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My Life

“If you think, from this prelude, that anything like a romance is preparing for you, reader, you never were more mistaken. Do you anticipate sentiment, and poetry, and reverie? Do you expect passion, and stimulus, and melodrama? Calm your expectations; reduce them to a lowly standard. Something real, cool and solid lies before you; something unromantic as Monday morning, when all who have work wake with the consciousness that they must rise and betake themselves thereto.”

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

Why America Should Not be a Melting Pot

I have a problem when I hear people describe the US as a “melting pot” of races. First, it’s not true. Our country has not lived up to that image. Second, I don’t ever want it to be true.

I read an article recently about an African-American woman who was so fair-skinned she could and did pass for a white woman occasionally growing up. For her it meant better jobs, housing, education, and more respect. I’m not criticizing her for this (code switching is very useful), but I think it’s a shame that she had to deny part of her identity in order to be accepted in society. That’s what the melting pot does. It makes you shed part of your cultural and personal identity in order to fit the mold of the white majority. It teaches you that the part of you that is different, that is non-white, is not valued or worth recognition.

Patricia Williams, when she spoke at my school, said that the US has waves of minorities that eventually get pushed to be either white or black. Italians and other Eastern Europeans that immigrated to America were once discriminated against, but are now considered white and enjoy those privileges. They were assimilated because they were able to pass. What happened to the rich culture and traditions of those assimilated? They were abandoned and replaced with other traditions more suited to the majority. For me, that’s a sad thing. Everyone deserves to be valued for their differences and be able to maintain the integrity of their culture, without it being denied or watered down by a desire for better jobs and treatment.

race-white-german-assimilation-cartoonSource

I’m reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison right now and there is a part of the book (CH 10) that I think applies here. The main character gets a job at a Liberty Paint factory where they make the purest white paint in the world. How? They put ten drops of a black chemical into each bucket. They mix it in until it disappears. I don’t want black culture to disappear. I don’t want any ethnic culture to disappear.

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t speak Hindi around me or my sisters. They wanted us to learn English. How I wish they had taught us Hindi too! I know a lot of families that do the same thing. Perhaps if I had learned Hindi, I would feel a stronger connection to that part of my identity. This is an example of culture being watered down, and it was a result of my parents wanting a better life for their children by emphasizing their white identities.

So no, I don’t want America to be a melting pot. If we really desire to be a multicultural nation, we have to accept each culture as different but not deficient and see the value in diversity. We need to become a salad bowl of awesomeness.

How to Talk to Guys 101

Oh my goodness, I don’t know where to start with this blog post. I was debating with myself about whether or not I should mention my latest adventure…it may be too soon to call it. (You can decide for yourself after reading.)

I sort of met someone.

There is a sentence I didn’t think I would be writing this year let alone this week. I say “sort of” because nothing has come of it yet, but numbers have been exchanged. Omg, I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no reference book for interacting with guys. Just thinking about it makes me nervous. But I’m getting ahead of myself now.

This weekend my best friend from high school came to visit me at school. There was a party at The Bar near campus and we decided to go. After sharing a bottle of wine in my car (parked of course), we decided to go ahead in, even though it was pretty early. On the way in, a guy I met last time I was at The Bar tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I knew you’d come back.” I honestly can’t remember what I said in reply. I think I smiled. Last month when I was leaving The Bar, he introduced himself to me and kept saying, “I really hope I see you again.” By the way, he’s a bouncer at the club.

Later while I was paying for drinks, he came up to me again and starting talking to me. I was trying to be friendly. I promise I wasn’t drunk, but I don’t remember much. I was too nervous. The only question I could think to ask him was “Do you live around here?” which is probably the most generic question that you only hear in movies right before a guy strikes out. I decided to leave the bar before it got too awkward, which I kind of regret now, but my friend was waiting anyway.

After dancing for a few hours, we decided to call it a night. Here’s where I get out of character. He came up to me to say goodbye and came in for an awkward side hug. I can’t believe I did this, but I leaned in and said, “When are you gonna ask me for my number?”
“Right now” he replied and smiled. I can’t believe I said that to him, but really, it’s not like I didn’t know he was interested.

So…I gave out my number for the first time this weekend. I have no idea what I’m doing. I wish there was a class I could take to teach me how to talk to guys. -_-;

Help!
Beck

My Nerd is Showing

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I’m a HUGE Lord of the Rings and Tolkien nerd. I’m too big of a Lord of the Rings/Tolkien fan to not write about The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, even if it’s a bit late. I saw the premiere and…I didn’t like it very much. Sad, I know. Here’s my beef with PJ’s adaption of the story.

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The scene at the beginning of the film with Gandalf and Thorin was unnecessary as it did not tell us anything we didn’t know before except how all this started, which hardly matters in my opinion.*

Oh my Tolkien-gods. Azog and his orcs are one of the most annoying things about this movie. Their sole purpose is to move the company from one place to another as quickly as possible. They basically replace the ring wraiths from FOTR. KMN.

I did like Beorn and I wish we could have seen more of him. I liked the way Gandalf had the dwarves meet Beorn in the book better (two at a time, every five minutes) because it showed us how careful and smart Gandalf was. Oh well. I understand that the movie can’t be the book, but that doesn’t keep me from being disappointed.

Mirkwood was really cool. I like the way the dwarves get disoriented and loose the path. It was cool how it happened in the book too though with them following the lights of the elves, etc. I kind of missed the sleeping river bit with Bombur. I think that could have been really funny to see on screen.

I like that Bilbo could understand the spiders when he put his ring on. This was done really well. The only thing I sort of have a problem with is when Bilbo lost the ring and kills a baby spider to get it back. Although it was interesting to see this part of him and I think it was done well, I feel that his relationship with the ring is developing too fast. In the book, the ring is used when needed but Bilbo doesn’t feel such strong attachment to it, not to the point when he would kill for it. He’s already killing for it and he’s only had it for a few weeks at most. It takes Frodo at least a few months before he gets to that point in LOTR.

Wood elves provide a lot of opportunity for spiffy action fighting sequences. I’m not opposed to this. The scene between Thorin and Thranduil is also interesting, although I’m wondering what the deal was with Thranduil’s face. I hope that is explained more in the third film. What can I say about the barrels out of bond escape sequence? It was different from the book, obviously, and I can’t say I liked it more. The orcs are as relentless as they are pointless. I’m so tired of them showing up everywhere.  Also, there is another video game scene with Bombur knocking over orcs in his barrel. It was funny but, SMH, PJ.

The whole Legolas-Taurial-Kili love triangle is a cheap way to bring romance into the films and is completely unnecessary. This plot element is what made my initial reaction to the film a bad one. (Also, eww to Evangeline Lily’s acting.) If I wanted a love story, I wouldn’t watch an LOTR film. First of all, Tauriel and Kili “fall in love” after two scenes together, which is very unrealistic to me because dwarves and elves HATE each other. Legolas doesn’t need a new reason (i.e. Tauriel and Kili together) to hate dwarves, he already does. Second, making a dwarf-elf pair undermines the significance of the Legolas and Gimli friendship in LOTR. Legolas and Gimili are the two that are supposed to bring the races together and give hope for reconciliation. Third, I’m not opposed to Legolas having a love interest, but it is a bit pointless considering we all know he sails to the Undying Lands with Gimli after the war of the ring. Overall, anytime there is anything remotely romantic happening in the film, I have to fight the urge to vomit and/or slit my wrists.

I like Bard. (He looks exactly like Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean!) His family is super annoying though, especially his daughters, who are only good for screaming. If you’re going to add this many new unnecessary characters, at least make me care about them. The family may as well be made of cardboard. Also, why is Esgaroth and everyone in it so dirty/poor? Is there no sanitation department? I couldn’t live there with that mess. Speaking of Esgaroth, it didn’t quite feel like Middle Earth. It felt very much like a part of our world, just from an earlier period. Perhaps this was on purpose, but it was distracting. I didn’t like Lake Town very much. I was expecting it to feel more Bree-like because it’s mostly a human dwelling. Did anyone else notice that Alfrid, the Master’s henchman, is basically Wormtongue?

Did anyone catch the two black people strategically placed in the background of Lake Town?!?  I guess PJ and co. got tired of hearing the criticism about not hiring minorities in LOTR. Haha

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The scene of Gandalf in Dol Guldur and the subsequent fight between Gandalf and the Necromance/Sauron was one of the most amazing scenes in the film. Gandalf was in full cool wizard mode and Sauron was super scary. Even though the Tolkien purist in me was screaming in frustration, I really like this addition to the story. (It kills me to admit it.) How is Gandalf going to get out of prison? I’m excited to find out.

Am I the only one who thinks the dwarves give up WAY too easily after they apparently fail to find the key hole? They came all that way, spent five hours of film getting there, and are ready to give up and go home after two minutes of searching? That’s unrealistic to me. Of course, it gives Bilbo a great opportunity to show his quality. By the way, I think he does steal the Arkenstone, although the movie doesn’t make that point clear. It’s necessary for the third film, although who knows what PJ is doing to the rest of the original story line.

I absolutely love Smaug. He was beautiful and Benedict Cumberbatch does an excellent job. I also think Martin Freeman did a fantastic job, although I wish Bilbo had waited longer before taking off his ring. He seemed a bit too frightened. The Bilbo in the book was wittier and more confident I think. Smaug also was extremely perceptive when it came to the one ring and guessing that a “darkness” was coming, etc. How would he know about that if he had been sleeping for so long?

Although I appreciate that the dwarves tried to fight/trap Smaug, there was no way using molten gold was going to work. Gold is too soft a metal to really trap him and dragons are impervious to fire, so the temperature wasn’t going to do anything either. It looked cool, but that’s about it. One of the numerous pointless things PJ added to the film/story.

I liked the movie more the second time, but I’m not ready to say it was awesome. I never thought I would be neutral about a LOTR film, but so it is. Overall, I think it borrows way too many plot elements/lines from LOTR. (“We’re part of this world.”) I really can’t wait for the fan cut where they take all the Taurial mess out.

Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” is a great song. I love it.

*All of this is my opinion and hardly matters, so don’t get up in arms about what I have to say. This is my blog!

My Tinder No-No’s

TINDER

This is the part when I complain about how hard it is to meet people. I know I’m on a college campus surrounded by people my age, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to make it any easier. My track record with guys is literally nonexistent. That’s when my friend told me about an iPhone app called Tinder that allows you to chat with guys that have “liked” your profile.

Oh boy.

I make a profile and quickly get a few matches. Every time I get a notification, I turn into a middle school boy-crazy version of myself. It’s completely trivial but I’m hooked. After a few days of guys not talking to me, I start sending messages myself, most of which are not answered. Gradually, I lose interest and leave the app for a few weeks. Recently, I started using the app again out of idle curiosity and boredom and I realized something important, I don’t like anybody. I don’t think guys know how to market themselves well. Some of the things they show and tell in their profiles make me wonder if they are really trying to meet girls at all. Tinder is all about snap judgments and I have a few cues that tell me immediately to swipe left. Some of these things are specific to me, but some are just plain bad.

I swipe left if you are:
wearing a fraternity shirt or have Greek letters in your profile (You know, just in case we didn’t know you were a d-bag from your pictures.)
in the military (I love you guys, but I don’t want to be an army wife.)
in a boat (because)
with too many SWB (Skinny White Bitches) (I’m not your type.)
with too many bare-chested guys and I can’t tell who I’m looking at (I hope you’re the cute one?)
holding a beer in every photo (Future AA member)
in too many selfies (Self-centered much?)
holding a baby ( I hope it’s not yours…)
playing extreme sports (I won’t be joining you anytime soon.)
holding a gun (Nope.)
holding a fish/are fishing (I just don’t understand fishing culture.)
wearing or waving an US flag (Not super patriotic on this end)
a tattoo enthusiast (One is fine, more than one is excessive)
wearing earrings (Just no.)
wearing a Bieber haircut (NO)
exposing a severe injury/stitches (Seeing your bloody flesh really gets me going.)
mentioning your junk in your profile (SMH)
growing the longest beard in the world (No one wants to kiss that.)
the owner of a weird name (Some of my favorite examples are “Aymen”, “Bo”, and “Shrimp”)

I’m not left with many options after I rule out everyone on that list, which is why I’m convinced I’ll be a spinster. Not that I’m looking for anything serious on Tinder, but it makes me wonder how this whole “fall in love and get married” thing will work out. Usually, the only thing I have in common with guys on Tinder is that we both like the Panthers or Adele. In real life, my opportunities to meet guys have been very few since I have never really been in the “going out” scene. I got my first booty call message on Tinder a few days ago. (For the record, I don’t like cuddling naked…not with you, weirdo.) I’ll probably delete the app soon…as soon as the profiles stop being ridiculous.

Forever alone
Beck

What are your Tinder no-no’s? Let me know in the comments below!

Blueberry and Toothpicks

The nature of blogging is very self-centered. “Everyone look at me and read what I have to say. It’s super interesting because it’s about me and I’m super interesting” said every blogger ever. To avoid the “I’m awesome” trap, I want to say something a little different; “Look at us and how interesting we are”. I want to share the stories of other people as well as my own because we all live interesting stories every day. With this in mind, I want to share a story my sister told me recently.

My sister’s work place has the makings of a perfect office sitcom. She works at the Academic Support Center at a local community college as a science tutor. The center includes tutoring services in math and science, a writing center, and a computer lab, each of which is overseen by a coordinator. The cast of characters includes such classics as the old racist white man, the sassy black woman and her posse, the loner who eats the same lunch every day, the foreigner, and the two young friends, who are the cool ones. (Guess which one my sister is.) Just think of all the funny situations these characters could get into, let alone the weirdo students who come in looking for help. I really want to write that sitcom.

One day, Mac, the loner who eats soup and crackers every day for lunch (he sometimes eats goldfish for variety), was given two beautiful blueberry muffins homemade by the baker of the office, Linda. Linda loves to bake and brings in goodies for her coworkers on occasion. But Mac made a fatal mistake. He left his blueberry muffins in a sealed container on the counter of the office kitchen without any label or friendly eye to watch over them. Will, the old racist, and Sarah were both in the kitchen for their lunch break soon afterwards.
“Want a muffin? They’re for everybody.” Will said.
“Are you sure? There’s only two.”
“Yeah. Why else would they be on the kitchen counter?” Will opens the container and begins to shove warm pieces of muffin into his racist mouth. Sarah eyes the second muffin and decides that Will must be right. The muffins looked too delicious for her to listen to the small voice in the back of her head that told her she may be about to commit muffin theft. “That muffin was delicious” she thought as she took her seat and waited for students to arrive. Meanwhile, Mac discovered his loss and decided to confront Will about the muffins. Will isn’t even sorry.
“You shouldn’t have left them on the counter, man. They were delicious.” He grins.
“Linda baked those for my birthday!” Mac said. Sarah listened on in horror and regret as the scene unfolded behind her table in the tutoring center. Her friend, Cara, heard this too and doesn’t let her forget her shame.
“I can’t believe you stole Mac’s birthday muffin, Blueberry.” She shook her head in mock disappointment and proceeded to email Sarah a collage of blueberry muffins for her enjoyment. Thus, Sarah got a snack and a nickname at the same time by stealing a muffin from a coworker. Poor Mac.

***

Cara likes to play pranks, especially on her guy friends that work in the building. One day, her pranks went a bit too far. While instant messaging through the staff network, Cara asked a friend to get her four menus and seventeen toothpicks from a local Chinese restaurant for a “project”. Her friend believes it is a prank, but Cara is so convincing and urgent that he decides to do her this favor anyway. Cara, distracted from her computer, doesn’t see his message until it’s too late to tell him she was joking. He proudly walks in to deliver his menus and toothpicks while Cara tries to think of a project that would require such odd ingredients. She even pretended that what he brought wasn’t enough and she would have to go back for more. To this day, she hasn’t told him it was a joke and told Sarah, “I will never use my powers of manipulation for evil ever again.” We’ll see Toothpicks, we’ll see.

Beck