Saturday, May 30, 2009

He was a good squirrel

Today, I was driving down 28, and a small squirrel ran into my path. Usually, when birds or the occasional tiny mammal does this, I slow down as much as is not dangerous, and honk the horn to hurry it up. But I was going 45, and this little guy ran out at just the wrong time. He stopped, looke up at me, baffled, and just kept looking. It was like he knew he was going to die and was looking to me as some supreme god to show him mercy. I decided his fate. I only had enough time to let out a sharp gasp and try to move the wheels enough so he was between them, and not so much as to go into the next lane of traffic. However, I guess when under the car he panicked, or maybe my perception of where my wheels are was wrong, but I heard a horrible thud and had to pull over. I guess people do this all the time, but apart from insects, and maybe fish, I can't say I've ever been directly responsible for the death of another living thing. Plus, squirrels are so human-like. I think we find human qualities in them adorable because it appears to be this cute fuzzy thing imitating its human superiors. But in actuality, the similar behaivor we have is most likely instinctive stuff that all mammals do, and we just have big egos. I'm not sure if that idea is going to make sense to other people, I'm kind of tired.
Anyways, I was pretty close to tears. I guess with television and the constant barrage of gore, I've sort of taken for granted how serious killing something is. I mean, it didn't even have a name.

Something I constantly wonder about is if people are born with a certain personality and set of morals etc., or if it is a product of our society and the way we were raised. Nature vs. nurture. My advisor was telling me about a study in which a bunch of high school students were shown images while scientists monitored their brain activity. Some of the kids' pleasure receptors went off when they saw images of people beating other people, violent acts, or pictures of people suffering (not quite sure how one would photograph that). That means though, that it is so far down into these kids nerves that they like seeing others hurt. Is that just a product of society? I don't know much about the human brain (though I guess not everything is known about it anyways) but it seems doubtful that nerve reactions could be created as a result of someone's upbringing. I guess people with really negative experiences to certain objects or foods or people could get a memory trigger that would do something similar (along the lines of a contact high, but the opposite).

I'm too tired to produce something more.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

you're gonna be my bruise

About two weeks ago, I was up in boston. While waiting at the subway station there was a guy that appeared to be talking loudly to himself. I couldn't quite hear what he was saying so I figured he was just a kook or something. I got on three or four stops before lechemere, so it was a nice ride above-ground on a brilliantly sunny day. The car wasn't too crowded, and the guy was sitting about 4 or 5 empty seats away. I realized he was singing bodyguard by Paul Simon, really belting it out. He had an incredible voice too. He looked towards me, so I smiled because I appreciated the lovely, if not out of place music. He didn't smile back, or even seem to register that anybody else was on the train. It was like watching a musical character when everyone else on stage is frozen. A few other passengers tapped their feet along or smiled at him, but most of the 10 or 15 people just pretended they couldnt hear. He wasn't singing for anybody but himself, it was really strange. And it was sort of awkward when he got to the end of the song, because he couldn't just stop singing, so he ad libbed a little and returned to the first verse. We ended up getting off on the same stop, and he walked down the road in the opposite direction, singing loudly for himself.
I went out with a friend and her family last night, and the family is fairly well-off so we went to a very nice restaurant. Because I'm used to people-watching and observing around hyannis and in bus stations, where people are all relatively comfortable if not blind to their surroundings. So it was really interesting to watch the other tables in a place where everyone is very very conscious of how they are acting and who is watching them. Because of the spacing of the tables, I couldn't hear anybody, so it was more fun because all my curiosity and judgements were based on body language and expressions.
Then, as a birthday present, my friend took me to see Spring Awakening. It was incredible, very very powerful, genuine, and raw. As cliche as it is for me, as a teenager, to adore a play about teen angst, I couldn't help it. And I realized I would never want to be a critic, because when you start to analyze every part of a play or a show or a movie, trying to find flaws, trying to think rationally and judge everything, you are very distinctly watching from the outside. When you go to a show to experience it, and allow yourself to get sucked in and fall in love regardless of the quality, it becomes a much more memorable and pleasant experience for you. That being said, it was a fantastic show even despite my complete absorbation. The acting, singing, and choreography was incredible.
Part of my problem with watching a good musical, though, is that there are so many things to be aware of and appreciate, especially as someone who participates in musical theater regularly. You want to appreciate the orchestra and actual music, you want to appreciate the harmonies, you want to appreciate each actors individual voice, you want to appreciate the words and plot and meaning and subtext of each song, you want to appreciate the lights and actual stage-work, you want to appreciate all the different aspects of the choreography as a whole and not just watch each individual dancing, and you want to appreciate the acting and the expressions of the actors. I find it very overwhelming, especially because with theater, you only see it once. Even if you see it again, chances are the next time you see that show will be with different choreography, a different cast, etc. I feel the same way about books and movies and songs, listening once for plot or tune or what have you, and then many times for all the other elements, but with those you can watch or hear it over and over again. I think I just want to absorb the best aspects of everything, all at once, and my mind can't keep up.
Another interesting thing was that the music and content of the play was fairly raunchy (including a song titled "you're fucked" and a ballad about sexual abuse), and the first act ended with the most intense moment: two of the main characters having sex on stage. It was immediately apparent that the abrupt end had a lot of people very uncomfortable. In a play or movie, even if the content would make you uncomfortable in your current surroundings, at least it is dark and everybody is looking and focusing straight ahead, and not on eachother. However, when the action stops abruplty, you don't have time to regain your senses for where you are and the social interactions you'll have to make. The two elderly women in front of me let out huge breaths of air, like tires getting slashed, and after a few moments, one said "Well, that was unexpected."
When walking out into the lobby the personal space bubble between strangers was nearly 3 times its normal size.
The second act was more about emotion and sadness, and less about being shocking, and the personal space boundaries were back to normal after the cathartic release.

More later!