Ordinary Heroisms: January 6-12

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Just a few things I’m proud of this week.

I drove to a friend’s house and to youth group on my very own, drove well, didn’t break any laws (well, I’ll confess I speed very slightly so I can get through yellow lights), and survived! My first two times driving solo, I’m really happy and feel much more confident with my driving ability.

I’ve exercised twice, made dinner twice, and started to focus on having healthy, protein rich food. I feel happier knowing I’m taking better care of myself.

I went to bed early and got plenty of rest most nights.

I mastered Latin meter and scansion! (Well. I mastered the fundamentals.)

I finished all my homework before my classes this week, which may not sound like a big deal, but coming off of Christmas break and neglecting all of it for three or four weeks? I’m pretty proud of myself.

I have made more time in my day to read.

I have been much more conscientious about my prayer life and have mostly kept up my morning and night prayers. (I didn’t do my usual, longer night prayers last night because I went to the symphony and didn’t get to bed until half-past midnight.)

I got most of my Christmas thank you notes mailed.

I finally got my posters, paintings, and clock up on the walls of my bedroom. 🙂

I made a decent amount of progress on my Latin vocabulary book. I only have six or seven chapters left (which is about 120—150 words, pray for my poor, cramped hand).

I spent a little more (if not enough, but baby steps, baby steps) time with my mom this week, and Dad joined me for part of the match this morning (and what a match, I tell you), but I definitely have a long way to go.

Alright, I’m off to bed—neglecting my French in the process, but I’ll catch up. I’m just exhausted and French can wait until tomorrow, if I stay up to do it I will hate myself in the morning.

Best wishes,
Hero

P.S. I’m also far too tired to figure out how to do a fancy link-up thing at the moment, so either link to your Ordinary Heroisms blog post in the comments, or list your heroisms there directly. 🙂 I look forward to reading about the things you’re proud of this week!

In Which My Pants are Too Posh and I Pretend You’re All Nosy

I was going to do something productive and meaningful this afternoon, but my brother turned on Top Gear and I was productive enough this morning (I worked out, practiced, finished a paper, took a nap)—so I decided to at least pretend to do something meaningful by writing this blog post.

Which would be great if this were actually a meaningful post, but it really isn’t going to be. I just want to tell you an anecdote about the pants I’m currently wearing and then just sort of dump a bunch of things I’m currently into on you in the hopes that you’ll care/be remotely interested.

So my mom bought me these red pants at Eddie Bauer on sale, and I kind of really like them, but while I was raving to an English friend about how ‘very super trendy I am I’m going to die’, he told me that wearing red pants was basically the poshest thing I could do. (The concept of ‘posh’ is vaguely ridiculous to me, but oh well.) I made a bunch of jokes about being too posh for everyone, but then I remembered that these pants were actually very expensive (but they were bought on sale, so it’s remotely better) and therefore I now feel ridiculous in my bright red, far too posh pants. I don’t really care, though, because in addition to being too posh, they’re also too fun—I want more, in different colors. I want a rainbow of posh pants. Because like I said, posh is a ridiculous concept and I live in America, darn it. I can get away with this.

Yeah, no, so I’m not really sure what’s wrong with me either. I’m also scared I’m turning into a hipster, but we’re not going to go there.

Anyway Stuff I Like or Am Endeavoring Through or Whatever
I Need a Name For This

Currently listening to: Marina and the Diamonds.

Yeah, I literally have no idea how this happened, but I listened to one song by Marina and the Diamonds and now am irrevocably hooked. I’m not a fan of her second album, but I’ve been listening to The Family Jewels on repeat for probably a month now and it’s still just as great as the first day. Her lyrics are so clever. I really can’t explain it—my music tastes are getting stranger and stranger. (But let’s call it eclectic, to be nice.)

Disclaimer: the video’s a bit weird, but it’s the lesser of two evils. It was this or a pitched, fan-made lyric video (with possibly misspelled lyrics or bad grammar—ugh), so if you’re concerned, just minimize the page while the song plays.

Currently reading: The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor.

I’m about ten pages in, so I can’t properly give any sort of judgment yet, but I’m hoping it doesn’t disappoint. I know Flannery O’Connor is less than cheery (that’s a bit of an understatement), but I also know she’s a phenomenal writer, and I’ve been looking forward to reading her work for ages—and now I’ve finally gotten around to it.

Currently watching: Castle

Or would be watching if I could get off my lazy butt and get to the library to rent the DVDs—so far I’ve just been catching episodes out of sequence as they air on TV, which was enough to get me hooked on the show and annoyed that I’ve not been getting the entire story in order. I love the characters, the writing, the relationships… And Nathan Fillion, I mean, come on.

Currently working on: a hat with storm troopers on it for an 8 year old boy who undoubtedly will not appreciate the amount of effort I put into it. 😛

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 To be perfectly fair, I’m not technically ‘working’ on it any more, as I finally finished it on Thursday—fleece lining and all. I’m quite pleased with it, even though it did induce me to borrow a technique of John Green and invent swear words from the name of famous authors. “Curse the bloody, Charlotte Brontë-ing thing!”

photo 2Currently playing: Carmen!

Schubert and Bach as well, and while I love them, sometimes you just have to revel in the awesome that is Carmen. I won’t link to it, but if you have Spotify, just look up Carmen, Suite I, and listen all the way through. It’s so worth it.

Currently lacking: sleep.

So I’m going to go get on that. I don’t know how it managed to get to twenty-til-two without my noticing, but I stayed up too late last night and didn’t intend to repeat the experience… Oops.

Tell me what you’ve been up to in the comments! I love hearing from you guys. 🙂

Best wishes,
Hero

In Which Antigone is Decidedly Not Hilarious

I’m gonna go ahead and just put forth that at times I can have a slightly morbid sense of humor. (Roald Dahl, anyone? The funniest parts of his books are the parts during which people die. I don’t even know.)

This having been said, in 10th grade when I first read Antigone, I thought I was the most hilarious thing ever. (If you’ve read Antigone, you’ll realize why this is odd.) If you haven’t read Antigone, spoiler alert, but there’s rather a lot of suicide. It’s Sophocles, what did you expect.

I’m not exactly sure what I missed at the age of fourteen, but as I was at one of my most cynical ages, I immediately dismissed the main heroine of the play as overdramatic and ridiculous. “Oh, I want to die; in fact, your method of dying is taking too long! I’m just going to hang myself on my veil instead.”

—note to self for later: does Antigone rob herself of her honor by committing suicide instead of being executed… Though she was going to be executed later? And is it notable that she kills herself in the same manner as her mother does? (Probably not, seeing as Oedipus Rex was actually written after Antigone.)

I see much more in my rereading; in setting aside my cynicism (and looking at the play from an angle of intellectualism instead of mockery as well as keeping in mind how much I loved Oedipus Rex) I finally understand Antigone – and I don’t know what to make of her! She is quite the character. I can’t decide if I like her or not. One sees her as a type of Achilles, aspiring after honor & nobility above all via the path of family loyalty. She makes a martyr of herself in an attempt to repair the family honor ruined by her traitorous brother (and perhaps her accidentally incestuous father? This puzzles me – does Antigone do what she does out of love for her family or does she really think she can restore honor? Given the actions of Oedipus I don’t really think that’s possible in any way). She wants to die and she wants her deeds proclaimed not because she’s the main character of a soap opera, but because she wants the honor that comes from her deeds. The question is begged: if a girl buries her brother contrary to the law and no one is around to see it, does it make an impact? By courageously proclaiming and defending her actions, Antigone wins for herself outrage and support of the people of Thebes. No one remembers that her brother was a traitor, just that Creon ordered him to decay ignobly and Antigone risked her life to honor him as was proper in the eyes of the gods. But… Does this make her likeable? Not that it’s necessary for a main character to be likeable (I feel like that’s an argument that people usually feel the need to make for The Catcher in the Rye, but I actually love Holden… I’m probably just weird), but I’m definitely my terms poorly – it’s more that I can’t decide if she’s morally correct in her actions/of good character. Her actions reek of selfishness to me… Perhaps it’s because of my modern mindset, but she does seem to be making rather a large fuss over something she said was for the sake of the dead and not those still living. Her family loyalty obviously doesn’t extend very far – or, actually, extends too far. She completely rejects Ismene as a sister when Ismene doesn’t assist her in burying her brother. (Will die for her brother when he turns traitor to the city but completely disavows her sister for not breaking the law, even though she is willing to face the consequences beside Antigone? How much of this complete lack of loyalty to country is due to the fact that she believes Thebes to have wronged her father and ruined her family?)  However, Isemene intrigues me probably the most of any character in the play… She’s not the Anti-Antigone, but… Almost the midpoint of the two extremes? The combination of the two loyalties and two moralities set opposite each other in the play.

But I don’t know. I wonder if I’ll ever figure it out; right now I’ll be content with the fact that I’m not treating it as a comedy anymore. 😉

If this post makes absolutely zero sense, I apologize, I wrote the vast majority of it at 3 AM last night. (I couldn’t sleep.) Rereading it, it’s almost an internal monologue of my sleep-deprived brain attempting to riddle out Greek tragedy. My life, ladies and gentlemen. 😛

Thanks for reading & best wishes,
Hero

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

February Report Card & March Resolutions

Good evening, my friends. I have saved just enough time online to write you guys a post tonight. Eggplant parmesan is in the oven, homework is sitting neglected to my right, and Frank Sinatra is crooning over the sound system… The door is open because the weather’s nice (well, now it’s closed because Mom just shut the dog out, but just pretend my house is tranquil, wouldja?) and I’m just sleepy enough to be at ease instead of cranky.

All right, I’m running out of time with this ridiculous blithering… It’s time for the dreaded report card.

1. Do something worthwhile.
Grade: B

I don’t give myself an A in this because while I did a lot of good things, I still spent too much time on the internet. (I have learned to ignore my screensaver, so that didn’t work…) But I have cut down, especially since the start of Lent, and I’ve filled it instead with reading, knitting, and all that schoolwork I like to ignore.

2. Be more charitable.
Grade: A-

I caught myself a couple times being a grumpy old judge-a-pus, and have been making an effort to be kinder. This morning my brother and I had this exchange that kind of captures my inner turmoil on this resolution.

Me: Did you cut holes in your sweatshirt?
Him: There was already a hole, so I cut more so I could put my fingers in.
Me: *raises eyebrows*
Him: Did you paint your nails with white-out?
Me: No! It’s just white nail polish. It’s modish. And at least it’s not sweatshirt vandalization.
*pause*
*pause*
Me: I’m sorry. Your sweatshirt looks cool. It’s neat what you did with the sleeves.
Him: And your nails are cool. Or pretty. They’re pretty cool.

Basically, I’ll say something rude without thinking and then backpedal because I realize it was uncalled for. It’s a work in progress.

3. Get more sleep.
Grade: B

I’ve found myself making the effort to go to sleep earlier, but I did pull some late-nighters this month. Therefore, B.

Out with the old & in with the new! Onto the March resolutions!

My March resolutions are rather simple, I’m afraid.

1. Spend time outside.

The weather is lovely right now and I spend entirely too much time on my bum inside. I need to go outside sometimes; get some fresh air and the like. I want to start a vegetable garden, but we’ll see what happens. My parents have a bunch of other projects on their hands right now. 😉

2. Keep my room clean.

Enough said, probably.

Well, that’s all for me tonight, folks. My books came! And I’m about a hundred-fifty pages off the end of Les Misérables – unfortunately, I have some tidying and history work to get to tonight, so it might be a while before I get to read as much as I wish. (I need summer! :()

Best wishes!
Hero

ETA: Contest winner announced momentarily!

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.)

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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.)

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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. 😛

February Resolutions

*fights urge to start post with a comment about how she can’t believe it’s February already*

But it is, by the way. February, I mean. And we all know that that means…

Despite the looming reminder of my forever alone state, I am resolved to be resolved this month. Let’s roll out the resolutions!

1. Do something worthwhile. 

This is one of my New Year’s Resolutions, but what I mean with this is to find better things to do with my time than sitting on tumblr. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the amount of time I spend on the internet is embarrassing. Especially considering the other great things I could be doing, and how much better and more satisfied I feel when I spend my time on those things instead of online. I’ve set the background of my computer to this:

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It’s there to remind me every time I open the computer that I have better things I could be doing. (Also, to get back into the swing of writing again, my deal with myself is that in order to spend any time on tumblr or my forums, etc, I have to write something. A sentence of a novel – if not more, this blog post, a college letter, a D&D adventure… just write something. Something I should be writing but have been putting off.)

2. Be more charitable.

This is really tough for me, but this resolution is to basically quit the gossip and quit speaking unkindly about people. There are a few select people who drive me up the wall, and so I complain about them and make them seem like terrible people. It needs to stop. Instead of judging others, I’m going to try and focus on the positive aspects of people.

For example, instead of internally grumping about a woman wearing a miniskirt at mass, instead I should find something nice – like how she’s done her hair in a really neat way.

3. Get more sleep.

I’ve been staying up too late, and that means I put off my prayers until I’m too tired to do them, and then try to catch up on my sleep deprivation by ignoring my alarm clock – but then I get behind on my day, and for what? An extra half hour of sleep at most. This month I’m setting a schedule and sticking to it.

As always, resolutions from She Learns as She Goes. I’m going to hit some Shakespeare before I crash for the night; I’m absolutely exhausted.

Best wishes,
Hero