Tag Archives: school

Let the mocking begin!

I love essays. It is the reason I am in uni. No, really, I almost dropped out, but turned it into a gap year because a few months into fall, all of the Facebook posts from my friends complaining about their essays made me miss it so much. I do have trouble getting started writing though. I tend to research up to the last minute, believing that I don’t know enough about the topic I’m writing on until I actually write it. This usually involves staying up late going “Gah, why did I think I could do academia? It involves words!”

I was working on my last essay of the semester a few days ago. I could not get out of research mode for the life of me, so I decided to write the stupidest version of my essay I could think of, just to get myself writing. It is dumb, it ignores facts, but I asked on Facebook if people wanted to see it so that they could mock me, and some of them said yes. You’re welcome.

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The nineteenth century was the time when people said “Hey, maybe music is an actual art form that we should be studying,” so they did. But they had this whole romantic ideal where composers were gods, so they didn’t really look beyond that. Also, they hated women and foreigners, so you could only be a god if you were a white man. Fortunately, since these people were also white men, they could ignore this and study works of music based on the score alone. “Context? Fuck context,” they said, “These pieces have to be great because they’re written by these awesome white men, so we have Schenkerian analysis to take out all of that extra, not necessarily good stuff in order to explain why it all makes sense and is actually genius.” They particularly liked to do this with Beethoven. Most notably, he wrote his ninth symphony after he went deaf, and also after everybody decided he was god. People heard it and thought “This is strange, but it’s Beethoven, so it must be brilliant! Bring on the Schenkerian analysis!” The thing is, everybody fucking loved Beethoven, so they decided that his music, especially the last movement of his ninth symphony, should be used to support their own agendas. Hitler demanded it be played at his birthday party. It was played in celebration of the Berlin Wall coming down. Wagner decided to become Beethoven. This piece was so easily politicised because it was Beethoven, and Beethoven is god.
So with Wagner deciding to become god, he wrote a ton and composed a ton. If you were in the nineteenth century, you either like Wagner or Brahms, and Brahms didn’t build theatres with dumb seating structures and write the longest-ever operas to perform at them, so clearly everyone loved Wagner. Wagner hated the Jews, but no one really cared at this point. After WWII, of course, people went “Oh hey, this is mad problematic, and his whole “I am god/Jews and women suck” ideology kind of leaks into his music. So this, and things like this, are why we have new musicology. It lets us know when the music we are listening to is EVIL.


This was actually probably the most normal thing to happen to me at high school

So as proof that I do actually intend to update this blog, we have a post today! As proof of my laziness, it consists of something I wrote when I was 13. What follows is the first essay I was assigned in high school. I was supposed to write about my first week of school. I wrote about a sleeping bag instead.

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My biggest challenge during my first week at school was figuring out what to do with the sleeping bag in my locker. For the first four days of school, I had no time to find my locker, and would carry my cello around to all of my classes. On Friday, I sacrificed the first fifteen minutes of my lunch period to find it. It was one of the music lockers, big enough to fit my cello as well as my backpack. Once I got the locker opened, I was mildly surprised to see a green sleeping bag in it. I could not help wondering whether there are beds in the bigger lockers around the corner.

What was this sleeping bag’s use? Who put it here? Did the previous owner climb into the large locker during lunch and go to sleep? Or maybe he had a well-behaved cat that he liked to bring to school. Or did he bring it to class on cold days?

What could this sleeping bag signify? It could be there to remind anyone who happened to catch a glimpse of it that there is such a thing as sleep. The fact that it’s green seems strange to me. Most of the sleeping bags that I have seen are either red, blue, or have pictures of cartoon characters on them. The color green often symbolizes life, but here that feels contradictory, as sleep has so often been compared to death in books and movies. The common phrase, “you’re looking a little green”, suggests that green symbolizes feeling sick. I don’t even want to think about that.

The sleeping bag could be in my locker to create a hideaway, a place to go when the owner couldn’t handle going to class. The teachers must have gotten extremely frustrated when a student who had been present in earlier classes disappeared without a trace, but then showed up later in the day when there was free food at the art gallery. Maybe the previous owner would stay late after school in his locker, doing homework and reading in there.

The sleeping bag was neatly wrapped up. Maybe the previous owner left it on purpose for the next owner of the locker, me. Maybe the sleeping bag is the tradition of locker #131, handed down through generations of students.
Of course, that left me with the decision of what to do with it. I could take it home, never mind the fact that my bed already has most of the blankets in my house on it. There is no such thing as ‘too many blankets’. Or I could put it in the locker next to mine when the owner of that locker wasn’t looking. But it is always possible that that person already has a sleeping bag in her locker, too. My teachers and parents would probably say I should turn it in to lost-and-found, but if the previous owner has graduated, it would just sit there, just as it would if I left it in my locker and continued the tradition of locker #131.

As I stared at the sleeping bag, I realized I was starving. Maybe I would let the next person who gets locker #131 deal with it. Meanwhile, I guess I will always have a place to catch up on some sleep. I just have to find somewhere to put my backpack and cello.


Lydia Bennet is not annoying, now be nice

I have mixed feelings on Pride and Prejudice. I think it’s well-written and I can enjoy it even though it’s not generally the sort of story I really get into. My main problem is that I only actually like one of the characters and the character I like seems to be hated by the entire world. Yes, I am talking about Lydia Bennet, the sister who ran off with Wickham, who is really the only sympathetic character in the book as far as I’m concerned. I even wrote a paper about it way back in 2009. And because I’m lazy, and am trying to combat my failure at posting at least semi-regularly, I am going to post it here for my mother to see (again).

As a side-note, I’m super-proud of this paper. I went through the entire book page-by-page collecting every mention of Lydia into a word document of quotes before writing this.

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The Bennet Family: The Price of Self-Absorption

In their article “The Role of Normative Development In Adolescent Abuse and Neglect,” Howard J. Doueck, Anthony H. Ishisaka, and K. Diane Greenaway, address the seeming inconsistencies in adolescent behavior: “Adolescent strivings for identity consolidation, independence, and separation from the family, coupled with an adolescent’s increased cognitive capacity and physical capability, can lead to limit-testing behaviors that might be viewed by parents and others as deliberately provocative (Berdie, Braizerman, & Lourie, 1977; Fisher, Berdie, Cook, & Day, 1980; Newman, 1985). A major storyline in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen involves the Bennet family’s reaction to daughter Lydia’s seemingly capricious choices and behavior. Lydia does not act merely as a willful child; she acts out to gain the needed attention her neglectful family withholds.

Both Bennet parents fail in their parental responsibilities to Lydia. They are too focused on their own desires for both themselves and their “ideal” offspring. Mr. Bennet carries the guilt of not being financially prepared to provide for his wife and daughters after his death. “Mr. Bennet had very often wished, before this period of his life, that, instead of spending his whole income, he had laid by an annual sum, for the better provision of his children, and of his wife, if she survived him.” (pg. 292) He had always assumed that he would have a son who could continue to take care of the family. His daughter Elizabeth’s thought processes were the most masculine of all of his daughters, based off the gender roles typical for the time period, so he focused all of his attention on her, which did not go unnoticed by his family: Mrs. Bennet claimed: ““Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good humoured as Lydia. But you are always giving her the preference.”” (pg. 6) In fact, Mr. Bennent puts down Elizabeth’s sisters as “silly and ignorant.” (pg. 7) His withholding of sensible advice from his other daughters leaves Lydia dependent on Mrs. Bennet for a role model.

Mrs. Bennet lives through her daughters because she no longer has the freedom to flirt or fall in love. Her advice to her daughters is to find wealthy husbands. Her memories of her youth lead her to encourage Lydia to flirt with the soldiers, reinforcing Lydia’s “silly” and personally degrading behavior. Mrs. Bennet’s attitudes may be the result of mid-life dissatisfaction that leads to envy of her adolescent daughters. According to Doueck, Ishisaka, and Greenaway, “Many of the normative changes faced by midlife adults can be viewed unfavorably when compared to the normative changes of the maturing adolescent. These comparisons include decreasing physical capacities or capabilities vs. increasing physical capacities, reassessing one’s life vs. planning one’s life, facing death vs. denying death, questioning relationships (e.g. marriage) vs. falling in love, and seemingly negative developmental changes vs. seemingly positive developmental changes (Lourie, 1979).” Mrs. Bennet deals with her personal unhappiness by trying to bring about what she believes will make her daughters happy. However, she denys to herself that her plans for her daughters are really what she desires for herself.

“Abandonment by a parent, who appears to be preoccupied by his/her own developmental issues, leaves the youth anchorless at a time when parental support and guidance is critical.” (Doueck, Ishisaka, and Greenaway) Because Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are focused on their own needs, Lydia’s relationship with her parents is one that starves her of necessary emotional support. She resorts to acting in ways that gain the approval of her mother, no matter how shallow (both her own behavior and the approval gained). Because of the shallowness of her mother’s acceptance, Lydia is still left craving attention, either positive or negative; acting in ways that irritate her father forces him to notice her. After Mr. Bennet states “From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now convinced.” (pg 30), Lydia continues talking of the soldiers that exasperated him in the first place, even as her sister Catherine goes quiet. Lydia gains her father’s attention, but also his disapproval, yet when her mother defends her out of her own desires to fantasize about the thrills of youth, their interaction further enforces Lydia’s use of silliness to get attention.

Because Lydia does not receive enough attention, she looks for it in places other than home, especially from the soldiers, and because of her mother’s focus on marrying off her daughters, any promise of marriage serves also as another way for Lydia to win her mother’s approval. “Lydia had wanted only encouragement to attach herself to any body. Sometimes one officer, sometimes another had been her favourite, as their attentions raised them in her opinion.” (pg 266) Her desire for attention makes her an easy target for Wickham’s plotting. Lydia is so desperate for attention, she is willing to ignore any suspicions of dishonesty in Wickham and she is easily convinced to put off marriage in favor of living with him because she believes their marriage will eventually take place. Lydia’s letter concerning her elopement  “…shews, that she was serious in the object of her journey. Whatever he might afterwards persuade her to, it was not on her side a scheme of infamy.” (pg. 277)

Despite everything Lydia does to try to please Wickham and her family, she continues to be victimized by them. Though she denies it for as long as she is able, she eventually sees her relationship with Wickham for what it is. “His affection for her soon sunk into indifference; hers lasted a little longer…” (pg. 366) All she has to look forward to is all of society judging her for her disreputable marriage: “…in spite of her youth and her manners, she retained all the claims to reputation which her marriage had given her.” (pg. 366) Her mother takes advantage of Lydia’s marriage to gain attention from the neighbors for herself before allowing the rest of the family to banish Lydia. “And their mother had the satisfaction of knowing, that she should be able to shew her married daughter in the neighbourhood, before she was banished to the North.” (pg. 297) Her father outright disowns her while her sisters merely tolerate her presence.

Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Lydia’s family sees her behavior as deliberately provocative. However, they fail to realize that she acts this way in the hope of meeting their approval. “Developmentally, the youth…needs a substantive relationship with a stable adult who can serve as an anchor upon which he/she can establish an identity. The parents, in some ways, have a final opportunity to fulfill the parenting role that is developmentally age appropriate for them and is necessary for the child.” (Doueck, Ishisaka, and Greenaway)The Bennets fail to give their child the support and appropriate advice she needs to develop into a mature adult.

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Really, how can you not want to give Lydia Bennet a hug?


My Bi-Erasure Rant(The Abridged Version)

So now that I’m done with school for the summer, I actually get to spend my time reading blog archives and play videogames guilt-free. Well, mostly guilt-free. There’s still the “gah, I need a job and money and why don’t I have a job yet” guilt. But that is not the point of this post. One of the blogs I’ve been reading the archives for is BlagHag, also known as the birthplace of Boobquake. I got to this post, and thought, “yes, exactly!”

For those of you who have an aversion to links, the post is about how Jen dealt with bi-erasure by defining herself as heterosexual because it was easier than defending her bisexuality. I’m not going to go too much more into that, because that’s Jen’s story and you should hear it from her. I am talking about her post first because this has been bothering me a lot for a long time, especially in the last couple of years.

Unlike Jen, I am more physically attracted to women than men, though my infatuations have been fairly even. However, I am more likely to act on my infatuations with men, because I am like those awful portrayals of teenage boys in sitcoms when it comes to knowing how to start anything romantic with women. So in terms of bi-erasure, I’m sure people assume that I’m saying it for attention. The most frustrating question I have been asked multiple times is “If you’re bisexual, why do you have a boyfriend?” If I was a more confrontational person, I’d have many sarcastic comments prepared to throw back at them, but I’m not, so I usually just answer along the lines of “because he’s who I’m interested in dating,” though that really doesn’t point out how rude it is of them to question my sexuality because I am not polyamorous and therefore cannot date even numbers of men and women at the same time. Though of course, if I did that, I’d probably be called a slut instead.

The other infuriating comment I’ve gotten whilst single and not wanting to be is “well, you’re lucky. You have twice as many options.” While I get that this could be seen as harmless reassurement, and is less blatantly stupid and rude than the above question, I hate it. First of all, just because I am attracted to both men and women does not mean that I am not picky. A lot more goes into my decision of who I’ll date than “would I sleep with him/her?” Also, I have trouble with focussing on more than one person at a time. Though there have been occasions where I’ve been interested in two people at a time, I generally make myself pick fairly early on, to avoid drama. This statement really feels like it is defining my relationships to be about sex and only about sex, as opposed to all of the other really cool stuff like shared interests, respect, humour, and emotional intimacy that I want to be present in all parts of the relationship, whether I’m sleeping with the person or not. It doesn’t help that whenever I hear this, I think of the “all bisexuals are promiscuous” stereotype.

Of course, I know I’ve gotten off fairly easy. Since I’m currently dating a man, no one knows I’m bisexual unless I say it, so theoretically I can pick and choose when to deal with it. I know that during high school I never said anything about my sexual preferences unless specifically asked, and as far as I can tell, people tend to assume I’m straight. The more I think about this, the more I can’t stand it. Most movies and tv shows that I’ve seen have blatantly ignored any sign of bisexual tendencies in their characters, even in love triangles with both opposite- and same-sex options. When bisexuality is acknowledged, it’s almost never positive. Usual variations include a) bisexuality is a stepping stone to either being straight or gay, b) bisexuals are psychopaths, or c) bisexuals are promiscuous. Before anyone brings up Torchwood, I’d say that could fall under c, though admittedly that show felt a bit like a love dodecahedron with aliens. (Note that I have only seen up to the first few episodes of the second season.)

And yes, lots of minorities are stereotyped or outright ignored in the media. I’m really not surprised. What did shock me though was the textbook for my sociology class this past semester. The book was made up of articles that explored the various binaries used as social constructs and how they are inherently oppressive through the approach of intersectionality. We got to the section on sexual orientation, and there was one sentence that mentioned bisexuality. One. In a list of possible sexual orientations.* There was a paragraph or two in a chapter on sexism in which talked about how the show Sex and the City handled a bisexual character(c), but the article was really about hegemonic feminism, not sexual orientation, and the focus I wanted was not there. I know this was an introductory sociology class, but bisexuals should still be talked about if there are discussions about sexual orientations. I know there is academic work on this subject, but we need it in the easily accessible 101 courses. If we’re invisible there, it’s an even stronger sign that not only do we have to point out that yes, we exist, but to keep insisting we do even as people try to tell us we don’t.

-40 minutes left.

*Also, trangender people were not mentioned at all, anywhere in the book. This also really pissed me off, but I do not feel qualified to rant on the discrimination against transgender people in the same way as I have ranted here.


My brain has a mean sense of humour

This morning, I decided that it was a good idea to get an extra hour of sleep and my brain decided it was an awesome idea to play a practical joke on me. Most things translated pretty well into the dream. I had getting up and getting my stuff together on my mind, so that’s what I was doing in my dream; I was cold and have been mad at the weather, which meant my sister was going through all of my clothes trying what to decide what to wear, and I was hungry, which meant that we were planning to go out to breakfast before my class. Somewhere in the chaos of my sister trying on my clothes and a T.V. that doesn’t exist talking to me(yay dreams), I asked my sister what time it was. Turns out, it was 15 minutes after Music Theory ended. Shortly after that, my real-life alarm clock went off, meaning that even as I write this blog post, I have still not missed Music Theory.

But it’s not just “oh, bad thing happens in dream, alarm goes off in real life” that makes me positive that my brain thought that this was hilarious. The alarm didn’t go off instantly after the realisation that I had missed my class. It went off after I had unleashed a two-minute stream of cursing, but before I turned on my sister about her wasting time with my clothes when she’d clearly been dressed when she arrived at my room. So at least my brain likes my sister enough to believe that even an imaginary version of her shouldn’t be sworn at.

12 minutes left.


Pain, work, and congratulations

So I have gotten to the last month of the semester and my body has decided to self-destruct. For some reason my neck decided it would be fun to have a muscle spasm, so for the next few days I must hold my head slightly forward and to the left in order to avoid shooting pain. The tension from this has gone straight down my arms and into my hands, causing my right hand particularly to hurt. I have been fumbling around trying to do everything with my left hand. I really think my body just enjoys making me look like an idiot.

Pain aside, all I have been able to think these past couple of weeks is “whoa, I did it,” followed by a long mental lecture about how I am not done yet, so stop congratulating myself and get back to work, dammit! And I do have work. Interesting work. Work I avoid doing by writing blog posts about how I have interesting work to do. But be jealous. My school has frogs.

22 minutes left.


Music Lit Classes Don’t Always Kill My Love of Music

So one of my oldest and favourite blog posts expresses my deep dislike of music lit classes. Today I admit that this has not lasted. See, I’m taking the class Music of the Romantic Era right now, and it is fantastic. It is probably my favourite class right now. I don’t think this is just to do with my teacher, though he is awesome. Even though at times it feels like he knows everything, and he is very funny, my first Music Lit teacher was amazing too. Not to say that having a good teacher doesn’t help, it just doesn’t always make the class.

The time period the class is focusing on(19th century) is definitely appealing to me, as I am partial to the experimentation that really became the norm during that time. I love dissonance, and pieces that aren’t written to any particular form, but are just meant to evoke emotions and sound amazing. I admit that the rules followed in earlier eras of music don’t usually result in pieces that take my breath away.

In addition to the 19th century in particular, I like that we are focusing on a time period at all. My first Music Lit class was more of a Greatest Hits class and did not go into depth very much. We rapidly went from the 13th century to the 20th, with most of the class being memorising the birth and death dates of composers and learning to recognise their best-known works. My second Music Lit class did focus on the Medieval Era, but the teacher was dreadful. I think her best moment was when she asked us to name which medieval instrument was which, on a recording with them all playing at once, before we had heard or even seen pictures of any of them. All we had was a list of names. (Then there was the time when she insisted on continuing to mispronounce “violoncello” after I pointed out she was saying it wrong because changing her pronunciation would “confuse the other students.”) So yes, the focus and the teacher are much improved.

The other major difference I have noticed is my fellow classmates. Whereas before Music Lit was a required class for all music majors, this class is optional, so the people taking it have chosen to, and approach the work differently. Discussions are more interesting, and people don’t goof off during class.

All of this being said, there are some parts of the class that fit into my previous blog entry. For instance, whilst listening to Schumann’s Carnavale, we had an article written about his use of masculinity and femininity in the piece. And maybe it’s just me, but nothing really jumped out at me as overly feminine or masculine. Also, taking this class has made me realise that I don’t like Mendelssohn anywhere near as much as I thought I did, which has made me very sad. I suspect there will be a few more cases like both of these, but for the most part, I am happy with this class. My personal interests play a big part in how I perceive these classes, and I know I only truly feel comfortable discussing music in terms of how I perceive it and relate it to my own life, rather than to try to speak for both the composer and everyone else. I am fortunate in that my teacher is good about supplying letters by the composers and reviews written by their fellow composers of the time, both of which relieve my discomfort a bit.

0 minutes left – the 5 minutes that I worked on this on Monday = -5 minutes left.