aruan: (maybe this is the time I won't)
Like everyone else this morning, I woke up to the new Delicious, a stunning example of what happens when you throw a bunch of money and developers at a problem that doesn't exist, while doing zero audience research to figure out how your service was being used. Having been largely out of fandom for about five years, when SGA was still The One Fandom and lived on LJ, before ToS fuckery and fannish migration and Delicious's role still in its infancy, the scope of what has been lost wasn't entirely clear to me until [livejournal.com profile] walkingshadow spent a good chunk of her day explaining it patiently through her seething rage.

But despite not having nearly as much invested in Delicious as most of you, the impact of its spectacular implosion is another setback on what is my already haphazard wade back into fandom. )

But even in this fragmented new world, Delicious seemed to be last place on the internet that everyone still went. The simplicity of its privacy settings was a revelation - things were either private or public; no friendslists, no filters, no barriers to fannish entry. Just click on a tag and lose yourself for a few hours. I'd venture that had to do a lot with Delicious's success in fostering what could arguably have been the largest fannish community space since the LJ schism (and why I have reservations about the picket fences evident in Pinboard's "introvert sharing" philosophy, though that seems to be where the fannish tide is drifting.) Delicious was accessible even to someone brand new to fandom, or someone like me who may as well be. Wasn't the reason we all used Delicious because it was a massive public park that all corners of fandom played in, where the little bold number of how many times something has been bookmarked meant something?

But what's done is done, and fandom has every reason to find a new berth. And hey, AO3 rose out of a dark moment too, so maybe this will all eventually be for the best. But as someone still trying to find her footing, this didn't help my already fragile grasp of the new fannish geography.
aruan: (did I leave the artifact on?)
"If you're a Muslim, why not be religious?" | The New York Times

A fascinating discussion of a complex issue, for which the participants suggested an overly simplistic solution.

The UAE is not a traditional Muslim country, even though officially 96 percent of its population practices Islam. Women drive, go shopping alone, many do not wear veils and most certainly do not get arrested for being with a member of the opposite sex not related or married to her. There is no religious police, families and singles mingle in every venue, and men flirt with women while driving on the highway. It's a pretty liberal atmosphere here, even by Western standards.

The American University in Cairo students took issue with a Times article that, among other points, said that bored, disadvantaged and disillusioned young Muslims are filling their lives with religious fervor instead. And, fine, that has holes as Osama bin Laden is heir to a fortune, but it's the latter part of their discussion focusing on religion's role in society that I can't stomach. They unanimously suggest that the government should operate by the tenets of Islam. Except some of them wear headscarves, and some don't, and one of the students gives a noncommittal answer as to whether these female colleagues were sinning because of that. Yet all of them claimed to be religious.

Do they not see the problem here? They're proposing to canonize a religion whose mandates they disagree on.

The freedom to choose what religion means to you and how you live your life in accordance with it is something that's only relevant on a personal level. But problems arise when attempting to choose one of the many interpretations thereof, even within a single religion, to impose on an entire population. I'm glad that these kids have found a liberal enclave in an increasingly conservative society and enjoy an enlightened, privileged vantage point from which to experience their religion, but that's not everyone's Islam. More than that, like seemingly every other religion on this planet, their holy book makes reference to killing nonbelievers. Should that be ordained? I'm just picking on an extreme example, but that concept is no less legitimate than women covering their hair if the criteria is, "What does the book say about this?"

I'm just saying that religions have books, yet even scholars who make a life of studying them don't always agree on its passages, let alone laypeople. Much like the Constitution of the United States, in fact, except I haven't heard of people killing each other in its name because that document says nothing of purging anyone, nonbeliever or otherwise. I'm not saying democracy is the answer - its track record is checkered at best - but I'm down with a malleable courts system, freedom of and from religion, and not having my fashion choices criticized with stoning.
aruan: (ulcers at 30 won't be a surprise)
Slate's review of Noise is the first I've heard of the new Tim Robbins flick about a Manhattanite who becomes obsessed with ridding the city of car alarms and faulty doorbells through vigilanteism with a baseball bat. I can sympathize on an abstract level - being able to sleep through the boys playing Rock Band four feet from the foot of my bed renders most other noise scenarios equally meaningless. I do, however, believe in jamming cell phones in classrooms and mandatory ring tone changes every two weeks if you work in an office with no vibrate-only policy, so there is a whole other world of noise pollution I lament.

Anyway, it's a real world story I wanted to write after this incident, but couldn't get the editors' support on it. It didn't help that the couple did not want to speak to me, likely on the advice of counsel, but I had more responses to that short story than most feature pieces. People hate noise, compounded by the fact that unlike lobbying their city council for a signal or stop sign at a dangerous intersection, they feel there is no recourse for loud cars. The police, when they do come out because often they don't bother, saying the offenders likely will have left by the time they arrive, either tell them to move along or give them a warning. Now, I understand being roused from sleep can lead to demands of capital punishment, but a "move along, sir" is hardly an acceptable compromise, too many nights of which allegedly led Mr. Hyde (no pun intended, but oh, the irony) to point a shotgun at his tormentors.

We're surrounded by noise all the time - ambulances, police sirens, iPods, children, cell phones, car alarms, muzack, elevator dings (can you tell the Ramee Garden has made me bitter?), car horns, air conditioners, radios, TVs, construction, etc. But how many of those very things can we live without? Granted, some of the ones we can't change, we can move away from - quiet streets, suburbs, cooler climates. God knows the world needs farmers, but moving to a spit of land in Idaho shouldn't have to be the solution. The movie, and Mr. Hyde, have a point, although a pair of noise-canceling headphones may do wonders for both?
aruan: (sometimes I just need to sit)
Coveting Thy Neighbor's Condo | The New York Times

I found this article fascinating. Maybe it's because of having spent the past three months in turns ogling the gorgeous, airy apartments that the first wave of employees to Abu Dhabi got, and staring longingly at their candle holders, wishing for any space of my own to have such a definitive home-indicating item. Maybe it's always having dreamed of living in New York, anywhere in any conditions as long as it was somewhere in the city, but knowing it'll never happen with the money even we as a couple make. Maybe because my mother was in the real estate business as a broker until about nine months ago when the Florida market all but disappeared overnight.

Or maybe the reason why all the wistful longing for a spa bathroom and Zen gardens drove me up the wall was that affording any sort of property slips further out of reach for an alarming number of people (myself included in most markets) every day. )

Or maybe all this is because I hate planned green spaces and am bitter about this apartment not having a single square inch of closet space.
aruan: (maybe this is the time I won't)
(Don't) correct me if I'm wrong | Spectatrix

I found an introvert's blog through a link from a link of a link, like you do when idly perusing the Intertubes, and this entry resonated with me particularly. I've always known I am an introvert, but had no idea that my panic mode at being criticized, coached or corrected had anything to do with it. When my old paper switched back-end editing systems I struggled with it, and Brandon couldn't understand why I snapped at him for coming over asking if I needed help, even when he only said it loudly enough for the person in the next cubicle to hear. I avoided labs (even French, which I want to speak fluently more than anything) in college because of the on-the-spot tension that made me rubbish at them anyway. Being perfect in public is not an option, it's an imperative, likely since introverts tend to be given fewer venues to impress others than the loud people at parties.
aruan: (where do I start where do I begin)
Unsold homes tie down would-be transplants | The New York Times

This is one of the things that has always freaked me out about home ownership, even before the housing market started plummeting downhill. What if I get laid off, or hate my job, or just get a really tempting offer somewhere else? I move there and pay rent or another mortgage while trying to get rid of a house? I couldn't afford that on any job in journalism. Owning a home is a very logical thing - equity, making an investment instead of having another expense, etc. But the commitment it signifies to an area and employer just make me cringe. I wonder how the newer generation of workers who have no intention of being with a single company in one city all their lives will change housing.

uh-oh

Feb. 21st, 2008 10:16 pm
aruan: (this is really happening)
Scientists predict when the world will end | University of Sussex/Fox News

The good news: This won't happen for another 7.6 billion years.
The bad news: Life on Earth will end long before then.


Even though everything I know and love will be long gone in a billion years, reading that story made me feel like something was slipping away.
aruan: (where do I start where do I begin)
I'm writing this down to remember why I WILL one day soon quit my job and find something else. I don't know what, but 24 is the perfect time to do what I have to do to find out.

After a brief visit home for various reasons yesterday, the first thing Brandon asked me when I came back is, "How's your mom?"

My mom. My amazing mother, who gave up her career to have me and my brother, who started her life over again twice (once in a new country with a different language), who wasn't ever afraid of anything is worried. About her job; her house, which has accrued a property tax bill she can no longer afford; my brother, who loves his girlfriend and is losing her to a job in Orlando soon; her (second) idiot ex-husband, who will never grow up and quite probably destroy himself in the process; being alone for the rest of her life.

My mother, who deserves every happiness and has had so little of it, is worried that, at age 50, she's done everything she's going to do.

There are a lot of things she never got a chance at, and I feel guilty that a large chunk of that was because of her having kids, then caring more about them more than herself by bringing us to the States. And I don't want that sacrifice to be wasted by settling for things in my own life.

I don't want to regret not doing something. I've got journalism, it's in my back pocket, but it's not what I want. At least not here. And continuing to stay here is doing a disservice to everyone involved, the job and Polk County.

It has its perks: decent pay, Brandon and I work together, health insurance. But what I want out of my job is something that is inherently in conflict with beat journalism - you make choices about what you cover, how long you follow a story, and there's never enough time for either. The job is also by nature passive - journalists are observers, and I don't do well on the sidelines if I care about something.

Oh, and I hate Lakeland, management is narrow-minded and ignores problems, my bosses are overworked without any opportunity for training, the hours make socializing impossible, and so on. The only problem with the unhappiness I feel is it comes in waves, and sometimes I believe it will disappear on its own somehow. But it's the things that would take - a mortgage, a kid, for the journalism market to tank any further - that will eventually tip the scale, because I don't want a house somewhere I hate, I can barely take care of myself let alone another human being, and if it comes to it I can start all over in another career or go back to school rather than be stuck doing this. Yes. That's what I need to remember.
aruan: (did I leave the artifact on?)
Confusing, mostly. He called this morning, and I went in to the office this afternoon when my shift would start to meet with him.

He seemed genuinely surprised that I wanted to leave, saying I was doing fine, that my writing style was direct and competent, and that everyone in journalism feels a step behind all their lives.

And that, right there, is the problem. )

And maybe quitting is a mistake, maybe I'm going to regret this so much when I have to beg my father for rent money as he berates my lack of commitment. But I think I'm going to work tomorrow and telling him to take our conversation as two weeks' notice.

[ETA: My unending gratitude to all of you who commented, seeming to think I can slay dragons or something. It's meant more than you know, even if I have to start my path to glory as a barista down the street.]
aruan: (big bang baby)
As a copy editor, at the end of the night I was frustrated and ready to snap the next time ATS told me a story I know fit two seconds ago is now short a line. By the next afternoon though, I was convinced none of it had been that bad.

As a reporter, at the end of the night I feel happy having produced something of value to the readers, a process that, thinking back on it, wasn't nearly as awful as I'd feared. By the next afternoon, I'm queasy with worry and stress that today's the day they'll call my bluff as a reporter and fire me on the spot because I hate making phone calls and don't know the routine and can't be aggressive or sympathetic enough to talk to lying officials and victims' families in the same 20 minutes.

Which I'm not, but what will happen if it does? A college degree and three years in a newsroom later, I still don't know what to say to comfort grief and tell when someone's lying to me. Yeah, wrong profession I'm entrenched in here much?

see icon

Jan. 16th, 2007 02:04 am
aruan: (maybe this is the time I won't)
Has something ever gone wrong in your life without any real indication that anything was amiss?

It did in mine today, and the whole thing might just be a big metaphor for what may happen to me if I remain in this reporting job. )

So what do I do? Keep the good parts in the forefront of my mind, remind myself that I'll get used to it and things will get easier? How long will that take, if it'll happen at all? And will I see the effects in oh, an ulcer or breakdown?

After all, as I learned today, an engine that's run out of oil, even otherwise perfect, can't function for long. And was neglecting my car, thinking everything was fine because there were no real signs it wasn't, any different than what I'm pushing myself to just grit my teeth and get through?
aruan: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] walkingshadow is a good friend to me and lo, there were Rodney McKay icons in my mailbox today. I've decided that if McKay were to own T-shirts with himself on them, this would definitely be on the laundry pile, soft and worn and frayed at its hems.

So I figure, what better way to break it in than with a good rant.

Speaking of icons, something that really grinds my gears: tiny text. )

IMHO, as a member of that bourgeois. As proof, I will now return to my lunch of unfrozen arepa and instant coffee.
aruan: (Default)
I suppose there's something to be said for his even returning my call. I really did leave him a rather curt message - "Hey, bum, it's me, here's a number, do what you want with it" aren't exactly words to melt hearts. But he knows me, he knows when my sarcasm is all I can manage to keep a straight face, and he humors me back but understands when it's important. I know him the same way. The disturbing thing though is I can now see why couples who have been together for a long time get married not necessarily out of love, but because they feel like the other knows them so well and their rapport has so much history behind it that there's no point starting over with a perfect stranger when there's comfort and security to be had there.

God, I need a life. I'm beginning to romanticize the unfulfilling dramas of the past. What am I thinking? What was I thinking? How did this boy go from being my passion to my sorrow to my antagonizer to the one person whose arms I want around me, telling me all will be well and that he is here and still loves me, because damned if I still love him. But we're back to the question of is that really what I need, or is it what i think would be the ultimate but ultimately flawed solution?

Maybe we really were meant for each other. no one should have to tolerate our sad sad problematics, our fumbling, bumbling, attempting with the utmost ungrace to merely live life, not to even mention make a relationship work. neither one of us is good at it. i push them away (to protect them or me?), he's constantly testing their loyalty. I do wonder sometimes if we could make any sort of friends. Then I think about how right it felt once, how wrong it felt later, and how confusing it's become since. The one thing I do want though is to know how he's doing. More specifically, I want to know how he's living life without me. Is he happy? Is he making it work with someone else? How?

The one thing that always struck people about us was how utterly different we are, how we could possibly find even common ground to walk on; and yet, the one thing I always marveled at was how well we fit together, how we complemented each other. Maybe that was the problem - we both needed help, and only he was getting it while still continuing to drain me otherwise. But I loved him, I did, and was happy to give, for the first time be the strong one and not merely hide behind a facade and pretend I was; but a part of me needed holding, nurturing, loving, and he was too busy figuring out new ways to assure I was completely invested in only him. And that's fair, given where he's coming from - but he neglected to see that I needed the same from him, and that's what finally broke us apart was his refusing to return the sacrifice. But I loved him and that's why I made that phone call. In time, I'll have my answers. And if nothing else, I'll always have a thousand moments and memories no one can ever deny. And perhaps more importantly, I'll move on.
aruan: (Default)
Here's my paradox: It would be relatively easy to get myself into a situation where I could have any of the aforementioned - but are those things going to make me happy? Will getting drunk, which my development or Shannon can easily facilitate, do? No, proper company and entertainment are essential for the enjoyment of that inane state of mind. Clubbing? Never was much for it without entourage to buffer the leches.

[sigh] Is it because of my hapless tendency to feel out of place no matter where I end up?
aruan: (Default)
This Sunday will see the sunrise of my 19th year on this we're finding out less and less grandiose planet Earth. It will mark yet another milestone on the road of my life, a new number to write on paperwork to be stereotyped by, to chalk up mistakes to, and justify duly deserved rights. Not that 19 is a big year. Well, disregard the part where I moved out on my own, started my freshman year in college, opened my own bank account, started doing my own laundry, went solo for wholly unstructured grocery shopping...

All right, I suppose you can't quite yadda yadda over all that. But all those things pale in comparison to the fact that 19 is the last '-teen' year, which was oh so callously pointed out to me as being a year before 20. What a notion to have in the back of your mind when your conscious faculties are busy trying to choose a major, understand calculus, meet new people, figure out a career, seek out volunteering opportunities, and desperately attempt to decide on a goal to work toward so you're not driving yourself crazy with thoughts of insignificance and pointlessness.
aruan: (Default)
God knows I understand the desire to kiss someone, just to connect on that level even if it is only for a single moment and there's everything to lose and nothing but confusion and pain to gain - in the next. But for that instant, you're freefalling, lost in the sensation of emotions you long to share but have no one to do so with. So physical experience suffices. Life imitates art and in being able to enact the ethereal within, it almost becomes immaterial whom you do what with; the feeling is so good, finally releasing those otherwise wonderful emotions that have been eating away at your soul like demon parasites feeding on your life energy so that you yourself become art, part of the background... how do these emotions fester to such suffering? When does not being able to love become a consumption?

Loving someone hurts. Being in love is near unbearable. Yet not being able to share love seems to grab and twist at your real and figurative innards stronger and tighter and with more relentless fury than anything else could possibly hope to match. How ironic that millions of years of evolution and adaptation can be brought to its knees by a simple hormonal imbalance manifested within and induced by the -mind-, the apex of everything that has happened since the beginning of time and space. Maybe my brain is my tragic flaw.

Can't live with it,...

I lead a strange and morbidly beautiful dichotomy.
aruan: (Default)
I'm beginning more and more to subscribe to the "bittersweet symphony" theory of life, minus the grace and timing that go into crafting such a grandeloquent piece. But the modifier is dead on, and the poetic justice served to us all is enough of a masterful tactic on the part of the universe at large that comparing it to Tchaikovsky's finest is not entirely unmerited.

It's all very beautiful in its tragedy, this whole secret liason swirling about us, the wisps of smoke barely there when we speak or accidentally brush as we walk, curling around our hearts and minds with every glance or word - we give away snippets of our secrets every time we're together, yet the one thing we can't seem to reconcile or even allude to in conversation is the thing we long the most to. Bring on self-actualization, world conquest, the past, present, and future of this pitiful race of humanity; but in matters of our hearts, the words lingering just on the tips of our tongues waiting to leap out and take form in the air are denied liberation.

I suppose, in some way, this whole torturous affair can be viewed somehow as retribution for my own callous and foul treatment of James. Perhaps it has more to do with some other karmic debt I dug myself into on any number of occasions. But this is a lot. Maybe even too much - I haven't ever loved anyone like this, and he's usurping my trust, desecrating what I'd considered sacred (our connection), and breaking my heart one gesture at a time.

Is it karma? Is it Mason? Is it me? Or is it the simplest explanation after all, the one I first put forth when this whole mess began, that it is him, and he doesn't care? Oh I could be capable of fitting reciprocation if properly inspired, and if he keeps treading on my heart, body, and soul like this, he'll be sorry. He'll rue the day he ever thought to look me in the eyes or crave my flesh. But I can't bring myself to risk that 5-7% margin of error that remains - I can't hurt him, yet I'm dying inside as we speak.
aruan: (Default)
I thought I left the guys kind of abruptly and quite rudely. I mean, it had partially been due to the very legitimate reasons that I felt tired and the progressive souring of things between James and I and having the object of my crush in the same room and knowing that he harbors no such reciprocating emotions for me - it was all enough to make a girl take a gun to the next person who so much as looked at her the wrong way. In any event, all that aside, I do normally enjoy their company regardless of surroundings and extenuating circumstances - those three can be quite the entertaining bunch. However, something about the day at large had been building within, and I found myself saying the words and leaving the scene in just such a manner.

And I realized my actions only as I was driving home. I felt guilty - they hadn't done anything to deserve neither my sudden exit nor my curt words on the matter of their current fascination. They had been messing around on this new fractal program for the past week, creating images out of mathematical equations with a myriad color, texture, shape, warp, and manipulating ability, which they were now eagerly showing RJay and I, who were slightly less than amused. But as RJay started playing with it, he also became sucked into it - yet the only thing I was feeling as I watched them, listening to their excited talk and watching the world zoom in and out and swirl by a simple application of a formula and a click of the mouse, was utter boredom. I mean, some of the designs were indeed gorgeous and amazing to look at - but nothing about either the creation process or the end result particularly grabbed me. So after about two hours of it, I had to step out lest be bored to tears. As I got in the car and cranked up Fatboy Slim louder than anyone's eardrums in a closed cabin should have to endure (the loudness obliterates thought), I drove home feeling not only that I had obviously missed out on a common bond, but also that I've somehow injured the ones already forged. With these gloomy thoughts I kept going, mostly on autopilot, lost in the ocean of music pulsing in my brain and the heavy feeling in my heart until I rounded the corner to get me onto Stirling Road from Palm Avenue, whereupon I suddenly found myself driving into the relatively unobstructed view of the sunset horizon stretched all along the road ahead of me. And as I sat in total awe, once again humbled by nature's talent with a paintbrush, I remember something James had said when he first booted up the fractal program that resonated within me: he was playing with the zoom feature and telling us how he could keep on zooming in almost infinitely and how it made him feel a little like God, watching the tiny universes within universes emerge and change under his control. And for a moment, the clouds, the sky, the setting sun, the trees lining the median and the asphalt road ahead of me all became the same sort of mathematical creation, a series of variables and operations making the world possible, like Neo's vision at the end of "The Matrix." I blinked in surprise and the math was gone; however, the feeling of awe and surreality lingered long after I'd pulled into my driveway. And for the next half hour, I remained deeply immersed in that moment, recalling it, the fractals, the excitement of the guys and why I had reacted so harshly to it all.

It dawned on me, in that all of a sudden, where there had been muddled confusion and pieces of a scattered whole was now being obliterated by the glaring light of high noon; and everything made sense. The fractals, while they had been nice to look at, intriguing in their forms and processes, possessed unto themselves no inner light that the spark of life creates, no inherent beauty; only the cold, (ha! How ironic: science girl finds math cold and, for lack of a better word, calculating) detached firmness of its rules and principles, its order of operations and inverse ratios. Its pretention annoyed and outraged me; it's coldness burned my skin and wounded the divine ground within. How dare it imitate the real, assume to know its workings and method, pretending to be alive and dynamic yet so limited in its range and scope? How dare it assume the properties of life, that deeply mysterious and wholly magical force animating every living thing? How dare it masquerade as beauty? Like we were saying today in English, art is supposed to elicit emotion - looking at those fractals, I felt almost disgusted by their mockery of the beauty that true art embodies. And the fact that they were taking such joy in it - I was disconcerted before I even recognized it as such. And all I could think of were the great works of art, of true beauty I had encountered in my life - Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, Chuck Palahniuk's "Fight Club," the launch of a space shuttle, Olympic figure skating - and here they were, wasting their time in adoration of what is essentially tantamount to a false idol, and love them as I might I simply could not stay in the same room with them a moment longer. I thought about writing, of the sheer ecstasy of finally discovering the perfect word or elusive synonym seeming almost negligibly different in the spectrum of meaning, yet somehow an infinitely better fit. I know the workings of grammar and, I'd like to think, possess a well-honed command of a sizeable vocabulary... then again, looking at it that way, one can easily draw the parallels between their computer program and my glorified calligraphy. The difference? The well-written word can wring from me a thousand tears or arouse the most satisfying happiness, whereas these fractals bred nothing but contempt for the travesty they were - lifeless, soulless numerals in sequence, no heart or mind, just aligning themselves to form even bigger mountains of blasphemy.

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