Return to Nature: A Childhood Fantasy

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I just started watching the final season of Inu Yasha on amazon. This show brought so much natural beauty, vibrant colors, and downright fabulous fabrics into my anime repertoire, not to mention the fictional mancandy who was ready and willing to receive my blossoming female gaze. This was one of those series that I reveled in during youth, bought the plushies and other gear at conventions, and even wrote fanfic. But like most fandoms, I lost touch with it in college. Inu Yasha was important to my youth in many ways, one of those being a bonding opportunity for my brother and I. With six years’ difference, opposing gender perspectives, and a vast landscape of traditional religious repression separating us, we had few places wherein to connect. Saturday night anime was one of those places.

But my family relationships are for another post, another time. What I want to talk about right now are the environmental aspects of the show and what it means directly for my nostalgia as I watch it today. Although it has its own beauty that easily stands alone, Inu Yasha speaks to me so much for the nostalgia factor. This show had its own kind of feminism going on, one which I didn’t fully understand but I at least acknowledged. There was Sango, a mighty warrior who hunted down her enemies and took no prisoners. There was Kikyo, a protector of nature and order who dealt vengeance like the BAMF that she is, not afraid to send an arrow through her own lover’s heart when she was wronged. Then there was Kagome, a like-minded teen lethargic with modern life and who secretly wanted to escape to a time before the modern hubbub, conventions, global conglomerate, and CO2. In the story, this reality is thrust upon her more as a genealogical inevitability, but of course I infused my own traits into my interpretation of her character.

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I call that time the “Lord of the Rings years” because my mindscapes looked more like Rivendell than they did Maryland, USA, and this feudal fantasy-Japan anime fit the pre-technology paradigm for those years too. These were years where I was deeply disillusioned with modern life (as rebellious children desperate for autonomy and feeling emotionally, culturally, spiritually, and sexually repressed by a household whose values they don’t share are wont to be), and thus fell into depression. Blog posts on being an ultra-liberal, atheist, sexually open, feminist hippy in an opposing household are a dime a dozen, the emotional effects of which are almost cliche in their universality. So, no need to tread those grounds. Instead, I’ll discuss the avenue I personally chose: fantasy. Novels, fanfic, TV, movies, and my own imagination.

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Anxiety Illustrated

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Institute for Creation Research: It Exists (Sort of) and Is Everything I Hoped It Would Be

I just learned there is something called the Institute for Creation Research, a place where one might be tempted to assume research takes place since it’s in the name (until one remembers that it’s about creationism). Here’s one attendee’s anticlimactic account of his visit:

I know there is a lot of… scientific evidence — we are here at the Institute for Creation Research — and there is a lot of, really, all science, it just points to the validation of the Genesis account.

My morbid curiosity took over, and I had to learn more about this place where science goes to die. As the boy says, there must be research because “research” is in the name! Is this like one of those pregnancy crisis centers that provide counsel on neither crisis nor pregnancies? What does this creation research look like? Do they sit around a table and read the bible together? Do they have tea with the pope and discuss his information conduit to Jesus, wherein Jesus shares all sorts of factoids? Tell me more! I want to dance through the Sistine Chapel and shout “peer reviewed articles” and “Genesis!”

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My name is Mary


Sunday is Games of Thrones Night: Feelings Conveyed Through Charts

SANSA! Listen, girl, I have some qualms. Do you NOT recall the decision tree?


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Age of Ultron, Its Wins and Its Flaws

As with the first Avengers, Ultron is all about the entertaining little things:

  • Bruce Banner and his beats by dre
  • Trontasha on her troncycle
  • Drunk Avengers having a sleepover at headquarters
  • Samuel L Jackson’s multimillion dollar cameo at the farmhouse just to tell them how much they suck at being Avengers
  • The “lullaby”
  • No one wearing body armor and then getting shot, like of course you got shot, you’re wearing a muscle tee!
  • Trontasha literally riding a cryotube through midair into the back of a plane
  • Hawkeye immediately carving a rocking chair and pulling up plywood when he gets home, like calm down a sec, your friends are over and you just lost a big fight. Take a nap maybe.
  • The balls of saying this scene takes place “off the African coast” like that doesn’t make up the entire circumference of the world in square mileage.
  • Vision. Just…. Vision. (eep!)

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Why Outlander is the Most Refreshing Show On TV Right Now

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The Law of Diminishing Returns, illustrated by Dragonball Z

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Ideal Weekend, As Described By A 28-Yr-Old, Full-Time Employee and Student

Of course, I knew after college that I would never so happily and recklessly stay up until 4am every night drinking and carrying on with friends in a formidable “landscape utopia” (beach, plains, cliffs, salty air, and forests all within a mile radius). Maybe some of this can be rekindled at the weekend-long tribute to that lifestyle known as Alumni Weekend (although it is rigidly scheduled as though targeted for adults, complete with an early dinner and quiet hours *cringe*). However, I was beaming with pleasure this morning after remembering my semi-blissful weekend. What roaring event did I attend, you ask? None, actually. Let me regale you with my completed weekend itinerary:

Friday was videogames at a friend’s house, which doubled as an impromptu birthday party.

Saturday began bright and early with coffee and a drive with the windows down, followed by a highly detailed & aggressively perfect cleaning of my bedroom and bathroom. I then took an epic afternoon nap and capped off the evening with sangria and rum bread pudding out with friends at the Latin Kitchen.

Sunday was kebabs and a glass of wine before thrift shopping downtown with friends, followed by a low-key sushi dinner, a relaxing shower, and a soothing evening indoors doing my nails and watching Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country, and closed out by this week’s Game of Thrones episode.

I’m not even 30 yet. The most out of control this weekend got was my palpable excitement upon my invitation to join the Magic The Gathering night at a gaming store. It occurs to me that I have reached the point where a trip to Napa Valley followed by an early dinner excites me just as much as bar-hopping used to when I was 21. And I’m OK with that.

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The Final Frootcamp Entry

At last, the end of the road. I did eat the final fourteen fruits over the course of two years. Who never abandoned their posts and did something else instead? Watch as I force these sugary, horrible items down my gullet for the love of the battle. ….You can’t, because I went to grad school and did stuff instead. Woops.

I’ll confess to including tomato, olives, and multiple versions of zucchinis in the final fourteen. Ah-ah-ah, I’m not cheating, Newman! Look that shit up. Fruits that fake out everyone and parade as vegetables have been my only consolation on my health drive. Grad school drove me to binge on many a sugary carb, and I fell off the wagon more times than I climbed on. However, I graduate next May, and I occasionally reappear at the hot yoga studio, so I truly don’t regret how long this took to finish. It’s been a ride, fruit, and I still don’t like you, but now I can respond “Actually I have tried it, and it blows major chunks, thankyouverymuch” to any and all indignant inquisitions.

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Of Parables and Overthinking

I was laughing about my decision to watch Exodus Gods and Kings drunk the other night with some coworkers, and most laughed with me and understood that it was a bad movie–even if a few hadn’t seen it yet, they knew. They just knew. Everyone knows Exodus is just a bad story. This position doesn’t need empirical evidence….the story is the empirical evidence. It’s no Charles Dickens masterpiece, folks. It’s a few pages of a wealthy heir growing morals upon discovering the suffering peoples have something to do with him. While the Cecil B. DeMille Ten Commandments adds a few extra hours of assumptions to the story (which make it quite enthralling and altogether a great story and film), I think Exodus Gods & Kings does a more honest job (albeit tongue-in-cheek) grappling this, as the film opens with him literally –not figuratively– conquering a village and slaughtering its inhabitants. But they don’t look like him, so it’s all good. Some people will blink at me, though, and simply ask, “What was wrong with Exodus Gods and Kings?” Uh, okay, lady. I don’t have seven hours free tonight, so maybe I’ll let this one go.

It never ceases to amaze me how much thought religious people try to put into a few paragraphs of a story from thousands of years ago, which has ultimately played telephone so many times before it even lands in the hands of a literate person wealthy enough to own paper and ink that it finally gets written down, and then translated and rewritten a few more dozen times until finally Europe sees it and has a meeting about it. “OMG, it’s so deep, what does it mean? There’s so many layers. It’s all about the subtext. What Jesus really means here is that it’s about our feelings, and do unto others, etc.” Ladies and gentlemen, these stories are usually stupid. Here, let me help. The Luke Multitude “parable” is about how all the town idiots didn’t have the foresight, awareness, or perhaps the wherewithal to pack a goddamned lunch when they head across town to attend a sermon. So, Jesus felt bad when his attendees voiced their bellyaching instead of going home and eating like an adult (TM) might think to do rather than inconveniencing the presenter. Jesus caves and pulls some catering out of his ass. The lesson is that if you neglect to bring a lunch and if you whine enough times with enough puppyface frowns, Greg, the office doormat, might just buy you Chipotle to avoid conflict.

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Pres. Obama Detractors

While I’m an Obama fan, there are certainly things to be upset about, and at the kitchen table over the years with family I time and again have wanted to scream, “There are so many things you could legitimately be upset with him over–you don’t need to make any up!”

But they do. Entire national campaigns have been built around making shit up, with the kind of criminal negligence for any international ramifications that you’d expect from a country WILLFULLY painting itself an ignorant, ticking time bomb of mouth-foaming gun hoarders who can’t pay attention long enough to vote in their own interests. An entire TV network exists to manufacture dissatisfaction in this president because he’s such a raging Republican half the time that there’s nothing the Right Wing can justly complain about. Economy? He’s done everything Gingrich and Romney promised and more! It’s a sad statement on the U.S. population and media that I’m always thrilled when an Obama detractor mentions an actual reason for their presidential disapproval. “You’re angry at him for not prosecuting Wall Street?! PRAISE JIBBERS, thank you for knowing something! Yes, that’s an excellent point, and I’m glad you feel that way.” It’s a rare event indeed, and it’s so sad that my bar has fallen that low: if someone presents a fucking fact–a reason to dislike the president that exists in this dimension–my eyes widen like I’m so impressed, and mentally I react with a knee-jerk “awww good job”, like I’m witnessing a small child use the toilet by himself for the first time. “Drones. Yes. Please be mad about drones. Absolutely, let’s discuss drone usage in nations like Pakistan.” To be so impressed by what should be one’s natural state of awareness in the so-called Information Age…. At what point do we just give up on this population?


One More Year

Years after my academic exodus, I discovered that thousands of women share my same experience every day: fleeing the old world, boy’s club cigar room of Economics and embracing the unfolding field of Big Data. It’s interesting to think back on applying to graduate programs. After an initial rejection from the program I wanted, I spent the following year buffering applications, taking a course, and convincing myself that any ol’ Master’s would do. In fact, if all programs accepted me this time around, I said, the decision could be difficult! I had convinced myself to keep calm and not pick a program, but innately I had. Oh, I wanted this one all along, the Survey Methodology Master’s with the exorbitant credit requirement, the horrible schedule, the longest commute, the most expensive tuition…but the most prestige. That year I heard from Survey Methodology first. I felt my heart sink as I held the letter, blinking at it, thinking over and over that it was too thin. I stared at it for a solid minute, debating how I could bring myself to open it and what the answer would bring me. Convinced it was another rejection, I slowly tore the back of the envelope. Matt was with me, watching me carefully with his cool, supportive eyes that were already saying “I’m sorry”. He knew what I thought I knew: that introductory program packets don’t look like this.  I slowly unfolded the letter, shuttering tears behind my eyelids while my chest already heaved with disappointment. Then, I saw one word: “Congratulations!” Gasps sputtered out of me. Misplaced spasms of disappointment turned to relief in mid-air, and I knew then what I hadn’t let myself know throughout the application process: There was no other program. This was the one, and I was in. Now, with one year left until my graduation, I remember the struggle, the late nights, the tears, and the accomplishments, and know I made the right choice. Here’s to my final year of gradschool! Come at me!

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“How do I brain?” The persistence of the willfully uninformed.

I love when vocal Republicans on Facebook broadcast the fact that they’re liberals through the issues they care about. “No, I’m just a Republican who believes social welfare programs are all grossly & negligently under-budgeted while money is wasted elsewhere.” Congratulations, you’re a modern Democrat. “No, no, no, I mean all our money goes abroad and to excessive immigration instead of helping the folks here at home!” Oh, well then let me revise that: you’re an idiotic modern Democrat. Let me google that for you…. Here we are. In under 2 seconds I have a pie chart of Fiscal Year 2010’s budget expenditures by department. Simply click to enlarge! Immigration Services falls under the Dept of Homeland Security, btw.

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“You see? Homeland Security is a huge piece of that pie!” Oh…okay, you think the Immigration office costs more than surveillance bunkers, the coast guard, or FEMA equipment. Ignorance was cute in the olden days, I guess, but OK, let me google that for you again…. Oh, in three seconds flat I have unearthed the FY 2010 Budget of the Dept of Homeland Security. Yeah, that Haitian assistance and backlogged Immigration paperwork is killing us.

Seriously, it takes people longer to write a derogatory Facebook post about falsehoods than it actually would take to learn about the falsehood. Ignorance is a cardinal sin in the Information Age. Ignorantly blind partisanship is bad enough, but willfully blind partisanship is just unfathomable to me. I essentially met someone whose logic is: If I gave a shit for long enough to learn about the issues I care about, I would feel differently about the issues I care about.

 

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So close, buddy! Better luck next election. Maybe someday you’ll cognitively get there.

 

 


Fifty Shades of Whining

What’s a girl to do when public transit makes her miss her Capital Fringe Festival show downtown on a Saturday morning? Why, rage-read this decade’s ‘Twilight’ alternative at Starbucks and livetweet the experience of course! “With so many copies sold, it can’t be bad!” Yes. Yes it can. By definition, having that many sales means it’s just bad enough to court the lowest common denominator. I am immediately mistrusting of a work with an audience that wide. Today my concern was validated.

It was worth a chocolate croissant and a venti coffee. It was especially worth all the awkward judgey looks from repressed mothers [who secretly read it while their husbands were at work anyway, so who cares?]

 

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