Writing from 2011 ….

*I recently remembered I had another blog I had started years and years ago.  This was the only post I had written, and part of me is really ashamed at my writing.  However, I have been blogging for a year now, and I thought this would be an interesting way of celebrating that.  (Plus, I’m using this as an intermediary while I try to find the flash drive that had some of the projects I’m working on ….) My writing is rough; you are warned. *

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Top Five Favorite Movies for Snow Days

Okay. So, with this snow normally comes snow days. And, lucky me, my brothers have already had four. Me, um, two. So, when that opportunity comes around, you will probably find me in our basement watching movies. By myself. Under our leopard blanket. With hot chocolate. So, “What movies,” you ask? Well, let me explain.

Jane Eyre   This movie is so long, four hours exactly, but it fills my romantic craving. Plus, I love the idea of a troubled romance, so, hey, perfect combo, right?  Troubled romances, long movies, and a hot lead? Get my hot cocoa started!  Also, that time in England, the mid 1800’s, completely captivates me. The dresses, the, ah, men, and the parties. So, like, honestly, what better way to spend a snow day? Eh?

Les Miserables   I got the full show on DVD for Christmas this past year. Yeah, it’s just singing, but, hey. It is actually at the London Hall, so it’s supposed to be good, right? I still need to finish it. I haven’t been able to watch it the whole way through, so I’m just waiting for that. Also, and you can ask my family this, but I go around the house singing Les Mis songs day in and day out. Mark finds it annoying, but once you get bit by the Les Mis bug, there ain’t no going back!

Alice in Wonderland   Okay, this movie is either love it or hate it, and I for one, love it! My top favorite actors are in it; Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, and Johnny Depp. Plus, it was directed by Tim Burton. Sure, he’s crazy, but he does some good movies! I got it for Christmas, on Blu-ray, and wow, the colors are vibrant! I just think, even though his movies are out there and out of the ordinary, the music is amazing! I hear something weird and instantaneously, I think Tim Burton. So, yeah.

Anything Harry Potter   Yes, I know, I’m obsessing. But whatever! I have always loved the idea of magic, so this is perfect! Also, I think the main theme behind all of the books is a good way to say that good triumphs over evil, no matter how strong the evil may be. I think that Daniel Radcliff is a great actor, no matter what everyone else says. Plus, I want to be completely ready for a surprise trip down to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hint, hint, Mom!

 Avatar   This movie is just plain good! Sigourney Weaver definitely knows how to kick some butt in the movie! Also, Pandora is amazing! The plants, the animals, and Eywa reminds me of how much God is around me and everywhere I look. Personally, I find the Na’ vi people intriguing.  Just the way they go about things, like killing animals, hunting, living, and the music. It makes me wish Pandora was real and that we could actually take on the form of an avatar. Hmm, that would be so cool. Hey, I will keep right on dreaming!

So, those are just a few of the movies I would watch (and have watched). My list could go on and on, including the like of Pirates of the Caribbean, Thumbelina, Anastasia, and many more, but I said my top five. Plus, the “Pirate” movies are another story in and of itself. Please let me know what your top movies for snow days are.

WRITTEN JANUARY 25, 2011**

13 Reasons Why.

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This is something I wanted to talk about.  I think it’s incredibly important.  However, I put off watching the show after I heard my brother’s comments and opinions on the show. (He isn’t a fan.)

*Let me provide you with a brief synopsis:  This show is based on the young adult book of the same name.  Hannah Baker commits suicide, and instead of leaving a suicide note, she records 13 tapes.  Each tape is addressed to a particular person Hannah blames for her suicide.  The tapes are to be passed through the people consecutively, one after the other.  If a person decides not listen to the tapes and pass them on, there is a threat that there is an identical set of tapes that will be released to the authorities.  The show focuses around Clay Jensen, who receives the tapes at the beginning of the show.  He was Hannah’s friend, and had a crush on her, and so he finds it very difficult to listen to the tapes.  He is the 11th tape, and as he works his way through the tapes about his peers, he challenges their “stable” handling of the tapes and Hannah’s death.  However, Hannah’s parents are filing a lawsuit against the school because of bullying, and targets one of the 13 students.  This further makes the situation between Clay and the others tense and sometimes dangerous.*

Before I get into the nitty gritty of my opinions, I want to make something very clear: Suicide is something that needs to be talked about.  It is a dangerous choice that many people, teenagers especially, decide to make.  It’s devastating and impacts many people.  The year after I graduated high school, my class lost two people to suicide, in the span of two weeks.  Suicide needs to be talked about.  But there is a difference between talking about suicide and handling suicide

Though this show talks about suicide, it doesn’t handle suicide.  Let me explain.  This show focuses on a young girl’s suicide, and how it affects her high school.  Suicide itself is talked about, and the ripple effect is examined.  But it is does not handle suicide.  It doesn’t talk about the warning signs, or ways to help.  If anything, the show focuses on bullying and harassment.  These things is still important to talk about, and definitely a key factor in many suicides, but then the show should be labeled as a show focusing on such.

I also want to make it clear that, as of writing this, I have yet to finish the show.  I am less than half-way through, and in all honesty, I can’t take any more.  I initially decided that I wasn’t going to write about this show until I finished it, but honestly, it’s having a negative effect on my mental and emotional state.  I’m watching it slowly, and it’s still getting under my skin.

I have never really considered suicide.  (Well, there was one evening four years ago, for about a span of forty-five minutes, where I desperately didn’t want to wake up the next morning.  But that was due to a heart-wrenching situation, and I already it mentioned here, point 3.). I love my life.  I am full to the brim with excitement about my future.  If you were to stop me in the street and ask me about my hopes and dreams, and my plans for the future, my eyes would light up and I would get very excited to talk about those things.  I’m saying these things to paint the picture of how much I love my life, and am not suicidal or depressed.  But this show is causing me to have scary thoughts. Thoughts such as “What would my room say about me if I was gone?” or “Am I the ‘real me’ to my parents, family, and friends?” or even “How would my death impact others if I was gone?”. 

I will be 21 this year, so these thoughts are scary to me, because life is still so bright before me.  But now imagine these thoughts in the minds of depressed teenagers.  The gravity of that situation is enough to shake me to my core.  And if suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15-19 (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), is it not terrifying that a show that creates these types of thoughts is advertised for teenagers in that demographic?

Thirteen Reasons Why is not a show that spreads awareness about suicide.  In fact, if anything, it trivializes it.  Instead of focusing on the young girl’s mental state, it instead seems to focus on harassment and bullying.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  Harassment and bullying need to be talked about and some of the things the characters did were absolutely atrocious and deserve to be addressed.  However, not in the way the show addresses them.  For example, one of the students, Tyler, was on the yearbook staff, and began to stalk Hannah.  She hears him outside her window late one night, taking pictures.  What he did was obviously not okay.  However, instead of telling authorities, Hannah decides to sit outside his window as she records his tape, telling those listening to those rocks at his window.  That is not okay. 

The other thing I can’t stand about this show is how Hannah’s word is held as law.  I understand respecting the dead, and their wishes.  But I draw the line at holding those wishes above the well-being of other people.  In the same situation with Tyler, instead of throwing a rock at his window, Clay takes a picture of him while he’s changing, and sends to kids at school.  When he is confronted by Tyler about it, Clay says that what he did was equal to what Tyler did.  I partly feel bad for Clay, because he liked Hannah, he feels the need to honor her and seek revenge.  However, I would argue his actions make him just as bad as the things the other people did.  Also, every person who listens to the tapes seems to think they have no choice in the matter, that they have to listen to them and pass them on.  They seems to hold their reputations and futures above Hannah’s grieving parents, and other students.  Those of who that have experienced the effects of suicide closely, does this sit well with you? 

Now, this show is listed as TV-MA, due to the language and sexual content.  Hannah Baker is sexually assaulted and raped, and from the episodes I have seen, I have reason to believe the rape seen will be shown in detail.  And because all of the episodes are available on Netflix, people have the ability to watch the entire show in one sitting.  This is a lot of emotional and upsetting material to take in all at once.  I could just about handle both seasons of Broadchurch, and I am going to have to find the emotional fortitude to watch the third and final season.  That show was handled gently and with cautious delicacy, in terms of the more unsavory scenes.  But this show, it feels blatant and aggressive.  It feels frank, but not in the prudent or well thought-out way.  (Also, I want to note that the intro music to the show creates a very stark contrast with the nature of the show.  It is a relatively happy tune, compared to the dark subject matter.)

I have not finished the series, but in doing research for this show, I’ve learned that Hannah’s suicide is depicted in full graphic detail.  First off, as someone who is naturally sensitive to scenes like that, I know that moment would cause me serious emotional distress.  But secondly, there is research to suggest that visual, graphic depictions of suicide can increase viewer suicides.  Imagine teenagers, who already are suicidal or have suicidal thoughts, watching that scene.  They may be more compelled to commit suicide.   That scares me. 

The final thing about this show is the way it concludes.  It is alluded that one of the students, the first student named and the one targeted by the lawsuit, is about to commit suicide.  On top of that, it is also alluded that there will be a school shooting.  These are terrifying things, and should not be handled lightly.  However, I would argue that the students involved in these end-of-the-show tragedies, are doing so because of the blame placed on them by Hannah.  I would argue that it was Hannah’s tapes and her persistence that they be listened to, that drove certain people to suicide or revenge through a school shooting.  I think this creates a flawed idea that one can still have an impact on other people after one has died.  Let me put this plainly and has gently as I can: If you commit suicide, you relinquish your control and impact on others around you.  You no longer can tell people what to do.  And mostly importantly, you cannot blackmail people from the grave. 

I have issues with this show because of how it seems to glamorize revenge harassment and how it trivializes suicides.  It doesn’t seem to place things in proper proportion.  I have been a teenager, and I have been in high school.  But this show makes high schoolers and counselors seem uncaring, incompetent, and totally disillusioned.  I have not finished this show, and as of right now, I do not plan on it.

I agree with this article, “13 Reasons Why’s Controversial Depiction of Teen Suicide Has School Counselors Picking Up the Pieces“.  I feel those people that actually want to help are left to try to make this show a working part of the conversation about suicide.  They are left to steer the conversation away from some of the really glaring issues with the show, back towards help and safety and prevention.

If you still want to watch this show, please do so knowing it is a work of fiction and should be understood as such.  It represents graphic depictions of bullying, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, rape, and suicide.  If you already have suicidal thoughts, or know someone who does, please do not watch this show.  I do not know you, but I love you.  I do not know you, but I care about you.  I do not know you, but I want you to live.  You are worthy of life, and beautiful and wonderful. 

If you or someone you know is exhibiting suicidal tendencies or is showing any of the warning signs for suicide, please contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.  The line is open 24 hours a day, and there is even the ability to chat online, if necessary.  Please reach out; there are people to care about you and want to help you.

 

Comfy shows for rest and relaxation ….

Hey guys, I feel like its been so long.  I’ve had a veeery loooong week.  I started my new job this week, finished up my shifts at my old job, and had a few finals.  I worked a little over 40 hours this week, and got maybe 10 hours of sleep total Wednesday and Thursday night.  My new job is a lot of running and standing and fast working, which is not an environment I am used to.  Plus, I did some intensive weeding in my family’s garden last night.

My body hurts and my energy levels are practically non-existent.

All I desperately want to do is curl up with a fuzzy blanket and binge watch Netflix shows, for hours on end.  My mom and I have recently stumbled upon “comfy” murder mysteries.  We are currently watching Father Brown, with Mark Williams (from Harry Potter and Doctor Who).  It is fun, light-hearted, touching, and not nearly as intense your typical crime show.  The stories are based off of the characters created by G. K. Chesterton, and are set in 1940’s English countryside. 

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But our most favorite is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  We discovered it purely by chance, and pretty much watched all three seasons in about five days.  It’s simply wonderful.  It’s set in late 1920’s Australia.  Phryne Fisher is an incredible rebellious modern woman; detective, driver, flirtatious single woman.  She causes ruckus, gets into trouble, but has an incredible heart.  Plus, her relationship with lead detective, Jack Robinson, is a heck of a lot of fun to watch. 

This show only has three seasons, and it seems it could be awhile until anything new is added.  However.  There is rumored to be a movie in the works, and Mom and I are so excited.

These are the shows I fall to when I’m so tired, and want something fun to curl up to. 

What do you do when you’ve had a long week, and really want to relax?

Ciao for now,

Julia

(P.S. I promise, my regular material will resume on Monday.)

 

Passengers, I condemn you.

Before I say what I believe needs to be said, I want you to know that this is coming from a place of truthful compassion and understanding, with self-reflective sadness, and not a place of aggression or judgment.

But.

Passengers of the United Airlines Flight that were witnesses to the horrific removal of Dr. Dao from his seat: I condemn you.  I condemn you just as much as the airline itself is being condemned.  I condemn you, because instead of standing up for, and fighting for Dr. Dao, you simply stayed in your seats, recorded the scene, and made comments.  I condemn you because you could have done so much more.  I condemn you because you were bystanders who had the power to save, and you chose not to.

In all the articles I have read about this situation, from Dr. Dao’s troubled past, to the incident, and even the aftermath, no where are any names of any saviors mentioned.  There are names of those who uploaded the videos.  There are names of those who made comments.  There are the three names of the other passengers forced to relinquish their seats.  But no where are there written names, or provided evidence, of any person on that flight, trying to save Dr. Dao.  And if there is no evidence, then I believe it is not a far stretch to assume there was no saving.  And if that is the case, then truly, passengers, you are to be condemned.

In school, we are taught that there are bullies, victims, and bystanders.  And we are taught that the bystanders are just as bad as the bully if they do not try to stop the abuse.  In this situation, it seems the bystanders, the passengers, were just as bad as the bullies.  In fact, I would even wager that they are worse than the bully, because they recorded it.  They pulled out their phones, and recorded this man’s suffering, without trying to save him.  And if, passengers, your excuse is that you were told to remain in your seats by the airline staff, than I would say this situation is a textbook example of Stanley Milgram’s shock experiment.

Please understand me, I believe you when you say you are good people.  I believe you.  Many of you may go to church, are parents, help the community, etc.  But this “good” should be evident in all situations, not just in “good” ones.  If you are truly good, staying in your seat must have upset your conscious.  Of course, if I was in that situation, staying in my seat would have really upset me.  But, I would have found it very hard to stand up as well.  Passengers, true soul-deep “goodness” would inspire a person to leap out of their seat, and fight with a flaming sword to protect a man being abused.

I condemn United Airlines for overbooking the flight.  (I know firsthand the effects of that.). I condemn them for giving priority to employees of a partner line.  I condemn them for picking people at random, and forcing them to give up their seats.  I condemn them for then forcibly removing Dr. Dao from his seat.  And I condemn you, passengers of this United Airlines flight, because you did nothing,

What happened to respect?  What happened to caring for every life?  What happened to the responsibility of taking care of other people, especially in a situation where they can’t take care of themselves?  What happened to standing up for other people, and addressing abuse in a horrible situation?  What happened to the responsibility of a bystander to stand up for the victim?  Has this responsibility truly changed to spectatorship, when the accepted behavior is to record a situation, instead of trying to fix it?  And would Dr. Dao be in the hospital if someone had stood up for him?  What would have happened if the entire plane stood up for him?  This situation feels eerily similar to Kitty Genovese.

It seems this responsibility of bystanders has become completely ignored.  People who were witness to a horrible interaction between people, are asked for any videos, instead of being asked if they did anything to stop it.  As a psychology major, a young woman, and a gentle heart, this change terrifies, upsets, and disgusts me.

If I was in a similar situation, yes, I would find it very hard to stand between a bully and their victim.  I would feel as if I was standing before a giant with only a small stone in my hand.  I would wrestle hard inside myself to find the courage and strength to get out of my seat, and stand between the United Airlines men and Dr. Dao.  But, I would be utterly disgusted with myself if I choose to record the situation instead.  I would know that no amount of recording could save a man’s life.

Passengers, I condemn you.  I am pointing an accusatory finger at you.  You could have done so much, but instead, did so little.  However, while pointing at you, four fingers are pointing back at me.  Your lack of action has made me self-reflect, which I thank you for.  Let’s see that as the silver lining; this horrible situation is causing self-reflection.

Passengers, I condemn you just as much as Untied Airlines.  Every life deserves a savior, and you, you who watched and recorded and complained, you did nothing.

Shepherd by Crowder (ASL)

I have mentioned many times that I am working on a couple of big projects.  And finally, one is finished!! I’ve very excited to share this with you guys, and I hope it touches you, or inspires you in someway.

I have been learning (American) sign language for a little less than a year, and I have fallen in love with it.  One of my favorite ways to practice, is to sign along to my favorite worship songs.  I hope to make this an on-going series, as I really think it helps me both improve my skills, and better understand the Deaf community.

One of my most favorite bands of all times is Crowder (formerly David Crowder), and this song is one of my favorites of the newest album, American Prodigal.  I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Ciao for now,

Julia

Happy Easter!! He is Risen, hallelujah!!

About This Wall.

*I know I had said I wasn’t going to write a political post.  But I think I failed to mention that I wasn’t going to write about the presidential candidates, and biasedly write based on my own opinion and of-the-moment feelings.  However, I think it is my duty as an American citizen, to understand what goes on in my nation’s government, and be able to separate manufactured false news from pure, undisputed fact. Any political posts from here on out, are not designed to be opinionated, or written to stir up problems.  My aim is to write posts that present the facts of a situation from reputable sources, which then inspire intelligent conversations.*

Mixed into the first twelve executive orders from President Trump, was an order that immediately calls for funding and planning to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.  In the first paragraph, many previous acts and laws were cited, including The Secure Fence Act of 2006.  The unfortunate thing about this particular piece of legislature, is the simple fact that very few people know it exists.

sfamapThe Secure Fence Act was introduced September 13, 2006 in the House of Representatives and was signed by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2006.  This Act’s intention is “to establish operational control over the international land and maritime borders of the United States”.  It defines “operational control” as “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband”.  Under Section 2, the plan for securing the border is outlined: “physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful entry by aliens into the United States and facilitate access to the international land and maritime borders by United States Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all weather access roads, and vehicle barriers”.  This Act called for 700 miles of a double-layer border fence, in order to protect America’s southern most border.  However, by 2011, only 5% of the borders put in place were double-layer (roughly 36.6 miles). Mixed into that, 649 out of 652 miles were complete; 299 were vehicle barriers and 350 were pedestrian borders. At this time, there was no continuous, solid wall covering the length of the southern border.

It is surprising to note that Hillary Clinton (D, NY, 2001-2009) voted “yea” to pass The Secure Border Act on September 29 2006, when the Act was in the Senate.  Her vote was considered a “statistically notable vote”, because it was a very surprising, and least predictable vote. She was not anticipated to vote in support of this Act.  Also, it should be remembered that former-President Obama commented on this Act.  On May 10, 2011 at a speech in El Paso, Obama said “The fence is basically complete”.  Both of these key people knew about this Act, and were aware of a physical border being placed around the southern most section of the United States.

President Trump’s idea for a physical wall is not an new idea.  His executive order is building upon laws and acts previously approved by the House and the Senate, and signed by a former President.  Section 2 of the executive order states: “secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border, monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism”.  The order then goes on to define a “wall” as “a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier”.  Simply put, President Trump is aiming to make the fence created by The Secure Fence Act of 2006 more sturdy and impassable.

Whether you agree with the motives behind building the wall or not, these facts still stand as researchable, historical, and credible facts.  They are also facts that have not been mentioned much by the media throughout the election, creating the illusion that “building a wall” was a brand new, terrifying idea.

Ciao for now,

Julia

Sources

Why are we so obsessed with talking about other people?

I sat down last night to write a post, and realized it was going to require more research and effort than I had the energy for at that moment.  Plus, some of the projects I’m working are going to require more work than expected. So, to fill the void until I can get my act together, I figured “Why not do a SoulPancake page?”. It’s been awhile since I’ve dived into this book, and I’m kinda in the mood for a little, light-hearted philosophical talk.

With that being said, Why are we so obsessed with talking about other people?

I think this kind of boils down to the idea that talking about other people makes us feel better about ourselves.  Plus, it gives people something to talk about.

For example, just take a look at all the tabloids in your local shopping complex, tabloidssupermarket, or grocery store.  Most, if not all, of the all headlines are false, from pregnancies to rehab stints to divorces, the list goes on and on.  I work at a grocery store, and some of the biggest headlines this week are: “Brad Pitt is moving in with Kate Hudson, and taking his kids”, “Kate Middleton is severely anorexic, and was just crowned Queen”, “Kim Kardashian is divorcing Kane West”, “Miley Cyrus and Kylie Jenner are both secretly married”, and oh the list goes on and on. It’s quite laughable, really, how blatantly false the tabloids are.  But yet, I’m always amazed at how many people buy them, talking about the headlines as if it were world-shaking, definitive truth.

Were we all taught not to gossip about other people, while growing up? What about celebrities makes it okay? Why are we so obsessed with talking about other people, even if we know what we are seeing/reading/talking about is false?

I think this constant obsession is even more vicious in middle school and high school.  Why are teenagers so focused on other people? When I was in high school, rumors spread like a freaking wild fire. I have many examples of the nastiness of gossip.  And remember, rumors spread through gossip.  First, one of my friends at church started doing cyber school her sophomore year of high school, for many reasons.  But when she stopped going to the physical school, rumors about her started to spread. There were rumors that she died, she was married, or that she had multiple kids.  Second, my band director unexpectedly accepted a job at another school, a week before band camp started my senior year of high school. Those of us in the band of course knew the situation, but the rest of the school did not.  There were many times where I heard a non-band student talking about the situation, and spreading completely false statements.  In both of these situations, none of the rumors were true, and the people gossiping looked like idiots. Why do people insist on gossiping about things they don’t know?

I think we also need to make the distinction between gossiping and ranting.  I understand gossiping to be “the intention of spreading false information with the intent to hurt someone else, and/or damage their reputation”, and I understand ranting to be “verbally processing a rough or irritating situation, with the purpose of getting things off of one’s chest”.  Of course, there is a very fine line between these two, and ranting can easily blend into gossiping. When I rant, other people may be involved, but I never talk about them with the intention of spreading what I’m saying.  I never, however, intentionally gossip, and even then, the words feel heavy in my mouth.

But all of this doesn’t really answer the question, does it? Do we like talking about other people because we’re curious about their lives, and believe gossiping is a way to remedy that? Or, because we wish them harm and ill will, but don’t physically want to take any action against them? Or do we like talking about other people because we find their decisions, choices, and maybe even existence, to be annoying and/or offensive? Do we like talking about other people because it does indeed make us feel better about ourselves? Or, because we see ourselves as superior, and them as inferior?

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My thoughts feel pretty scattered on this prompt, like a continuous train of thought, with no complete answer.  What do you think? Why are we so obsessed with talking about other people?

Ciao for now,

Julia