30 March 2007

Grab Bag

It's Friday, and I'm at work, and I've got lots on my mind so today is a bit of a mixed bag-order of business: My time to vent, my time to talk up my mother, my time to comment on one of Liz's posts...

And look at all the pretty tabs I have now! Yay for tabs.

So before I wax sentimental-I think I'm going to (once again) steal Liz's thunder and blog over conference. This is, of course, assuming that I have Internet this weekend, and (once again) assuming that I actually have readers who care. My blog is certainly not as widely read as hers is (for obvious reasons), but it'd be a nice way to pay attention and it'll keep me awake.

Thank heaven for this weekend. I've been needing this weekend for ages. I've been really crabby and stressed the last few weeks. I've been blaming school but it really isn't school-my classes this semester are pretty enjoyable and easy, so I can't complain there. What I can (and will) complain about though is my roommate situation and how much I can't wait for the year to end. I'm feeling so suffocated and trapped with the situation I'm in. Half the time I wish I was living with the same girls next year, and the other half of the time I want to pack up my bags and live on the street until the end of the semester to get away. More than half the time for the latter, I think. I don't even know why it's bothering me so much. It probably has something to do with me letting the quirks my roommates have drive me up the wall. I don't like being governed by our system. I'm tired of being told what to buy every week for food and when to do dishes. I've started feeling rather rebellious about it all. I'm glad I've found a better situation for myself next year.

That being said, I don't hate my roommates. I get rather frustrated with a few of them, but I don't hate them. I don't like hearing them talk about what's going to be so fun next year and how they're all living together-it's awkward. I've seen what's happened with Katie-our roommate who moved out last year. I've seen her about three times since last year. Everyone talks about how we'll all eat dinner and see each other and whatever next year but it's all a load of junk. The real reason I've felt horrible is because I can't, no matter what I do, shake the feeling of loneliness I have. Not that I'm not excited to live with Liz-but I'm still like an outsider coming in. All I know right now is that I'm desperate for change that won't come. There are so many things that I want for my life and I don't know how to get them. Or-to quote Jo March "I want to change but I just can't and I know I'll never fit in anywhere!" I don't feel quite so tragic as that but I can certainly relate to the first half of the quote. Thank heaven for Marmee's rebuttal-"You have so many extraordinary gifts. How can you expect to lead an ordinary life?" I don't know about my "extraordinary gifts", but I know I can't expect to lead an ordinary life. At this point I'm just surviving until the end of the semester when I can "bashing around London" (and the rest of England) and get all this weight off my chest.

On to brighter things. My mom has joined the blog-force! Being the activist that she is, she's written a few letters to the editor of our local paper in the last year, and one of the women in our stake (who works for the paper) asked her to be part of a group of mothers who blog about different topics that are relevant to mothers in our area and on motherhood in general. I think it's pretty exciting-not just because I love blogging but because it's just further proof that my mother is incredible. I love that she can take on these new challenges and projects. I can't wait to see what comes of it. Stay tuned-I'll post links when I can.

Alright-I thought I would offer another point of view on the Sexuality at BYU post that Liz made recently. Growing up outside of Utah, I feel like I've got a different perspective on it-or at least on how sexuality should be handled in public education. I agree with Liz-the majority of BYU students are mature enough to handle it. It's when you start dealing in extremes that it gets to be a problem. Granted-all this is coming from the girl who is completely freaked out by physical affection and once stated "I don't want my husband touching me!" It's not true-I'm not against physical affection-I just haven't met anyone I'm comfortable with in that way yet. For details-see my mother. It's all her fault.

From what I understand talking to my Utah friends, the majority of high schools don't have sex ed in High School. They'll do basics (boys and girls are different), but don't discuss too much into STD's, how sex actually "works", or issues surrounding sexuality in general. This is a pretty stark contrast to my public school system, where we spent nearly an entire semester in eighth grade science class discussing nothing but STD's. We gave presentations on them. We had to videotape a song about them. I was on gonorrhea. I spent so much time making handouts and jingles and posters on gonorrhea it was complete overkill. We watched a movie about a naked woman giving birth. We studied it again nearly every year in every science class. It got to be a bit of a joke. Even the teachers didn't really take it seriously. They'd preface everything with "abstinence is the best way, but next to that..." and then list all the facts about using protection and the odds of "success" there (meaning, odds of not getting pregnant or getting an STD). It's a complete polar opposite from schools in this part of the west. Here, it's a famine, there it's a complete flood.

I don't think either way is the best way to go when it comes to sex-ed. It's like Alma says to his son Shiblon-we are supposed to bridle our passions. We don't want to starve the horse (that will kill it), nor do we want to let the horse run wild without any hold on the reins (that will kill us). We are to bridle passions. Control them. And in order to control them, you have to recognize them and know what they are. You can't control something you know nothing about.

I'm not quite sure what the best method of sex education is. I think it's important not to talk too much about it, but the streams of communication should be open. There is, obviously, a level of sacredness. From my experience, though-it's probably best that schools do some of the educating (the scientific part), and parents do the rest (the moral part). If there isn't communication, then kids will find out about sex from other sources-it's not like the sources aren't available.

Then of course, there's the issue when it comes to sexuality and gender affiliation but I don't even want to look at that road right now. I've seen the Readers Forum in the Daily Universe. The debate is too extreme at the moment to cause any headway no matter how many bloggers post on it.

28 March 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Cover Art

What with all my excitement over England, I've half forgotten that Harry Potter is ALSO coming out this summer! I don't know how I'll find room to be excited for both. It's going to be incredible. And for those of you who aren't aware (everyone but Liz, I'm sure), Harry Potter 7 cover art was released today-(see The Leaky Cauldron). What I see first hand (through British/American combonation)-in the American one we see Voldemort and Harry *both* reaching for something (not at each other) in what appears to be some kind of graveyard (what Jo mentioned during the filming of the third movie perhaps?) and Harry wearing a certain necklace...with a snake on it...(nudge wink). The UK kids edition has Ron/Harry/Hermione blasting backwards (look at the direction of the hair) through what looks like some kind of portal away from a pile of treasure (many of them are embelished by snakes). On the back is the UK version of Hogwarts (Ha. I knew it was coming back), and an image of Harry's patronus on the inside cover (plus a little bitty blurb about Harry waiting for the order to get him from Privet Drive. *yawn*. Last time they gave us so many more hints). The most interesting part though is the house elf behind Harry-pretty menacing from the looks of it-(bets on Kreacher) holding what looks like the sword of Gryffindor. And the gleam in Harry's glasses-going after a Horcrux, perhaps? The adult version just has the snake locket. Well. I'm going to go change the wallpaper on my computer and spend some time squeeling over the excitement of Harry 7...

26 March 2007

You're too open/closed minded

Here I am again, sitting in my Biology class and not paying attention. I'd feel bad, but I got 100% on the last test so I don't care much. That and he's lecturing on dinosaurs and those won't be on our test so I don't feel the need to pay attention when I could update my blog!

Exactly one month from now, I'm going to be kissing the ground that JK Rowling has walked on by exploring Edinburgh, Scotland. Just thought you'd all like to know :P

So based on different discussions I've had over the last few days, I've been thinking quite a bit about righteous judgment, particularly as it relates to homosexuality. BYU had a recent uproar with the Soulforce visit (well, maybe not an uproar, but at least a few discussions and arrests). It's been a somewhat interesting experience. I've done enough theater to know several individuals who are gay. Some of them are really happy about it, others aren't, but they live that way whether they like it or not. So-thought number one is this: I find it incredibly ironic that we live in a world that punishes people who are closed minded, which seems to be a code for "you don't believe what I believe and are therefore wrong". Think about what Soulforce wanted in visiting our campus-it's like Liz said in her blog. They don't want discussion. They want to educate us on their point of view and expect us to agree with them. (Which is of course exactly what many people around here want in reverse).

Which brings me to point number two: people who just accept what they're given and don't question it. Moroni's promise is the scientific method. The Lord doesn't want us to be lukewarm-He wants us to question the gospel (with the right spirit of course) and test it for validity. We have to know. Part of this involves finding out what other people believe. Going back to the discussion on homosexuality-I think it's a little too simple for people in our church (and out of it) to say that it's all a choice. As with other mental disorders-manic depression, for example- we don't really know how much of what they feel is a choice, how much of it is driven by what society tells them, and how much of it is driven by some kind of chemical/hormonal imbalance. No, I don't think that God sent anyone here to fail. However, I also think that he takes into account the mentality of the individual-and that is something that none of us have the ability to fully understand, because we are not God.

Unfortunately, the ideal world doesn't exist, and many students on this campus (and outside of it) are just as closed minded as those who claim to be more open minded. Why can't we all just be 'minded'? Why can't we respect differences even when we don't agree with them? Yes-absolute truth is out there. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored and the church is true-I'm not debating that. What I find sad is that we forget that other people believe in their God as fervently as we do ours, and with good reason. I have a testimony that this church is true, but others have that same feeling for the church/belief they follow. It's about respect.

So my feelings on Soulforce to wrap things up-I think the theory behind the idea is somewhat admirable. I think it is a good idea to make people aware of the oppression, particularly on a campus like ours where tolerance is occasionally as Andrew Mecham said in the Readers Forum of the Daily Universe today-condescending tolerance. However, I think the underlying reason behind Soulforce is bad both for them, and for us. It makes us look even less tolerant than usual, and it makes them look like people who don't want any more dialogue than we do. The purpose is lost entirely. No one wants discussion, because both sides are full of very vocal people without respect for the other side. Few people bother to research the other side and become slightly more open minded.

Anyway-this didn't end up being the grandiose statement on society I intended it to be (name one of my posts that really did end up being what I wanted it to be-), but I think it's probably because there is no solution. It's like we've been talking about in my Study Abroad class recently-it's all about finding different centers of self, and for anything to work there has to be work done on both sides.

16 March 2007

17 Minutes

I'm in an extremely boring class right now and the only cure I can think of is more blogging. The cow bell phenomenon was lost on me.

Thank heaven for spring! I've had a really horrible last few weeks. I've felt really lonely and frustrated with life in general, and I still feel traces of that now but the weather has certainly taken the edge off. I don't think I could ever live in a place where there was no spring, or even a place where there was a kind of spring all year. It's why I scoff at people who think that Southern California is the only good place on earth. There is something about the first day of spring when you can take off your coat and just feel the warm weather after a long, seemingly endless winter.

I hate money. I hate it. My last study abroad payment is due today and I'm going to watch the money in my savings account go from a comfortable four digits to a slightly less comfortable two. I have to keep reminding myself that I did know this was coming. I knew that it was coming. It's why I worked two jobs over the summer-so that I could watch my hard earned money go towards England but still. I will continue to echo Jo March in Little Women: "I hate money".

I do however love babysitting. I know. Some people think I'm nuts or don't miss it at all, but I love babysitting. I think it's probably the next best thing to being a grandparent-you get to be there for a few hours, enjoy a kid who thinks you're incredible because you sneak them cookies and then go home. I get to babysit my perpetually happy cousin tonight and I'm really excited. Seriously-I've met some happy kids in my life but this boy is always happy. The last time I saw him he was sick as a dog and still running around with this massive grin on his face. That being said-I like babysitting but I would never be a nanny again. I spent one summer as a nanny and I'd never go back. At least not without a car. I sat in that house every day for three months and only had a car for a few hours once a week when my mom wasn't using it-we couldn't really go anywhere and there's only so many times you can run through the sprinklers or walk to the park before it gets old.

Tomorrow is the best holiday of the year-if you aren't Irish I feel bad for you. I love my Irish heritage. My ancestors were bards which means, according to one of my professors, that they were more than just writers and poets. Bards used to be sent by the lord of the manor to the front of a battle line to taunt the enemy into submission to avoid fighting. They'd shame the enemy so that they couldn't fight because they were so worthless. Yeah. My ancestors are amazing.

You'll excuse the eclectic post-I don't have anything incredible to say except thank heaven for weekends. I don't think I could go another day this week without suffering some kind of melt down. I have had enough. I'm going to go sit outside for hours and let the sun re-energise me. Like Superman.

01 March 2007

Reflections on Womanhood

Well if that isn't a daunting title! I'm about to embark down roads that most of you who read this will probably already agree on. Seeing as my reading base isn't that wide, and most of the reading base I do have consists of females who are pursuing higher education, but I feel the desire to write in order to avoid homework, and this has been on my head so-enjoy if you so feel the desire.

We've been reading David Copperfield in my study abroad class. It's not my favorite Dickens novel. Partly because it feels so much longer than the other novels of his that I've read, and partly because I don't like David at all. He's obnoxious. He has high ideals but doesn't live up to them (ok, so he's human...or as human as literary characters can be). He does exactly what I hate in men-marry the pretty ignorant girl because he's so in love with her because she's so cute and naive and whatever else is exciting about it. She can't do a thing and she knows it and she doesn't try to improve herself at all and he doesn't care. I've been thinking about how much I can't stand women who don't try and make something of themselves. Who live for makeup and parties and social life and being cute and have no higher aspirations for themselves. Yes-I like to look nice. I make an effort to do so. I keep my clothes clean and I do my hair and a bit of makeup in the morning because I like to look like I feel. I want to get married. But I have goals for myself outside of marriage that I intend to meet.

Not that I think the church is wrong-President Hinckley has said that he wants women who are intelligent-he comments on how the best thing the church can do for their women is to let them be and give them space to do what they will with it. But I think that some parts of church culture have gone to a bit of an extreme when it comes to creating cutsy girls. Relief Society lessons that I've been to (not necessarily in my ward here), have turned into frilly, light, pat on the back kind of things that are formulated to make women cry. Sweet, sugar coated cotton candy like fluff. There is something to be said for a nice, feel good lesson, but there is also something to be said for a lesson that teaches and motivates and instructs. I'm tired of modesty lessons, for example, when the teacher apologises for saying that certain clothes aren't acceptable. Don't apologise! It's the truth. Leggings and mini skirts are not appropriate. Period. Sometimes I think girls are so afraid of hurting another person's feelings that they don't come out and just say things. Sure, there's something to be said for tact, but don't excuse boldness (use boldness, not overbearance).

That may not have been the best example. What I'm trying to say is that yes-homemaking is good. I take pride in my cooking abilities and I'm glad that I know how to keep a house clean. When I have my own house, I feel fairly certain that I'll be able to manage the cooking and cleaning. Beyond that though, I want to have hobbies that exist beyond the home. My mother has always been an example to me of someone who knows how to run a household and teach her children, but is able to have something for herself as well. And it isn't selfish-it's completely necessary. What I don't like are women like Dora in David Copperfield who are nothing more than little kittens to be paraded around. I want a life outside scrapbooking and fawning over my husband.

All this being said, however, one thing I respect most is my mother putting aside her career to stay home and raise us. She still has hobbies and pursuits outside of us-we aren't her world, just part of it-but a woman who can do both things is a woman that I want to be.