Saturday, June 23, 2012

Head vs. Heart

I feel like it couldn't have been a whole week since I last posted.

And then I remember that we had VBS at my church this week, and I was going to school, and I read a book, and I spent too much time on the Internet. And I watched Midnight in Paris which was really fabulous and I played Jeopardy with friends and I cooked and cleaned and wrote.

Then I don't wonder why I'm feeling so tired. Why my eyes are drooping even though it's only 9:33 and a college student should be able to stay awake until 3 in the morning [although my laptop providing the only light in my room could certainly be a contributing factor].

So first, let me apologize if you expect to hear from me more often. I don't know why I think you should have that impression since I've never been particularly conscientious about updating my blog. But I always worry that I'm letting people down so here it is in another medium.

Secondly, I don't have much of my own rambling to offer today. I am still having trouble getting back into the rhythm of having a computer around but not spending all day on it. I have to turn the modem/router dealies off so that I'm not tempted by the Internet.

But before I do that, I want to share something with y'all.

Let me preface this with a sort of lengthy introduction.

There's this awesome movie called Once that stars musicians Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard and they sing many, many lovely songs, one of which won an Oscar [hence my introduction to them]. They went on to collaborate as The Swell Season on two wonderful albums.

[Also, Glen Hansard is part of the band The Frames which is also amazing. I'm partial to their album The Cost after a funny turn of events: I thought recognized Glen's voice in a song that played during a fantastic episode of Castle, so I looked it up. That song, played at the end of this clip, is Rise.]

I recently added Strict Joy to my iTunes collection and was originally kind of annoyed that they included a bunch of live tracks. I'm not a huge fan of listening to people talk when I want to be listening to their music.


Unbelievable, I know. But on two of the tracks, Glen [I feel weird using his first name but the alternative is typing his whole name 5 million times or calling him Mr. Hansard which is just bizarre] says some really poignant things. So I copied them down and here they are:

What Happens When the Heart Just Stops (Live)

This is about being in one of those relationships where you find yourself so insecure, so needy, so obsessed...and the idea is your heart is in a lot of pain, your heart is in a lot of pain it's not good, you're not happy. You're living your life in anxiety and stress.

Your head is so clear that everything is okay. Your head is saying, your logical self is saying, "It's grand. She loves me. We spend all of our time together. Her parents like me, even."

And your heart is a, an abandoned train that's speeding, being driven by a lion, just RUAAGH. On ice, CRUUAHH. Your heart is just out of control.

And the problem is - and I guess here is the essential problem with us humans, is that this muscle and this muscle don't communicate. They don't have a relationship. Most other organs in your body have some kind of relationship with each other, you know, that whole idea of I'll take it from here, passing it down, yep, got it, cool...

But these two muscles - the day you were born they stopped talking. Or maybe when you were three, if you want to get into actual proper psychoanalysis. Or four months old. Anyway, so they stop communicating. And so this is all about praying, putting your hands together, and praying to whoever it is to please turn off this muscle because it's crazy and mad and WAUGH.

Go with Happiness (Live)

[Note: Rare instance of profanity ahead. I think it's totally appropriate in context.]

It seems like the subject of the night, so far, has been two muscles. This is a song about, just a song about having trouble with love and being hurt, not knowing if you want to go back in or out.

Then you hear the song of the siren, the metaphor for, you come upon beauty by accident. And it's again how the speeding train driven by a lion on ice, suddenly - WAAUGH, PFFFH - comes into play and logic is suppressed.

So I would like to dedicate this song to the captains of all the, like the northwestern and all the ships off deadliest catch, only because it's a, because we've been watching it and also, because uh it's a lovely idea, you know. That you're captaining a ship and you hear the song of the siren and the rocks and you know that to turn your ship towards the rocks is very dangerous.

But the heart says, "Fuck the rocks."

The head says, "But we'll all die."

The heart says, "Poetically."

All this in an Irish accent. And that's the human condition, folks. I've got nothing more to add.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Where I Admit to Being a Scaredy-Cat

This week I started reading Divergent (Veronica Roth) which is a pretty awesome dystopian book. Apart from being very engaging, it's given me a lot of human-nature type questions to consider. I'll do my best not to spoil any of the plot for y'all in writing about these.

Also, look how pretty the cover is. I definitely judge this one by its cover :)
So the novel takes place in a future Chicago where society's split into 5 groups defined by a singular characteristic.
  • Abnegation [selflessness, non-indulgence or austerity]
  • Candor [honesty, often to the point of bluntness]
  • Amity [peacefulness, cheerfulness]
  • Erudite [intelligence, general studiousness, also ambition]
  • Dauntless [bravery, recklessness, sometimes fearlessness]
Which, of course, got me thinking about how crazy it is to try to define a group by a single personality trait that they share in common. Also, the selfless group being called Abnegation just strikes me as a very negative word for a very positive quality. And finally, I wondered which group I would choose to be a part of.

Dauntless was immediately out. These people jump out of moving trains for fun. No way. Candor was also easy to get rid of. It's not that I'm a pathological liar, it's just that I value non-conflict in most social interactions. That doesn't happen when you feel free to tell people how you really feel about them [or their views, or their clothes, etc.].

These are for riding in. NOT for jumping out of.
The other three, at first glance, seemed pretty equally spread. But I certainly don't have the thirst for knowledge the Erudite seem to in the novel. And I definitely am not ambitious in the traditional sense.

So. In real life, I figure I value peacefulness and selflessness fairly equally. I believe very strongly in eliminating the need for war as well as serving others for the purpose of eradicating poverty, ending the orphan crisis, etc. In the context of the book, I suppose I would choose Amity, if only because I wouldn't be comfortable living forever at Abnegation levels of selflessness. And for their red and yellow clothes :)

[Clearly, this vanity means that I would be terrible at being selfless.]

But this prompted me to think even more about the reasons I wouldn't choose the other factions. The one that's hardest to come to terms with is the Dauntless one. I think this is because being "cowardly" is involuntary and irrational. I'd certainly like to be less fearful and constrained by rules, but my brain just doesn't work that way. I decide whether or not to tell the truth. I decide to educate myself or not on various topics. I decide to give things up to accomplish a greater good.

I can't just wake up and say, "I'm not going to be afraid of _____________ anymore."

Which is tough because there are a lot of things I'm afraid of:
  1. Wasps/bees/dragonflies/flying insects that look like they could sting
  2. Failure
  3. Ladders [as in, falling off of them]
  4. Making myself look incompetent 
  5. Elevators
  6. Being alone/rejection
  7. Scary movies [I got nightmares from watching Jurassic Park. It was no fun.]
  8. Hate groups 
  9. Dying/being murdered in particularly painful ways
There are other, smaller fears that could be added to this list, I just can't think of them right now. But they're out there, I assure you.

Also, these are in no particular order. For example, I am not more afraid of wasps than I am of elevators.

Combining two of my fears into one mega-fear. I can't watch even a second of that trailer.
On a completely unrelated note, the Google search for "evil elevator" was much more effective than my previous attempt to find an image conveying my sentiments towards "evil electric mixers."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Stuff I Carry

I have trouble letting go of things. Events, mistakes, insecurities, you name it, I tend to hold onto it.

[Yeah, okay, maybe that's a bit much of a blanket statement. Hyperbole is a perfectly acceptable literary tool that I intend to employ fully.]

Clothes. That's another one I don't like to part with. And papers. Especially papers. So much so that, just the other day, I handed down two dresses to my youngest sister that I haven't been able to fit into in at least three years. So much so that I have to go through the piles of stuff under my bed every summer to throw away things from elementary or middle school to make room for the stuff I've accumulated at college that I might need someday and absolutely must hang onto.

I also have tons and tons of pictures. Surprise! Many of them are of cats.
Now that I have my computer back, I have come to terms with the fact that it is just as much an avenue for hoarding as that hidden space beneath my bed. I have hundreds of sites, pages, images, links bookmarked - because I was inspired, I thought they were funny, I could use them for writing/reading/homework. I never rarely delete them. I have multiple folders of bookmarks labeled some version of "More to Read."

So today, I deleted a bunch of them.

Don't worry. None of the cats were erased.
I'm sure there are still too many by "normal" standards. I'm also sure that I don't, in fact, need most of the stuff that stays tucked under my bed 362 days of the year. I'm okay with that. I understand that I get emotionally attached more to the idea of saving things than the actual things themselves. It takes time for me to process and get rid of things - but the important part is, I do eventually get rid of them. Unless, of course, they really mean something to me, and then I try to find a better place to put them than in an old shoebox or buried between random articles.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire? Are the excess cat pictures the next to go?
Since I'm on the subject already, I can extend this not-throwing-anything-away mindset to my collections. At various points in my life, I have collected coins, figurines, rocks, dreamcatchers, erasers, candles, etc. While I really only collect old coins and dreamcatchers and maybe candles at the moment, I still have all these other things:
  • The rocks and erasers are in some jar or drawer or box, along with other things I don't even remember collecting.
  • The candles and figurines I have arranged on my shelves at home. There's also room for some books and tons of stuffed animals. Another thing I probably have too many of.
  • Dreamcatchers are easy - they lie flat on the walls [except for my 3D one]. 
  • My coins are split between a piggy bank and a jewelry box that I may have misplaced.
To be honest, it wasn't until a few years ago that I realized how silly these things were. How I was surrounding myself with possessions that I would lose or not use or were only good for being looked at [or smelled, in the case of candles]. I quit buying figurines - I wasn't even tempted to buy any while I was in Peru. I pushed back the dates on what I considered a "collectible" coin. I started to actually light some of the many candles that I own.

No - I could never get tired of seeing this cuteness!
And you know what? The planets continue to orbit, the sun continues to shine, and I don't feel any differently now than I did before. Incredible, I know. I enjoy the stuff I have, but a lot of it, I know I don't really need. I mean, I have good taste and all, but I want most of my possessions to have more meaning than just being pretty. There's only so much time in the world and, though I hate to say it, it can't all be spent being sentimental or stargazing or shopping.

Or partying. Or CAT-partying. See what I mean about the cute factor?
I have stuff to get done, darn it, and I can't let all my other stuff get in the way of that.

Not even pictures of cats.