Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In which I am extroverted

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London

I really love the process of getting to know someone.

It's different when you've grown up with them. You experience things along with them as they happen. You get a text or an email or a phone call, and you exchange thoughts about it. It's exciting in its own way, but it's comfortable. It's normal. You know them, and almost everything you find out are things they're just experiencing and finding out too.

But when you don't know someone very well, but you know you want to know them much better. And you talk and there's little details that filter through the random conversation and you start learning a long series of little things that make up the person in their entirety. And you think "wow, you're a human being and I love that you're a human and you're a rather spectacular human and gosh I just want to keep talking to you."

Now that's amazing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

States 2012

Welcome to the blog of 2012's novice Lincoln Douglas debate's North Carolina state champion.

Which affects absolutely nothing other than me and my team's happiness and ego.

But really this entire weekend was essentially the greatest of my life. Tournaments are over for the year, though, so now I'm sad. Not so much for the end of the debate season as for the end of the Spending Entire Weekends With My Team.

Plans for next year include training up the best bunch of novices the world has ever seen, going to even more tournaments, and hopefully starting an Ethics Bowl team as well (which is a goal that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I have a lot of friends who do Ethics Bowl, or the fact that I want to crush their teams, or the fact that some of them have a vendetta against debate. None of those things have the slightest bit of impact on my enthusiasm for this idea).

Summer plans include stalking university libraries for philosophy books and possibly going to debate camp with one of my favorite people. I am excited.

Highlights From Tournament:

Opponent: "My opponent is human and humans are not perfect therefore her argument is flawed and you should vote Aff."

Both me and the other Olivia on the team getting called communists independently of each other.

Certain members of my team singing Eye of the Tiger behind me as we walked to finals.

The rest of my team showing up for finals as my Highly Impressive and Amazing Entourage, compared to my opponent's measly self-styled mini-posse. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oh hey look a bunch of quotes

“Children become readers on the laps of their parents.” - Emilie Buchwald

"Accident, n.: A condition in which presence of mind is good, but absence of body is better." - Unknown

"Some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves." - Pete McArthur

"There is something that is much more scarce, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability." - Robert Half

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just the Crazy Ones

"Political statuses and pictures rarely change someone's mind: often, all they accomplish is hurt. Amendment One is an important issue, but voting for it doesn't make you less intelligent, and voting against it doesn't make you less Christian. Don't get me wrong: it's fine to have an opinion. But there are ways to state it that don't harm others. 'Reckless words pierce like a sword.'" - my friend Sam's Facebook status

I follow a page on Facebook called "Being Liberal." They sometimes post political cartoons that make me laugh.

They also do a lot of Republican-bashing. This bothers me. Sure, some conservatives are self-righteous, hypocritical, and annoying. But so are some liberals. It's one thing to point out "Look, what you're saying here doesn't really match up with what you're saying over here," but it's quite another to openly disparage an entire political party just because some of its members are being dumb.

There's a lot of talk about making people be more tolerant and accepting of beliefs and lifestyle choices different from their own. works both ways, people.

I mean, with things like racism, too bad. Racial political and social equality is a thing that does and should exist. Segregation = not okay. End of story. But some beliefs are just based on what they believe the role of government should be in society, and that's a matter of opinion. I can think you're wrong. I can be infuriated by your opinion. I can think you're absolutely freaking insane. But that doesn't give me the right to be rude to you.

Let's take the insurance-covering-birth-control debate as an example. The people who want to limit access to it truly believe that using it is wrong. They aren't out on a vendetta against women. They're trying to make sure people do what they believe are good things. So even if I think they're dead wrong, and that even if they were right it isn't the government's place to be regulating something like that, I still need to understand that and treat them with the proper amount of respect.

"100 Things You Can Say To Irritate a Republican" is not terribly funny. "Math even conservatives can understand" is just offensive.

And okay, sometimes I do laugh at this type of joke. But as someone in my book club said, "We don't mean all conservative Christians. Just the crazy ones." Yeah...still feels wrong to me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

To Shoot a Zombie

"To love another person is to see the face of God." - Victor Hugo

I really admire people who live deliberately. Who live according to their values not because they should but because they really do value those things, and they value them a lot.

My grandma would not shoot a zombie if it was running toward her teeth-bared because she is a pacifist to the core. (This is a fact. I have asked her.) I'm not a fan of violence, but you'd better believe I'd be firing away at that zombie.

It should be noted that my grandma is a much better person than I am. Although I doubt any of you would tell me I'm in the wrong in that particular scenario (unless you just felt like arguing).

I might completely disagree with you on a point, but that doesn't lessen my admiration at all-- like in the case of some of the people A. J. Jacobs encountered in The Year of Living Biblically. Now they are some inspiring people.

I might think you're being unreasonable. I might think you're being extreme. I might think that it really doesn't matter that much so why are you making such a big deal about it and you know there are plenty of complications and shades of gray involved with this so why don't you consider some of those, but the truth is that even if I think any of those things, I still respect you enormously for it.

This is also one of the reasons behind my adoration for all of the people I've met the few times I've been to the Quaker Meeting I love gushing about on here. They care. They care about people, and each other, and the Meeting, and being Quakerly, just matters. To become an official member you have to prove before a clearance committee that it really is important to you and you really are going to take it seriously. And I love that.

All of these people make me reevaluate myself and my decisions and make me into a better person. So thank you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lexapros and Cons, by Aaron Karo

"I wrote things for the school's newspaper, and - like all teenagers - I dabbled in poetry." - Stephen Colbert

Chuck Taylor owns a pair of Chuck Taylors in every single solid color available. Each color is associated with a mood, and he chooses his shoes for the day accordingly. His parents send him to a psychiatrist for his OCD, he loses his best friend, and there's a hot new girl at school. Cue plot.

I picked up this book to read for my Mock Printz club because I thought it'd be a laugh. Chuck Taylor who wears Chuck Taylors, right? Hahahahaha.

Then I turn to Page 1, and find this lovely opening sentence:
"In the past year, I masturbated exactly 573 times."
It was something of a struggle to get to Sentence Two (which then broke that number down into per week and per day). Put that sentence on page 5, sure, but please don't open with that. It sets the tone for the whole novel, and that's not the kind of novel I want to read.

But okay. He has OCD. He keeps track of weird things. The author is just showing us that in a way that will get our attention. And it certainly got my attention-- in the form of making me want to close the book.

No, Chuck Taylor brings up his tally for 2011 at every possible opportunity for the next 60 pages. The entire first page is about this number, the second page is just how often he uses the bathroom, and a little later on there is an entire spread all about the wonders of internet porn (did you know there's a Sensual Moon III?).

Yes, teenagers think about sex a lot. I think we all understand this. You have made the book relatable on the level of your choosing. Let's bring something else into the mix, shall we? Engaging characters? Interesting dilemma? Plot line I want to see through to the end? No? Just the student body president's breasts and how they're like cantaloupes? Okay then.

Compulsion to bring up sex at every possible moment aside (oooh, see that? An OCD pun. I'm so clever), the writing is just repetitive. Maybe that was done intentionally- I'll give Mr. Karo the benefit of a doubt there- but when an entire page is devoted to
 "My name isn't actually Chuck. It's Charles...No one actually calls me Charles. I go by Chuck. That's what everyone at school calls me...Let's just say that's what my teachers and my one friend call me. Whatever. It's better than Charles."
...I think there's a bit of a problem.

The author seems to have been fairly successful with his other books (Ruminations on College Life and Ruminations on Twentysomething Life), and I've just read a few pages of the former, and it really is pretty hilarious. But it isn't a novel. It's...a collection of hilarious paragraphs about college.

Is Lexapros and Cons funny? Sure. Does it do a good job addressing the trials of actually having OCD? I assume so. People who are not me will enjoy it, but it's still not quality reading, and it's still just getting 2 stars.