Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rich Kids



This is hilarious. But also a little bit icky. I think I  know a few kids who could've made it into the video.

I'm sorry so many blog posts are video clips now days. My internet is still broken, so I end up stealing Sam's computer. And, though it's incredibly kind of him to let me use his computer, I just don't have the time to sit down and write a real post. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

78 Cents

I like Huffington Post's women's section. A lot. (Let's talk about how this was the most vindicating thing I've ever seen). Last week, I checked it out, and saw the article America's Best Paying Cities for Women! and I checked it out, mostly because I wanted to see if Philadelphia was on the list (it was). I like seeing all the best things about Philly. It makes me excited.
Anyway, I was looking casually over the list noticing city names and such, and then I started looking at the numbers. San Jose was number one:






This pissed me off. There's something seriously wrong when, in the city in which women are paid the "best", they still make 72.7% of men's salary. Wage disparities are a big deal. Even though there's lots of "look at those irritating feminists making a big deal out of 78 cents to the dollar every time they can", it's a big deal when women can only make, at best, 73% of men's salary. That's unjust.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quote Sunday

Todays quote comes from Vonnegut, specifically Slaughterhouse-five.
"He had supposed for years that he had no secrets from himself. Here was proof that he had a great big secret somewhere inside, and he could not imagine what it was."
I like this so much because its funny. It makes me laugh. But it also feels remarkably familiar. like when something happens and it feels like being punched in the gut, that feeling of oh, I wasn't expecting that and I'm surprised it hurt that much. I think that's what it feels like to discover a well-buried inner secret.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of facebook, is rapidly becoming one of my heros. Her message is basically that women need to have a greater say in the way the world operates. Sandberg gave an awesome commencement speech at Barnard this year. My favorite part was when she posed the question "what would you do if you weren't afraid?"

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire. Let the barriers you face—and there will be barriers—be external, not internal. Fortune does favor the bold, and I promise that you will never know what you’re capable of unless you try."

If I weren't afraid, I would:
  • Submit writing more often.
  • Admit that I am afraid and that sometimes fear is crippling.
  • Vocalize my opinions when I don't have evidence or intellect to back them up. Or when I know I'll be shut down.
  • Have stayed in calculus. 
  • Run for some office or something. Risk losing.
  • Sign up to run a half-marathon this summer with Alex.
  • Call my grandmother that I've never talked for more than six minutes and have a real conversation.
  • Go skydiving.
  • Stop wearing makeup, but wear heels all the time.
  • Take up yoga and not worry that that taking that time out of my day would mean my homework doesn't always get done.
  • Write poems.
  • Take a gap year.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sundance

First of all, Sundance is one of my favorite words ever. I think it's just beautiful. Also, their jewelry is to die for.
This year, I decided I finally wanted to go to Sundance. There are a few really wonderful things about Utah, and I can't miss out on any of them because they're so few and far between. Sundance happens to be a complete gem.
So Wednesday I went to The Invisible War which is a documentary about rape and sexual assult within the military. It was incrediby brutal, but really well done and it felt important. It left me feeling incredibly disgusted with the military, which it seems, functions as a boys' club and has never adjusted to admitting women. Which is mostly just sad, because the military could hugely benefit from the things women have to offer. I liked that the focus of the film was why these rapes are going unpunished and what needs to change. It was devastating, but it wasn't a film made simply to make the audience sad. It was made to expose what's going wrong and what specifically needs to change. Also, the husbands of the women who were raped were incredibly moving. They were such good men.
Thursday was Pursuit of Loneliness. We went expecting to see film that would make us weep. What we saw instead was an Indie film devoid of meaning. It was sad but empty. We walked out and said "well, did you get that at all?" Indie films are way over my head. But now I can say I've seen a real true Sundance film.
We got gelato at the Whole Foods Mecca after. That made it okay. We're also now terrified of dying alone.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Plea For Help

Hello World. I need help. I need a white dress.
What? I can hear you asking why a white dress? You're 17! And a feminist! Well, dear reader, it's because over at my school, we're pretentious, and so all the girls wear white dresses to graduation (which we call commencement, like Harvard does) And there is to be none of that cap and gown junk for us. But don't you all look like child brides? Yes, yes we do. Especially because the dress must be knee length, and modest aka sleeves and don't even think about a low cut neckline. Cleavage is for the damned. Okay, so why white? Aren't your school colors maroon and navy? Yes, they are maroon and navy. And yes, finding a black dress of the same description would be the easiest thing ever. But the first graduating class wore white, so the rest of us are doomed to do the same. That sucks, but couldn't you look at wedding websites? The problem with wedding websites is that the dresses are almost all floor length, and the few tea length ones are ridiculously expensive. I can't pay $1200 for a graduation dress. I just can't. So what are you going to do? Not graduate? Well, for a brief period of time I considered that. My back up plan is a men's dress shirt for an ever-classy morning-after look. But I'd like to avoid that. Which is where you, dear reader, come in:
Please please please keep your eyes out for white (or light cream) dresses.
Especially those of you who read fashion blogs/are addicted to Pintrest (Krystle, I'm talking to you). I'm desperate here.
Because really, I'm not sure they'll let me walk across the stage if I show up looking like this:



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I have a crush on Colbert.

Okay, so maybe I have a crush on Stephen Colbert. I can think of no better comedian to have a crush on (Tina Fey would maybe be a good alternative). Colbert is both hilarious and brilliant.  I really want him to actually run for president. I mean, it might be a disaster if he won, but he would add so much to the race.  Things like he added a little over a year ago, when he testified before Congress. And he destroyed them.
Here's his brilliant opening statement:



But here's the really brilliant part. This may be the one time he's ever broken character in front of a camera, but it's incredibly touching:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gas


Maybe driving is overrated. I kinda like saving my allowance money. Here's something I learned today: it costs just as much to fill up the top half of the tank as the bottom of the tank - as my dad always tells my mom - but it's a real bummer to almost run out of gas. Also, it sucks to pay $75 dollars to buy an entire tank of gas. Especially when you're unemployed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

39 Years

Yesterday marked the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
Roe is my very favorite piece of legislation. 
I'm a huge fan of Sarah Weddington. She went to law school even when the dean of her university told her not to because no woman from there ever had because it would be "too hard". Then to go on and argue the case for abortion as as 27-year old woman, in front of a panel of old white men, and to win is, to say the least, the feat of a lifetime. She changed America for women.
The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that said "I'm an abortion survivor, and so are you" and I wanted to run the car over. The thing that I can't understand about the anti-abortion position is why they care so much about what some woman they've never met is doing. A pro-life person will never be forced to get an abortion. So why does it matter so much that another woman might?.  I get so irritated people who declare themselves moral decision-makers for all of us. Especially when it's a man talking about what a woman should or should not be able to do with her body. It's like they're saying that women are not capable of making moral decisions on their own, without a man. I find that disgusting.
I hate the term pro-life. Just because I'm pro-choice does not mean I'm anti-life. I just want the right to an abortion.
Kat and I call accident pregnancies assassin babies, because they kill hopes and dreams. Sure, it's mostly just a joke term, but there's truth in saying that a baby is not always a right thing for a woman and she has the right not to be a mother if she's not ready. One of my very favorite pieces of writing comes from the introduction of  Our Bodies, Ourselves "[Knowledge of contraception] has made our pregnancies better, because they no longer happen to us; we actively choose them and enthusiastically participate in them. It has made our parenthood better, because it is our choice rather than our destiny. This knowledge has freed us from paying the role of mother if it is not a role that fits us. It has given us a sense of a larger life space to work in, an invigorating and challenging sense of time and room to discover the energies and talents that are in is, to do the work we want to do."
Here is a video of Rachel Maddow (who I'm a little bit obsessed with) and Terry O'Neill (president of NOW) discussing Roe and what the future looks like for women's reproductive rights:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quote Sunday

"Sometimes I aint so sho who's got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint. Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It's like it aint so much what a fellow does, but the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it... But I aint so sho that ere a man has the right to say what is crazy and what aint. It's like there was a fellow in every man that's done a-past the sanity or the insanity, that watches the sane and the insane doings of that man with the same horror and the same astonishment."
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying


This makes me smile. Of course, it's a very profound statement. But besides that, it just makes me happy.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Movie

Yesterday was a two-movie day.
The first was a screening of Miss Representation that Emma and I organized. It went over beautifully. We had lots of people come (lots being more than Emma and I) and even some few very brave very admirable boys. It's such an important movie. Each time I watch it I find myself invigorated by all the things that I can work towards changing. It leaves me feeling inspired and excited to take the world head-on.
Sometimes, I love being young and naive and invincible. 
The second movie was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which was, without question, the most devastating movie I've ever seen. It's totally different from the book, but it's okay; it works. In some ways, it's even more devastating than the book. Kat literally cried the entire movie. I hid behind my hair a few times. It's so raw and painful. But it's also strangely hopeful. Like just maybe the world is in fact a beautiful place and just maybe people are at their hearts incredibly good.And maybe things work out in the end. I think it's worth seeing, but only if you can stand to have your heart broken. Literally. Kat waked out "I feel like my heart's just been beaten up and I don't know what to do."
It's a really stark contrast to Slaugherhouse-five. I think it's the antithesis of "so it goes". But I like that I can feel truth in both.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Magic for Muggles

I recently came across this article by J.K. Rowling and loved it. Empathy may in fact be the most powerful force around. It's so uniquely human. And it's what makes relationships valuable.

"Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places. Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate or control, just as much as to understand or sympathize.
And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages. They can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally. They can refuse to know. I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do.
Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
What is more, those who choose not to empathize may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it through our own apathy.
One of the many things I learned studying classics at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”
That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing. …
If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better.
We do not need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sleep-deprived

The Maas Robbins Alertness Questionnaire (MRAQ)
Please indicate true or false for the following statements:
1. I often need an alarm clock in order to wake up at the appropriate time.
2. It’s often a struggle for me to get out of bed in the morning.
3. Weekday mornings I often hit the snooze bar several times.
4. I often feel tired and stressed out during the week.
5. I often feel moody and irritable, little things upset me.
6. I often have trouble concentrating and remembering.
7. I often feel slow with critical thinking, problem solving and being creative.
8. I need caffeine to get going in the morning or make it through the afternoon.
9. I often wake up craving junk food, sugars, and carbohydrates.
10. I often fall asleep watching TV.
11. I often fall asleep in boring meetings or lectures or in warm rooms.
12. I often fall asleep after heavy meals or after a low dose of alcohol.
13. I often fall asleep while relaxing after dinner.
14. I often fall asleep within five minutes of getting into bed.
15. I often feel drowsy while driving.
16. I often sleep extra hours on the weekends.
17. I often need a nap to get through the day.
18. I have dark circles around my eyes.
19. I fall asleep easily when watching a movie
20. I rely on energy drinks or over-the-counter medications to keep me awake.

If you answered “true” to four or more of these statements, consider yourself seriously sleep-deprived. Future website columns will address this issue in detail.

I answered "true" to thirteen.
I think I need more sleep and less caffeine.

I got my ears pierced yesterday.

My computer is currently broken. Like really broken. I think it may have something bad inside it. The good news is that that means I'm wasting no time online. The bad news is that I need my computer.
I tend to carry my computer the same way I carry a baby, on my right hip. I like to think that's normal.
But, while my computer has been ill, I've written a lot. I've even written poems! I have recently developed an affinity for poetry. So that's kinda neat. I like reading and writing more than I like the internet anyway.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting On The Bus

Last year, I sat in English class discussing Henry David Thoreau when a classmate brought up the quotation, “unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded or shall we transgress them at once?” The teacher paused for a moment, as she always did before she said something important but only vaguely related to English and said, “that’s true today too. Tell me, what would you go to jail for? What do you feel so strongly about that you would go to jail for it?”
The first thoughts that ran through my mind were the implications of going to jail. I couldn’t think of anything I believed in so strongly that I would give away my future – college admissions, internships, jobs, success – for that cause.
The room was silent, ringing of a question unanswered, and I realized I wasn’t alone. We all wanted different things for our future. The dreams of my classmates varied from going to community college and becoming a mom to being an off-Broadway star to being the CEO of Sony, but to each of us going to jail was synonymous with crushing our future.
Our teacher responded to our silence by repeating her question time and time again, “what would you go to jail for?” Each time she was met with only silence.
She was frustrated by our silence and demanded, “come on guys. There has to be something. When I was in high school we protested Apartheid. It was all about fighting “the man”. Getting arrested was the highest sign of respect. You’re history teacher was at Woodstock. Your teachers fight for change, today. Why is it that your generation refuses to take a stand?”
At the time, I was upset with her for being critical of my generation. I kept telling myself, “it’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we are acutely aware of consequences. We know more about the issues than her generation did. They blindly fought whatever they were told needed fighting. We study the issues and know that we can make a greater difference as the president of an organization fighting poverty than as a teenager in jail.”
 I knew some of what I was telling myself was correct, but I also knew that I was lying to myself. If we weren’t willing to sacrifice now, when would we be ready? All of our “involvement” now was passive – not eating meat, not shopping at Banana Republic – when would we be ready to actively fight the wrongs in the world? 
I think part of it was that, at sixteen, we didn't believe in anything absolutely. In Travels with Charley in Search of America, Steinbeck describes a conversation he had with a man in Deerfield Massachusetts. Steinbeck tells this man that he’s found all over the country there are “no arguments, no discussion”. The man responds insightfully, “my grandfather knew the number of whiskers in the Almighty’s beard. I don’t even know what happened yesterday, let alone tomorrow… We’ve got nothing to go on – got no way to think about things.” I felt like that; like I wasn't sure enough of anything to risk everything; nothing felt like absolute truth.

Nevertheless, my teacher’s question has haunted me for an entire year.

Last week, we studied the Freedom Riders and The Children's March in my Civil Rights history class. We were discussing how the protesters were our age and how they had taken a stand - though for many it meant jail and getting kicked out of school when they were the first in their family to go to college - and because of that they changed the world.
This time, my history teacher posed the question "what would you get on the bus for?"
I blurted "I would risk anything for abortion or contraception rights... or really any women's rights in general" I went on a small rant about GOP's personhood amendment and radical pro-life craziness. And I might have called Mitt Romney Satan.
That was a really big moment for me - realizing that I have a cause that I really believe in, that I would definitely take a stand, that I want to take a stand, that I want to make a difference. I know that women deserve better. Women's position, worldwide and in America, is wrong. It's wrong and unjust that one out of three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, that 13% of the parliament seats world wide are held by women, that 15% of Corporate Americas top jobs are held by women, and that 24% of full-time professors in the US are women. I know that women deserve better and I would risk my future - Swarthmore and all - to further the movement.
I will get on the bus.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pants Part Two

This is for Kat, who loves to insist that eight-dollar Target leggings don't count as pants. Or for that matter, that anything made of stretchy, cottony, or jegging-y fabric cannot constitute actual pants Alex and I insist leggings are pants, mostly because we like them better than pants. They're like wearing sweats, only not baggy and frumpy. And, the way I see it, I can either buy 25 pairs of target leggings OR one pair of jeans (okay, so maybe I could buy cheaper jeans, but that is not really the solution).
If you finagle it right (as in ignore half of it), target leggings totally pass this test.



Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK

Martin Luther King day is the only federal holiday that is declared a national day of service. I'm taking the bag of old Patagonia jackets that no one in my house wears down to the one warm coat drive.

Here's the famous speech. It's only 17 minutes. I think it's worth listening to for the 52nd time.


Martin Luther King - I Have A Dream Speech (17... by PeteRock

In other, less significant news, I have done exactly five things worth mentioning this weekend:
1) I went snowboarding all by myself. The snow was icy and bad and I only took two runs, but it was a beautiful day of 45 degrees and therefore totally worth it.
2) I read Slaughterhouse-five again. I read it last January. Vonnegut is the absolute best way to get through January and February. Winter seems less gross with Tralfamadorians. I love Vonnegut.
Also, maybe I have a minor obsession with literature tattoo websites. Maybe Slaughterhouse-five is the absolute most popular book to find quotations for tattoos. I mean, think about it, "so it goes" and "everything was beautiful and nothing hurt" and "because the moment simply is" are the sort of nearly profound, vague, quippy things suitable for tattoos.
I hate being a minor.
3) Breakfast club at Ruth's diner. What more could I ask for in life than good breakfast with people I adore in a darling place?
4) On a very stupid whim, I bought a pair of very expensive shoes, justifying that I could wear them to graduation. As for a graduation dress, at this rate, it looks like I will be wearing a white men's dress shirt (finding nice white dresses that are not wedding dresses, not floor length, and not more than $300 is impossible) so at least these pumps will class up my morning-after look. So maybe that makes it okay?
Who are we kidding. What the hell was I thinking?
They are beautiful. Oh yeah. That's what I was thinking.
Thank God for Nordstrom's eternal return policy. Now all I have to do is not fall in love with them when they come. Fingers crossed they don't fit. (Sort of).
5) The last momentous thing was that I did not get out of bed until 2:30. That is why being a teenager is great. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quote Sunday

I bought my first collection of poetry this week. I know, it's been a long time coming, but poetry has always scared me. Remember this? In creative writing last week, we read a Richard Siken poem, and I totally loved it. So I ordered the whole collection, "Crush". It came on Thursday. After dinner, I went downstairs and started reading it. I was weeping by the second poem. It's broke my heart in a whole new way. In a poetry way. In a way my heart's never been broken before. But that's also, in a rather twisted way, what makes it so worth reading. As my creative writing teacher said, "Who knew that being broken could actually be so beautiful and make you a more complete person?" I read the whole collection in, got in the shower to cry for 20 minutes, and then read it all again.
So here are my favorites (yes, I scanned them is as images, but I did it because because the way he sets the poems up on the page is so brilliant):



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fired

So, on Thursday, I got a phone call from work:
"Hello?"
"Hi Hannah, it's Rachel" Rachel is my boss.
"Hey! What's up?"
"Well, I don't know if you've heard, but we've changed management and we're not the Firehouse any more. And the new management doesn't want any part time workers, so anyone who works under 20 hours a week. So, I've got your shifts covered and stuff, but you don't work here anymore."
"Um.... okay?"
"But if you ever finish school and want to come back and work full time, we'll totally hire you."
"Okay. Thanks. See you later"
"Bye."

And so, in a 90-second phone call, I got fired from a job I've worked for 18 months. Last week I had a dream that I got fired. So maybe that was a premonition. And I'm not that upset, but I'm a little disappointed. I mean, I didn't hardly work at all, so I was kinda expecting it, but I'm really good at vacuuming and I liked having a little extra funding.  I can't get another job, because no other job is this flexible or close to school. No other job will put up with "I'm going to Africa for three and a half weeks, so see you later!" I'm fine, but getting fired for the first time sucks.

So, instead of working today, I'm reading Slaughterhouse-five, which is better than working anyway. And I may go get my ears pierced again (since my left one has grown in twice, but my right one has only grown in once...). We'll see.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nightmare

In light of the fact that it's Friday the 13th, I'm going to tell you about the horrible nightmare I had a little while ago.

A general authority came to our house to release Lorin from being stake president. He went on and on about how he had been a really great stake president, told me to get married soon, talked about the perils of gay marriage, and urged us to vote for Romney (apparently, my subconscious creates very stereotypical mormons). And then he dropped the bomb:
"We would like you to serve as president of the Philadelphia temple."
I started crying. "No, they can't. I'm going to college in Philly. I can't go to another college. I applied early decision. It's binding. This can't happen. I have to get away and start my own life." I turned to my dad, "say no."
He looked at me and said, "I've never turned down a calling in my life. It will be fine. You won't even know we're living in the same town as you. We'll only visit your dorm on occasion. And this way you can go to church with us." Then he turned to the general authority, "we'll do it."
At this point, my inner-toddler came out. "NO. NO. NO. There is no way in hell this is happening. NO. You can't do this." I'm threw a couch cushion.
The General Authority calmly looked at me and said, "now Hannah, this will be hard, but it will work out in the end, because God's hand is in it."
"I don't care that it's a calling and I don't care about "God's hand". I want to go to college and start my life, and I don't want to be followed by my family."
And then I woke up.

I looked it up. The temple in Philadelphia won't be finished until 2014. I think I'm in the clear.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Places to Cry

Yesterday, I came home from young womens on the verge of a teeny meltdown. Not a major one, just a little one. About small things. So I got home and I had myself a little teeny sobfest. This has prompted a consideration of the best and worst places to cry.

The Best:
1. In the shower, because the shower washes it all away. And I love the way tears and shower-water mixing. And I can stay in the shower until I'm done crying, which is a nice kind of compartmentalizing.
2. In a sad movie. Even if I'm crying for an entirely unrelated reason, crying in a sad movie is always acceptable. Also, it's dark so no one can see the ugly face contortions.
3. In front of a fire. Cliche? Yes. But it's nice because the fire is perfect for staring at while crying. Ocean is a nice substitute if fire is not available.
4. While driving. Just as long as I'm not crying so hard I'll get in an accident, driving is enough of a distraction to serve as a reality check and keep me from being totally absorbed by my tears. Also, there is usually enough time to cry for half the drive and then spend the other half getting myself together.
5. At a funeral. It's always okay to cry at funerals. Even if it's my cousin's sister-in-law that I never met, it's still always okay to cry at funerals.
6. At church. Everyone cries at church. And the entire church knows all my business anyway, so no one will ask why I'm crying. If all else fails I can just hide behind "I was moved by the power of God".
7. While riding public transportation. I look out the window and avoid eye contact with any people that may be around. And there are enough junkies and crazies on public transportation to make me a run-of-the-mill commuter.
8. In bed, because that way I can curl up in the fetal position under the blankets and all but disappear.
9. Anywhere I can play music, which always makes crying better. Wild Horses is my sobfest song of choice. It breaks my heart, but in the addictive hit repeat over and over again way.
10. Around someone who loves me. Because sometimes, I just need to be held while I cry. 

The Worst:
1. When I'm talking to a large group of people. It's infuriating to not be able to communicate my message because I'm crying.
2. When I'm talking to a complete stranger. It's not fair to either of us.
3. Staring at a wall. Because then I get entirely encompassed in what I'm crying about and there is no grounding force at all. I end up wallowing, and crying way harder than I need to.
4. While chopping onions. Deep down I know I'm not fooling anyone.
5. On an airplane. Stuck in a seat crying is hard. Also, the person next to me may or may not be sympathetic. Remember this ugly experience?
6. At a critique or job interview. Tears are perceived as week, manipulative and unprofessional.
7. At a wedding. No one wants to forever be remembered as the awful person who was too selfish to be excited about the marriage. 
8. When someone says something mean or I'm in the middle of a fight. Because then tears mean the other person won, and they mean that I'm too upset to respond well (if I can even communicate through the tears). And it just makes me feel weak. I hate feeling weak.

So there they are. That's my two-cents about the best and the worst places to cry. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Headphone Perspective

My headphones, the ugly green ones I bought in Europe, are broken.
Initially, it bothered me, because the music was so twisted, so mutilated, it was barely recognizable. I strained to make out the chorus, while the bass line loudly echoed in my ears. I cursed the disappearance of my music.
Then, yesterday, I decided to listen anyway, because silence was becoming insufferable. I wrote poems while the strange noise played in the background. Then, it struck me that the warped noise was still music. It wasn't the music I was expecting, but the expected is boring anyway. But this music, this was mine. Music where the back-up singers' refrains loudly take center stage and, for the first time, I hear the chime of a triangle in a song I've listened to 27 times. I can finally stop listening to the screaming message of the lyrics, and listen to the accompanying violins.
I could get a new pair of perfect plastic headphones. But those are cheap; a dime a dozen. These headphones, my headphones, with their frayed cord, are irreplaceable; they let me listen to music that no one else gets to. A whole new perspective.
When I stop trying to see the world as it's supposed to be -- or at least as I expect it to be -- I get to experience a new private universe, where there is no right answer, because the scarlet letter can symbolize whatever I want it to, and the bass line is more important than the lyrics. The immediate, obvious layer is pulled back and I am permitted to see things anew. This universe belongs to me.
But if you ask nicely, I'll let you borrow my headphones, just for a little while.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Motivation

It's 1:00 and I'm blogging.
Homework: I've done all of 45 minutes tonight (but in those 45 minutes, I did 4 stats problems, wrote a poem and a paper).
Here's the thing: I have absolutely run out of motivation. I'm hitting the shitfest that is winter. January sucks. February gets worse. As it turns out, senioritis is a real thing. Either that or we're preconditioned to become really lazy and call it senioritis from all the years of being warned about senioritis; I blame former upperclassmen and teachers. At any rate, I need to break this. I need to read more good books. And eat out more. And to go shopping. I'm a firm believer in retail therapy. Maybe a spa day is in store too.

In the meantime, I remain unmotivated. How unmotivated am I? Well, I've recently taken up watching hours of Rachel Maddow online, which is, generally speaking, an awesome thing to do. I've seen every episode of the Colbert Report since September. AND, tonight I've spent a little over two hours looking at pictures of baby animals. Yeah, I'm that unmotivated. On the upside, baby animals are the best things ever. They're so cute I could die. Seriously, I promise they will make your day better.

Baby Asian Elephant:

Baby Dik Dik:

Baby Hedgehog:

Baby Pandas (PLURAL!):

Infant Honeybadger:

Baby Porcupine:

Baby Pygmy Hippo:

Baby Sloth:

And if I can't have a whole zoo full of baby animals, then I guess all I want in life is a baby penguin that I can tickle:

Anyway, in an effort to get motivated (and not spend my entire life looking at baby animals), I end up watching lots of commencement address videos, reading Huffington Post's mindful living section and googling things that I think will motivate me. I obviously turned to Oprah for motivation, but she failed me by saying (over and over and over) "it's all about the journey; the destination doesn't matter". Even though the whole "enjoy high school" thing is a nice idea, I daily (usually during math class) wonder if graduation will ever come. But another upside is that I also found some really cool posters. Here are my favorites:





PS.
Dear teacher who is reading this and wanting to run me over with your eco-conscious car,

I want you to know it's not your class that I'm unmotivated in. I'm super motivated in your class. I'm just unmotivated in all my other classes. I always do my homework for your class first thing when I get home, because I would way rather do your homework than watch Rachel Maddow or Stephen Colbert or even look at pictures of baby animals.

Except, in all sincerity, I really do adore my classes and my teachers, I just do not love work. Especially not work that takes place at home. 

Thanks for understanding and not taking this personally,

Hannah, the fawning suck-up with senioritis

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gratitude Journaling

A little while back, I guess it was almost two months ago, I was talking to a friend while she drove me home. Rather out of the blue, she asked me "well, how are you doing?" I gave some nondescript response, because, quite frankly, I wasn't feeling very good about life. She responded "I know if you were writing down five things that you're grateful for every day you'd be happier." At the time I was really annoyed. My knee-jerk thought-response was no, I'd be happier if my life hadn't just blown up, if I wasn't grounded, if I had my car back, if I was going to India, if I was getting into college, if I didn't feel so defeated. Just because you like gratitude journals don't mean they'll solve the world's problems. A gratitude journal isn't going to make a difference for me.
And then the next day, in some sign from the universe, I found this article about keeping a gratitude journal.

"In looking over this list, what strikes me is how keeping a gratitude journal—or perhaps the entire experience of gratitude—is really about forcing ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we’d otherwise take for granted. Perhaps that’s why the benefits seem to diminish when you start writing more than once per week, and why surprises induce stronger feelings of gratitude: It’s easy to get numb to the regular sources of goodness in our lives.... gratitude journaling is really different from merely listing a bunch of pleasant things in one’s life."

For some reason, that was exactly what I needed. I was moved to tears (admittedly, I was feeling very emotionally fragile). The concept impacted me so strongly because it is not about creating things to be grateful for. Rather, it's about seeking out the ever-present goodness in life. So, though I felt like the world was joyless, I determined there had to be beautiful things I was missing.
I started making gratitude lists. The first few lists are short and the items are remarkably small and fairly empty: things like a good episode of Modern Family or Whimzy coming in to sleep in my room or a good passage in The Razor's Edge.
Then, one day, something clicked. Maybe it was because I was starting to feel like things really were going to be okay, and maybe it was because I had been gratitude journaling, but I had a moment when I understood why gratitude journaling was worthwhile. It’s important for me because taking time to specifically notice things that make me feel gratified – things like my navy school pants or a text from someone I'd never considered a close friend or the comment "Hannah, you're my favorite person ever" when I first walked into class or the opportunity to deliver the letter for the senior gift – and recognizing how significant they are in my life.
I make gratitude lists on scattered days when I don't have feelings, thoughts or quotes to write in my journal. I like it this way, because if I let it take me by surprise -- if I’m going through my day looking to be a grateful person rather than looking for things to write in my gratitude journal -- I know it's totally genuine. And guess what? I am happier: a deep down at-peace happiness. A happiness that means I have more perspective about what truly matters; that I can feel thankful even on darker days when I feel paralyzed, defeated, angry, and brokenhearted; that I can more freely give of myself. I’ve learned that goodness is omnipresent and that it can change me. All I have to do is keep my eyes out for it.
Here's my most recent list (from Saturday):
1. The color of my hair; It's a good rich winter color. I’ve never had it quite this dark, and when the light hits it right, it has a hint red.
2. Driving downtown and spending two hours doing the family grocery shopping at the Mecca (Whole Foods at Trolley Square).
3. A clean bathroom. I haven't cleaned out the drawers and shelves since I moved in when we remodeled it 7 years ago. Throwing away all the mostly-empty bottles, getting things sorted nicely, de-cluttering makes me feel healthy.
4. My English teacher bringing up a letter contest on an apparent whim. Writing that letter - taking time to think about what it meant to me – felt cleansing.
5. Semicolons. They’re my favorite type of punctuation. Every time I use one I think of the NYT article that said, “God is not an exclamation point, though. He is, at his best, a semicolon, connecting people”
6. Rachel Maddow taking down Romney. I've watched this clip about 6 times this weekend.



Ps. take this gratitude quiz if you dare.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quote Sunday

As we well know my now, I have a small, healthy obsession with Toni Morrison.  Consequently, I read lots of Toni Morrison interviews and watch Youtube videos of her commencement addresses.This week I also wrote the letter to invite her to Commencement. I also entered this contest with a letter about Beloved (yes, there is overlap between the two letters). The woman oozes brilliance, but more importantly and more impressively, authenticity. She never seems like she's putting on airs or saying what sounds profound. She's sharing her experience. I love her for that. The following is from an interview with Pam Houston.

"I feel more friendly when I am writing, nicer to people, much more generous, also wiser. I am full of a kind of tenderness toward people and all they have to hide, all they have to construct. Not pity, not sympathy, just tenderness. Knowing that the job of being a human is so hard, and it is the only job there is left—though we keep on pretending otherwise. If I am in that good place and I run into someone I dislike, I feel more human and they seem more human."'

I love this for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. I think a big part of it is that it's so personal Toni Morrison kindness,  not vague recognizing common humanity and living with compassion. And I think it's more powerful because her writing's beauty lies in it's deep humanity. I guess her understanding of being human is what makes her so talented, and this is a wonderful representation of what that understanding means to her. But it's beautiful beyond talent. This kind of understanding and kindness is one of those qualities that makes someone a really fine human being.

I want to be Toni Morrison when I grow up.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I picked the right college

I've a minor major obsession with Swarthmore's Website. I think this is entirely okay. It convinces me every day that  I've got wonderful beautiful lovely things in store. They have a Peace and Conflict Studies department. And an English Literature department. And a Gender and Sexuality Studies department. And I just couldn't be more thrilled.
One of my favorite things on the site is 75 Ways to be a Swarthmorean. I so picked the right college. Here are the highlights:

-Don't just keep up with the news, report it for War News Radio.
-Yell, “safety school!” at a Haverford-Swarthmore basketball game.
-Be clueless about what you want to do after you graduate - except in an abstract, “save the world” kind of way.
-Try to get eight hours of sleep one night a week.
-Learn that it’s OK to get an A- (or a B+ or a B).
-Leave a party early to do homework.
-Borrow a Sharples tray and sled down the hill from the bell tower.
-Be in a class discussion that runs more than four (or five or six) hours.
-Get an internship that makes your humanities major more marketable after graduation.
-Go to First and Last Collection in the amphitheater. Appreciate closure.
-Take a course in a department you never thought you could excel in.
-Use the word “hegemony.” All the time.
-Chalk the sidewalks around campus with socially responsible propaganda.
-Pull an all-nighter to finish (start?) tomorrow’s paper, due at 10 a.m. Skip your 10:30 a.m. class to sleep.
-Go to Jamboree, a three-hour a cappella concert held each semester, because you have a friend in each of the eight groups performing.
-Point out the “inherent contradictions” in an author’s argument.
-Learn the pizza man’s life story.
-Re-evaluate your basic assumptions about the world.
-Do something good for the world.

PS.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vending Machine

Two weeks or so ago, I was at the beach and I was dehydrated from laying in the sun for too long. So I got up and went to find a drink.
I found my answer in a vending machine. It was one of those old one without glass on the front - the ones that just have a giant coke insignia on the front. I put in my dollar, pushed the "I WANT A DIET COKE" button and heard the familiar thump of a can falling down.
So imagine my surprise when I opened the flap and saw not a diet coke, but a carrot. A big carrot. The kind you feed to horses.
I couldn't eat the carrot, God knows where it's been. But I didn't have money for another diet coke, and even if I did, I didn't want another contaminated carrot. So I just called it a loss.
I still can't figure out how the hell a carrot got in a vending machine.
Has anyone else ever had anything strange come out of a vending machine?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

50 Best

In light of yesterday's post, I thought it would be appropriate to share the 50 best moment for women in 2011 Here are my favorites:

-In November Sue Falsone is named the LA Dodgers' Head Athletic Trainer, making her the only female head athletic trainer in all men's major professional sports.


-The iconic image of the homecoming kiss between a member of the Navy and the loved one left behind gets a revision after the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. In December, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif. descends from her ship, the USS Oak Hill, at Virginia Beach to kiss her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles in front of crew, officers and onlookers.


-For the first time ever, something other than clear blue liquid appears in a feminine hygiene commercial. Always released a print advertisement in July depicting a sanitary pad with a single red dot on it. Yes ladies, the jig is up. Now the whole world knows what a period looks like: a little red dot.


-"Blue Valentine," starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, was originally rated NC-17 due to a sex scene in which Gosling's character performs oral sex on Williams'. After an outcry from the film's stars and The Weinstein Company -- the scene depicts consensual, not all that graphic sex -- the rating is struck down. Gosling was especially vocal about the MPAA's "double standard" surrounding female pleasure. Swoon.


-This year, teen girls took all three spots in Google's 2011 Global Science Fair: Lauren Hodge, 14, on how a marinade might prevent carcinogens from forming in grilled chicken; Naomi Shah, 16 on a possible link between airborne pollutants and lung disease; and Shree Bose, 17, on drug resistance in ovarian cancer.


-Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gwobee and Tawakul Karman share the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Sirleaf,73, the current president of Liberia, played a huge role in extricating the country from civil war. Gwobee, 39, has campaigned for women's rights and against rape in the same country. Karman, 32, a journalist and politician from Yemen who has crusaded for press freedom and an end to human rights violations there, is the youngest person ever to win the prize and the first Arab woman to win.


-After an Iowa town hall meeting in which Mitt Romney seemed not to understand a question about the Mississippi "personhood" amendment, which opponents feared could lead to a ban on oral contraceptives,Rachel Maddow spends a segment of her show explaining to Romney how the female reproductive system and birth control work -- against a "man cave" background.

-Miss Representation - Jennifer Siebel Newsom's documentary makes everyone who's thinks they've heard it before refocus on how badly the media depicts women -- and how we can change that.


-This one is actually a succession of moments. First, in May, 32-year-old engineer Manal al-Sharif breaks Saudi Arabia's unwritten law banning women from driving a car. She's imprisoned, but her driving inspires other Saudi women to get behind the wheel on June 17 as part of the Women2Drive campaign. Hillary Clinton speaks out on the issue, 14 female U.S. Senators petition King Abdullah to let women drive, and women continue to break the law. Later in the year, Abdullah grants women the right to vote in elections for the first time. Coincidence?


-Per the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance policies issued after January 1, 2013 must cover birth control -- with no copays. The same provisions will cover breast pumps for nursing mothers, domestic violence counseling and a number of other women's health services. What took them so long?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm Turning Into My Mother

You know how everyone has that moment when they realize that, try as they might, they are turning into their mother? That moment when they find themselves doing the exact things they always criticized their mother for doing?
I had my "oh my God I'm turning into my mother" moment on Monday.
Sam, Lorin and I got home from Hawaii on Monday morning. Judy is staying until Friday. So we got home and I took a quick shower and went to lunch with my friends. When I get home, Lorin said, "well, what are we going to do for dinner?" The fridge was empty, the only dinner-food in the pantry was instant mashed potatoes, and the freezer was a dud. I realized that if I didn't get dinners, we would be eating grilled cheese and tomato soup for four nights. (Lorin made grilled cheese and tomato soup every Tuesday night, when Judy was at work, for over a decade). So I said I would go grocery shopping and get dinner for the four days we're on our own.
I went to not one, but two grocery stores in my search of four dinners. It took me almost two hours round trip. To get food for four dinners. And all of a sudden, the years of my mother saying "well, if you gave me ideas I'd cook different things, but I just can't think of anything else to cook" made sense.
Further, I went without a plan. I figured I'd just see things and it would be easy. Wrong again. It made sense why my mom always had her grocery list on an index card. Sure, it's partially so she won't forget, but I think the real reason is it's way easier to get in and out of the store if you actually know what you're looking for.
But the biggest reason it took me so long to shop was that I wanted dinners that took less than five minutes to make. If you've ever met me, you know that one of my favorite creeds is "I don't cook". And, as it turns out, not cooking is hard. Ready-to-make dinners that also taste good and are vegetarian-friendly are hard to make.
So here's what I came out with:
Monday: garlic and basil gnocchi, four cheese tortellini
Tuesday: parmesan chicken for the boys, salmon for me, Mediterranean-seasoned couscous
Wednesday: waffles, bacon, fruit
Thursday: vegetarian lasagna, frog-eye salad
I had all my ready-made meals in the basket when it suddenly hit me how empty a table would look with only pasta on it, how unbalanced it would be, so I bought a cucumber, sugar snap peas, green peppers and spinach: a salad. My mom makes a salad every night. It rarely gets eaten. But, in that moment, the salad suddenly made sense. Without the salad, it feels like you're providing an unbalanced meal.
I came home after my errands to find Sam and Lorin both taking a nap. No big deal. I took the red eye too, guys.
So I collapsed on the couch until about six when I realized if I didn't cook dinner, there would be no dinner. So while they watched the Rose Bowl, I cooked the pasta, tossed the salad, and set the table. I called them in when it was on the table. And we ate dinner. Then Sam ran off and Lorin and I did the dishes.
I realize cooking really isn't that big a deal and that I sound like I'm whining for doing a chore that tons of women do every day. It was just really strange to realize that I had, without missing a beat, picked up my mother's role in the home. I'm starting to understand why women become housewives. Maybe it's not so much a choice to be a housewife as seeing a need and finding value in filling it. Women are, after all, nurturers.

It all reminds me of this essay I read this summer by E.S. Maduro "Excuse Me While I Explode: My Mother, Myself, My Anger". Maduro talks about being a teenager and watching her mother work and run the household, seeming to have no time at all for herself, while her father had a career and plenty of time for hobbies. She talks about being angry at her father for not helping and angry at her mother for going along with it. She says that her mother "would always say that she was fine, that someday I would understand. But I wasn't at all sure I would, or that she was. What's more, I believed myself to be a feminist, and vowed never to fall into the same trap of domestic boredom and servitude that I saw my mother as being fully entrenched in." She goes on to talk about Paul, her open-minded boyfriend who would never turn her into a house slave. Then she tells a story.
"Paul and I agreed to house-sit and baby-sit for neighbors of ours with four children. Almost immediately, I found myself taking over everything, rather than showing Paul how to do it. Though he asked me several times to show him how to run the fancy washing machine, I never did teach him. instead, I did all the laundry myself, making the trip down the basement steps three or four times a day, furious that he was watching a movie with the kids while I was doing chores.... When Paul asked  me what was the best way to clean a cast-iron skillet, I responded harshly just to leave it and I would take care of it myself. The weekend was a seemingly endless stream of moments when I angrily "did it myself" instead of showing him how. Every dish he didn't notice I had picked up for him, every morsel of food he ate that I had cooked, every stair I descended that led to the clothes dryer, was another tick in my mental log of things to resent him for... I returned home from the weekend exhausted... but as my anger waned, I realized I was feeling something else, too: a sense of power and pride in knowing that I had been the supermom for the weekend. I was the one who had kept everything under control....  In trying to find a man as different as possible from my own father, in trying to avoid the life of an overworked housewife that I see my mother has having occupied for more than thirty years now, in choosing a boyfriend partly for his willingness and readiness to share the "woman's work", I am freely walking closer and closer to everything I had wanted to escape, enraged every step I take."

See, we all turn into our mothers in the end.

I taught Sam to cook the lasagna yesterday. Sure, it was only putting it in the oven and setting the timer for 50 minutes, but I still call that progress.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

National Suicide Day

Today is National Suicide Day.

"Shadrack began a struggle that was to last for twelve days, a struggle to order and focus experience. It had to do with making a place for fear as a way of controlling it. He knew the smell of death and was terrified of it, for he could not anticipate it. It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both. In sorting it all out, he hit on the notion that if one day a year were devoted to it, everybody could get it out of the way and the rest of the year would be safe and free. In this manner he instituted National Suicide Day.
On the third day of the new year, he walked down Carpenter's Road with a cowbell and a hangman's rope calling the people together. Telling them that this was their only chance to kill themselves or each other."
Toni Morrison, Sula


Anne Sexton put on her mother's fur coat and pearls and poured herself a glass of vodka before she killed herself.
Vonnegut smoked unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes for decades, calling his smokes "a classy way to commit suicide".
Virginia Woolf put on her overcoat, filled its pockets with stones, and walked into the river.
Kurt Cobain's suicide note was addressed to his childhood imaginary friend, Boddah.
Hemingway and his father and his sister and his brother and his granddaughter all committed suicide.
Mark Antony was criticized, not for killing himself, but for doing so in the name of love.
Pythagorus was against suicide because he believed that there was a finite number of souls for use in the world and that a sudden and unexpected death would upset the balance.

I think my choice method of suicide would be kidnapping the president.

Happy National Suicide Day. Remember, it's now or 2013.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The List (because resolutions suck)

Some people are really really good at coming up with resolutions that are both creative and meaningful. Some make up clever names for their resolutions. Some even follow through on their resolutions for the whole damn year.
I am not one of those people.
So, this year, instead of setting some goal that I would inevitably post on my blog (remember last year's failed goal), I went for something different. I was reading this article on Huffington Post that led me to this article on Wise Bread.
"Set a timer for 20 minutes. Go. Write down 100 things you want to do. Or careers you want to have. Or people you would like to meet. The sky is the limit. Don't be realistic. Dream big. Write down the craziest things you can think of, as well as the things that you don't even think bear mentioning because they are so simple. Write it all down. Work quickly. 20 minutes isn't very long, and you have 100 items to get through, if you can. Don't think about whether or not to write down an idea — just write. Write everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn't make sense. Just keep on writing, and don't stop until that timer goes off."
It's a rush write. I love the idea and decided to follow through on the challenge.
So yesterday, in my last couple hours in Hawaii, on the first day of 2012 (a year I long believed would never come), I went down with my moleskine notebook to a secluded spot on the beach, set my phone timer for twenty minutes, and made my list. After 20 minutes, I only had 78 down, so I took an extra 8 minutes to write the last 22. After I finished, I looked over it; it ranges from really huge life-changing things to really small everyday things, but it really isn't a to-do list or a bucket list. If it were, I would be incredibly overwhelmed. Rather, it's a look-at-the-amazing-life-I-have-ahead-of-me-with-endless-possibilities list, an I love-being-young list. So my new year's resolution is simply to look at the list and feel invigorated and excited about the list and my life, to embrace the chance that's coming because of the possibilities it brings. And maybe do a few things on the list.
I'm not going to post the whole list, because there are some things too personal and some are boring and some are silly. But here are some highlights:
7. Use my Nalgenes and my thermoses. Don't waste paper or plastic cups.
10. Write thank you notes
11. Get blank monogrammed notecards to write said thank you notes on. (I want either these or these)
13. Organize a book drive. Donate my old books to charity.
15. Eat breakfast.
18. Join the Peace Corps
22. Invite Toni Morrison to graduation
25. Work as a scuba diving instructor.
28. Work for an NGO abroad.
32. Wear heels more often.
37. Write for the New York Times.
41. Vote in every election I can. Utilize the voice I am fortunate to have.
53. Be more punctual.
59. Wear more ankle-length skirts.
62. Go barefoot.
66. Read every book Steinbeck ever wrote.
68. Get a tattoo.
75. Keep my spaces more organized. Don't have giant piles of books and clothes all over my floor.
76. Learn to write writer's cursive - the kind that isn't perfectly formed but is rather messy and scrawled and beautiful.
78. Do something dangerous. Break a bone.
85. Go to Bhutan. Meditate.
92. Make friends with a dirt poor musician.
94. Give money to homeless people on the street.
95. Plant a tree.
99. Spend a summer working at Birch Creek.

Ps. I have a secret affinity for for horoscopes:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Elisabeth: Happy New Years Guest Post

Well, it's the first day of the year and I could think of nothing profound to say, so I turned to Elisabeth, who always has lots of profound things to say (though it's a battle to get her to speak up).
Elisabeth and I have a, how shall we say it, interesting history. We were best friends Sophomore year, had a falling out and said maybe 12 words to each other last year (okay, maybe I put her on my shit list), and then this year we ended up on crew together. And, mostly through her efforts, we made friends again. I think we're better friends now than we were before, because we're two years older and it's a more honest friendship. At any rate, I am so incredibly deeply grateful we're friends again; I love having Elisabeth in my life.
Elisabeth is a bit of an oxymoron. Most days if you see her she will be wearing J Crew from head to toe. She reads classic literature and has collected art since birth. She writes in beautiful classic cursive that could go in a handwriting book. She sings and plays the viola and is in a dance company. Elisabeth is a pretty, put together, classy young woman, but she is also a badass. Elisabeth is a coxswain; she bosses around six-foot crew boys like a seasoned drill sergeant. She goes on big adventures going weeks without showering, climbing mountains, sailing boats, going to nude beaches and jumping into freezing glacier waters. She does not allow fear to control her; she is as good at taking risks as anyone I know. More importantly, Elisabeth is a true friend. She is the person who really taught me how to communicate in a friendship, because she is so easy to talk to; no matter the conversation, she always makes me feel like she is really interested in my opinion and what I have to say and what is going on with me. Elisabeth is the person who calls me out of the blue to see how things are going, and I love her for that. Whatever she does with her life, I know that Elisabeth will always be one of those people who deeply genuinely cares about other.

~~~~~

I am not a journaler. I can’t keep it up. I’m lazy and often tired and forgetful. It’s not realistic for me. However, I have a small notebook that goes everywhere with me. It’s black and worn, and the band that keeps it closed has lost all elasticity. In this book, I write all sorts of things: scenes that I see on the street, playlists I put together, “To Do” lists, interesting conversations I overhear or amusing comments people make. Reading back through this notebook (I’ve almost filled it and will soon have to purchase a new one), memories flood back. In a way, it’s my own sort of journal.

I recently returned from Paris, where I was for Christmas (I know, hard life). Naturally, the notebook went with me everywhere. Before this trip, I didn’t know what my New Year’s Resolutions were. I always make them, run on motivation for about two days, and then give it up. It’s enjoyable. With everything going on in life I hadn’t had time to think about it. Looking back over my France observations, I came to some conclusions. Here are my three main New Year’s resolutions that came from being in France.

Two women friends in their early twenties, having tea. On the table: a clear glass, empty except for a vibrant lemon slice; tall, curvy silver teapot; two flowered teacups, steaming, on saucers; dainty dessert plate holding a dessert fork and a scarlet macaroon. Both women are extremely beautiful, but the one sitting kitty-corner from me is the epitome of a French woman. Leather boots, green riding pants, silken cream-colored peasant top cut into a deep V, small perky breasts, long skinny arms, prominent collarbones, angular features, no makeup, silken hair. This is the classic resolution that everyone makes and breaks. However, I am absolutely determined. This year, I am going to take better care of myself. I am going to brush my hair in the morning, which I haven’t done in about a year and a half. I’m going to drink more water. Here and now I officially declare my pescetarinism. I always go to the gym on Saturday mornings, but I want to make it there more often. Most importantly, I’m going to stop picking myself apart for every little thing I do wrong and things about myself I’m not so fond of. I know this is incredibly cliché, but it’s becoming increasingly important to me. The reason that French woman was so intriguing to me was because of her elegance and especially her self-confidence. This will be the year of self-confidence and self-awareness. Bring it on 2012.

The Jewish quarter is my new favorite part of Paris. It’s completely charming and fascinating. The storefronts are painted bright colors, blues and greens and yellows, and advertise their wares in Hebrew. The neon lights in front of the butcher shops proudly scream “KOSHER”. It smells of falafel and yogurt sauce. If you order a falafel pita, don’t expect a napkin, and don’t try to eat it politely. Your face will get dirty. The Yiddish bakeries are masterpieces. The glass counters are filled with cream cheeses, caviars, kosher sausages, and large mounds of roast beef. The windows are piled high with sweets: raisin rolls, small sugar cookies in assorted shapes, loaves of challah generously sprinkled with black poppyseeds, and sweet breads. This time of year, steaming piles of greasy and crispy latkes are displayed. So once again, I mention food. Can you tell all I did in France was eat? Literally, that’s all I did. The point is, I wouldn’t have noticed any of these things, or even gone to the Jewish Quarter, if I hadn’t taken the time to stop and look. Resolution number 2: look around more. I take for granted this city that I live in. I used to truly hate it. Recently, I’ve been walking around more and exploring the nooks and crannies of downtown, and I’ve discovered it’s not a bad place to hang out. I want to expand this to people: I want to pay more attention to the feelings of those around me. I want to tell if someone is having a bad day and help. I want to tell my peers that I think the comments they make in English class are brilliant or their artwork makes me smile or that compliment they gave me the other day made my week. I want to give more compliments, because often I think nice things about people but I’m too timid to vocalize them. 2012 will be the year of being observant and taking time to be still and look.

There isn’t a scene for this one. Last week I spent a good hour in Shakespeare and Company before being dragged out by the hair by an impatient family. There are so many books and so little time. Because I’m always reading for school and I’m very busy in general, reading for myself goes on the back burner. That’s one of the things I cherish most about vacation; I get to read what I want (except for AP English reading, which I don’t mind). My last big resolution is to make time to read books for me, to finally start to chip away at the towering pile of novels and plays and poetry collections precariously stacked on my bedside table. Side note: while in France I read “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker and my heart shattered into very small pieces. I started crying halfway through because one part just pierced me and my teenage brother looked at me like I was a crazy person. Maybe this is why Hannah and I are friends.

 *Very important small resolution unrelated to France: I will not buy plastic water bottles from now on and I will only use reusables, except when traveling because sometimes it’s hard to find clean water.

2012 is the supposed apocalypse. I do not believe the Earth is going to explode and everyone I know and love will die. However, in a way, 2012 is going to be a year of small personal apocalypses for me and many people I know. I’m graduating from high school, turning the awkward-sounding age of 19, moving out of my house which I love very much, leaving my family, and going to college in a yet-to-be-determined place. I have 24 weekends of high school left with friends very dear to my heart before we part ways for the rest of our lives. This all sounds apocalyptic to me. It will be scary, no question. But I’ll have France with me, so things will be alright.

Happy New Year! Please enjoy this song from the two most beautiful people alive: