Sunday, November 27, 2011

La vie moderne

I know I'm not above or beyond the modernity of today's American society but I am glad that I did not participate on Friday. I have participated in Black Friday shopping events in other years. But I have to admit that I would rather set back and relax. Spend time with my family. Instead of working or shopping at six in the morning, I wake with the sun (or later) and walk around in the mountains while my Grandpa repeats stories I've heard repeated ever since I can remember visiting.
Instead of dodging crazy drivers and shopping carts, I retreat into a place where technology is next to magic. A couple years ago, we spent some time showing my grandpa and his brother where to find the power button on a computer their friend gave them and explaining that a simple push of that button will turn the computer on. We showed them how to open simple games/files like solitaire and word documents that the friend had put on there for them. We then helped them "fix" their "mp3" player which was really a cd-player/radio and the only thing that was "wrong" was that they needed to flip the switch to CD to play their cds.
Instead of stampeding over people to get the newest digital camera at a ridiculously cheap price, I'm taking pictures of such gorgeous scenery that even my family living here still falls in love with every fall. Instead of carrying around a digital wishlist on my smart-phone trying to make sure I get everything checked off, I'm retreating into such a technologically-challenged mountainside where even Verizon loses signal.
Instead of scoping out deals and driving miles to save a few bucks, I'm spotting "buck-rubs" where bucks rub their antlers on the trunks of trees. Instead of buying a new flat screen TV, I'm retreating to a home where the TV has been off since everything was switched to digital.
Instead of going broke on shopping extravenganzas we toss around a few coins while playing hours of poker. Instead of worrying about outrunning an angry sales-hunting mob, I'm worrying about outrunning a bear, or mountain lion if we see one.
I have to admit that I was not surprised this year to find out that people have been shot and pepper-sprayed over deals this year. The stores, and those who shop at them like that are just begging for something like that to happen. And, while the previously described pass-times are not something I usually partake in, I would much rather  go on adventures like that than feed into the craziness that is Black Friday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

merci beaucoup

I wonder if Native Americans celebrate thanksgiving like our family does. My great great grandma on my father's side was half Cherokee. That might not say a lot to most. That certainly doesn't make me Cherokee or anything but I think most would be surprised that I still knew her for about ten years of my life. We have a young family and I'm thankful for that.
 I'm thankful that I met my Ma Hattie (my great great grandmother) and at least five great grandparents. I had a pretty close relationship with my great grandmother on my mom's dad's side. And I'm thankful for that. I still have a great grandpa and he always manages to get the entire family together when he makes it back up here. He lives in Alabama, a survivor of the second world war and of two cancers. Still, to me, he seems healthy as ever. He's a strong man. Still working, still walking, still hiking. He has stories.
I'm incredibly thankful for him. I'm thankful for my grandparents all of whom are still living. Though I don't see my dad's parents as much, I still feel close to them. Even though my grandpa on dad's side never remembers me, I am still proud to be related to him. I still see him every year for Thanksgiving and sometimes for Easter. 
When telling a co-worker that I was going to Kentucky to see family, he asked if I was from there. Before I could answer, he noted that even if I wasn't I probably had roots there and that's probably why I'm so nice.
If you've never been to Kentucky, you might not understand. Everybody is sweet as sugar down here. 
A lot of times, when you give someone a compliment, they want one back. Not here. Palahniuk talks in some books about how people only ask you about yourself so that you'll ask them about theirs. Not here. 
They are a simple folk. And I do not mean that in a connotative way. You know all those movies where people get so caught up in technology, so lost in their agendas that they lose track of their real lives? They lose contact with their family, they forget what the real world looks like, feels like. They take the Earth and their loved ones for granted... That doesn't happen here. Here, they probably haven't seen one movie like that let alone the several that could fit into that category.
My grandpa here is a strong man. He is certainly a working man though an accident many years back claimed him unfit to work. Instead he works around the house. The thing about my grandparents is that they all used to party. They were those beatniks you see in old fashion photos. Blue jeans and white tees. Cigarettes rolled in the sleeves even if they didn't smoke. Everyone of them drove a motorcycle for at least some time. They're all calmer now but they sure can tell a story. And they really have a bunch of nice old photos time.
If you ever get the time, and haven't done so before and the option is still available for you, you should look at your grandparent's photos. So I'm thankful for my grandparents and for all of their stories and their pictures and all this time I've had so far to get to know them.
I'm thankful that I have roots in Kentucky. I'm thankful that I have strong, smart, hardworking role models with hearts of gold. I'm thankful to be so grounded. To have the opportunity to experience the modern world daily and be brought back to "real" life at least once a year.
I'm thankful for my brain. I see so many people that can't multi-task or focus long enough to read. I'm thankful that I had such encouraging, teaching-savvy parents. I'm thankful for my ability and eagerness to learn. It crushes me to see my nieces and nephew say things like, "I don't need to know math. A calculator can do that for me." Or, "I already took the quiz, I don't need to remember that anymore." I know I've said that a few times but I really do try to remember what I'm taught. At least now I guess.
I'm thankful for those angels- my nieces and nephew. I can't imagine a life without them. They each have such unique qualities that make me proud to be their aunt. I really am thankful for all of my family.
I can't even imagine how I could have possibly turned out without any single one of them. And I'm glad that, for the most part, they're all healthy.
Thanksgiving may have been started as a celebration of our taking land from the native Americans and then settling peacefully with them and may have continued as a sort of patriotic holiday but I only ever look at it as a day most of us get off of work where we can spend time with our loved ones and be thankful for them. It's a day to look back on our lives and ignore our regrets. Reminisce on the good times and really explore what makes us happy, what keeps us going. Whatever I have to be thankful for today, I have been thankful for before and will be thankful for again. And I'm thankful for having this day to look back and be thankful for it all.
Thank you for reading. Call me beautiful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

je n'oublierai jamais

In high school, I had planned on going to Arizona for spring break with my boyfriend and his family. We made plans to walk over and see Mexico. Since I had been to Arizona for a short while once before, I knew there would be a lot of scenic opportunities that I would want to catch on film (or, as our times would have it, catch digitally). And, since this would be my first time riding a plane and my first time leaving the country, I just knew I had to take pictures.
I researched digital cameras online and bought one of the most expensive cameras that were out at the time. Of course, I only picked the most expensive because it had the best reviews. One of the key factors in my decision making was that it had the fastest start-up of available cameras. I wanted to be able to whip out my camera at a moments notice and have a picture in less than a second, in case we were driving by or something was flying by.
I took hundreds of pictures on that vacation and I'm sure at least thousands that year. Soon, everything I did had to be caught on camera.
On the fourth of July, I was watching fireworks through my digital screen (not even through a view-finder because, again, I had a fancy digital camera). Hardly a picture turned out and before I knew it, the fireworks were over.
I had an epiphany soon after- that I had to stop living my life through a digital screen. I missed seeing the gun powder flaming in the sky in various hues right above my head. I started bringing my camera with me less and less.
My mother and I took a trip to Paris. I noticed her doing the same thing when we saw les feux d'artifice à la Tour Eiffel (fireworks at the Eiffel Tower). I kindly reminded her to just sit back and watch the show. It was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. There was an entire light show backing up the fireworks, covering the entire face of the Eiffel Tower. A history of Paris was dancing around in bright lights as things went flailing from the many levels of the structure.
So this was a time for me when I had somewhat turned my cheek to cameras. I felt the experience was better off emblazoned in my mind than in digital storage somewhere. To be honest now though, I miss Paris and I wish I could look back at more of the unique things we saw. Those moments when I wanted to capture them all, completely in my memory. To just absorb the reality of the moment.
I wish I had some sort of photographic evidence of the homeless lady harassing the beer-bellied man asleep on a bench, trying to help him birth his twins. It feels like a soft image, fading more still, and I remember the story more and more but can picture it less and less.
Ah, to have those memories. To be able to pass those stories on with photographic evidence. Its a fine line I draw: to live life through a lens/screen or just through experiences and memories? That is the question.

Monday, November 7, 2011

la vie d'ennui

I know that the Bell Jar is well known for it's relevance to humanity. Though many people can say that they've never considered suicide, especially not by oven, I think most people (if not all) can relate to at least a moment described in this book. Plath struggles to find charm in the things she feels should be charming. It seems as though everything is part of a love-hate relationship. She either loves to hate something or hates to love it.
I am still reading it, slowly, but the part I think I relate to most (and most people I know can relate to as well) is where she talks about her future. She describes her possible future outcomes as being mapped out like a fig tree. There are so many options out there but she can't decide which branch to reach for and she just keeps putting off making a decision. Meanwhile the figs grow old and rotten.
I wish I had a passion stronger than most. Sometimes I think that one of the dumbest choices I have ever made was to major in a field of art. Partly because I feel so uninspired sometimes. And, though I love fashion and everything to do with it (designing, creating, merchandising, purchasing, etc) I feel torn as a human being for choosing something so materialistic. I know that when I was deciding to go into design, I wanted to make a difference but I still don't know how to do so.
Ideally, I would like to bring acceptance to the world of all body types and their related adornments. But at the same time, I don't want to accept the growing rate of obesity. Not because it is unpleasing aesthetically, but because of the health concerns.
And, as far as culture is concerned, there are some things that I believe lose meaning when they are accepted by and eventually lost into a culture not their own. For instance, the Americanization of kimonos: once used for ceremonial purposes and/or to signify such categories as class/wealth, beauty, importance, wisdom, and honor. Adaptations of such are mass-marketed to the kill-all culture and Americans wear (wore) them around as the hottest new trend, the latest look for look's sake.
There are still plenty of people out there, living in America even, that are knowledgeable, respectful and proud of their heritage but there are also, sadly, many who have no clue. I, for example, feel almost ashamed when the topic arises because I honestly don't know much about my family's past. I believe the majority of my ancestors came from England.
I said "almost ashamed" because there are days when I feel no connectivity to the past. I don't see why I should bother getting to know my ancestors if they didn't stick around long enough to get to know me. And if my family doesn't voluntarily educate me on my past, I don't think they feel it is all that important either.
Still, some days, I wish I was proud of our past. I dream of stories I could tell friends and growing-up family members (and those to come) of how our names mean something and how we are a family that earned our keeps. But I am afraid my family is one of the families that got swept up in the modern world where our biggest concern is the future. Even then, it's only for the near future. We are normally only concerned with the futures of ours and of the people we know and love presently.
And then we have Chuck Palahniuk to remind us that, "this is [y]our life and its ending one minute at a time."

bisous bisous

Sometimes I think all allergens settle in the back of my mouth, making my throat and the roof of my mouth itch like crazy.
I can't stand when someone I'm dating calls me babe or baby but I don't mind when others do. Hun/hon/honey, I only want to hear from someone I am dating. But I still don't want to hear it often. Anyone and everyone is welcome to call me "love". I absolutely love it : ) Or "beautiful"
It drives me crazy when people respond to "Hi, how are you" by asking the same question. It is okay to also ask, but at least answer it first. 
I am so terribly afraid of spiders and bees that my heart still races for a while after they're no longer in my view.  Even after being in a car accident, I was calm and collected until I saw a spider crawling near my feet but I just tried to hide the fear as I casually stepped away.
I can't think of anything else that scares me, even just a little bit.
If you are going to try to scare me, you should probably wear a helmet, a cup and maybe shoulder/elbow pads because it won't phase me mentally but my body does have reflexes when prompted.
I can hold more liquor than one would think, based on my petite physique. But that doesn't mean I've never over-done it.
I've never smoked anything in my life but I have dreams where I am addicted to cigarettes and I think I can really tell what it would actually feel like. Sometimes, I crave them in the day time. Especially if I'm stressed out.
I don't get stressed out easy or often but when I do get stressed out, I go all out.
My best friend has maybe seen me cry three times in my life and most other people I know have never. Even when something minor is bugging me and I don't feel like crying at all, sometimes having my dad around just makes me break into tears and I still don't really get how that works.
I think the world of my nieces and nephew. I have about the same visitation as a divorced parent gets and when they're not in school, I see them even more.
My family means a lot to me, as they have raised me to feel. This is how I know they'll always be there for me in whatever ways possible even if/when I move away.
I hate being cold more than anything in the world. If I am cold, I feel angry and have a hard time concentrating on anything but my misery. I have never been to California but I feel it is the perfect place for me to live.
If love at first sight is actually possible, I should have gone to Italy this summer. I have never felt the same way about a guy as I felt about one whose name I never actually heard. I only read it off a scrap-paper with his name and number that he handed to me after leaving my workplace and coming back with it already written.
I wish I was raised bilingual because it was very difficult for me to learn the French that I learned in University and retaining it is even harder since I find hardly anyone around me speaks it.
I feel accomplished when I empty a bottle of lotion or a tube of toothpaste.
I believe three years ago was the first time I cooked a grilled cheese.Three boyfriends-cooking-for-me later and I can prepare meals all by myself : P It makes me proud when my nieces ask for my "breakfast potatoes" which is really an easy, quick recipe I learned from my last ex.  Every time I break up with someone, even if I'm doing the dumping, I feel really down but in the end, I always feel better off single.
I love kids and a lot of people point out how great I am with them but I honestly never see myself having any. Maybe that will change in a few years. But maybe not- don't get your hopes up.
I think Chuck Palahniuk is a literary genius and I feel ashamed for never even daring to think about having half as much courage as anyone of his created characters have.
Sometimes I feel incredibly inspired but get almost shy to draw things out or start a creative creation process because I'm afraid I won't be able to translate what's in my head to real life. And that would be embarrassing.
Whenever someone says phenomenon or phenomena, I think of the Dr. Pepper commercial where they sing something that sounds like "meh na men ah" followed by some cheery "do"s. 
When people say, "but, um" I think "bu dum bum" like comedic drums.
Ever since teachers started pointing out when people use fillers such as "like" and "um," I have tried to omit them from my speech. Sometimes, instead, I start a sentence over an over again until I figure out a way to word things because I try my best to avoid those and feel awkward sometimes just pausing instead.
In some short quirks-biography of a girl I knew, I read that she hated the sound of people chewing. That never used to bother me but it does now. It actually drives me so bizerk that I dismiss myself from the room before I end up saying something so as not to make the chewer self-conscious.
I don't like the spoiler on my car because I know they have a purpose on sports cars but are just used for looks on normal cars-to make them look sporty and I feel like a poser.

rien de nouveau

Murphy's law says that anything that can go wrong will but I would like to draw emphasis to the tense in which this law is spoken and change just that. When you are talking about anything that can go wrong, I believe you are talking about limitless possibilities. I don't believe in planned destinies. As people, we make decisions and for every decision we make there are consequences or at least subsequent events.
In order for everything that can go wrong to actually go wrong, you would have to be able to make every possible decision at the same time. You would have to cover all bases. Break off into multiple dimensions. Because, at any given time, you could be presented with decisions that have more than one or two outcomes. Each outcome can go wrong in multiple ways so long as you don't believe in having only one planned, mapped out "destined" future.

Looking back, however, if we were given the same decisions to make in the same circumstances like going back in time, I believe we would make the same decisions because we would have the same information, same experiences and same state-of-mind. I don't think our life decisions are mapped out until after we've already made them. It's almost like Timequake by Vonnegut. Except for when they go back in time, they still have a memory of what happened the first time. And, even if they wanted to make new decisions, given their knowledge of the outcomes, they simply couldn't because they were forced to stick with the "map" that they already created living through that time once.
I think, if you blame all the wrong stuff on Murphy's law, you are slacking to acknowledge your own faults. It's easy to brush your mistakes off, saying that anything that could go wrong did, and leaving it at that. Own up that things may have gone better if you made different decisions. Admittedly, this is how we learn as people.
A friend posted on Facebook, "Everyone in life lives with regrets. Those who say they don't are admitting that they havent learned anything from their mistakes."
But I argued that you can admit to having made mistakes, and learned from them and still not regret making them because you did end up learning something.
In the end, we live, we love, we learn and we leave this world "the same decaying organic matter as everything else."