Wednesday, January 16, 2013

To Err is Human

Well, today I was thinking about the meaning of life like most people do at some point in their lives. I had some good thoughts in the shower about it, but this isn't the shower, so my argument clearly won't be as thought out or make as much sense as it did when there was steam, constant water, and good smelling soaps surrounding me. For some reason, like most people, I do my best thinking in the shower. I've had a margarita in hopes that alcohol will help me recreate this experience, but bear with me.

In my Victorian Literature class, we read a poem called "The Lady of Shalott" written by Alfred Tennyson in the 1800's. It was Tennyson's hope to recreate stories about King Arthur and his knights that Tom Malory wrote about in the romantic period of England. Anyway, the poem is about a young woman who looks into a mirror that reflects what is happening through the window in her room. As she looks in the mirror, she sees many men walking to Camelot and many activities that she is missing. She lives on an island that overlooks Camelot. As she looks in the mirror, she weaves what she sees on this "magic web." The Lady of Shalott is cursed never to look out her mirror and see the world outside directly.

One day, she is sitting with her back to the window weaving when suddenly Sir Lancelot himself comes strolling in on his horse outside her window. He's singing, his armour is made of glittering reds, blues, and yellows. He is basically a loud, beautiful interruption. The Lady of Shalott sees him in the mirror and suddenly rebels against her curse and looks out the window at him. She gets to the body of water that separates her from Camelot and sings and sings so loudly even the villagers in Camelot can hear her. She's in a white dress, making a fuss, but on her way down, she dies. The knights of Camelot find her and they're scared. They fear the death of this woman is an omen, but Lancelot just simply looks at her and muses that she was a pretty girl, what a pity. And then asks God to have mercy on her.

So this story stuck a chord deep inside me. Yes, it's a really sad poem. Probably pitiful. But it's an interesting way to look at life. Many artists depict a cross in The Lady of Shalott's room, and at first I was critical that this has anything to do with religion, but, silly me, religion is in almost everything in literature and if it's not then you can force it. I don't think this one is such a stretch, however.

Thinking about her curse, I first thought, It's not a curse like many others. It seems that she has a choice. And the choice is so difficult because the only thing separating her from peace and chaos is a window that she could just turn around and see. Then came my "A-HA!" moment. This kind of "curse" has been used before in Christianity's creation story. For those who don't know, God told his newly created humans that they can eat from any tree in the garden in this perfect life he made for them with no sin. The catch was that they couldn't eat from ONE tree out of many. It was purely a choice. The devil tempted them and their longing for eternal knowledge doomed them and they ate from the tree anyway. Suddenly they realized they were naked and that what they had before was perfect and they felt ashamed for the first time in their boring, perfect lives. God punished them with promises of death and other horrible things. And promising to send them a savior one day.

(I'm going to start calling The Lady of Shalott "Lady" for short.) Lady had the perfect set up. No sin or bad things would ever happen to her as long as she didn't look out the window. In those days, women lived in their father's home until they moved on to their husband's home, so the person who put her in this room for eternity was probably good ol' Pops. The window is the tree Adam and Eve were not to eat from, in the sense that she can live a perfectly happy life as long as she doesn't look out the window, or eat the apple. She sees Lancelot, or the devil, in the mirror and she wants more. She lusts for him, wants to know more about him, she wants what she can't have, so she disobeys her father just like Adam and Eve disobeyed theirs. She dies in her white dress, and with it, her purity dies too. The curse promised death, just as the Father did.

All of that is well and good, but here's the "So what?" of this story. I look at this story and I don't see Lady dying, I see her finally living. Sitting with her back the window as she weaves and looks in the mirror and does as she's told is no kind of life. In my own experience, blindly following religion and going to church as I'm told has done nothing for me. I know the stories, the morals, and the lessons, but that's what they are. Lady longed for knowledge and rebelled just as I have. I want to know more about other religions and ways of life. I want to know about what's on the other side of the window and how to achieve it, even if it means I'll die trying.

The thing is, good things can't be as good without something bad happening. Adam and Eve would still be living in their perfect garden living ignorantly is sweet, boring bliss if it wasn't for that apple. Think about that. Every day is the same--no one makes errors or mistakes. No one tries to take the road less traveled because they're content. After the fall and only then could they appreciate how lucky and great that garden really was. Before, they had no idea how amazing their set up was. They'd be fools not to yearn for it after they were kicked out. There is no happiness without sadness or sadness without happiness. It's only after you make a mistake that you see how to do something perfectly.

If Lady had never looked out the window, she would have lived only a shadow of her life. If I had stayed in my religious faith that I grew up in, I would have lived only a shadow of my life. She took a leap and jumped in that barge, and you know what? She was singing! I bet she never once sang when she sitting in her room watching the world pass her by, isolated from the people and the activities. Just as I never felt right about sitting in church on Sundays while outside those walls are things like science, theories based off evidence, sexual freedom, people making mistakes to make them stronger and smarter, and people laughing and smiling, and appreciating their lives because they know it's not perfect, but they want it to be. They have something to work toward, and that's what I want in my life. To err is human. I want to be human again, just like Lady did in her last moments.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Setting the Record Straight

I've been having a lot of people argue with me over who is the best superhero lately. So today, it ends. The bickering, the squabbles, the teases--it's over because I'm about to lay down some crazy facts and theories about Batman. Caution: This message will not go over well in the Marvel community.

Here's the thing about Batman. Everyone has "a thing" that makes them special and amazing, especially superheroes. Spiderman has the cute little web-thingys, Captain America has the fancy shield, Superman has laser eyes and crazy-strength, and blah, blah, blah. You know what Batman has? His mind. He's not a telepath, he's not supernatural at all. He has super god-given intelligence without having the whacked-out mega-brain that mad scientist villains have. Batman has common sense. "My best friend is Superman--I should probably keep some kryptonite know, just in case." Duh!

Batman is the epitome of human strength. He shows that you don't need superpowers or to be a goddess or god to be a spectacular human that can save the world. The Justice League constantly looks to Batman when they need help. Which is ironic because in one comic, a villain gets a hold of Batman's stash in his cave on how to kill everyone in the Justice League if something were to ever...go wrong. He has backup plans and is four steps ahead of everyone else.

Instead of taking things that he fears and hiding from them, Batman became the thing he fears the most, bats, and uses them to scare his enemies. Pretty badass. He sees the darkness in the world from the time his parents got shot and goes out to face it until even the scariest of villains are afraid of him. Most people if their wealthy father died and they were left with a crazy-huge inheritance would go spend it and say, "To heck with this company." Instead, he uses the company to control the city and to pay for his gadgets to keep his identity safe. He parties with girls and gives to charity while all the while kicking serious ass in space as well as in Gotham City. He lives the ultimate life. There's nothing he could look back on in 30 years and regret.

He represents all the humans in life who feel a sense of loss over a loved one and just want justice. He represents anyone who's ever wanted to just help people. He represents anyone trying to get over a fear of something. He represents everything a human can possibly do if they're on the path of destiny to fulfill everything they are capable of. And that is why Batman is the greatest superhero of all time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Extra means EXTRA

I got in a tiff with one of my professors today. She's requiring us to attend a poetry reading (not just any kind on any night, but special Bathhouse readings that she's a part of) for points in our class. Every single one falls on a Thursday night when I work. I'm not going to take off work to attend one of these because then I would be choosing my grade in my class, and not the means in which I pay for it.

Eastern is a commuter college. Yes, some people live in the dorms, but the majority of the school commutes and works a job. Or some students like me work two jobs to support themselves. To require that students take an extra two to three hours of their life outside of the classroom seems ridiculous to me. Sure, assigning it as extra credit would make sense because it's an EXTRAcurricular activity thus it deserves EXTRA credit.

Not only that, but the readings happen in a small room that fills up unless you get there early. That would require me to leave my job even sooner in just the hopes that I'll get a seat and if I don't, then I just wasted more than $20 plus gas money because I live 30 minutes away, so I'd have to pay gas there and back. I'm not sure if this is true, but what if there was a cover charge? That would be ridiculous.

If the readings had multiple options when it comes to times, it would be a little better, but I chose to take this class in the hour and fifteen minutes that I did because it's when I could fit it in. I have Monday nights after 6 off (which I won't soon because I'm starting a babysitting job) and Tuesday and Thursday mornings off. That's it. During those mornings, I'm usually scrambling to do my homework for my six classes. Yes, it's just 10 points, and yes I have over 100% in that class, but I wish professors would stop thinking that their classes are the center of my universe because I have a lot more on my mind than Creative Writing at this point in my life.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grab the mustard and catch up.

So to start things off, I'm sorry it's been so long since the last update. School opened its big ol' mouth and swallowed up all of my time, like a big jerk. To catch everyone up on my life in the last few months, I'm making a list.

1. I made it through the first two application rounds to teach English as a second language in South Korea. The application is on its way to Korea right now to be reviewed and I'll know in about a week and a half if I made it. If I do get in, I'll be going through prep classes all of January and I'll fly to Korea on Feb. 5th. There, I'll have orientations for a month at Seoul University and I'll start teaching in a rural area in the beginning of March. Teaching Kindergarten through 2nd graders will be so fun! If anyone knows anyone who has been to Korea or is planning on being there February-July, please let me know, I know some of you already have. :)

2. I'm taking 16 credit hours at Eastern this semester and I'm getting all A's. Some classes are more boring than others, but overall it's not undo-able. My favorite class is Native American Literature. We've learned a couple of stories about the Osage tribe, and since that's part of my heritage, it's been a real treat. My professor took 70 of his current and past students out on Halloween and we split into groups and collected canned goods for the Safe House and SOS Center. We collected over 2,000 cans! I dressed up as Snow White and it was a big hit.

3. Trivia nights at Applebee's are still going strong. In the last four or five weeks we've won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. It's such a great time to just relax and hang out with friends. With everything going on in my life, this planned social life is really working. Let me know if anyone's interested in joining us on Wednesday nights. :)

4. I've been watching all kinds of shows this fall. Big Bang, American Horror Story, Glee, New Girl, Modern Family, Whitney, Up All Night, Survivor, Project Runway, Tosh.0, Mentalist, Parenthood, Raising Hope, 2 Broke Girls, How I Met Your Mother, Dance Moms, THE WALKING DEAD OMG. Yeah, I'm not sure how I fit in all of this with 2 jobs and 16 credits, but you know...make it work. I'll totally talk shows with anyone who needs someone to OMG with.

5. My sister's off at college and my mom's house sitting so my dad and I are on our own. We'll see how that works out. I really like daddy-daughter time. The family's all going to Kentucky for Thanksgiving but I'm staying at home and then next semester Korea, so I better get in all my family time while I still can. I'll be housesitting Thanksgiving week, so at least I won't be home alone. Things are so crazy.

Well, that's my life this semester in a nutshell. I'll start updating this again, especially while I'm gone next semester, so stay tuned!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Write it Down, I'll get Back to it Later.

I love the form my hand takes when it holds a pencil and writes. It's not a normal position compared to the standard. I rest my pencil tip on the ring finger instead of the middle finger which causes my pointer to rest on my thumb, baring it down on the pencil's staff. It's not the ideal position for writing over a long period of time, such as for writing notes. It causes a small bump on my ring finger right next to the bottom of my nail. It makes my skin there smooth and it even causes my nail to grow an indent because I write so much.

Writing with a pencil and paper feels primal and form-fitting to my hand. It's natural and deep-rooted into my biology. I love that writing is unique to each person both in form and content. Writing has been on stones and parchment and scrolls and just about anything that can be written on. It brings us together as an earth. We know what our history is because someone wrote it down. Call me old fashioned, but I love writing something down way more than typing it down. I like reading an actual book more than on a Kindle, but that's a whole other story.

With technology growing, I hope we never lose the artistry of writing our thoughts down on paper. Your handwriting, and habits, and the way you hold the pen/pencil, and the mistakes, and the white-out, and the eraser shavings...all of it make writing individualized. It's personal. I would much rather receive a handwritten love letter than a typed one. It's more romantic and thoughtful.

So readers, write something down on a post-it and share it with your loved one. Write them a love letter. Jot down all your little notes you have to remember throughout the day. Leave yourself notes of inspiration. Write it all down and save it so that the next generation knows a little bit about us other than we knew how to type.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nut Up or Shut Up (Motivation)

My professor last year in my Psychology class for children with exceptionalities taught me lessons I could apply to my life, not just things I could apply to my major. One of the things she taught me was the difference between being intelligent and being smart. She said, "Being intelligent is waking up every morning with a fifth of vodka and smoking a joint or two then walking to class, not having studied or shown up to all the classes or even opened the book, and taking the final exam and getting 100%. That's intelligence. Being smart is setting aside a couple of hours after school to study for the upcoming test that's in two weeks. It's making flashcards. It's buying other books to help you with the subject. It's making appointments with your teachers to ask questions about the material. You don't have to initially know all of the material before walking into class to be smart. You have to work your ass off and study any way that helps you get an A and absorb the material. That's being smart."

In high school, I was just intelligent. I never tried. Putting in effort to do the homework seemed monotonous and dull. Even pointless. I'd test well or do just enough work to get by. I'd wake up early to write a paper just minutes before my classes. Or I would finish it during class. When I started at Washtenaw, I put in a little more effort, but only because my parents were helping paying for it. Working only one part-time job with no extracurriculars made me bored. When I sit at home with nothing to do, I never think to myself that doing homework would be a good idea. When I sit at home with nothing to do, sitting at home sounds like a good idea. That's when I got a second job. At my retail job, I started working 35-39 hours a week, plus I took a couple more classes and still worked at the hair salon. Suddenly I had to do my homework when I was sitting at home. It was a rare time. The two hours I had to myself went to schoolwork.

Keeping busy is one way I gained motivation, but I still just float by doing the minimum to get an A- or B+. Average. One thing I hate about myself is that I'm mediocre at things. But, in my defense, it's a lot of things. I'm okay at playing the piano, I'm okay at driving, I'm okay at video games, I'm okay at math, I'm okay in science, I'm okay in social studies, I'm okay at reading, I'm okay graphic design--I'm okay at being okay. That's not okay! I want to have a passion toward something, I want to be great! Exceptional even! I know I'm great at communication and customer service, and writing. It's high time I light the fire under my butt and aim for the sky.

I say this every semester. "This semester, I'm going to finish my homework the day it's given out and study weeks in advance for tests." That never really happens. I make excuses and put it all off then just slide by. Not this time. I'm starting at Eastern this year and turning a new leaf. No more lying to myself. This is make it or break it time. I've been thinking about entering the honors program and forcing myself into motivation. I'm going to start looking into the study abroad programs and basically, I'm going to finally take initiative. No more slacking. I took two days off my work schedule and I'm going that will give me the perfect balance between work, school, and rest. I plan on getting in a routine so my sleep pattern isn't off. Eastern gave me a planner, it's like they knew! Watch out world! A new English teacher is in town, kicking ass and taking names. :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Thing About Beauty

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." 


It certainly is not. Beauty comes from within. Some aspects of beauty are not seen with an eye at all. Beauty is courage. It's the courage to be bold, to be different, to be insightful, to be poised, to be charming, to be creative, to be graceful, to be empathetic, to be clever. It's something not everyone can pull off. I do think everyone has beauty in them. Whether in their looks or in their heart, but the trouble is that most are afraid to tap into it and spill it out for everyone to see.

Beauty is something that isn't black and white, even though the media would have you believe so. It's grey and up for interpretation, but the truly, it's how you interpret yourself. I've seen girls with burlap sacks for clothing shine above other people by their actions and good spirit. Heck, women who cover themselves from head to toe in black wraps showing only their eyes can be gorgeous by the things they say and the smiles in their only their eyes. It's not about the perfect beach body or looking great in anything you try on, although that can be part of it. Beauty becomes a part of your personality at one point after you utilize it on a daily basis.

In elementary school, I was bullied verbally every day. I was called a "big blue blob" and other nasty things. Children are mean when they have little to no self esteem at a young age. In return, I always believed I was the ugly duckling. I remember going to the library and checking out "The Ugly Duckling" from the library on my own. When I got to the last page, I just sobbed. It was me but I hadn't grown into the swan yet. Girls stepped on my self esteem and choked it until it died. It wasn't until I reached public schools in 7th grade that I started to realize I was prettier than I thought. My friends thought my big earrings and make up was pretty and complimented me. It surged my broken self esteem with a new power and brought it back to life. Suddenly, I was popular in the sense that people really didn't seem to mind me.

When I started dating Kyle, I was told every day that I was beautiful. Of course I didn't believe him at first and thought maybe he's partially blind or something. My new college friends started to tell me I'm beautiful. My family tells me I'm beautiful. But the best thing in the world is that strangers at my work tell me I'm beautiful. I asked myself why. I'm the same person, but why is everyone just now starting to tell me? You know why? It's because you have to rock it. You own it, baby. No matter what you wear, no matter what you're feeling, you rise above and you have to believe you are beautiful. It's amazing how others will start agreeing.

It's a mind set, it really is. Confidence gives off vibes to other people (I know there are chemicals that are released, too, that people are attracted to when you are confident) and they accept you and believe you. Beauty is doing everything you do from the heart and not letting petty things get in the way of that.

So, readers, be bold, be confident, be courageous. It's your turn to smack some beauty on the table in front of you and own it!