Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On Why I Dislike Halloween

Before I start, let it be noted that my dislike of Halloween does not extend to The Nightmare Before Christmas or It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  So for the record, there are at least two things about Halloween I like.  (In all fairness, though, they just prove that I like Tim Burton animated movies and Charlie Brown television specials.  Who doesn't love Charlie Brown television specials?)

This year, more than any other year, I feel that many people have been asking me about Halloween, particularly what costume I'd be wearing.  My answer: none.  I don't really like Halloween much.  Well, okay, that was the mellow answer.  Some people may have been treated to a more vehement response that may have involved the word 'hate.'

Every person who leapt to the defense of Halloween, every person!, had the same response: "But there's candy!"  

I'm not a candy hater.  But I don't feel like saying that candy is involved makes Halloween that great.  I'm an adult now, if I have the urge for a particular type of candy, I can go out to the store and buy it.

The older I get, the more I see a range of Halloween costumes for women and their female children that are just...utterly distasteful.  And that's putting it mildly.  I'm not a fan of leaving my house and seeing people wearing costumes that show me...too much of them.

While yes, I do enjoy some of Tim Burton's flicks, and a certain measure of creepy-fun, I find no joy in being scared.  There is absolutely nothing recreational about being frightened.  When I wake up on a day where I know I will have a lot of free time, I do not immediately think: "Oh, I think I'll scare myself today!"  I don't like feeling anxiety, I don't like when my heart beats more quickly than normal, and I don't like shaking.

Pumpkin carving and pumpkin painting bring me no joy, as they never turn out how I want and they  never last for very long.  Also, they quite frequently get smashed by ne'er-do-wells.  Pumpkin cookies are good, though I associate them more generally with fall-time and not Halloween.

Maybe one day, if I ever have a child, I'll remember what's it like to actually like this holiday.  But for now, I am content in my Halloween-grinchiness.

Monday, October 29, 2012

On My Struggles with Goal-Setting

A long, long time ago I listened to someone teach a class about goal-setting.  (It could've been Institute; it could've been church; it could've been school.  Honestly, I don't remember where I was.)  I'm rather sure, now that I think about it, that I've sat through more than one goal-setting lesson in my life--but that is neither here nor there.

What struck me on this particular occasion is that the teacher suggested that we need to analyze our goals a little more.  He/she suggested that our initial goals would be so large or broad as to seem grand but not entirely achievable, so we should break that initial goal down into smaller goals to accomplish to reach the broader purpose.

I thought it a brilliant idea.  Still do, really, except that it poses a problem when I can't figure out the big goal. Or the little goal.  Or any goals.

Or when my goal is Be Happy, well, I haven't quite figured out how to break that one down either. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Matter of Perspective

In the course of a recent phone conversation, I expressed to a good friend that I often feel that I'm not entirely sure about what I'm doing with myself.  Her near-immediate response went something like this: "Well, the way I figure it, you're too beautiful and you're too talented.  That means there are just too many things that you could do to choose from."

Let's just say that's not normally what I think of as the problem, but then I tend to look at things from my own point of view.  My point of view is that I just don't know what I want, and that might not be completely removed from her perspective.  (I'm not saying that I can do anything.  I'll never, for example, be a pilot or an astronaut.  But then those were never really on my mental to-do list, anyway.)

But then that's the tricky thing about perspective: sometimes we need a new one in order to really get a handle on things.

Recently I was thinking about my experience ten years or so ago with the woman who created my prosthetic.  She eventually became a little frustrated with trying to match the color of my functioning eye, because the color changed based on what I was wearing.  The changes were usually subtle, but I didn't know until then that my eye was actually several different colors: blue, green, brown, and even goldish yellow.

Prior to then when anyone asked my eye color, I'd shrug and say "Green" or "Hazel."  

It's a funny thing, because I look in the mirror every morning, which  means I see myself.  I'd seen that eye many, many times but I never registered that there were complexities to its color until someone else told me so.

You'd think that a half-blind girl would need fewer reminders than others about ways of seeing things clearly, but you'd be wrong.  Perspective matters.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Nothing Can Come of Nothing

It's been a great long while since I've read King Lear.  A couple of years, really, since I've either read or watched anything Shakespearean at all.  But as I was mulling over some things I'm not entirely sure that I'm content with, this phrase popped into my head.

I frequently go through periods where I feel as though I get antsy with everyone and everything.  The antsy-ness may or may not be visible, I really don't know, but I sometimes find myself wishing that I could just run away from everything for a while until I get myself sorted out.

Sometimes it passes through, just a brief visitor reminding me that there's no such thing as feeling absolutely settled with everything.  And sometimes it stays for a while, prompting and re-prompting an assessment of things that I can change, that maybe I should change, that maybe I just need a longer reminder can be changed.  Sometimes it morphs into the winter, spring, summer, and fall of my discontent.

I've been known to ponder running away to escape this feeling, but I know that's patently ridiculous: anything internal would follow me.  It's a silly impulse since I've only discovered two ways of getting rid of this sensation--waiting it out and actually making a change.

And I'm starting to wonder about whether I should make a change, because Lear keeps popping into my brain.  Nothing can come of nothing, and I need to make some choices.  I need to take some actions or I need to choose not take some actions.

But in the meanwhile any time I encounter this feeling, I have a feeling this saying will be swimming around in my brain until I choose.  Doing nothing, choosing nothing, will result in nothing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

You're Know You're Kinda a Book Nerd When...

So I live down the street from Toad Hall.

No, really, there's an older and nicer and gated house at the end of my street that is called Toad Hall.

I have no idea who, if anyone, lives there.

So clearly, I picture Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows living there, because--hello!--it's Toad Hall.  And he just never comes out because he doesn't want to scare his neighbors.

And the Answer is, Clearly, Fairy Tales

So I've noticed lately that a lot of popular YA lit these days is purely dystopic in nature, and I've speculated about it.  But something had been nagging at me, and that something was this: what is popular--is there anything popular--that's at all anti-dystopic?  What, I thought, is the opposite of all this dystopia?  (Linguistically speaking, I know the answer is utopia...but for a little while I was stumped about how one would generically answer this question.)

And then it hit me as I watched the season 2 premiere of Once Upon a Time: duh, the answer is fairy tales.

They never fully go out of style; they get adapted and re-adapted; they almost always follow the same general plans.  They're stark: black and white, good and evil.  Hey look, this is the evil queen.  She's bad.  Hey look, this is Snow White.  She's good.  

No in between, only temporary unhappiness, and lots of happy ever after.  Most of the time.

And I guess I just had to write this up to reassure myself that not all of the popular books of the moment are about the world going to hell in a handbasket (or worse).

Monday, October 1, 2012

In Which I Tell You Why I Will Never Finish The Casual Vacancy

Life is too short, people.  It's too short to read books that you don't enjoy reading all the way through.

Which I suppose could be considered an odd perspective coming from someone who recently decided to re-read books that she read in school and positively and fearsomely hated, but I feel that's a different story.  Some of those books just weren't given a fair shake back then for whatever reason.

But here's the thing about J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, or at least the first one hundred pages or so of it: I just kept waiting for something to happen.  And nothing did.  (There's a joke in an episode of Gilmore Girls where the characters are making fun of The Donna Reed Show: remember that episode where the dad came home from work and was upset because dinner wasn't ready and nothing happened?  Remember when Donna tried to bake a cake and nothing happened?  That's what the first bit of this book felt like.)

Well, strictly speaking, that's not fair.  One major event happened, really the event that sparks the novel's title: someone dies.  So in all fairness I would describe the first bit of the book thus: someone dies, and then nothing happens, except that everyone somehow mostly internally reacts to the death and then there's some blahblahblah about local politics.

You might be thinking that I was unwilling to give this book a fair shake because it's not Harry Potter, but that's not even a little bit the case.  I don't like this book because it's dull.  Nothing that's going on in this first bit makes me want to keep reading.  As of where I stopped, there's only a whisper of a plot and I don't have any faith at all that it will ever reach normal speaking volume.

I could possibly, potentially, maybe get behind some of these characters--well, at least one that I can see--but nothing has given me reason to.  And I have no reason to carry on reading this book when I could be reading something else I'll enjoy more.

So that's my two cents, in the event you were debating whether to pick up this book.

(I didn't post this on the book blog as it seemed decidedly unfair to review a book without reading it all the way through.  And I didn't want to read the book all the way through to post an opinion.)

I somewhat recently read an interview where Rowling stated she's sure she'll find her way back into children's books.  I have great faith in what she might add to that particular genre, mostly because you don't find a lot of children's books where nothing much happens.