A Quote to Live By

‘I’m going to build because I want to build.

Kira Argounova, We the Living

Though her indifference and relatively abstract taste draws criticism from her family, Kira Argounova from Ayn Rand’s We the Living displays a will that is a force to be reckoned with.

This passion seems to contradict Kira’s usual indifference. It seems strange that a someone like Kira, who barely registers what’s going on around her, would want to be so involved with creating the world in which she lives. What’s even more peculiar is that Kira chooses to work in the “…modern favorite profession of theirs [the Soviets]… [an] engineer”, though she does not support Communism and is a White (1). It seems logical that Kira, who claims to enjoy building, would go into a field that would allow her to build: engineering.

However, Kira’s mother, sister, and cousin all disagree in the name of feminity. Kira’s mother, Galina simply can’t believe that a daughter of hers would stoop to do such work and Lydia, Kira’s sister, chimes in, saying that it would be dirty and that there would be no women to confide in. Victor advises his cousin to become a typist, remarking that it is not such a bad starting place for a woman to rise in ranks and that the rations are good. He is similarly appalled that she should make such a choice and suggests that she reconsider, a thought that Kira shuts down almost immediately.

Though Kira is definitely stubborn, I can’t help but admire her resoluteness and focus. True, she only focuses on what she likes and doesn’t have much regard for “normal” activities, but her unwavering decision to do as she likes is something to admire. Many of the characters in the book cannot claim to be living as they want to or doing as they wish. If they are trying, they are doing it timidly, fearful of their own desires. Kira isn’t controlled by the standards of feminity, as her mother and sister are nor by party dictates as her cousin is. Whether she be a socialite in the making in Russia or a citizen of the Soviet Union, Kira is ultimately, just Kira.

  1. White: supporter of the army that fought against the idea of Bolshevik socialism; a variety of political stances were represented
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A Quote to Live By

TL;DR: Hufflepuff Doesn’t Suck

So summer’s here and I’m applying to college soon. I’m pretty sure at least one of my other posts started with this, but for the sake of starting things, I’ll let it be. I don’t think I write enough about Harry Potter really even though it’s one of my favorite things, but when thinking about college, identity, and Harry Potter, I thought about House. You know, the four categories that you can be sorted into based on your characteristics.

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The four Hogwarts Houses, as represented by pairs of socks.

First things first, how does the Sorting Hat really decide where you go? I believe that this is based on who you are at heart and not who you want to be or who people think you are. Though there are people who make me question this principle (Cho Chang and Zacharias Smith, for example), I think the cases for the principle outweigh those against. Hermione Granger, though she is obviously a studious bookworm, does some things that place her out of Ravenclaw. Don’t get me wrong, she’d fit in well in there, but it’s probably not her best fit, namely I think because she doesn’t have the temperament for Ravenclaw. Luna chides Hermione at least once in the book for not being open-minded enough, and I feel like that’s one of the biggest tenets of Ravenclaw house. Hermione still can’t really let go her ideas of logic; for the best supporting detail refer to the Divination fiasco in third year. Next, Neville Longbottom is an incredibly loyal person: it takes a lot of loyalty to stand by your cause, even when you’re being regularly tortured for your efforts (seventh year). However, Neville isn’t a Hufflepuff because his bravery stands out much more than his loyalty does. He has the guts to ask Hermione to the Yule Ball, which was more guts than Ron had: he just went along with Harry’s asking Parvati. Let’s face it: would Ron have really manned up and asked someone if he wasn’t set up with Padma? It’s hard to say, but it’s doubtful. Also, standing up against Death Eater regime in Hogwarts takes a lot of bravery, as does killing off Voldemort’s snake Nagini. We know how snakes move, and yet Neville was brave enough to take on Nagini with Gryffindor’s sword.

I’ve said before that I’m a Slytherin, but there’s a little something I left out: on Pottermore’s Sorting Hat I had a choice between Slytherin and Hufflepuff. A lot of people give me weird looks because, they say, Slytherin is almost the opposite of Hufflepuff. However, if you’ve read my post on another website (link: https://comedowntherabbithole.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/the-case-for-slytherin/), I think you already know that Slytherin is not just the house that “not a single witch or wizard who went bad” didn’t came from. But Hufflepuff? Isn’t that the house all the rejects get put into? Partially, but I’ve got some myth-busting to do.

There’s a reason why Hufflepuff has had the least amount of Dark Wizards. Take a look at what they prize: tolerance, hard work, dedication, fairplay, patience, and kindness. Not exactly the stuff that Death Eaters spout and support. It’s easy to scoff at these characteristics; trust me, I did too for a long, long time until I decided to know more about the Hogwarts houses than just the stereotypes. I think that Hufflepuff’s kindness and humility often results in its being overlooked while in reality, it has produced many a fine wizard and witch, like JK Rowling. It takes a lot to be the bigger person and be fair and kind to others, knowing that people may or may not take the time to be kind and patient in return. JK Rowling, in webcast, has said that when called to arms in the Battle of Hogwarts, the Hufflepuffs, as a group, answered the call in honest relation to their beliefs. Voldemort and the Death Eaters supported prejudice and selfishness, which goes against the valued qualities of Hufflepuff. For this reason, the Hufflepuffs stay at Hogwarts to fight the Death Eaters. Yes, more Gryffindors stayed, but collectively, it can be said that the Gryffindors stayed because the are reckless and tried to embody the bravery that their house so vehemently proclaims. Sure being brave is great, but the bottom line is that Hufflepuffs truly fought for what they believed in, and that’s admirable.

Funnily enough, my cousin had the exact same Pottermore results as me: choice between Slytherin and Hufflepuff. She chose Hufflepuff and while I mocked her for it then, I respect her decision as she respects mine. There is no lesser House, just different Houses with different ideals. Choosing Slytherin was an impulse choice on my part, but it is definitely not a mistake. Some people might say that the Sorting Hat giving you a decision isn’t realistic, but why isn’t it? Everyone has a different set of priorities: some of us are ambitious, others seek knowledge. With these priorities in mind, we take action and have reactions that ultimately shape our characteristics.

Credits to Ricky Brigante for the picture, link to more of the magic: https://www.flickr.com/photos/insidethemagic/

TL;DR: Hufflepuff Doesn’t Suck

Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR): College Is Expensive

For my English class, I recently completed an online college portfolio, a collection of documents useful in the college application process.  This included items such as a resume, entrance essay, and college search write-up, all of which I put into a folder in Google Drive justly titled, “College Portfolio”.  If you are a rising senior (or even perhaps a curious rising junior), I highly recommend this project because it helped me reflect on myself as a person and got me a head start on applying to college.   Continue reading “Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR): College Is Expensive”

Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR): College Is Expensive

The Scarlet Number

How does community affect an individual’s ability to express his or her self?

First, picture a small, 17th century settlement on the northeastern coast of the United States.  To say that this community is a budding new nation is a laughable notion; it is merely the trans-Atlantic outskirts of Europe, barely qualifying as the edge of civilization.  The Puritans, having traveled too far from mother England to take much with them, built a village from scratch and are going about their everyday lives: the men are working out in the field, the women are cooking and doing other household chores and the children are helping out with whatever they can.  Daily routine is the same each day: wake up, work (attend church if it is Sunday), sleep, and repeat.  The air is salty and reeks of the overbearing smell of fish and seaweed, the people are austere and plainly dressed, and the wind as cold and unforgiving as the law of the land.  A lone woman walks throughout town, attracting sidelong glances from all, young and old.  Hester Prynne, with her red “A” emblazoned on her dress, is no rare sight in town, but the townspeople part for her as if her sin were contagious.

What does Hester Prynne’s tale, as captured in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, have to do with one’s self-expression?  Perhaps, an even better question, universally championed by students, to ask is: why does it even matter?   Continue reading “The Scarlet Number”

The Scarlet Number

City Lights

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Picture credits to Kim Seng on Flickr.

Are they city lights, or are they just blinkers on top of buildings?  I’m not really sure myself; from miles and miles away and with my poor eyesight, they could be just about anything.  They’re so pretty though, and I can’t help but just stare at the lights in the distance.  Usually, I only look out large windows at night during the summer to watch Disneyland fireworks, but today the lights are just as captivating.  Sure the fireworks are more showy and flashy, but the lights have a peculiar constance to them, the quiet little wonders.

Not much has happened over the last few days, but the things that did happen have made substantial changes to my life.  I finally made turn multiple forks in the road at once, after what seemed like months and months of being stuck at one in particular.  It seems odd to move forward so much after such a long period of deciding, and I’m a bit scared by just how fast life moves.  I needed the blinking lights today; their steady twinkling tells me to relax and breathe, and so I do.

City Lights