Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Psyching Out

Update: Seminar was great. Our professor was in the middle of explaining the etymological significance of the Greek word for "busybody" when I looked over at my friend across the table. He had his fists interlocked, and was examining how his knuckles fit together. And I thought that was the most fascinating part of class.

People when they're just being people are so incredible. Human beings are rather amazing. We retain this marvelous sense of curiosity and delight in the simplest discoveries. Adbhuta is the Sanskrit word for it. Adbhuta is why a young college-aged man still finds the way his knuckles fit together a mystery worth exploring. And in fact finds his knuckles more interesting than the Greek word for busybody.
I love it.
Psych major, here I come.

Just kidding.

Or am I?

ACK. Indecision.

marbles in my mouth

So grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again and jump on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again for this is yours.

Make my words worth it, make this not just another poem that I write, not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all.

Walk into it, breathe it in, let is crash through the halls of your arms at the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood pumping and pushing making you live, shaking the dust.

So when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob and open on up, running forward into its widespread greeting arms with your hands before you, fingertips trembling though they may be.
--Anis Mojani

Guess what time it is?
Count your blessings time.

2 things that make me happy:
Purple Shag Carpets
Lofted Beds.
Doing theatre outside.
Naps in the sunshine.
The Basilica.
(That's like 10 things. Whoops.)

4 things that don't make me happy:
Facebook stalking.
Rubber snakes.
Weak abdominal muscles.
The word "practical."

This past summer, I looked at my bio that was in our highschool graduation program. It's amazing how one can change so ridiculously much in a year. Although the things that make my soul smile have grown, my list of pet peeve really has stayed the same. I think that's a step in the right direction, maybe. As your world expands, you should find more and more beautiful things that fill you with Joy. Although I've found a lot more faults within myself. And I think that was the hard part of the summer, realizing my own faults and failings and trying to work on those. We had a "summer vacation in five words" ice breaker the other night, and I summed up my summer like so:
Substitute Mom.
Disney Princesses.

Not a bad summer overall.

Although I'm messier now. And I'm less patient (but, to be fair, when was I ever patient?)
And I need to watch myself before I cross the line from friendly neighborhood sarcastic to Snarky McJerkpants.

One of my friends gave up sarcasm for Lent one year. That's one of those Lenten goals that I think is really really good for you. Giving up sweets, chocolate, TV, etc., is all well and good, but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper.

One of my friends (also prone to sarcasm) gave up making digs about St. Mary's girls. One of my friends gave up listening to love songs, another laid off day-dreaming, another gave up always checking out her reflection in mirrors she passed during the day. I always love hearing the challenges people set for themselves during Lent. But maybe we should leave off talking about Lent until at least January. Haven't even made it to Thanksgiving yet, and I'm already thinking about Lent.

But, ya know, just as it can be Christmas all year round, it can be Lent all year round.
Okay, okay hear me out.
Think of how at Christmas it just feels wrong to have a fight or get mad at someone-your siblings, friends, parents, anyone. Maybe we're just conditioned to behave better after hearing about Santa Claus's naughty and nice list for so many years, but there's something in the air at Christmastime that makes you want to SING. Discord between friends and family would be discordant at the most wonderful time of the year. The world is alive with Joy and gingerbread and little creche scenes peppered over the white snow. There's really no reason why we shouldn't feel that Joy and goodwill every single day throughout the rest of the year. Just as we should (ideally) live each day with the Joy and charity we feel during Christmastide in our hearts, we should live each day with Lenten sacrifice in our souls. We should be always striving to be better, continuously challenging ourselves to strengthen our weak points and let go of what we hold on to. Gently wean ourselves away from the world, to shift our focus to things eternal rather than temporal. Lent is a time in which we distance ourselves from the world, and reach for the heavens. Live like it's Lent, peeps. Live like it's Lent.

I'm going to skedaddle to seminar now to chat about The Republic. Took me 5 hours to read 50 pages of that beast last night.
Theory A) Plato is a slow read-you have to savor and digest each part as you go.
Theory B) I'm easily distractible.
Peace out y'all.

P.S. I wish you guys could see the blog post as it appears in my editing screen-the words are all jumbled together and mushed on top of each other. It looks so pretty.
P.P.S. Remember that mirror I bought? I decided it'd be okay to stick it on the back of my door with blue painter's tape. You can only imagine how that episode ended...I have another late-night Target run to make...

Monday, August 29, 2011

happy song #206

"You can turn off the sun, but I'm still gonna shine."
Finna be a light-bearer, yo.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

semester of being a normal person

Oh, hi.
It's you.
Know what's awkward?
I've been avoiding you all week/weekend.

Don't make this weird, 'kay? Let's just pretend that we haven't ever been separated, that summer never happened, and let's be all chummy like we were last year, and all will be well.
Student Me is back in action, leaving my Thespian-Edition-of-Self behind for several months. Now's the chance to be a regular human being.
And I'm taking it.

Being a real person is new for me, and consequently rather intimidating. So I broke it down for myself in a few short easy steps.
Here's my quick and easy method for becoming a sane human being:

Step 1: Sit in your room. Just sit. And maybe do homework or talk to your roomies. The key thing is to actually sit down on your bottom instead of running all around the room like a thing possessed. Look around you. Notice something you haven't noticed before. You may be surprised by what you see. (That's a nice poster...where'd it come from? Wait... was that futon there yesterday? AH, is that a peacock on my roomie's bed!? What the fudgecrackers...?) Just sit and don't get up for at least ten minutes. If you can do this, you know you're becoming a normal girl.

Step 2: Do your homework. Just buckle down and do it. It may take you till 5:30 in the morning, and you may have to shamefully relinquish all your self-respect and drink a 5-hour energy. It's painful, but if you can get your homework done, you're halfway to normalcy. Congrats.

Step 3: Buy the mirror you've been saying you'd buy for two weeks now. As in actually go to the store and purchase it. Big steps, I know, but just try it. Don't have time during the day? Meijers is open 24-7 for a reason, my peeps. Bring friends, buy clearance bakery goods, and make a party out of it. That's what normal people do.

Step 4: Unpack your clothes and clean your room. Noooo, this one hasn't happened quite yet. Once I do this, though, I'll actually be a real human being.
Check back in another two months. My laundry may have gotten done by then.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

tuo da gloriam

This song has been stuck in my head:

It gets stuck in my head because despite it being a hymn in Latin, it's rather hummable and catchy. Not a bad song to get stuck in one's head, ya know. Which is good, because it's one of the two that gets stuck in there a lot.

The other one is Friday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Earnest Triviality

I love these actors. I love these people. They are whimsical, hilarious, quirky, adorable and charming human beings. Utterly fantastic. I'm so blessed and lucky and happy and joyful to be directing them. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart-watching them create these characters and tell this story is just a joy and a privilege for me. They crack me up, they melt my heart, and they make me want to jump for joy.
They're goof-balls and fools, lovers and wooers, delicate little souls, and hearts made of steel. I was in Mass this morning, and looking at the colored shards of light streaming through the stained glass windows thinking of the play: thinking of the chairs I need to buy, what type of muffins to use, and how to run the entr'acte. And then a great burst of gladness filled my soul, because I was doing this show. With these people. At the beginning of sophomore year.
Hashtag winning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Strange Familiar

I'm back in my little home under the dome.

I'm equipped with a new key, and a funky little new room that looks onto our beautiful courtyard. My heart swells with joy when I skip down the little dingy-carpeted stretch of hallway that I'll call home for the next year. My desk this year is a much cozier little affair than last year. I can actually see myself doing work here. It's a quaint little nook, and although it's stuffed full of all the odds-and-ends of move-in, I see distinct potential in it.

New people and old friends mingle in the most delightful way in the hallways, and there are happy greetings and joyful reunions. I don't know if the spring in my step is due to the sheer joy of sophomore year or my new tennis shoes, but I'm a very happy camper at the moment. Everything is so much the same-it's like we didn't even leave: the stairwell still smells the same: smells like popcorn cookies that were baked a wee too long, the courtyard is still lush and green, and the hall looks as fresh as a daisy-as bare as I left it during senior week. But it's so different. Last semester we arrived, anxious little freshman, beginning college and scared out of our wits by the adventure ahead of us. Now each corner and couch isn't part of a scary new landscape-it's a part of us, it has a memory, a person, a face, a laugh, a story attached to it. And that's what it means to be home.
To be in a place where each bit of it is truly yours-there's a meaning that belongs to only you attached to each window, tree and bench.
Over the summer, I realized that Stages Theatre is a home like that for me. Each room has held so many stories of my life-my heart's been broken and mended in each room of that lovely building, I've laughed, I've cried, I've made life-long friends, I've shared secrets and discovered truths about myself.
Places like that are rare and precious gifts.
And Notre Dame is one of those places.
It's good to have a Home under the Dome. Send me in, Mama Mary, I'm ready for this school year. WATCHOW.

P.S. Some things have changed significantly over the summer-one of these places is LaFun. The basement is pretty. Who'd've thought they'd see the day, amiright, peeps?
But for cerealz, I do dig the revamped look. It'll just take some getting used to, I suppose. And as my friend pointed out, spending all-nighters in such a pretty place will feel less disgusting.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Symbolism of PB&J

I was walking through the airport yesterday on my way to the gate and I sat down to mooch off of Starbuck's free Wi-Fi.
I didn't get any free Wi-Fi, but I did get a stale peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
Wait. Whaaaa?

Okay, backstory: I bought a beautiful Threadless (yes, I'm obsessed. Not a big deal) waterbottle from Target Boutique. So yeah, I stuck this waterbottle in my waterbottle pocket of my backpack. On a whim, I reached down into the bottom of the pocket and pulled out a stale peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
Ew. Gross.
When did I have PB&J...? When was the last time I used my backpack...?
Correct answer: Last semester.
Double ew. Double gross.
So I pulled out the congealed remnants of that grab 'n' go sandwich and threw it away. And as I tossed it into the garbage bin, I had the sense that I was letting go of last year. Letting go of all the congealed remnants of last year's stuff, and replacing them with a beautiful pinkish-mauve waterbottle embossed with the letters L-O-V-E.
That must mean something.
Then, this morning, I was at Assumption Day Mass, and I re-realized that Mama Mary wants me to be here. Wants me here at her university, and I'm so glad to be here. I'm just glad to be her daughter, chillin' in her hood. Living under her protection. Rocking the triangle-peg-lightbearer thang.
It's so ridiculously incredible to be back on campus. It feels like I've been gone for years, and yet feels like I've never left.
Everything's the same, and yet everything is new.

Out with the stale PB&J.

And in with the mauve L-O-V-E waterbottle.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Coated in Formaldehyde

Band names.

I could sit for hours thinking up band names. In fact, I'm just going to sit here and *not* pack, and just listen to Maroon 5 and thinking up band names.


I'm going to listen to Maroon 5 while I pack.
le sigh.

P.S. Maroon 5 is one of those things I really shouldn't like as much as I do. Chalk it up to a character flaw. But I love them. Why? Good, good question. (Beeteedubs, The music video to She Will Be Loved? My reaction: ??????????????????? My face literally turned into a bunch of question marks. It was that bizarre.)
It's basically a really messed up version of Stacy's Mom. When you watch it, you'll see what I mean. What is so darn appealing about them? I don't know what it is...It's awful.

And I really should pack. I'm just procrastinating. I dislike trying to pack, because I always think: "What if I'll need that thing that I'm about to pack?" "Will everything fit in this bag?" "Do I have everything I need?" "What should I ship? What should I pack immediately?" AHHHHHHH. Blargh. Ick. Puff. Scrapdoodle. Merde. GAHHH. Ooofda. Humphity humph humph.

Yeah, not my favorite.

Now that I'm thinking about it, this post isn't about any band names, and least not as it's written at the moment...
It's more about how Maroon 5 is not really at all that morally enlightened and spiritually uplifting, but I like them anyway. And it's about how packing at 2:30 am is utterly gruesome and we hates it, precioussss.

But you know what's really good? What's infinitely less gruesome that packing and significantly more amazing than Maroon 5 and is actually lightyears better than any band name?

Chocolate+caramel+sea salt.

Oh honeychildren, that magical combination is just the last word in fabulous. My stomach is aching just thinking of beautiful, smooth, silky, caramel-filled chocolates sprinkled with sharp, tangy sea salt. They are my new way to be happy. They are my medicine for all that ails me. I would kiss a snake to earn a lifetime's supply of them. Not even joking.

I think I would name my band Chocolate Sea Salt. Or Salty Caramels. Or Sweet 'n' Salty. (sensing a theme?) Or Sugar 'n' Spice (we would be Spice Girls copy-cats). Or Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels. Or Caramel Love.

These are great names, right?

And we would play hardcore covers of German death metal hits.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

roses after rain

The Fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law devine
In one another's being mingle -
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain'd its brother:
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea -
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
--Percy Bysse Shelley

Monday, August 8, 2011

You Speak Prada?

Why I fell in love with this movie:
1. Beautiful, sweet, adorable story. The epitome of chick flick fare-it's like lightly salted cotton candy. Conversely, it could be seen as an insightful cautionary tale about filling the holes in your heart with material goods. Our spunky protagonist Rebecca Bloomwood is filling the holes in her heart with the shallow and short-lived highs that come from swiping her credit card and filling shiny bags with silky smooth satiny scarves. She takes retail therapy to a whole new level.
2. Pretty, pretty clothes. Although Rebecca's credit card debt is far from pretty, it's easy to understand why she's sorely tempted when she lives dab-smack in the middle of the lush jungle that is the NYC fashion scene. One of my favorites was a rich purple Lanvin dress she purchases near the film's climax. Yum.
Absolutely scrumptious.
Even the token ugly-as-all-get-out bridesmaid's dress she dutifully dons for her best friend's wedding is adorable (in a rainbow-fairy-munchkin kind of way.)
3. Like Devil Wears Prada? The Women? Funny Face? Sex and the City? Or any other fashion-oriented movie? This is better than all of them. You can still feast your eyes on the beautiful clothes, but:
4. This is the most beautiful romance I've seen in a rom-com recently. It's innocent, sweet, and real. The leads have adorable chemistry, and they act like the stepped right out of a 1930's screwball comedy. Both of them are just humans. Who kiss, fall in love, make some mistakes, and then finally grant us one last smooch at the end. When lovers in the movies jump into bed prematurely, it's so darn disappointing. It just puts a damper on the whole thing. And it's dreadfully boring-the guy's already conquered his lady halfway through the movie, which leaves no room for the sexual tension and excitement. Plus also every interaction after the event is dreadfully awkward-or it would be in real life, even though movie magic erases the awk. None of that in this little film, thankyouverymuch. I was rooting for the couple the whole time, and they didn't disappoint.
5. Isla Fisher is hilarious. Seriously. I've never seen her in anything else, but now I want to watch all her movies. She's just delightful onscreen, and her Rebecca Bloomwood is so quirky and weird and goofy and stylish and beautiful and witty. She's the perfect best friend who you know you could always call up to go on a shopping trip.
6. Makes you feel much, much better about your own shopping habits. I was feeling incredibly guilty about how much money I've spent on clothing this summer. And now that all disappeared in an instant. This movie was clever, allowing its viewers the pleasure of being able to sigh "Well, at least I'm not as bad as she is." No matter how much we indulge ourselves, at least Rebecca's worse off than we are. At least, I hope I'll never rack up $9,000 in credit card debt and have a closet so stuffed with clothes I forget I own half of them.
7. Hugh Dancy is a young Colin Firth. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Church Feminine

In an earlier age, this would have been seen as a reasonable step, a normal progression for young Catholic women. But what happens here every August is no longer a reasonable step, but an adventurous-some would say reckless- leap of faith by women, some of whom started the journey with little or no religious background. Self sacrifice? They come from an age of self-indulgence in which people seem wary of commitments, benumbed by television and bombarded with every conceivable form of electric communication promising instant gratification. Yet here they are, standing in the driveway of a building dedicated to a second-century Roman woman who was rewarded for her faith and good works by being beheaded. They are preparing to walk through the doorway of a life where rules require silence, poverty and celibacy.
--Sisters, by John Fialka
Read Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America.
Mais pour quoi?
Seriously, peeps. Can we just stop and talk about how sisters are truly phenomenal beings. Superwomen, it seems.
This book details their marvelous adventures-marches with MLK, run-ins with Billy the Kid, appealing to this Pope and that Bishop, building hospitals, saving lives, creating civilization. Making leaps of faith that lead to lives of love.

Mr. Fialka's book paints the portrait of the Sisters of Mercy with sweeping romantic brushstrokes, and also little humorous witty pinpoints of anecdotes. His word incite every Romantic desire in me. I long and yearn to jump up and join the young girls who up and run off, leaving behind family, friends, lovers and hometowns, to go join the convent, and embark on an adventure with Christ.

The last few chapters are a sad coda on the epic tale of Catholic sisters in America. A reminder of how especially rare such women are today. Around Vatican II everything explodes into all sorts of cray and these sisters bear the brunt of all the confusion. Their ranks, to the detriment of the Church and the world, are lessened and weakened.
After twenty-odd chapters filled with their delightful exploits and bold adventures, it's a rather heartbreaking and mildly depressing ending.

Which can only assure us that it's not truly the ending.

Friday, August 5, 2011

the culture of pie

Guess what?

Author's Note: "Guess what?" is the most ridiculously pointless question ever. 
Because usually what you're about to tell the person is something that you haven't told them and you know for a fact that they don't know, which is why you're about to tell them that in the first place. So why ask them to guess what you're going to say? Because they're obviously not going to. And even if they somehow magically do guess, then it'll deprive you of the joy of telling them your news in the first place. 
This is what is colloquially known as a lose-lose situation.
Lame sauce.

But be that as it may, you won't ever ever guess, so I'll just tell you:

I want to be a triangle peg.

Just hear me out.

You know that old saying: "trying to fit a square peg in a round hole"? Yeah?
So I used that expression today, while having birthday brunch with two friends. And, because I am blessed with brilliant friends, one of them replied:
"Well, you just need to find a square hole. Or, better yet, become a triangle peg, because they can fit in both square and round holes."
Let me repeat that: triangle pegs can fit in both square and round holes.

How amazing is that? If you're just yourself; if you're someone so totally genuine and perfectly unique; if you're following God's own personal triangle-peg plan for you; if you eschew both the squareness and the roundness, and reach for something greater, then you will find peace and comfort wherever you go.
No matter where life takes you- from the squares to the circles and back again, you'll fit.
You'll fit because you are so perfectly at home within the strange shape of your own body, because you inhabit so comfortably your own soul.
It reminds me of St. Paul's words: "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (1 Cor 9:22)
St. Paul, welcome to the ranks of triangle pegs.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Yet Another Post In Which I Sing the Praises of Austen...

Last semester, I had this class called "PLS University Seminar I".
Sounds kind of cool, right?
We basically read and discussed the Greek classics.
Sign me up, right?
One day, after reading Plato's Symposium (to which my first response was ummmmmmmm....what the heck did I just read? and my second response was: Dang, Plato's got mad philozophy skillz. But yes, carrying on...) we were assigned to join the philosophers of the Symposium in their toasts to love and compose our own "toast to love".
Sounds simple enough, right?
Suddenly, we were half-way through the class period, when we found ourself entrenched in a raging debate over Pride and Prejudice. We were discussing chick flicks and Pride and Prejudice came up, and was roundly mocked by the majority of the boys-and one or two girls-in the class. Okay, alright, I can understand a young man taking one look at Keira Knightly and Matthew McFadyen making moon eyes at each other and saying: "Not for me, thank you very much. I'm going to watch Terminator 6." The movies' target audiences are-for the most part-women. They're not competing for Terminator 6's fan base.

But some of these students-both ladies and gents- had read the book, actually read Jane's glorious and satirical prose, and still didn't like it.
Worse than that, they dismissed it as fluff! One went so far as to claim that Lizzy marries Darcy for his money!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? How can the world tolerate such unbearable slander?!?

End of rant.

(Now you see how narrow-minded I am. I simply can't picture an intelligent human being reading Pride and Prejudice and not finding the value in it. I guess prejudice is one of my failings as well.)

Anywhoodles. Moral of the story: there persists this strange, sad stereotype of Austen's work-that it's too romantic, or gushy, or fluffy, or chick-lit. This was the stereotype that one William Deresiewicz had bought into up until he became a literature graduate student at Columbia University. Then, a beloved professor assigned the class to read Emma. And, slowly but surely, Mr. Deresiewicz fell in love with Miss Austen, and her delightfully witty characters. He discovered that her novels, with their simple and colloquial prose, are truly great books, written with the finest craftsmanship and a sharp insight into human nature, life, love, friendship, happiness, and virtue. The stuff that all the great works of literature deal with.

And then he wrote a delightful book about how he fell in love with Jane, Lizzie Bennet, and eventually with his own personal real-life Lizzie. It's called: A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter.
Read this book if you love Jane Austen- you will love this book. And everything he says will send shivers of delight through your soul.
Read this book if you hate Jane Austen-you'll realize the error of your ways and love her.
Read this book if you've never really gotten what the great fuss over Jane Austen is all about- you will get it.
Read this book if you've never heard of Jane Austen-you will want to make her acquaintance at once.

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."
--Jane Austen

Also, P.S. look at the list of incredible writers who also adore Austen. Heed their words.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

a Dorito full of nothing.

Once upon a couple summers ago, my friend Mara and I were both sitting in different chairs at different kitchen tables in different kitchens at different times.
But despite these differences, we had one thing in common: we both were poring through the Wall Street Journal "Summer Reads" section.
And in that section of the newspaper we the striking image of a turquoise book with a brilliant yellow slice of cake caught our eyes. As did the unusual, quirky-but-lyrical title "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake."

Good gracious, what a thought.
How could something so bright, and yellow, and sunshiny have a particular sadness to it?
How intriguing.

And there that sat. And I forgot about the book and went on with my life. Until, a couple weeks ago, I ran into the library to grab a book. And, then, on a whim, I ran to see if "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" was on the shelf.
And it was. And I read it. In approximately forty-eight hours.
It was a beautiful little read.
In a nutshell, the book is this:

Our hero-Rose Edelstein, age 9- can taste emotions in food. Her mother, a delicate and languishing free spirit, bakes a lemon cake that tastes empty. The frustrated college graduate, making baked goods for the local patisserie, creates cookies that are laced with rage. A girlfriend makes a sandwich for her boyfriend that is screaming for attention and love.

It's a fascinating concept, and I was intrigued by all the places that Rose's gift takes her. And
Rose herself is an utterly delightful heroine. Her mother describes her as a rainforest-lush and beautiful, needing great care and attention.
And her new-found insight into other people's emotions is both a gift and a burden. As Rose says: "Many kids, it seemed, would find out that their parents were flawed, messed-up people later in life, and I didn't appreciate getting to know it all so strong and early." Her ability to taste people's deepest and most secret emotions gives her a wisdom and a point-of view that's brutally honest and wise beyond her years.

There's a whole plot line involving Rose's older brother that came to a strange and rather befuddling conclusion. I suppose tasting other people's emotions in the food they bake is a far-fetched concept; but I bought it. And I didn't really believe the fate that eventually befalls her older brother. But it's a darling book, and definitely worth a read.
And just look how pretty it is.
Moral of the story:
Always judge a book by its cover.

Strength: Part III (Sisters, Sisters)

Antigone: resident bad*ss of Classical Greek Theatre
Remember that one time I promised to write a three-part series on womanly strength? 
Yeah, neither do I. 
Well, peeps, this blog post has been sitting in the "edit posts" box for a good while now. 
So it's time to let the poor thing see the light of day. 

Trees on a Margin of a Stream

"I am not made for hatred, but for love."

As soon as I read those words in Sophocles play, chills ran up and down my spine, and I instantly fell head over heels in love with Antigone. I was swept up into the drama of this beautifully fierce, stern woman fighting tooth and nail for her brother's honor. By uttering these wise and fateful words, Antigone is publicly declaring her own strength. She is issuing a bold challenge to Creon in the most audacious and public manner possible. Hers is not the wisest, nor maybe even the most loving course of action, but it creates thrilling drama. And from the moment she sets foot onstage, Antigone is enamored with her own sensational crisis. Through her enthusiasm for her own saga, we, her audience, are caught up by the dazzling spectacle as well. Antigone exudes power and strength; she thirsts for a glorious deed to perform; a dramatic death to die; an outstanding undertaking that the whole world will hear of; she hungers for hot deeds “that chill the blood” (5). But Antigone fails to live up to her self-proclaimed vocation to love.

Throughout Antigone, the themes of life and death are prevalent. Ismene, Antigone’s sister, represents life, while Antigone embraces death. Antigone often harps on death and the deceased. She speaks of her brothers, her father and mother, her family who are all dead and gone. She often describes these dead as her witnesses.
Ismene, on the other hand, is clearly more concerned about her sister-about her living family. She recounts with shame and horror the stories of her father’s and her mother’s death, and she calls her brothers “wretched”(4). Instead, Ismene is more concerned with Antigone’s life and Antigone’s well being. Antigone herself makes it emphatically clear by declaring, “We both have made our choices: life, and death” (17).

Throughout the first scene of the play, while Antigone is wrapped up in her righteous anger and building plans to restore Polyneices’ honor, Ismene attempts to counsel her passionate sister towards prudence. As Ismene sees it, the only tangible outcome of her sister’s rash law breaking will be Antigone’s death. She describes Antigone’s act of defiance as madness and hopeless. Antigone concedes that her act is folly, but she obstinately refuses to back down. Antigone lashes out at her sister, “Your words have won their just reward: my hatred” (5). Ismene manages to take these wounding words in stride. She responds at the end of the scene, “Remember, though your act is foolish, that those who love you do so with all their hearts” (5).

When she is facing Creon, Antigone valiantly declares, “I am not made for hatred, but for love” (16). While her act of service to her brother is certainly one of love, the hatred that she has demonstrated towards Ismene lessens the value of her words. Antigone grows hostile and frustrated with her sister in the first scene, and brusquely turns a deaf ear to Ismene’s genuinely concerned sisterly advice. And when Ismene stands up to Creon with her sister, Antigone brushes her aside. In fact, Antigone never truly demonstrates any love whatsoever towards Ismene. Although Antigone makes constant protestations of love for her dead brothers, she never mentions her love for her living sister.

But Ismene’s love for her sister is entire, unwavering, and selfless. When Creon condemns Antigone to death, Ismene is willing to share in her sister’s fate. While Antigone is still alive, Ismene fights for her and defends her. She tries to reason her out of her feckless endeavor to bury their brother. Despite her efforts, she only succeeds in angering her sister, but Ismene responds to Antigone’s anger not with a curse, but with a blessing. Antigone accuses Ismene of loving only in words. But that is precisely the opposite of what Ismene does. Ismene supports Antigone and like the most faithful of allies she never stops fighting for her. Constantly watching out for those she loves, Ismene does not seek glory for herself, but would rather seeks the safety of her beloved sister. Ismene demonstrates her own brand of redoubtable courage by holding onto life, holding onto hope.
Haemon, Antigone’s betrothed, makes this metaphor:

Trees on the margin of a stream in winter:
Those yielding to the flood save every twig,
And those resisting perish root and branch (21).

These two trees paint a perfectly analogous picture to the two sisters. Ismene has the tender and firm resilience that endures against all odds. She is a tree that bends with the tide. She will not fight the flood, and she emerges unscathed, with every twig intact. She will emerge the victor. Antigone has the fortitude to push back, to resist at all costs.. Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France, said "The most powerful weapon is the human soul on fire." And Antigone's soul is definitely on fire. Antigone is dedicated to her cause, and she will stop at nothing to accomplish it. She is pure iron. Unbending, unyielding. Terrifyingly sure she is in the right. Tragically, her courage fails her. She snaps.

Although Antigone has been racing towards death since the beginning of the play, when she finally arrives on death’s threshold her resolve weakens. She has lost the resolve that she once possessed. She mourns for herself as she approaches death. Her bravado has vanished. Antigone is truly afraid to die. She does not have the dignity to face an honorable death. Although previously she dismissed Ismene’s offer to die with her, she now moans, “No fellowship have I; no others can share my doom”(25). Her short life concludes in suicide, the most hopeless of all deaths. A portrait of determined strength throughout the play, when Antigone finally reaches the denouement, she snaps under pressure. Even the strongest tree can crack.

Antigone’s stubbornness and persistence serve her cause well, but they inevitably lead to her destruction. Antigone’s courage is commendable and impressive. But the raw passion of love, unchecked by wisdom, leads to folly. Boldly and fearlessly, Antigone stands up to Creon and that enrages him all the more. Her refusal to back down or budge even the slightest inch causes him to question his kingly authority and his manhood. Antigone is resolutely rooted in her cause. She will bury Polyneices, and absolutely nothing- neither an edict of the king nor the pleas of her sister- will stop her. What adds to Creon’s terror is Antigone’s audacious assertion that the Thebans all support her act of defiance. Creon claims, “All of these Thebans disagree with you”(15). Antigone retorts, “No. They agree, but they control their tongues” (15). Antigone will not be silenced; she will not hide in secrecy. When Ismene promises she will keep Antigone’s actions a secret, Antigone is quick to correct her. She commands Ismene to announce to the whole world what she means to do. Although the audience knows Antigone’s impending doom, her tragic fate does nothing to lessen the overwhelming force and fortitude of the tree in its prime.

Ismene’s resilient strength proves more enduring and courageous than the brittle force of Antigone’s passion. Ismene alone emerges from the events of the play unscathed. Her brand of strength lacks the splendor, the dramatic attraction, and the grandeur of Antigone’s bravado, yet hers rings the most true. Never does she renege on her word. She remains true to Antigone until the bitter end. She loves her sister with all her heart. She begs to die with her, to share in her fate. Ismene asks of Antigone, “What happiness can I have when you are gone?” (17) When Antigone refuses to let her share in her death, Ismene fights for Antigone’s life. Ismene’s love endures tide and time. She is the bending tree that will not snap.

Although she does not reap the glory and the fame that Antigone does, Ismene appears to be the stronger character. Antigone tells Ismene, “To love in words alone is not enough” (16). But Antigone is teaching her sister a lesson Ismene has mastered before her. Ismene does not make any pretensions or any show; she is a much less public figure than Antigone. Her sister takes front and center; the fiery monologues are for Antigone, not Ismene. But the few words Ismene does utter paint the delicate portrait of a wise young woman, one who is loyal, brave and honest. Ismene rises to her sister’s challenge, and proves that she is indeed not made for hatred, but for love.

Monday, August 1, 2011

StrangeLove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Loathe FIRP and FPDA

I couldn't have said it better myself.
Check out her Youtube Channel.

Isn't she hilarious? She's basically the next Jenna Marbles.
Am I biased towards her because she's my friend?
Or maybe not.
I'll let you decide.
And anywhoodles, isn't shamelessly promoting and plugging your friends what friendship is all about?
(I'm right.)