Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Favorite Posts of 2012

I've decided to do a Year in Review of my blog posts.  I'm going to choose my favorite post for each month of 2012.  Some months have only one post, and that one is my favorite.

1) January. This is unusually pessimistic of me, but it's so true.  Bullying is a problem, but I think it's approached all wrong.

2) February. I'm not entirely sure who I'm talking about in this, but I was hurt by whoever it was.  Still true.  Not the hurt part.

3) March. I still have a few jobs and this list should still be posted in every place requiring some kind of customer service.

4) April. This is a reflection on a movie I had watched with a friend.  The movie had a much different outcome from what we expected, much more serious.  There's a heavy message, a message of humanity.

5) May. I, seriously, wish men took this advice.  I think it'd be very beneficial to them.  They're always like "What do women want?!  It's so hard to please y'all; you're such mysteries."  But then we, women, tell them and they don't use that advice.  Men!

6) June. I see myself being more and more of the woman who has to put make-up (even if only a little) on to leave the house.  It's crept up on me, but this blog has reminded me to look and love myself.  Just myself, no make-up.

7) July. Lol, this was right before I created an online dating profile.  But, having experienced online dating, I can say that I still have the desire to meet someone serendipitously.  Perhaps 2013 will have something in store?

8) August. What can I say?  He's a gem.

9) September. Gosh, September was a tough month to choose from.  But I settled on TiMER.  It's (another) reflection on a movie.  It's about love and not love, about possibilities and impossibilities.  Today, I'm cool with not having a TiMER.

10) October. This pretty much sums up my online dating experience.  What an adventure.  I think I stopped messing around with online dating soon after that post.  I've since tried to pick it up, but I'm pretty tired of dealing with duds.

11) November. November was another tough month to choose from.  I chose this post, about marriage because I'm forced to think about it on a daily basis.  The more it's in my face, the more I hold the 'marriage' I see up to what the church says about it.  They don't match up.

12) December.  I would have liked to close out the year with something jolly and optimistic, but I can't lie.  December was a tough month.  A lot of sadness was present in the world.  I feel like it was a terrible end to the year; all the bad things that happened seem to be glaringly obvious in the Season that's meant to be full of happiness and hope.  This post was written out of despair and frustration.  I despaired in the senseless deaths that took place not just that day but this year (and every year) in this World.  And I grow more and more frustrated with humanity's response to such terrible events.  These aren't just events, these are reflections of the heart of humanity.  I know, I know, you're not capable of this kind of evil...but you are, we all are.  The fact is, we humans are pretty terrible, we don't even realize how terrible we're being, but the evil's always there.  Sometimes we chose good and sometimes we choose evil.  There's always a choice even when we don't know we're making one.  I'm frustrated with the bickering that always happens after terrible out-pours of humanity's heart.  It's a blame game, it's a shoulda-woulda-coulda's a waste of time.  Don't argue, do.

I'm realizing how long a year is.  Hearing the year in review of music/pop culture/politics/everything, has made me realize how much the World goes through in just 365 days.  I mean A LOT!  Well folks, that's my 2012 in blogs.  I hope you have a splendid, safe, exceptional New Years.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This is a Post About Video Games

Yesterday was Christmas, which means people got new games and gaming consoles.  My family is included in this group of people; they got the PS3 and, I guess, some games just come with it.  When I arrived to my family's house yesterday morning, they had already opened their gifts and my 17 year old brother was playing Mortal Kombat on the new console while everyone else was watching.  I'm pretty familiar with Mortal Kombat, it's an old game and I grew up seeing it being played.  I'll be the first to admit that I am terrible at video games, I just don't get them.  All the buttons and the combination for them all to get someone/thing to jump/roll/shoot; it all seems superfluous...and hard.

I'm not really against video games, I just don't like a lot of them.  I'm not a fan of violence, in real life or in the media.  I'm not a fan of objectifying humans (it's usually the women who are objectified).  There's a lot of that, violence and objectification, in a lot of video games.  In Mortal Kombat, different characters fight each other.  The characters, some human and others mutants, have different skills sets and they fight each other in different arenas.  One arena, they're in some kind of hell, with bodies and body parts in puddles of magma and on posts, and Cerberus in the background.  In another gladiator-esque arena there's different dragon in the background (I'm guessing the makers of the game really love dragons) and, get this, just behind the fighters are women on either side, who are tied in bondage between these posts and have VERY skimpy clothing barely covering their large breasts and bottoms.  When the opponent won (the computer beat my brother), another naked woman comes from nowhere, gets on the ground, hugs the winners thigh and makes a borderline sexual sound.  I saw that and nearly had a conniption.  The violence upsets me because I don't condone killing or harming others, even if it's pretend; but the objectification of women, even in the main women who fight, infuriates me!!!  I felt violated and I was/am upset that the males in my life would expose themselves to such blatant violence and mistreatment of women.  I was disgusted, I felt sick to my stomach.

While visiting, a different game was played, a war simulation game.  All I will say about this is: I pray my brothers never have to experience actual war.  I don't understand these games.  War isn't funny, death isn't funny and they certainly aren't why have they been made into a game?

Anyways, I'd rather do pretty much everything else besides play video games.  They're not very fun for me, and I always feel so old, because I can't even figure out how to do simple things like 'Select' or 'Go Back'.  Here's a list of things to do instead of playing video games.

1) Read.  It's the best.  And, similar to the world of video games, there are endless possibilities.  There's something for everyone.  I believe reading makes you smarter.

2) Sleep.  Studies have shown that your brain is more active when sleeping than when watching TV.  Now, I know video games involve more than just your eyes, it involves thumbs as well.  But sleeping still seems like a better option.

3) Volunteering. Let's face it, playing video games isn't helping anyone.  So why not use your time to help build others up?

4)  Exercising.  There are plenty of sports video games, but they're based off actual sports.  Go actually play one.

5)  Creating.  There are numerous ways to be creative and seemingly countless mediums to do so.  Go find something you want to be good at and work on it.

I don't believe that all video games are bad and I know not all call for being sedentary.  But I do believe there are far better things out there and I encourage everyone to go explore them.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Grown-Up Christmas List

Well, it's Christmas Eve's Eve, something I used to get excited about as a child.  Now, I don't really feel any difference.  I figure I might as well put a Christmas list out to the Internets.  So here's my grown-up Christmas list that's pretty impossible.

1) Car.  I already have one, but if someone would just make all the payments/pay the rest up front.  I'll pay the insurance and the maintenance bills

2) An End to Genocide.  It's an SNL sketch; but it's also pretty true.  I'd like for people to stop killing other people, in every way possible.  It's really unacceptable...seriously.

3) Full Time Job.  I would like ONE full time job that I really enjoy and that has full benefits, instead of the multiple jobs that have no benefits that I don't even really like.

4) Benefits.  I'd like to have an insurance company that actually pays for a simple doctor's visit.  I'd like vision and dental as well.  I'd like all of this for a price that I can actually afford.

5) Free Rent.  Just for a year, until next Christmas when I ask for it again.  I'll pay utilities.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

As a Teacher

Today, a man, 20 years old, went into the school in which his mother was a teacher's aide and shot several people.  He shot 27 people, 20 children, six adults (school personnel), and himself.  Meanwhile, in Central China, a 36 year old man stabs 23 people (22 children and one elderly lady).  Initially, I heard about these in bits and pieces and was a little confused.  But I've heard and read about them throughout the day and still don't understand it any better.

I am a teacher; and though I often comment on the lousy bureaucracy of the US educational system and have endless stories of my students' ridiculousness, I love teaching and I love those kids.  I don't have maternal feelings towards them, but I do feel a common humanness and a sense of duty in helping to grow them into wonderful adult humans.  So when someone, anyone, hurts a child, or many children, I am baffled.  I don't understand how a person can purposefully hurt another, especially a child.

School is supposed to be a safe place.  Education is supposed to elevate.  But countless times I see these safe havens and institutions tainted by the troubles of others.  A few days ago, at the school where I teach, a stalker of a substitute teacher threatened to come to campus.  My reaction?  I was angry.  So many of our children face great brokenness in their own homes and they feel safe and nurtured and loved at school, when someone tampers with that, where can they go now?  My kids were scared and confused, and while I showed a calm facade, inside I was seething.  How dare someone come and even whisper danger into the lives of my students!

I realize that people who do such heinous things often have mental health illness or have disorders or disabilities.  I also realize that there's great brokenness in this world that's inescapable.  But this doesn't soften the blow for me.  Because, how do I explain this to my kids?  How do I convince them that it's safe to go to school?  How do I explain that although they're learning to do the right thing, not everyone always will?  How do I distract them, even if only for a moment, from all the terror around them to see the beauty of life?  How do I reason with them that although those kids' (and many others') lives were cut short, life is worth living?  How do I explain that there are people who want to hurt them, but there are people who love them unconditionally?  How do I explain death to them?  How do I teach them to combat the oppressive fear of death/dying/failure, and to approach everything with love and optimism?  How do I teach them to sing Love when Hate yells louder?  How do I teach them that everyone deserves grace and love, even when it's not reciprocated?  How do I teach them to be humans when they are surrounded by the inhumane?

I'm apprehensive about school on Monday because I can't even think about the shooting and stabbing without choking on my tears.  How do I talk about it with my students if someone brings it up?  Do I bring it up?  When I think of today, I get knots in my stomach.  I don't understand, I just don't understand.  I don't know how I can face my students with a hopeful smile and not think of the students, the people, who have been harmed or killed.  I'm grateful it's not them, but I am rattled.  We live in a damaged world, with people who are broken, and at times it seems irreparable.  But we can be the music makers and the dreamers of dreams.  We can change the world.  We can break the cycles of death and dying, sickness and decay, pain and anguish, chaos and confusion.  We can change the world, for the sake of ourselves, for the sake of the children.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fun With Flags

Something that no one knows about me is that I have a fascination with international flags.  I really enjoy learning about the story behind the flags because I think it speaks accurately of the country it represents.  Last week one of my roommates and I were at the mall when we came across a flag store.  I got all excited and asked if we could go in and she humored me and we went in.  The nice man, who, I'm assuming, is the owner of the store, handed me a paper with (I guess) all the flags of the world pictured as well as USA state and historical flags.  Every time I'm getting dressed I check out this paper and admire the flags.   Here's a list of my favorite flags.

1) Marshall Islands.  I know absolutely nothing about this place, these islands.  I had never even heard of them until this paper.  But I think their flag is somewhat reminiscent of Disney Land/World in perhaps the '70's or '80's.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it's the orange and white stripes stretching to new possibilities while still honoring the past.  Perhaps it's the pretty star from the song "When You Wish Upon a Star".

2) South Africa.  I actually do know a little of the history of their colorful flag.  Of course all the different colors represent different things, but my favorite thing about their flag is the peace sign.  When you turn the flag upright it makes a peace sign.  This country has fought for peace and unity for so long and they put it in their flag.  Beautiful flag, beautiful message, and beautiful people.

3) Guam.  Guam's just keeping it simple and keeping it real.  They don't like any guess work, they're just straight up.  I'm into that.

4) Isle of Man. What's better than two legs? Three.  These people get that and they want you to know they get it.  So they put it on their flag.  I'm certain this has a fascinating story, but I kinda just like for my imagination to work a little.

5) Kiribati.  Again, another place I have no clue about, but I still like their flag.  I feel like their flag tells a story and that they appreciate the beach with a good sunset.  I dig the wavy lines (I'm assuming those are the ocean/sea), but mostly like the flying bird.  It's a nice touch.

6) Nepal.  Those bunch of rebels.  I am intrigued by their flag, because it doesn't have a traditional rectangular shape.  Perhaps they're conservationalists and figured they shouldn't use up all that fabric if they can make a statement and represent their country with less.  Perhaps that shape has a sacred meaning.  I'm not sure.  But I like it.

7) Gibraltar. I didn't know this place actually existed outside of that prison off of California.  But it does and judging by their flag, they're pretty fancy people.  I mean, they have a palace on their flag.

8) Christmas Island. There is a place in the world where it is Christmas everyday.  A place so majestic has to have an equally majestic flag.  Their flag is a lot to look at, but I like it.  It has a nice color scheme and some meaningful stuff on it.  They should be very proud of their flag, it's quite lovely.

9) Japan and Palau. I put these together because they have the same theme.  They both like to keep it simple, nothing flashy.  This likely means they are secure in their countrydom and don't need to prove it to anyone.  

10) Libya.  Libyans just want to keep the mystery alive.  What's great about Libya?  Come see.  What are they proud of about their country?  Come and see.  What're their natural resources?  Come see.  Well played Libya.  I am intrigued.

11) Turkmenistan. I mostly like this one because of the pretty stripe on the left.  I don't know if the (what I'm calling) designs mean anything, but they certainly are lovely.  The decorative stripe would be a very nice tapestry or table runner.

Well, those are the ones that have intrigued me today.  There are many others that I find to be interesting/attractive, but there's not time enough for that.  These flags represent a people, a country, a history and no matter how different they are, we all have one huge thing in common.  We are all people and we deserve love and respect.