Saturday, December 20, 2008

Inspired by a friend (or two).

There's some famous, cliché quote that reads something like, "Live every day as if it were your last." Theoretically, it's a good philosophy of life. I think we all wish, at some point, that we could forget everything and just do what makes us happy at the present moment. But human nature--and, to some point, nurture--pushes us to set goals for ourselves in life; whether consciously or unknowingly, we're forever striving for something.

While I was in Colorado for a service trip, I briefly met a woman in her late sixties that had not worked an hour of her life. As much as it annoys me that so many people have opportunity and/or ability to work yet don't and live off government aid (that's another issue not to be discussed here), I somehow truly respected her. She wasn't well-off at all, but she was just radiant with pure happiness. Even more amazingly, she was proud of every single thing that she had experienced, accomplished, and undertaken during her lifetime, even if a "normal" person would consider her a failure or an embarrassment to society. She shared with our group that she had been on over one hundred acid trips in the sixties--and we were just kids from Wisconsin that she would never see again. I mean, that's not just something you tell random strangers, but, to her, it was.

What I guess I'm trying to say about this woman is that she just lived; she simply existed. She had no idea what tomorrow would bring, and she didn't care. She lived under the poverty line and yet bought six people ice cream at DQ and cared enough to share her story with them. She really did live her days as if they were her last, even if it's cliché. And I respect that because I, psychologically, am not able to, nor will ever be, live that way, at least to the extent she did.

I can't do that because I can't focus my life on solely the short term. I can't just simply exist, like her, without feeling worthless or empty. I can't be writing this post right now and feel like I've accomplished anything because I have so much left to do, in terms of both petty tasks and life in general. I can't look on the past and feel like I've accomplished everything I've ever wanted to, because I haven't. And she just really could look at her past like that. It's unfathomable, but I guess it's just how some peoples' minds work.

I think the hardest decisions we have had or will ever have to face are difficult because of the internal struggle between short-term and long-term satisfaction. Right now, the decision to finish this post is hard for me because it's 11:11 and I should be sleeping. I know I'll regret it in the morning when my alarm wakes me up to go to work, but I'm going to continue this post right now because I'm inspired and doing so will give me the satisfaction of finally writing again (it's been a while) to share my thoughts with the world. So okay, this seems like a lame example, but it can be applied to the grander scheme, to my life, to yours.

My all-time favorite musical, RENT, proclaims, "There's only us, there's only this; forget regret, or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way; no day but today," for those of you who aren't familiar with it. After seeing it *mumble mumble* times, I've tried to take its message to heart, but the truth is that I really can't. That woman could, that woman did. But I, I cannot forget what I strive for--an education, a career, a family, some accomplishment to be proud of--and look only at the present moment.

What I, in practice, take from RENT and that woman is to find a balance between short-term and long-term. I need to find something that makes me truly happy every single day but at the same time feel like I'm contributing to the bigger accomplishments of my life.

It's hard for me to put this into words. It's taken me well over a half an hour to write this, and I haven't said much comparable to what's in my head. But I think I'm going to end here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Have you heard...? No.

Should I be worried that I'd rather read an article about grammar in the Times rather than one about the Illinois scandal?

Frankly, I'm not. I realize it's not good if I don't know what's going on in the world, but I'd rather read about something toward which I'm passionate rather than something that I couldn't care less about.

I'm a live-in-the-moment person. I don't do well planning things too far ahead of time. When I do, things fall through because I forget that I planned them. If something doesn't affect me now, I don't have any strong motivation to care. I find out whether I got into my dream college tomorrow, but I don't know right now, so I psychologically cannot deal with it right now. You could say it hasn't hit me yet.

It's like that with current events. Sorry, I don't live in Illinois. I realize that there's something called the Ripple Effect and somehow it could affect me in a crazy, indirect way, but from reading headlines headlines, which exist to draw attention, I decide that I can't relate, so it's off my mental radar.

Grammar is something I really care about. I think it's just plain sad that people can't spell and the like. Sometimes it's funny, yes. English Fail does a good job of pointing out the hilarity in mistakes, but obviously someone was just as annoyed as I was to create that website in the first place (actually I know the person who created it... ha). So yes, just the word "grammar" in a headline draws my attention. I'm proud of that.

It comes from personal experience. I can't tell you the number of times my English teacher has asked our class why a piece is good and the response is "because it's relatable." I'm guilty of saying that myself. But everything written is meant to be relatable, well-written or not. We're communicating through writing. Communication must be relatable to be understood at all. But if someone says it's good because it's relatable, we know, obviously, that it was relatable to the student who said that. Score one for the author: he achieved his goal with one reader. It's not what makes writing good, but it's what makes us like it. Twilight is relatable, but it's not good (personal opinion).

I like headlines that I can instantly relate to. That's why I read the articles to which they belong.

By the way, my spellcheck is telling me that "relatable" isn't a word. I don't care.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I sort of love Great Ideas.

In your opinion, how has man's view of man changed from the time of the Greeks to the Renaissance? Use specific examples from
Much Ado About Nothing to prove your point.

I may be a bit biased, being female (obviously), but I truly believe that the transformation of “man’s view of man” between the Greek era and the Renaissance is due to the dramatic change in the perception of a woman. Females make up half of the population; I’m almost positive that this has not changed whatsoever throughout the ages as males sort of need women to procreate, but how they are treated and looked upon most definitely has. It makes sense that society’s outlook on life in general would change with the shift in reputation of women—fifty percent is a large piece (half, to be exact). But I digress.

Somewhere in two thousand years or so, women became significantly more independent, probably because society allowed them to through acceptance. With this, for the female population, came literacy, intelligence (to be developed into cleverness and wit), and an altogether higher value (in that they were valued more as human beings, not that they were analogous to an item to be bought for a high price). We observe this greatly in women in Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice definitely fits this generalization with her witty remarks to Benedick, such as when she rather bluntly states her independence: “You don’t have to; I do it of my own free will” (Act 4, Scene 1), or, “A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me” (film). Obviously, too, the male population has grown to accept this in their women, for in Greek times, Beatrice would have been immediately dismissed, literally or figuratively, and perhaps exiled, but here, Benedick falls in love with her because of her wit and teasing: “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”

This ties into the transformation of language throughout the centuries in question. By the time of the Renaissance, language has somehow acquired the characteristics of wit and intelligence as well as poetic romanticism (Beatrice, again: “You have stayed me in a happy hour, I was about to protest I loved you… I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.”), a great change from the heroic, almost war-like language of the Greek society (though my sampling of Greek literature is perhaps inaccurate because it was not in its original form).

A transformation also occurs within the religions. Roman Catholicism, in comparison to Greek religion, encourages the betterment of oneself (reconciliation, salvation, atonement for sins) which in turn betters the community, whereas the Greeks in a sense skip a step and focus on the community directly (hospitality) while putting self second. We witness this a bit in Much Ado About Nothing, when Benedick and Claudio pursue their own dreams (Beatrice and Hero, respectively), rather than strive to help others first, truly causing much ado about nothing.

Between Ancient Greece and early Renaissance Europe, I have noticed two general trends: the shifts from simplicity to extravagance and from for-the-good-of-the-community mindset and morals to those of more self-centered roots. It’s not unfathomable that women would be the driving force behind these. Observe, the female population of any high school in April in preparation for prom: “I want this $400 dress instead of that $300 dress.” Women like extravagance. Women like to get what they want. As the influence of women changes, society changes. We’re kind of a big deal.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's a sad testament to our society.

Sorry for two posts in a day, but I came across this article.

It amazes me everyday how accurate Brave New World is.

Seriously, outlawing innocent sarcasm?

Edit: If you're really itching for another good one, try this.
I love the Times.


So I feel as if my life is converging to this point right here, right now (Yes I did put both calculus and High School Musical references in that sentence)... or more like 4:00 P.M. on Thursday. It's scary and exciting and nerve-racking and delicious and every other imaginable adjective, basically.

I might explode.

I really wish I could suspend time this minute. But I wish I could fast forward to next fall, too.
I thought I knew exactly how I was going to feel come senior year, and I did, but yet I didn't at all.
I want out, but I am psychologically unable to leave.


I hate cats.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Now, I cannot pretend to rival any great philosopher of religion (or any great philosopher in general for that matter), and so the title of this post may not be quite appropriate in that it won't be a commentary on religion in general but rather on my own. I have just always enjoyed the ring of one-word titles.


I sometimes feel like Yann Martel's Pi.
"'What is your son doing going to temple?" asked the priest.
"Your son was seen in church crossing himself," said the imam.
"Your son has gone Muslim," said the pandit.
Obviously, my case is not so extreme in that both of my affiliations are Christian, but still, the adversity that Pi faces is somewhat parallel to what I experience every Sunday and Wednesday.

I suppose some background may be appropriate.

I have been a member of the Catholic Church for my entire life, I attended Catholic school from second to eighth grade, and I was confirmed this past October. I traveled to Longmont, Colorado on a mission trip with a youth group from my local Catholic church, which turned out to be one of the best summer experiences ever. I attend mass every Sunday (sometimes Saturday), theoretically because I want to, but practically, because my parents make me (to be discussed later... that is, if I remember).

Last year, some friends convinced me to go to a youth group at a local Baptist church. I consented because obviously, it was the "cool thing to do," at least among (one of) my circle(s). But later, my incentive for going transformed from my friends themselves to their faith. This spring, all of my closest friends graduated and left, literally or metaphorically, but yet I still attend that youth group religiously (bad pun intended) every Wednesday.

Like Pi, I don't feel like my religions contradict each other (obviously they don't fundamentally, but I'm talking details), but rather complement each other, Catholicism more in that respect than the Baptist faith. The complexity of the Catholic faith paradoxically complements the comparative simplicity of the Baptist faith, and vice versa. True, I don't believe every last tedious detail of both, because that would be contradictory. And perhaps a belief in God is all that both share (definitely not the case, I'm just trying to make a point), but I still feel as if being Catholic makes me a better Baptist and being Baptist makes me a better Catholic.

In reality, everyone I know with both groups totally understands this phenomenon, even if not directly involved, and no one has questioned me (excluding jokes). Yet I feel like, in a sense, they should have. I don't know why. Something to think about in the future, I guess.

But let's shift gears a bit.

Why do I believe in God?
Why do I go to church/youth group?

I think it's a misconception that those are the same, so to address them seperately:

I believe in God because, as Voltaire says, it's practical.
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.
What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.
Or Kant:
One cannot provide objective reality for any theoretical idea, or prove it, except for the idea of freedom, because this is the condition of the moral law, whose reality is an axiom. The reality of the idea of God can only be proved by means of this idea, and hence only with a practical purpose, i.e., to act as if there is a God, and hence only for this purpose.
But I also believe in God for almost the opposite reason. Again, with a Life of Pi quote (I'm not really into the whole rhetoric, putting thoughts into my own, coherent, words thing tonight, so I'm stealing other peoples'):
I take pen and paper out and write:
"Words of divine consciousness: moral exaltation; lasting feelings of elevation, elation, joy; a quickening of the moral sense, which strikes one as more important than an intellectual understanding of things; an alignment of the universe along moral lines, not intellectual ones; a realization that the founding principle is what we call love, which works itself out sometimes not clearly, not cleanly, not immediately, nonetheless ineluctably."
I pause. What of God's silence? I think it over. I add:
"An intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and ultimate purpose."
I attend church not because of a belief in faith (and yes, I may be reprimanded for that), not that I lack it (obviously), but rather because knowledge of religion, no matter how much we gloat about how tolerant we are, is inescapable in our society, and general knowledge does not suffice. And I think the best way to learn the ways of a religion is to partake, directly, in it. It's similar to learning a language through immersion rather than in a classroom. Backtracking a bit, I think it is in this sense more than others, my religions complement each other.

As I mentioned briefly before, my parents more or less forced Catholicism onto me. I don't disagree that they should have, and I'm grateful to them for it, really. Deep understanding of the roots of Christian faith in the least widens my perspective of the world. Catholicism probably contributed more to history and today, simply because it existed unchallenged (maybe...that could be contested) for so long and tradition endures, than any of the protestant religions, and I'm just really glad that I am a part of it so I can understand fully what our world has come to.

I don't think, however, that belief in God should be forced. Really, is that possible, anyway? Is not the gate into Christianity acceptance of God as redeemer?

Meh, enough ranting.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


A friend told me today that one thing she hates about me is that I say "I don't care," when I really do.

She's right. I am falsely apathetic. I don't think we, as thinking beings, are capable of attaining perfect apathy, or even perfect apathy toward a particular idea, occurrence, or person.

Wikipedia (I've become wiki-reliant) defines apathy as "an absence of interest or concern to emotional, social, or physical life."

No matter how far detached mentally or emotionally we are, it's impossible to be physically detached from everything. Yes, this is the goal of some meditation, but the focus of the same meditation is to connect, rather than detach.

And yes, wikipedia uses the conjunction "or," implying that if detached from one, one is apathetic, but I think our emotional, social, and physical worlds are interrelated too much that if we are even distantly in touch with one, we are distantly in touch with the other two.

She's right. I do care about politics, what happens to my friends after high school, and everything else to which I've acted indifferent.
Apathy is a defense against hurt. By convincing myself to suppress emotion, I protect myself from emotion, and I can't help but do so.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I am not me.

I just bombarded my mother with a gigantic rant, and I was reminded of a chain of thought that I have been processing for a while on and off.

I am Maria.
I am Mimi to my grandma.
I am M-Nelson to Aaron and those online.
I am "the freaky genius" to a lot of people at school.
I am a sandwich artist to the hungry.
But I'm not simply named these.
I am these.
But I am not.
But I am.
I am all and none.
I am a paradox.

I morph into what my surroundings think I am. I am a conformist at heart. We all are, it's inevitable. Who determines our personality? Not solely ourselves, I can tell you that much.

I have recently noticed a dramatic change in a friend who has been losing touch with the close circle in which we both were a part and instead finding another with which he fits better, apparently. It's not that they influence him negatively, it's that he has become a different person, fundamentally, now that he associates with them, than the person that I used to know and love. It amazes me how much I don't even know him anymore. I don't feel replaced; I don't feel abandoned; and I don't miss my friend because my friend no longer exists. It sounds conceited to say that someone needs me to be the person that I know, but it's true. I have no idea how others act when they're not around me. It's physically impossible. He is no longer who he is.

But we can observe the phenomenon from the outside, and, if we're strong enough, we can observe it in ourselves. Not that we can stop it, but we can recognize it.

The thing that annoys me most about my family is that they treat me like I'm ten years old, namely my dad. It's a cliché problem in our American households. We see it all the time in the movies:
Dad: "What! Are you throwing away your dream?"
Kid: "No, dad, I'm throwing away yours."
-A Cinderella Story
But it's true. It really is. It's embarrassing, and it's truly just disappointing. Is it not every parent's dream to raise a child who will grow up to be something great, to be an individual who will contribute to society on his own? But my dad does not allow me to be who I consider myself to be. I am not who I am.

As an outside observer, I have watched innumerable people undergo this phenomenon. My sister is really just not the same person when she is around my family as compared to when she is around my family plus a friend. She is weirder and she is more immature and she is not Patty. Of course, she is Patty to her friend and she is Patty to herself, but at that moment, to me, Patty is not Patty.

I think to find friendship means to find someone with whom I like who I am. I don't associate with people with whom I am someone I don't want to be, someone I don't think I am, fundamentally.

I think we consider ourselves to be a single person, or at least similar when amongst everyone, because we gravitate toward those who make it so. I fraternize with those who would describe me similarly, though the circles of people themselves differ dramatically, and therefore, I am similar amongst everyone. I become those similarities. They are me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


"Be" is probably the most common word in the English language. Really, I have no scientific basis for that, but seeing as we're taught in English classes from 7th grade to kill it in our writing, and therefore it must be bad, I'm assuming it's overused a tiny bit.

I mean, just look at it. Stare at the word "be" <--- right there, for ten seconds. It begins to look really weird. I start to despise it. It's just ugly. Is it even English? Who ever thought to put the letters b and e together to make a word that means... well, what does it even mean? If we isolate words, namely short words, what are they to us now? Be means nothing to me, nothing at all. I'm not exaggerating.

I recall my 8th grade literature teacher telling our class a story of when she was asked how to spell "of" and she replied "o-v," dead confident that she was correct. I'm pretty sure she was, too. Why would you put o and f together. F makes a ffff sound. Why isn't it off? With lack of context in the form of other words surrounding the word "of," is there any right way to do anything with it, like spell it? The word "of" as simply a word means nothing to me. An object, idea, noun, has to be of some other noun. Wait, now I'm just confusing myself. If it has to be, but "be" means nothing, how do I even decipher anything written, spoken, or communicated with language in general?

My brother wrote an essay about "strings" of words for his college essay a few years back. I have not read it myself (though I probably could hack into this computer and find it since he typed it, I'm sure, on this very keyboard), but I can say that the main point was that words are nothing by themselves, but they take on meaning when we connect them into coherent (usually) phrases or sentences.

Even if I say a combination of words that is probably nonsense, such as
blue llama applesauce potato salad pancake (shut up, I'm hungry, so I'm thinking of food), just the mere fact that I put six words together gives them some context in itself.
I guess pancake would mean something alone. I sure think, though, that a blue llama applesauce potato salad pancake is a lot cooler, just like "to be or not to be, that is the question..." is cooler than the word "be."

I don't even know what I'm trying to say. But that's the point.

Sidenote: My thesaurus defines "word" was "unit of language." What the &^%* is a UNIT of language?

Monday, December 1, 2008


I have decided (obviously) to start a blog, and I thought I'd share the reasoning behind it.

I have discovered fairly recently that I have an inherent, or maybe not so inherent, craving for knowledge, whether it be academic or otherwise, that drives me. I am fascinated by the expansiveness of the realm of knowledge, and, in attempt to feel slightly bigger, in the scheme of things, than a grain of salt, I push myself to absorb as much as possible... most of the time.
It rationalizes my obsessive facebook stalking, as crazy as it sounds. Either that or I just procrastinate to the extreme, which I have no doubts is completely true, but I digress.

I think, though, that this logic works in vice versa. I like to be, and sometimes need to be, in touch with the world, but the world should in turn be in touch with me. We are nothing if our surroundings don't recognize our presence. It, in a round-about way, references the anecdote, "If a tree falls in the forest, but no creature is around to hear it, does it actually make a sound?"
We gain perspective from feedback, and if feedback doesn't exist, we remain secluded to our own fantasies rather than the reality of the world as a whole.

End rant. Stay classy.