Monday, March 26, 2012

Flat on my Face: Mis(s)adventures Juxtaposed

I had a very adventuresome weekend.  From being involved in a play written, produced, and performed in only 24 hours to heading to the river to a school dance, I was busy.

But I'm not going to talk about that.

I am going to talk about my incredible talent for falling flat on my face.  Literally.  (Like, while searching for a vocation, as I am, I should be seriously considering specific careers for accident-prone people.)

You see, this weekend, while heading back from the river on a particularly non-treacherous stretch of sidewalk, a combination of misdirected momentum and sheer Mariah-ness resulted in me splayed out on the concrete picking up my glasses and having a flashback to the 8th grade.

Picture this- It is the first week of middle school.  New building, new friends.  I am an awkward but not shy girl in the hideous required gym uniform.  Ready for torture. Not particularly athletic, I am dreading having to run my first-ever two-mile, which I'd better get used to because it is going to happen every two weeks. We head outside and are told to begin.  We'll be timed.  I start off in the middle-back of the pack, jogging.  We'll start out on the sidewalk next to the street that leads out of our school, then switch to a jogging path along the main road.  As I jog, I notice the different shades of the blocks of sidewalk.  They've been re-doing this walk, a few squares at a time, so some of it is brand new concrete.  It is bright, bright white with two-centimeter ridges across.  I am the kind of girl who, were there no time limit and no new classmates around, might stop to examine more closely.

Time limit or no time limit, the next thing I know, I am examining the cement very, very closely.

I puzzle over how I got there, not remembering the fall.  The few kids behind me ask if I am okay.  OMG someone saw that.  The last thing I want is any attention from eighth graders at this time, I tell them to keep going.  They do.

I pick myself up and examine the damage.  This time, my glasses have remained on my face, and for that, my right lens has a large scrape across it in the pattern of the brand new sidewalk ridges. I also managed to scrape both sides of one hand (how does that even happen???), and I feel like something might be up with my forehead.  I look down at my knees and noticed two big scrapes.  Oh.  I think, My knee is bleeding into my shoe.

Luckily, I hadn't gotten far.  I take myself back to my gym teacher, less than a block away, who looks me over and states he hasn't seen such a horrible injury in all his time teaching, even during rugby.  (And this teacher was pretty serious about rugby).  Since I had reached safety, the pain hit me.  I started crying and laughing at the same time.

And that, my friends, is how I spent the first week of middle school with a large band aid on my forehead.  (It turns out I had scraped it up pretty badly).

Oh yeah, and my new crush in my Spanish class declared I was going to have a horrible scar there and nicknamed me Forescar.  Attractive.

Fast forward to freshman year of college, and the story is sadly similar.  My fall didn't cause nearly so much damage as the sidewalk was not brand new (thank you City of St. Paul)  and I was wearing jeans, but I did manage to fall harder on my left knee than my right, scrape both sides of my right hand, and I even have a tiny scrape on the side of my glasses.

As I smile, laughing at myself, the bruise/scrape on my temple hurts.

Some things never change.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Extreme Motivation

Today, with the renewal of good weather and a Spring Break where all I did was sleep, I am feeling infinitely joyful and extremely motivated.
I am in one of those "I can conquer the world" phases that typically come after breaks which means my Google calendar is fully up to date and full of lots of opportunities, my sleep bank is stocked, and my desire to socialize is great.
The sad part about these things is that I know that they won't last.  Some of these good habits are impossible to keep up with.  But goodness I am motivated to hold onto as many as I can this time around because if life were always this good, I wouldn't want anything more.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I am a little obsessed with Ugly Betty.  Here's what she has to say today:

"Is it really naive to want to believe in people?"

Some days, I don't know.  But every day, I know I couldn't live if I didn't.

The "F-Word"

I was just thinking, I wonder how many people can remember the first time they said the f-word. I wonder because I understand it is not such a big deal to most people, but I can, and vividly.

I was at theater camp.  It was the summer institute of the nation's most beloved all-black theater, and I only got to attend a day camp so far from home because my mother worked nearby. It was in the city, and most, though not all, of the kids attending were very much from the inner-city.  I was very, very much not.  And also overprotected.  And slightly terrified when I heard about some of the "adventures" of these children, many of whom were younger than me.

But I loved theater, and I definitely can get along with anyone if I, and they, keep an open mind.  So I was sticking with it and determined to win my fellow campers over by being nice and trying not to stick out more than I already did.

It came time to read a play aloud to practice scoring the script.  It was an excellent piece on a teacher who chose to work at a public school in The Bronx.  I was reading the role of one of the students, all of whom were really tough pupils.  It wasn't easy, reading aloud a vernacular I rarely heard, much less saw translated to paper, but I struggled through it.  Some of my fellow campers struggled too.  Others hardly sounded any different than usual.

Then, I saw it.  It was a few lines ahead.  The fourth grader (or so)  I was playing had a line with more than one f-word in it.  My thought process went a little like this:

OMG (goodness, not God, of course), the f-word!  Should I really say that out loud?  Maybe they want me to skip over it, like in middle school.  
Stupid, stupid.  Mariah, this is theater.  And it is a normal part of most people's vocabulary!  
Yes, but not mine...  
Yeah, but you can't look like such a goody-two-shoes in front of these people.  Do you want to make friends?  You are already too white and suburban and innocent.
Yeah, because saying the f-word will convince them that I'm not... I can't say that word.  I can't even think it.  
Are you morally opposed?
No, it just sounds funny.
You're right, it kind of does.  haha.  No, but seriously, it will sound bad if you do, but think about how it will sound if you don't.
AHH, but I've never said it before.
Well,  I don't know, practice in your head or something because you are going to have to now.  

Even the practice in my head sounded awkward.

We got to my line.  The word felt funny in my mouth, but we kept moving.  I did end up making friends at camp, but most of them weren't the ones who were super-comfy with the f-word.

Incidentally, this year in acting class, I picked a heart-wrenching monologue for my final... that just happened to include a lot of profanity.  I hadn't really used the f-word much since the camp, and my main criticism was- you guessed it-I sound awkward saying fuck.  Which is why I haven't typed it this whole time.

Because this is my voice.  And wasn't that awkward?

On Systems

Instead of doing my Food Politics reading today (Michael Zis gave us a whole book over spring break... not cool), I started thinking about what I have learned-- first from that class, then from college, then from almost all my education in general.  It can be summed up in a sentence.

Systems are flawed.

It started in my mind from the food system.  Lots and lots of flaws.  Guess what?  Even our national school lunch program is flawed, and I'm not talking about the fact that the pizza is sub par.  It was flawed even before they served "pink slime" and had standards so outdated they contributed to obesity.  In fact, one may argue that the system started out flawed, being designed to get rid of agricultural surpluses more than to feed hungry children.

But I knew systems were flawed long before I got to Food Politics class.  In 10th grade, I decided to stop being Catholic.  Afterward, I went on a little soul search and explored my options.  I was still very Christian and simply had some issues with what essentially came down to systemic hypocrisy.  But I discovered that little issue was going on in every church, and really every organization.  So, while the Catholic Church, and any church, is a great idea in theory, in practice, religion is at least partly responsible for most of the conflict, violence, and hatred in this world.

The school lunch program, in its idea phase, was meant to feed undernourished children and was proposed by strong women of the Progressive Era.  It ended up, in its early stages, reinforcing other systemic inequalities based on things such as race and gender, and in its later stages, did not provide proper nutrition to children.

I could go on with the examples, but this is rather simple.  People see it every day.  It is what makes my fellow college students stand up, get involved in activism, try to fight the system, and generally complain about norms and hegemony and all that jazz.

The thing is, I'm into policy.  I want to create lasting change.  Lasting, systemic change.  Or I did.  Until I had this little epiphany so simple I can't believe I didn't discover it long ago.

We who want to change the world, we the idealists, we who might someday have the power to employ the ideas we have, we will create new systems, even if we don't want to.

How can we be sure those systems are not riddled with hypocrisy?  How can we be sure the impact of the changes we make are positive?

I don't think we can.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Explaining my Tagline

Miss Advice, Mis(s)adventures, Mis(s)cellaneous-  What does that mean?
When I started this blog, those words served as inspiration as to what I would like to blog about, not to mention they created a cute little theme.

So this is my mission as I put fingers to keyboard and get this blog off the ground:
Miss Advice-  Any of my friends will tell you I'm the girl you can come to in a crisis, and I LOVE to give advice.  I read advice columns more often than I read anything else for fun, and my head and my heart work well together to create practical solutions.  Therefore, advice will show up naturally throughout this blog, whether it is advice on how to have a healthier diet (I have a food blog, too), or how to survive midterms.  It may be serious and I will also probably put some sarcastic guides up, too.  In addition to the advice I naturally give, as I have more followers, I would love to answer questions.  I am not an actual expert at anything but being human, but sometimes that's all you need.

Mis(s)adventures- I'd love to call myself Miss Adventures, but that would be a misnomer.  Unfortunately, I spend a lot more time doing homework than having adventures.  However, when I do go on adventures, funny and embarrassing things happen without fail.  For example, there was that awkward moment where I got too nervous to get off the ski lift on the 7th grade ski trip and instead got stuck up there.  The attendant had to stop the lift and essentially pick me up and put me on the ground, all while we were precariously perched over an uncleared brush area, as the ski lift had already begun its descent.  Since I don't mind laughing at myself and my cynical sense of humor always saves the day, I enjoy telling these stores.

Mis(s)cellaneous- Well, this is quite self-explanatory.  I like to talk.  I like to say what's on my mind, to explore key issues, or to simply muse.  I also really like quotations and lots of other things I am probably forgetting.  I definitely need a Miscellaneous section for when the randomness takes over.

That being said, I will be attempting to blog more diligently within these categories, and possibly making up new ones.  You never know with me.  Stay tuned.

El Otro Lado de la Cama

Today in Spanish, we were talking about who had a good idea for a sitcom (it was part of an exercise.)  I stated to the class that I often felt that I was living in a sitcom.  Zoe pipes up, "Yeah it is kind of like 'El Otro Lado de la Cama!'"
Which is a movie we had to watch for class about two couples who are cheating on each other by secret partner swapping.
Of course, I was shocked, and so was the rest of the class.
Erin, mi amiga, stated, "I thought I knew you, Mariah."
I am going to have to get to the bottom of Zoe's perception of our lives.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Wise Best Friend Zoe Told Me

If you keep doing what you've always done, you are always going to get what you've always gotten.

So do I want something new?