Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miley Cyrus and the VMAS: The Reaction and What It Says About Our Society

Miley Cyrus, Robin ThickeIt was the performance that shook America by storm: Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. She shook her ass to the camera, tried to look as nude as public television would allow and grinded up against Robin Thicke. She also stuck her tongue out more times than I could count. Big whoop. Now in many social media circles, she's Public Enemy Number One. According to the mainstream public, she's a whore and a slut and Billy Rae should be ashamed of her. Others are simply concerned.

Let's think for a second. Has she disrespected anyone? Sent screaming phone calls to them or punched them in the nose or peed in the mop bucket? No. Is she getting away with multiple DUIs and other crimes? No. Is she burning bonfires in driveways? No. All she did was strip her clothes and be sexy. She could have done this in a more tasteful manner, yes, but at the end of the day, it's her body and her life not mine. She took ownership of her sexuality by using it (for other reasons than her own gratification probably but still). She's a grown woman and she consented to doing this. She's hurting no one besides herself possibly. There's no reason to be ashamed of her, disgusted by her or concerned for her quite yet. She doesn't owe anything to anyone besides herself. I may not particularly care for her music or her style but that's just me.

Yet people still make a variety of assumptions about her. They assume she's promiscuous or in need of psychiatric help. Just because she got sexual.

Does anyone make these statements about Robin Thicke, the man she was dancing with? After all, he grinded against Miley Cyrus and even danced around a variety of naked women in his music video. Is anyone making these statements about him? No. And he's a married man at that.

Perhaps the mass objectification of women in comparison to men is a problem in this country is a problem. But you know what else is a problem? The mass slut-shaming of women in this country. Men are allowed to empower themselves and seek gratification however he wants but a woman? No, they're supposed to be meek and submissive and act in a certain way. And when they don't, they're punished. Often by other women too!

I think a large part of why Miley is being seen in this way is because she hasn't been sexy in the "right way". Miley doesn't act demure and submissive when she's sexual. She's the pursuer in her music videos and she's very in-your-face about it. Basically, shes not acting like an object. And on a subconscious level, people are outraged because she's not in her proper place. Granted, she is probably doing this to get attention and it's certainly working. But still, the point stands.

The most depressing part of this issue is that women are oppressing other women most of the time. We're hurting ourselves.

Clearly, it's a problem when anyone male or female alike uses sex in a way to achieve something else: social approval, self esteem, distraction, whatever. Or when one person manipulates a person for sex. But there's no problem with seeking pleasure in whatever way you choose (as long as it's safe and consensual) with however many people you want no matter what gender you are.

This slut-shaming needs to stop. Why are we doing this? I say live and let live.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Accidents happen, the saying goes. And so do car accidents (or mini car accidents anyway). So they happen to the student driver like me.

Maybe I was getting too cocky. Part of me thought that it wouldn't happen to me, I suppose. I found a parking lot to practice my parking in even though I had pretty much already passed it. But I thought I could make that turn and I didn't have time to stop the way I should have at a turn. So... I hit a stop sign. And I ran it over. I'm not entirely sure how this all went down because it seemed to happen pretty quickly but that was what pretty much happened.

Freaked out, my abuelita and I just ran away to another parking lot, where we discovered I scratched the hell out of the hood and who knew how much it would cost. I freaked out even though my abuelita tried to reassure me. But yeah, I was freaking out and feeling really guilty and I still am. I'm not even sure I want to drive anymore for fear i'll wreck my mom's car too.

I guess I should get back on the horse and start driving again. After all, accidents are inevitable and a part of life and if I live by fear, I won't be able to do anything. But still... That feels like an awfully big risk. What if I wreck something again? I almost feel like I don't deserve to be able to drive again for making such a stupid mistake. Because what other stupid mistakes might I make?

Mistakes teach you, though. They teach you what you've done wrong and how you can do better. Accidents are mistakes (even if they're really big ones like car accidents) so I guess I can learn from this too.
I have definitely learned a lesson for sure and I'll definitely be more careful. There's nothing more I can can do about it now.

It was an accident. And accidents can't be helped. They happen when you least expect it and I definitely didn't expect it. I just won't do it again.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What Makes a Character Great

What makes a character great? I'm sure this has been a question plenty asked by so many other people but still I keep coming back to it. This is something I've especially wondered as I watch All in the Family
Okay, I'm a little late on the bandwagon by a couple decades but still, it's a show I very much enjoy now.
That show is the perfect example of awesome characters. How else could one show last for so long in the hearts and minds of so many people? The characters, of course. Their interactions are at the very heart of the show and are what make it tick. Any show can talk about issues like rape, abortion, cancer, politics, religion and even impotence but none can do so as wonderfully as All in the Family. The characters are real and three-dimensional, all with faults. No issue is presented in a black and white fashion although Archie's bigotry is made fun of quite a bit. I could rave on and on about the show but, alas, this post isn't about that.

Characters are at their best when they are real people. When their flaws match their virtues. Real characters are relatable and make people feel with the characters so much more. This should be obvious but, alas, it often doesn't appear to be. So many characters on TV and in literature are flat and stale, their actions safe and unoffensive but cliche and canned.

Vulnerability also makes for great characters. This, of course, goes back to making characters real. Writers who allow to have their characters to have vulnerable moments have better characters: they show off who their characters really are.

There are also the occasional subtle acts that show who the characters really are. Whether if they're incredibly nice or incredibly awful, that's what makes people feel in a way that's really good or really horribly towards them. But once people start feeling for characters, you know you've got a great character. Going out and trying obnoxiously to show a character for who they are just won't cut it. 

Watching this awesome show only reminds me of that. It's gotten me really thinking as a writer. Before I write a story, I usually try to get a grasp on a character and I try to write a list of traits about them to make sure they're a balanced character. Then, of course, I try to think of ways to demonstrate that in a character. I can't even imagine how hard this is to do in a screenplay. 

Once a character really does show him or herself to be great, though, it's so easy to latch onto them. Real characters become us or people that we know. And once you can get that level of relatability, you know you have something wonderful. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting Lost

I got lost today. I guess it's meant to happen to every driver eventually but I didn't think it would happen too soon. But I did.

Surprise, surprise, this book nerd was looking for the library to pick up my holds. Now, I had been to this particular library only a couple times, given the fact that I usually picked up my holds at a different library closer to where I got tutored for Math. I had to do this before the library closed and, by the time my dad would be able to take me, it would. So naturally, I decided to use my driving time to drive to the library and pick it up.

But who did I have to do this with? My abuelita. Not only had she never been to the library but she had no idea where it could be and gets a bit confused sometimes. So it was all on me. I printed out directions just in case but it was too small for her far-sighted eyes to read.

I had an idea where I was going. Unfortunately, I took one wrong turn and soon enough, I was back on the bypass. Essentially, we had driven in one big circle.  I looked at the directions but I had no idea how to get back on track.

Lucky for me, despite how easily flustered she can get, my abuelita is an incredibly patient woman.

"Let's just go back," I said. "I can get it later."
"No, no, we go."

"Okay," I said.

I made a U-turn in a nearby neighborhood even though the road was somewhat narrow and I kept swearing I was going to hit the curb.

I also had no idea how I was going to get back on track.

There was a man in his car talking, though.

"Ask him," my abuelita said.

"No, it'd be weird and I'm pretty sure he's busy," I argued.

But my abuelita insisted, saying a part of learning how to drive was learning how to ask for help from other people.

So I did and the man mouthed that he'd be able to help in a second even though it was clear we were interrupting a conference call. Then he graciously gave directions to me.

His directions were what helped me get on track and eventually we did get to the library. It turned out we even missed one obvious sign that said "Library" with an arrow (you can only imagine how stupid that made me feel).

Sometimes directions aren't perfect. Passengers that are supposed to serve as navigators aren't perfect, either and neither are GPS systems. And so getting lost is a part of life. It really is a part of driving and becoming a better driver.

I've been lost before and on a much bigger scale. I've been lost with my parents, my friends, my sister in other places, states and even countries. But I've never been the driver. I've never been the one who has been in charge of figuring out the way to go again.

It's all about how you conduct yourself. As long as you can screw your head on straight, it'll be okay.
I guess being lost isn't that big of a deal; it only matters that you find a way back again.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Crazy Animal People (Like Me)

I have a confession: I'm a crazy animal person. I have two rats, a hamster and a dog and still, I admit, I want more. When I'm older, I'll probably have more animals.

Why? I've written of the awesomeness of animals as pets here. And it's completely true. There is a purity and vulnerability to animals that is hard to come by in humans. They are fragile and sweet and utterly voiceless. So of course, I feel the urge to nurture them. The love of an animal is unlike any other I've had, unconditional and overflowing.

Still, animal people, such as myself, are crazy. Sometimes, we become too crazy. Just recently I've heard my dad's friend discuss what his love of animals. It's led to him taking in a pregnant stray. A pregnant stray who got pregnant again and whose kittens became pregnant too. Hes taken in cats, dogs and even more wild animals like a sheep and a duck. It's wreaked havoc on his household at times. Yet something in those creatures' eyes compelled him to do what he did. The same is true for me.

Crazy animal lovers are irrational. Our bleeding hearts cripple our ability to properly make out reality for the way it truly is. I suppose this prevents us from doing what needs to be done, much of the time. We can't save every stray or adopt every unwanted pet. Sometimes, our love leads to more harm than good such as when we feed strays. And that's difficult to accept. No wonder non- animal lovers look at us and roll their eyes.
We have big hearts and idealistic goals. That can be beautiful as well as destructive. Bigger hearts can take in more love after all and animals give more of that. 

Yes, I'm a crazy animal lover. You might be too, dear reader. But this crazy love for creatures can be managed. With time and self-control, it is possible to understand your limits and be content with the animals you have. That tug will always be there, though...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

When Things Don't Go As Planned

A lot of times in life things don't go as planned. You don't get into that school you want to get into or that party you've been planning for ages has been cancelled or you're not where you thought you'd be in life years ago. And this was one of those times for our family: it rained during our vacation to the beach. Pretty minor in comparison of all of the horrible things that could have happened, I suppose, but it still was a major bummer. We decided to go home early.

Sometimes, these things happen. They've happened over much more major things. And they seemed really, really bad when they've happened but sometimes, they've turned out to be really good things. For example, because we've left Ocean City early, we're going to our own shore house which is predicted to have good weather. Smaller I know but possibly beneficial.

This applied to the past too. When I was younger, I very much wanted to go to this private school. Very, very badly. I was bullied quite badly in my middle school and the idea of going to have to endure public high school horrified me. When I went to this private school, I happened to be greeted by a very nice girl. I hadn't been treated with that amount of kindness in a long time and I associated the private school with that. Never mind the fact that it didn't have any resources for the literary minded and would have been much too structured for my tastes: I only noticed the kindness. So naturally, I wanted to go to this school despite how ill-suited it was to me because I saw it as a way away from bullying. There was another private school better suited for me but it was rife with the same sort of bullying I was trying to leave, not to mention that the kids were even richer and snobbier than those at the public school. Essentially, I didn't belong in either although I didn't know it at the time. I didn't make it into the private school I wanted to get into although now, with time and distance, I see it was for the best. I went to my local public school and though it sucked also, I managed and saved my parents some money. And I'm sure there can be similar other cases.

So when things don't turn out as planned, you have to think of another plan. The only thing you really can do is move forward with life and see where it goes. Only sometimes, it truly is better. To put it in cliche terms: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

At the very least, it might teach you something even if it isn't better. Even if it just sucks in general. Because life throws curveballs and sometimes things really don't turn out as planned for better or worse. But it's always better to be optimistic about things.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Nostalgia of Youth

Youth is something that pulls at you long after it's gone. After yesterday's article, I really got to thinking about my childhood in general. Not to mention, since dolls were such an integral part of my childhood, that got me thinking about it too. I also got to go to the local pool and seeing all the children play made me feel a strange tug at my heart: I wanted to be a kid again. I thought about being a kid again for the first time in a long time.

And I miss being a kid. Because really, who doesn't? Sure, there are a few sad cases but, in most cases, childhood is something that is the best time of most people's lives. Of course, my childhood wasn't perfect but it was pretty good.

Children can get away with so much more than teenagers can. Or at least it feels that way to me. They can play in the water park without strange looks and they can do all sorts of silly, immature things without an eyeroll. They can play with dolls and they can have imaginary friends and all that fun stuff. They get to frolic around without a care in the world. Best of all, though, they get to live in a safe, sheltered world.

Perhaps, it's the age I'm at now. But if I had the choice, I would either go back five years or forward five years.

Of course, I know that childhood isn't exactly as rosy as we remember it as. There were parts of my childhood, I'm leaving out. My dolls might have followed me on my various adventures... but that's because they were substitutes for real friends. My childhood was often a lonely one and bullies often made it terrifying. I've watched friends' parents get divorced as well as go through a variety of other hard things. So maybe childhood isn't exactly wonderful but I feel like it's pretty freaking good.

But still, I wonder.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Dolls are the defining objects of a little girl's childhood. They certainly were of mine. American Girl dominated my life from the ages of six to twelve although I played with a few other dolls too. Playmates, protectors, friends... Dolls were it all. They are objects that let us escape into different worlds and with different things. On one level, many little girls know that their dolls are technically real... yet, in so many ways, they are. My friend and I used to test for a heartbeat on my dolls to try to see if they were secretly "alive."

Dolls were always so great to cuddle with. I loved the simple feeling of them in my arms, someone I could pour all my love to. Baby dolls were my favorite for some reason although I didn't mind other, older dolls too. I could talk to them and, even though they couldn't talk back to me, I told myself that despite everything they were listening.

Dolls were my companion to my every adventure. I would drag them around and be like, "Woah, can you believe what just happened?" I would take them to the hill and I would let them roll around with me on the hill somehow. I even took them to school a few times (although one time, it ended in disaster as I left it behind on the playground and someone tore its head off). They followed me everywhere almost to just about every outing.

Not to mention, they always had the cutest little outfits that I could put them in. I never like clothes shopping for myself but my dolls were a different story. I would dress them up to go to church with me or parties; I would put them in pajamas to go to sleep; I would put them in their every day clothes. I just felt like I had to do this or else I would be a bad mother.

Essentially, dolls were my primary toys. Sure, I loved a good stuffed animal or electronic as much as any Millennial but dolls somehow took the cake. They were my most precious items and I just couldn't help but love them.

I loved dolls, I think, because they could be anything I wanted them to be. They could have any personality I wanted them to have. I could pour my love out to them when I had no one to pour it out to, I wouldn't have to put up with any unkind words from them and I knew that they would always love me. I knew they weren't technically real but they were more than a hunk of plastic to me.

I was fortunate enough to have a family that would play along with me (my mother would even give me parenting advice with them and talk to them). I had no mean brothers to threaten their safety.

When I finally got to the point when dolls didn't mean that to me, I couldn't help but be sad. At that point, of course, I knew my childhood was over and there was no going back. Putting them away wasn't emotionally difficult for me because at that point, I had already left them in the corners for quite a while but still.

So about four years, these dolls languished under my bed, until my one rat, Buttercup, sneaked under there during playtime. And then I remembered. Of course, as a photographer, I couldn't help but go under to take a peek and have a photo shoot with the dolls. At this point, they were merely objects to me.

Still, I couldn't help but flood back with memories of my childhood. They were artifacts of my past, after all. Because, of course, they were wrapped in so many of my memories. I almost felt a little guilty leaving them as I had under the bed.

And when I put them away, I had the oddest feeling inside. After all, how could I have so casually stowed away my childhood like I had? Those dolls mean nothing to me anymore but I couldn't help but remember how much they had.

This is a snippet of the dolls I found under my bed. Yes, I meant it to be creepy but also kind of sad.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I Need Blogs to Read

Hello, dear readers! I have nothing new to write about today but I do have one request: Give me blogs! I'm getting quite bored this summer with quite the case of writer's block. So I ask you, What are some blogs you recommend? What are some of your blogs?

Of course, I've already been reading some blogs although I admit that I'm quite terrible at commenting on them (too lazy too?). Also, sometimes, after I'm done reading them, I wonder what made me read them in the first place considering many of them are hard for me to relate to. It's almost like I enjoy reading blogs that I can't relate to because the good writing on these blogs somehow sucks me in (I haven't been a parent, I haven't had any fertility issues and I don't have DID but still, I find myself touched by these blogs and I learn quite a bit from them).

Some blogs I have been reading include: (Okay, this isn't a blog but still, totally awesome) and the occasional other book blog when I'm in the mood
Some random tumblr photography blogs...
I used to read my friend Maddie's blogs but sadly, she no longer updates (otherwise, I would post them here too).

So how about it? This is pretty much the only place you'll get to shamelessly self-plug :)