Thursday 27 November 2008

I'm Thankful for my Blog.

The dreaded question: What are you thankful for?
The cliche response: My family, my friends, my house, my comfortable lifestyle.
Every Thanksgiving I wish I had something more interesting and less generic to be thankful for. I suppose I'm thankful that I happened to born into a middle-class American family, as opposed to being born into a third world country in the midst of warfare and destruction or poverty or disease. I could be thankful that I'm healthy and coherent. All this thought about how, by chance, I am who I am, reminds me of a Dave Matthews song (1):

Could I have been
A parking lot attendant
Could I have been
A millionaire in bel air
Could I have been
Lost somewhere in paris
Could I have been
Your little brother
Could I have been anyone other than me

It seems kind of ignorant to be thankful that you are yourself, and in the place where you are, when you haven't experienced any other life. Sure, you have a car and a nice house, but maybe those who aren't as well off as you have tighter family bonds, or closer friendships. I really believe that, the more material our lives are, the less meaningful they are. The more worldly things we possess, the less spiritual things we can reach. Objects tie us down. That's just my opinion, and I'm sad to say, it was heavily influenced by the character of Jack Dawson in Titanic.

So I guess while we're in our comfortable chairs, watching football, thinking about how we might puke all the turkey we just ate, yet too tired from the tryptophan to actually get up, maybe we shouldn't just be thankful that we aren't in some war-ridden, disease infested place, but maybe it should make us want to help the people who are a little more, and change things a little more, so that they have something to be thankful for too.

(1) I told you not to freak out- I still love Dave!

Monday 24 November 2008

Breaking Down Stereotypes

I think Queen Rania is awesome, and I would suggest checking out her other videos on YouTube, as well as the video responses they've gotten. On this eve of "change" in the US, let's take it a step further... let's break down more foolish stereotypes. Maybe, if Americans can stop thinking that every foreigner is dangerous, foreigners will stop thinking that every American is an idiot!

Seroiusly, Queen Rania = new hero. What an awesome woman. Totally my new role model. If a Scotch-Irish Catholic/German/French-Canadian American girl sees her as such an example, think about the effect she must be having on Arab and Arab American girls.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Identity Switch

As you most likely have not noticed, I have changed my display name to Molly Kate (my middle name). I have been applying to a number of colleges, and for a number of scholarships, and I have heard horror stories of colleges and universities finding applicant's blogs/facebooks/myspace. However, I've also seen a number of scholarship websites in which you can post your blog URL, so colleges and scholarship programs may have a gander - in belief, of course, that it would help display your talent and creativity. On this subject, I am torn.

Naturally, I would like almost anyone to read this; it is a pretty good display of my beliefs and ideas, as well as my interests and activities. I would hope that this blog would display any talent in writing I might possess. Many of my good attributes can be found in these blogs, many things that I'm sure would help grant me admission to a college.

However, with all I've written, I'm sure there's something in there that I wouldn't want a college or university to see. Although I am not sure quite what that is, this fear of judgement may have gotten the better of me. I expect, on some level, or anyone who read this blog (1) to judge me on some level, but the idea of someone reading it with the question of my future in mind is pretty frightening. I swear occasionally, and although I realize that swearing in writing doesn't mean much in the college world, it certainly cannot help my case. What if the admissions man/woman reads my Obama blog and is a hard-core republican? I know, I know, some of these ideas are ridiculous, but these "what if's" add up into a fear I can't ignore.

I would hate to have to censor my blogs. Suddenly every entry would become a college essay of its own (2), and every description of myself would have to be one that presented me in a studious, organized, practically perfect, manner. I don't think I can handle that.

So I am changing my display name. I removed the URL from my facebook as well as my aim profile. This saddens me, because I would like what I write to be read, but I think it's necessary. If an admissions office is really that good at stalking, and stumbles across Damanta Maith (3), well, that's fine. I'm pretty proud of this baby.

1. Yes, I realize, pretty much no one reads this. It's cool. I can pretend.
2. Actually, nearly every blog I've written is extremely college-essayesque, if you haven't noticed. In the essay section, I should probably just type the URL.
3. I don't think I ever mentioned what a DAMN GOOD blog name I came up with. Gah I want to name my child that.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Only In America

Leave it to our country to create microscopic images of our president-elect.
Yet, we can't figure out global warming...

Tuesday 11 November 2008

So-Long TRL?!

I was just informed that the icon of my youth, the program that dominated my preteen thoughts, is finally calling it quits. After 10 years - I was 7 when it began - TRL will no longer be giving us the top videos of the day. Upon hearing this news, I began to think about how, had I known it was going downhill, I might have actually tuned in once or twice in the last few years. Nonetheless, one word represents my thoughts on this issue - WHY?!

Damn you MTV! Without news breaks on this show, the teenage population will have no idea of what's going on in the world. They will become completely uninformed. In the case of a national crisis, the young adults of American will have no idea what is going on, and as a result the nation will surely slip into havoc.

Rest In Peace, Total Request Live... we will miss your irritatingly short videos and desparate attempts at entertaining the short attention spans of American teens.

1st Amendment Rights Exist in College, Too.

The following is an essay for a scholarship given by FIRE. I encourage you all to visit their website and watch the videos... it's a great organization, and what they are doing is so important.
As I look forward to entering college next year, I like to believe during those four years I will be exposed to a plethora of new ideas, views, and opinions. I hope to be submerged in a sea of varying opinions and diverse beliefs, and that I might develop my own views while learning more about opposing views. After four years of high school, I feel that it is imperative to my future that I learn as much as I can from those around me. Upon graduation, I will be entering a world of diverse people, and thus diverse beliefs and opinions. It is the duty of universities and colleges to not only educate students academically, but to expose them to such beliefs and ideas, that upon graduation, they will be well prepared to actively participate in our ever-changing, ever-diverse society.

Sadly, in so many universities and colleges across our nation, this will not be the case. As seen in these videos, students' opinions are so often "hushed", whether they be directed at a terrorist group or for simple concern for the environment. If students cannot voice opinion of the building of parking garage, what other opinions will be silenced? This truly worries me, and should worry any other student who holds their first amendment rights dear. I hold on to the hope that next year, if there is an issue I feel unjust, I will be able to fearlessly voice my opinion in a non-violent way without being reprimanded or censored.

Universities' ability to play government goes against the fundamental values of our American society. As citizens, our rights are well protected in the U.S. Constitution, especially the rights of accused persons. A fair trial and an attorney are guaranteed to us. If, as students, such rights are overlooked, it is as if we are not living in a free state, and we might well be living in a less fortunate, less democratic country. Students must understand and remember at all times that these rights are present on a college campus; if anything, such rights are more present on a college campus. How is it that colleges, places created for the distribution of ideas and nursing of scholarship, so quickly cut down any dissidence, any message of individual opinion?

It seems that universities censor students out of fear - fear of offending others, fear of uncomfortable situations. So often do we see colleges trying so hard to protect the right of minorities and underrepresented religious groups, that members of the majority suffer. For example, does individual student's celebration of Halloween while in school violate the rights of an individual who does not believe in such a holiday? It may make students uncomfortable, offend them, even anger them, but the Bill of Rights has no mention of the right to be comfortable, or the right to agree with every voiced opinion in the proximity. While students maybe be put in awkward situations by encountering such acts of expression, these situations should be seen as learning opportunities - opportunities to hear about what others belief, to wonder why they believe it, to question such beliefs, and to understand your own beliefs, and why you hold them.

Universities that have a habit of silencing expressive students are doing a great disservice to themselves. It is easily understood that any student who is willing to take a stand and voice their ideas is an active student, engaged in their studies, who have decided to take their education in their own hands. These are not passive students, but enthusiastic young men and women who understand that their education and personal ideas are the most important thing they posses - these items cannot be taken away from them. To discourage such students, or to remove them from the school, is to cleanse the school of enthusiasm and to rid it of perhaps the most active, scholarly students. This message of hostility towards personal development and growth is undoubtedly an interference to the purpose of any center of higher learning.

While it is of severe importance that universities, colleges, and other centers of learning understand students' rights and freedoms, it is of perhaps equal importance that students understand them as well. Students must realize that not only are they free to speak for or against issues they find important, but it is their civic responsibility to voice these concerns and act to correct injustices in their society. They must realize that others around them are free to voice their side of an issue, while the opposition is free to do the same. Most importantly, students must remember that if ever their chosen center of learning attempts to silence their voice, they must defend their views, opinions, and their right to make themselves heard.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Barack On

I did not expect to get so excited about this election at all. Sure, I watched a portion of the debates now and then, and I scanned over Joe Mignano's blogs occasionally, but I didn't seem to have much of an opinion or much enthusiasm until the last week or so. I don't know much about politics, but it's obvious that yesterday and today have really been historical and pivotal times. Perhaps it's mere illusion, but it really feels as if things are changing - what exact things, well, I'm not sure, but the word "change" and the feeling of change seem to be everywhere.

Watching the celebration in cities throughout the nation, I'm not sure whether they are celebrating because Obama is the new president, or because the end of Bush's administration is in sight. Our country will no longer be represented by an old, white, Christian Texan, but a young, intelligent, (hot), black man. The thought that other countries, and individual citizens around the world, may now percieve America in a completely different way is so exciting. Maybe we won't be thought of as "American Idiots" quite as often.

This is obviously a huge step for unity for Americans, too. I have to say I'm proud to live in an America that elected a black president. Racism and discrimination will not vaporize over night, but having a black president is obviously huge. This is so cliche, but imagine if MLK could see what's going on now.

Finally, I am so proud of my generation. 18% percent of electorates were young people (2 out of 3 in favor of Obama)... more than ever before. It's amazing to see young people caring and paying attention; you cannot call the youth of America "lazy" or "apathetic" any longer. This is really becoming quite the youth movement, a new kind of rebellion. Our parents, aunts and uncles all rebelled in their day, but they were going against the system; my generation, on the other hand, is "rebelling" within the system. We are learning how things work, becoming a part of politics, and having quite the impact. If anything, this should assure you that our future is in good hands.

If none of the above make you excited about the outcome of this election, just remember, this means the Obama kids get a puppy! Aw.

Monday 3 November 2008

Green Fields of NY

Today I was faced with a seemingly simple decision: Should I run, or rest? Every year, after Sectionals, Coach advises that we all take a week off, so that we don't burn out our bodies a few weeks into indoor track. There are many, many times when I would glady take a break from running. However, when I got home from school (1), I couldn't stand the thought of staying in the house.
As I started out in my beloved THOAY (2) shirt and spandex, with my sansa playing The Cure's new album (3), I started thinking about how this could be my last week to run in Western New York in the fall ever. I know how stupid that sounds, and how much it contradicts my "C'est La Vie" attitude of this week. There's really nothing I love more than running around these fields and seeing the trees in all their beauty. In the spring and summer I like to pretend that the green fields surrounding me are actually the green fields of Ireland, not LeRoy; but in fall, I feel like Pocahontas, when she's running around with all the little animals (as well as John Smith), with the wind all different colors flying through her hair, and the leaves dancing all around her. (You can laugh, but the first time I thought that I had just gotten done with a race, and I was experiencing quite the runner's high.) The usual group of men were out working in a field, with all their F-350s and Silverados, and they all wave at me because that's what people do out here. Laurel was outside raking leaves, and I was so tempted to just jump in one of the huge piles. I know that there are leaves other places in the world, and that there are farmers and their trucks in other places too, and I know that the fields are probably greener in Ireland. Still, the realization that I might not be here around this time of year for the next few years, maybe never again, made me completley positive that I made the right choice - even if I were to suffer the wrath of L.

1. I love driving the red truck to school. so much.
2. If I tell you that it's Canadian, you could probably figure out what it stands for.
3. Why is The Cure labeled as "goth"? Does "It's Friday, I'm in Love" really sound like a goth song? "Just like heaven"?

Sunday 2 November 2008

Free At Last

Four years and three months ago I started running Cross Country. At this point, I hated running, and did not believe at all that I was cut out for this. My parents didn't believe I could do it either, and that was pretty much the only reason I went through with it - to prove to them, and myself, that I could survive xc.
I really think it took about two years to totally get used to it and get comfortable running. For the first two weeks, I was positive that I would quit before school started. After school started, I did not think I would make it until our first race, but I did. Then, I didn't think I would finish the season. I didn't have it in me to quit, I felt like I didn't really have a good reason to. Besides, Ciera would have killed me.
As seen in my previous blogs, I am clearly passionate in my love for cross country and running in general. The beginning of November, however, is always awaited with the greatest anticipation - Sectionals, the last day of the season. We run our final race, go out to eat, have a sleepover, and wake up the next morning, completely liberated of the sport we love so much, and slightly unsure of what to do now. While there are things we are finally free to do, there's also a bunch of stuff that we now HAVE to do.
Indoor track will be starting in a week and a half for some of us, but this week and a half is the greatest and strangest week of the year. Much like summer, I begin to plan all the things I can fill my free time with - things that will probably not be accomplished. English work has piled up in the last marking period, which is due in two weeks. If I get going soon, I should be fine - I only have 15 notebook responses and two creative essays to write, two and a half plays and three novels to read. My PIG research project is going well, mainly because I often opt to spend all my free time reading about the Provisional Irish Republican Army, rather than doing real work. Scaramouche, my alto sax solo, has been long neglected due to marching band and cross country, so I should get practicing that during my 3-4 study halls a day. I finally have time for Loretta, and now that I have time and a license, it'll be much easier to drive to Meholick's house for lessons with Mrs. M.

During cross country, there's a unwritten code that I, as well as the other runners, live by. It isn't things that L suggests we do or do not do, or anything in the athletic policy - it is formed by experience, by the days we do stupid things before we run and suffer for our actions later. For example, in 9th grade I learned that to eat an apple before running is practically the equivialent of placing a rock in your stomach. To drink coffee before a race is to drain your body of every ounce of hydration. To drink juice the day of a meet is to bathe your muscles in acid. I am free now, until indoor starts, to drink whatever the hell I want and to eat apples any day of the week. However, I am no longer permitted to eat as many carbs as I please throughout the day with the mentality of, "I'll run it off at practice."