Tuesday, March 27, 2012

College and Fashion Sense

A rant for all the perpetual in-class hoodie-, sweatpants-, and pajama-wearers:

When did not caring about what we wear in school become the social norm? What I have noticed more than anything (albeit in my complete fashion illiteracy) is the gargantuan transition from caring what people see you wearing in public in high school to the degree that, in college, students do not care at all what they wear in public. It's a growing epidemic, it seems, which effects most of the students at universities I have been to. For some reason, kids start to wear their comfort clothes on a daily basis as the semester goes on, then those comfort clothes turn into pajamas, then pretty soon people are lost in this limbo world between baggy comfy clothes and things-that-you-wouldn't-let-your-own-mother-shop-in-Walmart-with clothes. It's totally serious.

During the "Love" unit of my Psychology class, I learned that in first impressions other people will judge you in aesthetics first, sizing you up on physical appearance in just the first 10 seconds of seeing you. Most likely that 10 seconds will in part encompass the vibe they receive from seeing your choice of dress. I cannot say on behalf of other people, but I would have to say by default that if I saw someone come in to class in all sweats I might wonder at first why they could be wearing these comfort clothes; are they wearing them for athletics or were they running behind on laundry? However, if both these inquiries are proved wrong at their continued arrival to the class in sweats, I would automatically assume the person is just lazy.

What I have to say about our precious college times is that we should be enjoying these last few years of complete freedom of personal expression in our clothing taste and choices. We should be wearing what makes us feel good about ourselves - what we feel makes us look the best. Because pretty soon, after college graduation, we're all going to have to wear lame business suits, or at least some kind of conservative uniform that characterizes us as a part of someone else's company image. We must make our own image while we still can.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On The Hunger Games

As this weekend marked the beginning of the "Hunger Games" movie series, I thought I'd take some time to review my favorite parts of the book and movie adaptation together.

The Hunger Games (speaking of the first book in the trilogy by Suzanne Collins) is as close to the real psychology that goes into "life and death" scenarios as it gets in written Young Adult fiction books. In reading the books a couple years ago, and then just recently, I came to find how necessary every single part in the books came to be. It was as if every sentence had a special piece that fit in the puzzle that created this beautiful, vivid story.

I think this is why, while watching the first movie adaptation as it premiered last Friday, the movie was so close to the entire story I'd pictured while reading. Whereas other popular best-sellers of this immense fan-base that had been adapted in the cinema had been altered in some points to completely drain the realness of that the book , Suzanne Collins's best-seller in The Hunger Games was different in that the movie adaptation very close an encapsulation of the book. The movements that pulled along the famous Hunger Games story were written - I felt - like a play-by-play. Given this perfectly crafted plan, there was no way the filmmakers could have gotten the film wrong. And for the most part they did not disappoint.

That said, the film adaptation did leave out a lot of important parts (i.e. Peeta's slow recovery, the sleeping medicine, the conversion of Katniss's "on-camera" feelings into a real love for Peeta) but the impossibility that all the book could be revived was real once you found out it was already 2 and a half hours long! Unless they were on some sort of mission of surpassing the length of the 2005 version of King Kong, The Hunger Games movie could not possibly have included every dynamic that made the book so great.

As an avid reader, of all the books I've read I can say that this is the character I have felt most attached to. Suzanne Collins did a flawless job at putting me in Katniss Everdeen's shoes. I never felt apart from her in the feelings she had and the realness of the consequences of her actions. Katniss is such a strong person physically and mentally that she makes the reader want to be a stronger person. I think this shows the marks of a great writer and a great story when we can relate to their characters' actions so closely - so much so that we even come to idolize them.

I preferred only to go into a broad sense of what it felt like to read The Hunger Games and compare it to the movie because I do not believe in spoilers (even if there is a disclaimer written in the article or blog, or said in the video or news clip beforehand).

Read the book, see the movie! The Hunger Games is a story that will lastingly enrich your life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If You Live to Be Eighteen

During a very interesting few e-mails sent back and forth to my cousin Barbara Esstman, a published writer whose novels The Other Anna and Night Ride Home have been adapted into Hallmark TV movies, she sent me an article of hers she wrote entitled "The Wisdom of a Thousand Workshops: A Practical Guide to Approaching Your Writing" that had me thinking most critically. I admire her years of expertise in the art of writing - especially with her uncanny ability to jump into perfect metaphors and acquire applicable quotations for every little piece of information.

While giving writing advice in her article I mentioned above, Barbara touched on this interesting point:

"... Flannery O’Connor said that if you live to be 18, you have enough to write about for the rest of your life. But often people quit writing or get stuck because they don’t want to see what the writing is telling them or go where it’s taking them. Or they write around the conflict and excuse their characters from difficult confrontations to save themselves from discomfort, which in turn flattens the dramatic tension. Yet if you push through to the end of a piece and break out on the other side, even if you cry or squirm in the process, you tame the material by coming to know it and giving it form."

I don't know about you, but I definitely feel like I have the world to talk about yet. Or at least this world I know. And I am 18 years old. But I feel like I've seen enough. So much has been flaunted in front of me through media, my friends and family. Through these sources I have seen mistakes made, wrongs righted, lessons learned, and lessons that seem to never find a place in the comprehension of some. Though I have not gone through many life experiences having just graduated from high school in the past year (heck, I'm still going to school, living under my mother's roof) but I can speak novels in length about what I have gathered in my time.

In my time, I could tell you the secret to long and healthy romantic relationships (it's trust!) I could tell you of the importance of watching educational television, at least as much as you watch Jersey Shore (or perhaps - and Mom, this is for you - Desperate Housewives). I could tell you of the importance of spending time with your children; the importance of yes, let's face it - even if I may be a little biased - reading as much as possible; the importance of communication when you're feeling low and not drowning it out with self-pity, "emo" music, or feelings of violence and hatred. And lastly, because we English Majors like to get sappy, the importance of living every day like it could be your last.

Wow! Talk about digression. So what I meant to say about Flannery O'Connor is that in writing, pretty much from young adulthood on we have plenty of stories - enough to constitute writings. The true art, it would seem, is the ability to turn those life experiences into stories we can use to educate or entertain our readers. Like my cousin Barbara wrote to me,"Writers often write about the same themes over and over – they have some obsession with making sense of a certain complexity in the human condition and can’t stop thinking about it. I certainly have those themes that keep cropping up and keep trying to figure out..."

We all have things we've noticed that others haven't. I think it's time we no
longer kept those things to ourselves.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Things That Make Me Happy

- Instantly!

1) Driving the Jeep down country roads in warmer weather while enjoying the wind and heat on my face.
2) Men in bow-tie.
3) Biking.
4) Motorcycling.
5) Eating healthy.
6) Painting.
7) Watching "The Outsiders".
8) Reading fantasy novels before bed; promptly dreaming about them that night.
9) Exploring.
10) Proving people wrong.
11) Hearing Ed Sheeran's voice.
12) Seeing people truly happy with the person they married.
13) Singing in the shower, and telling myself it sounds like Hayley Williams from Paramore.
14) Every answered prayer.
15) Reading John Green's books.
16) Laughing at the same things as my friends and knowing no one else would understand.
17) Learning about different cultures and places.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Travel Writing and Inspiration

I read a blog post today by Elizabeth Eslam (elizabetheslam.com) that refueled the fire I have deep inside for writing. It reminded me of how fluidity and naturality in a piece of work make you crave more writing of that sort. When we can feel the words and get lost in them - when words just make perfect sense - that is when a person becomes a reader. However, for some people this is hard to come by. You have to read things that make sense to you first and get a sense for youself of what speaks to you.

The reason I bring this up is that once you have a good understanding and feel for what is good writing, you can take that skill with you wherever you go. An extremely exciting aspect of a career in travel writing is that you can take doses of inspiration everyday. As long as you are on the job, you're always in a new place, carefully detailing the new world around for documentation. This would be the ultimate dream job for myself - as you can probably take from previous posts that I love both travel and writing.

Last summer I traveled the northwestern United States on the back of my grandpa's motorcycle. While going through Yellowstone National Park, out of nowhere I came up with an entire sermon I wanted to give to my youth group about the importance of being yourself, and the consequences of letting some guise rule you for too long. It was like an outline started forming in my mind, with detailed points, examples and everything. At about the same amount of time, I lost the idea leaving the Park. It was extremely weird how inspiration just hit me like that, and extremely unfortunate (just for that moment) that I was on the back of a motorcycle (without pen and paper). Good, natural ideas don't just happen like that every day. In my experience and opinion, it takes new sights and discoveries to be inspired.

Going back to the topic of travel writing as a career: I can see a life filled with constant mobility and insight, made to enrich the lives of any reader that might come across my documented work.

Everyone deserves to have a career that enriches their life.
...I'll just have to work on the salary thing for mine later.