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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Disclaimer I guess

It's been a long time since I've posted regularly on my blog. It's been so long, in fact, that I feel like a radically different person than I was when I used to post regularly (I'm more radical, so that was a pun...). Some of these changes have already been mildly apparent in some of my specific blog posts, but I've been wanting to do sort of an overhaul of my blog, and look back at previous blog posts I've written and edit them to be consistent with who I am now. That's going to be a lengthy process, though, as I have tons of blog posts and have had this blog for years. I've been putting of the process of getting back into blogging because of that need to edit my blog daunting me. So, in order to take something off my plate, but still be able to potentially get back into something that I really enjoyed doing and found really helpful, I just wanted to write a weird sort of disclaimer that post-2016 me is a very different person than pre-2016 me, so if anything I've said in the past is offensive to you, I apologize, please let me know, I would like to fix it both on my blog and in my own self. I want to continually educate myself and be a better person who is more open-minded, loving, and culturally responsive. So just know in the mean time before I get a chance to retroactively edit my blog to represent my stances better, that I myself cringe when I read past blogs of mine and I'm sure I've said offensive things. I apologize, and I'm working on doing better, and even if I do start posting things on this blog again, that in itself is not an endorsement of things I've already said on this blog.

Friday, April 27, 2018

A quick and dirty ;) review of dirty computer

As much as I wish I had been better about blogging regularly in the past months, I'm going to set aside the stress I feel over feeling like I'm falling behind on things that aren't essential. I've had a lot going on and it's been a while since I've blogged. Oh well. But what I want to say seemed important enough to me to pick back up the hypothetical pen. As the title says, this will be short, though - shorter than our queen, Janelle Monae, really deserves, - although in all honesty, all the reviews of Janelle Monae's new masterpiece Dirty Computer that have already been written say it all. What I'm adding is just the story of my personal experience and how I've come to a place where I can recognize Janelle Monae's glorious genius.
     I've been thinking about posting the visual experience Dirty Computer: an Emotion Picture on Facebook with the caption, "I didn't even know it, but my whole life has been leading up to this moment." (I haven't even watched it yet. I'm saving it for the end of the night when I'm done with responsibilities for the day.) Without having even seen it yet, I know that statement is true. But if I post that without explanation, it'll sound humorous, and I honestly mean it. My whole life has been preparing me for being someone who adores Janelle Monae as she has shown her true self to the world in Dirty Computer. If she had come out as pan-sexual as few as a couple years ago, I hate to say it, but I would probably have been disappointed and my idolization of her would have gone down. She's been a musical icon and fashion inspiration to me for many years now, but I've only recently really started to overcome my deep-seated homophobia, a consequence of various conservative religious influences throughout my life. Also, in the words of ways I've begrudgingly described myself before, most people in the world would probably think of me as a prude (I don't like the label, and in many ways don't see it as accurate, but I do think gets the picture across.) Heck, when Janelle Monae's song Yoga came out I was incredibly skeptical, and now I'm completely on board with every song on Dirty Computer.
     I'm proud to say that I have become a person who throughout the whole release process of Dirty Computer has never considered wavering in my love of Janelle Monae and appreciation of her unprecedented musical genius. She's not just a musical icon and fashion inspiration anymore. She's also a "free-ass motherfucker" who's a powerful advocate for herself and all people treated as other. I'm proud to look up to her.
     In other words, listen to and watch Dirty Computer.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Frustrated by Square One

     I haven't blogged or journaled significantly for a long time but something has been weighing on me for a while. (A lot of things have been weighing on me. They'll all come out at some point. Honestly they're all the same thing. I've talked about it before and this is the same topic. It's all related, and as a meta-point, the fact that it's all related makes me more annoyed. This will make more sense if I start at the beginning of what I want to say but sometimes language doesn't happen that way. I'm going to talk about how frustrated I feel that I'm back at square one and metacognitively, the fact that I have to write another blog post on the topic of my frustration with current events and how to be an activist is illustrative of being at square one again.) But what I will mean is that I feel I'm at square one in a slightly different way- with regards to my social skills.
     I have come a long way since I was a kid in a lot of ways. It's important I remind myself of this because I'm definitely still struggling and crazy awkward and I can get super disheartened at the way I seem to still not be able to interact socially in ways I consider normal. But I have to remind myself of the things I can do now that would have crippled me in middle school. And I have so many friends and family members to thank for that which is a topic for another time. (But huge thanks to my parents and so importantly my best friend who literally punched me when I said self-deprecating things and would you believe it? That worked. I don't know that I recommend it to others but I do know you need a friend who cares enough for you to call you out.) Anyway, sure I still say embarrassing things almost daily that keep me awake at night and ruin my showers when they pop in my brain sometimes years later. Yes I still want to crawl in a hole or never interact with some purple ever again after I embarrass myself. But it's happened enough that I can just put it behind me and not care to some extent. I'm getting closer to being this awesome badass I've always wanted to be who lives her life without caring for what other people think. But I feel like I'm back at square one because I've never had a political aspect of my personality until recently. When politics came up in middle school I would calm the situation and change the topic because "I didn't like talking about politics," and I didn't want to have a debate, which we all know is the only outcome of a discussion about politics. (There's some sarcasm in that statement. Some.) Now I do the same dang thing.
     ...for slightly different reasons, but still. Now it's because, despite the fact that I care deeply about many issues of politics (and the many associated topics I never realized were associated in middle school - e.g., social justice, civil rights, equity, etc.) and consider it of utmost importance to engage in these conversations, I am terrified beyond words to espouse my opinions. I was having a really difficult time today figuring out why this is but I think it's come to me. I don't think the majority of the reason is because of fear of physical negative consequences that would come if I spoke up. This is almost certainly part of my fear, but it doesn't seem to be most of it, partly because yes, I am privileged in many ways that keep me relatively safe, and partly because I'm uninterested in the quality of my own life if I'm not improving the lives of those with less privilege than I have. That latter thought may not be healthy. I'm not sure yet. I do think it's understandable and reasonable but I don't know that it's a great reason to be unafraid of being hurt for speaking up. But that's beside the point. I don't think that's why I can't get my voice to say what I want it to. I know it's because of my fear of social alienation. But that explanation alone wasn't good enough for me today. If I've come so far in so many other social aspects with getting over that fear, why is it back for this? I think it's because I don't feel informed enough to enter any discussions about politics.
     I'm trying to fix this by becoming more informed. I've finally caved and gotten twitter (so I think I now have every mainstream social media one can have which I was so trying to avoid) as a way of keeping up on news, because nothing else has worked yet. However, I know this won't be enough to fix the problem. It's impossible to keep up on the news of every important issue right now. There's too much to be fully informed on everything to a level where I would feel comfortably expert enough to speak up. And there's people all around me using their voices to state their opinions, acting confident when they have less or worse information than I have. So what am I to do?
     This is an open question to which I'm still figuring out the answer. What I know for now is that I need to voice my opinions because they are different and it's scary. The world needs to hear a variety of opinions and stories. Also a way that I can have greater confidence in sharing my stories is basing them in my life experiences and those of my loved ones. I'm sort of looking at my area of informational expertise the same way I think of my research expertise- qualitative research or case studies are the way I best analyze the world. I know this still entails some hard (for me) work moving forward of getting to know more people and learning their stories, but I think it makes more sense for me to do than trying to fully understand and be current on every new piece of legislation, primed and ready to debate at any time. That's not how I function. I'm trying to learn other ways to state what I think is right and stand up for people who need support.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Vixx Shangri La Album Review

When I first got into K-pop about a year and a half ago (wow, it seems so long ago), the only Vixx song I really listened to was Chained Up. I really liked Chained Up and frankly now can't remember why I didn't get more into Vixx at the time. I think during the Kratos era, I heard The Closer and saw those hot concept photos with the lace blindfolds but I didn't love The Closer (at the time) as much as Chained Up, so I still didn't get into them. Honestly, deciding to stan a group is something for me where the stars just have to align so I just fall into a black hole of obsession.
     This comeback did that for me. Several YouTubers I like reacted to Shangri La, and I watched some of their videos without even having heard the song yet but immediately decided I should check out the music video. I loved the video from the start, and my love for the song snuck up on me. The video is reminiscent of Taemin's Sayonara Hitori, and the concept is just so good for Vixx, and the use of the fans in the dance is awesome. The back of my mind told me that I would just enjoy the cool video and wait for a better time in life to fully discover a new group (to which life said, "ha!"). However, I had heard a lot about how good the whole album was so I thought, "What the heck, I'll just listen to the album" (not at all expecting to memorize all their names in one day and let Vixx consume my life). As soon as Into the Void started, I knew I was a goner. I still thought at this point that I wouldn't memorize all the names yet (the turning point where I irrevocably fall into a fandom's black hole). I had figured out who Ken, Ravi, and Leo were and was leaning towards Ken being my bias. I thought Hyuk and Hongbin looked too similar for me to keep them straight, and N was creeping into my awareness. All of a sudden, I just kept listening to their album over and over again and looking up color coded lyric videos to figure out who I was who, and now I'm head over heels for this group.
     My official bias is now Leo, but Ken is the bias wrecker. For my first blog post in ages, I just wanted to talk a bit about why this album is so great. I don't write album reviews often, and there's tons of albums I love that I wish I had reviewed, but sometimes, it's just about the stars aligning. Without further ado,

Favorite song from the album:
Into the Void
     This just barely beats out Shangri La (with To Us and Black Out following closely behind - so the whole album...). What I personally think Vixx does best (although they have a wide range in their musical genres and concepts) are dark concepts and songs that are melodically beautiful, sweepingly epic, and give you chills at the choruses. By this I mean the songs that sound like they belong in a movie soundtrack. Even if they don't incorporate classical music - strings and pianos and such, they sound like they do. Other Vixx songs I would describe this way are Fantasy, Eternity, and absolutely the best song ever, Beautiful Liar. This is why Into the Void grabs me so much. It's so dark and smooth, but then the chorus picks up and carries me away.

Thoughts on the music video:
     Other artists wish they were Vixx. This is the best piece of artwork I've seen since Sayonara Hitori (putting Blood, Sweat, and Tears in a different category of artwork). Leo looks fierce. The fan dance moves and their use in transitions between members are epic. Ken just sits there and slays. N waves the fan in such perfect time with the music that it belongs in one of those Buzzfeed posts of satisfying gifs for OCD people. Water dancing is always a good idea!! Forget Kylie Jenner's lip routine or whatever, can I hear how Ken has such nice lips? Ravi looks like a character out of a sageuk drama, and he also looks fierce. Hyuk is underrated but slays in this video and song. This video is simply a masterpiece.

Songs that almost made favorite:
     I think this album is a single sitting kind of album, so I really want to talk about every song, but I don't love 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 enough to have much to say about it besides that it's very pretty. Shangri La is maybe my second favorite song. The use of the traditional sounds and instruments in a very Vixx style song (I never know how to describe genres - they just have a sound) fits so well, not to even mention how well the visual concept fits them too. This song also illustrates perfectly another favorite musical skill of Vixx's: they have so much detail in their songs. There's so many different parts, harmonies, improvisations, and riffs all happening together and at different times that it makes the song very interesting. Next, To Us is pretty much like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 but it resonates with me more. Hongbin and Hyuk sound so good starting the song off, and when N comes in with his smooth as honey voice, I just die, and then the chorus hits and I feel my soul lift out of my body for heaven. Then, Ravi and Hongbin's alternating singing part just kills me. (Apparently I die and am brought back many times while listening to this album...) When rappers sing, I swear it always reinforces why the rapper is almost always my bias. Honestly, he's almost my bias in Vixx, too. Ravi's voice reminds me of T.O.P.'s when he raps and sings, which is a great thing because I love T.O.P, and at the same time Ravi is still very unique. The harmonies and the way the song flows and moves just make it so ethereally beautiful and calming. Lastly, everyone online seemed to be freaking out about Black Out, but I just wasn't on board right away. It's the kind of song I'm likely to love, because of its funky vibe, and I do love it, but because of Shangri La I was in the mood for the dark, melodic type of song, like Into the Void, so Black Out was lower down for me ...until I saw the comeback stage. Whoo boy. My favorite part of the song was already Ravi's rap, and live he slayed me. Also, the accompanying dance is great. The leg move is awesome, but I also really like how parts of the dance are incredibly fluid and graceful rather than overtly sensual, so they add an unexpected element to the song. Also, of all the songs on this album, this is the one that will be stuck in your head on end.

Recommended further listening:
By Vixx:
Similar to Shangri La and Into the Void:
Eternity
Fantasy
Beautiful Liar
Desperate
Similar to Black Out:
Chained Up
Milky Way
The Closer
Dynamite
By other artists; similar to Shangri La:
Lullaby by Dreamcatcher
Sayonara Hitori by Taemin
The Eye by Infinite
Hate by 4Minute

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Age old debate: is blorange actually a different hair color than rose gold?

I don't actually know the answer to that. I'm not even sure if blorange hair means blood orange or blonde orange. I've heard that blorange might be warmer than rose gold, but that doesn't actually make sense to me given the names. If it means blood orange, it seems pretty similar to rose gold. If it means blonde orange, isn't it just peach? Most important question of all, does it matter?
     Maybe it does matter if you go to the hair salon to get your hair done and need to describe what you want, but I just do my own hair and probably won't get what I want anyway so why try to describe it beforehand. Better to just throw some colors together, see what happens, and then name it, right?
     So, despite the ages it's been since I've posted anything and the actually important things I could write about (and the homework I should be doing but am not (what's new?), I have decided to contribute to a need the internet has: that of needing more posts, pictures, videos, etc. about semi-permanent dyes on unbleached hair. I am a commitment-phobe who's also terrified of hurting my hair, so when I want to change my hair (a.k.a always) but without cutting it (because I swear I'm trying to grow it out!) I have started to use semi-permanent dye which I only recently discovered. But I don't want to bleach my hair first, so I wanted to see pictures of the dyes on unbleached hair, but really being a redhead, I wanted to see pictures on natural red hair. It is so hard to find this, Searching anything involving the words "natural red hair" gets you results on how to get natural-looking fake red hair. (Funnily enough, in the past, I would laugh at people trying to do that, but I managed to accidentally enhance my red hair in an apparently subtle and somewhat natural looking way as you can see and judge for yourself.)
     Anyway, several months ago I put Manic Panic Atomic Turquoise on the tips of my hair which was fun, but did not look turquoise. Understandably, gold tones in one's hair make blue colors look green apparently. I got this still really pretty emerald green kind of color. Another lesson learned, though, when that fades, it sort of turns mossy green, and that never leaves.

Recently applied:

















Faded:

















And now for what I just did, I mixed La Riche Directions Carnation and Mandarin and put it on top of hair on which I had used John Frieda's lightening spray a few times (it didn't change my hair much, which is probably because I don't blow dry).



















As you can see, it didn't turn out super bright, which I'm partly thankful for, since the colors were really bright in the bottles, and I was a little worried. I love it though, and it is essentially like the blorange pictures I saw and was inspired by. I wanted a little more pink, though.
     I used about 6 parts pink to 1 part orange. The orange went a long way. And I still have some orange left but I used all the pink. So that's something to keep in mind about La Riche Directions - it comes in smaller bottles. It's cheaper, but I think that's why. In the future, I would use even more pink, and I would have to buy more in order to do that. In terms of my opinions of the two brands, we'll see how the La Riche lasts, but I liked both a lot. I think I'd recommend Manic Panic more, but the colors I used were so different, it's unfair to compare too much. I liked that the Manic Panic had more in it, and it foamed on my hair more in a way that made it seem like the color took more. Neither bled much, and both made my hair soft, shiny, and curly. Oh yeah, I left the La Riche on for about three hours and the Manic Panic for maybe six or so. I hope any other redheads who want to add some color to their hair find this post and find it somewhat helpful!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holding Tension

A little over a year ago, I walked past an office on my campus with a Black Lives Matter sticker on the window. I try not to make judgments on issues I know little about (so most issues,) and I recognize that I do a terrible job of being aware of the outside world during the college academic year. However, even agnostics tend to lean toward a side on an issue. A small voice in the back of my brain (the smallness of which I may exaggerate in hindsight) said, "...but all lives matter," and thought how overly liberal my school was for having people who thought it was important to hang up that sticker. Now, under two years later, I would proudly wear a Black Lives Matter shirt littered with safety pins if I could muster the courage and felt that was my duty. At the very least, I am now trying to be a white ally. What changed? What does it mean for my life moving forward? What can I share with others about my transforming journey?
     First of all, I think I am in a unique position of either being outcast from every group in which I used to be comfortable or else be able to speak to people with radically different opinions and empathize with people from a range of backgrounds. This is because I have had the gift of thinking a range of thoughts (as evidenced in part by my story above,) as well as the gift of talking to a decently wide range of people and being taught immense empathy.
     I sometimes wish I had chosen to be a music major. I have a strong voice, love singing, and can't imagine I would ever tire of the work to study music or grow fatigued in my academic journey. (Now the difficulties of finding a job would provide a different set of stress, I acknowledge.) I also sometimes wish I had chosen to go to a larger, technical, research institution, where my education may have better prepared me in some sense for graduate school. My point is that I chose a difficult path for myself and question it frequently. Yet when I fantasize of a different life path, I realize how grateful I am for the life lessons my time as a physics major at my school have taught me - lessons that transcend physics.
     Learning physics at SPU has inherently exposed me to important life lessons simply due to a set of awesome teachers with deep pedagogical and metaphysical commitments. It has also led to me getting involved in Physics Education Research, a progressive field with a lot of potential to address systemic world issues. In Quantum Mechanics, I learned that because the world exists on a quantum level to some extent, there is space for free will and random happenings not necessarily preordained. In Thermodynamics, I learned that miracles don't have to conflict with science, because there is a tiny chance of many outcomes that simply "never" happen due to their low probability, although they could. In Special Relativity, I learned that the question of what the path to truth is might be the wrong question since there could be multiple truths. In Faith and Science, I learned that God may have used the long time between the Big Bang and Earth's Creation waiting for stars to die and create the elements necessary for us to live. We are literally made of stardust. In Pedagogy, I learned about growth mindset, the idea that intelligence is based on hard work rather than some inherent property of a human being. At the Women in Physics conference, I learned that implicit bias is a real phenomenon operating in all of us and influencing our interactions without our consent. All of these lessons have culminated to make me who I am today -  a person who is a stronger Christian because of her intellectual knowledge and journey, and a person who is deeply committed to caring for individual people and going above and beyond to right the historical wrongs against underrepresented or marginalized groups.
     As everything I've said so far makes clear, a huge number of factors have made me who I am now. Some of the easiest factors to remember, though, are those with which I struggled. I remember about two years ago, my Pedagogy teacher talking about "holding tension." I was (ironically, as you'll see) quite uncomfortable with this phrase and rather confused about what it meant. I have since encountered it in a few different places though with some slight changes in wording. The way I understand it now is in kind of the light of Greek Orthodoxy. Greek Orthodox Christians in many theological respects have a very sound belief system, because they acknowledge two seemingly contradictory facts and accept them at the same time. I think this is part of the essence of God, and part of why God is so unfathomable. In much the same way that I am reconciling that math problems having to do with infinity make "no sense" to me but I can still solve them and use them, I need a certain level of accepted confusion about God to come as close as possible to understanding God. That type of thing is what I think it means to "hold tension."
     However, even though I think I understand the concept now, it's difficult to consistently implement. Right now, I'm faced with a lot of tension that I'm having trouble holding, even though when I step back and try to use my reason, I see the good in the two things that are in tension. One such example is my current difficulty to be "open-minded," by which I mean loving, caring, non-judgmental, listening, and a good friend, to both the people who feel threatened by Trump's presidency as well as those who voted for him. I read an interesting article from University of Chicago's website the other day on the phenomenon that our culture is presented as a very open-minded one, but that it actually isn't open-minded to conservative ideas. When I read this, I understood both sides, because there are groups in which I'm the conservative and don't feel comfortable or welcomed and there are groups in which I'm the liberal who doesn't welcome the conservative ideas. That's only part of the tension, though. The main part of the tension is how to be open-minded to ideas that can harm another person's well-being. My friend said the other day that though she's not unhappy about the outcome of the election, she's unhappy that people are assuming things about her because she was interested in Trump (I don't remember if she said she voted for him or not. That's beside the point.) The point is that I love her. She's a person that I care about. I don't want to be a bad friend, and in what I'll call ordinary circumstances - whatever that means - I would consider it being a bad friend to dishonor her wishes and disrespect her by assuming things about her that she considers untrue simply because of one label which could be applied to her. That situation is exactly the problem that happens to underrepresented and marginalized people groups. They are judged negatively and unfairly by a single label. However, in this specific circumstance, she is not the underrepresented party or the minority. She is part of the majority, the group that won. Additionally, my assumption is that she's upset about having people assume that she's "racist." I think she is not a racist, but she is in some sense racist. Racism is more of a systemic issue that we all contribute to, rather than something that a set of evil people engage in (not to say that there aren't evil, racist individuals.) In that sense, there are ways she contributes to racism.
     It is with this kind of behavior and friend that I am struggling with holding tension. How do I remain a loving friend to people with different opinions than mine that may be harmful? Do I have a place to educate people on any of these issues? How can I make it clear that I genuinely love my friends but also want to point out to them room for improvement?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Preferential Option for the Poor

I am so glad that people grow and change and alter their opinions on things from time to time, because I have thought some dumb things in the past. My past post on International Women's Day is not technically wrong, but it's stupid to say that there's no point to a day reminding people of the importance of treating women with the same respect as men. International Women's Day is important in the same way Black History Month is important. I used to think that ending inequality meant treating everyone with equal respect, and someday it will mean that. In the meantime, I've come to realize that it's going to take some preferential treatment for the marginalized. (You may notice that sounds similar to the Catholic liberation theology phrase that says God has a preferential option for the poor.) I think from the moment I heard that saying a few years ago, I agreed with it, but only recently have I understood the extent of its importance.
     I'm doing my physics senior project on a very exciting topic that's deeply important to me: the question of what professors are doing to promote diversity and equity in their physics classrooms and how to make those actions even more prevalent and successful across the board. From the standpoint of my own narrative, this is personally important, because I am a woman who does face some added difficulties on my path to becoming a physicist. I've been lucky in my experience with discrimination for the most part. I've heard the sometimes horrific stories of other women about discriminatory treatment, but didn't used to believe that such was the norm. I just wasn't as exposed to it. Of course, I've always known that racism isn't actually as over as it seemed to me to be. Everyone is told that from a young age. We've still got a long way to go. Again, it's only been recently that I've been realizing how much further we have, though.
     This summer, I had the awesome opportunity to work with fellow students from around the country who shared some stories with me of the places they live where racism is far more blatant and prevalent than I realized. Where I live, there's some issues, but on the whole I'd say we're doing decently enough that locals can live their lives without ever being confronted with the true evil of racism or having to pick a side on the matter. This means that people can easily choose the stance that racism is practically fixed, little needs to be done to keep working to end discrimination, it's right to treat everyone the same way, maybe even to be color blind. In other words, they can just live their lives, without thinking too much about their opinions on what I would consider the actually important questions in life, of how to love God's people and end the suffering they face.
     I used to be somewhere more in the middle of this spectrum, fortunately often questioning my stance and trying to better it. But if I hadn't, I could have just gone on somewhere in the middle, unaware of how cruel some of my criticisms were. Now that I've had more exposure to readings and discussions about the hidden (and often not at all hidden) social constructs obstructing the way for various ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups, I think the way to fix it is to be culturally responsive and actually tailor the way I act to what I know about people's backgrounds. This will entail caring enough about people to really learn about them. It also means that to level the playing field of life is to give the disadvantaged more right now, not just the same amount. I truly believe that's what Jesus would do. There's biblical evidence that that's what Jesus would do.
     In other words, I've realized the importance of thinking carefully about our stances on women and minorities in power. We must ask ourselves if we actually treat them the same way as we treat white men. Then, if we're satisfied that we are, we must ask ourselves if we should give them even more trust, respect, and consideration than the white men, because of the steeply tilted playing field.