Thursday, November 29, 2007
So here is Carrie Underwood singing her song Ever, ever after:
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Oh my. I found this online today. Quidditch for Muggles. Apparently, quidditch is being played in various colleges across the US. Will this take off as an actual sport? I guess we'll all have to wait and see!
As much criticism as there is on J.K. Rowling, I think it's mindblowing the amount of influence she's had and is having on our society. A hundred years from now, I bet you she'll be standard for study in Universities about the culture of the late 20th, early 21st centuries.
~ an unfinished story ~
[Disclaimer: this story may sound scarily depressing, but it's actually just a way for me to vent. Also, I've never been able to not apologize for my work, even though I know you're not supposed to. Oops! Hehe.]
It was a piece of paper. A piece of paper. And yet it held such power, such weight, such a determining factor in Lily’s life. She wilted under its verdict. Rejection. Her sunny smile dropped. Her day was flipped idly like a coin, tossed carelessly in the air only to land on the wrong side. Tails. It was always tails. For once, could she not get ahead? Could she never come out on top? These thoughts swam around in her swampy confusion. The world around her buzzed, became blurred, the only clear thing this single piece of paper. It stood out bright against the fuzzy. It grabbed onto Lily’s vision and held it there, superglued it there so she could notice nothing else. There was nothing else in the world aside from Lily and her rejection. Her deep, dark, glaring rejection. It pierced her inner core, wrenched it from her and twisted, wringing out all her dreams.
Somewhere, a cell phone rang. A door opened. A textbook closed. Lily’s feet turned her away from her terrible sentence and made her walk robotically through the halls. People. People everywhere. People talking, laughing, shouting. Too loud! Everything was too loud! The noise threatened Lily, penetrated deep into her personal bubble. She felt shunned, left out, though of what, she did not know. People looked at her sometimes. Did they know? Was it written on her forehead? Was it plastered all over her clothes?
Rejection. Rejection. Rejection.
The sound of it reverberated inside Lily, forcing her to recognize it, to acknowledge it, to pay it her utmost attention. And because she was so aware of her own rejection, others must be, too. Strangers, her teachers, her friends. They all knew. All of them. They all talked and laughed and joked with each other, flashing her friendly smiles, no, mocking smiles, because they knew. ‘There goes a rejected girl,’ they were probably saying. ‘We are not rejected, only she is. Oh, I do feel so sorry, don’t you feel sorry? Oh quickly, smile at her lest she should feel badly.’
Lily tried not to look at them, gave feeble smiles in return. Sometimes, she didn’t even smile at all. She wanted to run, she wanted to hide, she wanted them all to stop looking, to stop talking.
Somewhere, in the deep recesses of her rational mind, she acknowledged her paranoia, her self-centeredness. They of course did not know. Their conversations were really about math, science, the betterment of the world. Manicures. The West Wing. But Lily felt excluded from all that. She felt somehow…outside. She was in her own world, her own separate dimension that rubbed closely enough to reality to irritate but not closely enough to be a true part of it.
And so the world went on without Lily and Lily glided through without caring much about the world. After all, she was in a class of her own now, a class made up of The Rejected. She was spit out from the mouth of all things good and wonderful, exiled to grope her way through a new maze, a new jungle. She was shown a magnificent thing and then flung aside like the tiny green strawberry in an otherwise plump, ripe, red bunch, never to have it.
Lily wallowed. She wallowed in self-pity. She wallowed in her own sense of loss. She wallowed in her own confusion and fear of what was to come next. But most of all, she wallowed because no matter how hard she tried, no matter how good she was, she was Never. Good. Enough.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I can't believe I'm the only one. I'm for sure not the only one. There are most definitely plenty of people who don't really know that much about politics. So should we really be voting? I mean, I know myself. I can read up on politics as much as I want - I'll never truly understand what's going on. Yes, it's the right of every citizen to vote and yes, it's encouraged, but if someone really just doesn't know what's going on politically, is that person really fit to make such a decision for her country? To weigh down one side or another with her vote? What if it's the wrong side? And yes, it's not as simple as that, there isn't a "right" or "wrong" side, but I just don't understand all the gray in politics.
So should someone like me cast down a vote? How much is my vote really worth?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I love adventures. Yesterday, I had an awesome adventure with SJ and some other girls in NYC. First, we went to this random building that hosts many different architecture and design firms. They were having a charity fund raiser there where you had to donate a can of food in order to enter. Once inside, the offices in the various floors had sculptures made almost solely out of food cans. It was a contest and each firm had a sculpture which they'd had a day to make a week earlier. It was incredible. There were polar bears, Kermit the Frog, race cars, ice cream cones, DNA strands, and, most impressive of all, the Mona Lisa - all made out of cans. Each sculpture had a punny name like deCANstruction or other things like that which I cannot remember now.
At night, we went to see the movie Enchanted.
It was incredible.
It made us all feel so happy, I think. It's just that sort of movie. You walk out of there wearing a big smile. The story proves that there can be a happily ever after in the real world, even if life and love and everything aren't perfect - because in the real world, it can never really be perfect (as opposed to Andalasia where...well, I won't give anything away) but still, that doesn't mean people can't have fairy tale endings. It just isn't as simple as in real fairy tales, that's all. Anyway, it made me happy. Here's the preview, which is fun, too:
Anyway, happy Turkey Day, everyone!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
(This story is based on true events)
Disclaimer: This story is completely unedited and was written between the hours of 1 and 2 in the morning. Any and all mistakes are due to this. I am otherwise a writer who is practically perfect in every way. So there.
I sat in Writing Kiddie Lit. class, thinking about how I had to print out a reading response that had been due two weeks earlier but that I had never handed in. The first time, I couldn't figure out how to print and the second week I just plain forgot about it. I didn't want to forget about it again so I slipped out of class to go print it out. Well, I'm the type of girl who has very little patience waiting for elevators so I naturally gravitate towards the stairwell. Such a thing happened that night. There is a sign on the door to the seventh floor stairwell saying that if you open it, an alarm will go off but no such thing had ever happened to me in the history of my time at stern college and I had no fears of it happening that night.
As I took the stairs two at a time, I heard distantly the sound of...something that sounded sort of like a siren but I didn't take much notice of it. I did not much care, either, humming merrily as I reached the second floor - the stairwell exit for Stern girls. Reaching out to turn the knob, I stopped short. The knob wouldn't turn. With a groan, I realized that the second floor was locked and I would have to trek back up five flights and take the elevator down. Taking a deep breath, I began my long and tiring journey.
I climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed until, puffing and panting, I reached the seventh floor once more. With the intention of flinging open the door and going annoyedly to the elevator, I turned the knob. Or, rather, I tried to turn the knob. It would not budge, either!
This was a disaster. I was now stuck in the stairwell. I started to knock in the door but, not unexpectedly, no one answered. This made sense as people aren't usually wandering the halls of the seventh floor. The students are in class and the professors are in their offices. There isn't anything on the seventh floor to warrant wandering.
With a sigh, I went back down to the second floor. I hoped I wouldn't have to go back up to the seventh floor, because that would just be really irritating and I was still out of breath from climbing up five flights the first time around (yes, I'm out of shape. Now, don't interrupt). I was beginning to get nervous but I had hope that someone was bound to hear me on the second floor, at least.
Oh, how wrong I was. I banged and thumped and smacked the door and pounded on it and called out and though I could hear people on the other side, no one, apparently, could hear me. Or maybe they were just ignoring me. Who knows?
By this time, I was beginning to truly panic. I don't think I'd ever been really trapped in a stairwell before. I started hoping that someone at some point in the night would figure out I was missing and would come looking for me, though how they would know I was inside the stairwell, I don't know.
It was while unpleasant thoughts of spending the night in the stairwell were flitting through my mind when I heard the sound of someone opening a door way, way below. The thought of checking the doors on the lower floors had not occurred to me, oddly enough, and I became enlightened. You see, I had already tried the doors on the floors in between 7 and 2 and they were all locked. But going below the second floor? Revolutionary!
I tried it at once. With newfound hope, I reached a set of steps which led to a big sign reading "LOBBY" and an arrow pointing around a bend. Wary and unsure what I would find so far below, I slowly crept around the bend, finding myself in front of a heavy looking door. Slowly, slowly, I opened the door a small amount and peeked through the crack. It all looked rather like a normal place out there so I opened the door all the way and stepped with relief out of the stairwell.
The new lobby was not the lobby of the building from which I had gone into the stairwell, but it was actually the building just next door. Odd, yes. But I didn't care. All I cared about was that I was out and was not going to be spending the night or any long, extended periods of time inside a stairwell.
Full of spirit, I half ran, half walked through this new lobby to the door connecting it to my actual school building. Then I quickly printed out what I had been coming down to print out in the first place and made sure to take the elevator back up to class. I re-entered the room, slipped into my desk, and heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Amazingly, I was able to have this whole adventure and not miss anything of significance in class.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
It's become almost required to begin a conversation:
"Oh, hey! What's up?"
"Not much, you?"
Why do we do it? Why do we say 'not much' when that just can't be true? Something is always up. It may not be something drastic, but it could be something as simple as, "I had an awesome day today" or "I have so much reading to do tonight." Is it out of habit that we simply reply 'not much?' Or is it something else? Is it because we're afraid? Is there this fear that people just don't care about our lives? About the little things that happen to us? Is there an insecurity that we're just not interesting? That something's only 'up' if it's big news?
I say 'not much' all the time, but I want to try to stop. In order to have normal conversations with people, we have to have actual answers for the 'what's up?' question! Simply 'not much' isn't going to do it. I feel like such a boring person every time I answer 'not much.' Last night, Ezzie kept on asking me, "so, what's up?" and every time I said "not much" and he kept asking. After a while, I started searching for real answers. Oh, yes, my teacher canceled class today. That's an answer.
There is always an answer. We don't live our lives in a bubble. We interact. Things happen to us - even little things. But they are all important and, believe it or not, someone who's really your friend does want to hear those little things. It's what keeps the friendship alive and interesting. Not every discussion has to have enormous weight. It can be frivolous, sometimes. It can be simple. It can be about every day events.
I think it's time we broke out of the Not Much Syndrome.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This stereotypical girl takes so long to say shemona esrai that when you're finished, you chew on your lip and wonder whether her siddur has an extended version that you never learned because you don't think you rushed your way through, garbling words. No, you clearly remember saying every word. You even spent a little extra time in Refaeinu to daven for someone's friend or relative and you spent a few additional seconds in shma koleinu to ask for a good grade on your midterm. But you still feel like you've done something wrong, something off, because you're finished too early. There are all the good, carefully frum girls around you, so engrossed in modim that their eyes are closed, their faces scrunched up in concentration. They are swaying fiercely, no, not swaying, shuckling. Get the lingo right!
Why can't my davening be like that? Why do I speak words, understand them, even, but not feel? I feel like I do two types of praying. I do the regular, normal prayers that everyone does, I say the words everyone says, I go through the motions, but I'm not really praying. No, my true praying comes at random points in the day when I look outside, see a tree, and wonder, how did this tree become a tree? Who put it there? Who made it so beautiful, so green, so big? Who made the wind that is pushing its way rudely through the branches, shaking them to and fro? God, of course. God, who created this incredible world on which we live. God, who gave us life, who gave us families and friends and teachers and schools. God, who gave us countries and cultures and languages and literature! And then I appreciate God. I am filled with a deep, overwhelming love and adoration for Him and His creations.
When else do I pray? When I am scared. When I am lonely. When I am nervous. When I am worried. I think to God, asking His advice, asking Him for help, for strength, for everything to work out just fine. I think so hard, hoping that my thoughts reach all the way up to Him.
I feel this deep, intimate connection with God. I have always been able to turn to Him in times of need, in times of joy, in any time, really. But not with the words of prayer that are found in the siddur. It is not during that prayer time that I feel this way. It is during my own prayer time. It is almost like I have to make a separate appointment with God in order to get my true prayer in because I can't do it in the appropriate, alloted time that everyone else uses.
But I want to be able to feel God when I daven in the morning. I do. I don't want it to be just words coming out of my mouth. But it's so not in the moment. It's so hard to take feelings that I feel when I am most in the position to feel them and transport them to a time when I'm hardly feeling anything at all - when all I'm really thinking about is how tired I am and that I hope they have the big cookies in the caf for breakfast. And perhaps if I was able to train myself to feel this way during actual prayer time, I might be more inclined to remember to daven Mincha, as well.
I keep thinking of the Judy Blume book, Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. Part of that is so true with me. I think to God all the time. I have one-sided conversations with Him. I really do have a relationship with Him. Just... at a private appointment instead of when I'm actually supposed to be praying.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
[There was more to this post but, unfortunately, I couldn't get past the opening paragraph]
Friday, November 9, 2007
The likelihoods of winning? Not impossible, but not guaranteed, either. I've done it once before and I didn't win. There are usually around at least 100 people there, if not more, so while the chances aren't like, you know, the New York lottery, if you're one of those people who never, ever wins anything...well, I wouldn't get my hopes up. And believe me - I'm one of those people.
The experience is an odd one. You stand in the crowd, on tiptoes so you can see the guy announcing the winners (at least, I was on tiptoes since I'm not the tallest girl around, anyway). You hold your breath, waiting anxiously for him to read the first name. You have this incredible feeling in your gut that it could be your name he's about to read off. And then he reads it.
It is someone named Yamu Chin (or Billy Bob or Pablo Francisco). You sigh, stand down from your tiptoes, and watch disappointedly as Yamu (or Billy or Pablo) runs excitedly to stand against the wall where the winners are supposed to go. But then there's another name. You stand on tiptoe again, again holding your breath. This time it's going to be you, you just know it.
This time, it's Diane Alabama (or Patsy Wilkes or Marlene Updike). She shrieks, hugs her friend, and goes hurriedly to stand besides Yamu/Billy/Pablo, beaming all over.
And so it goes on. Usually, ten names are drawn, and read, ten times you stand on tiptoe holding your breath and ten times you sigh and watch wistfully as someone else is picked. Then it's over and you walk away, dejected and feeling that nothing else could be just as exciting as seeing that show so there's no reason to hang around Times Square and you might as well go back to your daily life.
Sometimes it doesn't end that way.
This is what happened to SJ and me this past Wednesday. SJ was about the seventh called. We were both in a sort of shock. How on earth did we win? How on earth were we picked?
We stood in line, got our tickets (because if you win and filled out that you wanted 2 tickets, then you get to bring someone), and then had two hours to wander around Times Square before the show started.
Oh, and by the way, the show was Wicked. We had both seen it before but, let me tell you, there was nothing like seeing it the way we did on Wednesday. After wandering through the M&Ms store, the Hershey store, Toys R Us and passing some actors running lines (which was SO COOL), we went into Gershwin theater and found our seats. Second row. Seats 2 and 4. The stage was so close, we could reach out and touch it with our fingertips from where we were sitting. Before the show started, we got to look down in the stage and saw the Orchestra. We were able to hear the actors backstage doing voice exercises. We were so close, that during the performance, we could see their tiny microphones, we could see their pimples underneath their make up, we could see that Elphaba was wearing a green body suit, we could see backstage what was going on sometimes, we could see their spit as they sang. We could see the actors muttering to each other during dances when they weren't singing. I wonder what they were talking about?
Sitting so close up, we weren't watching a show, we were experiencing theater in a face to face sort of way.
It was one of the most incredible things I've ever done.
I love Wicked. It's probably my favorite show. I loved seeing it in a normal seat a few years ago with the original cast (yay for Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith!), but I also loved seeing it the way I did on Wednesday. Yes, the seats were a bit partial view, but we had views of other things that the rest of the audience didn't. And we only paid $26.50 for our tickets.
Skipping class that day was so worth it.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I have been wondering, lately, why it is that I feel this need to write everything down. What is it about writing that alleviates stress or furthers understanding about things? What is it about writing that intensifies joy?
I think part of it is this ability, especially on a blog versus a private diary, to share these experiences with others. To share a bad day, to share a joyous occasion - it sort of takes it out of you and plasters it onto a blog where it is both removed from you and in a place where you can always return to it.
Another part of it, as I realized while taking a midterm today, is to search for deeper understandings. Whenever I have an idea in my head, the more I write about it, the more I come to understand it. Things begin to come together when I write them down. I seem to think in a more organized way while writing and I always end up understanding something about myself or about the world (or about literature, or anything, really) on a much deeper and more complex level than when I first had the idea.
But there is yet another quality of writing that I enjoy - writing as an adventure. It really is an adventure, if you think about it, even according to the monomyth. Joseph Campbell's monomyth is a tradition of a certain circular shape to stories. A monomyth starts off with katabasis or a call to adventure. This can be anything from the White Rabbit running past Alice to Hagrid paying a visit to Harry and the Dursleys. Then the hero goes on a series of trials and tests with various helpers, ending in the restoration of order to a disordered world by either defeating a dragon or defeating some other thing, and then there's usually at onement with the father or mother figure and then the return journey.
Writing is very similar. The call to adventure is when you get an idea. The trials and tests are the actual story writing process, writer's block, etc. Finally the story is finished and that is the return.
But anyway, this was sort of a tangent. The point of this post was never to compare writing to a monomyth. I think that happened because I am trying to show that there are different reasons for feeling this need to write everything down. Either to alleviate one's self, to search for meaning in an issue, or thousands of other reasons.
As many of you ALSO know, I am in love with the movie, The Goonies. There is a particular scene (though it is broken up a bit by another scene) in this movie which has three moments where I feel inspired by them to write about something.
The story so far has been that Mikey and his friends Mouth, Data, and Chunk, and his brother Brand and his friends Andy and Steph have gone on an adventure to find hidden treasure. They need this treasure because their homes on the goon docks are going to be foreclosed later that day if their families don't come up with some fast money so that a country club can be built on the land. Meanwhile, there is this family of outlaws called the Fertellis and they happen to be based in an abandoned restaurant where the kids start looking for the treasure. All of the kids get away to the caves underneath to go on the treasure hunt, except for Chunk, who has been caught by the Fertellis. The Fertellis at this point don't know why the kids were in the restaurant snooping around and they question Chunk about it. When he says they all went down into the fireplace to look for buried treasure, the Fertellis don't believe him and make him tell the whole story. Instead of the story they WANT to hear, he starts confessing to every crime he's ever done (these crimes being cheating on a test, stealing his uncle's toupee, etc.). Meanwhile, the Goonies are underground in caves searching for the buried treasure. The one catch is that there was this expert explorer guy, Chester Copperpot, who once went looking for the treasure and he never came out. This makes the treasure hunt even more frightening. The Goonies think Chunk has gotten away and gone to the police, but they aren't really sure. This particular clip begins right in the middle of a booby trap set long ago by One Eyed Willy, whose treasure they are seeking. Chunk is also in the middle of his "confession." And so we start.
The three moments I'm talking about are:
1. When mouth takes the coin and says, "this one was my dream, my wish, but it didn't come true. So I'm taking it back. I'm taking them all back."
I think that feelings like that - feelings of despair, of darkness, of glumness, really inspire people to write. Bad days, if someone said something mean or rude, even just dreary days where nothing particularly bad happened but the whole mood of the day has been pretty much a downer. That is something people need to get off their chest. I know I feel so much better after writing about it. If I were Mouth, I'd have gone home that day and written a blog entry about being in the well and taking the coins back.
2. When Mikey says, "Don't say that, never say that - Goonies never say die!" This is so important. This is about not giving up, about perseverance. This may not be a cause for writing, but it has so much to do with writing. Writing is all about perseverance. It's about seeing the story or the idea through 'til the very end. It is about hope and the belief that there is a light up ahead, even if we can't see it now. And even that, now that I'm thinking about it, could cause one to write. If I was struggling to find the light in a seemingly dark situation, I think writing about it would help a lot. A whole lot. It could help me to see things clearly, to reassess, to view the situation with a more objective eye.
3. Mikey's speech from, "Chester Copperpot - don't you guys realize? He was a pro! He never made it this far." until, "It's our time down here!" This is similar to the other moment, moment #2, in that it's about perseverance and not giving up. It's about believing in yourself and in your abilities and not underestimating your strengths, even if you feel insignificant. It is about striving for clarity about the world and your own role in it, which is something I think I try to do a lot when I write blog posts. It is also about having a voice - a real voice that other people will listen to. A lot of times, normal people feel so insignificant because they're not the ones calling the shots in this world. People wonder, how can I, little me, make a difference? It's about "our time." It's our time here in blogland, guys.
It is also just an awesome, awesome speech and I love it. I love this whole scene down in the well.
While they might not match perfectly with everyone's view of writing and of stories, I think they match with mine - most of the time, anyway. If this post confused anyone, I'm really sorry! It's me trying to clarify ideas for myself and exploring new angles to my own thoughts. If you get anything out of this post at all, I do hope it's that you want to watch the whole Goonies movie!
But seriously, guys, Goonies never say die...and neither do Bloggers!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I adore Dickens. It really bothers me that he seems to have anti-semitic tones in his novels, especially in Oliver Twist, and in searching around for some article in his defense, I only found one trying to defend him but realizing that there isn't that much to defend. He did write a novel, Our Mutual Friend, with a Jewish protagonist instead of villain, but that's about it. Here is the article, though it is on JSTOR so not everyone will be able to get to it, I don't think. Anyway, here it is for you all to read at your own convenience, but I just want to know, how can I adore Dickens if he was such an anti-semite? I feel bad doing it, but I love his work! It's so awful.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
I want to be a hero. I want to be like Frodo Baggins or Harry Potter or Peter Pan or Mikey Walsh or any of them. I want to be the one to brandish my sword at the dragon and steal his horde of treasure and destroy the ring of power and break the spell and kill Voldemort and save the world. I have this naive idealism that there is some way to do it. I never lost this belief that I, Erachet, am going to be the one to destroy evil and save everyone, that I will be exalted as the hero, that I will go on adventures and persevere and restore order to the universe. Because that's what a hero does. A hero goes to a disordered world, has a series of adventures, comes face to face with evil, destroys it and restores order. The hero then returns with a prize of some sort.
I want this to be me.
And why can't it be me? Why can I not do this?
This world is so disorderly - is it even possible to restore order to it?
People say, write letters to the government, go to rallies, recycle, save the whales. But this does not do it for me. None of these things make me, personally, feel like a hero. I want to do something real, something big, something that actually makes a real difference that I can actually see and on a much larger scale.
But I have no ring of power to destroy. I don't know of any dragons. There is no Captain Hook, and even if there was, I am not in a position to be the one to go after him.
I am a regular girl from a regular town and a regular family and I don't possess any special talents or abilities or strengths.
So how can I be a hero? A real hero? Who has adventures and saves the whole world?
Because I really believe that I can. I really believe that I will, one day. But some little voice inside of me is trying to make me see, the world is not that simple. It's not that black and white. And you are not that special.
But I want to be.