Friday, August 8, 2008

Hiatus in Advance

I'm heading off to a friend's cottage for a couple days as of tomorrow, and after that I'll only have a day between then and a week of horsebackriding camp. In the case that I don't get to the internet for the next couple weeks, I promise you an extra long post as soon as I return. Maybe this time I'll try pictures!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

To Eat, or Not to Eat?

I read somewhere that when eating, you should only eat until you are three quarters full, and when drinking, you should only drink until your thirst is almost sated. (There was another part to it but I can't remember what it was about.) Those two bits of advice stuck, however, and now whenever I eat I wonder fleetingly whether I shouldn't reach for that last chicken wing, even as my stomach rumbles in longing. Is there some merit to the idea that a twinge of hunger or thirst will keep us keen, that overindulgence makes us lethargic and sluggish? Well... Yeah, probably. I feel sleepy after I eat a lot, but it's usually a positive sleepy -- rarely do I eat so much I feel sick -- and yet I doubt that's what the writer of that quote was warning against. It makes sense to me that one should eat until sated, but maybe sometimes less is more, and by eating slightly less we will become accustomed to needing less food and become less wasteful, more conservative? From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense that being a touch hungry would sharpen the senses, that a persistent need keeps us alert.

As a child, I was frequently puzzled when my parents told me to eat everything on my plate, followed by the familiar justification, "think of the hungry kids in Africa!" As a sensible youngster, (or so I thought myself at the time,) I didn't see any relation between the food I didn't want to eat and the people oceans away who wanted food but didn't have it. By all means, ship my pizza crusts and string beans over to Africa, I would say, cause I sure don't want them. When it became apparent that my parents were not going to do that, I would ask why it mattered to other people whether I finished my food or not. Would they be happier if I ate more than I needed or wanted just because I could? It took a while for me to understand the principle of not being wasteful, no matter who cared -- though even now, I can't help but see the irony. One person tells us to do what's best for our bodies and eat only as much as we need, and another says we should eat everything put in front of us in deference to those who don't have enough. I wonder which most people follow?

On a slightly discouraging note, after only four days of blogging, I've already managed to fail to meet my goal of a post per day, in forgetting yesterday. Shame -- but at least my birthday is in two days!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On Paintball and Perseverance

I think if someone offered me immortality, I might take it. I've found the general idea to be that living forever defeats the point of life, a thing inherently ephemeral, but it's almost a shame how much there is to do and how little time to do it. Living in a world so incomprehensibly more massive than a single human life, it's hard not to see sometimes, with brutal clarity, how much there is to experience that you will never experience; how much knowledge left unlearned, places untravelled, happiness untouched and wisdom left to rot in darkness. I've made it my goal in life to learn everything about everything, and each day it strikes me how futile that is, and what an infinitesimal percentage of my endeavour I am likely to acheive. C'est (malheureusement) la vie.

My little brother has a minor obsession with guns. By this I don't mean to say he's a sadistic psychopath talking to himself in the corner and polishing his precious firearms, or a drooling madmad spreading unmitigated carnage wherever he goes. In fact I think obsession is slightly too strong a word. It's more of a keen interest. Lately he's been doing research, reading books (eg. the three day road) and watching shows (eg. flashpoint) that have to do with sniping and rifles and all that jazz. A couple months ago he was very much into nerf guns, (and man, are those fun!) and still has a collection of a dozen or so (I still find velco nerf bullets stuck to my socks...) but now he's become a paintball fanatic. Oh yes, and a month or two ago he bought a PS3 and the game Call of Duty 4, which is about -- guess what -- war! That's also very fun. He plays that game the way your average teenager plays video games, eg. obsessively, and he's looking into buying his own paintball gun. Now all this might alarm some people, but knowing him the way a sister does, it doesn't bother me. He's never shown signs of a penchant for violence and he's not starting now. Him and guns (paintball ones, mostly) is more of a techie geek to computer or mechanic to car type thing. He loves seeing how they work.

It's a bit of a routine with me that every several months I try to teach myself to juggle. I've always wanted to learn how to juggle really, really well, or throw knives, or swallow fire, or balance a plate on a stick on my nose. You know, all those sleight of hand marketplace tricks. I can trace my obsession with that sort of thing back to my favourite book as a child -- Inkheart, by Corneilia Funke -- and my favourite character, Dustfinger the fire eater/juggler/entertainer type person. I've even taken a shot at Poi, a recreational art that stems from New Zealand, which involves balls on the ends of strings held in the hands and swung around the body in increasingly difficult patterns, usually to music. It gets really fun when you buy special Poi which you light on fire and create dazzling displays of dexterity and daredevil... err. Daring. My alliteration gland just died. Anyways, call it pyromania if you like, I would love to do that, and every time I try to learn I usually start with juggling.

As you've probably inferred by my wistful tone, I've never succeeded at any of these things. It seems trivial, but it bothers me slightly that in fifteen years, I haven't been able to learn how to juggle. Now, my brother, when he wanted to learn how to whistle, or do bird calls, or snap his fingers that cool way where you shake your hand really fast; he would practice every waking minute of every bloody day. In restaurants. On planes. Yes, even the bird calls. On the one hand, it was infuriating; on the other hand, it was... well, infuriating. Despite how annoying and publicly embarrassing this got to be, it was admirable how doggedly he practiced, and that irritated me more than any strange looks from neighbouring tables. Ah, to have such mastery of useless talents -- or to have the perseverance and determination to learn them at will! That's one of the top three things I bemoan lacking, (another of which being a boyfriend,) that ability to work hard at trivial tasks. The question I'm slightly apprehensive of one day asking myself is whether I can really work hard at important tasks either, or whether I'm just telling myself I can because my grades are good and my parents haven't complained yet.

So what have I learned today? Paintball hurts like a bitch, and so does self-doubt.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Today Is Not A Friday

I regret to inform you that yesterday was not a Thursday; and today is subsequentially not a Friday.

Yesterday, as I learned when I changed my calendar from July to August, was in fact a Sunday. This means that not only is today a Monday, (my favourite!) my birthday is not on a Wednesday. It's next Saturday. Today is still the fourth, just as I predicted, and my birthday is still the ninth, just as it always has been, and there are still five days between nine and four, no matter what name each day has.

Numbers are always more reliable than words, don't you think?

Today I tried, and failed, as usual, to change the things I don't like about myself. It's an ongoing process, and I am in fact making progress. Not as much as I would have hoped, but enough to give me hope, which is all we really need anyways. For example, last night, I planned on setting my alarm for eight o'clock and getting up to go run around the neighbourhood this morning. Don't be alarmed; these fits of delusional masochism are fairly frequent. Thankfully at around four this morning, (it may have actually been one, I think my clock is a couple hours ahead,) I realized how hazardous that could be to my remaining sanity and turned off the alarm. In that aspect, I failed. However, I did wake up at ten -- earlier than my usual two or three -- and ate breakfast, another rare occurance. I suppose I should be happy, having salvaged more of the day than usual; it just wasn't quite as much as I had aimed for, and as always, it seems I am destined to fall short of my goals.

Well, my lungs will thank me, the lazy bastards. I hate running.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Daily Education on a Thursday

Assuming that I'm looking at the right calendar, (which in my experience is not necessarily likely,) today was a Thursday.

I say 'was' because the day is more or less over. Actually, the fact that it was a Thursday is not so important to me as the fact that this Thursday was August the Third, 2008. I don't even particularly enjoy Thursdays. My favourite day of the seven is Monday, despite popular consensus that it is a dreary and miserable day. My fondness for it is probably due to three things; firstly, that I haven't yet had a proper job to which I dread returning on Mondays; secondly, that I rather like school, so Monday is a pleasant day for me; and thirdly, I was born on a Monday.

I don't know why this should matter. I would bet that most people don't even know what day of the week they were born on, only the number and month and year, and their ignorance is justified; it doesn't really matter at all. This year my birthday is on a Wednesday, and last year it was probably some other day, and which one it was doesn't make the slightest difference in whether or not it comes or how many presents I get or how many years older I am.

Still, knowing that I was born on a Monday, I can't help but feel some appreciation for that well under-appreciated day. If it weren't for Mondays, I would have been born on either a Sunday or a Tuesday, and I don't like either of them very much, (my hamster died on a Tuesday and Sunday reminds me of churches,) so I owe that to Mondays. I try to repay this debt by rooting for them whenever I can, though Fridays and Saturdays seem to be the preferred days of my peers. Such is life.

The third, on the other hand, is a much more appropriate label for this day. The third of August is even more helpful. With that information, I can tell you that there are a hundred forty-four days until Christmas, ninety-one days until Halloween, thirty-five days until school begins, fourteen days until I go to camp and six days until I turn fifteen. Those last two probably don't matter to you very much, but they're a point of interest for me, and possibly my friends and family, who will be obliged to celebrate another year of my existence through gifts and kind words. Personally I don't find it that exciting. All that's happened is that the Earth has gone for another spin around the Sun, which it does every year anyways, and time has passed in that elusive way it has. What boggles my mind is that people honour my birthday because, and I quote, "I'm a year older." Unless I'm very much mistaken, EVERYONE is a year older than they were this day a year ago, aren't they?

Besides, my existence should be celebrated every day. (Joking.)

As meaningless as it might very well be, it's my birthday that's been haunting my thoughts for the past couple days, and no doubt will continue to do so for the next week. It's a nice place to start blogging, though; something easy to talk about, easy to relate to, simple and uncontroversial. Not that I'm not a fan of controversy. I just wouldn't want to scare off my readers too early.

Birthdays are fun. They mean parties and presents and copious amounts of sugar in diverse forms; candy, cake, pop and etc. I don't know what I'm going to do for a party this year, or indeed if I will do anything... I haven't in previous years, mostly due to laziness and lack of motivation, but I do have a season's pass to Wonderland this year. That holds potential.

At this point you're probably wondering what I want for my birthday, since, parties aside, gifts are the most important part of being older. What's the point of being worshipped for a day if people don't give you anything you want? That being said, I'm not the kind of person who wants a lot. Well, okay -- let me reiterate that. I don't want many material things. I mean, I'd like a horse, or a castle built entirely of chocolate, or a jet plane, but I would give up all that and more for happiness, understanding, knowledge, articulacy or wisdom, to name a few. Unfortunately those don't go on sale, so my wishlist is limited to the superficial, and also constrained by reason. (eg, the chocolate castle is out of the question, and so, most likely, are the horse and jet plane. Shame.)

With those restrictions in place and the past several months of brooding contemplation, I've dredged from the swamp of desire three items that I'm now broadcasting to the world in the hopes that at least one of them will arrive along with the socks and sweaters. Here they are, prioritized for your convenience;

1) iPhone 3G. I'm not picky about size, (gigabytes, not physical size,) though the bigger the better. I am the only fifteen year old I know who is not currently in possesion of a cell phone, and though this never used to bother me, my friends are becoming increasingly irritated with my mooching off their minutes. I've been drooling over the iPhone basically since the first rumours of its release hit the internet, and owning one would be the culmination of my life-long dreams. Or close enough.

2) House. Not in the bricks-and-mortar sort, but in the medical-soap-drama variety. You know, the TV show? With nothing better to do in the long lazy months of summer, friends and I have been sporadically renting and watching episodes of the show, and after three sleepless nights and twenty-something hours of back-to-back House M.D. delight, I've developed a severe addiction to the show which can only be treated by buying all the seasons I can get my hands on.

3) Books. I figure this is self-explanitory, but I'll explain it some more. I love writing. Consequentially, I love reading. I don't know which one I started loving first, actually, but now that I practice the both of them with near religious zeal, I figure nothing can be better for an aspiring writer than to be a voracious reader as well. I will read anything I can get my hands on, though I have a penchant for YA fiction, sci-fi and fantasy novels. I love reading about religion and religious history, science, culture, language, philosophy, psychology, and I do enjoy the occasional (or frequent) murder mystery. I have a growing list of forty-something titles I would love to aquire and I'm hoping for gift cards to help me cut that list down to a bearable size.

Wow. Glad I got that over with. Listing my wishes for this year is more painful a procedure than one might imagine, and its completion has left me thoroughly depressed. The sad truth is that I can't really even hope for two of the mentioned three, since an iPhone is made out of the question by the fact that our family plan is with Bell, and thus I have to get a phone serviced by the same company. Thus my dreams of an iPhone are dashed to pieces. As for the House, well, both my parents are under the belief that buying any part of a series I've already seen is a thorough waste of money and time, and since they both insist that I'll only watch them once anyways, they would rather I just rented the discs whenever I felt the need. How to convey to them the irrefutable grip of teenage obsessive fandom? I'm afraid it can't be done, and so I'll have to go Houseless (but fortunately not homeless,) for quite a while.

Recounting this verdict still stings, since they only just informed me today of my dreams' futility. No doubt I'll get over it in due course and go on hoping for other impossibilities in that dogged denial for which humanity is known. It's not assured that I'll ever get anything I wish for, but at the very least, we can always count on Friday to come after Thursday.

Until Friday,
Ember Knowles