Saturday, December 31, 2011

An Abundance of Quotes Part New Year's 2011/2012

"Adolescence represents an inner emotional upheaval, a struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future." - Louise J. Kaplan

Tomorrow I'm going English country dancing (don't ask me what that is) with my best friend and her family, so I'm writing my end of year reflections now.

A lot of good stuff-a lot of wonderful stuff- has happened this year, and...certain things that were markedly less so. I've changed and grown to the point that I kind of want to go back in time to December 30th of last year and slap myself across the face. But that would kind of create a time paradox that I don't really feel like dealing with. It's been interesting, it's been enlightening, and I've learned more than I could possibly ever put into words, much less write down in a single blog post.

I couldn't come up with a single quote to describe the year as a whole in more specific terms- a theme, if you will, but now I want to share with you some of the best/most poignant/interesting things I've heard this year.

First, the most helpful piece of writing advice I've ever received, from my friend rock4ever95: "If you want to spit out brilliance, try spitting things out."
I have a joint problem of perfectionism mixed with the strange notion that people will stop liking me as a person if I produce something less than awesome, so I think about this at least once a week.

Also, The Mountain Goats on mistakes, forgiveness, and hope: "People say friends don't destroy one another. What do they know about friends?"

Something I find important enough to include in my email signature: "Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves." - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

How I feel on my better days, in the words of Douglas Adams: "The world is a thing of utter inordinate complexity and richness and strangeness that is absolutely awesome." (The quote for the worse ones comes directly from me, namely "I hate the world.")

Next, I want to give a shout-out to my friends. All of them. Hi. Thank you. Thank you so, so much. And I know that seems kind of undeserved in some cases, but I mean it. The only things I regret this year are specific words- not actions. I owe the vast majority of my happiness, and the person I am as I type this, to you. You guys are what make life worth living. You, and chocolate.

Also, it's been a year now so it's well past time I told you guys and if the people involved meant to keep it under wraps, I'm sorry: I was asked to write a short story for each song on the album Erase This from DFTBA Records, to be published in a sheet music/lyrics/behind-the-scenes book thing at...some point. It's still on, as far as I'm aware, but I have no idea when things are going to progress on that front.

As for New Year's resolutions, I'm not going with anything specific. I wrote in my journal as preparation for this post a few sentences about the essential theme of each month this past year.

December's entry is my simple yet worthy goal: "Being strong, being somewhat rational, and being me. Or trying, anyway."

Best of fortune to you all. Prepare yourselves for being a day older and a day wiser than you were the day before. :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Books I've Read This Year: 2011

"Happiest is he who judges and knows books." - Thomas Davies, 1845

It's that time of year again where I place all of the books I've read in one post so that they will be archived and I can finally clear out my sidebar. However, this year I'm also going to rate all of them. I know I've written reviews for a few, but I also flat-out disagree with some of them now, so I won't link to them.

No stars = don't bother
1 star = If you are holding it, I won't tell you to put it down
2 stars = I will hand this book to you
3 stars = I will beat you with this book until you read it

It should be noted: These rankings are based on how much I enjoyed them, rather than overall quality, which means the 2 star rating encompasses a large range and a 3 star rating doesn't have any set criteria, so take all of this with a grain of salt. But a very small grain, because I have excellent taste.

  •    Across The Universe
  •  **Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The (Mark Twain)
  •   *All The Time in the World
  •    All These Things I've Done
  •  **Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)
  •   *Anna and the French Kiss
  •  **Beauty Queens (Libba Bray)
  •   *Believing Brain, The-- NF
  •   *Between Shades of Gray
  •   *Blink & Caution
  •  **Bluefish (Pat Schmatz)
  •   *Bored of the Rings
  •   *Brightly Woven
  •  **Brotherband Chronicles: The Outcasts (John Flanagan)
  •  **Cardturner, The (Louis Sachar)
  •  **Charmed Life (Diana Wynne Jones)
  •  **Chime (Franny Billingsley)
  •   *Chosen One, The
  •  **Cinderella Ate My Daughter -- NF (Peggy Orenstein)
  •   *City of Bones
  •   *Crucible, The
  • ***Dark Lord of Derkholm (Diana Wynne Jones)
  •  **Dash And Lily's Book of Dares (David Levithan)
  •    David
  •  **Dealing With Dragons (Patricia C. Wrede)
  •    Delirium
  •   *Demon Trapper's Daughter, The
  •   *Divergent
  •    End of the Line, The
  •  **Every You, Every Me (David Levithan)
  •  **Everybody Sees The Ants (A.S. King)
  •   *Exposed
  •    Family
  •    Genetics For Dummies-- NF
  •  **Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, The (Catherynne M. Valente)
  • ***Going Bovine (Libba Bray)
  •  **Half Magic (Edward Eager)
  • ***Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling: Goddess)
  •    Hereafter
  •    History of Last Night's Dream, The-- NF
  •  **How They Met (David Levithan)
  •  **How To Be Alone-- NF (Jonathan Franzen)
  •    How To Rock Braces and Glasses
  •   *Huntress
  •    I Am J
  •  **I Am The Messenger (Markus Zusak)
  •   *I Was A Teenage Fairy
  •   *Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain - NF
  •  **Incredibly Alice (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)
  •    Jekel Loves Hyde (contains hot, dark, and handsome Englishman, if that's what you look for in a book)
  •  **Justice-- NF (Michael Sandel)
  •  **Last Little Blue Envelope, The (Maureen Johnson)
  • ***Little Brother (Cory Doctorow - link leads to free download. FREE DOWNLOAD.)
  •  **Love is the Higher Law (David Levithan)
  •  **Lover's Dictionary, The (David Levithan)
  •    Lunch Box Dream
  •    Matched
  •   *Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Except for Millard. Millard gets 2 stars.)
  • ***My Unfair Godmother (Janette Rallison)
  •  **Name of the Star, The (Maureen Johnson)
  •  **Near Witch, The (Victoria Schwab)
  • ***Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)
  •   *Nightspell
  • ***Paper Covers Rock (Jenny Hubbard)
  •    Possession
  •   *Post Secret
  •  **Ranger's Apprentice: Halt's Peril
  •    Ranger's Apprentice: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
  •   *Rock and the River, The (really good book, but only gets 1 star based on how I've set it up)
  •  **Room: A Novel (Emma Donoghue- scary/disturbing as heck)
  •   *Rule of Four, The
  •    Scarlet Letter, The
  •   *Scorch Trials, The
  •    Secret of Rover, The
  •   *Shatter Me
  •  **Stardust (Neil Gaiman- personally, I liked the movie better)
  •   *Stork
  •   *Story Time
  •   *Their Eyes Were Watching God
  •   *Thief, The
  •  **To Timbuktu --narrative NF (Casey Scieszka) 
  • ***Tough Guide To Fantasyland, The (Diana Wynne Jones- really pisses me off there isn't a Kindle edition because I so want to have this with me at all times)
  •    Travelers, The: Spader
  •  **Variant (Robinson Wells)
  •    Water Wars, The
  • ***Welcome to Bordertown (edited by Holly Black)
  •  **Westing Game, The (Ellen Raskin)
  •   *What Happened to Goodbye
  •  **When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead)
  •  **Wide Awake (David Levithan)
  •   *Wildthorn
  •  **Witch Week (Diana Wynne Jones- this is close to 3)
  •    Witchlanders
  •   *Wither
  •   *World War Z (loads of people adore this book, but I didn't)
  •    XVI
  • ***Year of Living Biblically, The - narrative NF (A. J. Jacobs)


You all know about my massive crush on the younger version of Neil Gaiman, but he really is a brilliant writer.

A few words on Diana Wynne Jones: I never read any of her books until this year, but had I done so when I was younger, the nostalgia factor probably would have bumped all of her books in this list up to a 3. The Tough Guide holds the record for book that has made me laugh the most and hardest. I completely adore it.

Also starring (pun intended) in this list is David Levithan. Just go to his section of the library and pick a book at random, really. And then pick another one.

Cory Doctorow is a genius. Going Bovine is...a masterpiece of thought-provoking hilarity. Mad cow disease. String theory. Music and Disney World and punk rock angels. What more could you possibly ask for? It is a book truly deserving of the Printz award.

The first half of Bordertown consumed my mind for an entire day. And it's a 500 page book, so it gets 3 stars even when the second half is completely ignored.

Paper Covers Rock is beautiful. Gorgeous. To the point that I read it out loud to myself the first time through, as weird as that is.

My Unfair Godmother, which I just read this past week, is clever and amazing and so, so real. Despite involving magic and wishes and fairy godmothers. We laugh when certain people in my book club clutch certain books to their chests, but I fully intend to do that with this book at the meeting tomorrow.

And then there is The Year of Living Biblically, my favorite nonfiction book ever. A man sets out to find out what's so great about religion (in the form of Judaism and Christianity), and decides to do so by making a list of all of the rules the Bible mentions, and then following them. It's emotional, relatable, and fascinating. It's downright hilarious. It's changed how and what I think about religion, and about people. (Plus I learned a lot about Judaism.) Read this book ASAP. Really. Regardless of what religion or lack thereof you associate yourself with.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The True Meaning of Christmas (is Doctor Who, of course)

"Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store." - Dr. Seuss a difficult holiday for me. Mainly because I really, really, want to adore it, and then don't. I don't have the religious aspect going for me, and "OMG SANTA" was over a long time ago.

I once woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep Christmas morning because I was just that excited.

Now it's not Christmas Day I'm looking forward to at all (except for Doctor Who). It's today, and fancy dinner with my family. But I always look forward to seeing my aunt and uncle and cousins, so what's different? Nothing, really. We'll have a good time, and I'll be happy, but not because of Christmas.

My sister asked me what I wanted as a present about a week ago. I said I didn't want much of anything.
"You're boring. Why don't you want stuff?"
"Because I don't want stuff just to have stuff."
She made a face and said, "That's the difference between you and me."

That's the thing about Christmas: stuff isn't meaningful, unless it's a gift with sentimental value. But gifts with sentimental value aren't meaningful because of what they are. They're meaningful because they invoke memories of experiences, and people. And those are what do matter.

Which is why the Grinch Who Occupied Whoville kind of failed, of course. You guys know all of this already. But see, experiences and people aren't tied just to a holiday. So maybe it's okay that I'm not over the moon about today and tomorrow anymore.

The one holiday-related thing that really made me smile this year wasn't strictly about Christmas at all. It's a book called the Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, by Lemony Snicket. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing. And downright hilarious. And I adore it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Family in One Sentence

"I want to believe that cynicism comes from loving the world too much to let it get away with less." - Rock, Paper, Cynic

Stopped in at my aunt and uncle's today and ended up chatting with my home-from-college cousin for an hour or two. I think it sums up our conversation well enough just to share what my aunt said upon her arrival: "Okay, can we discuss the current state of the humanity and the true nature of the universe while also helping bring in groceries?"

Other sentences involved in the conversation include:
"Our problem is that the world has too many people."
"We should just kill all of the Republicans."
"...Dad. Be fair."
"Okay, we should kill most of the Republicans."

(It should be noted, just to be absolutely clear, that my father was joking.)

Fall/winter always makes me happy because I get to see them a lot more often due to all of the holidays and things than I normally do. We're going back over there tomorrow to help cook pierogis, and then again Saturday to eat said pierogis. (Pierogis are delicious.)

Also, I'm eligible to take my driver's test next week. So yay for practicing three point turns and parking...ha. Yeah right.

A Joss Whedon Hanukkah

"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." - William Shakespeare

Two of my friends and I have been holding a series of movie days, in which we are forcing each other to watch things that we believe to be simply necessary. The majority of these so far have been spent watching Firefly (although Princess Bride was also in there). Tonight we held our party at a different house than usual, which means that I got to meet that friend's family (I like them rather a lot), and got to observe their Hanukkah celebration.

My other friend and I kind of hung around at the back while they were lighting the menorah candles and praying, which was hilarious because the match refused to light. ("It's definitely us. The heathens need to leave or else God won't let the ceremony take place.") Except they're only half Jewish, which means they received Christmas ornaments as presents tonight. xD

It was pretty cool. And my other friend and I were each given a bar of chocolate all wrapped up and everything, which was entirely unexpected and very nice.

We're also now officially on winter break, which is far better than very nice. So yay for that, and I hope whatever holiday you do or do not celebrate this time of year is wonderful for you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Catching Fire (stupid pun so intended)

"I feel Jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers." - The Hold Steady

The following was published in the newspaper when my English teacher was in 11th grade, and she cut it out to save in her journal. Today she passed copies out to us.
And since she's usually pretty good about copyright, I'm assuming I'm allowed to share it with you. (Sorry about the masculine pronouns--it was in an advice column addressed to a girl whose boyfriend wanted to run away with her.)

Love, or Infatuation?
Infatuation is instant desire. It is one set of glands calling to another. Love is friendship that has caught fire. It takes root and grows--one day at a time.
Infatuation is marked by a feeling of insecurity. You are excited and eager, but not genuinely happy. There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits and pieces about your beloved that you would just as soon not examine too closely. It might spoil the dream.
Love is quiet understanding and the mature acceptance of imperfection. It is real. It gives you strength and grows beyond you--to bolster your beloved. You are warmed by his presence, even when he is away. Miles do not separate you. You want him nearer. But near or far, you know he is yours and you can wait.
Infatuation says, "We must get married right away. I can't risk losing him."
Love says, "Be patient. Don't panic. He is yours. Plan your future with confidence."
Infatuation has an element of sexual excitement. If you are honest, you will admit it is difficult to be in one another's company unless you are sure it will end in intimacy. Love is the maturation of friendship. You must be friends before you can be lovers.
Infatuation lacks confidence. When he's away, you wonder if he's cheating. Sometimes you even check.
Love means trust. You are calm, secure and unthreatened. He feels that trust, and it makes him even more trustworthy.
Infatuation might lead you to do things you'll regret later, but love never will.
Love is an upper. It makes you look up. It makes you think up. It makes you a better person that you were before.

"Love is friendship that has caught fire." I love that.

The problem with our language, I think, is that no one knows what the heck "love" means in any given context. This obviously goes for "does he like you, or does he like you like you?" thing, but what about the rest of the time? What about when you're actually in a relationship? Some people throw the word around like it doesn't mean anything, and some people take forever to say it to each other. What about in relationships of the non-romantic variety?

As much as the phrase "no homo" irks me, I think there really is a need for a new word for strong yet completely platonic feelings. The Greeks had what, four words for love? I tell my best friend that I love her all the time. Because I do. And she knows exactly how I mean it, and I can do the same with many other people.

But what about guys? There are male people that I greatly respect, admire, and care about in the same way, but that would just be awkward and weird on both sides. And that seems pretty of unfair to them.

That's straying away from the topic, though. Romeo and Juliet were not in love, but that's the word they used for what they were feeling. "Infatuation" is there, of course, but it has such a negative connotation to it that people don't want to use it. And "deeply in like" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

And if Romeo and Juliet were shown this newspaper clipping, would they agree that they were infatuated? No. They would use "love" anyway. Which is a problem, for a number of reasons:

  1.  It is possible and okay to be in a happy relationship and not be in love. That's why there is "like." The whole emphasis on "he hasn't said I love you!" is ridiculous. You can be attracted to and care about each other without being in love. Or infatuated, for that matter.
  2. Glamorizing unhealthy relationships as love makes it seem like said relationships are okay and/or ideal. My sister was listening to a song yesterday about someone who was willing to jump in front of a train for the girl he likes. Risking your life for someone is one thing. I would put my life in a not-insignificant amount of danger for many people. Jumping in front of a freaking train is something else entirely, as is not physically being able to live without someone (unless you've been together for decades, of course).
  3. It makes "love" mean less. At some point in the distant future when I am in a relationship I intend to last for a good while, I want to be able to say "I love you" and be told the same thing back and have it mean without question all of the things the newspaper article says it should.
Obviously those just apply to romantic relationships-- I don't see a problem with using "love" in any which way otherwise. It's easy enough to differentiate between love for a food, love for a TV show, and love for a passion. Not to mention deep appreciation/respect/admiration/whathaveyou for a person.

But yeah, those are my thoughts for the day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tournament Part 2

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." - Henry Miller

First, just because you've been hanging around teenage boys all day doesn't meant you have the right to act like one.

Second, just because you're a teenage boy doesn't mean you have the right to be a sexist, objectifying, and completely inappropriate jerk. I should not be able to phrase the "first" like I did just now and still have all of you know exactly what I mean. /end rant

Third, a tournament anecdote:

I was up against first-timers for my first three rounds of debate, all of whom had written their cases the day before. Person 2 told me right before we walked in that her favorite show was Doctor Who, which made me immensely guilty about beating her.

The fourth guy, however, I knew absolutely nothing about.

I walked into the room, and my opponent stood up and asked, "Are you Olivia Wood?"
"I heard your constructives are terrifying."

The judge just laughed and said "Your reputation precedes you."

We got started, and he actually knew what he was doing, which made it lots of fun. Afterwards, we shook hands and he said "You know, your constructive really was terrifying. I was just going 'oh God, I'm about to get my ass handed to me.'" So that was exciting.

End results: a beautiful 1st place trophy for me, 5th place in the same event to someone else on the team, 3rd and 6th in two of the speech events, and a ton of honorable mentions (3/4 wins, but not enough points to place) for various different debaters.

Then my car got confused on the way to Panera Bread for dinner, so we ended up eating at a different Panera than everyone else, which was sad. :(

Friday, December 9, 2011

Debate Christmas Carols

"One of the greatest joys known to man is to take a flight into ignorance in search of knowledge." - Robert Lynd

"Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence." - Henrik Tikannen

Somehow managed to win first place in my event at the debate tournament today. It helps that 3/4 of my opponents had never debated before, but hey.

That's not terribly important, though. The thing that actually matters is that we spent  a couple of hours before rounds started writing alternative versions to Christmas carols on the tables (which were graciously covered with paper specifically for that purpose). Later we ripped the sections off and placed them into our smuggling tubs (which are mainly used for food): The Millenium Falcon, and Serenity.

No, they're not supposed to have the right number of syllables or necessarily rhyme. If you are amused, that is wonderful. If not, just ignore this.

"Oh Holey Logic," written and then sung by me and Josh Williams (for the probably two of you that means something to).

Oh, hole-y logic
Your fallacies are blinding
They make my brain
Hurt as if it's being hit by rocks
The joys of pain- 
Your case just simply crumbles
It falls on the ground
In a heap of useless nonsense
Oh logic
So flawed!
In the round that I just won.

"Hark Harold the Union Worker Sings" (in reference to the debate topic "current economic disparities threaten democratic ideals") Written by me, very late last night. The sad thing is, I went to bed at midnight and got up before 6 and there were tons of people there who had gotten way less sleep than I did.

"Hark!" Harold the Union Worker sings
"I'd like more collective bargaining!
Peace on the floor, and hours mild
Wages to feed my newborn child"
Angered, all ye workers rise
Join the protest to get the prize
When the CEO proclaims
"Perhaps we can agree on something"
"Hark!" Harold the Union Worker sings
"That's what I call collective bargaining!"

Then, in reference to the topic that I was actually debating ("individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need,"), there is "Grandma Got Run Over By A Bus (and I don't have a moral obligation to help her)" Written by my other friend.

Grandma got run over by a bus
Jogging home from our house Christmas Eve
You may say I have a moral obligation to help her
But as for me and Grandpa, in Con we believe.

"God Rest Ye Merry Bourgeoise" Kind of a conglomerate of authorship. 

God rest ye merry bourgeoise
Let nothing you dismay
Democracy was founded to rich, make you stay
To save you all from poverty when the money goes away
Oh, tidings of tax cuts and joy
Tax cuts and joy!
Oh, tidings of tax cuts and joy!

There were a few more, but those are the best and most complete.

I'll probably write up a few more anecdotes about the actual tournament tomorrow, but these are for either your enjoyment or "god, she's insane"-ment for now. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lying: To Put Up A Wall, or Not to Put Up A Wall?

“We have to create. It is the only thing louder than destruction.” - Andrea Gibson

The following is an essay I wrote for English two weeks ago, being posted as a response to Kenny's post about honesty.

     Most of us believe that honesty is a good thing, but most of us lie anyway--every day, all the time. This is because our primary value is not honesty, but openness, and every time we lie, we put up a wall. Judith Viorst says in her essay "The Truth About Lying" that "the truth is always better." However, while it is true that there are some walls that should be torn down--or better yet, to have never been put up in the first place--there are still some walls that we prefer to exist, and some whose presence we simply don't care about.

     WRAL News recently published an article detailing the story of Jasmine McClain, a 10 year old who committed suicide after suffering from extensive bullying at school. Her parents hadn't any idea-- the police only found out after viewing her Facebook page and talking with some of her friends. This is an example of what Stephanie Ericsson, in her essay "The Ways We Lie,"calls a lie of omission. If Jasmine or any of her friends had spoken up, the bullying might have been stopped, and she would have at the very least received support. This tragedy could have been averted. In this case, the truth definitely was better-- without question. 
      Even in less extreme examples, habitual honesty with one's parents minimizes conflict, promotes trust, and strengthens the family. Open relationships with close friends consistently lead to increased happiness and better mental health. When between romantic partners, it's the difference between "You're a great singer!" and "So you're not the greatest at singing, but who cares? I love you anyway." It's the difference between being loved as a person you know yourself not to be, and knowing you are loved for who you are-- warts and all. When it comes to personal relationships, the truth really is always better. After all, it's kind of difficult to talk to someone when there's a wall between you.

     However, close personal relationships are not always the highest priority--and why should they be? Sometimes the fate of the world depends on it. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows* by J.K. Rowling, Harry discovers that his mentor, Professor Dumbledore, has not been entirely honest with him. Due to a fluke in a piece of dark magic, Harry must die if he is to save the world from Lord Voldemort. Harry struggles with Dumbledore's betrayal of trust throughout the book, but ultimately comes to realize that the old professor's decision had been the right one. Even at seventeen, Harry was still tempted to shirk his responsibilities and go chasing after the deathly hallows--powerful weapons used to conquer death--rather than continue tracking down the remnants of Voldemort's soul. Both Harry and Dumbledore would have preferred a closer relationship, but that wall between them was necessary for the greater good.
     If pieces of a sorcerer's soul trapped inside bits of old jewelry seems a little out there, consider the debate over openness online. All concerned parents warn their children not to give out their personal information or post pictures of themselves on sites with questionable privacy settings. Some aren't allowed to have online profiles at all. This prevents children from ponding with their real life peers, and from making new friends through the internet, but often times those opportunities are sacrificed-- and a wall is put up-- in favor of safety. While Jasmine Mcclain should not have built a wall between herself and her parents, if she had protected herself through more lies of omission, she might not have been bullied to the point of such desperation.
     Furthermore, there is the lie that most of us use the most often: the white lie. Many of us have acquaintances or relatives with whom we don't exactly agree on certain issues. We pretend to agree or simply keep our mouths shut to keep the peace; we'd rather get along than develop a close relationship. This is yet another example in which our priorities make putting up a wall actually preferable-- in which the truth is not better.

      Finally, there are the times when it simply doesn't matter if there is a wall present or not. There are some people who we just don't care about being open with. We say "I'm fine" when someone we've never met before and never will again asks us how we're doing, even if we've had a completely miserable day and just want to go home and watch TV with a package of Oreos sitting beside us. We never think twice about these lies--and again, why should we? It doesn't hurt anyone. It doesn't matter. Even when the person in question is someone we see every day--maybe a classmate or a coworker--unless he or she belongs to the circle of people we care about being close to, we lie without an ounce of guilt.
     [Personal example omitted]
     Maybe it is wrong to respect one person more than another, but that is irrelevant, since everyone does. Whatever the reason, there are some people and some instances in which we don't care about the truth. If the wall is small and built on land we're just passing over, truth vs. lies does not ultimately matter. Someone's personal convictions might lead them to choose the truth in such a case, but outside of that, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.

     When it comes to cultivating close personal relationships, Judith Viorst is right in that the truth is always better. However, there are many instances in which close personal relationships are not our highest priority, and some in which they are not a priority at all. This is not wrong; it is only a choice of values. Lying, then, is not an issue of good vs. bad, but rather a matter of where we want to erect our walls, and how high we decide to build them. Some walls--like the tall, electrified fences surrounding a concentration camp--are bad. Others--like those encircling a city to keep the barbarian marauders from raping and pillaging everything inside--are good. And the rest--the walls that sit all alone in what used to be a farmer's field but is now overgrown and forgotten--don't matter at all.

*My English teacher specifically mentioned that I did a good job with the Harry Potter example because even though she's not an HP person because she "doesn't like science fiction," she still understood the point. **facepalm** She's a fantastic teacher, but that kind of drove me crazy.
It also makes me happy that Google spell check does not register "Dumbledore" as a misspelled word.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

In Which Neil Gaiman is Awesome Yet Again

"Sometimes a concept is baffling not because it is profound but because it is wrong." - E. O. Wilson

Yesterday I took the SAT, received what's probably almost my 40th rejection letter, and received notification that my Governor's School application has been rejected. Pretty great day, right? Not going to Governor's School means my entire summer has opened up, though, so that's nice.

I wanted to share with you this discussion in The Guardian between Neil Gaiman and some other guy (his name is Shaun Tan, but you see where my focus lies).

Here's my favorite part:

"Somebody asked me recently if I plot ahead of time. I said yes I do, but there is always so much room for surprise and definitely points where I don't know what's going to happen. They quoted somebody who had said: "All writers who say that they do not know what's going to happen are liars, would you believe someone who started an anecdote without knowing where it was going?" I thought, but I don't start an anecdote to find out what I think about something, I start an anecdote to say this interesting thing happened to me. Whereas I'll start any piece of art to find out what I think about something."

Have I mentioned that I love this man?

I've survived and finished three NaNoWriMos now, and I identify with this so, so much. It's like...a spring cleaning of my subconscious. Things and issues I've had buried-or sometimes didn't even realize were there- crop up in weird places, and (as they discuss immediately following the quote I just gave you), having multiple characters with different backgrounds and opinions is amazing for just that- personifying all of the different voices arguing with each other in your head.

And that sounds like I'm insane.

I go into November with ideas and anxieties and so on...and come out into December feeling cleaner, somehow, now that I have all of that down on paper. It's a beautiful thing.