H is for Heroes

I was originally going to write about how honored (H for honored) I was to receive a blog award even though I have only been blogging for a week. I want to do the award justice though and find some quality blogs I want to pass it on to, so I am going to save writing about it for a bit later this week. I just need to spend some more time reading more blogs, I guess! Though that is never a bad thing ūüôā

Anyway, sometimes on my way to work in the morning when I am listening to music, I find myself skipping more and more of my songs that come up on shuffle on my phone. It is frustrating because they are all songs I like, ones that are on my phone for a reason. My music restlessness, however, leads me on these wild rampages where I try to find new music that speaks to me. This week I went on one of those rampages and actually found something I loved.

The song (Kill your Heroes by Awolnation) states that you should “kill your heroes and fly.” At first I found this to be confusing. Wouldn’t I want my heroes around to inspire me, and umm, save me with all of their heroism? After listening to it on repeat for well over an hour (I think it is super catchy so I just couldn’t help myself), the message of the song clicked. You are supposed to be your own hero! You are metaphorically supposed to kill your heroes because you don’t need them, you can fly all on your own. I was blown away by the simplicity and awesomeness of the whole thing, so I decided to dedicate the letter “H” to it.

While I don’t have any heroes exactly, I do have role models and people who I aspire to be like (I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but if I somehow became Tina Fey, that would be more than okay). Since I am currently doing some soul searching, this song couldn’t have come into my life at a better time. While I still haven’t worked out all of the lyrics, the one about killing your heroes was more than enough for me for now. I hope that even if you don’t find the song as catchy or as satisfying to your ears as I do, that you still take the inspiration from it that I have.

 

J

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G is for Genocide

This is probably the most serious topic I will ever write about. Ever. I much rather sit here and ramble about my usual random silly things, but today is not the day for that (I promise H is for something happier). I am still at a point in my life where I can look at the world and see the potential for goodness as long as people are educated about the horrible things that have happened in the past, and vow never to let them happen again in the future. While it is not my job to educate you (whoever you all are out there reading this), it is what is on my mind today and so I am going to ramble a bit about it.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day that serves to acknowledge the 12 million lives taken during the Holocaust. Six million Jews died (wiping out half of the Jewish population), as well as 5-6 million others who did not fit in with the Nazi vision. The Jews were killed simply because of the family they were born into. It is unbelievable to think of how many people either stood by and said nothing, or were even convinced that taking human life could somehow magically fix their own problems. It is also astounding to me how recent of an event this was. There are still survivors of the Holocaust who are alive today, who bore witness to such intense tragedy.

While we usually think of the Holocaust when we think of genocide, there have unfortunately been many other notable ones throughout history as well, even in more recent history. The Rwandan genocide occurred in 1994, resulting in 500,000 to 1,000,000 deaths over the course of about 100 days. I was alive through the whole thing, and yet unaware of it for years to come. In the 2000s, an estimated 500,000 died during the genocide in Darfur (Sudan).

Nothing truly awful in my life has happened yet, so instead of my own pain, I feel the pain of others. I feel the burden of these events. I think about them and feel the weight of them. I want to forget, so I am writing them into the blogosphere to set them free from my mind. I know I will never truly forget, however, and know this is the way it needs to be. We need to remember, no matter how difficult it is.

 

J

F is for Favorite Things

F is a pretty tricky letter. When I thought to myself “F is for…,” a not so nice word popped into my head. Though I have a lot of comments about that word (I love that it is so versatile it can basically be any part of speech–verb, noun, adjective, anything!) I decided there probably should censor myself and pick a different topic. So I thought of things that make me happy and that led me to think about all of my favorite things.

Sadly I am not Oprah, so when I talk about all of my favorite things those of you who are reading this will not be receiving them as gifts (If you have never seen an episode of Oprah’s favorite things I highly recommend it. I don’t know why but there is something fun about watching that women give free things away). I just want to get that out there in the open so none of you are disappointed when you look under your chair and there is no fabulous present waiting for you. Anyway, here is a list of some of my favorites!

-Color: Purple. I used to be obsessed and everything I owned was purple. That made me hate it for about ten years. I am back to loving it.

-Food: Chocolate. Specifically dark chocolate. Hot gooey dark chocolate fudge brownies with chocolate chunks are unbelievable. Notice I didn’t list this as my favorite dessert, it is my favorite food.

-Drink: Water. I don’t like carbonation (you would literally have to pay me to get me to drink a can of soda) and the smell of coffee is so off-putting to me that I don’t think I have ever even been able to try a sip. I truly love water. I am rarely spotted without my Brita water bottle (another one of my favorite things) and I am probably one of the few people out there who actually drinks the recommended 8 glasses a day. Yes it is a healthy habit, but if you are considering drinking more water, beware that people will think you are strange when you have to go to the bathroom every hour.

-Website: Buzzfeed. This is a new obsession. I really like lists and most of the articles are in list format, so that’s cool. Also it is hilarious. Getting the Buzzfeed app on my phone was probably the biggest mistake I made all year though.

-Game: Cards Against Humanity and Sudoku. Cards Against Humanity is my favorite multi-player game. For those of you who don’t know, it is sort of like Apples to Apples but all grown up (it is quite inappropriate). Every time I play I laugh so hard I think I am going to pee in my pants. Sudoku is my favorite solo player game. I especially love playing it on my phone so I can keep track of things like my fastest time. I am really competitive, especially against myself, and Sudoku is great for facilitating my inner competition.

-Music: Fake Rap. I don’t know what else to call it, but I like it when rap music has a super catchy beat to it. I also love 80s pop music. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade because I love 80s music so much, but then I snap out of it.

-Hobby: Television. I am an avid television watcher. People don’t usually consider this a hobby, but I can assure you I devote more time to keeping up with it than my friends do with their hobbies. A long time ago I stopped being embarrassed about it and realized that I don’t judge others for their hobbies so they shouldn’t judge me for mine. Yes I keep up with about 20 shows at any given time (it is sadly less during the summer), but I learn a lot and get to experience so many worlds that are different from my own.

-Miscellaneous favorite things: Fuzzy blankets, argyle socks, the Olympics, being nocturnal, jokes, that clean feeling right after you brush your teeth, travel (except for airplanes), being a bad dancer, my computer, sleeping, and chocolate (yes I felt the need to list it again).

What is your absolute favorite thing?

 

J

E is for Everywhere (Places I want to travel)

I love traveling. I want to go everywhere. I am young and (hopefully) have lots of time to accomplish my travel bucket list. Here is a list of all the countries I want to visit. If it seems like I listed basically everywhere, it is because I did.

– Antigua
– Argentina*
– Armenia
– Australia*
– Austria
– Bahamas*
– Bangladesh
– Barbados
– Belgium
– Belize
– Bermuda
– Bhutan
– Bolivia
– Botswana
– Brazil*
– Cambodia
– Canada
– Chile
– China*
– Colombia
– Costa Rica*
– Cuba
– Cyprus
– Czech Republic*
– Democratic Republic Congo
– Denmark
– Djibouti
– Dominican Republic
– Ecuador
– Egypt
– El Salvador
– England
– Estonia
– Ethiopia
– Fiji
– Finland
– France
– French Polynesia
– Gambia
– Germany
– Greece*
– Greenland
– Guatemala
– Haiti
– Honduras
– Hong Kong
– Hungary
– Iceland*
– India*
– Indonesia
– Ireland
– Israel
– Italy
– Jamaica
– Japan*
– Jordan
– Kenya
– Latvia
– Liechtenstein
– Lithuania
– Luxembourg
– Macedonia
– Malawi
– Malaysia
– Mexico
– Micronesia
– Monaco
– Mongolia
– Morocco*
– Mozambique
– Namibia
– Nepal
– Netherlands*
– New Zealand*
– Nicaragua
– Nigeria
– Norway
– Panama
– Paraguay
– Peru*
– Philippines
– Portugal
– Puerto Rico
– Russia
– Rwanda
– Samoa
– Saudi Arabia*
– Scotland
– Senegal
– Seychelles*
– Sierra Leone
– Singapore
– Solomon Islands
– South Africa
– Spain*
– Swaziland
– Sweden
– Switzerland
– Taiwan
– Tanzania
– Thailand*
– Turkey*
– Turks and Caicos Islands
– Uganda
– Ukraine
– United Arab Emirates*
– United Kingdom
– United States
– Uruguay
– Vatican City
– Venezuela
– Vietnam
– Wales
– Zambia
– Zimbabwe
I put an asterisk next to the ones I am most dying to go to. Of the 115 countries listed¬†(I included the United States because I have so much of it left to see and because I really dislike even numbers), I can only check off 9 at the moment. I am taking a trip this summer that will allow me to check off 5 more. That will leave me having completed about 12% of my list. Having 88% ahead of me is both a daunting and exciting challenge, but I can’t wait!
J

D is for Doctors

Doctors have a very noble profession. There are many career paths out there, but doctors are devoted to saving lives. They are smart, highly educated, and they seem to know everything to those of us who didn’t study medicine for an eternity. I think this has lulled the rest of us into a false sense of security when our health is left in their hands. I want to use this post to share some of my memorable experiences with doctors that were less than enjoyable in the hopes that those of you reading this become better advocates for your health.

During my senior year of high school I started to get strange symptoms. The first few symptoms I ignored (I don’t like to admit when I am wrong or when something is wrong with me). During my annual checkup I told my doctor about my symptoms and she assured me that I had nothing to worry about. She suggested that I was stressed out and that my symptoms were simply how my body coped with stress. She said all I needed to do was relax more and my symptoms would go away. I felt relieved. Nothing was wrong with me and I wasn’t about to question it. But deep down I knew she was wrong. I was a second semester senior who had already been accepted to my first choice college and had very little to stress over. After my appointment, not only did my symptoms get worse, but new ones appeared as well. These ones I couldn’t ignore. I went back to my doctor, and again she assured me I was a perfectly healthy teenager. A few short weeks later, however, I found myself in the emergency room. I was not a perfectly healthy teenager, in fact I was far from it. Looking back at all my symptoms and everything I have learned about my condition since the whole fiasco, my doctor should have noticed there was something wrong. She should have at least acknowledged what I said and ran some tests. I cannot place the blame entirely on her though. I should have demanded testing be done. I knew something felt wrong inside and I let someone else’s experience and status override my instinct. Luckily I turned out okay and most of my symptoms went away. I should have advocated for myself though. I should have at least learned my lesson.

In my sophomore year of college I had what I thought was a very bad cold. It was finals week and I actually was feeling stressed this time around. I assumed that stress, sleep deprivation, lack of a healthy diet, and being around a bunch of other sick college students left me susceptible to getting sick. I could barely swallow solid food by the end of the week, so after my last final I decided to see a doctor (a different one from when I was in high school). She took one quick look in my mouth before announcing I had strep throat. She said she had seen it thousands of times before, and that I certainly had it. I knew it was worse than the common cold, so I gladly took the amoxicillin prescribed to me and set out determined to enjoy my winter break. About a week later, I found myself in the emergency room for the second time in my life. This time I had an intense rash and it appeared as if I was having some sort of bad allergic reaction. It turned out that my strep diagnosis had been incorrect. What I actually had was mono. Doctors don’t prescribe amoxicillin for patients with mono because it often results in a bad full body rash. The very same one I had. The very same one that could have been prevented if a throat culture test or mono test had been done. Again, I partially blame myself. I should have demanded a test to confirm my diagnosis.

I hope that all of you out there can learn a lesson from my mistakes. I spend every day in my body and know it better than anyone else. If I think something is wrong with my health, I now fight to be heard. Doctors can be wonderful, they have helped me many times and overall have done more good than harm. I have lots of family and friends who are doctors or are studying to become doctors, and know they do have the best interest of their patients at heart. Just because doctors can be amazing doesn’t mean we can leave everything up to them. We also have to take responsibility over our health, it is much too important to give up control of it and let somebody else determine our fate.

 

J

C is for Cliche

I considered making this post about chocolate (I have a sweet tooth), or possibly all my favorite candies that start with the letter “C” (caramels, candy corn, Cadbury Eggs, candy canes, etc…did I mention I have a sweet tooth?). Then I thought I should write something with a bit more substance to it than the merits of sugary treats. And since I can’t have my cake and eat it too, I chose something of substance over something with sugar (for the first and probably last time in my life). I can see all of you writers out there rolling your eyes and cringing at the thought of using cliches, and cringing once more at the thought of devoting an entire blog post to them. I, on the other hand, think that cliches are cliche for a reason: they are funny and awesome and accurately sum up a situation. Here are some of the most notable cliches that I just so happen to have commentary about:

1)¬†Misery loves company– I could not agree more with this cliche. Whenever I am feeling down about something, what often cheers me up is hearing about the pain of somebody else. Yes I sound like a terrible person, and maybe this makes me one (let’s just hope that “what goes around comes around” doesn’t apply in this case) but I truly cannot help it. I think this is why people want to watch depressing Nicholas Sparks movies when they are sad.

2)¬†Laughter is the best medicine– Even better than someone else’s misery! I read once that if you fake a smile when you are sad you can sometimes trick your body into thinking you are happy and then soon enough you will be (fake it ’till you make it?). So if you are sad and have no laughter around, holding a pencil in your teeth will help you to fake a smile and be happy. Or you can just watch this hilarious video of an insane women who is obsessed with sponge art and gets so into it that she actually tells herself in third person to calm down. I watch it more often than I care to admit, and it never gets old.¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptwqeP4Feak

3)¬†You are what you eat– Really? Today apparently I am a breakfast bar, cottage cheese, rice cakes, some dark chocolate, and a calzone. At least I am delicious? I have mixed feelings about this one. I know what it is implying but I still don’t like thinking of myself as being made up of food.

4) A horse of a different color– I love saying this one. What I don’t love is when I get blank stares in response from my peers. It saddens me when people haven’t seen the Wizard of Oz. Then they think I am the strange one. I think they need to go visit the wizard and get a clue.

5) Nothing in life is free- False. I once one a MacBook on the radio. It was very much free and made me feel pretty bad-ass. Not that it took any skill to win, but still, go me! Other than this though, yeah pretty much nothing is free.

6) Sight for sore eyes– Growing up I had only ever heard this cliche used sarcastically. As a result I thought it had the opposite meaning. While I am still in favor of using sarcasm around children (it is an important skill for them to learn!) just beware it might embarrass them when they are in their twenties and learn they had been misusing a phrase their entire life.

7) You catch more flies with honey– No thanks, I don’t want any flies. I have more than enough as it is.

8) The early bird catches the worm– I like to think that the night owl actually gets the worm before the early bird even wakes up. Then that owl gets to sleep all day with a full belly while the early bird fights off the other early birds. Sounds great to me. I am such a night owl that I am up way past my bedtime and need to go to sleep though now, so alas I am done writing for today.

Do you have any notable cliches you want to discuss? Clearly I would love to hear about them. Please don’t wait for pigs to fly!

 

J

B is for Bat

As someone who teaches English as a second language, I can say with absolute certainty that “B is for Bat.” I am not talking about the sticklike object used to hit a baseball, I am talking about the funny looking animal of course. Since it isn’t one of the typical farm animals that children usually learn about, I am constantly amazed when children know “bat” and not “chicken.” And then I remember it is because “B is for Bat.” The inspiration for this post, however, is the family (herd? bushel? flock? According to google, it is actually a colony!) of bats that live in the tree outside my window. They are loud and terrifying and I am always afraid one is going to attack me when I am taking out the trash or something. I am sure they are harmless creatures, but nonetheless this post is dedicated to them in the hopes that they see me as an ally and stay away. So to prove my allegiance to their colony, here is a list of the most notable bat experiences in my life.

1) In 2007 my mom took me to Italy for a few weeks because she didn’t want to travel alone. (The joke is on her though because she infected me with the travel bug and now she hasn’t seen her lovely daughter in seven months.) Part of our trip was a week spent in a villa with family friends. It was located in the rolling hillsides of Tuscany, and yes, it was as beautiful and perfect as you could ever imagine. One night, however, we heard shrieking coming from upstairs. It turned out that we literally had a bat in our bell tower! It was the most cliche and wonderfully hilarious situation. The girls staying on the upper floor ¬†freaked out and ran downstairs. After the boys tried unsuccessfully to be macho and swat it out the window with a broom, we ended up locking it in. Everyone slept downstairs and we had to call someone the next day to remove it. Since it was daytime, the bat was sleeping and a lady came in and picked it up with her bare hands! She said it happened all the time. It makes me think Tuscany was the where the cliche originated. I would like to thank this bat for providing a comical anecdote to tell my friends and family when I returned, and to thank him for being a cliche and hanging out in the bell tower instead of my room.

2) Pretty much everyone has a childhood stuffed animal that they sleep with. Those of us who are animal lovers often have ten. While I have slept with many a plush animal over the years, there are two that have stood the test of time. One is a pig, but this isn’t about him. This is about Batty, the most lovable Beanie Buddy (A really big Beanie Baby) there ever was. Batty is quite the adventurer. He has been on many road trips, taken lots of rides in a washing machine, and even went to college (I am not going to feel embarrassed about taking him to college–90% of the girls in my freshman dorms brought stuffed animals, and so did some of the guys). He was too big to take abroad, but I look forward to reuniting with him.

3) Have you ever re-watched a movie from your childhood and realized you had no idea what it was about because you were too young? FernGully was one of my favorite movies from childhood, but back then I thought it was about fairies escaping loggers and some evil sludge. Now that I have watched it again, I can tell you that it is actually about much much more. I highly recommend it to those of you who haven’t seen it, (I’m fairly positive it was the inspiration for Avatar) as it sends a great message about preserving the environment. Anyway, Robin Williams voices a quirky bat in the movie named Batty (why I named my stuffed animal Batty perhaps?). Batty had escaped from a lab where humans used him to test cosmetics and possibly something to do with electricity (Batty had wires coming out of his head). He sings a wonderful rap song cautioning the fairies to stay away from humans. So to the bats outside my window, I assume you are as fabulous as Batty from FernGully and I promise I have never experimented or dissected anyone from your species. (If you want to watch the rap skip to 1:45 at¬†www.youtube.com/watch?v=opOl17fNh1w and enjoy!)

 

J