day4 (bleeding heart)

The most interesting thing  that I learned today in school was about the violence in Brazil amongst street children and the obvious imbalance between the spread of wealth between the favelas (shanty towns) and Rio de Janiero.  It seems that everyday I am reminded of how little I actually know about the world around me.  When I think of Brazil I think of gorgeous girls, like Camilla Belle and Gisele Bundchen.  I think of beaches, sun, bright colors, happy-go-lucky people.  I feel like a complete idiot for having some glamorized version of life around the world.  There are massacres that are happening every day in Rio, there are children running away from home to live on the streets because they can make more money trafficking drugs in one week than they could in months.  I have never felt so useless than I did today watching those videos.  There is nothing I can do,  and yet I want to do something, anything, to help these people.  But there is no solution.  Not an obvious solution, at least.

One of my classmates lived in Brazil for a year and visited the favelas and heard some stories from people about the street children, as they’re called.  A family from America had some street children come live with them, hoping to change their lives in some way, but the kids were immediately drawn to the “bad” kids in school, the drug dealers and such, because in their society the drug dealers held the power.   The American family didn’t know what to do about the problem so they sent them back to Brazil.

In 1993 there was a massacre in Rio in which the police killed 20 innocent people because days earlier some drug dealers had murdered four police officers that were terrorizing the neighborhood.  During a radio program that same year, the hosts held an unscientific survey in which they asked people how they felt about the massacre, and the majority of the people said that it was a good thing that the street children had been killed and they needed to “get rid of them.”

Between 1987 and 2001, 3937 Brazilian minors were killed compared to 467 Israeli and Palestinian minors.

I’m not trying to preach to anyone, or educate anyone on the streets of Brazil because this is the extent of my knowledge on the subject, and I admit that without shame.  I’m just trying to wrap my mind around these facts and figures.  There is no solution in my mind and it’s frustrating to me, and completely discouraging.  I don’t understand how this can be happening anywhere in the world and how people in Brazil can turn a blind eye to it.  It pisses me off beyond belief to think that somewhere in the world there are people justifying murder–both the drug dealers who kill and the police who kill.

In the words of Marvin Gaye, “What the [f—] is going on?”

When asked what they wanted the children on the streets replied a home and blankets.

For the umpteenth time this week I feel my heart breaking on account of stories that I’ve heard or read.  I want so badly to be able to comfort them and take them away from the streets and put them in an environment of nurturing and loving, instead of fear and violence.  It’s just…not fair.  I want to stomp my feet and march around the room yelling “IT’S NOT FAIR!”  I want my words to have the same impact they had when I was a stubborn child yelling at my parents about some inconsequential decision they made that I had some problem with.  I want to yell “It’s not fair!” and I want someone to immediately make the situation right in my eyes.

I can’t stop thinking about how unfair it all is and I hope, with all sincerity, that someday I will be able to make the world a little more fair for everyone.  Even if it’s in some tiny way, I want to help the world.

I am having a hard time deciding on a major because I want to pick a major that will better prepare me to be a helpful citizen of the world, and I feel that every major that I’ve considered is really self-serving.  I don’t know what to do, and this is already much too long of a post, so I must stop writing now.

Today the weather was beautiful.  Classes seemed to go by quickly and easily.  It was a good day.

day4

(the heart of life) day3

For my Intro to Fiction class we’re reading a variety of short stories by Tim O’Brien compiled in the book “The Things They Carried.”  These are war stories.  The name of the narrator is Tim O’Brien.  Tim is a summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Macalester College on his way to graduate school at Harvard with a full ride when he is drafted to fight in a war he hates.  The writer Tim O’Brien graduated from Macalester College, graduated summa cum laude, Phi Betta Kappa and was on his way to grad studies at Harvard on a full ride when he was drafted to fight in Vietnam.

The writer has said that all of the stories in the book are true and none of the stories in the book are true.  For tomorrow’s class we had to read a couple of stories about some of the other members of his platoon and one story just absolutely broke my heart.  I suppose all the stories are heartbreaking to me because they are all stories of kids that are the age that I am now.  The way that they cope with having to deal with the war is heartbreaking because it robs them of their youth, and their innocence, in a way, too.  Even if it’s hard to determine how innocent eighteen and nineteen-year old boys are.

This is the passage that moved me today:

“To generalize about war is like generalizing about peace.  Almost everything is true.  Almost nothing is true.  At its core, perhaps, war is just another name for death, and yet any soldier will tell you, if he tells the truth, that proximity to death brings with it corresponding proximity to life … there is always that immense pleasure of aliveness.  All around you things are purely living and you among them, and the aliveness makes you tremble … At the hour of dusk you sit at your foxhole and look out on a wide river turning pinkish red, and at the mountains beyond, and although in the morning you must cross the river and go into the mountains and do terrible things and maybe die, even so, you find yourself studying the fine colors on the river, you feel wonder and awe at the setting of the sun, and you are filled with hard, aching love for how the world could be and always should be, but now is not.”

the things they carried

It reminded me of the closing lines of American Beauty.  In case you don’t know them by heart, “I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.”

I suppose end-of-life revelations are no surprise, everything is put into context a lot easier when you realize that you won’t get to experience something anymore.  Sometimes I get afraid that I’m not appreciating every moment the way I should, and that I’m letting it all go by too quickly.  Tomorrow I will appreciate every moment and take advantage of every moment.

long walk home

day2

I cannot get over how relaxing it is to listen to the entire Viva La Vida album.  Chris Martin’s voice was my background music today.

Interesting thing I learned in Living Religions of the East: in Buddhist philosophy there is no such thing as the self.

…I have yet to decide how I’m going to use that information.  I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

day 2

Today it snowed.  Not enough that everything seemed beautiful and wintry, but just enough for the snowflakes to get caught in your hair and scarf.

The seemingly constant stream of snowflakes was absolutely gorgeous.  Especially the way they filtered through the trees and seemed to sparkle in the sunlight.  I wanted to capture it all on camera, but my point-and-shoot didn’t do them justice.  The memory will have to suffice.

arbolos

day1

Today (January 26th, although it is 12:24AM currently) I was a referree for intramural basketball.  Today I ate “New York style” cheescake and Italian food.  Today I turned nineteen.

Tomorrow?  I want to be more aware by watching others reactions more closely.  I want to exist outside of myself and try to relate to those around me as much as possible, ya dig?

Today was the Day 1 of 365.

Today was a good day.

Tomorrow will be a great day.

“Do you realize that life goes fast?”

This is the new year.

While I am fully aware of the fact that we are now technically twenty-five days into the New Year, I believe that the new year doesn’t really start until you have completed your own personal cycle of days. That cycle that I’m speaking of is the cycle of your life–your birthday! Tomorrow is my birthday, and now I can finally begin to contemplate my own personal New Year’s resolution.

FIRST:
GO TO THE GYM— It’s a totally original idea I’ve come up with to increase my health in this next year, and be healthier than I was in the last. Usually, I make the resolution to “be content” but really I only say that because (a) I’m already content, so mission accomplished! (b) because of reason (a) I can check something off a list and feel accomplished, and my god do I love checking things off of lists. Also (c) it makes me sound all deep and shit. Which, come on, I am all deep and shit.

But really…

I’m trying to think of things that I want to do in this next year of life, this last teenage year (oh, dramz!)and I’m sort of drawing a blank. I’d like to start playing tennis again, so I suppose I need to go pick up a new racket sometime soon. Also, I’d like to set and keep a budget. I need to be more aware of my expenses, especially if I want to travel abroad my sophomore year. Oh, I guess by this time next year I’d like to be living in a foreign country, and to actually have a passport.

I feel that the majority of my life is all about maintaining whatever state I’m currently in. Maintain my grades, maintain my health, maintain my sanity, consciousness, drug habit, etc. And I think it’s time for me to finally seek to go past just maintaining.  Besides, to maintain your position is to remain stagnant.  There is no way to ever grow as a person, if you’re not allowing yourself to move past a certain point.  I want to get even better grades than I got last semester. I want to participate in a marathon, I want to read a book on philosophy written by an important religious leader, and I want to read a book on fashion written by an influential designer… or Rachel Zoe.
I want to keep an open mind. I want to meet and hang out with people completely different from anyone I’ve ever met.

I want to have a conversation totally in Spanish with a Native speaker. I want to do something that scares me everyday. I want to learn how to cook a really great dessert.

I want to learn to cook!

I want to fully embrace the power and beauty of youth, even when I don’t believe in it.

This post was originally written on January 25th, the day before my birthday, and the day of the Chinese New Year.  January 26th marks the beginning of my new year, and the beginning of a new challenge.  January 26th begins day 365.  I’m taking a picture every single day to document this year.  I pinky promise you all, readers.  I will not let you down.