29 April 2011

New Addition To My Pages!

In case you haven't noticed yet--and I don't expect that many have, considering I literally just posted it--there've been some changes in the list of pages across the top of my blog. Some of the titles of pages have changed, mainly to make them all fit in one line, and some things have been cut (note: lyrics & poetry got changed to simply poetry, for reasons I'm about to clarify). The primary change, however, was the addition of a new page: Music. I finally made an account with SoundCloud and used their coding to embed the player in one of my blog pages. Thus, now all of you can listen to my music and determine for yourselves whether or not I’m any good.

Here’s the link to my SoundCloud page that has all of the music. Check out the player in Music!

22 April 2011

If You Need An Introduction

Breakfast of champions. Yes, I really did put my jelly
beans in rainbow order before I ate them this morning.
While I still consider myself a newbie blogger—after all, I’ve only been at it since August 2010—I think I’ve been a fairly prolific one. There has also been some interest lately among my friends and acquaintances who have only recently discovered my blog in which entries they should read to get a feel for everything. Thus, I have put together a list, in my neither humble nor impartial opinion, of my favorite entries. I went through, all the way back to last August, and picked out the titles that I remembered writing. In no particular order, here are my top ten entries that I feel best characterize the purpose of my blog and what I believe.

1) Sic Semper Tyrannis

2) Arrows In The Dark Woods

3) Necessary Decay

4) Holidays, Twilight, and Forest Treks

5) Tuatha de Danann and Immortality

6) My Letter to the World, Part 1

7) Sunshinin' Charioteer with a tendency towards the EXTREME

8) Some Thoughts On Rotten Oranges

9) Clausewitzian Uncertainty

10) Music As Magic

And, although it is not one of my favorites nor does it particularly represent anything I stand for, I will include a link to my all-time most popular post in terms of hit numbers: I Am Not Aphrodite. If there are any posts not on this list that you few devoted followers of mine would add in your top ten, do share!

To my Christian friends, Happy Easter Weekend!

Blessed be.

20 April 2011

Mad Props To Max

Photo from here. Pass the torch, already.
I’ll admit that I can be cynical and that I do not always see eye to eye with many of my peers. I’ve been known to roll my eyes or even get into arguments with those of my classmates, friends, acquaintances, strangers of my age group who display an inordinate amount of idiocy. However, one thing that continues to irk me is how little faith the present reigning generation (my parents, aunts, and uncles’ age group) has in us, their progeny. It’s an expansion of the philosophy I always approached my brothers with: I can say whatever I want about them, but if anyone else dares to make fun of them within my presence, they’ll be reeling for weeks from verbal whiplash.

If we as a generation are uneducated and uninformed, the teacher is as much at fault as the pupil. My parents are both in their fifties. I am twenty-two. Since I was about thirteen, they treated me relatively like an adult, because I earned that treatment and their respect as a self-motivated individual with a driving passion and purpose. However, I had their example to guide me towards such a development. Many of my peers have not been so lucky.

We do not choose what genes are passed on to us, nor into which families we are born. We do not choose the economic situations into which we are thrust. Thus, when such pillars of the reigning generation as Alan Greenspan place the fault with us and shudder at the world my generation will one day be responsible for, it irks me something fierce.

Personally, I can’t wait until it’s my turn to be part of the reigning generation. The reigns will not be passed over in a sudden deferral of power, and we will not wake up one day and realize we are in charge. However, the slow transition between the level of influence wielded in familial, domestic, and international affairs is one I anticipate a little more each day. The mess left by the generations preceding us will take a lot to clean up, and such an endeavor may very well be beyond the scope of our power to heal, but when the world has already descended this far into hell…eventually, there will be nowhere to go but up. In a response to Greenspan’s comments, one of my peers—with whom I have worked on a professional/military level and who I also count among my friends—may have said it best:

My generation is going to have to pay the bill for the blank checks written during the second half of the 20th century by policymakers like Alan Greenspan. I am fully aware that I am likely to pay into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and then not receive any benefits later in life.
You can find more about what Greenspan said here, as well as the rest of Max’s response here.

19 April 2011

Updates, The UN, And Nukes

Political cartoon from here
I have some very, very good news. It’s a tiny thing, but it’s hugely important to me, primarily because this bit of news means I will actually get to sleep tonight. Not a lot, but at least a little bit. Discovering the good news came only after I had heard what initially seemed to be very bad news, which meant not only that I would not sleep at all, but that I would not even finish all my work even sans sleep. However, while the bad news is in effect, the good news counteracts it just enough that Morpheus will be allowed to play with my dreams after all. The bad news was that I suddenly have a three-hour lecture this evening in addition to the ten hour conference I had already known about monopolizing my Wednesday. The worse news is that I have had almost zero time this weekend, yesterday, and today to work on the two assignments due tomorrow. One of those assignments is finishing reading a memoir and writing an evaluation of it from a historical/military perspective (for more on that, see Nina’s latest entry). The other assignment is to finish researching, writing, and perfecting a final copy of my term paper for a course in mass media & politics. I’m sitting at seven pages of complete crap right now, and the final product needs to be 15-20 pages of excellence. Thus, I’ve got a long way to go.

However, the situation became much less dire as of five minutes ago and receiving an email from my mass media instructor. My good news: the due date for our term paper has been extended until in-class Friday morning! Which means that I can sleep tonight! Of course, I won’t be able to go out tomorrow night or Thursday, but at least I won’t keel over from exhaustion in any of my morning classes the rest of this week.

The other mildly cool news I have is that I toured the United Nations today. My nuclear engineering course took a day-trip to New York City to meet with representatives from the UN Security Council, one of the many energy associations whose acronym I can’t quite recall, the General Assembly, and then a few experts on Iran and North Korea. I will admit that my tiredness from a very late night and very, very early morning got the better of me, and so I zoned out a few times despite the interesting discussions. Since my academic fields are a blend of International Relations, Eastern Europe, and Nuclear Engineering/Weapons, visiting the UN to talk about nukes was pretty much what tweaks my interest. However, half-dozing on the bumpy bus ride and three gargantuan cups of coffee (don’t judge) unfortunately did not make up for two hours of sleep two nights in a row. Soon to be three. But hey, two hours is way better than nothing.

I’m pretty sure my blood caffeine content would be well over the legal limit, if there were such a thing, for more or less this entire week.

Here are a few pictures I snapped of the inside of the UN building today:

18 April 2011

We Are All Stars

Although it’s been a while since I’ve had time to just sit down and read for fun, I’ve been thinking about returning to Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time when I get the chance, and not in small part because of this contemplative song. High Place’s “From Stardust to Sentience” is an ethereal, beautiful indie number about, well, evolution. I remember when my science teachers in middle school told me that when you really think about it, we’re all made out of stars. It’s an idea that makes me feel wonderfully connected to the cosmos. Parallels and particles, connections and unity of the universe. We are all stardust. We are immortal.

The lyrics to the song, in case you have a hard time understand the soft vocals, are below. May this song make you feel as connected to the universe as it does for me. Enjoy.

From small speck of stardust to wondrously sentient
Revolving and spinning in space
Waking and sleeping and yielding to gravity
It starts to show on your face

Millions of forces of physics and providence
Teamed up and brought us all here
Waking and sleeping and yielding to gravity
Pointless to measure in years

Out in the desert your thoughts are as clear as the stars
You feel golden
You're billion year old carbon.

17 April 2011

The Importance of Hospitality

Jean-Bernard Restout, Philemon et Baucis Offrant
L'hospitatlite a Jupiter er Mercure, 1769 
This weekend—this whole past week, actually—was epic. Absolutely epic. First off, it was the Sandhurst Competition, so teams from every Company, the other Academies, and then foreign Academies all participated in the giant military training event comprised of different tests, each one more of a haze than the last. The teams arrive usually about a week before the actual competition to get acclimated to the weather (shitty) and altitude (super low??) and terrain (horrible) and, likely most importantly, the time zone. Thus, academy grounds were crawling with the best and brightest from all over the world.

So myself and all my fellow female cadets were just drooling over the eye-candy and reveling in the music of accents. Sandhurst week is always epic, and everything culminates Saturday night after the competition.

As I tend to stand out among my peers for the loudness of my clothes and attitude, I also tend to acquire a lot of friends during this time. This year was no exception. I’ll be sad to see my friends on the Australian and British teams head back to their own Academies. It’s always nice to build connections in foreign countries. As an avid traveler, I obviously support the expanding of one’s cultural horizons by communicating with those of differing perspectives and backgrounds. Plus, it’s nice to have a place to crash when in otherwise unfamiliar territory, and all of my foreign friends know they’re welcome to stay with me if they ever want to visit the States. They have an open invitation, no matter how inconvenient it might be for me at the time or where I am in life. Hospitality is something I’ve always taken very seriously.

Which brings me to a little story I once translated from Latin into English back in the early years of my high school. I remember this story in particular because it resonated with some of my opinions towards hospitality and likely further influenced my thinking on the subject. Because my memory is a little foggy on all of the details, and because the translation of the excerpt would be rather lengthy, I decided to go with a good summary courtesy ancienthistory.about.com. I made a few tiny grammar corrections, but other than that, the text is pretty much just copy/paste. Enjoy.

According to ancient Roman mythology and Ovid's Metamorphoses, Philemon and Baucis had lived out their long lives nobly, but in poverty. Jupiter, the Roman king of the gods, had heard of the virtuous couple, but based on all his previous experiences with humans, he had serious doubts as to their goodness.

Jupiter was about to destroy mankind, but was willing to give it one final chance before starting over again. So, in the company of his son Mercury, the wing-footed messenger god, Jupiter went about, disguised as a worn and weary traveler, from house to house among the neighbors of Philemon and Baucis. As Jupiter feared and expected, the neighbors turned him and Mercury away rudely. Then the two gods went to the last house, the cottage of Philemon and Baucis, where the couple had lived all their long married lives.

Philemon and Baucis were pleased to have visitors, and insisted that their guests rest before their little hearth fire. They even lugged in more of their precious firewood to make a greater blaze. Unasked, Philemon and Baucis then served their presumably starving guests, fresh fruits, olives, eggs, and wine.

Soon the old couple noticed that no matter how often they poured from it, the wine pitcher was never empty. They began to suspect that their guests might be more than mere mortals. Just in case, Philemon and Baucis decided to provide the closest they could come to a meal that was fit for a god. They would slaughter their only goose in their guests' honor. Unfortunately, the legs of the goose were faster than those of Philemon or Baucis. Even though the humans were not as fast, they were smarter, and so they cornered the goose inside the cottage, where they were just about to catch it.... At the last moment, the goose sought the shelter of the divine guests. To save the life of the goose, Jupiter and Mercury revealed themselves and immediately expressed their pleasure in meeting an honorable human pair.

Asked what divine favor they wanted, the couple said that they wished to become temple priests and die together. Their wish was granted, and when they died they were turned into intertwining trees.
This tale also reminds me of a tradition one of my good friend’s families performs at every major holiday. They’re devout Catholics from Poland, but this is nonetheless a tradition I would love to adopt when I’m on my own or have a family. At Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, literally every time there’s a holiday and their family gets together, they set one extra seat at the dinner table. The role of the empty seat is twofold. On the one hand, it is reserved for any unexpected guests, whether they be strangers or close kin, who might show up on the doorstep hungry. On the other hand, the seat is also reserved in honor of the spirits of the family ancestors who might drop by to be with their descendents on such a holiday. Beautiful tradition, and it definitely speaks to me of Pagan hospitality alive and kicking.

14 April 2011

I Swear I'm Not Trying To Manipulate Anyone

I don't know what's gotten into me lately. I haven't written this many lyrics this fast in a long time, as in high school long time. I guess all of the drama from this year has finally spilled out into musical motivation. This particular song came to me initially in the shower last night, and so I wrote the two stanzas of the first verse then, and then finished up the rest this afternoon. I took a little bit of poetic license in the situation it's inspired by--I didn't quite date a pair of friends--but I was sorta involved with one while talking to his BFF, although it never has nor never will go anywhere further than that. Yes, the one I was sorta involved with is Stargazer. Anyway, enjoy the lyrics. The song title is the same as the title of this blog entry :)

I’m a little confused;
I wish I knew what to do.
I think I’m starting to fall for him,
But I’m still hung up on you.
And yeah, I know
That I should give up and move on,
But that’s easier said than done.
Yeah, it’s easier said than done.

It’s a little weird;
My path is unclear.
I know that he is your best friend,
So why am I still here?
If we’re keeping score,
I was never really yours.
After all, you loved him more.
Yeah, you always loved him more.

I don’t know what game I’m trying to play,
Since you won’t change your mind
No matter what I say.
I don’t know why I bother with you sometimes;
I can’t stay away from you
Despite how hard I’ve tried.

Once upon a time,
I tried to make you mine,
But you played so elusively, and
This fairy tale ran dry.
Yeah, you’ve said
That we’re normal again,
But we weren’t normal then.
No, we weren’t normal then.

I guess I’m glad
That this little thing we had
Turned out as well as it did, though
We knew it could not last.
On the other hand,
I still want you more than him,
Plus we were never friends.
No, we’ll never be just friends.

I don’t know what game I’m trying to play,
Since you won’t change your mind
No matter what I say.
I don’t know why I bother with you sometimes;
Still I can’t stay away from you
Despite all our silly lies.

Okay, alright,
I know you’re the jealous type,
But you never told him about me,
So I guess it serves you right.
I admit it’s true:
I can be vindictive too,
But I’m still hung up on you.
Yeah, I’m still hung up on you.

12 April 2011

Will o' the Wisps

I feel like I'm making up for lost blog entries with doing a double entry in one day, but at the same time...I write it, I post it. That's about all there is to it. Regardless, in one of my classes this morning, I jotted down some lyrics as they came to me. The product was a little more upbeat than my usual stuff, mainly since melancholy and anger are my primary creative motivations, and any attempt at writing with a happy muse tends to sound overly cheesy to me. I named the song "Will o' the Whisps" mainly becasue the line about fairy lights is the image I like most from it. Anyway, I've got to run to a test in my Nuclear Systems Design course soon (fml), so without further ado, enjoy.

Let’s build a bonfire
and burn all our baggage down,
scatter the ashes of discarded dreams
over barren ground.
The flames will shoot the sparks
into the sky like fairy lights,
and when the pyre has done its dirty work,
let’s escape into the night.

You’ve got me, whether you want me or not,
and I know that this remains something undone.

Let’s run away
and leave everything behind.
We don’t need the unresolved
memories of fights.
As we run, the fire fades
in the distant bitterness.
We are left with just ourselves,
and after all, that’s all we needed.

You’ve got me, whether you want me or not.
I know that this remains something undone,
because we are a barrel full of unexploded bombs.
I won’t give up; we deserve this (love),
we deserve this (love), we deserve this.

So flick the match and take my hand.
We’ll be together at the end,
and wherever you go, I will always know.
I’ll cut your body out of stars
and print your name over my scars.
Wherever I go, you can follow.

You’ve got me, whether you want me or not.
I know that this remains something undone,
because we are a barrel full of unexploded bombs.
I won’t give up; we deserve this (love),
we deserve this (love), we deserve this.

Thank You, Helios

Coin depicting Helios, Greek Sun God, from here
First off, I’m sorry for the sporadic (and not all that entertaining) posts lately. I’ve been wallowing. However, now that the bright happy face of Apollo/Helios/Amaterasu/Lugh/Inti/Sol/etc decided to finally make an appearance through the nearly constant cloud cover that gives “the gray months” here their name, and I managed to relish in the Vitamin D yesterday afternoon, I’m thinking the period of wallowing is drawing to a close. Finally. Wallowing is all fine and dandy when I have time to find creative outlets for my emo-angst (do forgive, please), but definitely not so helpful when I’m trying to get things in order for graduation and BOLC and, apparently, Air Assault school. Yeaaaaa MPs :] I actually wanted Airborne, but since I’m not technically going to an Airborne unit, I don’t have priority as an officer. Speaking of preparations, I finally bought all my uniforms. The tailors are done sewing the braid and everything on the dress blues, but I still need to go pick them up. They called me Sunday afternoon saying they were complete, and I’d just dropped them off Saturday afternoon, so I was surprised that they finished them so quickly. I guess the alterations I needed weren’t that time consuming and that my stash must have somehow jumped to the front of the long line.

Friends in high places, I suppose.

Anyway, back to my sunshine. So. Yesterday we randomly had nice weather—and yes, here, especially in the months that should be filled with springtime and warmth and growing things, nice weather is always random—so I drove to a nearby lake with two guy friends and went tanning. Well, the sun periodically hid behind clouds, but it was still really nice when it wasn’t hidden and even warm when it was. The temperature was around low 80s or high 70s, and it was as windy as ever, but I still cracked out the bikini to attempt shedding some of my winter skin. I have a naturally tan/olive complexion, so when I don’t have at least a little bit of sunglow, I just look awful. Thus, New York winters wreck havoc for me. Once again: I can’t wait to go to Texas.

I parked on a hill and rolled out my lime-green beach towel on the moss and sticks by the lakeshore. It felt so ridiculously good to just bathe in the light, and the boys rotated between lying out with me during the sunnier patches, playing Frisbee in the field behind us, and running around taking pictures of snakes. Luckily no shots of my pale self in the hotpinkcheetahprint (don’t judge) bikini made it onto Facebook. I think the death threats might have had something to do with that. Even better, I managed to get about half a shade darker, so considering we only had three hours to kill for the whole trip including transportation time (20 min drive, 30 min walk to and from my car), I’ll take it. It’s not quite a tan, but it’s a start.

During one of the times when I was alone while the boys were off being boys, I stretched out my arms and felt the Sunshine and the Earth and got my hippie on. I remember thinking, lying there and communing with the lake next to me and the soil beneath me and the trees around me and the sky above me, I’m going to blog about this moment later. I whispered “Gaia,” and then, one of my favorite greetings inspired by some of prayers in Serith’s A Book of Pagan Prayer, “Wise Ones, Wild Ones, Spirits of this Place, I thank you for guarding and sheltering me here.” The wind stirred, the leaves scattered, and I felt my greeting answered.

Now, for some musical irony, a song:

06 April 2011

Hopelessly Heartless

I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something wrong with me
I should feel guilty over this; hell, I should at least feel something
So when I tell you that I’m sorry after I break you apart
You still won’t see the void where there should be a heart

Because I’ve done this before
Practiced on dozens, maybe more

And so the shattered, scattered, lonely souls who cannot help
   themselves but follow as I spiral out of control
Are as blind as you, so no one sees the damage that’s surrounding
   me, I may as well have caused deliberately

So take your place among the others
I will forget your face
Go back to your girl, she’s waiting
And you don’t deserve to drown in my wake

I’m an Ice Queen, I’m a Vixen, and if you stay I’ll bleed you dry
Until you’re nothing but a shell with faded dreams and empty eyes
So when I tell you that I’m sorry after I leave you destroyed
I’ll feel no remorse discarding another broken toy

So take your place among the others
You are just another face
In a long list of shallow tricks
Of scars and old mistakes

I never meant to be like I’ve become
Honestly, I never meant to hurt anyone
But I can’t help myself, and I’m sure
There’s a special place in hell reserved
For those who have done what I have done

And once upon a time, I was as broken as you’ll be
I’m not saying that it’s right, I only do what’s done to me

So take your place among the others
I will forget your face
So go back to your girl, she’s waiting
And you deserve better than I ever gave

02 April 2011

Shot Blocks

Domenica Feti, Melancholy
“It’s cold as a tomb,
And it’s dark in your room
When I sneak to your bed
And pour salt in your wounds.
So call it quits, or get a grip
You say you wanted a solution;
You just wanted to be missed.”
~ Brand New

So the drama continues, as it always does, and my best efforts at healing broken rifts are perpetually met with resistance. One of these days I’ll just give up. In the mean time, I wrote another song, posted in the last entry. Let me know what you think about it.

Eventually I will learn from my mistakes and stop repeating the same sad cycles.

I’ve lost a lot of friends over the years, some who were closer than others. Some I still miss terribly. Some I couldn’t care less that they’re no longer a part of my life. The ones that hurt the most are the ones I could have kept, if I’d tried harder, or if I’d been a better friend. I’m slowly repairing the damage with one group. The damage was born of drifting apart slowly last semester, and now with 48 days left, it feels important to fix those relationships and get them right. I love them too much to let things end badly. It seems to be working.

If only I could get through to Stargazer.

And then there are the friends who were somehow both more and less than friends at the same time, the ones who become songs, the ones whose faces become hidden in paintings years after they’re gone.

The anthem for the day: Brand New, “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot.” Some of the lyrics express what’s racing through my own veins; some seem to express what might be said about me. Either way, melancholy galore. Enjoy.

Forgive, Not Forget.

I had everything I wanted, right in my hands
But then I wanted more, and ended up with less
And you just let it slip away, slide on right by
Now there’s no way to get it back again
I still think about you every night
Wondering if I even cross your mind?
I know I’m not perfect, but neither are you
In the end, the silence speaks the truth

And you, you act like I don’t exist
Like what we had never happened
Like it doesn’t hurt you at all
Was I the only one to fall?

I had everything I wanted, right then and there
Sitting on the rooftop and counting the stars
We shared our dreams, in whispers and smiles
And no one knows how fragile those are
I still think about you every night
Wondering If I even cross your mind?
I know that it’s over and I should move on
But what we had can’t just be gone

And you, you act like I don’t exist
Like a whole year never happened
Can you even feel at all?
I can’t have been the only one to...

See the way you looked at me
From across the room, so intently
If you want to rewrite
The past you’ve denied
Forgive me, but, I’ll keep my memories

And you, you never saw my scars
The ones carved around my heart
Whispered dreams in the dark
I was not the only one to fall.
And you, you can act like I don’t exist
Like what we had never happened
But I know the truth, after all:
I was not the only one to fall.