Monday, July 25, 2011

Some Thoughts on Saying Good-bye

This post is dedicated to anyone who is faced with saying good-bye to something soon, but especially to Gabby, who will be leaving SA in just a few days time.

It is my opinion that something that creates a large amount of Young Adult Angst (or YAA, which could represent well the sound I sometimes make when I fall victim to this type of angst) is the fact that young adults have to say good-bye to a lot of things. Childhood, college life, beautiful people and placesyou name it, we probably have to say good-bye to it. And especially with the last two things mentioned, often the "good"-byes don't really seem like they can be good. When your heart is breaking on a plane ride or drive home with the realization that you may not see that landscape and the people you've met for a very long time, or, as in a sadly large number of cases, you may not see them ever againit can be hard to find much "good" in leave-taking. 

Which is why I don't think we should try to mask the fact that it's very sad, and almost horrible in some ways. It's the death of living memories, after all. Once you leave, the place and the people will take on a haze that memory always takes: even the most vivid memories are statictaxidermied, if you will. Not the same as the living thing.

So when I think about the "badness" of good byes, I think about something that someone once told me in my last days at Oxford. The last Sunday we were there, a group of us went to St. Ebbes in Headington for church. It was a fantastic children's service that week, with some Christmas skits featuring little British kids with tea-towels on their heads—brilliant. Afterwards, as always, was a tea and biscuits and mingling time. We talked with an American who had been staying in Oxford for a while, his name was Jimmy. The regular St. Ebbes goers from The Vines wanted to say good-bye to him, since they'd gotten to know him a bit in months we'd been there. We talked about good-byes, coming to the same conclusion I've come to here, that they're pretty rough, but Jimmy said something that has stuck with me. I'm paraphrasing, so this isn't a direct quote, but he told us,

"There's something I've heard some of the Brits say here, and I like it a lot—instead of saying good-bye, they'll say "Go Well." I might not be able to call my leaving "good," but I can go well." 

To me, the phrase make it also feel less like the ending of something, and more like the beginning of something. I'm not leaving, but "going well" to another place. 

And though taxidermied memory takes over for real experience, there is still something good there: it is preserved. Not exactly as you knew it, but still preserved. And I've found that it is difficult to realize the profound effect that people and places have on you in the moments you are experiencing it. Life-changing events and experiences only become so once you've moved on from them and left them in the past. Otherwise, instead of live-changing, they simply become normalcy, something taken for granted. The old phrase, "you don't realize how important something is until it's gone" is very true. I sometimes wish that my heart didn't ache to go back to places, or see people, but if it didn't, how would I ever know those things were important to me?

         So, those of you who are leaving
  embrace the ache and Go Well into a new adventure.

                                       Sunrise in South Africa—courtesy of Gabby

Monday, July 11, 2011

"You're Scottish, why don't you fry something?"

Whenever I can't think of a blog post title, I'm just going to use a Doctor Who quote, ok? New Post, new rules.
Also, there are many links in here, but I assure you that they all are worthy of clicking.

It's been a little while, so short synopsis of things happened: some dear friends were married, I finished the Hunger Games series, I read North and South, I made it to the eleventh Doctor (nearing the end of series five, almost caught up!), and my Wodehouse  paper was accepted to a conference!

I am also resisting spending every penny of my salary on fun things on Etsy.

But I shall elaborate:

My thoughts on the Hunger Games
Of all the popular teen fiction out at the moment, I would say this is probably one of the best, at least to my knowledge. For starters, I actually read the entire series instead of saying "ho hum, another book trying to be Harry Potter," or barfing in my mouth a little because it's yet another Twilight-esque plot-line.
                            (Was that a little pretentious? Yes, yes it was.)

Also, who doesn't love a good dystopia novel? Collins practiced some excellent borrowing of both past and present themes that I really appreciated. By pairing ideas like the gladiatorial games of Rome and mythology of Theseus and the Minotaur with modern-day reality survival shows, she created a world that is both fictional enough to fascinate, but real enough to spark some real questions about ethics, and about whether the world of the Capitol and the Districts is the type of place our world could become someday. I feel like the series has real potential to get kids who mostly only read popular fiction to actually think about big ideas. So, that's my take on it.

My thoughts on North and South:
Number one--yes, I have heard of the mini-series and fully intend to watch it and adore the heck out of it. But as of yet, I haven't, so this will be my take on the book, not the film adaptation.
Number two--where has Elizabeth Gaskell been all my life? kudos to Libby Baker for alerting me to her existence. (Also Libby, that was pronounced koo-doss in proper British fashion). Basically, North and South combined some of the best things I like about Dickens and Austen and smooshed them together in a glorious tale of industrious romance. Addressing social issues of the day connected with industry? Check. Characters that you absolutely adore? Check. Interpersonal conflict and eventual beautiful reconciliation? Check.
One of my favorite bits of the book was how Gaskell set up dichotomies (North of England/South of England;Workers/Masters; Educated/Non-Educated; Male/Female etc) and then showed how both sides had things to learn from each other, that the middle ground was actually the most preferable. 
 Let's just say that when Mr. Thornton starts have pot-lucks with his workers, I was a little swoony. What a guy, learning from Margaret about the value of people (who by the way, after reading the description of her, I imagined looking like the lovely Marisa P.). In conclusion, it is absolutely worth reading.

My thoughts on Doctor Who:
DROOL. I am such a sci-fi nerd right now. I feel like I should start watching Star Trek after this, or Torchwood or Firefly. Unfortunately, next on the list are things like Sherlock and Robin Hood, so those will probably have to wait.
                                      The Doctor and Amy (from series 5, episode 5)
Oh yes, the new Doctor. He's different, but good. He seems less human than Tennant did, or rather less aware of the way humans do things. But I suppose that makes some sense, being freshly regenerated and being not actually human and all that. I also fully approve of the new costume. Bow ties and suspenders? yes very yes. I also believe he tries wearing a fez in the near future. Ha!

My thoughts on having paper accepted to conference:
Am I....a grown-up now?
Golly, if only it were that easy. Seriously though, it's on Oct. 8 and I am going to start practicing now. It's exciting and yet a bit scary.

Well, that was quite a bit of writing, and now it is lunch time.
Toodle pip!