February Things

Monday, February 29, 2016

Hello, Internet. It's been a while. (Two weeks feels like a long while.) I haven't posted much this month, which is disappointing because I've had plenty of ideas swirling around my head, but no energy or brainpower to execute them properly. My work life has been pretty hectic lately, and I've also been sick for the past couple of days. So let's catch up, shall we?

I've come across a lot of good reads lately. Here are four:

One: "I Don't Believe In Making Goals." It's not about not trying, it's about keeping your options open. "If you set goals, you keep yourself from really interesting sidetracks." It has been fairly common in my life for people to ask me in some way what I want to do and for me not to have an answer for them. In high school, I put off my college search for as long as I could. I didn't know where I wanted to go until it was time to actually make the decision. Once in college, my major was undeclared until late sophomore year. As a senior, I didn't really know what I wanted to do after graduation, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I still kind of don't. I don't know a lot of things, but I'm enjoying the journey along the way. So it's not that goals are BAD – we should all have some ambition and some drive – but we shouldn't set such strict goals that we only allow ourselves to take one path. Exploring is good.

Two: "You'll Never Be A Woman." This piece on She Did What She Wanted raised a very interesting point about cisgender women (born female and identify as female) versus trans women: "Cisgender women have the freedom to be feminine or stray away from femininity without much objection, while trans women 'have' to be feminine to be accepted. It's truly a disgusting double standard." I've noticed this double standard mentality before, but Cassady put it into words perfectly. If cisgender women are allowed to be ~tomboys~ (and even have that be considered admirable or cute at times), why can't trans women? Why do trans women have to be ultra feminine? (Hint: They don't.)

Three: "The Stupidity Of Writing (And/Or Living) For People Who Dislike You." Reading that title, you're probably thinking something along the lines of, Yeah, that IS stupid. Duh. But we've all done it. (And yeah, it is stupid.) "If someone doesn't like you, it's probably got more to do with them than you, but either way, I've learned there's not too much you can do about it."

Four: "How We Failed To Protect Kesha." The news about Kesha being denied her request to end her contract with Dr. Luke is outrageous. As many articles have pointed out, Kesha wasn't even asking for her abuser to go to jail; she just didn't want to be forced to work with him any longer. This part stuck out to me the most: "When a contractual violation and a human violation are put head-to-head in court, an idealist would think that a human being's safety takes precedence. A realist, however, would know better." That is heartbreaking.

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Other things:

– I redesigned my page a bit and am really happy with how it looks – more images, more posts on the page. It required a bit of HTML tweaking to get things exactly how I wanted, but I DID IT.

– I loved Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the GRAMMYs for Album Of The Year. It was obviously a nod to comments that Kanye West had made, but it was also a great message overall.

I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for YOUR accomplishments or YOUR fame. But if you just focus on the work, and you don't let those people sidetrack you, some day when you get where you're going, you'll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world.

– SNL's "Bern Your Enthusiasm" was the funniest skit I've seen in a while.

– OK Go hit us with another great music video. From the four lines of text at the beginning alone, you can tell it's awesome: "What you are about to see is real. We shot this in zero gravity, in an actual plane, in the sky. There are no wires or green screen."

So far, I'm still reading twice as fast as I expected, finishing four books in two months. (Apparently I'm also one of those people who is going to give everything a four-star rating – a good book, but nothing I want to deem as perfect.)

Eighteen-year-old Jacob Hunt is fixated on forensic science. He watches "Crimebusters" every day, has his own police scanner, and will show up to crime scenes to give the police his input. So when a murder is committed, the police go to him. Unfortunately, Hunt's common behaviors associated with his Asperger's syndrome are more commonly associated with guilt. Is Jacob hiding something?

Picoult shapes a unique, engrossing storyline that debates guilt versus innocence, as well as punishment versus sympathy. Can a condition such as Asperger's lead a person to commit such an act of violence? If not, how can you explain that Hunt's seemingly guilty behaviors are just symptoms of Asperger's? On the other hand, if so, can it excuse that person's behavior?

As is common with Picoult's books, it wasn't so much about solving the mystery, but about the controversial issue at hand. It was about understanding Asperger's – how it affects an individual and the people around him/her – and deciding what is right and deserved. Unsurprisingly, I loved it. The only thing keeping me from my usual five-star rating with Picoult was the ending – but no spoilers!

(Bonus: This book was included on Buzzfeed's list of life-changing books.)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The plot of this one is simple: Will Grayson from Evanston crosses paths with will grayson from Naperville, and from that point forward, things change. There are other details of course, including a big-and-tall guy ironically named Tiny, a play about his ~fabulous~ life but also about love, friendships that spark over mutual love for music, epiphanies, lies, and truths.

For whatever reason, despite being a John Green fan, I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. Maybe I thought it'd be too good to be true for ALL of his books to be good. In any case, I read it, I loved it, and it might be my second favorite book by him. The plot wasn't really EXCITING, the book didn't keep me on the edge of my seat, but it felt real. It's about two ordinary people living like real life. The different characters, the feelings they feel, the way things pan or don't pan out, liking and disliking people at the same time... it all felt very realistic. And, per usual with Green, the moral was great: love and truth are intertwined. They make each other possible.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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