Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Confrontation and "Rage."

Dear Globlets,

I don't do well with confrontation. I never have, and I have never claimed to. Some people in my past relationships have had issues with this, and I've made a point of trying harder to be blunt, but it's still hard. When I start talking, I get shaky like I do when I'm arguing with creationists. It's different, as it feels more like fear for the relationship than passion for reason. Plus, it's not easy for me to articulate. And then I feel bad... because I see the look on their faces, and if I can't see them in person, then I see the look in my head. As I talk, I start doubting myself, especially when they have something to say in their defence. Am I justified in saying this? Is it actually me who's the problem? Could I have done things differently? I also need to choose my words carefully. Instead of saying, "When you did this..." I might try something like, "When this happened...."
I don't like confrontation.

When I have something that I'm too afraid to say directly to someone, I might say it more openly, more generally. In the case I'm thinking about now, I don't want to be direct because I fear sounding like a broken record. I am so close to it, though. I am so close to getting up right now to talk and be blunt, but I can't. The last thing I want is to appear cowardly or weak, but I am fighting - with myself. I'm trying to decide if I should suck-it-up-buttercup and just take it like a man, or say that I'm unhappy and frustrated. I think a big part of this relates to my suspicion that whatever I say will not be fully considered, that it will be ignored, disregarded, and forgotten, because what I have to say is just me being me, me being an anal little bitch who says the same things over and over again. I realize nobody has come out and called me that, but I feel like that's how I'm being thought of.

Because my sticky notes are just "rage."

Because my sticky notes are just rage.
They mean nothing because they come from me, because they are passive aggressive, just like this blog post is passive aggressive, and what is the point in reading mere passive aggressive rage? I don't know why, but for this case in particular I am really struggling, and I'm frustrated out of my mind because of it. And I'm frustrated because my passive aggressiveness isn't working, and my reaction to bottling it up is not helping. This is the last of it. I'm either going to turn to confrontation or suck it up. It's one way or the other.

Maybe I need to send an invitation. Maybe I need to write down all my points and then go in with cue cards. I shouldn't have to resort to this. Why can't I just say what I want to say? I'm going over the cycle in my head right now...
Maybe I should just keep calm and carry on. Be a good friend. Besides, it won't be for much longer. But if I do that then I might burst unexpectedly, which would be much messier than if I went in with a plan. Okay, then I'll make a plan. I'll write it out for myself and then talk. I'll do it! But even if I do, will it stick? Will anything change? Because it's me we're talking about, and my words are inconsequential. They're just rage. Maybe I should just keep calm and carry on.

I don't know what to do, and I hate it. Maybe this is my invitation.

(I feel a little better now that I've said this. I guess that was the point.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Room Service.

Dear Globlets,

This is a blog/essay I wrote for Creative Nonfiction in response to John Krakauer's Into the Wild. You'll probably get it even if you haven't read it. (I didn't actually finish reading it. But, shh!)

This is going into my portfolio that's due tomorrow, so any constructive criticism would be reeeaaally helpful because I want this to be as good as possible, and I value my readers' opinions.


No Room Service

“My idea of roughing it is staying at a hotel without room service,” my mom has said many times, and I tend to agree.

I have no desire to go back to nature or return to my natural roots as did Chris McCandless of John Krakauer’s Into the Wild. I do like to take a hot shower in the morning, use a toilet, drink a cup of coffee, fry an egg, read a blog or two, and put on a clean pair of jeans. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate nature, or that I’m an anti-environmentalist. The environment is important to me, and I think it should be preserved, respected, and explored. I compost and recycle, and I would like to learn how to grow vegetables; I’m very conscious of my carbon footprint. Furthermore, I have a problem with luxurious living when people waste simply because they don’t care, and simply because they can afford to, disregarding their waste’s effects on the earth. Wasting has never been an option in my family, especially when it comes to food, electricity, and water. Luxury often ties in with overabundance, and living in nature is the opposite extreme, which is why, to me, living comfortably is the ideal. There is a balance.

It was difficult for me to relate to Chris McCandless. Unlike him, I don’t have family problems, I wouldn’t go into the wild alone, and I don’t have the urge to get away from society for more than a weekend. My mom, my brother and I all get along, and being alone in the wilderness frightens me, especially if I was as unprepared as McCandless. And while there are some aspects of society that I disagree with, I would rather stay where I am and write about why I disagree with them. I would prefer to make a statement in my writing than embark on a suicide mission like McCandless. The only life-threatening mission I would carry out is one from which a positive change in the world could occur. I don’t know that leaving society would make an impact on the world; I think the impact would weigh more heavily on my family and friends, and because of this, the notion of leaving seems particularly selfish. McCandless does not gain anything by abandoning his life and loved ones as one might hope. I could not do the same to the people I care about; it would weigh too heavily on my conscience. I just couldn’t do it.

I could never get up and leave my life without a plan. I could never travel to another city without a plan. I could never even leave my house without a plan. I need to know where I’m going, how long it will take me to get there, who will be there, what weather I need to prepare for, how much money I will require, what I will eat, and where I will sleep. I need to know what my plans B, C, D, E, and F are in case plan A goes awry. However, I do not carry around a big bag containing a flashlight, first aid kit, energy bars and thermal underwear. I’m not insane. Instead, I have lip balm, hand sanitizer, hand cream, tissues, pen, keys, cell phone, tampon, and wallet in my purse. I am prepared for my everyday life every day. If I was to travel, the size and contents of my bag would adjust according to my trip and destination. I like to be prepared, but reasonably so. Leaving unprepared for the wilderness is not something I could ever do. It’s dangerous. Anything could go wrong, even if I was prepared for the worst, and if I was alone, there would be no one to help me.

As a woman, travelling or living alone in the wilderness is extremely daunting. Although it did not seem like McCandless encountered bad people, I would be constantly aware and afraid of the dangers that could arise simply because of my gender. McCandless did not worry about trusting certain men out of fear that he might be raped or abused, whereas I would constantly. Any time that I would find myself alone with a man or several men, I know that I would have to proceed with extreme caution. Considering the potential threats a woman might face by travelling alone in the great outdoors, it would be foolish and unrealistic for me to do so.

One part of Chris McCandless’ journey that I can relate to is his discovery of unhappiness in loneliness. While I tend to be quite solitary, working best alone and quietly, I could not live in the middle of nowhere. Some are attracted to the silence and solitude a cabin in the woods provides, but to me that kind of location is nice for up to a week. As much as I like to be away from people, I still want them to be within reach. I want to be able to look out from the seclusion of a one-bedroom apartment onto a bustling city street. I want to be able to walk into a coffee shop and have my presence acknowledged. I want to be able to call up a friend and make plans to see a movie in the evening. I like to be alone, but not lonely. I find comfort knowing that if I was to die in my apartment, someone might hear, someone would know where to find me, someone would consider my absence suspicious, or someone would smell my body decomposing within a couple of days. And that’s comforting to me. If I fell into trouble where no one could find me, it would be a sad ending to my life; one, I imagine, where my dignity may be compromised and my suffering prolonged. I would not want to leave that kind of memory behind.

As beautiful as nature may be, and as hectic as everyday life may seem sometimes, I could not go into the wild as Chris McCandless did. I would need to be much more prepared, find someone else to go with, and let others know where I would be. If I had to choose between camping in the wilderness and staying at a hotel in a foreign city, I’d pick the hotel. And if there was no room service, well, I suppose I’d have to do my best to survive.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Drink, Two Drink, Bad Drink, Good Drink

Dear Globlets,

This is a piece I wrote for my creative nonfiction course. It's a braided essay, with three separate strands of text that are tied together in some way. I didn't know what I was going to write about on the day we were supposed to discuss our topics. I had three topics in mind that I was trying to choose from, and luckily I picked this one. I went with my gut. Or it was the first one on my list. Doesn't matter, because I think it turned out pretty well. That doesn't mean much, though, because I tend to like my not-so-good-in-real-life pieces. Constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated, as usual. Any suggestion or praise would be great, as I have to improve this puppy for when I submit it to my portfolio.

Also, the name "Lilli" is derived from the Lilliputians from the novel Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, who are particularly small beings. This refers only to size and not the connotations of pettiness that is also associated with the word. Thank my mom.

(Can you spot your character? 10 points if you do! Another 10 points if you find the recurring symbol throughout. Points may turn into cookies.)
-----

One Drink, Two Drink, Bad Drink, Good Drink

Everyone has their own idea of fun. Some like to drink, dance, and party until the sun comes up. Women wear short dresses and stand in lines in freezing weather to get into clubs where they get drunk and dance in 3-inch heels. I would never feel comfortable with that, especially when I would still have to make it home. I have often wondered how a person could willingly put themselves in a position where they were not in control of themselves, where they were likely to vomit and black out, and where they might do something they would later regret.
Is it ever worth it? Is it really that fun?



First Drink

Euphoria (BAC = 0.03 to 0.12%): Overall improvement in mood and possible euphoria, increased self-confidence, increased sociability, shortened attention span, flushed appearance, inhibited judgment, impaired fine muscle coordination.

***

I didn’t have plans on Halloween night. Simon, dressed as a Marlboro cigarette, asked if I wanted to go to a party. I wore my tight black exercise pants and long-sleeved sweater, sparkly kitty ears and matching bowtie, a tail attached to a satin belt, and I topped off the look with three strokes of black eyeliner-whiskers on each cheek. But I wasn’t going to drink.

Simon wanted to get rum, but he had difficulty choosing the brand, struggling between quality and cost. He settled for Bacardi, so I told him to put it back and get Captain Morgan’s. I’d pay for it; I’d have some after all. I don’t know what changed my mind.

I bought a bag of mini caramel rice cakes in case I got hungry.

Sexy pirate girls greeted us at the party, along with superheroes and characters I did not recognize. I stood awkwardly in the corner of the small kitchen. Simon opened the rum and poured some into a clear plastic cup for me.

“Do you want Coke?”
“Nope.”
“Are you sure?”
“Nope.” I smelled the spiced alcohol aroma and felt a tingle go from my nose to my head. It made me think of spicy burned honey. The fiery liquid slipped down my throat, and I wanted to like it and the taste it left in my mouth. Drinking it was like being hit by an invisible force. It wasn’t a physical pain, but an overall and muted impact to my head. My eyes watered a little, a light pressure lingered in my head, and then I felt warm.

***

“Mmm, smells good in here,” says Michelle.
“I can’t wait ‘til they’re ready!” Holly smiles.
“I’ve already made the dough, so all we have to do is assemble the pockets,” Lilli says.
“Are we having those little cheese empana… empadani…” says Maura.
“Empanadas de pino,” Lilli says. “The same ones we had after your grad. Empanaditas de queso, too. What do you want to drink? Wine?”
The girls nod and take their places at the bar stools.
“White, I assume.” Lilli pulls out a Chilean wine from the iron wine rack. Jacob removes two beers from the six-pack he brought – one for him, one for Seth – and asks if anyone else wants one. He puts the remaining four in the fridge. Lilli opens the bottle and pours the wine into glasses.

“Just a little for me, please,” says Maura. “Not too much.” Lilli hands the first two half-full glasses to Holly and Michelle. She takes the bottle and another glass, and positions herself directly across the island from Maura. She begins to pour, hardly looking at the wine, staring at Maura.
“That’s good,” Maura says, but the wine doesn’t stop. “Okay, that’s good. Stop! Stop! Goddamn it!” Everyone laughs. “I just wanted a little bit!” she cries, still not used to alcohol’s flavour.
“Oh! Oops. Sorry. Here you go.” Lilli smiles as she hands Maura a ¾-full glass of wine. She pours the fourth glass and takes a long sip before returning to her mini Chilean cheese pockets. The smell of baking savoury Chilean pastry pockets and the sound of her friends’ laughter fill the kitchen. She feels a warmth in the room, and she’s not sure if it’s the oven or the wine, or if it’s something else.

Second Drink

Lethargy (BAC = 0.09 to 0.25%): Sedation, impaired memory and comprehension, delayed reactions, ataxia (walking and balance difficulty), and impairment of senses.

***

I sat next to Elastigirl from The Incredibles as I drank my second glass of rum. I settled the burning in my stomach with my bite-sized caramel rice snacks. My head felt both heavy and light, and the room seemed to move and sparkle. I watched the others interact with each other, talking about things I didn’t understand, and waiting for something I could use to start a conversation. I gave up quickly.

Marcus was the only guy I talked to. I’d always had a thing for curly-haired guys, and Marcus seemed nice. Somehow I managed to tell him how much I liked his hair; Elastigirl said it was a decent Jew-fro.
“What do you mean?” said Marcus.
“Oh, no, it’s okay. I’m Jewish, too,” said Elastigirl.
“You guys are Jewish? That’s so cool! Is it… are you really religious? Or is it just your parents?” I asked.
“I’m not religious, but…” Marcus and Elastigirl went on about Judaism as I popped rice cakes into my mouth. Simon was having shot-drinking competitions with sexy pirates in the kitchen. Eventually he hobbled over to me.
“Are you having a good time?” he asked me.
“Yeah.”
“That girl is so drunk! I’ve had a lot of these. What are you doing?”
“This is Marcus. He’s really nice.”
“Hi Marcus. I’m Simon.” They shook hands. I had a long sip of my rum.
“He’s Jewish. Isn’t that cool?” I said.
“Yeah, I guess.” Simon got distracted by some other party guests and left the room.

I had another sip and a surge of spicy fiery honey went down my throat. I tried finding questions to ask Marcus. Inevitably, I forgot all his answers, but still I fought against the alcohol to remember.
“You’re so nice, Marcus. Like, I don’t know. You’re just nice.” I smiled at him. He smiled back.
“Thanks. You’re pretty nice, too.”
“But Marcus?”
“Yes?”
“I’m drunk.”
“I know.”
“I’m sorry I’m drunk. I don’t get drunk very often, and I’m sorry that I’m drunk.”
“Don’t worry! It’s okay.”
“No, but I’m sorry. You’re just really nice.”
“Well, maybe we can talk later when you’re sober. Can I add your number to my phone? No, wait. Maybe just your Facebook. I don’t want to… You’re drunk.”
“I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. How do you spell your name?”
Simon came over again.
“Doesn’t Marcus have nice hair, Simon? I have to pee,” I said and left for the bathroom.

“You’re drunk!” I pointed at my reflection and giggled. My cheeks were hot and red, and I splashed cold water on my face. I felt so warm. I stumbled back out, and I fanned myself with my hand, sat on the floor, and poured another glass.

***

Lilli’s brow is lightly beaded with sweat as she bends down to remove the pan with empanadas de pino from the oven; the hot air blows her hair back. Wine glasses are refilled and two more beers are yanked from their plastic rings. A pile of empanadas are plated and placed in the middle of the large square dining room table. Salad spoons dig into a tomato, cilantro and red onion salad. Plump green grapes imported from Chile sit in a blue glass bowl. The six friends take their seats. The dishes are passed around, and everyone puts a portion of each one on their plate. The first bites into the empanadas de pino unleash the savoury scent of ground bison, onions, spices, and a hint of boiled egg and black olive. The tangy-sweet salad contrasts the savoury, and the grapes burst their sweet, tart juices in the guests’ mouths. When they aren’t busy eating, they’re laughing, sharing stories, and sipping their drinks. The wine and the beer make everyone’s smiles come easily.

“You guys should have kids so that we don’t have to.” Lilli points at Michelle and Holly with her wine glass before bringing it to her lips.
“Are you kidding me?” says Michelle.
“I’m never letting either of you anywhere near my kids,” says Holly.
“Why not?” asks Maura.
“I’d kind of want them to live,” says Michelle.
“What’s the worst that we could do?” Lilli looks at Maura, who smiles back at her, and they giggle until their faces turn red.
Jacob has the last sip of his second beer. “I don’t think your maniacal laughter helps your case.”

Third Drink

Confusion (BAC = 0.18 to 0.30%): Profound confusion, emotional incontinence, impaired senses, analgesia (lack of pain), increased ataxia, impaired speech, and staggering, dizziness often associated with nausea, and vomiting.

***

“Do you want some Coke now?” asked Elastigirl.
“Mhmm.” I nodded. The room was spinning and my stomach felt like a rumbling washing machine.
Simon woke up and steadied his head. “Have you had any water?” he asked.
“Nuh-uh.” I shook my head slowly and my body swayed.
“Oh, honey. You’re so drunk.”
“Mhmm.” I nodded. Elastigirl brought me a glass of Coke. It was so easy to drink. It refreshed me and cooled me down. I rolled up my sleeves because I was so warm. “I feel funny,” I said.
“Do you want to go to the bathroom?” Elastigirl asked.
“Yup.”
“Are you going to be sick?”
“Yup.” I got up and used the walls for balance. I hummed as I entered the bathroom. “Doo, doo. Doo, doo. Okay.” I lifted up the toilet lid. Without warning, without effort, it all came out.

After that, I remember seeing the downtown lights and turning left on Fort Street. I reminded myself to take deep breaths and to not be sick. Somehow we made it to my house, then I had keys in my hand, and then I was in the bathroom. I don’t know what happened in between or what happened to my friends. When my mom called to me from her bedroom, I decided not to let her know I was drunk.
“Are you okay, Oriana?” she asked.
“Hee hee! Oh, yes.”
“How did you get home?”
“Marcus drove. He’s so nice!”
“He drove? Was he sober?”
“Oh yes. Hee hee. He was the only one. He was really nice. Goodnight! Woah.” I had a glass of water, and went to sleep with a cold sweat, hoping that I wouldn’t be sick in bed.

***

“That’s the end of the second bottle.” Lilli holds the bottle upside down to let the final drips of wine fall into her glass. “It’s water after this.” Seth and Jacob open their last beer, and after their first few gulps, Jacob picks up his guitar and plays. With a deep overdramatic voice, Seth sings along to the made-up melody with lyrics that make everyone laugh.
“For nothing compares / to her long blonde hair / And who can forget / her magnificent breasts? / Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! / Magnificent breasts!”
Michelle smacks Seth on the knee.
“What? Have you seen them? ‘Cause I have, and they are… OW!” Holly punches him hard on the shoulder.
“Violence is always the answer,” Lilli says. “Which of you drunkards is staying?”
“Jacob and Seth are going to walk me home,” Holly says.
“Just you two, then?” Lilly darts her eyes from Maura to Michelle. “Okay, no problem. Do we want cake now?” Everyone gets up for a chunk of apple streusel coffee cake.

After stumbling back to the table, they each eat their pieces of cake. Within a couple of minutes, the dessert plates are empty. Lilli drinks the last of her third glass of wine, and her head spins, but she feels a warm contentment spread through her body.

Fourth Drink

Stupor (BAC = 0.25 to 0.40%): Severe ataxia, lapses in and out of consciousness, unconsciousness, anterograde amnesia, vomiting, respiratory depression, decreased heart rate, and urinary incontinence.

***

I had approximately 13 ounces of straight rum within a few hours. For someone who is five-feet tall, weighs less than 120 pounds, and rarely drinks, the alcohol consumption effects were not minor. When I woke up the next day, my mom informed me of how hilarious and giggly I had been, but she felt no sympathy for me. I was surprised that my head didn’t hurt; I was expecting a severe hangover. I drank a lot of water throughout the day, but it was ginger ale that made me feel better. Even so, my stomach wouldn’t settle. I threw up at least six or seven more times, and I didn’t feel normal for another three days. I had alcohol poisoning. But I wasn’t going to drink – that’s what I said before the party. I wasn’t going to drink.

***

After Jacob, Seth and Holly leave, Maura and Michelle crawl into their sleeping bags, Lilli reflects upon the successful party she held. As she pours herself another glass of water, she thinks about how well everyone got along, how they laughed and had a good time. It was a perfect evening.



My idea of fun tends to be quite different from others my age. I don’t like to go out and do crazy things until dawn and then have alcohol to blame for my mistakes. I would rather go to the pub or stay in with good friends, good food, and good wine. I don’t need to throw up to have a good time, nor do I need to make a fool of myself, pass out, make bad decisions, or wake up with a hangover, not knowing what happened the night before. Maybe I like to be in control, to preserve my dignity, to be responsible and therefore dull, or maybe the cons simply outweigh the pros of drinking to excess, in my mind. While I might not understand the appeal in severe drunkenness that so many others have found, everyone has their own idea of fun.

Everyone has their own idea of fun.



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-term_effects_of_alcohol

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I like this 62: Photography

Dear Globlets,

I like this:

In 1856 Nadar, a writer, wrote the following about photography:

Photography is a marvellous discovery, a science that has attracted the greatest intellects, an art that excites the most astute minds – and one that can be practiced by any imbecile. … Photographic theory can be taught in an hour, the basic technique in a day. But what cannot be taught is the feeling for light. … It is how the light lies on the face that you as artist must capture. Nor can one be taught how to grasp the personality of the sitter. To produce an intimate likeness rather than a banal portrait, the result of mere chance, you must put yourself at once in communion with the sitter, size up his thoughts and his very character.


Which is spot on.

Voters, have mercy on America's soul.

Dear Globlets,

School is ending, so expect more posts soon. Today was my last creative nonfiction class. I are sad. But also glad that it's almost over.

In other news...
This is an excellent clip from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show: Link.

Facepalming highlights from the 8 minute clip:

Reporter: Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?
Presidential candidate Herman Cain: No, I would not.
Jon Stewart: Would you let a Jew drive you to the airport?

Newt Gingrich was quoted as saying, "I have two grandchildren - Maggie is 11, and Robert is 9. I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular Atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists..." I'll just let that one sink in for a minute. Atheist Islamists: an evil hybrid designed to destroy the America its forefathers so bravely fought for.

Rick Santorum arguing that abortions are bad for the economy: A third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion.
This concludes that "there aren't enough young people to pay for the baby boomers' retirement," as Stewart says.
Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, said "Mississippi is the safest state in America for an unborn child."
"And [has] the highest mortality rate in America for children out of the womb - 50th," Jon Stewart responds.

And Donald Trump wants to see Obama's birth certificate.

Well, these people are all well-educated, obviously. That's why they have such power. Because people wouldn't elect idiots to govern states or countries, right?



Wrong.

May the voters have mercy on our neighbour's soul.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Progress Report.

Dear Globlets,

I'm procrastinating.



It reads "typeytypeytypeytypeytypeytypeytypeytypey." And now I'm blogging it. Excellent.