Reorganizing

I have no idea what to do with my life. I realize that this makes me no different from probably most people in the world, but that knowledge doesn’t actually comfort me. I feel both stuck and lost, which is a frustrating combination.

Before I went away for Christmas, I spent a few nights sleeping on my couch. My bed was all ready for me, and I thought about sleeping in it, but I needed a change of scenery so I brought my ridiculously soft duvet and a pillow out into the living room and set myself up with my feet hanging over the arm of my little two-seater. On a possibly related note, my neck has felt a little stiff for the past few days.

Yesterday, after I got back from visiting aunts and uncles and cousins and dogs, I reorganized my bedroom. I think I’ve lost some wall space, and one of my closet doors won’t open all the way now because I put a dresser beside it, but I think I like the new arrangement. It feels cozier to look up from my laptop screen in bed and see a bookcase and my bedroom doors instead of closet doors that I’ve usually forgotten to close and a bass that I rarely play. And the length of my bed is no longer against a window. That explains the lost wall space, but I’ve always hated having a window on the same wall as the side of my bed, and now the windowsill behind me almost functions as a bedside table. Today I’ll figure out how to arrange the rest of the apartment.

Maybe this reworking of space will provide me with the change I need, or at least tide me over until I can do something more drastic. Leave the city, look for a new job, apply to Ph.D. programs, join a boxing gym. I don’t know what I need. I started to feel depressed as I re-shelved my books after moving my bookcase. First, I was sad about the fact that I’ve had the hardest time getting all the way through books recently (but that’s a whole separate post). Then I came across a tiny book of quotes about teachers that I got as a gift when I graduated high school. Everyone knew how badly I wanted to be a teacher then, and how much I would enjoy it. And I still want it and I still love it. How could I consider leaving this job for anything? Then I shelved my collection of math books that I won or that I received as gifts several years ago. One set that I got in high school still has its plastic wrapping on. As much as I loved math, I never seriously studied it. It made up half of my undergraduate degree, for crying out loud, but I couldn’t make myself learn the stuff that I found hard. If I had money to support myself for four years without working, I might go to a university and audit my way through another major in math, just to learn the stuff I was supposed to learn the first time around.

But the bookcase sure looks cozy tucked in the corner beside my French doors.

In recent years, I’ve tried to trick myself into sticking with a New Year’s resolution by saying it isn’t actually a resolution, just something I’ve decided to do starting in late December or early January. I don’t know why I think that will work, since I have difficulty with that sort of thing at any time of year. I can’t think of a way to make it happen, but I do know that things need to change around here. The bedroom is a good start, and the living/dining/working area will happen next, but soon I’ll need something bigger.


Life is most easily explained in mathematical terms.

There may have been one year in undergrad when I had an exam on December 20-somethingth, but aside from that, I don’t know if I have ever worked this late into the year. It gives me an odd feeling. I’m looking forward to having a week after New Year’s before school starts up again, but something about right now still feels weird. It’s like the end of this term is a limit that I’m approaching, but will never quite reach. It’s so close. I can see it. I can feel its heat on the tips of the hairs on my arms, but I just can’t quite seem to actually touch it.


Review: The Muppets

I saw the new Muppet movie for the second time last weekend. I’ll probably see it at least one more time before the new year. I loved it.

I wouldn’t call it a perfect movie. It has several problems that I’ll get into soon, but overall, I just had a ridiculous amount of fun watching it. It was a big mix of sweet adorable, hilarious, heartwarming, and inspirational. It was beautiful.

It has some great messages about inclusion, about working together, about trying your hardest and sometimes not succeeding at what you set out to do but still feeling proud of yourself. It’s a great kids’ movie. The muppets are genuinely nice people. They take care of each other, they like each other, they work together, they bring out the best in each other. They have some problems, and they generally recognize those problems, but they don’t dwell on them. They know that sometimes they need to put personal differences aside to get the job done. Fox News apparently had problems with the movie because it hates on big oil companies, and while I’d agree that it doesn’t present the most nuanced analysis of the benefits and drawbacks to drilling for oil, I do think it hits on something pretty important about the place of the arts in a society that sometimes favours industrialism over creativity. And the movie didn’t feel preachy. At no point did I feel like I was being taught a Very Valuable Lesson, even the few times when a lesson was explicitly stated. I just felt like I was having fun, watching an awesome movie. And I would love for it to have been even better.

The movie had the typical Hollywood problems with diversity. Muppets come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and species, and their differences make them a better group. But the human cast was (almost?) uniformly white. The message of inclusion gets a little lost when you have to pretend that humans only come in one colour.

The movie also had problems with its depiction of women (which I have way more to say about, probably because I think about it more; I need to work on that). I appreciate the effort of making Walter and Gary really good sewers while Mary teaches kids to fix a transmission and restores electricity to the theatre, but I don’t feel that quite makes up for the fact that the movie has about three women with speaking roles. And it doesn’t make up for the fact that, of those three women, two have very little to do other than be a love interest and provide an opportunity for growth on the part of the guys who love them. It’s a movie about growing up, about finding your place in the world, about trying your best and reaching for your dreams, but the only characters who really do that are men. They even created a new Muppet, Walter, to connect with the newer audience, and of course he’s also a guy.

I can’t blame all of these problems on this movie. They’re typical Hollywood movie problems, and almost every movie has them. And based on the women in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I’d guess that Jason Segel has at least some interest in making female characters actual people, not just vehicles for male character development. Like I said, I do appreciate the small attempts at subverting traditional gender assumptions. But most mainstream movie makers clearly don’t have the knowledge necessary to combat the systemic discrimination that erases stories of anyone who isn’t a straight white dude. Bitch Flicks suggests that Pixar should hire a consultant. I think the rest of Hollywood should do the same, because writers and directors and producers don’t need to be experts in anti-oppression or anti-discrimination work, but they do have a responsibility to not perpetuate harmful ideas.

And I think that’s especially true of people who make movies like The Muppets, which is, aside from this huge problem, a really awesome movie. Like I said, I loved it, and a big part of me wants to give it five stars out of five (or four out of four, or ten out of ten, or whatever). I just can’t ignore the huge Hollywood movie problems it has that keep it from being truly amazing.


Periods.

I can totally relate to Chally’s post on menstration. I think I need to read more of her blog.

I just got my period on Wednesday. I think the last time I got it was at the beginning of the November, so maybe this one is early, but I don’t know for sure because I can never remember when I get my period from once cycle to the next. Sometimes I’ll think to myself, “Gee, I wonder when I’ll next get my period,” and still be completely surprised later that day when I go to the washroom and see blood in the toilet. Even the extra zits on my face don’t clue me in.

That’s one of my major problems with periods. I know that they aren’t dirty or disgusting, but they are messy. I’ve ruined more than a few pairs of undies because my period came on a day I wasn’t expecting it, or I did expect it but I forgot to put my diva cup in, or my diva cup leave leaked, or I forgot to empty it. And once you bleed on your undies, unless you can soak them right away, that’s it. The stain stays there forever. I have a growing collection of period panties that will keep growing until I remember to actually wear them when I’m on my period.

I’ve come close to ruining bedsheets too. Once, when I was twelve or so, I got my period on a sleepover at a friend’s house. I didn’t know if she’d ever had hers and I felt too embarrassed to bring it up, so I just shoved toilet paper into my underwear and hoped no one would notice the giant blood stain on the sheets in the pull out bed in her tv room until after I had left. Since then, I don’t think I’ve really messed up any sheets, but I know I’ve come close a few times. And a couple times I’ve gotten stained pants.

So the mess part is annoying. And the cramps suck. They don’t last long for me, but there’s no knowing when they’ll strike, and taking Advil doesn’t help instantly. I do most of my teaching standing up, but if I have to teach with cramps, I’ll sit and try my best not to hug my knees to my chest. If a student asks if something is wrong, I’ll usually tell them. I don’t see any more benefit to hiding cramps that I see to hiding feeling crappy from a cold or an injury.

And that’s the one thing that i don’t mind about my periods: talking about them. The zits annoy me a bit I hate the mess and I hate ruining clothes and I hate the cramps, but I don’t mind the stories. If only the rest of the world was fine with hearing about them.