The Flip-Flop Challenge

Despite the title and my super misleading picture, the flip-flop challenge has nothing to do with shoes.  Unless you’d like to walk in someone else’s.  Metaphorically, of course.  I sorta just made up this challenge because I’m curious about how people can interpret the same topic differently.  Hmmm, I’m not doing a very good job at explaining this, as usual…  Uh, below are options for how you can participate!  Please participate, it gives me the illusion of having friends.

\ (^▽^(^▽^*)

1) Comment a topic and I’ll do a short blurb about it.  Be as specific or as vague as you’d like.  Random topics that might be interesting include: global warming,the pros and cons of sausages, an attempt at writing a short story, the probability of me maintaining sanity during finals, my favorite species of fish, my post-apocalyptic survival plan…  I’m up to write about anything!

2) Choose a blog post (it can be yours or someone else’s) for me to recreate or reply to.  A lot of blogs really make me think about things in a new light, and sometimes commenting on the post just isn’t enough.

3) Impersonate another blogger.  The flippiest-floppiest challenge of them all!  This would probably be done best with the other blogger’s consent, just to avoid any mix-ups.  Spend the whole day blogging as you think that person would; emulate their writing style, subject matter, ect.  I think this would be really fun for two totally different blogs, like a science blog switched with a cooking blog, or a comedy blog switched with a uber analytical blog.  Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

4) You should really make other suggestions for this challenge because it sounded a lot better in my head.

**I wrote this in first person, but if you wanna do it on your blog, just reblog this post and I’ll be sure to check it out.  Remember, friendship is a two-way street!

Thanks for playing,

Celine

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Holden in Your Feelings

credits to Hey Paul Studios

credits to Hey Paul Studios

And how does that make you feel?

I’m not sure if this question has ever been asked outside of a therapy session or a poorly written sitcom, but at some point in your life, you have been encouraged to share your feelings.  Talk it out, say what’s on your mind, tell me what’s really bothering you.  And maybe your response has been something like “Sure, I guess I could just tell you, since you are obviously unable to pick up on my various acts of passive aggression,” or maybe you sincerely poured your heart out and thought, “I should really do this more often.”  And both of these are completely okay because everyone expresses themselves differently.  But for some reason, it seems like people are more willing to listen to you if you’re older and supposedly mature.  And if not, it can be hard to get people to listen at all.  Exhibit A: Holden Caulfield.

Holden spends most of his narrative life wandering around the city of New York trying to find someone that will help him with his desperate existentialism.  And, being the smart young man he is, he mostly enlists the help of acquaintances or complete strangers, ranging from nuns to prostitutes.  For most of the book, Holden struggles to articulate what’s really bothering him, often jumping from topic to topic in attempts to discover some ultimate truth.  A lot of times, his personal narration differs greatly from what’s actually occurring in the narrative.  He’ll shout something “calmly” or he’ll engage in an activity that he would never be caught doing in a million years.  But by the end of the novel, Holden finds someone who’s really willing to listen – his little sister Phoebe, who accepts Holden in all of his glorious hypocrisy.

So maybe Holden isn’t the prime example for effective self-expression, but he brings up an interesting question.  Is it better to express yourself through words or actions?    Well, it kind of depends on the situation.  Take memoirs for example.  The author is describing events that happened to them, interwoven with their own comments and reflections.  If an author were simply to list the events that happened in his life, we would have little insight into how they affected him, regardless of how inspiring or traumatic such events might seem to us.  Of course, many times, actions must speak for themselves.  We live in a world of ambiguity, and, as Holden reveals, our society is built on a system of communication that requires us to say things we don’t really mean.  Sometimes, it’s not smart or sociably acceptable to say things exactly how we think them.  For instance, if you don’t enjoy someone’s company and she invites you to hang out, you can’t say, “No thanks, I don’t like you.”  You can go spend time with her and tough it out as best you can, or you can give an excuse that is plausible enough to not arouse suspicion.  Social convention forbids us from voicing unpopular opinions, yet it has trained us to imply what we are feeling through our actions.

The way we humans communicate is unnaturally complicated.  Words have more than one meaning, and one person interprets language different than another person.  Most of the time, we can only guess if someone’s words are sincere or if they have ulterior motives behind their actions.  Our mediums of communication are so muddled that people now have to ask if you’re being sarcastic.  And honestly, I’m not even sure myself.

~Celine

List-en Up

Isn’t it weird how once we enter a new year the first thing we do is make a to-do list? That’s pretty much what new year’s resolutions are. A list of things that we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. And if you think about it, our lives our driven by lists. From the to-do lists we make in our heads to the “Best of 2014” lists littering the internet.

Why are lists so important? They force us to categorize – to prioritize. With the idea of a list comes the idea that there is a set order to how things are supposed to be (with numbered lists anyway). A to-do lists is made in chronological order; a list of top-ten movies takes a lot of things into account, from how much they made at the box office to audience ratings.

We did an activity in English class where we had to make three top ten lists about anything we wanted. That’s when I realized how hard it was – choosing a topic was fine, but deciding which items made the cut was more challenging. So, doing what I always do in the face of adversity, I turned to food.

ice cream

Top Ten Ice Cream Flavors
10. Strawberry
9. Rainbow Sorbet
8. Cherry Garcia
7. Neapolitan
5. Chocolate
4. Cookie Dough
3. Vanilla
2. Cookies and Cream
1. Mint Chocolate Chip

A Conversation on Being

create

Credits to Michael Hilton on Flickr

So we live in a time that I feel can best be described as exposed.  Things you type on your computer can reach the other side of the world in an instant; you can learn about the lives of strangers with just a quick scroll through their blog.  But although technology has made us all more exposed, it has made us all more connected.  And when you’re exposed and connected to so many people, you have to take into consideration the narrative you’re putting into the world because that’s how you build up the weird thing we call a “self”.

I was listening to this radio interview with Seth Godin and it was part of a series called A Conversation on Being.  Basically, he was talking mostly about the wide range of ways that people express themselves, and in turn how they market themselves.  How we are all artists and how we all create, whether we realize it or not.

Godin made sure to say that art isn’t just paint on a canvas; he defined it as doing things with the right intent, for the first time, in a way that has an impact.  So the poetry that you wrote in the margins of your notebook?  That’s art.  The freaking awesome play your theater group put on?  That’s art, too.  But what about the things we do in class?  The things we’re usually assigned and graded on?  Is that art?  I think it’s art if you look at it and can say you’re proud of it.  I think this is more true in English class than any other.

In my English class, we focus a lot on creating.  Creating essays, creating blog posts, and ultimately creating a book that is a collection of the essays that we write in class.  This is implying that the work we do in class should be something we’re proud enough of to share with other people.  This pride in your work is one of the key aspects that Godin says contributes to its value.  Another thing Godin insists is essential to marketing yourself well is having the right “tribe”, a group of people who we choose to belong to.  I think my English class does a great job of developing these tribes: there’s the people I sit next to that I depend on for feedback on all my essays, and there’s the group of friends I consult with as we start to patch together our book.

Godin wants to redefine marketing as making a story that resonates with the intended audience.  The goal is not to effect large numbers of people on a superficial level, but to deeply influence maybe a pocket of people, whom your ideas really speak to.  I have a bit of trouble expressing my ideas to people, however small the audience, because I have a fear of my work not being good enough, or my answer being wrong.  Godin describes this as the voice in our head that tells us, “You’ve gone too far; don’t show this to anyone.”  But obviously, there’s no way you can get a reaction from an audience if you refuse to give them anything, so I’m working on overcoming my fear of being wrong and to instead improve my ideas so that I think they’re ready for public consumption.

The most interesting thing I took from this Conversation on Being was that no matter what you do, there’s a trail you leave behind.  Once someone documents it, there’s a sort of immortality to your actions.  I do disagree with Godin’s point about how we need to know our audience before we even meet them.  Having preconceived notions of whom you’re writing to can be dangerous, especially if it affects the honesty of your writing.  It’s good to have an idea of who you want to reach, but you can’t really imagine each individual’s mindset towards your art without letting them react first.  I think the best thing to do is to create something you’re proud of and then hope for the best.

I really wish that Godin would’ve expanded more on spinning the narrative of our daily lives.  Because I believe that every day we make decisions that affect the people around us, and that’s how we leave our trail.

Keep creating,
Celine

Individual Impact

The more that I think about it, the more that I appreciate the concept of a community. A community to me is a group of people dedicated to a common cause. But I also don’t think that communities are limited to humans because a similar bond exists among animals and between humans and animals. There are a variety of communities, and if you look hard enough, you can find them almost anywhere. Your school is a community; your family is a community; your neighborhood is a community. And in this day and age, communities can stretch way beyond the local bounds of geography. The online community is enormous and ever expanding. Technology has given us the ability to connect with people that we would never have the chance to meet in person.  And the amazing thing is that everyone is also a part of one huge community, the global community, because we all share one earth and one sky and we all occupy the same tiny spot in the universe.

So we know that communities are made up of individuals, but how does one individual effect a community.  The answer to this question lies in observation, both my own and others.  Take the novel we’re reading in English, the Scarlet Letter, which features a New England community shaken by the adulterous actions of two of its members.  The book’s protagonist is Hester Prynne, and the story opens with her public shaming as punishment for committing the hideous sin of adultery.  For the entirety of the book, the townspeople are intricately intertwined in Hester’s affairs, they are interested in her actions, just as they were interested in her initial wrongdoing.  We often see similar things occur in our own communities.  Celebrity scandals are an equivalent to Hester’s incident on a larger scale.

Of course, all individuals affect the community.  When a group of people is so closely intertwined, it is impossible not to.  I’ve found experience as a member of my school’s marching band.  My band director has repeatedly said that you can individually have a good show, but the band as a whole can have a bad show, or vice versa.  Every person in the band depends on each other.  Part of having a great show is knowing that the people on either side of you are contributing the exact same amount of effort.  The goal in our community is produce a product that the audience will enjoy.  That’s why we practice for hours on end and drill the same sets over and over until the steps and the rhythm is embedded in our memory.  And although every person contributes something when we all step onto that field, our sections leaders are the individuals that keep us running smoothly.  Section leaders are the glue that keeps the section together.  They’re responsible for every individual in the section, and they keep track on our improvement.  At the end of every competition, the band comes together and our director gives a speech on how he thinks the show went.  In that moment, we’re all focused on one thing – how the show went.  When it’s all over, whether we win or lose, we’re still a part of our community.

https://i2.wp.com/www.fvhsmusic.visioneternal.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2014-08-21-flutes.jpg

Communities contribute to our physical and mental well-being, according to the essay Health and Happiness, by Robert D. Putnam.  There are statistics showing that the health of the population directly correlates to the social stability of the time.  Part of the reason for this is that being part of a community gives individuals the emotional support they need.  It often gives people a social obligation to engage in healthy behaviors, like in youth or religious groups.  Research has also indicated that involvement in a community may even have biological triggers that spring the immune system into action.

Online communities are important as well, but in the essay Facebook Friendonomics, Scott Brown argues that the easier it is to acquire friends, the less valuable they are, especially when they are present in multitudes online.  I disagree with this on a couple levels.  I think it’s pretty well understood that Facebook friends aren’t the same thing as “friend friends”.  Of course, Facebook friends will include your “friend friends”, but it will also include acquaintances, friends of friends, and people you just wanna get to know better (these categories aren’t mutually exclusive by the way).  No matter what, the important thing is a community is how individuals react with each other, not whether they’re online or IRL.  Because if that were true, this WordPress community would be obsolete!

Your friend,

Celine

An Executive Order

Happy #obamallamaday!  I made that up myself. 

Also, I think Mr. President wants you to start making your own decisions.  Executive decisions even.  So you’d best listen.  Wouldn’t want the secret service to get on your case.

You didn’t see anything:

Celine (if that’s even my real name)

Gateways and Loose Ends

I cannot knot ~Winnie the Pooh

So the school year just ended and that means some things are coming to a close.  Loose ends get tied up.  Or knot.  Chapters end, but it’s always time to keep writing.  I think we need to think positive.  We should dwell on all the good memories and thank the obstacles for making us the people we are today.  And with the close of one door, more and more opportunities will arise.  Because we are limitless.

And I really hope that this summer: you do something you care about.

Best wishes,

Celine

The Rocky Road

There’s gonna be a time in your life when you begin to question everything.  One day, for some reason, you’re gonna stop and you’re gonna think.  And then you’ll ask.  Why?  Why am I doing this?  What am I even doing?  Are the things that I’m doing even important to me at all?  And then you might have a minor freakout.  Quite possibly, you will move forward with your life thinking that nothing has changed.  But something has.  Something’s different.  The little pieces inside of you don’t fit like they used to.  You’re uncomfortable.  At first, you might not even notice.  You might even think you’re fine.  This is normal.  Everyone goes through something like this, you think.  I’m just making a big deal out of nothing.  You’re wrong.  You’re making a big deal out of something.  Because something is terribly, terribly wrong, and something has always been terribly, terribly wrong, but the problem is… you’ve started to notice.

The problem is you’re not happy.  Now you may be thinking: that’s not true, of course I’m happy.  And maybe you are.  But that doesn’t stop that weird thing inside of you, your soul maybe, that one thing (or maybe multiple things) that’s pestering you and won’t shut up.  It’s okay.  People will probably tell you that you’re just going through a phase.  But it’s not just a phase.  You’re learning, you’re experiencing, and one day, after realizing lots and lots of other things, many of which may not even be true… one day or one week or one month or one minute or one second…  In one moment, you will realize happiness.

I’ll elaborate on happiness in a Monte Cristo post.  Because Monte Cristo, both the character and the book itself, makes me very very happy (my goal in life is pretty much to be Haydeé).  But for now, let’s talk Rocky.  Like that one really old boxing movie that everyone knows about but has never actually watched because they were probably super young at the time anyway.
~spoilers ahead~

So I’m gonna go ahead and give my opinion here and say that Rocky is a good person.  A bit rough around the edges, but oh, aren’t we all?  And basically Rocky is stuck in a really crappy situation and he kinda hates his life.  But there are some redeeming factors.  He has some friends, one of whom has a cute, nerdy sister.  All of a sudden, Rocky who -shocker- is a boxer, gets invited to some sort of big tournament thing and he’s hesitant at first.  Because all his life he’s been looked down on and he’s not sure if he wants his fate to play out in the public eye against one of the most well known boxers of the time.  But Rocky’s friends and now girlfriend encourage him to go for it.  And man does he go for it.  At the end of the day, Rocky wins, and there will be a portion of the audience who thinks that Rocky doesn’t win, but trust me, Rocky wins.

Now that that very vague plot summary is done with, I’m gonna go all pseudo-English teacher and encourage you to draw parallels between Rocky and yourself.  No offense to any of my readers (love you guys), but I highly doubt any of you are professional boxers.  But that doesn’t matter.  Because Rocky first and foremost, like all characters, is a person.  The point of reading books isn’t to analyze them for the author’s fulfillment.  Let’s be real, the author is rich or dead or writing another book and she/he/they don’t care.  And the best authors understand that books are for their readers.  Yes, they worked very hard to make their work of art and they probably packed in tons and tons of symbolism and thematic intent, but at the end of the day if they wanted to write that book for themselves, then they sure as hell shouldn’t have published it.  Because anything that’s out in the open like that is fair game.  So yeah, any pretentious literature freaks should leave you alone because you’re reading for you and no one else.  And one of the most important things to remember while reading is that you’re learning.  Books are a gateway into someone else’s imagination.  So when you empathize with these characters and you feel it in the depths of your soul, remember that the point of reading is not to simplify people – it’s to humanize them.  Imagine people as you imagine characters.  Complexly and with compassion.

I think that’s enough existentialism for tonight, it’s getting kind of late, I’m always here for you, and if all else fails, there’s always ice cream.

Lovelovelove,

Celine