Monday, January 28, 2008

Presents!

We disrupt this blog to announce that I discovered how to make icons using a program called Gimp and I made some of you very pretty icons! I did not make for EVERYONE, but if you'd like one and I haven't made you one, I'd be more than happy to! Just reply and make your request! And now, without further ado, BEHOLD:

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I hope you like them!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

From the Back of the Class

Story number one:

I am a front-of-the-class sitter. I go straight from one class to the next without dilly-dallying in order to get a front and center seat, especially in the classes that I like. Today, however, because I had to switch buildings in between classes, I was on time to my Gothic Novel class as opposed to early, which meant all the decent seats were taken. All the half decent seats were taken. All the somewhat decent seats were taken.

I had to sit in the very back behind at least seven rows of people.

I am short. I could hardly see the teacher. I like to participate a lot in class. This is difficult to do if you are short and sitting in the back and unable to see the teacher.

This is what it is like to be in a big class and be sitting in the back:

1. It is hard to see the teacher
2. People around you are talking
3. It is hard to feel part of the class discussion
4. It is like you are in your own 'back of the class' little world
5. It is very conducive for not paying attention and doing other things during class (such as, my personal favorites, writing stories and poetry)
6. It is not very conducive for being an active participant in the class itself

The moral of this story: learn to Apparate between school buildings in order to get to class early

Story number two:

Last night, I had a class in advertising copywriting. It's quite a fun class. We watched famous commercials and for homework we have to write an ad for vitamin water. I'm still trying to come up with an idea that isn't corny (corny being...having popeye holding vitamin water instead of spinach, things like that). But anyway, when I got to this class, I was early enough to get a seat in the front, and it was quite a good seat overall, but it was on the side. Why was this a problem? Well, like my Gothic novel class, this class is rather large. At the start of class, we went around the room saying our names, majors, and favorite commercials or moments from movies or lyrics from songs or just something memorable to us, but most people did their favorite commercials.

Well, not only was I on the side of the room, but I was on the wrong side. 'Going around the room' started from the other corner, which meant I was near last (luckily, I was not the last, there were two or three people after me). That meant that I had to sit through around twenty-something other people's favorite commercials before I would get to say mine - and what if they all took my ideas! Luckily they didn't (mine were M&Ms and cereal commercials, and the Folger's song), but the feeling was one of intense impatience. The fact of the matter was, I couldn't care less what the other people's favorite commercials were. I just wanted to say mine!

This is a common phenomenon - that people are sometimes much more eager to share about themselves than they are to listen to other people, or at least, it's much harder to listen to someone else when you're bursting with things to say than when you've already said it all and have the presence of mind to then listen to others (and the insurance that they can no longer steal your thoughts or ideas). And isn't it rather odd that a person can feel her idea stolen from her? If she thought of it independently of everyone else, but someone else expresses the same idea first, the other girl is seen as copying her, or feels as though she is, but really she is not, she just did not have the opportunity to express her thought or idea first.

This is known as the ME TOO syndrome. Do you find yourself constantly saying, "me too!" and wishing you had spoken first so that you'd be the one credited with the original idea?

Fear of this crept up within me as I waited ever so patiently for the 'around the room' game to reach my row of desks. It took a rather long time. Even though I was not in the back of the class, it felt as though I was. I was at the end of the class. It was not a fun place to be.

The moral of this story: gain ESP to know which corner of the classroom the teacher will call on first

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Beatles + Shakespeare = ?

BEHOLD! The Beatles performing Pyramus and Thisby as it is found in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

SJ, Erachet, and the Devil Squirrel


I seem to only be able to write blog entries at strange hours of the night/morning or when I'm feeling, well, not all there. True, I fell asleep for a few short minutes on the flight home last night, but really, I haven't gone properly to sleep since Monday night. I am wiped, man.

Anyway, this story is meant to be read in conjunction with SJ's wonderful retelling of our driving escapades yesterday (was it really yesterday? I have no idea what day it is anymore).

So once we reached our destination, after quite accomplished driving by SJ through all means of traffic and weather conditions, and after much heroic navigation by yours truly, we decided that seeing an immense, majestic waterfall in the midst of gorgeous, wintry frost-covered pine trees and regal mountains must be accompanied by lunch.

Now, it is generally accepted that lunch-eating is not exactly the meanest of feats, especially when you come prepared for the noon meal and are greeted with a variety of empty picnic tables upon which to arrange everything.

The term generally accepted, however, does leave room for there to be the occasional exception. Yesterday's lunch was such an exception.

SJ and I had been in search of a dry picnic table to eat our lunch at since many of the outdoor ones were all covered in snow. Luckily, we noticed a large overhang which protected several picnic tables from snow and we headed in that direction, thinking it to be the perfect place to consume our midday meal. While entering the overhang, I noticed a particular squirrel sitting on a large rock and watching us intently. It did not seem at all bothered by our ever-approaching presence as we came closer and closer to the overhang. The woodland creature merely stared and licked its paws. This behavior seemed a bit odd to me, since I'm used to New York squirrels which run when people get too close. I was a bit unnerved not to witness similar behavior from this out-of-towner squirrel.

I soon forgot about the strange animal, however, as we selected our picnic table and put down our things. I quickly made a phone call to my mom and, while I was on the phone, I heard SJ comment, "it's on your foot!"

Now, I do like animals, but I have to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of wild ones being on my feet. I started and looked down, discovering the same squirrel as before. It jumped up onto the bench and then onto the table, completely fearless of us. SJ and I tried to shoo it away but it was not very impressed by our efforts. It proceeded to sniff our food and look in our bags. I, meanwhile, had been on the phone with my mother this whole time and was somewhat distracted, which is why SJ was able to grab her things and all our food and run. I merely ran, leaving my things on the table.

The frightening part was that originally, before I ran, I started to back slowly away and the squirrel began to chase after me. This was not normal squirrel behavior. So I ran. SJ and I tried again and again to sneak back to the table and retrieve my things but each time, the squirrel was there waiting for us! Only when the Devil Squirrel became distracted by much sillier humans than us taking its picture and exclaiming and cooing over it and how close it got to them that SJ and I were able to dart quickly under the overhang, snatch my things, and dash like lightening back out. We literally threw ourselves in SJ's car and shut the doors firmly closed against any squirrel intruders.

Thus concludes this particular tale of the Devil Squirrel. However, I doubt this is the last time humanity will have heard from the evil rodent. Any sightings should be reported immediately to Agents S. Jay and E. Rashay.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Growing up

Every kid is supposed to want to grow up, right? You're considered a bit odd if you try to hang on to your youth for too long. But if this is so, then why is it that adults are constantly reminiscing with a sigh, "oh, to be in college again" or "enjoy being young while you still can" or "one day, you'll have to work at least eight hours a day every day with only a few vacation days plus a family and then you'll know what it's like."

Is this supposed to make me want to grow up? I'm not following. When I hear people say things like, "once you get to the working world...well, let's just say, enjoy your time at Stern while you still can," I put up a thick brick wall to all this growing up business. If I'm going to end up with an attitude like that, forget it. If life is going to cease being fun and enjoyable, then what am I gaining by moving on to "the real world?" What is so appealing about this "real world," anyway? I don't want to look back and wish I was myself at a different stage of life, I don't want to get bored with myself, I don't want to feel jaded, and I definitely don't want to stop being in control of my own life.

That is how I see life after Stern. A complete loss of control. True, I have to follow the rules of Stern now, but being a student is still living on my terms. I choose my classes, I choose what paper topics I want to write on, I choose to go to class (or, er, not to go), I choose the environment of people I want to be around, and no one is bossing me around. I don't want to go from being a relatively carefree student to suddenly having to spend my days doing whatever it is someone else tells me to do and not get any breaks and never be able to skip out and day after day after day doing the same thing over and over and over and seeing the same people again and again and again, and being cooped up inside if it's a nice day and never again experiencing that wonderful, amazing, incomparable feeling of going to school and finding out your teacher canceled class and that you actually have the whole afternoon free and you go on adventures with your friends for the rest of the day and declare it the best day ever in your mind. Will I have "best days ever" once I leave college?

True, I'm probably completely over generalizing about what my future could be, but right now, all I imagine it as is what I was doing for one of my internships this summer - sitting at a desk allllll day long and constantly worrying about if I'm allowed to stay out an extra five minutes for my lunch break because I met a friend or if I'm allowed to be sick one day or if I'm allowed to leave early one day or if I'm allowed to answer my phone and always feeling like I'm not allowed to do anything unless I'm told to do it because I'm in a job and I'm on someone else's time and I have responsibilities to people other than myself. And this bleak image of the future is not helped at all by people telling me to enjoy my time in college while I can because I'll never be able to do these things again.

If kids are supposed to want to grow up, then where are all the people saying, "Man, I just love getting up and going to work in the morning! It's the most fun I've had in years!" or "Ha! You think this is living? Just wait until you get out of college, the real world is a blast!" because I can't seem to find them.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Poemization - Part II

So last semester, I wrote a poem in honor of finals. I figured I'd do the same now. Here are the rules for something to qualify as a Finals Poem:

1. Cannot be planned out in advance
2. Must be written on the spot
3. Preferably slightly incoherent or nonsensical or both
4. Must convey the impression that it was written during a time of heavy stress
5. Must be written at some time in the early morning (between 12:00am and 6:00am)
6. Must still follow all the rules of poetry in terms of rhyme, meter, etc.




Procrastination or That Paper the Sneak

When finals fin'lly come around
It's hard to keep your feet aground
For when the wind blows in in gusts
With final tests and papers dusts
And sweeps you up off of your feet
It's then you know you'll come to meet
An island where it's all okay --
Procrastination's saved the day!
He'll give you lots of tasks to do
Most of them fun and needful, too
Though not exactly at that time
But it's okay, (this line must rhyme)
Because when those small tasks are through
He'll give you more - oh lucky you!
And all so that you won't do work
But you don't mind, so there you'll lurk
And spend your days through reading week
On a procrastination streak.
You'll do no work, but you won't care
The days are young! And oh, fresh air!
Adventurising through the night!
Though something comes to give a fright!
What is it? You look round and round
And, suddenly, without a sound,
A PAPER comes in leap and bound!
"You have not written me at all!
Your grades will drop! GPA fall!"
"I meant it not!" you say in fear
"But finals time was drawing near,
And I'm afraid my feet got swept
Along by one oh so adept
At big distractions through small things."
Is the excuse your voice box sings.
And so you scramble to complete
Before the due date's obsolete
With snacks and stressing, snacking, too
A nervous breakdown might come through
But those right now are normal things
And that is what exam time brings.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

True heroism

Whoever has been reading my blog for a while now probably knows I have this desire to be a hero. The question is, though, how do you define "hero?" There are silent heroes, there are leading heroes, but what does it mean to actually be a hero?

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a hero as thus:

Main Entry:
he·ro
Pronunciation:
\ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\
Function:
noun
Inflected Form(s):
plural heroes
Etymology:
Latin heros, from Greek hērōs
Date:
14th century
1 a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b: an illustrious warrior c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d: one that shows great courage
2 a
: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b: the central figure in an event, period, or movement
3
plural usually heros : submarine 2
4
: an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol

Joseph Campbell defines a hero like this:

A hero is any male or female who leaves the world of his or her everyday life to undergo a journey to a special world where challenges and fears are overcome in order to secure a reward (special knowledge, healing potion, etc.) which is then shared with other members of the hero’s community.

The Greeks, on the other hand, saw a hero as someone of high, noble birth who had to bring order to a disordered world and usually displayed virtue, courage, and chivalry while doing so.

Until recently, my vision of a hero was some odd mixture of all of these. However, there is another kind of heroism that I have discovered this past weekend. There is no fancy term for it. Just a key phrase. Standing strong in what you believe.

An unspoken policy on my blog is not to write about other people. There are too many risks involved of that person finding out and of the writer getting into trouble for it. However, like all rules and policies, this one sometimes is meant to be broken.

I want to write about a close family friend whose peers are busy learning in Israel or off to college. He, however, is headed somewhere else. He is going to Iraq.

For any marine going to Iraq, that act alone is one of heroism. But that is the obvious kind of heroism. That is the kind of heroism that is talked about all the time, that is written about in books, that is lauded and admired - and for good reason. But for this specific marine, there is more to it than that. It is not every day that you hear of a Jewish boy joining the American marines. In Israel, Jewish boys join the army all the time. In America...not so much. So what does it mean when a Jewish American boy joins the marines?

I'll tell you. It means he has a great sense of purpose in what he wants for himself. He is not someone who does things "because it is done." Far too many people do that when they go to Israel to learn for a year (or two, or three) after high school. This family friend is doing something because he believes in it and because he feels it is right. That, to me, is heroism.

I don't mean to say that every time someone goes against the grain of what is expected, it is heroic. But I believe that true heroism is when a person can see past "everyone else" and, in doing so, sees himself. It is a great and wondrous thing to find oneself in the midst of the general crowd. It is so easy to get lost there and most people do, but to have the strength to pull out and truly be oneself is an act of heroism.

I wish him much luck and success on his journey, where he will undoubtedly be met with various trials and tests. I hope he passes all of them with flying colors and comes back safely. I also hope that he gains something from this incredible experience in his life. But no matter what happens, he will always be a hero.

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Semper fi!