Monday, November 2, 2009
It was a boring Monday morning, and most of the class was sitting with their heads on books, or else texting on their cellphones under their desks. I myself, being done with my official class work, was alternating between writing a chapter for my novel and doodling. The teacher, seeing our idleness, immediately jumped in with a sharp "stop doodling Ava," pronouncing my name wrong as usual. As I was writing at the time, not doodling, I responded with "I'm not doodling right now, I'm writing a chapter for my novel, the one where Lion gets his eyes burned out." She glared slightly, but let it go.
"Alright, everyone, when I call your name, you come up to the front of the class and get your tests back," Mme P. said, beginning to call names. I won't say what marks anyone got, but I will tell you that neither me nor Ariel failed, at least.
When everyone had received their tests, Mme P. informed us that our grades were extremely disappointing. After several minutes of telling us why, she proceeded to test corrections.
We, the class, took turns writing the correct answers on the board, then, Mme P. told us to write the answers out on a separate sheet of paper, copy down the corrections for the things we'd gotten wrong three times, staple the paper to our tests, and put them in our binders, ready to be marked for neatness out of ten. (I'll rant about Binder Checks another time.)
Everyone groaned at the workload, but complied; that was when Ariel chimed in with a suggestion.
"Why don't we write on the back of our tests to save paper?" She questioned. The idea hit a note with me, so I decided to voice my opinion to the room at large.
"Hey, yeah! That's a great idea!"
Both Ariel and I got straight to work, writing on the back of our papers; Mme P. was quick to correct us.
"I didn't say to write on the back of your tests, I said to write on a separate sheet of paper!"
"But that's bad for the environment!" This, from Ariel.
"Yeah! We should be saving paper! Every bit helps!" I added.
"This isn't about saving paper; this is my classroom, and you have to follow my rules," Mme P. retorted, obviously annoyed, "Now copy your work down again on a separate sheet of paper."
I don't want to hear it Ava," Was the incorrectly pronounced response.
"And what about the poor paper clip?" Was Alice's take on things, a voice piping in from the other side of the room. The whole class smirked about the paper clip comment, including Ariel and myself.
"That's it, why don't you and Ariel go to the hall?" Said Mme P., losing her temper.
I complied, as did Ariel, and not without a small feeling of pride. I made a 'rock-on' sign for to my friend Connor, and rolled my eyes, luckily not in Mme P.'s line of sight.
In the hall, me and Ariel waited. I was bored, so I went to my locker--conveniently situated directly beside the classroom--and dug out my intermediate Royal Conservatory piano theory book. Just as I was closing my locker, Mme P. entered the hall and spared a few seconds to tell me off for going to my locker. That aside, she proceeded to attack the values and beliefs of both Ariel and I for at least 4 solid minutes. Every time we tried to explain our reasoning, she interrupted us, saying that she didn't want to hear it, and telling us not to talk back. In the end, she told me to stay after class on account of my protests against the ethics of binder checks (I said I'll tell you another time, didn't I?), and we were sent back to class to finish the corrections.
Ariel told me she hadn't felt so angry in a long time, and my hand shook slightly as I wrote on the half piece of paper that Ariel and I had torn and shared as a compromise.
As you may have gathered from reading this post thus far, the whole incident was idiotic. Ariel and I wanted to save paper, Mme P. felt that we were being rude, and we were punished. Why? Ariel made a good suggestion; in an ideal world, shouldn't she have been rewarded, not punished for her initiative? What was so wrong with a simple suggestion; with upholding ones ethical beliefs? It was a small thing; a few pieces of lined paper, but isn't even something that small worth saving if it is at all possible to save? In this time of global warming, depleting natural resources, and impending disaster, we should all be doing whatever we can to protect the environment...right?
Well, no matter who's right, I still feel angry; I don't see how what Ariel and I believe is wrong, and I'm not going to back down just because one backwards teacher tells me to.
If I come home late, it's because I'm in detention.
-Eva, not Ava
Saturday, October 31, 2009
"I've never heard of a socialist system not turning into communism."
"But don't you believe that we, as humans could do better: share the worlds riches; distribute wealth equally? Isn't giving up a few comforts worth knowing that no one is living out on the streets?"
"I believe that the world works the way it is: it couldn't succeed any other way. I worked hard to get to where I am in life, and I'm not about to give it all up. I think I deserve what I have."
This was a small portion of a conversation I had with my grandfather several months ago.
I love my grandpa, but at times, he can be more stubbornly pigheaded then I can, and-in my opinion-about all the wrong things. He sniffs disapprovingly when I come to family get-together's dressed in baggy t-shirts and camouflage pants. He becomes annoyed when I explain earnestly why he doesn't need two cars in his driveway. On the topic of socialism, his response to my ideals was no different.
Personally, I think that socialism, while flawed, is a better option then the money grubbing, capitalistic world in which I currently dwell. I will pause to take a deep breath as I prepare to say something incredibly cheesy: I don't want money. I will give you a moment to wipe the tears of admiration from your eyes. Yes, that sounds stupid, but no, I'm not lying. I know I need to have some money to survive, but I don't want to live in a big house in the suburbs, or drive an SUV. It is my dream to live in an apartment in some large city. I don't want to be rich; I don't know how to be. I'm not rich now, and not always having enough money to buy an Ipod Touch may seem like the worst thing on earth, but it's a lot better to come home to your small, lively pigsty of a home then to live in a huge house that echoes when you call out at night.
Oh dear, I seem to have drifted off topic; back then, to socialism.
Ms G., whom, as many of you may know, was my teacher last year, was the one who first explained the constructs of socialism to me.
As she told me and my classmates of what a world with a socialistic economy might be, I was far from convinced; I wanted to succeed, I wanted to be rich, and I knew that with my grades, succeeding would be a simple matter. That was when Ms G used an example that changed my mind.
"If Matt and Eva both have the same jobs," She said, grabbing my classmate and myself at random, "And both work the same hours, but Matt works extremely hard, yet struggles to do his work, whereas Eva is lazy, but does an exceptional job at everything and constantly gets promoted, is that fair?"
Matt didn't think so, and on contemplation, neither did I. Ms G. had grabbed to students at random, but for me, it struck deeply. In truth, I am lazy. I don't do my homework, yet I excel in every subject (except French). I've never had a grade lower then an "A" (except in French). I have friends who study for hours every night, stay late after school to get help from the teacher, pay a tutor, and still barely pass with a C-. I sit around drawing and reading, while they work their asses off: is that fair? According to Capitalism, I suppose it is. According to Capitalistic ideals, of course, those who fail in life were lazy; I must work harder then they, to achieve my grades, to find my place in society.
Grandpa clearly believes himself to be more deserving of his station in life, because he worked hard to accumulate wealth. In his mind, those who are poor are slime, because they brought their poverty upon themselves; I disagree. Yes, some people are lazy, but poverty isn't a choice; our society is set so that there are only enough jobs for 90% of the population. This insures that there will always be people willing to take even the worst of jobs, endangering their lives in dangerous working conditions for terrible pay. Is that fair? What you answer to that question makes the difference between socialism and capitalism.
Everyone is entitled to there opinion, and this is mine:
No; it isn't fair. No one should ever have to starve to death on the streets, while others eat caviar and drive multiple cars. No; I don't think that your quality can or should be measured by the money in your pocket. No; it isn't okay to believe you deserve the things you have in life, and take them for granted. I believe that socialism can work, if we all understand that giving up on having more is worth it if everyone has enough.
Idealistic socialistic high school kid signing out,
PS. Hey grandpa, I hope you're not reading this, because I have a feeling you won't give me any birthday presents if you do! Sorry to use you, but you make for such interesting topics! (Grandma! MAKE HIM GIVE ME BIRTHDAY PRESENTS!)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
When I started my first year of high school this fall, I entered my homeroom classroom with some trepidation. The reason: my homeroom class was French! I have a fairly high academic level, but French is my greatest weakness. For this reason, I opted to take French at an applied level this year. Unfortunately, my teacher doesn't appreciate the lax attitude with which my class behaves.
When I walked in, the first person I saw was an acquaintance of mine Alice*, with whom I had attended a science camp several years previously. The two of us, coupled with another, had been the only girls there, and as a result, we were happy to be reunited. Alice, being a girl with attitude, had opted to wear baggy sweat pants, a brightly coloured tank-top, and a black and white baseball cap, adorned with loud buttons.
As the seat beside her was taken, I chose to sit behind her so as to converse throughout the class.
The bell rang, and in marched our teacher Mme P.*
The moment Mme P. walked in, I predicted a fight: she had a grouchy, bossy expression, and obviously didn't wish to be in the room at all.
"Everyone take out your notebooks," said Mme P., with an air of contempt. Her eyes fell upon Alice. "Hat's off," she added impatiently.
"No," Retorted Alice, causing our teacher to look around sharply. She was clearly not accustomed to having her will contested.
"I said take your hat off," Mme P. repeated.
"Because it's school policy."
Now, I knew that this wasn't exactly correct, and I immediately raised my hand to say so.
"Yes?" Said my teacher angrily, noticing my raised hand.
"That's incorrect," I replied, being a know-it-all, "It says in the school dress code and decorum policy that the hats rule is at the discretion of the teacher."
"Well, I'm the teacher, and I say no hats," She retorted. "And as I said," She continued, repeating herself, "I'm upholding school policy."
"Okay..." Was my doubtful reply.
Alice refused to take of her hat, and was sent to the office. Since that day, she's been suspended from class two times, and has had to spend her school days in the office. The severity of the punishment begs a question; what the hell is wrong with wearing a hat?
According to my middle school teacher, Ms. G., taking off ones hat upon entering a building is an old tradition, and follows the rules of the middle class. "The middle class?" You ask? By middle class, I mean the halfway point in society; a level of wealth that is not rich, but most resoundingly not poor.
As a member of the "creative class" (A fancy word for in-between dirt poor, and middle class.), I see no reason as to why I should conform to an archaic social norm. Taking off your hat was once a sign of respect, but in this day and age, why do we continue to slave at the feet of the cruel slave-driver that is tradition?
I don't know why Alice didn't want to take off her hat; perhaps it was special to her, maybe she considered it an act of defiance; she might have simply seen no reason to comply to our bossy teacher's rules. Who knows? Not me. Whatever the reason, I don't see a problem with wearing a baseball cap. (If you think otherwise, I'd be happy to hear your opinions!)
Hats off to you,
"Really? Do you really think that?" Asked Ms G.
"Yeah!" Was my vehement response.
"I don't believe that violence is ever acceptable. If someone hurt me, I would allow them to."
"If someone attacks you, they can damage your body, perhaps your mind, but on the inside, you'll still be okay. If you hurt someone, it destroys your soul. If somebody hurt me, I think it would damage them more then me."
"Uh...I guess so..."
That was the end of all conversation on the topic. On the inside however, my mind continued to churn, mulling over the idea. Is violence ever justified? Is it ever okay to hurt someone? I had heard what Ms G. had to say, but I still didn't agree.
I won't lie: I'm selfish. I don't care about being pure or whole. I don't want to be good; I want to live, and if I have to use violence, I will do so.
Maybe Ms G. was right, but I'm not one to passively allow someone to hurt me. Perhaps it will hurt them more then me, but I don't have to courage to find out.
I hope that one day, I will be as strong and brave as my teacher, but I'm just a thirteen year old girl, struggling to survive; gasping for air like a fish out of water.
I hope one day, I learn to breath.
Until that day, selfish teenager signing out,
Friday, August 7, 2009
Those are the words I uttered to my littlest sister Bella*, as we sat in the library, writing in our respective notebooks.
"What? When?!" Was her response.
"I don't know, but soon. There's no way a species that's made such a mess of things will survive," I responded.
"How do you know?" She challenged.
"We can't breath our air, we're fighting wars over the most basic human necessity; water. We're cutting down trees like there's no tomorrow, and every single species on earth is in decline. I'd give us to about year 3000." I said, choosing the year partially to insult the Jonas Brother's song I'd had to endure for the past 2 years, and partially because I honestly believed it would all be over by then.
"Well, I'll be dead by then," She responded, face full of smug satisfaction at having retorted to her big sisters 'the end is nigh' proclamations.
"Yeah, and so will everyone else." I growled, my volume earing glares from the nearest librarians.
Bella rolled her eyes and returned to her diary.
That was the end of the discussion.
But not the end of the reality.
Will we die? Maybe, maybe not.
Perhaps we'll survive, but what is survival? Take away our clothing, our homes, our inventions-modern necessities-and what do you have left? Without the things that we have created, what are we but animals, not as powerful as we had once assumed, naked in the big world. Could we ever start from scratch, with so few resources left to exploit?
Perhaps we will all die. Scientists constantly talk about the tipping point, giving us long term solutions. But maybe we've already reached that point. We plan to cut our carbon emissions by half by 2050? We're burning fossil fuels so fast, we won't have anything left to use half of in 41 years! Everything's a mess, and we're not stepping up to prevent it.
Everything's a mess; but just because we don't think we can survive, doesn't mean we can't try to.
This isn't an excuse to say "It's hopeless anyway. Why does it matter whether I drive across the road to get gum from the convenience store?" This is a chance to fight.
It's too late to screw in your energy saving lightbulbs and shower heads. It's too late for you to feel warm and fuzzy just because you went to church for an environmental workshop. Stop driving, turn of your air conditioner, and stand up on your own two feet. This is our last chance: don't waste it.
(As usual, names are not used. Perhaps my post sounds outrageous? It's not.
My family hasn't had a car since I was 2. We use ceiling fans, instead of central airconditioning, and we walk, bike, canoe or bus nearly everywhere. Maybe where you live, this isn't an option, but at the very least, you can carpool. Please, just try: we really are on our last chance.)
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Well, enough of my bitter complaints: without further ado, the poem.
You see a flower
You want it
You want it's beauty
You want it for your own
You want to be beautiful
You pluck the flower
Hold its radiance in your cupped hands
Its beauty will fade in death
You can pluck it from the earth
Tear its petals from the steam
But you will never have it
Its beauty is for itself
To share with whom it will
You can kill the flower
But you cannot have it
You will never have it
You can never truly take what isn't yours
When you try to take the light of another
You only turn to darker night
You will bear the flower forever
And will never obtain its beauty
For the flowers beauty is its own light
You will never have it
You see a flower
You want its beauty to shine inside you
But pluck it from the earth
And it will reflect back
Only the ugliness
Of your heart.
Well, that's the poem in its entirety. Thank you for taking time to read it.
Friday, July 31, 2009
It's Scott* again. We're sitting in homeroom, waiting for the teacher to return, and he's asked me the question a billion times.
"Sure Scott!" I yell, letting my sarcastic side do the talking. "That's why I have a GIANT CRUSH ON ROY MUSTANG FROM FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST YOU IDIOT!" My outburst is met by blank stares, with the exception of my friends Jake*, Cameron* Alana*, and Justin*, who laugh and applaud: they all know of my obsession with Roy, and tease me constantly for it.
Scott doesn't get it.
"So you are gay?" he asks, causing me to practically jump through the ceiling as I leap to my feet to retort.
"NO! I'M NOT! YOU'VE ASKED ME A GAZILLION TIMES, AND THE ANSWER'S NOT GOING TO CHANGE!!!!!!!"
Now everyone's staring.
"You always wear boys clothes though! Why don't you wear some pink?"
"Cuz you're wearing it all!" I growl. It's true: he's wearing a pink t-shirt. My friends laugh, and the conversation ends, but it leaves me confused and hurt.
Why, based solely on my clothing, do people assume I must be homosexual. Why is pink associated with femininity, and why is it so wrong to like people of the same gender anyway?
Society has given us stereotypes of how we're supposed to look, think and feel, but what never seems clear is, well, exactly what is "Society"?
It's easy for murderers to say, "It wasn't my fault, I'm the product of society," but what is society?
Society is us.
We, not some unspecified Other, decided that girls should wear pink, like shopping, and be good at cooking, whereas our male counterparts should wear blue (black, camouflage, etc), like football, and fight wars.
Everywhere, people fight to conform to "societies" norms.
But these norms change all the time!
Before World War II, pink was considered a boy colour, because it was brighter, and therefore stronger, while females were supposed to look delicate and pretty in blue.
Now days, if you're not skinny, you are likely to be jeered at for your size and weight, but in the 1800's, the ideal was to look plump and well fed.
If you go to the beach, you'll see tons of men, women, and even children, flopped out in the sun, intent upon nothing but burning their skin a darker shade, yet looking back a few hundred years, one would find a tan to be a sign of poverty, with all the upperclass doing their best to stay pale.
All these examples prove that our ideals are nothing but constantly changing fads.
This is both disturbing and hopeful.
We have created a world that shuns anyone out of the "ordinary", and idolizes only one type of beauty. We have made a place where who you love can be considered sinful.
But it doesn't have to be that way!
Throughout history, we've proven that a cultural shift isn't only possible, but probable. We don't have to be discriminatory; we can choose to accept everyone.
So don't make excuses about why you won't talk to the transgendered boy in the school cafeteria, or refuse to befriend a lesbian in your workplace. Stop believing that a girl wearing baggy camoflauge pants and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt cannot be straight.
We need to see past our narrowminded beliefs and respect everyone, no matter how they dress, who they love, what their skin colour is, or how much money they earn per hour. It's time to prove that we can do better then our ancestors. It's time to take responsibility for society.
It seems that everywhere I turn, there's a cellphone.
First off, let's get something straight: I'm 13. This fall, I'll start my first year of high school, and yes, I think owning a cellphone could be useful, but why are they the topic of so much conversation?
Cellphones are personal communication devices, but somehow, they've also become the definition of a cool, social teenager. I, as a teen, find this insulting: I don't own a cellphone, and neither do a lot of my friends, but somehow, Sarah's* sleek pink Iphone still manages to be the biggest attention grabber in my grade 8 classroom when she runs into the room on a Wednesday morning, eyes bright with excitement. Even my geeky guy pals take the time to admire the lightning quick Internet services, in favor of discussing our favorite books.
Another example of the power the cellphone has over our society can be found one sleepy day in late April, in the grade 8 core French class.
"...Now, we've been studying various careers for some time, but you all have yet to choose your preference," Chirps the assistant French teacher, "So today you will all take a multiple intelligence quiz, to determine whether you are Logical-Mathematical, Verbal-Linguistic, Visual, Natural, Intra-personal, Interpersonal..." I tune her out. I already know the answer: everything and anything but social.
I take my copy of the test when it comes to me, politely passing the rest of the papers to Scott*, who sits directly behind me.
"When everyone has a paper, you can all start writing. The test is in French, but you may answer in English." The teacher stops talking.
It's my first year in school, so my French is woefully inadequate, but deciphering the meaning is easy enough. The first few questions are very routine: "Your favorite classes are English, History, and French" is obviously for Verbal-Linguistic, and "You like to spend time alone to sort out your thoughts", intra-personal.
But then I reach question number 7, and my pencil freezes in mid air.
"You constantly talk to friends on your cellphone."
"Excuse me," I say, raising my hand as courteously as possible,"I don't have a cellphone, what should I put for question number 7?"
The teacher rolls her eyes. "Just don't check it!" She exclaims, as if this should have been obvious.
The fact that a question on a multiple intelligence would require you to own a cellphone in order to be a social person deeply disturbs me.
As I've already said, I'm not a very social person. I have plenty of friends, but I don't talk to them much outside of school: I've never felt the need, but on the other hand, I have friends like Lily* who spend all their time chatting with friends, but don't own cellphones. Not everyone can afford them, and that doesn't mean they aren't social, or prefer to be alone!
Yet the cellphone has become such an icon of teen popularity, it seems unthinkable even to a middle-school teacher that a 13 year old could enjoy company and conversation without owning a mobile phone.
Cellphones cause cancer, kill bees, and generally, cause misery for anyone who happens to be on public transit during someone elses loudmouthed conversation (That's another story), and now they give you a multiple intelligence quiz that says you cannot succeed in any career involving people skills, solely based on the fact that, for whatever reason, you don't own a Samsung.
I as a teenager, wish to reserve the right to live in a world where I am not associated with a small hunk of plastic and metal.
I don't believe that people don't have the right to use cellphones, I'm just saying that I want the right not to.
Thanks for listening to my rants,
*For the sake of my friends' privacy, I've changed everyones names.
Also, no copyright infringement intended in the use of product names. I was just using them to make a point!
FW: Red Envelope Day, no, it's not Feb, 14th, It's March 31stThis was what I found upon reading it:
When: March 31st, 2009
Get a red envelope. You can buy them at Kinkos, Staples, or at party supply stores. On the front, address it to
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington , D.C. 20500
On the back, write the following message.
This envelope represents one child who died because of an abortion.
It is empty because the life that was taken is now unable to be a part of our world.
We will mail the envelopes out March 31st, 2009.
Put it in the mail, and send it. Then forward this event to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died [in the U.S. ] before having a chance to live.
It may seem that those who believe abortion is wrong are in a minority. It may seem like we have no voice and it's shameful to even bring it up. Let us show our President and the world that the voices of those of us who do not believe abortion is acceptable are not silent and must be heard.
Together we can change the heart of The President and save the lives of millions of children.
Marie is a born and bred Catholic. She is also 13 years old. Already, she has an ingrained belief that abortion is evil in its truest form, and that anyone to receive an abortion is committing the most terrible sin.
Personally, I don't think she had the right to decide such things: it's easy for people living with all the privileges and protection of an upper-class Western lifestyle to condemn other women for choosing not to give birth, but is it fair?
Sure, a lot of people get pregnant because of carelessness, but many others are raped. Should the victims of sexual assault be denied the right to abort, based on a snobbish value system?
More then our clothing, language, history, architecture and art, the thing that makes humans different from all other life on earth is our ability to make our own choices, and sometimes-many times-that includes the freedom to make the wrong ones. Choice is a beautiful and terrible thing, and we as a species usually use it to destroy, but that doesn't mean we should give up thinking and share a brain!
So maybe abortion is wrong, but that doesn't give Marie the right to decide that for the world.
Safe abortion should be an option given to all women, everywhere in the world. Until that becomes a reality, how can we boast about freedom?
Please; before you condemn someone for their choices, try to think What would I do in their place? And forgive them.
Thanks for reading my first ever blog post.