Monday, September 10, 2012

A Brief Commentary on the State of Society

There are some very serious problems happening today.

Women have, just like every other mistreated demographic, risen admirably to their own defense. Women fight for their rights and it's appropriate- women are still underpaid in the professional workforce and underrepresented in almost every arena. I'm foremost among the women fighting for equality in our sorry society. But that very society is shooting itself in the foot, and sometimes I think we women are the ones who pulled the gun.

Take something as simple as personal appearance. Women decided, somewhere in the past, that they needed to stop putting so much effort into their clothes and hair and makeup, because it doesn't define them. They're right. No one deserves to be judged by their appearance only, despite the fact that it's all we as humans do. Every girl makes a choice as to how much work they want to do to "look pretty." If I want to wear jeans and a t-shirt every single day, that's my choice, and no one criticizes me for it. If I'm unattractive, that's no one's problem but my own, and it doesn't affect my potential value to the world.

In the name of equality, men have taken up the mantle of appearance. I know many, many guys who spend far more time picking out their outfits and making sure they're making a statement with their appearance than I do. It's probably unintentional, it isn't a bad thing, and I'm not judging them. Frankly, no one else can claim to do so unless they're going to undo all the progress of the Women's Rights Movement and any progress we've ever made as a society. If women can spend time on our appearance, men can too. If men refuse to do so, women can as well. It can't be effeminate for men to care that much about the way they look, because by the same token women shouldn't have to. It's fair, and personally I'm on board with it. Whatever makes you happy.

But women are taking on the negative aspects of masculinity as well, and it's damaging to us, to men, and to society at large. In specific, I mean the objectification of men, in response to the objectification of women that's been happening for hundreds of years. Women see the way some men act about women, whether in life or on the screen, and we think, "Why can't I do that too?" We look at an attractive guy and we tell everyone what we think of him, because we can and guys do that and it's only fair. I do it too, because guys do it and I can too and it's fair. But really, it isn't fair to men and, more importantly, it isn't fair to us. I would be incensed it I met a guy who objectified women, even actors, as blatantly as I've objectified male actors I think are attractive. It would be unacceptable to me. Appreciation is one thing- we all find people we think are attractive, and that's how we're programmed. It's natural. But it isn't natural to treat the beauty of people the way we do the beauty of objects. People are not nature or or art or music, they're people.

It's not that I don't think women aren't justified in objectifying men the way we've been objectified for countless centuries. Heaven knows men deserve a taste of their own medicine. But when will it stop? This is going to get out of control very quickly and we will NOT like the results. We need to be the ones to change this, because fighting fire with fire will only burn everyone. (And you know, some men just want to watch the world burn...) Where will we draw the line? Will we have a class of people simply for looking at? Will it become the beautiful vs. the smart? Will we have people who are objects, and then people who are people? It isn't okay for anyone to treat other people as objects, regardless of gender, regardless of how fair it is, because no one wants to be an object.

It's time for us to let go of our rationalizations for immature behavior. Yes, we've been wronged. But who hasn't? Even the classical white American male has had his share of struggles on someone else's account. It's hard to let go of the things we want, to let go of our sinful human natures, but if we don't divert this endless downward spiral, who will? We have to put the past behind us in order to reach out to a future in which equality means all things actually being equal. It hurts to be the one to stop the cycle, I know it does. It hurts to be the ones to say, "I know that you hurt me, but I will not do the same to you because this is not okay and I refuse to continue this." Women, you're right, it's only fair to treat men the same way they've treated us for centuries. But that won't solve the problem. It won't make things better for society and it won't make things better for us. As cliche as it sounds, we have to be the ones to rise above it, so we can see a future that's truly better and not just worse in a different way.

Monday, July 9, 2012

And I'm Off!

I have lots more to post about staying at Lynn's (mostly pictures of cute animals), but I've run out of time! I'm leaving tomorrow for Ukraine, and I won't be back until early August. I won't have internet there, but I'll have lots to post about when I get back!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pictures for the Previous Post

This is Tom, when he's being Tom. He's pretty cute. 
He can be adorable sometimes. 

This is Tom when he's Walter. You can't see from the picture, but he relocated a stack of my possessions to the floor to be up there on the dresser. 

This is Lucy. She just kind of lurks and stares. 

Tessa was elusive at first, but eventually got to the point where she would stay on the perch when I walked into the room. Lynn says she looks "exotic." 

Tessa and Charlie find inventive places to hide when Ruby gets let out during the day. 

This is the best picture I could get of Charlie. He doesn't really come out during the day. Ever. 

Monday, June 11, 2012


I'm going to be posting a lot more about my life, I think. There are people that I want to be involved with my journey through this world, but I simply don't have the time to personally fill everyone in. If I could write all the people I love a letter to tell them everything new that happens in my life, I certainly would, but it's just not a possibility. So, likely this blog is going to become lots of personal stories, with, hopefully, some funny thrown in. If you don't care to read this much about me, there's an address bar at the top of the screen- feel free to type in another website and not ever return. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy what you read! 

Currently I'm living with a friend of the family, Lynn McTaggart. In an unfortunate series of accidents recently, she broke both her right ankle and wrist, and as such she needs a lot of help around the house, so I cook, clean, drive, and most importantly take care of her animals. She has four indoor cats, a tiny dog, and somewhere between two and five outdoor cats. I'll post pictures when I have them- at the moment, I'm using her computer to write posts. The indoor cats are all really strange animals. All four of them were feral before she adopted them, and they're certainly eccentric, to say the least. 

Tom, the eldest, is about 12 and is certainly the king of the household. Mrs. McTaggart's daughter, Tricia, hypothesizes that he has an alternate personality that she calls Walter. Tom is sweet and loves to cuddle and be pet and be around people. Walter, on the other hand, hisses when you try to pet him, growls at the other cats, and scoops his litter from the box to the floor for no apparent reason. Once I watched him climb into the box, make a huge mess of litter all over the floor, and walk away without even going to the bathroom. Whatever his mental state may be, he's certainly the most spoiled. He gets a can of Fancy Feast for breakfast and dinner, which none of the others get unless he leaves leftovers, and moreover, he only likes two or three varieties. Usually the other cats get to share in the feast, however, because Tom just licks the gravy out of the food and leaves the rest. 

Tessa is the next oldest. She's kind of a strange looking cat, mottled orange and gray-brown fur and a large orange diamond covering her face from her nose to where her eyebrows would be. Mrs. McTaggart calls her "exotic." Tricia calls her ugly. I think she's rather pretty, myself, but she certainly is unusual. Her favorite thing to do is burrow into the sheets on a bed- she looks just like a lump of covers. She'll even unmake a bed in order to crawl into it. 

Lucy and Charlie are brother and sister, with long, fluffy fur and bright eyes. Lucy is white with brown and orange patches, and Charlie is completely orange. They both spend most of their time hiding under the bed in the spare bedroom in which I sleep, but whereas Lucy follows me around like a ghost, staring at me with wide eyes and fleeing when I reach a hand toward her, Charlie wants nothing to do with anyone, ever, and is rarely even seen during the daylight hours. 

My goal is to be friends with all the cats, but at the moment, they're not so sure they're interested. It's made exponentially harder by the fact that none of them are interested in treats, so bribery doesn't work. But I'll persist! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Operation Turtle Rescue

After a busy day of working at the Habitat for Humanity office, my mom and I were finally heading home. We were on our way through Hart, on one of the "busiest" (read: multiple cars in sight at one time) roads in the town, when I spotted him in front of the grocery store.

"Look mom! It's a turtle!" I yelled, forgetting that she was less than a foot away from me.

"And he's still alive," my mom said in surprise. "What's he doing out here?" The nearest water source was at least half a mile away.

"Mom, we have to rescue him," I insisted. At this point, my mom had already swerved to miss hitting him, and we were past. Fortunately, my mom is as interested in the welfare of turtles as I am, or maybe she just humors me.

She pulled a u-turn in the next side street and we drove back just in time to see him get clipped by a passing minivan. I saw visions of blood, gore, and flattened heads as his shell tumbled over and over in the road.

"OH NO," I yelled. I was distraught. I had come so close to saving him.

"We'll go look," my mom said, turning in another side street. My mom is a master of u-turns in random places.

"I don't want to see," I moaned miserably. "His head is squished. I saw blood." (I hadn't seen blood.) At this point, I was near tears. I was a failure at turtle rescue, and God and the entire planet probably hated me.

"There he is," said my mom, as we pulled up to him yet again. "Look! He's moving!"

I pulled my head from my hands to see that he was, indeed, crawling determinedly toward the edge of the road again, and of course putting himself right in the way of car tires. I was galvanized into action. Barely waiting for my mom to stop the vehicle, I leapt out into the lane and snatched him. He appeared unscathed. I reveled in my unexpected victory.

"Nice turtle!" yelled a man passing in a minivan, who had clearly witnessed the entire drama. I held my prize up in elation. It occurred to me later that he may have possibly been making fun of me. I didn't care.

I climbed back into the car with my new friend and examined him as we drove away. There didn't appear to be any damage to his shell, a miracle in itself. I don't think many creatures could be hit by a minivan and come away completely unscathed. I'd thought he was a painted turtle, but upon closer inspection, I saw a profusion of yellow spots and a bright yellow chin, and his shape was wrong. I guessed he was a spotted turtle. When we got home, we put him in a bucket to await the arrival of my dad, the master of nature and inspector of all captured animals.

Dusk found my family of four standing around the bucket looking at the turtle. "Could be a Blanding's, he has the right pattern for it," I said, frowning.

"The shape is wrong though, and his head is different," countered my dad. "Either way, you'd better go let him go before the DNR finds out we're keeping endangered reptiles in our garage."

I laughed, but carried my new friend across the street to Hart Lake. I was in our neighbor's lawn, and I set the turtle at the edge of the grass. There was a veritable cliff down to the lake, and I was worried about him.

"Dad, I can't put him here!" I called. "He'll fall down the cliff!"

"Holli, he got hit by a minivan and he's fine!" my dad yelled back in exasperation. "I think he can handle the slope to the lake!"

Even with my dad's remonstration, I considered waking down the steps and putting him directly in the lake. That, however, would have put me right behind my neighbor's house, on their porch almost, and I didn't really want to explain what I was doing in their yard in the evening wearing cutoff pajama pants and an enormous t-shirt. I put the turtle down in the grass, but pointed him toward the gentler slope toward the lake, rather than the cliff through the woods.

The last I saw of him, he was crawling determinedly over the lawn on his way to safety, and I'm feeling good about my contributions to nature and the saving of endangered species.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


The four of us were sitting around the dining room table, the remains of dinner still out, full bellies increasing the length of conversation until someone summoned the motivation to get up.

My dad turned to me in sudden excitement.

"Hey, did you hear about the new neighbor-" he began. I interrupted him.

"You mean the bear?" I asked. My parents looked at me in astonishment.

"You've only been home for a day," said my mom.

"The librarian told me," I said, a trifle smugly. They continued to stare at me. "What? She heard it from the postman."

"Which librarian?" asked my dad incredulously.

"The nice one," I said. "That goes to our church."

"Oh, okay," he replied. "It didn't seem like any of the other ones would've cared to tell you."

"It seems like you're fitting back into small town life well," grumbled my mom, possibly referring to the fact that the librarian knew exactly who I was and where I live, and that there had been bear sightings in my neighborhood.

"I want to see the bear!" I exclaimed. "I didn't see any in South Dakota, and I think it's my turn to see one."

"Well-" my mom began, but my dad cut across her.

"I'll put some food out back for it!" he said in excitement. "Oh! and I bet I could get some old donuts to put out for it too!" He caught on to the fact that my mom was glaring at him. "What?"

"We are not putting bait out for the bear!" she said firmly. "Do you want it going through our garbage?"

"Yes," my dad said belligerently. "Bears are uncommon. And it probably won't be around that long. And I want to see it!"

My parents both left the table without discussing the bear any more, but from the look on my dad's face, I think we can expect to see some random food out by the woods in our back yard. And for the record, I think my dad is quite right.

UPDATE: Apparently the police came and took the bear away. Sad day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


We got a new piece in Symphonic Band today. It's called Asphalt Cocktail, and I'm not really a fan. Be as that may, I love to play tambourine, and when I was assigned a somewhat involved tambourine part, I was really excited.

Then we started running the piece. It's meant to sound like a taxi ride though New York, and it does a rather good job, and by that I mean that it sounds like chaos from beginning to end. It's loud, bombastic, and annoying, and it makes me want to stab myself in the ear with a machete.

However, I was determined to play this tambourine part to the best of my ability. We only have one good tambourine, so I got it out, and I was playing with all the technique I could muster in a part that consisted mostly of "forte" and "fortissimo" (loud and really loud) dynamic markings.

Partway through, the director stopped us.

"How are you playing that tambourine?" he asked me. "With your hands?"

I had to repress the urge to roll my eyes or tell him that I was actually playing the tambourine with my head, how could he have missed it?

"Yes, with my hands," I said, keeping my other thoughts to myself.

"Well, could you make it sound any less like a tambourine?" he demanded.

My first thought was to ask him if he actually had a doctorate in music. You want the tambourine to sound less like a tambourine. What else could it possibly sound like? The point of a tambourine part is that it sounds like a tambourine. I get that you played clarinet, but I'm pretty sure you have to take techniques classes... Are you even listening to this part?

"I'll do what I can," I assured him. What I meant was that I would play the part more quietly and see if he forgot.

We read through a few more lines before he stopped us again. My heart sank as I saw his eyes fixed on me again.

"Do you have a different tambourine you could play?" he asked. At this point, I was starting to feel very unappreciated. Tambourine is more complicated than it looks like, you know. But I didn't tell him that.

Before I could answer, my section leader spoke up. "We have one, but I don't think you're going to like it," he said.

"We don't," I added. The director laughed, but asked us to go get it. I acquiesced, sure that he'd hate the sound of the old tambourine and let me go back to the other one.

We started the piece again. The new tambourine had tape over the head and was missing some of the jingles. It was too thick to hold comfortably, despite the fact that most of it was extra wood that didn't need to be there. Worst of all, it didn't allow for any dynamic expression. It only had one volume, medium, and it sounded pathetic. I looked forward to being told to go back to the first one, because the other one was clearly superior in every way.

We finished the piece, and my director looked at me.

"That one sounds much better, let's stick with it."

Monday, February 6, 2012


This one time, I got flowers from God himself.

Well, not exactly. It wasn't like God came down on a chariot of cloud and handed me the (somewhat pitiful) bouquet, and then drove himself back up to heaven. But it was pretty close.

My roommate and her boyfriend got in a small disagreement the other night. It isn't really any of my business, but this time I was involved in the disagreement, and the boyfriend and I exchanged words. As my roommate is also one of my best friends, I found it advantageous to reconcile with him. We discussed our differences, made some compromises, and became friends again. Everyone was happy.

But the boyfriend bought flowers for my roommate, to express how sorry he was for fighting. That was good. He had been kind of a jerk, and she deserved the flowers. But boy was I jealous.

I was mostly mad at God. I had gone through the crap of the fight, hadn't I? And yet nobody liked me enough to get me flowers. I complained at God for a solid two days about why He hadn't given me a boyfriend, and why He didn't provide me with flowers or somebody to buy me them. I sounded like an irritable three year old. It was a very mature response, I'm sure God was impressed by how I handled myself. Then I got busy with life, and I forgot about the whole thing.

A few days later, I played in a composition recital. A composition student composed a piece with a percussion part, and he asked me to play in the recital only a week before. It was pretty stressful to learn the part on such short notice, and composers are notoriously demanding and ridiculous (who rehearses at 9 PM?), but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless.

When we finished performing at the recital, the composer came out with a huge armful of flowers.

"Thanks so much for helping me with this recital!" he exclaimed, handing out bouquets of flowers. "I really appreciate your help! You all did a great job!"

I took the flowers, and held them to my nose. They smelled lovely, and in my mind I sensed God smirking at me.

"Are you happy now?" I could almost hear him ask. "There's your flowers, just like you wanted. See? Don't I always provide for you?" 

It was a great day.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Changes (Again)

Recently, God and I had a slight disagreement. To paraphrase, it went something like this.

God: Why do you think I'm not fixing it?
Me: Because I still see badness, duh.
God: You should listen to all these people telling you about how I am God and you are not, and how I don't have to break the rules I created in the world to change the world.
Me: Oh.
God: Are you listening now?
Me: ...yeah.
God: Good, because you're part of this. PS, you should probably start writing stuff, because you're going to be doing that. A lot.
Me: NOOO. I'm not good at writing! I'm good at... not writing! Make Allie [my roommate] do it! Or Ashleigh [my best friend at home]! They're good at that sort of thing!
God: I thought you were listening now.
Me: ...oh.
God: Okay, go do stuff!

And so, I resurrected the blog. Writing is a pretty scary prospect for me, and I can't say I have a ton of spare time for blogging, but God communicated rather strongly that this is important, so who am I to argue?