Archive for February, 2012

Routines of Freedom

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Rant
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Whether we realize it or not, much of our day is set around routines. Everyday you wake up. Boom. Routine. Going to work, eating, going to the bathroom, all of these are routines. The time of day and the content of what you eat may change, but the act is the same. By necessity, much of human life is set up by routine.

As a substitute teacher, it is funny to see routines. Students, especially the younger ones, are dependent on routines. When I come into a classroom and say something, I get the precise way it is to be done by twenty-something children. If I do it slightly different, all hell breaks loose, and I hear it from the students that I am doing it wrong. It must be done the right way. Some would call this indoctrination. Teachers use routines to keep to and let students know what is coming.

There is a fear of the unknown. People do not handle what they don’t know  or expect very well. The worry of what is to come can cause anxiety. If you don’t know what is coming, there is no way to be in control or have control of what will happen. Routines are ways for people to semi-know what is coming and semi-control the outcome of said event.

At the same time, routines take away freedom, but freedom can be scary. The freedom to walk down a different street or try a new restaurant comes with unknowns. If every Friday I go to the same Mexican restaurant and order carne asada fries, I know what I am going to get. The unknown may be scary, but that does not make it instantly bad. Maybe that street has a beautiful mural and street musicians. Maybe that restaurant has a dish that will become your favorite. The road I am not walking down will create new routines. Is it ironic that freedom creates new routines?

We have been training our children, for a while now, to follow routines. They know instantly what to do when the lights are turned off, when they see a sheet with bubbles filled with letters, and how to find an answer that is explicitly stated in a piece of writing. What have taken away the freedom in education and it has leaked out into life. We have taken away innovation and critical thinking. We are obsessed with routines, with keeping order, and with finding a way to control what we shouldn’t be able to control. Break from the routine, adventure, challenge your freedom.

Modern day life is crazy. Not only are we as humans connected in ways people in the past would never dream of, we broadcast ourselves to friends and enemies alike. The advent of social media has created a new aspect to life that takes anonymity and spits in its face. Right now, my life and my words are being broadcast across the continents and to random strangers. The crazier part is that I choose to allow people to see into aspects of my life that in generations passed were very private.

So why do we do this? Will my videos on youtube ever get me a record deal? I can emphatically say no. Will my blogs ever get me a book deal? Most likely, no. Will my pictures of me getting drunk get me into trouble? Eventually. Will my big mouth status updates offend people? They usually do. If we as a society are gaining no tangible benefits from social media, why is everyone so hooked?

It may have something to do with validation. It may have something to do with a human feeling of boastfulness, of pride. It may have to do with the need to be liked, pun intended. It may have to do with boredom, or it may be for straight entertainment.

Gossiping has long been a form of entertainment for both men and women. It may vary how each sex does it, but both still attempt it. The difficult part of gossiping is that it requires someone else to gain new information or share the already acquired information. I am using the term information loosely. Gossip is hardly information. Occasionally it may lead to some juicy nuggets, but most of the time it is just rumor. Social media has taken the need for another person out of the gossiping equation. I can now lurk any of my friends and make assumptions about their actions, their lives, and their significant others. I can “know” someone without actually staying in physical contact with them. People get entertainment out of knowing about other people’s lives.

We have put our private lives into the public domain more than ever before. It is far our own entertainment and the entertainment of others. Individuals are now more open and as a result more vulnerable to fraud, gossip, and punishment, but so is everyone who also uses social media. The question is, “Are you not entertained?”

A Century

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Free Write
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A century is 100 years. Now living to be 100 is an accomplishment. In the course of human history, a century is not a long time, and in the history of the universe it is the blink of an eye. Stop and think about a person living an entire century. In that life, how many singular moments has that person had? How many do they remember? How many have they created? How many are they just along for the ride for? It is beyond a lifetime of memories and moments. Stop and think of how many events and actions occur everyday. Each day is built on thousands of events, like each time a pen touches paper. Singular events weave together to create a larger specified unit of time measurement. A century is created out of millions of singular events in the life of a person. How many of those matter? Shouldn’t they all matter? Headaches, butterflies, sleepy eyes, sex hair, smiles, tears, hugs. Over a century, so many of those build up. Some are forgotten, others are held onto for good or bad reasons. A century builds more than a person. It creates a legend, a larger than life story. A larger than life story that reflects life, so we maybe we underestimate life a bit.

Running

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Free Write
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I went for a run the other night, after I got some bad news. I’m not really a runner. Here is my problem with running: Most of the time you are by yourself. Running is lonely. Sure there are times in your life when you need that, but I am not a fan. What is the point of running? Sports have purpose, there is reason. Is that enough? People say that running clears their heads. I think people just don’t know how to think. They need to force themselves to be alone, to be cut off from everything to be able to think. I think all the time. I think when I shouldn’t be thinking. Thinking is what drives me. I do think when I run but no more than any other time. Running takes you, ultimately, to the same place you started. The difference is your looking at it from a different angle.

Keyboards and Screens and Mouses, Oh My

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
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Hello internet generation. Or is this the facebook generation? What is our generations tag? Anyone? Anyone? I have a bunch of ideas for blogs lately. If they will get done is another story. We shall see if I have the creativity to mold those tender ideas into beautiful sculptures and works of art. Ha.
Moving right along. I addressed everyone with the opening sentence because there is a trend that has caught my eye and no doubt many eyes out on the vast expanse of information/trash we call the internet. I signed onto myspace the other day. So 2006, I know forgive me internet world please. I wonder if I can still get scene points for take angle pics for myspace. Hmmm. Probably not. The scene is dead. Anyways back to the lecture at hand. I decided to click on a bulletin that one of my ex’s had put up. It was under the title of like, “Haha Booty Shorts.” I read that and was like, “Hell yeah. Booty shorts make me laugh too, except in my pants. Let me read more, and please God, if you are up there, let this bulletin include pictures.” Side note, doesn’t God ever get tired of being up? He’s an omnipotent being, I’m pretty sure he could watch what everyone was doing from where ever he wanted. I wouldn’t want to be sitting on a cloud if I were him that would just be balmy and make his hair go real frizzy. Just a thought. So I open up this bulletin hoping for a juicy tidbit or at least something pleasing to the eye. What was I greeted with you ask? A survey of course, who does anything else on myspace anymore? Needless to say, I was disappointed, but since I already had the damn page open I decided to read it. Now people ask, “Who has time to read those boring surveys about other people?” Well the answer is me apparently. So I put on a pair of my best spectacles and began the task of trying to decipher what this girl was saying in the survey. Surveys crack me up because people try to be as ambiguous as possible on the damn things. If they don’t want people to know stuff about them then why do a survey in the first place? Anyways, I was reading what the last liquid was to touch this girl’s lips and blah blah blah, when I came upon a question that caught me by surprise. Not for the content of the question, but for my reaction. It was a question about the last person this girl had kissed. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought about her kissing anyone else, but now that action was brought to the forefront of my brain. Do I still have feelings for this girl? Possibly. Would I like to kiss her again? Now that is a silly question if you know me. If it hadn’t been for myspace I would have never thought about this and wouldn’t have cared. Now usually when I have a jealous feeling it is like getting kicked in the stomach by one of those damn Budweiser horses with the huge clodhoppers. Translation- clodhopper=foot/hoof/other leg extremity. This wasn’t that bad, but still did have a downtrodden feeling after.
Making my rounds on the information superhighway, the next exit was facebook. Facebook is based around status updates. If there were no status updates there would be no point to facebook because it would just be boring. The words creeper and lurker would also be less frequented by the youth of America. The status update can be used in one of two ways. You can actually say what you are doing, or you can say some ambiguous statement that people will try to read into to decide what is going on in your life at the current time. Of course I take the second path most of the time because it is more fun. Recent updates include. “Its knucklepuck time baby.” And “Fear does not exist in this dojo.” Both are completely irrelevant and mean absolutely nothing. Why the hell would I have knucklepuck time? I don’t play hockey. I can’t even stand on rollerblades or ice skates. Am I going to take a girl tilt her on her side and try to push her into a bed? Now that is actually an idea, but most likely no. Oh Mighty Ducks, how good of a movie you were. Come back to me. Now people tend to use their status updates in the other way. I do not know why people feel the need to update others on the constant activity of their lives. I don’t really care that a guy I knew in high school got super drunk last night and can’t get out of bed today. I don’t care that some girl had the greatest night of her life last night at the club with her guurrrrllssss. Is that what it is? Is facebook really just a tool to make people want to be like other people? “Oh. My. God. She had a great night last night. Why didn’t I have a great night? I need to have a great night tonight!” It is an excuse for people to get into other people’s business. Although it most people put it out there publicly in the first place so it’s not really getting into. What is the word I’m looking for? Jealousy. Not jealousy of the actual person. It is internet jealousy.
The internet has created an entirely new way for people to be jealous of others. Jealous that they had a great night or jealous that an ex is hooking up with other people. We are so connected that we can’t kick people out of lives. It is all right there on the internet. No matter how bad I want to get rid of the thought of someone. I can’t. I will see their facebook status update. Or someone else will and they’ll text me about it, but that is a problem for another day. I can’t delete her either. That would immature. Or so people say. So the internet generation demands a stronger person. To constantly have pain being shoved into their face and be able to deal with it. The internet has become an integral part of life for much of America. It is an epidemic raging throughout the country of people being stuck in front of a screen, much like I am right now. Internet jealousy is claiming victims as we speak. There is someone crying in front of a computer right now because they see pictures of their ex with their new significant other. Where is the rock to crawl under and hide? Don’t even get me started on porn and making girls and guys expect perfect bodies and crazy face down ass half up while one leg is perched like a flamingo sex. The internet is creating a jealousy problem that requires a stronger person that the babied children who are currently surfing the data waves. God. Surfing the web. So 90’s. If anything, it’ll teach us all how to suck it up and move on with life to try and ease the pain.

Crash Into Me

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
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Write. Write. Write. I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess you never really know where you are going until you actually get there. Have you hugged anyone today? Have you told your parents you love them? Did you smile at that stranger walking down the hall? When I was in high school I watched Crash in my humanities class. At the time the movie connected with me on so many different levels. Now looking back on it Don Cheadle is really correct. We drive around and purposely crash into people just to know they are there and feel something. What is a relationship? What does it take to maintain one? Does it matter how careful people are will someone always get hurt?
Hmmm. A relationship is a bond between two people. What a simple definition. It is one that can be debated fervently. And it is ironic that such a simple definition can create chaos, anger, sadness, joy, and love. The confusion comes in the part where there are two people needed for a relationship to be created. Two individuals. Oh hey, look individuals, another word we can define. An individual is a person who has been shaped by his or her own experiences in life. I can have the same exact life as Bobby Joe, but during that night in the thunderstorm as we both curled underneath a tree he thought of life and I of death. Bobby Joe and I can have a relationship, but we will never be the same. Automatically, this creates conflict in the relationship. Why did I choose Bobby Joe as a name? I have no clue it is just the first thing that came to mind. I write these things as word vomit and don’t do any brainstorming before I start typing. We all have that one moment in our life that shapes our thinking for the rest of our lives. Whether we know it or not it was there and we make decisions and have thoughts based on our history. A person cannot exist without having gone through events in their past that define who they are. And in this moment, as I can have the tuna or the turkey sandwich, I will chose the turkey because in my past I remember the obnoxious smell of tuna as my mother made her lunch everyday. But there is Bobby Joe munching on his tuna sandwich, also destroying the ecosystem of the ocean. Damn your fake ungreenness Bobby Joe. That doesn’t mean that I can’t sit next to Bobby Joe and enjoy my turkey while he or she or it enjoys their tuna. Wait a minute Andrew. What about my relationship with that inanimate object? What a bout my relationship with my nation? Or if you are me, what about my relationship with my favorite Normal Like You sweatshirt. This is why I hate defining things. I never can get it down just write. I would be a terrible dictionary writer. So let us look at these things. I have a sweatshirt. I wear my sweatshirt. My sweatshirt keeps me warm. Now that I’ve passed 1st grade let me take a deeper look at those sentences I just typed. My sweatshirt has a purpose. It keeps my warm and sheltered from the cold. If I did not wear it, it would not have a purpose. It provides for me. I provide for it. My nation provides me with a sense of who I am. If you are reading this, can speak English, and watch American Idol, you can be part of my nation. I provide the nation with a representation on Earth of an abstract idea. So therefore is a relationship is defined by a partnership in which each side provides something for the other. Right?
Okay so now you have successfully discovered what a relationship is. You probably realize, “Hey, I’m in a relationship!” Awesome. Good for you. Now how do you maintain that relationship through the peaks and valleys of what life has to offer? Take my sweatshirt. I love my sweatshirt dearly, but if I do not wear it, my sweatshirt has no purpose and it will get angry with me. If it is not cold or rainy, I do not need my sweatshirt. Therefore during the summer our relationship becomes less necessary than the relationship between my wife beater and me. Moving away from the inanimate, what about Bobby Joe. I love Bobby Joe, but he likes tuna and I like turkey. How can we ever overcome that fundamental difference in our relationship? I can forgive Bobby Joe for liking tuna. It has no direct effect on my life. What happens when we go to dinner and Bobby Joe takes me to a fish restaurant that only serves tuna? Am I supposed to get angry because Bobby Joe should know me better or am I supposed to be understanding because Bobby Joe is my friend and I should be able to make a sacrifice for the relationship? Who decides who needs to back down? If both Bobby Joe and I are hard headed and don’t give in the relationship has come to a cliff. It can turn around and try to retrace steps and work out a plan or it can continue and tumble off the cliff. This is the thing; relationships inevitably run into bumps in the road. It takes two people deciding the change things for a healthy relationship to thrive. A relationship where one person decides that they need to back down all the time is not a relationship it is a parasite with one person preying on the other. Working together is pivotal for success. Not only communication but an understanding must be laid that allows both parties to be happy both when they are in the relationship and outside of it. There comes a point in a healthy relationship where so much is known by both parties about the other that it almost an extension of one party onto the other. Now what is human nature to do at this point? So many things have been put into this relationship that trust exists. One party may have all the secrets of the other party and it is simple to break someone’s trust with one fell swoop. All the work that had gone into building a healthy relationship can be destroyed with one action, thought out or not.
Is it inevitable that one person in a relationship will be hurt? There are so many instances of people being hurt by relationships. One party may read more into the relationship than the other party. Bobby Joe may think we are just friends but I may be in love with her or him, or whatever. Or I may have thought that the way I was acting when Bobby Joe came to me with a problem was appropriate when it was actually hurting Bobby Joe. Or what if I kept secrets from Bobby Joe and Bobby Joe found out about them form other people? All these things are possible and happen everyday. People want companionship, but they also want to keep things to themselves. No relationship can be perfect like I described above. There is no perfect relationship with perfect communication and able to work every problem out with cool rational heads. That is what I love. I love knowing the fact that there may be problems in my relationships whether it is with a girl, a friend, or my parents I can try to work it out. It makes me angry it makes me happy it makes me sad. I want to yell, I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to run away. It makes me feel alive. I’m fighting something that I believe in. If I weren’t fighting I wouldn’t believe in it. I wouldn’t care. What is the point in fighting for something that one does not believe in? The pain is what I thrive off of. It sucks yes, but if I didn’t feel pain there would be no point in living. It is not so sadistic. Relationships make me feel joy and happiness beyond belief too. I thrive off of that. I want to make relationships, I want to keep my current relationships, and I want to rekindle past relationships. I am a fighter. If you do not like that I apologize. The theoretical bullshit above is a college student removing himself from a situation and describing the perfect ideal image of a relationship. This is me feeling. Something that sometimes gets lost. Feeling. Yeah a relationship should have feeling too. I used to try to stifle my emotions and not let them get in the way of my thinking. I have begun to accept them and have them help me make decisions. I want to experience the full range of feelings in my life. I want to have a relationship with you, whether it is terrible and painful or wonderful and happy. I want to say thank you to all of those people who have been in my life throughout the years. I don’t care if we weren’t really friends, if we were enemies, or if we were attached at the hip. You have all given me an experience and a life I would not change for anything. I’m a person and you’re a person. Shouldn’t that be enough of a reason for us to get to know each other? See I know where I finished at now, but I had no idea I would get here.

Just Say No

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Old
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I want you to take a second and close your eyes. Everything becomes more clear when your eyes are closed. Ironic isn’t it? Now I want you to remember the worst rejection you have ever received. A rejection, someone telling you no. I don’t care if it was from your parents, a teacher, a significant other, just imagine that. How did that rejection immediately affect you? Did you get depressed, did it make you angry, did it motivate you, did you draw a picture of the person blowing up? Hey elementary school kids have a strange way of dealing with things. Or were you never told no to in your entire life? Did you have everything at your fingertips and allowed to do whatever you damn well pleased? My worst rejection in life was my rejection from my high school soccer team. I was told by some guy I barely knew that I was not good enough at something I had done my entire life. Immediately I was mad and upset. I didn’t want to believe it and blamed it all on politics, rather than my play. I did not handle the rejection well, but I have come to understand that the rejection benefited me in ways that being on the team never would. I learned how to fail and that there is no possible way I can succeed at everything I put my head to, as much as I wanted to believe that.

I am becoming a teacher. I am on my way to teaching the youth of America about history. This isn’t a surprise for many people. I have wanted to do this probably since fifth grade. I am going through the credential program at Sonoma State University. In class, we discuss school reform, how to teach students, and how to reach English Language Learners, among other topics. A topic last week really got me thinking. The class spent an hour and half discussing how they want to make it acceptable for students to fail. They want to be able to teach students that failure is a part of life because students have so many items on their plate already that it is almost impossible for them to succeed at all of them. This is a good and noble idea, but when it comes to implementing it, my colleagues seem to fall short. In another class, composed of mostly the same students, only one woman sided with me and said that they would not accept late homework. I tried to explain that not accepting late homework imparts responsibility and makes a student stand up and have to know what they are doing in class. My fellow students were providing a safety net for their future students. They would not allow them to fail. I feel that this is the case with kids and people across the United States. They are not allowed to fail and so when they do they have no idea what to do. They implode, go into a depression, and turn to drugs or alcohol because the only plan they ever had for their entire life failed. Sure, missing homework is not the end of the world, but it is failure and fail enough and you’re likely to fail the class. And the point of not accepting late work is so that it is something small and almost trivial they are missing so students can learn that failing happens and how to move on from it. Don’t get me wrong I know that I am not going to change anyone’s life by not accepting late work, but if I can partly impact a students thinking then it may be worth it. AT the time of my soccer rejection I was so upset and felt like my world was shattered. I was ashamed and disappointed, but I learned how to fail. I gained a skill that would help me through the rest of my life. When I failed to receive the Rhodes scholarship or when I failed my first college history test, I had the experience in failing. I was able to move on and not let it destroy my life. I had been said no to before, so I knew how to accept no as an answer. I have seen too many people who don’t know how to accept no as an answer, and it ends up ruining their life.

As a society, the United States is usually always trying to be positive. This is in opposition of my Mexican heritage, to this day my mother says no more than she says yes. Every time someone has tried to use the word, “no” it has come back to bite them in the butt. Nancy Reagan coined the often-mocked phrase, “Just say no.” N.W.A. had a field day with that and came back with, “We don’t just say no, we to busy sayin’ yeah!” Hell we even had a president run on the slogan, “Yes we can.” Now that same president is using the positive energies of the United States to try to paint Republicans in a harsh light by calling them the Party of No. Why is America so obsessed with yes? The American Dream doesn’t account for failures and getting said no to. Why not? The founders of this country failed. Its called the Articles of Confederation, look it up. We are doing a disservice to our children, our nation, and ourselves by not preparing each other for no. Why can’t no be temporary? Why can’t we get rejected and then reload and go back for another try? Why are we so prideful that one no automatically shuts us off forever? Are our egos really that fragile? Saying no is often harder than saying yes. Saying no means standing up to someone and going against what else is going on. Isn’t saying no really then more American? We believe that those who say yes are often better people. They are often the people who get walked all over and don’t know how to make themselves happy. No is a part of life. Rejection is a part of life. It is about time that we as a society start owning up to the fact that in life there are losers. In fact, the majority of the time most people are losers. Now that that has been said, how do we prepare for that?