The Legends and the Myths.

Oh my gosh I feel like it’s been weeks since I posted, sorry, I have big college projects swirling around. BU tI am going to take some time to attend to this today!

Can you tell it’s my first time dealing with finals?

Anyway, I have plenty I could write about. The trick will be picking one thing. I’ve been researching superheroes of all things to write a paper on it.

Professors have come a long way; I imagine if 20 or 30 years ago I suggested superheroes as the subject of a research paper, my professor would have given me a look and said “That’s not a real subject.”

But now, it totally works. And with the Infinity War Craze of the past two weeks, and the subsequent Deadpool 2 craze, what more proof do you need that superheroes are relevant?

I haven’t seen either by the way, but look for a review of the first one sometime in the near future.

Though I think I will still prefer the cinematic inferior Justice League to all this glamour of the Avengers. At heart, I still prefer even a partially good DCU flick, to a saturated MCU one.

Enough about that, the point is, superheroes are difinitely in. And those of us who are not in the swim about them maybe should undertake to know at least a little about what fans are crazy about.

Chances are you know someone who is nuts about superheroes. Likely you know someone who is too nuts about them. IF you’re like me, you don’t buy all the merchandise or see every film in theaters, bu you keep up with the comic books world at least enough to know the context of most of the stories.

I read the original Spiderman comics, which hold up even today, and the Silver Age Superman ones, 50s-60s, and of course the 70s Mr. Miracle. I have yet to find a Wonder Woman comic, but I would love to check that out sometime.

Funny story, I remember getting a Wonder Woman comic from the Library back before I could even read. Actually I think my mom got it just because I was looking at the picture. And I started at the words and really wished I knew what they were saying. But all I got twas the vague idea that she was a kid growing up with her mom.

And I can’t believe I didn’t remember that when I read “Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie, since he had the same experience with Superman.

I’ve always wanted to find that comic, which I now realize had to be the original one, and read it knowing the words. SO in a strange way, comics have been a part of my reading experience almost from the beginning, and Wonder Woman has intrigued my also.

And my mom was not a superhero person, and still is not except by proxy, since she has to listen to us go on and on about it. My mom is smart, she has learned over the years to take at least a mild interest in everything we get obsessed with so that she preserves her sanity.

Superheroes will always be considered somewhat ridiculous, even by the people who love them. Not because they are ridiculous as a characters, but because the idea of one is just odd to us. A caped costumed character is funny. The whole underwear on the outside thing. By the way, did you know that they looked more like that because men used to wear suspenders that kept their pants up higher? When supers were created, that look would have been more normal and wearing nothing over that are would have been indecent. It’s not about underwear at all.

And yes Wonder Woman wore a swimsuit, but even then there were worse ones.

Still, it’s funny to dress in a flag. The pint is, they aren’t meant to be taken seriously.

That’s why we love them. You don’t have to believe they are real in order to get real ideas and emotions from them.

As I have pointed out to others, superheroes are for those who dream. They are a modern mythology. And I would have to acknowledge this even if I hated them, because there is no getting away from it. They are ubiquitous.

I think I love superheroes more than I care to admit on this blog, but I don’t love them just for their flashy fighting and quippy dialogue, though I enjoy that.

I love them because in nowhere else  in our modern world do I find so many characters held up to a real standard for good. And they challenge us to meet that standard. I love the heart behind many of them, the honest look at hardship that many of the creators had to take in writing them out. Mostly, I love myths.

And I’m a dreamer. Without fail, people who dream that I know, they like superheroes.

People who do not dream don’t, or are at best ambiguous.

I’m not kidding, I know people as old as my dad who like superheroes, but they are dreamers; and I know people who think they’re stupid, they aren’t dreamers. And those who are ambiguous also don’t dream.

IS it possible to be a dreamer without liking supers? I am sure it is. But  I do not think it works the other way. What use are superheroes with their outlandish exploits if you do not wish to accomplish things that seem outlandish to you?

Fairy tales will always be mocked by those who do not secretly wish they were true…even those who do. But as Anne of Green Gables has said, the world needs fairies, it cannot do without them.

All that means is not that we need fairies as a fantastical creature to tell stories about, but that we need fantasy. Which fairies famously represent.

We need superheroes in the same way. Whether you are a dreamer or not, you need dreamers. The ones who keep this world afloat.

They are the legends and the myths today, and they keep us linked to older myths and stories. We need that, we need to keep our imaginations alive. And if that looks like a comic spread with some speech bubbles, so be it. I’ll take that over pure realism, that stuff can be soul killing.

Until next time–Natasha.

 

 

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Well behaved women Seldom make history.

Laura Ulrich used the above sentence in her history of unknown puritan women. You may have seen the slightly altered “Well behaved women rarely make history” on anything from a car to a mug to a t-shirt to a book. I read it in a book by a Christian Female Preacher. The Sweet Potato Queens put it into their theme song.

I admit it’s a brilliant quote.

But I  wasn’t surprised to read in Ulrich’s account of the slogan’s impact that it had caused a lot of women to justify the most wild and uncouth behavior.

Bad girls have more fun they say. Kind of like nice guys finish last.

Well I submit to you that nice guys only finish last with women who don’t like nice.

I wouldn’t be one of those. Though I admit I can’t stand tame.

And that’s the thing, I don’t think the term wild is a bad word. I hear it used as if it were bad. Wild is used as synonymous with out of control, crazy, rebellious, and bad behaved.

But in my book, wild just means something is in its natural state. Untamed by man. But it does not mean something is at odds with man.

Wild things can be a gift. The only way to survive in the wilderness is knowing how to live off wild stuff. A wild animal tends to have instincts that a domestic one doesn’t. There is something raw and yet vulnerable about wildness that touches us.

But what about being well behaved? I don’t think being ill behaved is the way to make history, not the kind of history I want to be remembered for. The attitude about this seems to be that as a long as a woman is making history, she is doing something noble and brave, no matter what kind of history she is making. In that way a sex icon is as important as Marie Curie.

I don’t think so. Every one has heard of Helen of Troy, everyone has heard of Joan of Arc. Which do we know more about? Which do we want to be like?

I love famous women, if they are good, and I love empowered women. I just never understood empowered to mean “Do whatever darn thing you want to get attention; talk trash about men; and abandon motherhood.” Come on ladies, is that really what it means? I bet you don’t agree with that idea either.

I think few women really think that’s how to be a real woman. Just as I hope few men think that shooting each other and getting girls knocked up is how to be a real man.

Now just for context, you guys should know I am not the kind of woman who sits back and shuts up by nature. I have been strongly hinted at that I should do this. And I can’t say, after what I’ve been reading about it, that I don’t wonder if I might have been treated differently had I been a man.

It’s hard to picture the same people telling a guy who was as enthusiastic as me to tone it down a notch. When does that ever happen?

I mean, it does happen to my dad, who’s like me in that way. So I guess it does happen to men.

I will say this, I think part of the problem is women who make themselves heard can have a very snooty attitude about it. Like we should listen to them just because they are a woman and outspoken. Funnily enough, don’t you immediately feel more interested in a woman if you hear that she’s outspoken and opinionated.

And also oddly enough, I rarely hear a man described that way. Men stating their opinions forcefully seems to be a given.

A woman who really is outspoken will be whether it’s considered normal or not. Take Katherine from “The Taming of the Shrew” as a fictional example. Women like that won’t shut up no matter how much men shake their heads. And that’s not always a positive.

I know women who will give their opinions when applied to, but they prefer to talk about more personal stuff. A woman has political opinions, sure, she probably has strong ones. She doesn’t let her husband speak for her because she’s afraid, she lets him because it’s not what she likes to talk about.

Women don’t like arguing with their friends. (Though they may like arguing with their husband or their mother.) So they don’t talk about hot topics amongst themselves. It gets too heated. It’s that simple.

I know I don’t bring up hot topics when I want to have fun with people because it’s too explosive. And I know men who don’t care if it is, but I don’t know any women like that.

This isn’t a lack of confidence, it’s just women preferring to bond without conflict. Men bond through conflict.

Not that a woman never can enjoy conflict. I enjoy it. Typically more with men then with women. I consider that to be a thing men bring out in women, for a good reason, strength calls out to strength.

In fact, women want to be part of a man’s world because the man is in it. I don’t care if I just ticked someone off. It’s still true.

How many women say they are independent of men even while saying they’ll beat them at their own game.

If you’re trying to beat the men, you’re not exactly independent of them. You have to have someone to beat.

It also backhandedly admits that men have done a lot of amazing things. And I think men have every right to keep dong amazing things. I get a real kick of beating men at stuff. But I don’t grudge them their right to win also.

I think the wild side of men is what stirs up the wild side of women. I see it all the time, women sneak into men’s conferences, women read books about what men should be like just to know what to look for, women like movies that are geared for men. (I liked Braveheart. Most women who saw it did.)

That’s not because women are weak. It’s because women are smart. We know there’s something for us in both worlds. And if men are smart, they’ll pay attention to what women like too. I don’t begrudge a man the enjoyment of a few chick flicks , some of them are meaningful stories.

Some men enjoy more feminine dominated stuff. That’s okay. In the end, it’s not what you do but the way that you do it that shows the differences between people and between genders.

I win like a girl, because I am one.

Until next time–Natasha.

Real Life Stories.

Permit me to write about something that probably makes me a geek: Story Structure and Cliches.

If you are not into film reviews like I am, or book discussions, you may not feel this subject is important, but I submit to you that it is and it affects your life more than you think.

Let’s jump in:

First of all, a story structure is the type of story you have constructed. Each genre has a few different structures to it. Romances have a comedic structure, or a sappy structure, or even a adventurous structure. It all over laps.

The structure, as you can probably guess, is the blueprint of how the story plays out. Its’s how you use your characters and plot devices, how you narrate the story, and how long it is. A short story has a different structure from a long (in this case 300+ pages) story.

The reason story structure is important to the non-writer or reader is because it will be present in pretty much every area of your life that you hear anecdotes, sermons, lessons, plans, or ideas in.

It can tell you a lot about a person when you know the structure they use to talk about themselves. Are they dramatic? Are they pragmatic? Are the emotional or are they stoic? What does their self;narration tell you about them.

I think, ladies and gentlemen, that the adage that life is a story is the truest way to describe it. The way we measure each other is through the elements of story. The way we talk is shaped by it.

You may have heard the saying that we are each the hero of our own story. I do not think that is true. It is quite possible to be the villain of your own story.

I was just watching a Superman movie, and before it came on some creators of a different Superman story were shown talking about their own personal kryptonite. The last man said “I would say I am probably my own kryptonite.”

That man is honest.

We have other weaknesses, but we are our own worst enemy most of the time.

Ever wonder why the protagonist who constantly makes mistakes and misses the point annoys you so much? They remind you of you.

People have acknowledge that we dislike the most human characters most strongly. In real life that is also true. People who screw up constantly frustrate us. The one worker on the job who has to be re-shown how to do something again and again, that student who’s a little slow, that junkie who won’t stay clean, you when you look at what you’ve accomplished in your life and think you could have done so much more.

We are vicious on these people as a society, and sadly often as individuals, I do it too.

But are we really just mad at ourselves?

I’m not the first person to suggest that, and I won’t be the last either. I am just throwing it out there.

In a story we root for the capable and the good. I’ve known some commentators to think this is delusional of us. That we don’t want to face up to our humanity in the flawed characters.

But writers understand why the good characters have to be the role model. They are the best of us and we only get better when we have a better person to admire and imitate. The human characters cannot do that for us because they can never be our superiors. In life you cannot look up to the person that is failing constantly. You have to find someone who is succeeding more that you.

Let’s talk about cliches/tropes now:

A cliche or trope is thing that writers use a lot, if it’s a trope it’s just a way to tell the story that is necessary to the style. But a cliche is overused, unoriginal or lazy.

In real life cliches show up everywhere as old poetical slogans, cheesy commercials, lame excuses. Don’t you hate them?

I know I roll my eyes.

But tropes are more interesting. I often, as part of the people group of internet review watchers, here people complain that a solution was used in a movie or book that seemed like magic, or too good to be true. Or even occasionally too bad to be true.

Tropes are fascinating simply because they show up in real life, tropes are what make stories seem real to us.

Here’s a few of them:

  1. The Chosen one.
  2. The magical happy ending
  3. Redeeming Wicked Characters

You’d be surprise how angry people get over the last one.

The chosen one means the hero is selected, one might say called, to be the answer to the stories problem.

It’s something we see in real life a lot. We know some [people are born to do certain things, and could not be happy unless they did them. Artists are born, writers are born, speakers, and those are just the common language ones. There’s thousands more.

We can see how historical figures were meant to shape the world. Gandhi being one of our more popular examples now.

The magical happy ending can be unrealistic, but more often then not it comes because the chosen one set things right. Peace is restored. People begin to thrive again. How often have we seen this in history? And even in our own lives. Maybe our happy endings don’t last,  but the principle remains. You notice any time a story becomes a series the happy ending is temporary. It is meant to resolve one problem, not every problem, and that is how we live it out in our lives.

As for redeeming evil characters, we don’t see this as often. But when we do it’s surprisingly true to how stories portray it. People change because someone is kind to them; because they realize what they’ve become; because they have a revelation of truth. This is how characters change in stories, and it’s true to life.

Why does all this matter to the person who does not care about assessing stories?

Because stories are going to shape how you think about this stuff in real life. IF you don’t believe someone in a story can change, chances are you don’t believe people can change.

It’s funny to me whenever someone acts like how they view fiction and how they view reality are separate. Like it’s not their mind and beliefs in both areas. Give me a break.

I hope this was enlightening or interesting to everyone, until next time–Natasha.

Are Millennials nice?

Let’s talk about millenials again.

This blog is directed partially ot them anyway, and I think we get a bad rap. Not that I don’t have my furstrations with people in my general age range. (Which is getting close to 20, yikes!)

I’ve always observed the people around me to be fairly nice most of the time. So when I started school, I wondered if my sheltered christian bubble would burst.

But so far it hasn’t. I’ve been blessed to be in classes with nice teachers and seemingly nice students. n fact I almost think it’s a God thing.

I know not all people are nice. I would not be shocked to run into some not nice ones. yet I usually don’t. Everywhere I go, on the bus, in school, to the store, people show little considerations of each other. They maybe don’t bend over backwards to help, but they will be decent. Move out of the way for someone in a wheelchair, help someone else understand their homework, be willing to cheer people on even if they are the competition, and scoot over so you can fit on a crowded bus. All real examples.

In one of my classes a fellow who people either jokingly or seriously said was racist because he is wary of black guys since getting mugged by one covered for the black student who couldn’t make it to class. They seem to be on good terms.

Now I know the whole racist thing is not always a serious remark, but that’ kind of my point. Instead of being oversensitive about it, they ignored it.

I don’t know how any of these people I’ve mentioned are int heir personal lives. Sometimes it’s easier to be polite to strangers..always it’s easier. I get that.

But since it’s complained about a lot that folks just aren’t nice or considerate anymore, and millennials are especially selfish and spoiled, I have to wonder, are we wrong about this?

We should at least consider it. I know this can be more of a Western thing, and all my viewers who hail from the Eastern countries may know a very different story about their young people, but I think in Europe at least this problem is the same. Why?

My guess is that Millennials and down are still lacking a moral compass, but good manners is something just about every parent tries to enforce at some point, and it can be our only nod to some general standard of behavior. Our only way to feel like good people.

And whatever our bad boy/girl songs say, we like to feel like good people.

Frequently at my college the young men hold the door open for both girls and each other. (No favoritism right.) In an age where chivalry is disappearing maybe some of it is coming back in. maybe they just feel they should.

I hold the door open for both guys and girls too. I say it’s whoever gets there at the right time. It would be weird to stand there and wait for someone else to do it. I’m not that committed to making the point.

Maybe I’m lucky, or maybe good places attract people like me who are seeking good environments. Not because I can’t handle worse, but because who purposely puts themselves into a negative environment unless it’s to fix it? Not many people.

I have wondered if occasionally it is my influence that causes this, but I have o proof of that. It’s a nice thought, but it might give one person too much credit.

Still, have we been misrepresented?

Millennials and down are spoiled, it’s true. And our biggest flaw is not an unwillingness to work, or to work hard, but to work consistently. We are a microwave generation. I don’t think that’s our fault exactly, but it is something we need to challenge ourselves to rise above.

It’s not, I believe after observing us more, that we don’t care about people. I think we actually care about more people in a small way than many generations before us. On thing we can’t ignore is that tragedy is happening all the time, and we aren’t all desensitized to it.

But all this caring in a small way has left us unable to handle caring in a large way. We don’t know how to act when an opportuintiy to change someone else’s life comes along. I doubt we recognize that opportunity when we see it.

We can be nice to almost everyone, but truly honest with no one. We can get out of the way for others, but not put ourselves in harm’s way for them.

Why is this?

Because we aren’t made to believe we can or should do those things. We are raised to avoid danger, trouble, confrontation, and discomfort. Conflict is the worst enemy now, not evil. Many young people believe certain evils are fine just so long as you don’t fight over them.

That’s pathetic, but it’s not the young person’s fault. They’ve been taught that fighting is wrong. It’s not.

The way to save this generation is to let them grow up. We keep coddling them. They can handle more. I believe it. They just need to be pushed out of the nest. yes, they will fail at first because they aren’t prepared, but I think we have plenty of stories about people adapting to their circumstances to back up the idea that Millennials will learn.

If they don’t, that’s on them. But we should not let them get away with not trying.

We don’t need to write books for or about young people and their problems, we need to tell them to write the books. They need to make the movies. They need to create the jobs. We need to get out of their way.

Yes, I know that what they’ve been taught is not good. But I see no end to it until they have had time to try and fail and realize there’s more to success in life than they know. When that happens they’ll need us to help them figure out how to fix it. but no do it for them.

That’s my thought on it, until next time–Natasha.

Attempted Pick up at the Bus Stop.

College and life have a way of intertwining.

I had the most bizarre thing happen to me yesterday, as you know i take the bus to school most days, and so far nothing really strange has happened to me. But yesterday it was finally my turn to get the weirdo-trying- to-pick-up-a-chick experience.

I don’t do face reveals for safety reasons on this blog, so you’ll have to take my word for it that I’m a pretty attractive young woman, but I do not look like the type of person who’s an easy pick up. In fact up till now, I’ve never been asked out or really flirted with (as far as i could tell at the time anyway.)

And I can’t be particularly flattered by this fellow, since he tried the same line on me that I heard him use on a more abrupt girl in the other seat.

I’ve been around homeless people enough times to spot the type. Maybe you know it, they seem lucid and aware of their surroundings, but they aren’t quite all there. I’m sure it’s because a lot of them are on drugs, but there’s still a difference between them and other addicts. Maybe it’s the loss of regular human contact.

This fellow was just a little out of it, so I decided rather then immediately tell him to buzz off, I would do it easily. Anyway it was a public place and there wasn’t much he could do.

After a lot of flattery, and some strangely deep life advice, he came to the point rather subtly by saying he’d like to visit me.

That was when I tactfully told him that I don’t get picked up by guys I just met.–Not adding “Besides, you’re homeless, probably a smoker (I could smell cigarettes), and a little loopy.”

I guess he’s not in it for the long haul because he rather disappointedly got up and bid farewell pretty abruptly. SO much for liking girls for their mind.

I could have freaked out over this, but I figured I was pretty safe since he didn’t get on the bus with me, so I just thought it was funny. Every woman goes through this at one point, at least if you use public transportation and are fairly easy to look at. (Even if you aren’t I’m not sure it makes a difference with some predators.)

But what made the whole thing wierder was I heard someone at my school talking about what sounded like a similar incident, and I wondered if she was at the bus stop too.

Then to top it off, in my English/ junior critical thinking class we got on the subject of men and women, and how women dress, and how women don’t feel safe on campus. And also how men have tried to keep women down for centuries.

And I rolled my eyes.

I get that sexism is and was a huge problem even in America, but from where I stand, it is just stupid for an American, or even Western European woman to complain about it.

Maybe we have a few difficulties (a fact I would put up for debate still) but we have nothing to complain about. We have no reason to rail against men in general just because some of them are jerks.

I get that women have been burned a lot, unfortunately, I also think that woman burn each other plenty of the time. And behind every overbearing man there was a woman who at some point refused to stand up to him, don’t tell me any man is born a bully and a sexist anymore than any girl is, they have to learn it. And Women, mothers especially, have some responsibility for that.

Some of the men I know who seem to have a prejudice against females had unstable mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, or other women who scarred them.

I don’t say that any rapist or abuser gets a pass just because he had a bad mother, but I do say he could have been taught differently at some point, though often fathers are more to blame then mothers for that.

Blaming men alone for how women have been treated is kind of stupid, every time there is an oppressor, it is because the oppressed let it happen. Yes, there can be force involved, but force can never contain intellect or heart forever, unless they allow it to.

Which is great, because it means women have some say in how they are treated. Imagine that!

Using my bus stop experience, I could either say that men are predators, and if I were a man it would never have happened.

Well maybe it wouldn’t have happened with that guy in particular, but nowadays men aren’t really any safer then women when it comes to these sorts of things. I can blame men for this, maybe with some justification, they are a big part of the problem.

Or I can be real.

For this one guy who was a weirdo, I’ve had many men treat me with respect, even if without interest. I have had the pleasure of knowing some guys actually like talking to me for my personality, and not my appearance, and I also know that they still appreciate my appearance. Which is fine by me. Am I going to pretend I don’t like a nice looking man? No. That would be stupid.

I don’t need a man to give me permission to play on their field, because I never think about it. If I want to do something, and it’s fitting, and I’m able, then I’m going to do it, I don’t care what they think. And they don’t seem interested in judging me for it. I’ve fought boys before in good fun, I never heard that “but you’re a girl line.” And if I did, I’d probably crush them.

As I say to my sister, I can like sparkles and swords at the same time, I’ll put sparkles on my sword if I want. (not really, it would be impractical, but if I wanted to I would) I’ll wear a tiara with my armor, and I’ll watch superhero movies and chick flicks if I want to.

Not because I have something to prove; but because that’s me. I like being a girl, I don’t think it limits what I have to like or dislike. From make-up to machetes, I can have an interest.

I like boys too, not just from a romantic perspective, but as people. I get something from their company I never get from girls, I never will.

Excuse me if I’m not afraid of men. I’m not naive, I know some of them are bad. So what? Some women are bad too, and I’ve probably had more negative experiences with them then with men.

This is the kind of thinking that scares my dad, because he worries about me. But it’s a waste of time. you cannot guarantee someone a life free from uncomfortable or even dangerous situations, all you can do is prepare them for it.

And I feel fairly well prepared.

Until nest time–Natasha.

Memoirs of a Babysitter.

So I just watched the Nanny Diaries. This won’t be a review so much as what my English Professor calls a “Development parallel.” That is to say, cause and effects that are similar.

I only babysat (regularly) once, it was for one family and I haven’t been employed in that way since.

I watched three children. In the beginning it was only two, but then the mom decided to pull her oldest out of school because she didn’t like her teacher, and to home-school her. So, me being home-schooled, she thought I’d be down with that. And I was. I was even willing to help the kid out. So far so good.

And trust me, if I’d seen the Nanny Diaries before that time, I would probably have thought it was exaggerated for comedic effect. I’m sure if you saw it you thought so, unless you’ve been in a long term babysitting position.

The only difference between being a babysitter and being a nanny is title and hours and you don’t live in the home.

The job was fine at first, I liked the kids, I put up with the temper of the baby, and I stayed calm.

Then I made the mistake of thinking corporal punishment was accepted in their house, the oldest told me it was, but it wasn’t. (I assume they told me the truth the second time but with them you never knew.) I know that will horrify someone, but when I grew up spanking was normal-ish and I never had a problem with it. Get over it people, not all of us had progressive parents.

Well, I realized my mistake (and I never actually spanked the kids just to clarify, I threatened it but thought better of it later.) But my fate was sealed.

Things went downhill from there. I really think my mistake had very little to do with it, but it started it. After that, I never knew what the expectations were.

I entered the employment with the understanding that housework would be appreciated but was not required, that I did not have to cook for the kids because the oldest liked doing it though of course I was to feed them. (They had stuff on hand naturally.)

I put the kids in time out when they sassed me and refused to do as I said (not corporal punishment right?) And then they told their mother on me. I’m sure claiming that it was unprovoked, but trust me, it wasn’t. I wasn’t locking them the garage for Pete’s sake, I made them sit in a comfy chair. Was that cruel? No! But their mom still wondered what my problem was.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

At fist the mom told the kids to respect me, but they continued to be disrespectful quite frequently. Especially the eldest one. The younger one never was a problem till her sister set the example.

Then it just got ridiculous. I’m going to list all the over the top things in the Nanny Diaries that actually happened to me:

  1. Getting spied on. No cameras here, no, actual people were at the house, no warning half the time. Completely strangers were just there, watching me and reporting back to the mom. Why? Because her little angels were saying I was dong such a bad job.
  2. Getting a consultant. I wasn’t told tot each the kids French. But I was subjected to a “training” to be a better babysitter. Training really meant I was being supervised and made to do the chores and cook meals. (Even though originally that wasn’t part of the deal. Something my employer conveniently forgot.) I was also put down in front of the kids constantly for not being a good enough babysitter.
  3. Having men around when I was alone with the kids. Yes, the men were relatives. But still, awkward. My dad didn’t like it either.
  4. Getting fired after I did everything my boss said but still didn’t meet some unclear standard. Of course, she didn’t call it firing, she just said she might need me later but for now someone else was taking over.

Ugh.

It drove me crazy. But honestly, I wish that was all in the movie I could relate to. Aside from my complaints, The Nanny Diaries actually shows a very real problem that caregivers like me have: Letting go.

Like Annie, I observed a lot about the kids that the parents were too busy or just chose not to notice. I noted how one of them didn’t get enough attention because the other two were louder and pushier, and how one needed to be treated with more firmness, and the eldest, though she was a pain, wasn’t a bad kid and if she’d been taught respect and shown some more gentle ways, she would have been exceptional.

Babysitters get involved because we can’t help it. If you don’t like kids to begin with you’ve got no business babysitting, and if you like kids you will learn to love them. It’s not hard, children are way more lovable then adults.

And babysitters, because we like kids, and especially if we like to mother them, will study the kids we watch and we will want to help them. It’s part of us.

And that’s why we don’t get along with the parents.

I suspect, secretly, the parents feel guilty that they even need us around, that’s why they keep firing and rehiring. but though it may sting to have your kids turn to someone other than you for comfort, if you can’t be there, then maybe the kids need that stability.

I have no wish to come down on working moms, or dads, nor do I think it can never work out being a babysitter, nanny, or Au pair, and their employer. There’s a delicate balance but it can be achieved. My grandma takes care of my cousins all week without becoming estranged from their parents.

but the truth is, it’s not easy. Often the best babysitters don’t last because the sad fact is the less involved ones make the parents a lot less uncomfortable.

I was no saint, but I cared. I expected that to mean something, it turns out it meant trouble. And it broke my heart to leave those kids. It’s something I haven’t really gotten over even now. To tell you the truth, like Annie, I’m kind of asking why. What was the point of loving them if I had to leave them? And is this kind of love even what kids need? Or do parents just need to be the ones who are there?

Again, not to come down on working parents, but I have to ask the honest question, what does my experience show?

I doubt I’ll ever get the letter from my former boss telling me I showed her something about her kids. I don’t think she wanted me to show her anything.

And I’m left hoping I changed something, just like Annie, but not knowing if I did. Not knowing if my love will mean anything to those kids once their older.

I never had a babysitter like me. I liked mine, but they only watched me a few times, and only once in a while. Not four days a week for two months or more.

I liked the job, but it costs you.

Those are my thoughts one that, sorry this ran so long but it was a memoir.

Until next time–Natasha.

 

The Bus Driver.

You know those moments that people tell stories about? The ones that Christian authors use to impart spiritual lessons, and pastors do it too, to the point where it’s almost annoying. You want to say “Not everything has to be a lesson, man!”

Well, I have one of those stories tonight.

I’ve been taking the bus to college, as you know. (Sounds like the title of an article doesn’t it?) And last night I noticed something as I got on: I tapped my pass and the driver said “Thank you.”

I thought “Why’s he thanking me? He’s the one putting in hours of his life doing a really boring job that no one appreciates him for, though they should because I sure as heck don’t have the patience to be a bus driver.”

I know the driver just meant to be friendly. That was what struck me. He wasn’t being polite, just friendly. Trying to make the rather isolated situation a little more comfortable.

To the best of his efforts, since we aren’t allowed to talk to bus drivers unnecessarily. Of course I know that’s for safety reasons, but what a lonely way to make a living if you can hardly even talk to the people you see all day. And you don’t have a co-worker there to cheer you up either.

I feel awkward just in the 12-15 minutes I spend on the bus not knowing anyone.

I’m pretty sure way back when the public transportation thing got going, there wasn’t a rule about talking to the driver. And I’m certain that other passengers at least used to talk to each other. It’s sad to see all the young students on the bus make awkward eye contact with each other, but bury themselves in their phones rather than strike up a conversation.

We’ve been raised with the idea that talking to strangers is bad, and dangerous, and worst of all, unnecessary. That’s the killer isn’t it? We feel that as long as we have our electronic transactions, we don’t need to talk. even bus passes are just card stickers now, no eye contact is even required.

And I see this, and I think to myself, we’re so lonely. We’re just starving to connect with each other.

It’s not that we want to connect on some soul level with every human we meet. I think we want to feel part of their world, just as they, in a small way, are part of ours. We might never see them again, but they were people, and we were interested in them just because of that.

Though most of us would agree general kindness is a good thing, very few of us stop to think what common courtesy and kindness require, that you care. That you see other people as beings who shape your world and are in it and whom you owe some recognition just as they owe you some, because that’s what it is to be human.

To be ignored is perhaps the most inhuman of practices that we do on a regular basis, and I think we feel it deep down, we know something’s not right.

When I do happen to strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know, I always feel it’s a bit of an awkward trade off. You ask the culturally acceptable small talk questions, (which have been disdained by the more withdrawn folks of society, but are in place for a very good reason) but you don’t really feel like you can trust them. Still you try to make things more comfortable by being more familiar, because somehow we feel less afraid when we know someone, even if it’s just their name. Even if they didn’t tell it to us, we just heard them called by it.

We yearn to know things about each other. I don’t think it’s just busybodies who feel that way. It’s everyone. We’ve all looked at a particular stranger and wondered what their life was like, and we wish we could be in it somehow, because maybe we’d find something there that’s missing in our own world.

I’m not the first to think of this, there’s an insightful essay called Strangers by Toni Morrison that I recommend you check out.

What the bus driver, and myself by my slight smile and nod in response, are trying to do is reestablish something we feel we’ve lost.

My question is, is it just this generation that’s lost it? Or have people felt this way ever since we left Eden? I see something of it it Cain’s plea to God after he is sentenced to wander the earth. “Anyone who finds me will kill me,” as if he doesn’t know who that anyone might be.

Abraham said “I am a stranger in a strange land” but he still tried to have peace with some of the land’s inhabitants.

Being strangers and being estranged don’t seem to be the same thing. One is a fact of life because we can’t know everyone, the other is a deliberate choice to be shut off from the rest of the world.

In that sense, the person like me who has spent most of her days at home may yet be less a stranger to others then the person who closes them-self off to feeling or knowing anything about them.

I think we are hungry as a whole to reconnect somehow, but we don’t know the secret. I think technology has only provided the mask to hide behind so that we no longer know this, people used to know that being strangers was a sad thing.

Until next time–Natasha

(P. S. Watch for a new movie review in the next week or so, I’m planning on doing a DCOM.)

Burnout.

Yikes, I haven’t had the time or energy to blog in days!

Not that I’m all important, but one has to stay in the habit.

College is still going well, but this second week I hit burnout. I just did not want to be there and be carrying around my heavy backpack. Though one of my teacher says I can leave the course book at home and just use paper if I want, and since I’m already carrying a notebook that’s one less extra thing. Yay!

I am spending two thirds of my day or more at campus, so burnout is bound to happen. I’m not used to being around strangers, in class, or walking all over that much. It’s a lot to get used to.

But I couldn’t figure out why the day after I was so exhausted. I felt more tired the next day than I did while I was actually there. (Comment if this happens to you too. Am I alone in this?)

Of course my muscles hurt from all the extra weight and it’s hard on your shoulders to have backpack straps sitting on them so much. But this tiredness was deeper than that. You can have sore muscles and still be energetic.

I was tired inside. And not because my brain was overwhelmed, though that might be a small part of it, but because I’m emotionally exhausted.

I can endure a lot when I’m at ease. I’m not a super athletic person (to understate the case) but I’m tougher than I look. I’ve walked miles and managed not to keel over. Which is pathetic compared to what people used to have to walk, but I’m not in practice.

Maybe a lot for me is a little for someone else. Certainly the older adults in my life don’t think much of my difficulties. Soldier on, they would say. Of course I’m more active than some of them, but hey, one is over seventy years old.

My mom is the one who amazes me. She’s always busy. If she’s not working her own job, she’s working with my dad, or running errands for him. When she is home she’s doing laundry or finances, or helping with schoolwork. (Not mine of course, wink.) Etc. You can fill in the rest.

Me? I try to do a few things. But I don’t have to do most of them. Maybe that’s why I don’t.

Yet, it isn’t exactly fair to compare myself to my mom. She’s had decades of experience. I’ve had a couple years of even knowing how to do most things, and a few months of even having a Driver’s License.

I heard today that Millennials (Me) and Gen X-ers, ( who ought to be calling themselves X-men if you ask me,) are the most stressed people in the country. I think Millennials are twenty to thirty year olds, or slightly younger, and Gen X are their parents or older siblings. I’m not sure, it’s always changing. Let’s just say people under 40 or 50. You’d think it’s be middle-aged folks, wouldn’t you? But they are more established.

And get this, if you live with family, parents especially, who are stressed out a lot, you can pick it up from them. even if you have nothing personally to be stressed over.

Which totally explains why I had a terrible time when I was younger with feeling anxious, even though I had an “easy” life.

Actually work or no work doesn’t make your life easier. Sometimes people from very messed up backgrounds go on to lead very productive lives. And some of them aren’t stressed out constantly either. Often that’s because of their faith, but there’s a few cases where it’s not. For whatever reason, those children make a different choice and grow up to be better people then their parents

And then there’s the rest of us who seem to be more influenced by our parents then we could ever imagine. Even if our parent’s were good to us, they weren’t always good to each other or to people outside our family. That has an effect on us.

And it ties in to my college experience, your job, your hobbies, our families, etc.

The reason being around so many strangers stresses me out is because I’ve grown up hearing strangers are dangerous. Which is sadly true so much of the time. Yet it’s not often the people who are cautious about strangers who get attacked by them, funny how that works.

Maybe I also just don’t know how to handle people very well. I never have. Even though I can be friendly enough to them, it’s not the same as having true social grace.

But do you know what? I’ve had the curse of no social skills spoken over me for years. Even before I even has a real chance to test mine. I’ve been told I wouldn’t make friends, I wouldn’t know how, I would upset people if I acted a certain way. Before I ever acted that way with my target friend group.

And now I struggle with feeling socially confident. Oh, bit shocker there. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

Now, I can wallow in this, or I can work through this. I choose to believe that I can learn social skills. I just need practice, perception, and patience. I’ve also learned that some people will overlook your lack of social grace because they know they struggle with it too.

Which is, by the way, not something anyone every bothered to tell me when they warned me about how I would fail.

People do forgive you. Not all of them, but some will. Stick with those ones, they’re better friends anyway.

That’s all for this post, but I’ll be keeping you updated as I expect to learn a lot from this experience. Until next time–Natasha.

Without God–2

For part 2 I’m going to quote actual parts from Steven Weinberg’s “Without God” Article.

“It is not my purpose here to argue that the decline of religious belief is a good thing (although I think it is), or to try to change anyone’s mind…I want just to offer a few opinions, on the basis of no expertise whatever, for those who have already lost their religious beliefs, or who may be losing them, or fear that they will lose their beliefs, about how it is possible to live without God.” (Emphasis mine.)

When I was an undergraduate I knew a rabbi, Will Herberg, who worried about my lack of religious faith. he warned me that we must worship God, because other wise we would start worshiping each other. he was right about the danger, but I would suggest a different cure: we should get out of the habit of worshiping anything.”

I have to ask if anyone has the cure for worship. Weinberg is right that we are in the habit, but how he proposes to get out of it the essay did not explain. He goes on from here to say that it’s not easy to live without God. That science is rather chilling when it’s a worldview; and that whatever theory “unifies all observed particles and forces, we will never know why it is that that theory describes the real world and not some other thing.” 

What baffles me is that he thinks man can cease to worship. If man can possibly stop paying homage to things or people in some way, if he can stop devoting his time and energy to things whether they are addictions of matters of principle, and if he can cease to hold some things of more important than any other things (even if that is himself) then maybe he can cease to worship.

But it seems to me that man would have to be reduced to less than a beast before that could ever come about. Perhaps a mad dog worships and submits to nothing, but a mad dog is as good as a dead dog, just with the added danger of infecting others.

For everything else, even birds and beasts recognize the superiority of other creatures, and submit to it. Which is worship in a sense. And I would argue that the kind of servitude dogs and horses and such display is even more like adoration, which is also a kind of worship.

But worship is even more so when it is done with an intellectual consciousness, which only mankind has, and it’s what makes us man. Our minds have to look to something to help soothe and stimulate them, and whatever we look to, we worship.

Tell me how we can stop that and you’ll tell me how to become a god.

Which I suppose is the idea.

I’ll say it’s not easy, it’s downright impossible.

Weinberg goes on:

“We even learn [from science] that the emotions we most treasure, our love for our wives and husbands and children, are made possible by chemical processes in our brains that are what they are as a result of natural selection acting on chance mutations over millions of years. And yet me must not sink into nihilism or stifle our emotions. At our best we live on a knife-edge, between wishful thinking on one hand and, on the other, despair.”

That’s an edge all right. Why not sink into nihilism? What moral grounds are there for not doing this? What rational grounds are there? If chemical reactions create out emotions then or emotions have as much value as a pastry or a lab experiment. Something not meant to last the weak often as not. And many people live this way with their emotions, but Weinberg proposes another route:

“What, then, can we do? One thing that helps is humor…just as we laughed with sympathy but not scorn when we see a one-yer-old struggling to stay erect when she takes her first steps, we can feel a sympathetic merriment at ourselves, trying to live balanced on a knife-edge…Then there are the ordinary pleasures of life…Visiting New England in early June, when the rhododendrons and azaleas are blazing away, reminds one how beautiful spring can be. And let’s not dismiss the pleasures of the flesh. We who are not zealots can rejoice that when bread and wine are no longer sacraments, they will still be bread and wine.”

At this point I cease to feel like mocking this man, and I start to pity him. Because I don’t see how any of these things are any real comfort. Spring is lovely; bread and wine are good; the pleasures of the flesh are what are generally turned to when spiritual things have been discounted.

How do any of these things possibly substitute for the inner strength and assurance that only faith has ever and will ever be able to provide for man. Faith not always in God, I’ll grant you, but faith in man itself and in fate and in something bigger than what we can experience on our solitary level. That worship thing coming into play.

Like it or not, that has produced all the best things in human history.

Weinberg seems to be reflecting on this as he goes on to talk about the pleasures of fine art, which he laments will suffer from a decline in religion since so much fine art has been inspired by religion. Thought he thinks very great poetry can b written without religion. Using Shakespeare as an example. (I found this hilarious because Shakespeare’s plays, which contain poetry, all have numerous religious these and references. But his sonnets have less, admittedly.)

“I do not think we have to worry that giving up religion will lead to a moral decline. There are plenty of people without religious faith who live exemplary moral lives (as, for example, me), and though religion has sometimes inspired admirable ethical standards, it has often fostered the most hideous crimes.” I’ll leave that can of worms for another time, but I don’t think that proves or disproves anything about his point.

The more we reflect on the pleasures of life, the more we miss the greatest consolation that used to be provided by religious belief: the promise that our lives will continue after death, and that in the afterlife we will meet the people we have loved. AS religious belief weakens, more and more of us know that after death there is nothing. This is the thing that makes cowards of us all.” 

That’s true enough, if the fear of oblivion can be called cowardly, it seems very natural to me. and He’s right, the pleasure of life have never provided consolation for death. I don’t think Christianity or Judaism or Islam provide much consolation on that account if you want to have the good afterlife without the God, as many people do. But they do have another option. It is necessary to have a hope like that, or else you are indeed on the edge of despair. And nothing in this life will ever change that.

But there is no way to know that there is nothing after death except to die, and that will be too late to change your mind.

The idea that a decline in religion would not lead to a moral decline shows an astounding lack of foresight. This essay is based on an oration given in 2008, so it’s safe to say it was written in the last decade. And moral decline has been in progress since the sixties, right along with a decline in religious belief.

Maybe this virtueous scientist can find a reason to be moral after destroying all sense of purpose that a higher power might give you, but not many of the rest of us can.

Weinberg’s conclusion is this:

“Living without God isn’t easy. But its very difficulty offers one other consolation–that there is a certain honor, or perhaps just a grim satisfaction, in facing up to our condition without despair and without wishful thinking–with good humor, but without God.”

Even though I see a kind of nobility in his resolve, if it is sincere, I think it’s silly.

There is no need to rule out God unless you want to do so, and the resulting depression is your own fault. I see no profound solution to the God problem in simply trying to get by without Him and laughing grimly at just how ridiculous that position is.

I suppose my position is biased, but so is his. The question is, which is true? Which makes more sense in real life?

You’ll have to answer that yourselves, until next time–Natasha.

Without God.

I’ve got a douzy for you today, folks.

I’ve been reading some essays for English class, and since I take an interest in other people’s opinions, I’ve read some not assigned to me. That was how I came upon this essay or article by Steven Weinberg cheerfully titled “Without God.”

Weinberg undertakes in the first half of this piece to explain how religion and science have been at odds, and in what I thought a very condescending tone, he admits tat many attempts have been made to reconcile the two. But he does not apparently think those attempts of much value.

Though he admits that science has as yet not found the answer to everything (such as the origin of life) he does not seem to think that is any reason to continue with religion. Science will obviously find the answer eventually, and religion has been “proven” wrong so many times that it is inevitable it will be proven so again.

But all this was no more than I would expect from an atheist scientist writing about this topic. But it was in part 2 of this piece that I thought it crossed over into the ridiculous category.

First let me address a little of part one. You should read the essay yourself for his full opinion since my paraphrase is imperfect, but it was too long to put the whole thing here.

But as I understand it, the idea of religion being trumped by science was the main point.

He may find the idea that religion and science can be reconciled to be laughable, but I don’t see in what way it is. Even from an objective perspective. If a religion is true, then one would expect scientific discoveries to back it up. Because science is the pursuit of truth, is it not?

IF religion is pure belief in abstract ideas, then science is under no obligation to prove it, though it still may prove certain things about it. (Such as that happiness, an abstract; promotes health, an observable fact.) Religion, at least Christianity and others like it, is not about only abstract ideas. It offers explanations or how the world was made and how thing in it work and why things happen. If there is a religion that does not do this, it does not come to my mind. Except perhaps Post-Modernism.

That being said, science and religion are bound to overlap at some point. hey cannot be separated because in order to pursue truth you must have some sort of foundational belief about what truth is. Even thinking science is truth requires belief.

So the condescension about Poor Christians trying to make the case for a scientifically accurate Christianity is rather hypocritical.

But leaving that aside, I think plenty of science supports Creationism. I suggest researching Quantum Physics and Earth Science for more about that.

I also don’t like the way this man lumped all religion into the same category. Myths trying to explain why the sky is where it is, and where the sun comes from and what not. Putting all religions on the same level. When they aren’t. Religions vary in how much time they spend trying to explain any of this in great detail. Those that base their whole mythos around natural phenomenon (or most of it I should say, they all have a creation story also) are unique.

Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and I think Buddhism are primarily about addressing inward things, and morality, not explaining trees and waterfalls.

I don’t mean that myths of that sort are less intellectual or interesting or even believable really. I happen to like them. Bu My point is, those religions are built more around nature, while religions like the above four put nature as a secondary thing to the spiritual realities.

I think that difference is important if you are going to knock a religious approach to science. Because, at least in Christianity, a big part of the doctrine is acknowledging how little man knows about the ways of God, or the ways the world works for that matter. And how easily men error. And since science itself is mostly a series of trial and error, nothing in it can be completely infallible. Science is always changing, so it is not hard truth but only part of the truth.

Even if Science did support Evolution, for instance, the idea of evolution is constantly evolving (pardon the pun) so your belief in it has to change every decade or so, probably more often then that. The deeper we get into molecular science and Quantum Physics, the more we realize we know nothing.

And if we know nothing, then science has yet to become a complete source of truth.

Which Weinberg admits, to his credit, but what he seems to miss is that if science is fallible and incomplete, religion is all that is left to run to to understand life. If human effort fails, divine revelation is all that we have left. That or nothing.

And Weinberg sets out in part 2 of his article to show us how “nothing” really isn’t so bad.

But that will take another post to cover, until next time–Natasha.