Friday, June 6, 2014

On The Importance Of Your Life

I just walked in the door from seeing the film, "The Fault in Our Stars." Like, literally just walked through the door. All I've done so far since being home has been to take off my signature shrug and black flats and sat down at the computer. Because I have some thoughts. Not on the quality of the movie, though I am extremely pleased that it was excellent. Instead, the film left me thinking of different things, which, frankly, I did not expect. It should surprise no one that The Fault in Our Stars is one of my favorite novels. I've written about it just on here numerous times. I've read the text and listened to the audiobook so often I've lost track. I thought I knew the story. I thought I'd gleaned everything from the narrative that I was ever going to. This, it turns out, was not actually the case.
The main message the film left me with was one of the necessity of acknowledging what is beautiful about your life. For a long time, I was not thankful for my life, I didn't value it or see its worth. But it has value. I have been so lucky. I have loved and been loved so deeply, by so many. At 23, I have seen beauty, felt loss, and experienced joy that I realize is incredibly hard to come by. If everything were to end tomorrow, I would be genuinely happy with what I have had.
That being said, there is still so much more I want. I want to grow roots. I want to teach, and I have the audacity to want to change lives. I want to fall in love, share a life, and build a family. I want what I have been privileged enough to have to be a foundation, not the whole structure.
This seems like a fitting enough final post to this blog-thing: I started this as a way to chronicle my life abroad, and it has been a repository of thoughts for me during the single biggest transition period and time of personal transformation so far.
And it has been, and continues to be, a good life.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Red Wheelbarrow


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
 -William Carlos Williams

So, this poem. I've known about it for a while, ever since it was used as first a flirtation device then as a way to heighten the tragedy in John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, a book I have to come to absolutely love. Now, I am not an English teacher by any stretch of the imagination. Ask me to analyze novels or poetry for symbolism or meaning and I'll distract you with a description of the work's historical context or just start running in the opposite direction. My relationship with poetry in particular throughout my life has been one marked by severe disdain and avoidance. In general, I despise pretension, and in my mind, poetry is the epitome of that phenomenon.  

(Let's all ignore the fact that I just contradicted myself when I said I hate pretension and  talked about enjoying TFIOS in the same paragraph.)

When I first read this poem in Green's novel, I didn't put much thought into it because 1) I was way too caught up in the plot of the book and 2) I straight up had no clue what it meant. I didn't get what it was about, why it was used in the book, or why the hell it was even a thing. 

I just came back across it in a book of poems intended to inspire teachers. Once again, I had no idea what it was about or why it was included, and just trying to think of explanations made my head hurt. But then I did a little research on it, because I don't like not understanding things. And I went from, "Oh man this is the worst poem ever all I want is for it to die in a fire," to "THIS IS THE BEST POEM EVER," in about the time it takes to skim a Wikipedia article. 
Basically, this poem celebrates the everyday objects that make your memories and your life yours, and promotes observing your world in greater detail. And I LOVE IT. Seriously, I am all about it. William Carlos Williams is the man, and not just because he has a boss double-name.

I then started thinking about what my version of this poem would be, what objects my life depends on so greatly. And I couldn't really come up with anything. I guess I need to pay better attention.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

There's a Face Behind Those Peek A Boo Hands

In the past few years, I've tried to learn more about the world, and consequently a lot of my opinions and thoughts on certain topics have changed dramatically. Regarding two topics in particular I hear the same argument being made over and over and over again and I just need to write about it because I have held in YEARS OF FRUSTRATION. Ok, so.

I keep hearing the argument of, "Well, it's not happening to me, so it's not happening at all" being made time and time again on the internet, on the news, and, worst of all, in conversations with people I love and respect. I think of it as kind of like how infants see the world before they develop object permanence. If something is not physically in front of them, it simply does not exist. So to these rational, intelligent adults, when the problems are shielded behind their mother's hands of distance, culture and inexperience, they are not hiding, but are instead absent.
 It comes up most often when talking about 1) women's rights and 2) global warming. And this is just a really problematic way to look at both of these issues because of REASONS.

Women's Rights
Really this shouldn't even be called "Women's Rights," it should be called "Equality" or "People are F@*#ing People Treat Them Like It DEAR GOD WHY DO I NEED TO TELL YOU THAT" but this is the world we live in so there it is.
Granted, we live in a blessed society, in a progressive time. Looking historically, signs of inequality are now far scarcer than they were even a few decades ago. Many people, including friends of mine, see this progress, and notice little to no discrimination in their own lives, and argue that the work is done. I have heard the progress that has been made used to support arguments that male feminists are objectionable or even that feminism itself is outdated and unnecessary today. The problem with these arguments is that they are based on a very limited view of the world.
The truth is, you don't have to look very far internationally to find dire women's rights issues. They are extremely rampant in places across the Middle East and India. But even domestically, within the United States, the issue still persists. Whether it is the color-coded pink and blue toy aisles in your local Target, the rape culture prevalent at your university, offhand sexists comments made while on your commute or at your workplace, or hateful comments spewed toward women or authors of feminist articles online, the problem exists. (Regarding that last example- it's a pretty prevalent problem. I've heard it time and time again that the comments under any article about feminism justify feminism.)
 Believing women's rights aren't a big deal is not only blatantly ignorant, but is detrimental to those who are victims of or are trying to change the problems in society.

Global Warming
I've actually heard this argument used to justify denying global warming for a really long time- I have a distinct memory of one of my best friends in
high school trudging through the snow with me, talking about how this was proof that global warming wasn't true. I suppose part of the problem is in the title. "Global Warming" is misleading, because it really deals with a plethora of changes to weather and climate and sciencey shit I really shouldn't try to act like I understand.
But it's the same issue- people have blinders on and as a result, make arguments that don't include global implications. Sure, it's cold at your house today. But there are more hurricanes and droughts somewhere else. Stuff is melting and shifting and all of it has to do with how climate is changing all over the globe, as a direct result of human actions. Once again, believing change isn't happening because it's not happening directly to you is harmful, ignorant, and ridiculous.

It needs to be stated that I am neither a scientist nor an expert on gender issues and sociology. I am just a person trying to align my understanding of the world with a sense of logic and morality.
When you don't see beyond your own life, when you don't even try to include the broader human experience, you miss most of the picture and the truth.

As a teacher (kind of almost), I tell students it's vital for them to back up arguments with sources, facts, and material so I suppose I should probably practice what I preach.
American Gender Pay Gap:
Example of Women's Issues in India:
American Rape Culture:
Climate Change Stats and Info:
Videos on Climate Change (the second video inspired me to write this post, actually):