As I Go Headfirst Down the Stairs

In this dimly lit study I drink my coffee and peer creepily at the cars rolling down the street, essentially ignoring all forms of  actual study. To my left are two papal encyclicals (that I’ve finished reading, thank goodness); to my right is another that is as of yet unread, but needs to be by Thursday… In front of me a book of Plato’s Dialogues, Greek Tragedies, and Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy, along with my notebooks and my folders for Driver’s Ed.

My elbow rests on my orchestra paperwork, reminding me that I still have four études, a scale, and half a solo (it should be the whole solo, but I’m hopeless) to practice on my cello, who waits patiently upstairs completely surrounded with sheet music.

Amid all this, I write a blog post and blink sullenly with the Beatles blaring in the background. It seems that when I have only a little bit of work to do, I view it as less important and so I put it off. But then when it piles up I stress to the point where I am just drowning in it so I banish it from my mind and don’t do it either.

It’s kind of a lose-lose situation.

[Enter many hours later.]

Oh. Also. I procrastinate on my methods of procrastination. For instance, this blog post! Yeah, I’m basically the worst. I also can’t remember what my original purpose in writing was.

*thinks*

Right. I’m stressed. My mom also does this uncanny thing where she walks in and starts scolding me for not working on something that I’ve actually been working on and freaking out about already. The thing is, I’m very self-regulated, and chances are that by the time you have to nag me to do something, I’ve been guilt-tripping myself over it for hours. I seem to live my life in constant panic mode.

This is something I’ve noticed recently, specifically with cello: I am a hugely tense person. I got a new cello teacher and he frequently does this thing where he looks over and goes, “Just relax your arms! No – no! Relax!” or “You remind me of how I used to be, you keep all your tension right in your jaw… Let it go.” “But I have to tense somewhere!” “No. You don’t.”

*insert feeble excuse here*

Physically, I am tense. I wake up every morning with an aching back because I clench my muscles while I sleep. I can’t just sit still; I’m jittery. I fiddle with everything – I was on a Skype call with my friend Sarah and I realized that within the space of ten minutes I’d pressed all the buttons on my calculator, turned my phone on and off six times, played with my watch, flipped through a book, spun all the buttons on my shirt around both clockwise and counterclockwise, pulled my purity ring off my finger and put it back on more times than I could count… I am physically incapable of relaxing.

I’m the same way emotionally, too. I worry incessantly – about me, what I’m doing, my life, my decisions, my failures, the amount of work I have to do… worry worry worry. I worry about other people – I have a friend who every single time he goes to a party or out at all, really, I spend the entire time wringing my hands and thinking he’s going to end up dead in a ditch or something. I’m serious! It’s constant. If I can worry about it, I will worry about it. It eats me up, my heart basically gets completely wrung out every time someone takes longer than usual to respond to a text message or I have to say something awkward to them or I think they’re upset. I’m basically a mother hen who kind of just herds all her chicks and has a complete aneurysm every time one of them is even vaguely sort of possibly out of sorts. (At art camp they called me Dorm Mom because I immediately fell into the mother position and started snapping at everyone and keeping them in line. I’m “Mumsy” to a number of my friends because I’m such a Mom about EVERYTHING.)

Overall in my life, I am happy. I stress about the work I’m doing, but ultimately I’m doing the work because I love it. Greek philosophy and drama? I’m in love with it. Cello? Same. I worry about myself and my life because I want to make sure I’m doing things that are good and true and beautiful. I worry about my friends because I love them more than life – and surely that’s a good thing?

And my restless leg syndrome is probably due to the excessive amounts of coffee I consume daily and my failure to have a normal sleep schedule. 😉 No one to blame but myself.

Even though sometimes I feel like I’m flailing and falling headfirst down the stairs, ultimately I am having one of the best summers I have ever had, with the best friends I could possibly ask for, doing everything I love, and crossing off item after item on my summer bucket list.

I realized basically two seconds ago while kind of aimlessly staring at my dresser at my favorite photo of me and Essie that failing does not make me a failure; that just because I don’t accomplish every impossible task I set down for myself, I am doing everything I can to the best of my ability, having fun, seeking wisdom, and hopefully growing a bit in the process.

After all, isn’t that what being young is all about? I may be an old biddy at heart, with my affinity for cats and sweaters and completely ancient music, and my tendency to fret endlessly about the people I care about most, and my everpresent grumpiness, but I am me and I am young and because of that I am learning and laughing and loving… and that desire to always seek wisdom, to always be able to laugh at myself and enjoy my life, and my unbridled and unabashed love for my friends and family… that is what’s going to keep me as the most youthful, hip hop & happenin’ old biddy there is for every day of my life.

Thanks for reading & best wishes!
Hero

In Which I Finally Read 1984

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To preface this: I’m not sure, having read 1984 now, that there really are any similarities between Big Brother and Sauron… However, I still am going to read LOTR (in full) and at least take a stab at pulling the two together; though it may not happen soon, as I have a boatload of Greek tragedies/dialogues to get through before the middle of July and I have a craving for Charles Dickens in the inbetween.

That being said, I finally finished 1984 the other day, and I wanted to give you my thoughts, since it’s been so long since I’ve done a proper literature post. (It goes without saying but: spoilers. Serious spoilers.)

I wrote this immediately after finishing it while brushing my teeth at some point past finishing it on the 19th of June:

“Ugh, 1984… I can’t even think…

The worst thing is: I hate it now. But tomorrow I’m going to wake up and be hit with the sudden and violent realization that I’m supposed to hate it and that’s the genius thing about it… So I’ll think it’s amazing.

In a sense 1984 as a novel is like the Party… It is terrible but it is in its terribleness that it convinces us of its goodness. 1984 is forcing me to feel this… Slavery… Is… Freedom…

*chokes*

This won’t make any sense if you haven’t read 1984 but when I closed it I wanted to throw it against a wall but it hasn’t even been ten minutes and I’m just overwhelmed by its sheer brilliance……… I hate myself.”

From my journal on the 20th:

“So 1984. Okay. Wow.

Now this is difficult to write about, because I sort of hated this book… but in a contradictory fashion, I think it’s fantastic. When I finished it, I wanted to throw it up against a wall and/or set it on fire (unfortunately it isn’t my copy, so I couldn’t do that). I felt completely crushed. Good had lost and evil had triumphed… everything that had been up was now down; black was now white; evil was now good. The level of despair and anger one feels at 1984′s conclusion is huge. It’s not just that evil won, it’s that evil obliterated good… That those who had been fighting it had been won over. There was no secret victory in the hearts of the characters. The good character, the last real representative of true mankind has been converted into that which he once despised and fought against. Evil is triumphant and no one in the novel cares or is fighting it come “The End.”

So that basically sucks.

But after I wanted to set the book on fire, I got up to brush my teeth and I kind of stood there leaning against the sink and thinking about it and I slowly started to realized that I was supposed  to hate 1984. I was supposed to want to burn it and hate all the characters for betraying humanity and that which is good. Orwell as the writer operates the same way as “the Party” in the novel does… He takes away everyone who is good. The Party does not want martyrs and they do not want people to inspire faith (and beyond that – rebellion). Every character in the novel who gave you hope or made you believe that there was change on the horizon either turned out to have been evil the whole time or was corrupted by the time the novel ended. He gave hope and then took it away, ripping your morale to shreds. When Winston finally embraces Big Brother, I died a bit inside. It’s soul crushing.

Post 1984 texts I sent:

‘Oh this novel. It’s brilliant. It’s like psychologically manipulative. THE BOOK IS IN AND OF ITSELF THE CORE OF THAT WHICH IT PRESENTS.’

(The response to this was, “Go to bed, you sound drunk.”)

‘BUT LOOK. So I texted you the second I finished this book and I was furious and crushed that Big Brother had won and Winston had collapsed ad then I put it down and went to brush my teeth and GOSH that’s the whole point! 1984 is a novel trying to show everyone why totalitarian regimes are the worst thing ever so naturally you’re supposed to get out of it and hate the world and realize that Big Brother crushed Winston and this book crushed you and you realize that you cannot let what happened in the book happen IRL because Winston who in the book represents the last real human with a soul and his own thought…. He has been torn down and finally defeated and you’ve lost hope in humanity and… Now you feel like you have to stop that. He let humanity down, but you won’t. I am enraged at this ending, but that’s brilliant… This book is awful but it’s supposed to be awful to make you feel how I feel right now and think what I’m thinking… The book is written specifically to evoke an emotional response just like Big Brother emotionally warps… Oh, this is genius.’

I think what impressed me the most was how well Orwell did in not only showing the totalitarian regime at its utmost height, but by employing the same principles and methods of said regime subtly in his writing, he puts the bad taste of it directly into your mouth… It’s simultaneously terrible and stellar.

So all I can say is that this book should be read. It’s not entertaining or enjoyable, but it’s definitely a classic for very good and well thought out reasons.”

Some things I have to add: this book is kind of dull and there are some parts that are actually painful to read… the characters are flat and just make you irritated. I would argue that that’s the point – that you should hate them and everything about the society. I think the only character I actually liked come the end was the prole woman who kept singing that song and folding laundry – and I even didn’t like her at the beginning. It’s not a fun read. It’s like when you eat something and it doesn’t really taste good, but somehow the aftertaste is delicious. That’s this book. I also definitely feel that Brave New World is a more accurate reflection of where society is headed today – 1984 was probably more relevant in a communism saturated era, but nowadays we kind of all realize how terrible communism is without much help.

I definitely recommend it, but I can’t promise you’ll enjoy it. 4 stars. 🙂

I’m really hoping to start posting more frequently – VBS starts tomorrow, so maybe I’ll have something to write about. Thanks for reading, and I appreciate y’all sticking with me even though I’m so negligent of this poor little blog.

~Hero

Awards of Laziness

Written June 6

So I want to blog, but I feel kind of stumped as to what to blog about. Luckily I do have something to jump off of – I’ve been given two blog award things, so I’m gonna do those and you’re gonna like it. So there.

*is the worst*

The first award is the Versatile Blogger Award from Julia over at Julia the Writer Girl.

Like basically ever other award, I have to tell y’all seven things about myself and then nominate other people except I have no friends so maybe I won’t do that part. Here we go.

1. When I was a kid, I really wanted to be a fighter pilot.

2. I have five stuffed animals in my room that I have received from the age of 13 onward; as a result, they all have names like Enthony, Piper, Beau, Schubert, and Chekov.

3. I had my last lesson with my cello teacher of over two years today.

4. I cry a lot more than the average human.

5. I have all the lyrics to this song memorized (in fact, this video is the first suggestion that pops up as I type “youtube” into my URL bar):

You are allowed to judge me.

6. I had a shrine to Artemis Fowl in my old room — in fact, if you look around enough on the blog, you’ll probably find a photo in the background somewhere. Now they books are just on my shelf… but I do still have all of them. 😉

7. When I was a kid, I loved Macbeth.

8. I am of the personal opinion that Roald Dahl books are masterpieces, and I loved all of them as a child.

9. The Pottermore sorting hat would have put me in Gryffindor if it hadn’t put me in Slytherin. (Could you imagine? Me? Gryffindor? There’s a reason I stuck with Slytherin.)

10. Though I consider myself more of a Trekkie now (in every respect except music – Star Trek music can’t even hold a candle to the Star Wars score), I was obsessed with Star Wars when I was younger, and Harrison Ford was my celebrity crush. (I still have kind of a thing for him. I mean, look at this face.)

Written June 18

So I am really bad at this, apparently, but here’s the second part of this post:

Aspirer, from Heavenly Aspirations tagged me in the Scrumptious blog award. 🙂 She asked me these questions – again, as I have no one else to tag, the buck stops here, as it were. 😉

1. How do you like your tea?
Two sugars (Sweet & Low, I know, I’m giving myself cancer) and a dollop of skim milk.
2. Favorite Jane Austen novel?
I’ve actually only ever read Pride and Prejudice – but I love all the stories. Sense & Sensibility is fantastic. 🙂
3. Cellos or violins?
Cello! But I might be… slightly biased.
4. Latin or Greek?
Well, I’ve taken Latin for years and years and I’ve got a soft spot for the Romans, so I have to say Latin. But I’m dying to take Greek – unfortunately my schedule is too full next year. 😦
5. Dream job? (Note that reality does not apply; if you so desired, for example, you could be a librarian in the 1900’s)
My dream job is to be a mom. ❤ But careerwise I’d love to own a bookshop… One with bookshelves all the way up to the ceiling and sliding ladders and mismatched armchairs everywhere. I don’t think it would be possible because independent bookshops are threatened even now – think of in 10 years when I’m out of college? That’s one of my silly dreams.
6. Favorite saint, and why?
Ooh, tough one. I’d have to say Mary. I have a lot of favorite saints, but the Blessed Mother is so much a help to me in my life, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.
7. Would you rather live a short life with death by martyrdom or a long, painstaking life with a natural death?
I’d feel guilty picking either one – because I wouldn’t be picking them for the right reasons. But I’ll say this: neither is better than the other in terms of sanctification… Long & painstaking can equal martyrdom if offered correctly… *but this is a theology lecture for later*
8. Favorite kind of chocolate?
Dark chocolate.
9. Your kind of Prince Charming?
A doofusy one who likes music and reading and intelligent discussion. Basically the absentminded professor type who doesn’t mind dorking around from time to time. 🙂
10. Favorite fictional character?
Jay Gatsby. But you saw that coming.
I’ll try not to post so sporadically but I feel guilty trying to promise anything anymore… Forgive me?
~Hero

I’m Only Mostly Dead

It’s been so long that I’m actually embarrassed. Half this embarrassment comes from the fact that Kelli from She Learns as She Goes actually linked to me during my unintentional hiatus… So people came to see my blog and saw it kind of curled up on the floor, drooling and sniffing and making odd noises.

Yes. Hi. Welcome. Glad you’re here – if you stuck around after that… spectacle of drool.

So, in case you missed the memo, here’s Justin Timberlake to announce it…

You laugh, but this meme is the reason I now know all the words to ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ by *NSync. Ugh, what is my life? (I just have a larger-than-normal appreciation of 90’s pop music, OKAY?)

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO BECAUSE I AM TIRED: GOALS FOR MAYYYY

1. Videocall with my friends more often. I skype chat with my faraway friends quite often, but I never seem to do video calls, which is so much more personal. It’s not that I don’t have time, I just don’t think of it. I’m going to make an effort to do calls more often. 🙂

2. Get back into my spiritual reading. School reading has eaten me alive. But school is almost over, so the spiritual reading can come back.

3. Write my 2013 Summer Bucket list. What it sounds like. 😛

Thanks for reading, guys! 🙂 Talk to you soon.

Best wishes!
Hero

Chums for the Dumps

I’m feeling slightly out of sorts today, but I’m cheering myself up with a big cup of coffee, a week old soft pretzel, the 10th Doctor, and the thought that if I so asked, my friend Josie would pop out of the woodwork and sing the Gaston song for me to make me feel better. (She is the Le Fou to my Gaston and it’s awesome.)

And though I am almost identical to Gaston in every way possible (ha), I do have a penchant for reading that he rather lacks…

This is a rather silly lead-in to a post one of my and Josie’s most gorgeous friends tagged me to do, all about books and reading habits. So without further ado, here we go!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack: Yes; I snack while doing everything. Usually potato chips because they’re easy, or oranges. I love oranges. (I have an unhealthy addiction to oranges. Well, I guess it’s a healthy addiction… Guess who won’t be getting scurvy anytime soon?)
What is your favorite drink while reading? Coffee. During Lent it was tea. But usually it is coffee.
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the thought of writing in books horrify you? It depends. I mark up & take notes in some of my spiritual books, but usually if something strikes me I write it down elsewhere.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? I actually have a tendency to just shut the book and search for my place when I come back. I’m properly good at it. (Sometimes.)
Fiction, non-fiction, or both? Fiction, generally. Non-fiction can be good, too, but I generally read fiction.
Are you the type of person who tends to read to the end of the chapter, or can you stop anywhere? I usually have to stop anywhere, because I don’t have time to read a chapter to its conclusion. (I read in bits and pieces because of my lack of free time.) I’ve been on chapter 17 of Out of the Silent Planet for about a week now.
Are the type of person to throw a book across the room or onto the floor if the author irritates you? Yes. Cue me at the end of Inheritance.
If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you look it up right away? If I’m on my nook, yes, because then I don’t really have to put the book down. Otherwise I just get around it by context and move on.
What are you currently reading? Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis. I’m almost finished – debating whether I should move on directly to the next book in the series or leave it alone.
What is the last book you bought? I bought a bunch of books at Goodwill, including The Pilgrim’s Progress and Murder on the Orient Express. My mom just bought me The Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena, if that counts.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read? Basically whenever I have time!

Do you prefer series books or stand alones? If it’s well written, I don’t care. I prefer to write stand alones because I’m lazy, but I’ll read whichever with no preference.

Is there a specific book you find yourself recommending over and over? The Great Gatsby, lol. I recommend the Books of Bayern a lot, and the Leviathan series. I love that series.

How do you organize your books? My books are organized on my shelf by the last name of the author. 🙂

I guess the overarching point of this post was for me to say that the ultimate chums when you’re down in the dumps is a good book. And Doctor Who. If any of you want to do this, feel free! You don’t have to link back to me or anything. As for being tag-errifically annoying, I’m going to dramatically point at Raewyn from My Spare Oom!

Thanks for reading!
Hero

I Sorted My Cello into a Hogwarts House

For the record, I am aware that it’s Wednesday. If you’re worried that I’ve given up the interwebs for Lent again and will once again take a forty-five day hiatus, don’t be. This year I’m just banning tumblr – as well as a few other things I find myself entirely too dependent on (coffee, for one). I don’t really have any excuse for not blogging yesterday except that I hit an emotional speedbump and decided to moan about it instead. [cue rolling about on the floor and whining and being a general Richard II]

This post is sort of a general status update, seeing as I’ve been sort of scattered recently.

Books Challenge

I’m actually ahead of schedule – I’ve read 6 so far. Unfortunately Les Misérables is still on hold until I finish Richard III (the biography not the tragedy) and all these Shakespeare plays I’ve decided to undertake. I have been picking up one of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclicals every now & again over the past couple days… attempting to cope… failing…

Got this email from Tatiana:

WobblesSo that’s basically what we’ve been reduced to.

Orchestra

We got new music on Sunday. I hated it at first, but it’s growing on me. I’ll just tell you that sight-reading Colas Breugnon by Kabalevsky WITH A SUBSTITUTE CONDUCTOR when you’re already in a foul mood does not endear you to a piece. It really doesn’t.

[Let’s just go ahead and say flat out that I have been in a pretty terrible state over the past couple of days & it’s only getting worse. Gah.]

Anyway, on the subject of orchestra/cello/etc, I’ve decided that Evvy is a Gryffindor. (My last cello was Ravenclaw, and I’ll explain this in a moment…)

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So where the strings of a cello connect to the fine tuners, there’s a covering of thread, most likely so the tuners can grip well enough. My last cello had dark blue and copper-y/gold thread – but Evvy’s scarlet & gold. Gryffindor.

Which explains a lot, actually. Like why she’s so stubborn and temperamental. […okay, I’m… crazy… I know…]

Other Orchestra Stuff

Went to see a friend of mine perform in a Brahms concert with the senior group of my youth orchestra: she was only in a couple of them & I proceeded to feel guilty about enjoying the symphony much more than the chorus. 😛 (I can’t help it! They played Hungarian Dances – three of them!)

I was going to see another Brahms performance tomorrow night, but it fell through. C’est la vie. I’ll probably stay in and spend the evening watching movies instead.

Which reminds me…

Random Stuff I’m Getting Kind of Obsessed With (Running Out of Names for This)

Kaylee’s my favorite so far.

1. Firefly! The classic one-season space-western from Joss Whedon that my friends have been nagging me to watch since the dawn of time. I was originally put off from the show because the pilot episode is kind of… iffy… but I’ve given it another go and am definitely enjoying it so far.

The whole space-western thing confuses me, though: at this point the only things wester about it are the fact that sometimes Zoë says ‘ain’t’ and all the music is very Lone Ranger. I’ve been told it’ll make sense to me later (that and a lot of things), but the stuff I do understand outweighs the stuff I don’t, so I’m okay. (The reverse of that statement is true for Homestuck, by the way. I just… Confused. All the time.)

DSCN0387

Currently…

2. Sudoku. I’ve always liked sudoku – my aunt even gave me an electronic sudoku gizmo (that I have since lost, but it was a while ago) – but I recently found my old barely touched sudoku book and have been obsessively solving puzzles. On the day I found it I tore through eight puzzles in one afternoon. It’s gotten to the point where I can actually walk around the house/have conversations with people while working on a puzzle. (I thought I was so clever at Marian Group for holding it under the table during the meeting… turns out everybody could tell, but nobody cared enough to tell me off about it.)

Photo on 2-13-13 at 3.42 PM

I’ve sticky-tabbed the life out of the blue book…

3. Prayer. 😛 (This is cheating, but I don’t care.) This is your Ash Wednesday reminder that Lent isn’t just about giving up chocolate and waiting for the Easter Bunny. This is one of the first few years that I’ve actually been mature enough to go deeper during Lent, and I’m actually excited to take advantage of this prayer-intensive time. I’ve bookmarked all my favorite prayers in With Mary in Prayer (blue for rough times/things going wrong, pink for prayers for the journey onward, yellow asking for help and guidance, and orange for the night prayer) and I’m going to try and keep it on me and take a few minutes every now and again throughout the day to ask for that guidance and that grace that I so desperately need. Also, the Divine Mercy Chaplet is my new best friend. I started saying it daily for Morgann because I offered it to her for her spiritual bouquet on her birthday – we said it together at the silent retreat we went on, so it holds special meaning in our heart. After the week of the chaplet I’d promised was over, I found myself gravitating back to it. It’s short enough that I always have time to fit it in somewhere and literally can’t make any excuses not to pray it, yet it’s still profound and deeply calming in its rhythm.

4. Shakespeare Uncovered on PBS.  As I mentioned a couple posts ago, some of the girls in my history class are reading the Henriad & Richard III to supplement our history texts this session. As much as I love Shakespeare, sometimes it can be hard for me to get into the plays – a lot of times I don’t understand who relates to who and it takes me ages to understand what the heck is going on. At the same time, I abjectly refuse to watch the movie before I read the play: that’s cheating. 😉 So the other day while searching around online for Ben Whishaw’s rendition of Richard II (very good, by the way, I’d put The Hollow Crown on my list of new obsessions, except it just ties into this), I found PBS’s Shakespeare Uncovered. What they do is go deeper into the plays, find the history and the meaning in it, and give you a broad understanding of the play. Watching this gave me ground to stand on when I went back to the play, and made the reading infinitely easier. If I finish my history work tonight, this is my reward. 🙂

5. Oh my goodness this post goes on forever… Okay… Last one: pictures! I spent a good chunk of time today picking out pictures of me and my friends to fill this plethora of picture frames I found. I’m hoping to hang them around my room so I can remind myself of the people who care about me and make me smile, even when I’m feeling grumpy. (Though usually they’re the ones who’re making me grumpy, so… *smacked*)

Okay, this is far enough – I need to wrap up and go back to my history work. If you read thus far, give yourself a pat on the back. You earned it.

Best wishes,
Hero

P.S. Remind me on Friday to tell you guys about the ‘things I’m freaking out about’ category that I decided to cut. 😛

Heroic Endeavors’ First Birthday!

I’m making cookies in celebration! (Actually not really, I have Marian Group tonight and am making the cookies for them.)

I started my blog 1 year ago today. Since then my life has been a crazy rollercoaster that I can’t even describe. If you’ve been with me since the beginning, thank you SO MUCH. I can’t even express how much your support means to me. If you’ve followed me more recently, you’re just as important to me. I adore you guys! You guys are the reason I drag my lazy butt out of bed and force myself to chronicle my life. I’m so glad to have had these opportunities to share my life with you and develop my voice.

Thank you thank you thank you.

In celebration, a contest! Leave a comment, and I will randomly pick one of you to write a guest post for the blog! It can be about whatever you want (within reason) and you’ll have a week or so to write it, so no stress. 😉 To enter, either like this post or leave a comment! 🙂 I’ll announce the winners… at some point.

Thank you for sticking with me for the last year, and for the years to come.

Best wishes,
Hero