Monday, September 26, 2016

Work Day Playlist

I keep meaning to write something, but then as soon as the computer loads up I remember all the other things I'm supposed to be doing and vanish into the world of homework.  But since that realm is where I'll be spending most of today, I thought maybe some music would be a nice cheer-up, especially since it's so cold and rainy all of a sudden.  Not that cold or rainy is a problem, of course ... fall weather is always welcome.

Norman Greenbaum: "Spirit in the Sky"

Lorde: "Royals"

Shearwater: "Natural One"

The Smashing Pumpkins: "Tonight, Tonight"
I'm sending happy thoughts for everyone's Monday.  There's been a lot of sad news recently, and I hope all are well <3.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fall Reading Challenge

Hi, dears!  It may still be incredibly hot and humid here, but there is only just over a week left of summer, so pumpkins are starting to show up everywhere.  Most of them are small and hiding between squashes, waiting for their takeover at the beginning of October. Seeing them stirs up memories of grey skies and red and orange trees, which is exciting even if I'm a bit allergic to the mold from decaying leaves.

Changes in weather aside, we learned in psychology class the other day that reading is one of the absolute best things you can do for your mind.  It's like a workout for your brain.  But when we were asked which ones of us read for pleasure, only a very small group of us responded positively. I was so sad because I love reading so much it's painful sometimes, and I know that in other parts of the world (and even in my own community) lots of people don't have access to books, which is tragic.  I'm working on a little project about global literacy right now, but learning about reading in my psych class got me thinking about how now would be a perfect time for everyone get into reading.  So I've put together a bit of a reading challenge for the fall.  I know we have homework and work, so no pressure if you don't get to all/any of the books on your list, but it'd be fun to try, right?  I guarantee you that if you open yourself up to it, you, too, could develop a very serious relationship with books (even if it's long-distance, like mine sometimes is, LOL). Anyway, the reading challenge has several categories, and the basic idea is that you pick a book for each category and try to read it. It'll get you exposed to new styles of writing, and maybe you'll even discover a book you never would've found before.  It could be true love! There are so many books to geek out about that I'm smiling a bit too much thinking about them.

  • A biography or an autobiography (I know some people like biographical pieces more than others do, but I'm reading Beatrix Potter by Linda Lear right now and really loving all I've learned.  You can pick pretty much any person and get to know them really well.)
  • A historical fiction piece (Travel to any time period you want to. It's amazing!)
  • A poem/book of poems (Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Maya Angelou....there are so many.)
  • A classic (I'm really glad I've started Les Mis, and other meaningful choices include the works of Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, and Charles Dickens.)
  • A scary story (Okay, this is more in the spirit of Halloween, but it can be a short story if you're not feeling like a horror or anything like that.  I'd love to read Frankenstein or Dracula, though.)
  • A story that's a movie (There are lots of these, but it can be fun to watch the movie and have read the story, and the variety means you could choose anything from The Fault in Our Stars to Fight Club.)
  • A book with beautiful illustrations (These are just good for your soul.)
 Obviously, those are just a few categories of the many, many categories of books that exist, so please add/change categories as you see fit!  And remember, I'm swamped with homework, too, so don't feel any pressure to finish all categories you set out to because I doubt any of us will before the fall season ends.  It's just fun to have a reading plan because then you'll be more motivated to read, and, like I mentioned earlier, reading is so good for you!  It can relax your mind and exercise it at the same time, and the relationships you develop with characters can be incredibly powerful.

<3 Frances

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Clothing Crisis: Fast Fashion and Earth

Happy Labor Day!  I'm sort of feeling very work-logged today (tests, studying, cleaning, working, etc. etc. etc.), but it's nice to be doing all my work at home (aka in pajamas) as opposed to somewhere else.  And we're getting a bit of a fall weather preview this weekend.  It's so beautiful!  I wish the heat wave weren't coming back tomorrow.  I have to keep reminding myself that it's still summertime, though.  Fall doesn't officially get here until September 22nd.  The good thing is that the next few weeks give us time to prepare for fall and get into the spirit of Halloween and pumpkins and crisp leaves and squirrels.  And plaid, of course.   Even for girls like us at Moth Bird who won't have any time or money to spend on closet updates, it's fun to think about fall trends.  (Escapism, anyone?)
But speaking of fashion, there's a more pressing clothing matter at hand that I wanted to share: the fast fashion crisis.
Copyright Tim Mitchell
I just read a Newsweek article about "fast fashion" and its effects on the environment, and I was horrified to learn about how our clothing habits are hurting the planet.  Having fun with fashion is awesome, but loving our Earth is also awesome, and this article is a real wake-up call when it comes to making sustainable choices.
"When natural fibers, like cotton, linen and silk, or semi-synthetic fibers created from plant-based cellulose, like rayon, Tencel and modal, are buried in a landfill, in one sense they act like food waste, producing the potent greenhouse gas methane as they degrade. But unlike banana peels, you can’t compost old clothes, even if they're made of natural materials."
What's particularly disturbing is that 84% of "unwanted clothes" in the U.S. ended up going to landfills and incinerators in 2012, and Americans throw out about 14 million tons of clothing every year. That's crazy!  Another unfortunate reality is that a lot of clothing that gets donated may end up getting thrown out due to being very poor quality. It's an environmental and fashion crisis, and though we can all do our part to help make it better (buying secondhand, buying well-made clothing, sewing your own clothes, donating as opposed to tossing, etc.), we need a long-term solution.  One possibility is a closed-loop clothing industry, sort of mimicking how closed-loop systems work in nature.  (Remember all those thermodynamics laws?  Matter is neither created nor destroyed?  Energy of a system remains constant?)
Marie-Claire Daveu of Vogue: "The holy grail for sustainability in fashion is closed-loop sourcing.”
According to the article, closed-loop tech in the fashion industry would mean no clothes in landfills because old clothes would "be endlessly looped through textile factories, garment factories, stores, your closet, secondhand retailers, textile recyclers and back to textile factories again." Sadly, this sort of system is a while in the future, but it's a light of hope in an otherwise pretty glum situation.
 <3 Frances

Friday, September 2, 2016

That Friday Feeling & Movie Recommendations

It's easy to take things for granted.  School, the mountains, Friday night movies . . . we can get so swept up in the anxiety of anticipated moments that we forget to be present and appreciate the here and now.  But that's sad because the here and now are only around for a moment, and if we miss them, they're gone forever.
We've been very busy this week with back to school, work (I've got a new internship...), trying not to get sick (elderberries are so wonderful for that), and helping my grandfather transition home from rehab after breaking his hip.  Today is Friday, though, and it's got that "Friday feeling" because it means that the alarm can be set for 7:30 AM tomorrow instead of 5:15 AM.  That means a full 135 extra minutes of sleep!  Ever since I was little and my mum worked 13-hour days with at-risk students (and then came home to do more work at night), my family has had this little tradition of Friday night movie nights. We've gone through a Miyazaki period and then a Star Wars period and even watched all the Before Sunset movies (my brother wasn't as excited about those, lol), and seeing movies together has always been a comfort.  With that in mind, if you get the chance tonight, try to watch a movie with a loved one.  That can be anyone from a sibling to a parent to a friend to a cat to a stuffed animal to a plant :).  And if you're looking for movie recommendations . . . .

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl (2015)
I saw this movie recently, and my mum, brother, and I loved it very much--even though it made us all cry.  It's truly an art piece.  There are so many little details--sketches hidden in wallpaper, wonderlands cut into the pages of books--that add a lot of depth to the film visually, but all the characters and scenes have a realistic quality to them that makes you feel like, yes, you could know them in the real world.  I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but the movie (which is based on a book that I now really want to read) is about Greg, a sometimes directionless high school senior, and his relationships with people like his foreign film-loving best friend ("coworker") Earl, his eccentric parents, and Rachel, the "dying girl."  I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but the movie is beautiful and heartfelt and tragic all at once.  It also has really good music.

Demolition (2015)
My brother has been listening to "Crazy On You" on repeat ever since we saw this movie.  Despite the title, it's not at all an action or fighting movie with good guys or bad guys (not that those aren't fun movies to watch).  Instead, it's about relationships and loss.  Davis has just lost his wife in a horrible car accident, and he's going through an identity crisis, questioning the meaning of the world and if he's even capable of love.  Things seem disheartening at times, but by the end of the movie, you'll feel better (and of course a bit melancholy).

Heart: "Crazy On You"

The Princess and the Warrior (2000) is an older movie, and it's in German, but if you're willing to deal with subtitles, you won't regret it.  Sissi, a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, is hit by a bus and rescued by Bodo, a troubled bank robber haunted by the loss of his wife.  Sissi sets out to find Bodo to thank him for saving her, and their relationship ends up helping them both overcome the nightmares of the past.  Like Demolition and Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, The Princess and the Warrior has a rawness to it that makes it seem very, very real.  It's not glossy or glamorous--it's life. And that, in its own way, is quite beautiful.

TGIF!  What are some movies you've seen recently (or not so recently) that gave you the "Friday feeling" we wait all week to get?

<3 Frances