Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
And the timing couldn't have been more ridiculous or inconvenient.
Say goodbye to the ocean-y walls, my friends!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Ever since I was a very little girl, we would linger at the kitchen table after dinner and beg my father to tell stories of his childhood. My siblings and I adored his tales of a dream-like youth; long summer days spent rafting down the river, the double-doggy-dares to touch the rickety, old haunted house, and escapades through groves of almond trees. But most of all, for reasons I don't fully understand myself, even now, looking back on my own childhood, we begged him for stories of fights. Like Homer's Achilles or the famed Beowulf, our dad was the undefeatable hero before whom lay the crushed remains of any fool who dared oppose him. We listened, wide-eyed, as he relieved his moments of glory, fighting opponents who unwisely chose to offend or provoke him. We felt his wrath, subconsciously sensed his rush of adrenaline, and shared in his pride as he, as always in his stories, emerged victorious. Fights seemed to be so exciting. So electrifying. Such a magnificent display of a person's strength and dominance.
Though perhaps a bit misconstrued and overly-glorified in our young minds, our childhood fascination with fighting is not unique. Throughout the ages, children have watched, have listened, have admired, and have emulated the warriors and fighters of their times. However, for centuries, while the girls returned to help their mothers in the kitchen or tend to the sewing, it was the boys who were the ones to diligently practice wrestling and spear throwing and even in modern times, feast upon war movies and action video games in an effort to participate in the excitement they find in such "manliness." It is interesting how boys and young men have historically been, and continue to be, drawn to fighting almost as though it was a thing innate. There seems almost to be an internal drive, a subconscious yearning to be "on top", emerge the alpha-male, conquer and triumph over one's enemies. After observing and pondering this tendency, I have come to believe that yes, a level of aggression and violent propensity in boys and men is, indeed, innate. That said, however, the difference between a vicious, violent brute and the heroic warrior we admire lies in this: the ability to channel one's fighting instinct in a correct and appropriate manner. Through examining Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club and analyzing modern day confusion among America's young men, we will uncover the discrepancies so entrenched in our society that lead to the worrisome "masculinity crisis." There is a crisis of masculinity in America today and its root cause is a deep-set confusion regarding the difference of learning to fight instead of when and why to do so.
First of all, many boys learn simply to fight. They observe the excitement, they listen to the exhilarating stories of bruises and blood and victory, they watch and learn techniques and methods to use, and they acquire a love of fighting. They subconsciously acquire a desire to display dominance, power, physical supremacy and thus attain the respect and fear of their peers. They learn that they are men, and that men fight. Most boys learn the definition of "masculinity" and what the term entails, from their fathers or father figures. In his essay, "Men and Nostalgia for Violence," Keven Alexander Boon writes that the traditional link between masculinity and violence is "the result of cultural pressure and a behavior inheritance that is directly tied to their gender. Men are inclined towards physical aggression for numerous reasons, not all of which are alterable, and the performance of this aggression makes significant contributions to the formation of masculine identity. Rules shaping that performance are passed from generation to generation primarily by the father and provide direction for biologically based violent impulses and culturally assigned gender roles."
This teaching of boys to fight because it is the "masculine" thing to do feeds the innate inclination towards aggression and violence. It teaches boys that fighting is normal, accepted and even encouraged, simply because they are of the male gender. Pandu Hailong writes in his study "What Is A Man?", "From and early age, children are taught what is expected of them based on their gender...Society expects men to have power and to exert that power, whether it be physically, economically or politically. Today, adolescent boys view becoming a man much like they view playing a game. A man must be a tough, competitive 'player', a protector...the 'player' who can get the most girls, and can use his power to keep other men from taking 'his woman', wins the game and wins acceptance from his peers. Adolescent young men are taught to play this game without thinking about the privileges society grants them, or about the consequences of their behavior." Interestingly enough, in the book Fight Club, it is not until the men establish underground fight clubs where they are free to beat each other senseless, do they actually feel like men. And excerpt from the text reads, "You aren't alive anywhere like you're alive at fight club. When it's you and one other guy under that one light in the middle of all those watching. Fight club isn't about winning or losing fights. Fight club isn't about words...you fight to fight." These men fought in a desperate attempt to regain their masculinity after being trapped in a world of desk-jobs and neck-ties. Beating the crud out of someone, or getting absolutely beat up yourself, was simply a way to truly feel. To actually be a man. The men in the fight clubs rediscovered an addiction to their true, natural self. Comprised of dozens of businessmen, office workers, high-end restaurant workers and an occasional lawyer, Fight Club was a place for men to retreat and revel in their brutal masculinity. It's members were men who were weary of endless mediocrity, beautiful perfect emptiness, an emasculated existence. Without the brutalness they understood as being masculine, they were unsatisfied and unhappy. As the narrator bleakly mused, "I just don't want to die without a few scars...It's nothing anymore to have a beautiful stock body. You see those cars that are completely stock cherry, right out of a dealer's showroom in 1955. I always think, what a waste." And so, these men go to fight club, beat each other to the point of unrecognizability, and feel rejuvenated. They can finally get in touch with their "inner man". These are men who have learned to fight. Unsure of why they fight, or what they are fighting for, they fight simply for the thrill. For the inexplicable rush of masculinity they experience with each consecutive punch.
That said, and possibly stemming from my sanguine perspective of humanity and men, I find it quite difficult to believe that all men are instinctively violent, fighting machines who live to destroy and destroy to live. I recall men like Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr. who epitomize peaceful, yet powerful men. I reflect upon men such as Dr. Paul Farmer or Greg Mortensen, who rose to the top of their respective fields, and won the admiration of hundreds of thousands worldwide, by striving to promote peace and the well-being of humanity. I think of my opera-singing, piano-playing, dancing brother who wants nothing to do with violence of any sort, though he listened to the same stories my father told. I think of the knights of old who treasured a code of honor, rather than a pact to punch. What is the explanation for these men? Do they have any innate sense of aggression or are they freaks of nature? Non-violent males?
The answer lies in the second half of the issue, learning why and when to fight. A fighting machine governed by cold reasoning makes for a very incomplete person. A man needs compassion, a calmness, and the ability to empathize with others. These were the qualities that were found in traditional, historical masculinity. Interestingly, the farther back in history you delve, the more you discover this complex balance being expected and demanded, not only of the average man, but particularly those who comprise modern society's standard of manhood. Knights, Samurai, The Three Musketeers, all had strong notions of compassion, moral guidance, self control, and empathy as part of their central edicts. As Waller Newell puts in his introduction to his book "The Code of Man," "The mind cannot achieve happiness unless it is fueled by the passionate energies of love and daring. The point is not prudishly to suppress these passions, but to direct them away from bad goals, like coarse pleasure seeking and brutal aggression, and towards constructive goals - the cultivation of those moral and intellectual virtues that enable us to be good family men, friends, and citizens. A man needs to know who - and what - is truly deserving of his love. Only then will he know when - and why - he may need to fight to defend them." Very much unlike the first traits of fighting we discussed, that is, simply fighting for the sake of fighting, these men fought for a specific reason. They fought for the family they loved, defended land they cherished, shielded the innocent and protected the weak. While these men perhaps possessed the same innate, aggressive tendencies, they learned to channel them in a correct and appropriate manner. As Newell writes, "When the passengers on Flight 93 confronted their highjackers and brought the plane down in Pennsylvania, they used violence, but the context defines those actions for most Americans as valiant and admirable." Yes, the men on Flight 93 used violence, but it stemmed from truly knowing when and why to use such force. It was to protect countless innocent lives, it was to defend justice and fight against the forces of terror. There is a distinct and critical difference between this definition of fighting, and the excitement of fighting just to fight.
So, 'wherein lies the crisis?' you may ask. The crisis of masculinity pervading modern day American culture is found in society's portrayal of masculinity. Society tends to side with the first deviation; fighting simply to fight. Often in American culture, masculinity is viewed as being "tough." The "bad guys" portrayed in the movies are tough, arrogant, sadistic, and often downright brutal - and American loves them. The meaner, the manlier. The buffer, the better. Movies portray ultimate masculinity as towering hulks of muscle and strength, ready to "pulpify" any idiot who dares offend them...or even look at them wrong. The media feeds this image to America's boys and teaches them how and who they should be. Through films and pop songs, they are told things such as "buck up", "take it like a man", and "men don't cry." They learn to be tough. They learn to suppress empathy and adopt the tough skin of a "true man." In short, society's warped image of masculinity continues to spread, generation by generation. Society teaches boys to be angry men. It teaches boys to fight.
Herein lies the confusion: when boys follow in the shadow of what is portrayed as normal and expected, they are punished. When young men go out into society and put to use the "skills" they have learned and emulated, they are fined, chastised, or sent to jail as criminals. It is a vicious game society plays upon its youth. Kevin Alexander Boon discusses this contradiction when he writes, "Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club addresses the identity crisis of white, heterosexual, American men in the late 20th and 21st centuries who grew up in a paradoxical cultural environment that makes heroes of aggressive men while debasing aggressive impulses. What is explicitly asked of these men contradicts what is implicitly expected. Those behaviors that yield the greatest reward are in direct opposition to cultural rhetoric." There is a cultural dissonance resounding within America today; should boys act as they are taught, they are punished. And yet, if they do not, oftentimes they are labeled "weak" or "feminine". Truly, there is a crisis of masculinity in American culture. A deep and bewildering contradiction that continues to confuse our youth.
So what is the answer? The question is not ridding our boys of their violent tendencies, the question is how to teach them appropriate methods through with to channel it. Having a media-dominated perspective of masculinity is detrimental for America's boys and men, as it usually only portrays the stereotypical fighting man such as Brad Pitt or Vin Diesel. This image leaves boys with the idea that this, and this alone, is the definition of "masculinity", and therefore they strive to emulate it. When these young men enter the world and thrust their violence upon it, in the form of gangs, assaults, murder, rape and an assortment of other crimes, they are condemned as criminals. And rightly so, their crimes were wrong, but at what point does society and the media's influence finally come into question? Society must shift from focusing on the drive to fight, and instead emphasize the importance of knowing when and why to fight. When society relearns the importance of the latter, and boys and young men begin to see that it is not a matter of males being one step away from the animals or becoming violent, emotional wrecks, but a matter of true balance and control, only then can the crisis of masculinity begin to be resolved. And it should, it must be resolved; our boys are worth fighting for.
A strange part of me is feeling really, really sad about this semester ending. I have made some very fun friendships that, though facebook helps, without seeing them every other day are going to be hard to keep up.
Dear, sweet, quirky friends to whisper jokes with, pass notes with, rant and rave about impossible homework assignments with, smile with, study with...this is a week of saying goodbyes. I really don't like goodbyes. Really really don't.
And yet, every day I'm saying goodbye to a different classroom full of a couple new, great friends. Sure, I might see them sometime on campus, I can write on their facebook wall...but it's so not the same. They're moving on in their college career, and I continue along in mine. Our worlds coincided for a short, sweet 16 weeks and now it's time to say goodbye.
Isn't that a interesting idea? You get to share someone's world for a brief snippit of time (in this case, a semester), and then they're gone. Their world continues, their life's timeline goes on, and though you perhaps left a fingerprint on that timeline, you have exited. You get to marvel at the clouds, or study together, or share the giddiness of an "A" together for four months and then...it's over. Goodbye, interesting person. Goodbye, you fascinating life full of intrigue and possibility. Goodbye, you bundle of excitement and potential. Goodbye, friend.
After one particular final today, one young man looked me square in the eyes, shook my hand and said, "Well, thanks for the semester. It was cool to know you."
It was cool to know you too.
Have a nice life.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
And now, I'm studying my brains out for tomorrow's Foreign Government final. Our bathroom mirror is covered in political terminology, policy definitions, and abstract criteria for a consolidated democracy. It actually looks really cool. I'm hoping that if every time I go in there I quiz myself on the words staring back at me...maybe the terms will stick a little better. We'll see.
Meanwhile, I found the most fantastic study music ever. The Vitamin String Quartet compiles "tributes" to great musicians (Queen, The Beatles, The Killers, Snow Patrol, Leona Lewis, Fall Out Boy, etc) and turns the pop songs into classical masterpieces. The violins, cellos and violas make "Hey Jude", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Chasing Cars" and "Dance Dance" positively incredible. Here's one of my favorites....go ahead. Click on it. Fall in love.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I think my favorite christmas carol is either Little Drummer Boy (by Celtic Women) or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen...or Carol of the Bells.
My house smells of pine needles, hot chocolate and peppermint.
Josh Groban's Christmas CD is *gorgeous*.
A major part of me wants to wear snow pants tomorrow to school. Not because of the rumors of possible Sacramento snow, but because I love the "zip-zip-zip" sound they make when you walk. And because I want to learn how to snowboard. Really badly.
I am a designated soprano for a couple songs at the Christmas Concert. whoo-hoo! high notes rock. rockrockrock.
And now to bed.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Isn't that amazing?
I have three goals in life, and it took all of 4 minutes and 29 seconds for this to become one of them. To dance all over the face of the planet. Yessiree.
I'll send you postcards.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I am sitting in bed, texting with a dear friend who is home for Thanksgiving, planning out a time when we could go get coffee and catch up. She's precious and has been away at college for a semester too long. I can't wait to see her again.
I am sitting in bed, pontificating about the world, life, friends, future, college. One's bed is a magnificent place to sit and think. You can lay under the warn, cozy sheets, curl up with your little stuffed animal, and think. And think. And think. There's a lot to think about in the 21st century...and lying in bed, tackling the issues of the world, is quite wonderful.
I am sitting in bed, and discovered a little piece of chocolate waiting for me this morning. Oh, how divine! What a *perfect* way to start the morning. So yes, I'm being the utterly, absolutely, 100% unhealthy college student and am eating chocolate for breakfast. And I'm loving every delicious moment of it.
I am sitting in bed, but the day is calling and I need to get up.
I'm going to get out of bed.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Pretend (Album Version) - LIGHTS
Once in a while, I act like a child to feel like a kid again
It gets like a prison in the body I'm living in
Cause everyone's watching and quick to start talking. I'm losing my innocence.
Wish I were a little girl without the weight of the world.
It would be nice to start over again,
Before we were men
I'd give, I'd bend, let's pray pretend.
Remember the times we had soda for wine,
and we got by on gratitude.
The worst they could do to you was check your attitude.
Yeah, when fights were for fun, we had water in guns,
and a place we could call our own.
How we lost hold of home I guess I'll never know.
It would be nice to start over again,
Before we were men
I'd give, I'd bend, let's play pretend.
And when it's the end,
Our lives will make sense.
We'll love, we'll bend, let's play pretend.
It's not going to be long before we're all gone,
with nothing to show for them.
Stop talking lives, come on, let's all grow up again.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Singing at the top of my lungs.
Dancing in the rain.
Swimming in the ocean.
Eating an In 'n' Out burger.
French pop music.
That little beep when I get a text.
Books that challenge your assumptions.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
"What you end up doing, the mechanic says, "is you spend your life searching for a father and God."
"What you have to consider," he says, "is the possibility that God doesn't like you. Could be, God hates us. This is not the worst thing that can happen."
How Tyler saw it was that getting God's attention for being bad was better than getting no attention at all. Maybe because God's hate is better than His indifference.
If you could be either God's worst enemy or nothing, which would you choose?
We are God's middle children, according to Tyler Durden, with no special place in history, and no special attention.
Unless we get God's attention, we have no hope of damnation or redemption.
Which is worse, hell or nothing?
Only if we're caught and punished can we be saved.
"Burn the Louvre," the mechanic says, "...This way at least God would know our names."
The lower you fall, the higher you'll fly. The farther you run, the more God wants you back.
"If the prodigal son had never left home," the mechanic says, "the fatted calf would still be alive."
It's not enough to be numbered with the grains of sand on the beach and the stars in the sky.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Fillmore Concert Hall.
San Franscisco awesomeness.
Airborne Toxic Event.
Pictures on my cell-phone.
3 hours of sleep.
Conflict and tears over "trust."
Trust is so risky.
Choir at Fremont.
Sweet voices singing Hayden.
Therapy in song.
Prepping for Friday.
Wisdom teeth surgery. Yuck.
Drugs and looming pain.
Late night reflections.
Thinking and writing and prayer.
Quiet before God.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Outside the wind beats against the house. A small chime rings out in the night. Tree branches slap the roof.
My thoughts have long since turned mushy. I have an oral presentation in poli sci tomorrow that, yes, I'll admit, I'm rather dreading. It's strange after all those years debating and speaking, to still be a little nervous about going up in front of the class. It'll be fine - and actually, it'll probably be quite fun in the end. I chose to speak about the gang violence sweeping across Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), the new winner of the 2016 Olympic bid. Just two weeks after being chosen as Olympic host, the city was wracked with warring gangs and drug-cartels, and in just six short days 33 were killed, 8 buses were set on fire and high-caliber weapons were used to shoot down a police helicopter. It's been interesting researching it and come tomorrow, I'll probably have a blast telling the class all about it. I just feel rather....passive right now. Or maybe it's just laziness. :)
On a very different and incredibly awesome note, I discovered these today and sat watching them in fascination. Ohmygoodness, I'd love to be able to do that.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
In bed for second day in a row.
Kleenex. Airborne. Statistics homework. English paper (5 pages on the word "identity"). Research paper on Cartier-Bresson. Extemp-ish preparation for oral presentation on Wednesday. No worries, I have plenty to do.
My new Death Cab for Cutie cd came in the mail...so I'm sipping Breathe Easy tea and happily listening to "What Sarah Said", among others. It's nice listening.
I'm not sure what I wanted to write here. It's another one of those "think-best-in-bullets" days.
--> I'm loving Ships of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea. L-o-v-i-n-g
--> Tonight's gonna be a late night. I'm going downtown around 10ish to finish some photography homework.
--> Sara's in SF for the day...and I'm going crazy with the spastic rat she left behind in my charge.
--> Blueberry shakes are divine.
--> As are the mothers who prepare them.
--> Being sick and bedridden gives you plenty of time to think. About life. About my future. About decisions and choices and roads being traveled. I guess being bedridden can be a wierd sort of blessing inandofitself.
--> Can.not.wait for thanksgiving break. can.not.wait.
--> Am going to go sit in the sunshine now. Ta ta!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
And yet, here I am doing stats homework with a pink gel pen.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Standing in the pitch-black dark, dancing with a pulsing flashlight. Twirling. Spelling. Spinning. Jumping.
"click" goes the camera...and thus begins your 30 seconds of invisible glory. 30 seconds to wave, spiral, spin, twirl that flashlight in a hundred directions. 30 seconds of happiness in the dark.
"click" goes the camera. Your time is up. But each little ray of light has been captured, recorded in the camera's memory, and when you view your picture, there's a strange, magical masterpiece staring back at you.
I spent the evening painting with light.
Standing in the pitch-black dark, dancing with a pulsing flashlight.
I'm sitting here writing my spanish paper, listening happily to owl city and munching on a shortbread cookie, when suddenly I look down and holy cow! It's nearly 1:00am!
I need to be awake and alert in six hours...and counting.
It feels like a tournament or something. What's with this thriving-on-no-sleep deal?
I decided I'm ready to retire. *raises hand* pick me! pick me!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Listened to a powerful sermon on the beauty of The Church.
Went on a date with my mom.
Listened to flamenco "guitarradas" on a CD a friend made for me.
Texted with Mark from the other room.
Read a little bit more from Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea.
Sat and thought about the meaning of life.
Got ready for a long school day tomorrow.
Listened to this charming song. Go ahead. Click it. Share in the peaceful melody.
Goodnight Freddy - The Sounds
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Yes! Poles of gum. Three telephone poles near the center of downtown Charleston (close to the market entrance and hub of Charleston life) have been transformed into sticky, colorful works of gummy art. Locals and tourists alike quietly saunter past and plaster the poles with their chewing gum...creating rainbowed pillars of stickiness. Some consider it a nuisance and "destruction of public property." Some find the budding tradition rather exciting. Some call it modern art.
When I was in Charleston this past June, I personally got to see these semi-famous Gum Poles...and well, my gum is on one of those poles too. See that pink piece of gum right there? Maybe that's mine.
Well, heh, I stumbled upon this article from the local Charleston news station tonight and discovered that not only has this "gum-sticking" been banned, but the city plans to install surveillance cameras and place hefty fines (and possible jail sentences) on any poor person who happens to participate in this sticky "art."