by the story of King Tut and of the archaeologists and uncovered it and it occurred to me that I could leave behind something of value too. Perhaps maybe my musings might not have been as valuable as some famous people's musings but it might mean something to someone.

Being as this was, I titled my first diary entry (and the ones after, including the ones I write each day) with "Dear Fill-in-the-Blank". I described myself and my life as it was then; I addressed my reader with questions I knew they couldn't answer and talked about daily life and the technology of my time period. I swore that I would never be one of those girls who wrote all of those dangerous secrets, those personal things (a promise I late broke) and I also tried to write as neatly as possible.

Over the years, I've changed how I wrote in my diary. Sometimes, I would muse about life and philosophy and people. Sometimes, I would plan out a story I was planning to write. For one interesting period of time, I pretended I was a spy carrying out a mission undercover: "I annihilated the science test. [My teacher] gave me extra points for writing so neatly on the response (that I totally b.s'ed [sic] my way through). Mission accomplished." I actually took my diary seriously and poured out my heart when I was going through something really difficult in my life because I felt like I had no one else to talk to; since then, I tend to write my diary entries in the traditional way.

I think that everyone should own and write a journal, but for writers in particular, I think it's an imperative. There's a strange feeling of connecting a pen to paper when I usually type, of totally escaping in a different world and trying to collect my thoughts and reflect. Maybe if everyone took the time to reflect, the world would be a better place. Also, reading a diary entry is so much more telling than reading a scrapbook; it gives you a glimpse into your old self you would never have had before.

I am so glad that I have kept a journal over the years. It has improved my organization and it also has given me freedom to experiment.  Recently, having a journal proved useful as I wrote a piece about my Virginia experience as there were details about it that I had forgotten previously. Looking back at my old voice and the way I saw things also proved to be interesting.

It's always so interesting to look back at my previous selves, though. I see the way I saw things like I never have before. What I have read has made me want to duck my head, smile and cry. It's so weird because I have known what has happened as my old self was unsure, because I have matured so much since so many entries. The journal might have been ten bucks or so but the type of record and memories that it provides is priceless.

My diary has offered me so much. I know that I will continue writing it for a long time.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Need Serious Book Control

I'm crazy. I knew that I was crazy but now I definitely know it. I'm especially crazy when it comes to books and now it's starting to show. I have stacks and stacks and stacks of books that only repopulate like bacteria in a petri dish and I'm left scrambling to read them. Despite this, I still went to the library to check out so many books that I couldn't fit them in my backpack (and many of them remain in my school locker).

I think I need some sort of book control pill. Maybe one that can convince me not to go out and get more books, to put some down. Maybe to give some away, for all I know.

I can't go on like this. This is an addiction that is spiraling out of control. If it spirals any further, my bedroom floor will probably collapse.

I need some serious book control, I think. This book addiction is stressing me out to the max. There is no way that I can possibly read all of the books that I have in my corner in the next year and the sad part is that a lot of them are library books.

I heard that some people want to make Internet addiction a mental disorder in the DSM manual. If they think that is a mental disorder, I probably have one too. A book addiction, if that's even possible to have. I can't help but swipe every book that seems good or that have a good smell. I can't put them down and I have to drag them out. A trip to the library or the bookstore is too of an intoxicating idea to me that I must succumb to it, no matter how many books that I have. Once so many books are put in front of me, I can't help but grab as many of them as I can.

There's something about their covers. The feel of them. The enticing stories that they hold for me, the stories beneath them that sound so appealing and so easy to escape into. I feel an itch at the end of my fingertips at the sight of it, an itch that only goes away after I have as many books in my arms as I can possibly carry. It was cute before but now it's a serious problem.

I probably shouldn't worry about it. I probably should just separate the library books from the non-library books and read it when I can get around to it. Alas, having a book pile makes me feel chained and pressured; it feels wrong to leave those books in the dust for so long, neglected as they are there. So I feel the urge to read, read, read as much as I can but the only problem is that I, as a human being with an actual life, can only read so much. And I am reading as much as I can, reading as often as my schedule allows for me.

Alas, this is the plight of the bookworm. I'll learn to adapt eventually or else my purse will end up reigning me back in.
Which pill is my book control pill?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

State Testing

The proper system of regulation, according to many American states, is to have students fill out bubbles. If enough are filled out correctly by enough people, it's all good. Never mind that these tests are insultingly easy and require very little thought whatsoever. Pennsylvania, the state I live in, requires all students from grades three to eight to take state exams and once again in eleventh grade. Or at least, that was the case. This year, all who have taken a biology course, an Algebra I course and/or who are in an eleventh grade literature course must take the test throughout various days of the week. This happens to be the week even though it usually happens in the spring.

If you're not taking the test in my school, you love them. After all, you get to sleep in and chill out. However, not all are so lucky. After a while, classes become desirable. On the first day of testing, I was not very happy and, in my angry fog of thoughts, I tried to think of specific reasons why state testing is stupid and not just sum it up to the general anger I had.

The first is obvious. Filling in bubbles does not teach you how to think. If you don't know how to think, how will you learn how to truly learn? How will you truly get ahead? In literature, testing is like iSpy. The question asks something and you have to find the word in answer form that is almost always written in the way it was said. Math is slightly harder but not by much. It's quite obvious when taking these tests that the state has such a bare minimum for learning that it's appalling; it's quite clear that they expect us to be totally stupid. Sometimes, I wonder if this is on purpose.

The even sadder part is that it probably is making students do worse. Many teachers teach to the test, teach them how to crank out answers and cram but not actually use it for real life situations and how to methodically go through the problems in different ways.

Yes, yes, we must regulate the school system somehow. There has to be some way to see if students are actually learning, of course. But is this the solution to that? I'm not quite sure. After all, most Scandinavian countries don't administer national tests on their children and yet they have some of the best school systems in the world. Apparently, it's hard enough for many teachers to teach out of the textbook much less to actually teach kids to apply it to the real world and think.

I don't even get why they're even testing us in the first place, considering we probably won't even need to know most of the content and won't even encounter it again (especially the kids from the poorer schools they're oh so concerned about).

State testing sums up everything that's wrong with school in general. And not even American schools but schools in general.

I don't even think schools are there to teach us to learn but how to obey and perform menial tasks. It's like a factory in every way, right down to the cinder block walls. We're the machines spitting out the answers, spitting out the product.  And I don't even understand why it's anything worthwhile.

State testing is absolutely ridiculous. It would be best if everyone just forgot about it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness

 Happiness has been defined in so many ways by so many different people. So many different people, so many different philosophers have different ideas on happiness, different views on what makes a utopia. I'm not sure that anyone knows for sure, though.

And, in moments like this, I'm wondering what happiness is. If I'm honest to myself, I haven't really found it yet. I probably should have, but I haven't.

My happiness, thus far, has been comprised of lies and when I shatter those lies, the happiness leaves with it. I know that happiness isn't numbness, that it isn't staring at everyone you know with the knowledge that they probably want nothing to do with you and that you can't trust any of them worth a damn. Happiness isn't feeling lost, isn't wishing you could be anywhere but where you are. Yet, while I might know this, I'm not entirely sure of what happiness is and what it does mean. I only know what I have lived.

Before, I had hope for the future. I thought that happiness was possible, right in front of me. Now, I don't know.

My idea of happiness is this. Writing books, selling them by the dozens. Whatever books I would like. Different pen names for different genres, I imagine. Not having to worry about some stupid, fake job with stupid, fake people. Having people around me who care about me, who are willing to fight for me. Who are real. Maybe I can have other people value me so that maybe it will be easier for me to believe myself and everything. Day in, day out of bliss. Hopefully, I would be able to travel the world to with some sort of lover and we could live a free, gypsy lifestyle. My reality is the complete opposite.

I should be happy. I should grab every day and live it to the fullest. I want to be, of course, but it's just that I don't know how. I don't feel like I have any options that will lead me to happiness, but only the same old thing. The only shot I have is when I leave high school, but I don't even know about all of that then. Maybe the happiness really is in my own hands; maybe I have all of the resources and I just don't know how to use it.

Will I be able to get that future? Or will I get into the same old thing once again? Fake people but only a different background? Maybe I'll like what I do but I'm not sure that that alone will make them end up feeling happy.

Maybe I need to make the most of what I have. Make it good. Make it not dependent of my surroundings. But how?

I can't help but wonder if the pursuit of happiness is only an illusion in our minds, only one great lie we live. I can't help but wonder if the bright futures we have in mind for ourselves are only there to keep us sane.

Is happy and I just an idea to make us keep running, running, running? Maybe it is; maybe it isn't.


 Television was the great game changer. Instead of finding something to do outside, people had instant entertainment. Instead of having to watch the newspaper and the radio, people could also watch the TV. Shows were enhanced, now visual. It became a family bonding activity for many people. Today paints a much more advanced picture. TV is now in color and instead of only a few channels to choose from, there are multiple choices. TV and the media have shaped our perceptions of the world in more way than one and greatly shaped our culture.

To be honest, I'm somewhat of an anomaly in my culture and in my family. My family loves TV and the buzz of the TV can be heard at all hours of the day; there are six in our house, including the ones that my grandparents own. We might eat dinner together at the table but the local news is still on (and, when my dad hears a story he takes interest in, hisses at me to shut up). Yet I rarely lay claim to the TV except for the occasional Criminal Minds episode and, to be honest, now that CBS is starting to post episodes on its website, I rarely have to incentive to fight for a claim for the TV (yes, I do have to fight for the TV despite their vast number). Instead, I'm a computer and Internet and, in my defense, it's a tad bit healthier considering how it multi-purpose it is. But, nonetheless, I see the benefits of it.

TV is an easy guilty pleasure for me. I'm sure it is for other peole too. So many shows are stupid, meaningless and you can lose yourself. I've seen so many different shows when I exercise and it's enough to distract me. These producers are definitely pretty excellent at reeling you in and keeping you there.

Recently, I've belatedly gotten hooked to a long ago-cancelled show called Lost. Unlike many show on TV, the writing is great, the acting is stellar and the plot is gripping. I watch it from my computer but still, I'm equally as entranced. I just want to keep watching, watching, watching it and everything else in the day can be wished away.

Sometimes, TV is like that for some people. The flashing lights and the interesting programs can draw them in and sometimes even keep them there. However, most people resort to TV out of boredom and laziness, because they are unsure of what to do. Channel-surfing is an idea that personally seems foreign to me because, on the few occasions I watch TV, I know exactly what I'm going to watch. It's quite sad that some people waste hours of their time watching shows that don't invigorate their mind, shows that they watch because they have nothing else to do. For some people, TV literally makes them stupid, makes them retreat into a dream-like stupor as they stare unintelligently at the TV screen.

That's a terribly sad scenario to me. Many people bash television but there are so many good things that it can be used for. Many people don't receive the full benefits from reading information and so they can learn and retain more from television programs. I'm not only talking documentaries here, of course; fictional dramas and even comedies can implement factual information that can actually make people think. Twilight Zone, though ancient, was an excellent example of this. And yet, mindless reality shows are preferable to this: easier to make for producers and easier for the consumer to swallow. Television, in general, is having more negative things than good for chronic television viewers, making them stupid and even making them fat.

There are television shows that can make the viewer think. There are shows that can be good, can be relaxing, can be something that you can look forward to when you come home. Really, that is what television should do and yet it isn't.

Lost is an excellent, excellent show and one that I'm thoroughly enjoying. When I'm done watching the episodes, I'll be thoroughly disappointed.

Television changed our world. Maybe, with good, engaging, provacative shows, it can change it more for the better than for the worse.