Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Halfway World

She leaned against a crooked tree
neither standing nor quite sitting.
She shuddered in the halfway breeze
neither warmth nor cold 'twas spitting.

The sky was blue
though cloudy too,
the trees were large, though weak.
She glanced and saw a stranger's face
reflecting in the creek.

It seemed it was a halfway world
It seemed she was a halfway girl;
one foot behind in yesteryear,
one hand pulling the future near.

Though she was nervous and confused
she smiled in the sunlit chill,
"At least," she said in halfway tones,
"The earth seems unsure still."

Copyright Lover of Lembas 2017

Brown Withered Plant during Daytime

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Closet Remodel (I am TEEN?!?)

A scary realization has slowly been seeping through the crusty sponge that it is my reluctant-to-change mind.  To my mind-sponge's credit (what even is this metaphor?), it did a good job of resisting said realization, but alas! it has finally been soaked.

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The realization is this: I am teen.

I am not old-lady-Jenny who used to wear cardigans and sip tea literally all the time.  I thought that I was different from other people and could resist the teen-phase.

I used to look at teens and literally think "those whippersnappers!"  I used to be so confident in myself that I never thought about what other people think about me (wow, look at the grammar of that sentence).  But now...?  Now, I am teen!

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I got rid of all my nightgowns because I figured that was pretty weird for a teenager.  Younger Jenny would probably say "but who cares, they are comfortable and you're just sleeping!"  Yes, BUT THIS JENNY CARES.  This Jenny wants to fit in.  She wants to wear cool pajamas even though no one will see them.

This Jenny listens to music more than she reads.  Just let that sink in.

A lot of this may have to do with the fact that school has really picked up and my mind is fried by the end of the day, but it's still a shocking realization.

Jenny has a crush on a boy from school.  Old Jenny thought that was a huge waste of time that could not matter less.  New Jenny cannot control herself and needs to DIAL IT DOWN.

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I don't know how this happened, but slowly over the past few months, I've been realizing that slowly but surely I've been morphing into a teenager and changing from my weird old-lady ways.  Who am I?

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This all came to a head Sunday when I finally pulled the desk out of my closet in my room.  It'd been in there for as long as the room had been mine, and it was just another reminder of how odd I was--my closet wasn't used for clothes like most people's, but was just used for more studying.

But I haven't used the desk in awhile, and so I tore it out.  It had been wedged in there before the closet doors were put on, so I had to literally tear it apart in order to pull it out.  Now my closet is full of clothes.  Teen clothes.

The forsaking of a desk for more room for clothes perfectly manifests the overhaul of my prior personality into this strange new world of teen-stuff.

I mean, it's a natural part of life, right?  It's been a pretty rapid progression from old lady to teenager, but eventually I'll probably wobble out an old lady again.  My personality is probably a parabola to be honest.

Well now that that rant is over, I can show you how I organized my closet!

My room is usually never messy, but teen-Jenny has been getting lazy when it comes to cleaning her room.  It starts with one piece of dirty clothing and snowballs into a huge mob of random stuff.  Two nights ago, I found a five pound dumbbell in my bed.  I had been sleeping with it in my bed and didn't realize until midnight.  And by that point I was too lazy to put it away (I took care of it in the morning).

Things only got worse when I emptied everything from the closet.

So I know what you're thinking!  Dang Jenny, you are actually a slob.  

But really I'm not!  I adore organizing, so I was really excited to get everything put away.  I mean, I spent my Memorial Day weekend cleaning, so that shows just how much I love it.

So why do any of you care about this?  The truth is, you probably don't.  But I think that this whole debacle illustrates something you definitely will care about.

I'm talking about the different stages we go through in our lives when it feels like we don't really know who we are.  This closet and it's organization represents that to me.

Yeah, I have gotten rid of my desk and I'm changing my priority a slight bit to something else.  But deep down I haven't really changed.  I can't be too much of a teen if I still spend my weekends cleaning my room and organizing things.

No matter how much of a stranger you may seem (even to yourself) there is always fundamentally you deep down inside.  As long as you don't lose sight of yourself, you'll be alright and can feel free to embrace change.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Schindler's List

I got food poisoning yesterday so I had to leave school early.

I was scrolling through Netflix looking for something to watch while I was bumming around, and I noticed that I still hadn't finished Schindler's List.  I watched the first twenty minutes about a month ago, but I never had the time or patience to watch the whole movie.  It is quite long!

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But even though being infirm was definitely not fun, it may have been a good thing because it forced me to sit back and made it impossible for me to attempt to multitask while watching this film like I normally would.

Schindler's List tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman and member of the Nazi party who, through various efforts and expenses on his part, manages to save about 1,200 Jews from being killed in the Holocaust.

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He originally hires some Jews just because they are cheaper labor, but later figures out that he can buy them and take them to his factory as workers (even if they aren't necessarily very good workers--he saves many children for instance) and therefore prevent them from being killed.

First of all, I really liked the character of Oskar Schindler and how he was portrayed by Liam Neeson.  Sometimes people like to whitewash the protagonists of stories, particularly true stories (as Schindler's List is) and make them completely heroic or completely awful.

Oskar Schindler was not whitewashed in this movie: he was shown as a man with deep issues and problems he had to conquer as well as a man with a compassionate soul deep down.  The movie didn't shy away from his ties with the Nazis--he is shown wearing the Swastika pin--and they acknowledged that he had a problem with womanizing and being unfaithful to his wife.

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The same goes in the reverse.  Amon Goeth was of course a very terrible man who shot Jewish people from his balcony at the camp, but there was conflict within him.  He began to sort of fall in love with one of the Jewish girls, and wrestled with his notion that Jewish people were like rats--for how could her's be the face of a rat?  In the end Goeth was not able to make the correct decision, and didn't change for the better.  But I did like that the film didn't paint him as a completely callous man who never faced any internal conflict.

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Aside from the wonderful characterization, the acting itself was superb.  Ben Kingsley who played Schindler's secretary, Itzhak Stern, had a particularly outstanding performance, as did Embeth Davidtz, who played the Kommandant's maid, Helen Hirsch.

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The movie was very well made, and I found the choice to show it in black and white quite interesting, and something that sets it apart from other WWII films.  I suppose that when I think of WWII images I always think in black and white, so to see everything happening in black and white made me really think it was history rather than people play-acting history.

The music was awe inspiring, though I wish there would have been more of a prominent presence!  I adore the Theme from Schindler's List, and actually that is the primary piece I am working on playing on the violin, and I just wished that it would have been incorporated a bit more into the movie.

I thought the authentic Jewish prayers were very beautiful and heartbreaking to hear.

I must say that after a long time studying world history, there is a tendency to say "oh yes, the Holocaust, well that was horrible..." and just leave things at that.  One knows the facts of course, and knows that it was an awful occurrence, but sometimes I feel like we get a little desensitized to it because time has passed, and it is talked about so much (which it should be!).  But this film really was a bit of a wake-up call and sort of showed just how truly horrific it was.  I really felt that I was right there with everybody being carted around and pushed everywhere.  I think that is a very valuable aspect of this film; that it is able to bring something we know factually but don't understand emotionally to life.

One part I found very heartbreaking was when all the children happily waved goodbye from the trucks (because they didn't understand what was happening) but their mothers and families rushed after them crying because they knew they would never see them again.

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With that said, a lot of the ways this film brings out the truly painful aspects of the Holocaust is through some rather graphic details: shootings are shown very up close and very realistic--I must confess that I never really put together just how one's neck would be maimed if they were shot: it just never occurred to me.  Other instances of this include complete exposure of naked bodies as the Jews at the camps were forced to run around for health inspection.  This may be a little disturbing to younger viewers, but it was done in a respectful manner I think.

The inclusion of these graphic details was not for gory gratification at all, but I think it was to be realistic and not shy away from how truly awful everything was.

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Schindler's List does a great job of balancing the overarching atrocity of the Holocaust happening with intimate struggles of the main characters.  This movie is not too much of a character study, and also not too much of a history documentary.  It is able to balance both of these pieces quite wonderfully in my opinion.

So after this rave review, I don't think it's any surprise that I whole-heartedly recommend Schindler's List to anyone who feels that they are mature enough to handle the subject matter and graphic content.  This may be one of my top five films, and possible close to number one.

I recommend this review from TheCinemaholic which does a wonderful job of summing everything up.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What I Learned From Doing Something I Dislike

I hate track and field in the same way teenage girls "hate" their mothers.  I constantly complain verbally, sometimes I actually give it the cold shoulder, but I return to it time and time again because I know that it's what's best for me and only is working toward my good.

I signed up for track this year under the impression that "it'd be good to try new things" and "meet new people" and "get some exercise!"

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Typically when you join a high school sport, you go to captains' practice for a couple weeks, to see if you'll like it before you fully commit to going to practice and meets every day of the school week and paying a boatload of money to the district.

But my friends Sarah and Kayla had already been in track for a couple years, so they didn't bother going to the captains' practices.

After rigorously questioning them about track and field, I decided that it might be a good idea to join, and I didn't bother going to captains' practices since they wouldn't be there and I didn't want to be alone.

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The first couple days of track were a honeymoon period for me.  I felt good about myself for getting my endorphins rushing around and I didn't feel like a boring person who rides the bus home from school every afternoon and just blogs (not that blogging is lame or anything).

But after the first couple weeks it began to dawn on me that track, quite simply, is not my thing.

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I'm not an awfully out of shape person, but running for no reason (or for very little reason) is not necessarily something I find particularly fun or attractive.  I need the adrenaline of getting to the soccer ball first or preventing the tennis ball from double-bouncing to get me truly motivated.

It didn't help things that the majority of track practices took place in the bitter cold and freezing rain that is so plentiful in my home state around this time of year.  When we weren't in the smelly weight room or using resistance bands in the gym, we were outside freezing while I asthmatically wheezed on the turf.

Part of the issue was that I literally had undiagnosed asthma which made things doubly awful.  It wasn't until a couple weeks ago that I got my inhaler, and things have been marginally better since.

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I didn't make many friends, either.  Part of this is definitely my fault for not putting myself out there, but part of it is due to the really intimidating atmosphere of the team.  There are the top runners who everyone knows and definitely cares about, and then there are the runners that aren't as good who don't necessarily get much attention from coaches or even other teammates.

I run with the sprinters which secludes me from all the people I knew who were mid-distance runners, and that left me with only Sarah and Kayla as friends basically.  I've only really made one other friend, the girl who runs the second leg on our relay team, and even then we only talk when we need to work on handoffs or something.

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So what objectives have I met and missed since joining tracked?

Have I made lots of friends?  No.
Have I tried something new?  Yes.
Have I developed a new skill?  Not really.
Have I gotten a little exercise and sun?  Yes.

So it's a bit of a mixed bag when it comes down to it.  I'm not in love with actual track activities, though I don't necessarily hate them.  I didn't really look forward to track, but sometimes it was nice.  I would say all in all track is not the best use of my time because I don't see it getting me anywhere significant, and I probably will not join next year.

But I have learned and accomplished just a few unexpected things throughout track, and since the season ends for me on Thursday, I want to look back on the season and see how it has benefited me.


I am More Confident With Myself

When you're forced to make the most intense and hilarious looking face while sprinting because it's the best way to get air in; when you're forced to run little prancing steps to get good form; when you're forced to push your rump as far into the air as possible to stretch out and practice blocks; and when you're forced to wear skimpy little running shorts for your uniform at every meet, you have got to find someway to be confident in yourself.

Normally I am uncomfortable in anything shorter than Bermudas.  But since I've legitimately been forced to wear actual shorts and tank tops for meets, I am more used to letting loose and being confident in who I am.  Not in an overly-revealing way, of course, but I've learned that I don't need to hide out of lack of confidence.

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I Understand More Jargon

If you had told me you ran the 4x1 a couple months ago, I would have little to no idea what you were talking about.  If you used the phrase "PR", I would immediately think "public relations?"  But now I understand all these phrases that people throw out, and I get what they mean by them.

I feel like it'd be really embarrassing as an adult to not even know how long a strait is on a track.

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I am Proud of Myself

Discipline is doing something even when it's not fun and shiny anymore.  Discipline is working even when the goal seems so far away and unachievable.  I don't mean too toot my own horn here, but the shine wore off track a long time ago, and I still pushed myself to do it.

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I don't think there was necessarily anything forcing me to keep going besides a desire to not waste all the money I paid, to please my parents, and not be a quitter in front of my friends.  I could have dropped out most likely with little or no consequence.  The coaches certainly wouldn't have cared if a a lowly JV runner suddenly stopped showing up.

But I kept going not for anyone else, but for myself.  This sounds really melodramatic, but I honestly would be so disappointed with myself if I looked back on my freshman year and saw that I weenied out of track and field.

I'm not usually very challenged academically in my courses, and sometimes I slack off a bit and just do the bare minimum to get the grade I want.  I don't really learn the discipline of doing something you don't want to do in the academic field, mainly because I love studying and it's not hard for me.  The one thing that is actually challenging to me is mentally preparing myself to do something like running, and I'm happy that I disciplined myself enough to get that done.  It may help me when academic things or music things, etc. get harder (*cough cough* AP Bio, APUSH, top orch next year).

I persevered, and yeah, I'm not the best, but I'm glad that I did what I set my mind to.

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I Got Sun and Exercise

I'm not super ripped or anything, but I am more toned than I normally would be at the start of summer vacation, and I am not as desperately pale as usual.  I actually have a bit of a tan!

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Track is a memorable experience.  I look forward to twenty years in the future when I tell my kids "when I ran track in highschool..."

It's not necessarily my favorite, but I am proud and happy that I went for it and actually did it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Tips for Comic-Con

Comic-Con is heading to the wonderful city of Las Vegas, and I know there are a lot of prospective visitors, and maybe some newbies heading out there.  It's sure to be a stunning collection from across all fandoms.  Here are some tips for people going to their first Comic-Con, or who weren't satisfied with previous events and want to make their next trip the best.

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Embrace the Waiting

With any large event there is a certain element of waiting in line.  Patience is a virtue of course, but sometimes you just think to yourself, "I didn't come here to be virtuous, I came here to see _____!"  

I totally understand where you're coming from, but the reality is that there will be a lot of waiting one way or another.  Some of the best parts of a convention or event are the actual moments of waiting, in my opinion.

I recently went to an orchestra performance, and 80% of the enjoyment was just talking with my friend about the performance, what we liked, what astounded us, etc.  (The other 20% was from sheer awe at the vibrato the violinists employed--geez, it was incredible.)

The same goes with Comic-Con, ipso facto!  There are so many interesting people from all across the country that attend events like Comic-Con, and it's really fascinating to meet everyone.  It's also crazy when you find someone from right where you're from, but you meet miles and miles away from where you both come from.

This happened to me twice: once I met a group of teenagers that lived just a couple hours from me all the way in Tennessee, and the other time, my brother in law from Mexico met someone here in the U.S. from his exact city in Mexico!  Isn't that crazy?

Even if you're not a people person, remember that if you choose, you never have to speak to any of the people there ever again!  So go a little wild and let your hair down.  Don't be afraid to be bold and start a conversation, and who knows--the waiting may be the majority of the fun!

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Plan Out Where You're Going AHEAD OF TIME

I don't know if I can stress this enough.  Conventions can get really crowded, really quickly.  It's super important to bring a map of the locations of certain events you'd like to see, as well as a reliable way to keep track of when you want to be there.

Waiting times can spill over into other events which can force you to alter your plans, so don't carve anything into stone, but try and make sure you have a game plan.  Wandering around can be fun if you have an hour or two to spare, but if you intend to hit certain specific events, you definitely want to plan this out ahead of time.

Give yourself a cushion of time in between events in case you get lost, a line is longer than expected, you strike up a conversation with someone, or you just need a rest.  The one thing you don't want to do is be rushing to get places so much that you forget to have fun and enjoy the atmosphere.

Planning out where you're going definitely includes where you'll be staying and how you'll get there.  There are lots of resources on including a way of setting up a package deal that can help you out in that regard.

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Figure Out the Rules

Comic-Con has common sense rules for all attendees to follow, and you should double check that you are okay before heading out.  There are few things worse for a convention-goer than being forced to hand over their carefully packed picnic lunch before they enter the hall, or to get their cosplay sword taken away.  

You can find all the rules over at the Comic-Con website.

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Live in the Moment

I have a chronic problem with focusing too much on the future and not living in the moment, and it gets even worse (if you can believe it) when I'm at a convention or on vacation.

Take pictures, yes.  Write down what you're experiencing, of course.  

But don't forget to just look around you and take everything in, particularly at an event as charismatic as Comic-Con.

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Think Up Your Q&A Question Ahead of Time

There is nothing so painful to watch as a fan get really starstruck, fumble, and completely fail at asking a celebrity a question.  Think up your question before you speak, and don't embarrass yourself.  Write down your question if you aren't feeling very confident (or if you are feeling too confident--that can't be a good sin.)

This is a favor for everyone watching, and the people on the panel, but mostly for yourself.

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Limit Yourself When it Comes to Spending

Yes, there will be merch available at Comic-Con you can rarely find elsewhere.  Yes, it will totally match your costume, and yes, it will look awesome next to that model of a Stormtrooper you bought at Aldi.

But before you start throwing your cash dollars at random T-shirts and key-chains, ask yourself if this is really a good idea.  I don't mean to sound prudish, but it is really overwhelming to be surrounded by all the fandom items you've seemingly been searching for your entire life. 

Even the most frugal of fans can find themselves knee deep in debt if they aren't careful with their money.  Set a limit to how much you are willing to spend on merch, and think even more carefully when buying something.  Remember that buying this thing now may prohibit you from buying something later.  This will make sure that you think carefully about your purchases and don't waste all your money.

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Hopefully these tips will help everyone heading to Vegas this year, and I hope Comic-Con is as amazing as you've always dreamed (don't deny it, we all know this has been your dream since you were eight).  

Friday, May 12, 2017

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) is a thought-provoking dystopia by George Orwell set in the year of it's title.

It tells the story of two members of a society that aim to fight back against the repressive and overbearing governmental regime they live under.  It has proved to stand the test of time, and disturbingly, many of the terms and concepts that Orwell coined have resurged in our culture and are applicable today.  Examples of this phenomenon include things like the "thought police", "big brother", etc.

I had really high hopes for this story, because I really like political science, and am obviously not a fan of totalitarian governments, so I was enthused by the idea of a story about characters sort of rejecting this idea.
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Overall, I thought the story was pretty good.  The world that it occurred in was probably the best part, and the characters and their specific story faded a bit into the background just for me because I was trying to absorb all the intricacies of the world they were in.

The characters and their unique story stood out more in 1984 than they did in A Brave New World for sure though.  I particularly adored the ending of the book, which has just a glorious twist.  Minor spoiler alert, but the ending is not a positive one.  I think this ending really drives the point that the story was trying to drive home.  If Winston had just been able to reject Big Brother and everything, then it makes Big Brother not seem like a relevant threat, if anyone can just shake him off.  Surely if Winston can do it, we can too?  But seen, Winston can't.  And that's the best part because it makes everything more desperate in the story.

I also liked the rumors of Goldstein, who (I was proud that I caught on very early after his introduction) clearly resembles Jesus and may even be a direct metaphor.  It says he was
"engaged in counterrevolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared", "It [Goldestein's] was a Jewish face [...] it resembled the face of a sheep, and the voice, too, had a sheeplike quality [...] he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought [...] But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day, and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in the newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were--in spite of this, his influence never seemed to grow less [...] There were also whispers of stories of a terrible book, a compendium of all the heresies, of which Goldstein was the author and which circulated clandestinely here and there.  It was a book without a title.  People referred to it simply as the book..." (12-13)

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A counterrevolution sounds just like Jesus' mission to kind of quietly revolt against the past pagan ideologies and evil practices going on in the ancient world and to turn everyone away from that kind of thing.  He obviously was condemned to death and did mysteriously escape through his resurrection.

Of course, Jesus was Jewish, and he is The Lamb Of God, so it would make sense that Winston visualizes Goldstein's face as rather sheeplike.  He advocates all the freedoms of the Western world that sprang up from a Christian sentiment in almost the exact same language they are in the U.S. Constitution.

It is very true that Christianity and Jesus in particular are hated by a lot of the world and people desperately try to foil his theories and claim they hate him, and yet his span of influence is great.

The "compendium of all the heresies" written by Goldstein without a title, just called "the book" which is what Bible means (the books) is a thinly veiled reference.

As much as I relate with authors like Tolkien about not liking allegory or direct metaphors, I adore picking apart little phrases and piecing together what or who an author is referencing.

I also like how "'Mrs.' was a word somewhat discountenanced by the Party--you were supposed to call everyone 'comrade" (20).  I like this inclusion because it definitely hearkens back to Soviet Russia and conjures up some ideas of dictatorship and totalitarianism.

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This story reminds of V for Vendetta which is a great film which you would probably like if you liked 1984.  It's quality and stars Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman.

George Orwell is really good at hinting at the awful quality of things without showing his hand.  He builds the suspense so that your mind creates the most awful thing it can imagine without his having to give you certainty of what it is.  I always say that the unknown is far more frightening, and he showcases this ability in the following passage:

"Do anything to me!' he yelled.  'You've been starving me for weeks.  Finish it off and let me die.  Shoot me.  Hang me.  Sentence me to twenty-five years.  Is there somebody else you want me to give away?  Just say who it is and I'll tell you anything you want.  I don't care who it is or what you do to them.  I've got a wife and three children.  The biggest of them isn't six years old.  You can take the whole lot of them and cut their throats in front of my eyes, and I'll stand by and watch it.  But not Room 101!" (237)

I recommend 1984.  It's very culturally relevant, it's a spur for conversation, and it is well written.

Here are some of my favorite quotes I saved as I read:

"He fell asleep murmuring 'Sanity is not statistical,' with the feeling that this remark contained in it a profound wisdom." (218)

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"War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength." (4)

"There is no possibility that any perceptible change will happen within our own lifetime.  We are the dead.  Our only true live is in the future.  We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone.  But how far away that future may be, there is no knowing.  It might be a thousand years.  At present nothing is possible except to extend the area of sanity little by little.  We cannot act collectively.  We can only spread our knowledge outwards from individual to individual, generation after generation.  In the face of the Thought Police, there is no other way.' [...] 'To the confusion of the Thought Police?  To the death of Big Brother?  To humanity?  To the future?' 'To the past,' said Winston.  'The past is more important,' agreed O'Brien gravely." (176)

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Aspirations for the Dying

(To be said with the person dying.)

Good Jesus, give me a deep love for You, that nothing may be too hard for me to bear from You.

You know Lord, that I am all weakness; teach me to bear my cross.  Bear it for me, bear it in me.

O Good Jesus, my God and my All, keep me ever near You, let nothing for a moment separate me from You.

Good Jesus, to You I flee; hide me in Your sacred side.

O Good Jesus, shelter me from the evil one, shed Your dew upon me to calm my soul, and dwell in me fully, that I may wholly love You.

Good Jesus, Who has borne so patiently with me; make me wholly patient for love of You.

Good Jesus, lead me that I may follow You; hold me that I may cling fast to You; teach me, that I may choose you alone; keep me that I may be Yours for ever.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart, and my soul.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you.

Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

O Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit.

Holy Mary, pray for me.

O Mary, mother of grace, mother of mercy, do thou protect me from the enemy, and receive me at the hour of death.

St. Joseph, pray for me.

St. Joseph, with the Blessed Virgin, thy Spouse, open to me the bosom of divine mercy.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Musician Tag

May the Fourth be with you!

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I hope y'all are having a fabulous Star Wars day!

I have something a bit off topic for you today; a musician tag.  Music has been on my mind a lot lately, and I would love to ramble about it a bit.  Without further preamble (or pre-ramble, you could say ;) here is the tag!

What instrument(s) do you play? 

I play the violin and piano actively, I am learning guitar, and I historically have played the recorder ;)

How long have you been playing said instrument(s)? 

I've played the piano pretty much my whole life.  I've never been technically trained, but I began teaching myself songs as soon as I could operate my fingers effectively.  I've played the violin for a little over four years.

Brown Violin on White Textile

Does your instrument have a name? If so, what? 

My first violin (a little 3/4 training violin) was named Peter, and my current violin has a really long name I honestly can't remember.  I think the first name is Pierre, and then there are a ton of other foreign names after that.

I am hopefully going to sell Pierre very soon to buy a better quality violin.  I'm considering a Russian name for it...Alexei or Ilyich maybe.

My piano is an old upright from my great-grandma and it doesn't have a name, though I feel like it could be a Susan or a Patricia.

Man Playing Upright Piano Grayscale Photo

How often do you practice? 

Probably two to three hours every day.

What is your favorite note to play? 

Oooh, tough one!  On piano, it's probably E just because that note starts off some of my favorite songs (E3 starts Interstellar, and E4 starts Fur Elise).

On violin, I also like E (I am noticing a trend) but strictly E3.  E4 gets into some dicey territory with fourth fingers, unless you shift up.  Low A on the G string is also pretty fun on violin.

adult, black-and-white, classic

What note do you absolutely hate to play? 

C#!  I hate C-sharp with a burning passion, particularly the lowest C-sharp on the violin.  It is a really annoying note to get in tune, although it feels amazing when you get it right.

On the piano, maybe A2.  It's extremely out of tune on my piano so it sounds awful.  My mom thinks that there may be a pencil stuck between the hammer and the string there, but we haven't pulled it out yet.  That would explain a few things...

Who is your favorite composer? 

Good question, I'm not really sure.  A friend recommended Sebalius recently who I hadn't really listened to, and he's really good.  I also love Chopin and Schubert for their piano pieces, and Vivaldi obviously has some excellent string concertos.

Buuuuut I also love Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky...

Ooh, and I forgot Gustav Holst!

It's very difficult to say.

Who are your music influences? 

Itzhak Perlman who has the craziest vibrato on this earth that I don't even understand.

My orchestra conductors from middle and high school, the music director at my church, my mom (a pianist) and my siblings (two sisters are pianists--one exclusively, but the other plays the viola as well as guitar, and one brother and one sister are cellists.  My other brother played the trombone and the drums.)

What is your favorite classical piece to play? Pop piece? 

Classical piece--Ave Verum Corpus and Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Cellos (RV 531) 

Pop piece--I don't know if Do You Hear the People Sing? is considered "pop music" or  not, but it is pretty jammy on violin.

What is your favorite genre? (classical, pop, etc.) 

Classical all the way, baby.

Who is your favorite solo artist/band? 

I was obsessed with Coldplay in third grade, and recently I've been listening a lot to The Pines (from my home state!)

What musicians have you seen live? 

I've seen The Minnesota Orchestra (WHICH WAS INCREDIBLE) and multiple youth symphonies that have incredible talent.

If you could perform with any musician, who would you want to perform with? 

I would love to be in an orchestra conducted by John Williams.

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If you could learn to play any other instrument what would it be? 

I've always had a weird desire to play the harp, though that would be really challenging, not to mention crazy expensive.  Cellos are amazing of course, but I know a little about them already.  

Which instrument do you like the least? 

The octobass is so pointless.  I also am not particularly fond of flutes.

What activities are you involved with (at school/your community, etc.)? 

I play in my school orchestra, at my church, and in a string quartet.

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If you could perform anywhere in the world where would it be? 

Carnegie hall, maybe.  I would say Paris, but Europe has lost a lot of it's historical magic in my opinion, and it might be sad to go there.  I feel like it would be a shell of what it once was and that would be discouraging.

What made you want to learn an instrument? 

All the cool kids were doing it (*cough cough* my siblings).

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Why do you continue to play? 

Because I make the best friends playing music and it's a way for me to let off steam while still being productive and improving myself personally.

What is your favorite animal?

Humpback whale, obviously.

Also, what is that doing on this questionnaire????

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Frustrating Satisfaction of Bullet Journals

I've been on Pinterest for awhile now (give me a follow if you'd like!) and I still barely understand how it works.

But I have noticed some fairly popular things popping up on my home page area thingy (whatever it's called...) including something called "bullet journals".  "Nine Bullet Journal Ideas", "Monthly Bullet Journal Design", "Best Bullet Journal Layouts", etc. etc.

I looked into this "bullet journal" craze, and apparently it's a planning notebook type thing for lists and calendars.

You should see some of the designs people come up with and post all over Pinterest!  The artistic precision and perfection--I would be so nervous to write in any of these, because what if you screw up???

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This one's particularly ironic because it says "seek progress, not perfection"
while being so clearly perfectly designed.
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What brand of perfect markers do these people use?

Bullet journals are awesome, and wouldn't your life just be so put together if you could keep such a neat journal?  I mean, you'd be perfect, right?

I mean, no that's not true.  Nobody's perfect and it can be discouraging to see such awesome work when your own journal is a pile of scribbles about random stupid teen thoughts shooting through your brain (*cough cough* not referencing anything in particular *looks forlornly at my journal across the room*).

My friend wants to start a journal but keeps seeing things like this, and then never starts because he knows his won't be as cool and it's discouraging.

For everyone out there who is getting down because there is something (anything!) that looks like you can't do it, or that you'll mess it up, don't let that prevent you from starting!

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My journal is a complete scramble of half-intelligible English, and I adore reading it over and over again because it has my mind sketched out in it.  I write in it all the time even if I only have a moment to jot something down precisely because I don't have to stress about being correct or aesthetic.

If you keep a bullet journal and it looks really beautiful, I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but I just want everyone to know that it's better to do something imperfectly than never do it at all.  

The same goes for anything; violin, tennis, running, braiding hair, everything!

Plus the more you do something, the better you get.  My journals are going to get better the more I write in them, and maybe someday stuff like the bullet journal will just flow out naturally.  But every expert was once a beginner!

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