Normal

“Yeah, I’m not your average girl.”

“I’m proud of being random and odd.”

“I’m kinda different to everyone else…”

“I step outside the social norm!”

Yeah.

How many times do we hear these phrases. There’s countless songs about being ‘not your typical___’ or about being ‘unique.’ Right now if I go on Facebook the self description box of various friends that will remain nameless say statements like: “Everything you wouldn’t expect in a Girl,” “not average♥,” “I run to a different beat,” and “norms have never suited my taste.” In fact, it has become so prevalent to say that one is ‘different’ that it is, in fact, practically the societal norm to say that one is outside of it. If that makes sense.

Perhaps in the past it was a bold and radical move to declare oneself as a black sheep, as during that time everybody wanted to conform to one ideal. However, as time progressed, concepts such as diversity, freedom and change began to be propagated on a wide scale and people began to associate the state of being ‘normal’ with boring, unoriginal and being stuck in the past. Thus we have arrived at the current state – the desire to be atypical embodied in one of my favorite quotations:

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different” – Coco Chanel

Apparently everyone is different.

Everyone is a black sheep.

But doesn’t this dilute the meaning of being different until it really doesn’t mean anything at all? If everyone is a black sheep – if everyone is apparently the odd member of society – then no one is. The reason a black sheep is defined the way it is, is because it stands out among a sea of stereotypical white sheep, yet if the multitude is in fact black then the black sheep itself blends in.

Isn’t the very statement that you ‘do not conform to the expectations of society’, conforming to the majority of the society’s expectations that people should want to be different to the norm?

It is quite literally impossible for everybody to not be normal because the definition of ‘normal’ is the standard that people are expected to be at in society. If everybody is ‘odd’ and ‘quirky,’ then it is that, which becomes the standard, and creates an environment where people are not making a stand by saying they are different.

Maybe we should give being normal a chance. After all, it is unavoidable that the majority of us are normal – whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

“If you have to tell people that you are, you aren’t” – Margaret Thatcher

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Blessed are the Forgetful

“How happy is the blameless Vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.”

– Alexander Pope

For the first three minutes of this movie I didn’t understand what all of the hype was about. It didn’t seem exciting or unique – it just seemed like another overdone, cookie-cutter, regurgitated sort of romance film about a guy and a “quirky” girl who fall in love with each other despite the apparent obstacles presented by their differences and the exclusion by society.

For the next ten minutes, actually, honestly, more like twenty, of the film I was completely lost and confused. My head hurt and my mind was spinning from trying to figure out what was happening. I got so infuriated by how little I could understand this movie that I was highly contemplating turning it off.

Then the rest of the movie was a blur. An amazing, surreal, abstract blur.

But while I was watching the movie I must admit, that although it was fun, that mostly I spent the movie quite literally in awe of the fact that someone could create a movie like this – that someone could think of these incredible and artistic shots. That someone could play with our perception of reality and distort real life into something so genius. The human mind was portrayed in a dreamlike manner that was warped in a manner so completely believable that it left me amazed at its brilliance.

A summary of the movie is practically a prerequisite, yet the only way to do a summary of this movie without taking up 1000 words would be by rearranging the elements into chronological order. I feel like this hardly does the movie justice, and by summarizing it in a tiny paragraph so much of what makes the movie what it is is lost but… Here you go: (But please don’t read this if you plan on ever watching this movie)

A, as I said before, “quirky” woman, Clementine, meets a somewhat societally awkward man, Joel, who has never really been able to be comfortable with women. They go out and are very happy together until their differences culminate in the eventual demise of the relationship. They fight and Clementine has her memories of the relationship erased by Lacuna Inc. on a whim. Joel is extremely hurt and follows suit, and most of the film is centered upon the experience in Joel’s brain as he experiences the procedure. He visits his memories in reverse as they are being erased. Eventually, Joel realizes that – in fact – he would like to keep his memories with Clementine. At the suggestion of Clementine, Joel attempts to hide the memories he has of her in places that do not belong, as in the classic line – “Hide me in your humiliation!” Yet the tech guys bring in Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (the head of Lacuna) to find him again and erase the memories – an unrelenting machine. One of the tech guys, Patrick, has stolen  all of Joel’s items that he handed in to the company that are related to Clementine, has begun to approach Clementine as though he were Joel. She finds this charming at first – unsurprising since she has already dated Joel when he acted like this. Joel figures this out as he can still hear in his comatose state and desperately tries to keep his girlfriend. As the memories near the beginning and the procedure comes to an end the two promise to meet at Montauk.  After his work is done Mary, an assistant who came along to watch, kisses the married Dr. Howard Mierzwiak as his paranoid wife watches in the car. As Mary tries to explain to the angry woman, his wife tells her that Mary has dated Howard in the past and that her memory was simply erased. Mary realizes how horrible the procedure is and ships copies of their files to every patient Lacuna as had so that they can know which memories they have had erased. Joel and Clementine receive this file after they, in fact, have met in Montauk and, with no recollection of the past, have amazingly started a new relationship. Even after recieving the file they decide to go through with the relationship.



This is one of the movies that has really made me think: Would I erase painful memories if the choice was handed to me? As the movie progressed I was more and more inclined to think that I would not. Even though some may not be pleasant, they are the memories that have shaped me and that have made me who I am today.

I think I could watch this movie 100 times, and each time I would still notice something new about it that I did not notice before.

It truly is an amazing movie – one of my favorites that Kaufman has ever written. Yet, that being said, I do agree with another reviewer of this movie when he says that it is a movie that you admire more than you love.

This is not the official trailer but it is very well made.

The official trailer cannot be embedded but can be watched here.

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Afternoon at Starbucks

A country song plays on the radio, the easy melody gives the scene a relaxed atmosphere and filters into my head. The smell of Starbucks coffee probably lingers in the air but by now I’ve stayed here so long my nose has become impervious to it. The inane chatter of my friends next to me flows past me – a slow stream that I can easily jump into at any given time.

A heavily made up woman sits on the other side of the room. Her red painted lips and eyes that are heavily made up in kohl gleam like they have been covered with lacquer. The powdery finish of her stark white face is faintly illuminated by the blue light of the computer in front of her that she stares at avidly – lost in whatever work she is engaged in.

Beyond the beat of the music you can hear the typing of keyboards and the carefree chatter of friends.

But though the cafe where we sit is illuminated in the warm yellow glow of assorted lamps and small ceiling lights, from where the blinds are slightly drawn I can see the outside street where it is now dark. People walk past and signs for business glow bright. But the sight is obscured by our own bright mirror images in the window. From where we are in the light the people walking past in the dark are hardly visible. From where we are we can barely see them – faint shapes hidden by reflections of ourselves.

But those in the dark can see us so easily. They can see the warm yellow light and they can see the laughter and enjoyment of the family sitting near us, the father jovially hitting his wife on her back, his eyes sparkling with adoration. But they just walk on. They walk on, shrouded in the dark, watching the people inside, while those in the cafe keep laughing. Enjoying their food and conversation oblivious to those outside.

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Love

I adore Karl Largerfeld’s minimalism and how he manages to make the  clean cut lines and somewhat boxy and structured shapes always present in high fashion look more relaxed. In this video you can definitely see the Chanel side in him – but with a far more youthful twist to it, which is what makes his designs so unique.

I know this isn’t a recent one but this is one of my favorite McQueen shows. I love the simple chicness and how the models look in contrast to the vast white space. He really knows how to do avant garde… RIP one of the greatest designers of our time.

But the 2010 show is still stunning – though in a very different way to the 2005 show. I’m glad to see his legacy lives on.

And the best for last because… no one does it quite like Prada.

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Shades of Blue

 

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Organization

“Ashley, get your homework out.”

“Oh okay, wait. I know I have it. I did it this morning. Wait… Wait…”

I proceed to shuffle through a huge stack of papers that seems to contain the papers I need for every other subject except the one I am in at that point. Class starts. I’m still shuffling. 

“Ashley, if you didn’t do it its okay just bring it tomorrow and I’ll give you partial credit.”

“No! I really did it! Wait, I just need to find it…”

Ten minutes into the lecture I raise my hand, biting my lip in anticipation of the reply I will get.

“Ashley… Did you find it?”

“Uh. I think I left it in my last class. Can I go check?”

My organization is horrible – to say the least. 

My ‘folder’ consists of every single paper I have ever used in any capacity in any class placed inside a binder. And when I say “placed” I literally mean placed. Not hole punched and slipped into the metal loops. Not placed in little plastic pockets. Just shoved in. Which naturally makes it quite difficult when I carry my folder around since at a certain angle and if I don’t keep the folder shut with sufficient force, all the papers will fall out.

Which they actually often do.

It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve wasted enough money on pretty journals and storage units in the Kyobo stationary range, based on the unfounded, completely idealistic hope that this pristine white leather planner, or the clean plastic mini-drawers will motivate me to gain some semblance of organization.

But as I sit here I am only too aware of my surroundings. My desk it cluttered with piles of unnecessary junk. My desktop is covered with files. My floor is hardly visible from the clothes that I threw down haphazardly and was too lazy to pick back up. From where I’m sitting I can actually make out the outfit that I wore each day of the week, lying in small mounds in different parts of my room. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. 

Every time new year rolls around I promise myself this year will be different. This year I will become organized. This year I will write in my planner every day. This year I will keep my room clean. The outcome? For lack of a better word – fail.

I will become more organized…

Someday.

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Insignificance

This is amazing.

I am in utter shock after realizing just how tiny, how insignificant we are in the scale of the whole universe.

It’s funny how our lives seem so important to us, and how minor troubles like a B in a quiz seem devastatingly terrible. We get so wrapped up in our lives that they become blown out of proportion. I am constantly under the illusionary impression that my own life is so large and important, and often I cannot even fathom the fact that millions of other such lives exist on our planet. In my mind the Earth is a massive concept that I genuinely cannot, nor do I think ever will, comprehend.

For centuries people thought that the Earth was the center of the universe. That we were this monumental entity in the middle of the rest of these tiny planets that went around us. The universe was thought to be tiny – stretching only a few thousand miles outside our planet.

And I see why people would want to think like this.

It’s comforting to think that we are the most important. That there is nothing in the universe that we cannot know and cannot explore. A small universe seems like a more secure place, and this notion was probably what drove our predecessors to create such an artificially tiny model.

The unknown is frightening.

But is ignorance worse?

I’m not sure. But one way or another now we know. And I think it really helps put everything in perspective. I mean, no matter what happens tomorrow, nothing will change in the massive scale of the universe. In a rainstorm of matter, our Earth, this unfathomably large planet, is just one drop.

The one drop that lands on your cheek which you wipe away, sighing frustratedly. The one drop that falls into a puddle from your hand and is eventually drained into a sewer. The one drop that is carried away to sea and deposited amidst several billions of drops that are exactly the same. Indistinguishable from the other in the vast sea of blue.

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