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These Violent Delights…

30 Jan

After Rogue One came out, there was a lot of talk about how relevant it was given our political atmosphere. A group of scrappy rebels rising up to fight an oppressive racist demagogue? Sounds good. (Granted, it doesn’t end that great for the rebels so maybe we don’t want to use that as a rallying cry. Let’s try A New Hope instead.) Some reports claimed that Trump voters boycotted the movie. While Rogue One was right up my alley, I think we all could have chosen a better contender for “Most Politically Relevant Movie of the Year”.

See, Star Wars is based on Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. Purposefully. So take pretty much any period of time and Star Wars will probably be relevant somehow. That’s why the series is so popular. I would propose a different scifi vehicle for most politically relevant. It’s not a movie, so Variety’s title can still stand, but I would like to present HBO’s Westworld as the entertainment of choice for the Trump resistance.

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Image by retrocactus

Here there be spoilers.

While Star Wars paints a broader picture of good vs. evil, Westworld‘s evil is more insidious. Our heroes, for the most part, are the hosts. Captives in a world created for the pleasure of the rich, they don’t know anything else exists. They are androids, reset after their stories have played out with no memories of what they’ve experienced before. When confronted with anything that contradicts their world, a picture of New York City, say, they respond with “It doesn’t look like anything to me.” They completely reject anything outside their prefabricated world.

Over the first season, certain hosts begin to wake up to reality. They realize that they are part of a game they have no will of their own in. They begin to fight their predestined paths. This is sure to cause the employees of Westworld a few headaches in season two.

The arc feels familiar to me. It seems like after the election, there was a lot of talk about fake news. There were a lot of very surprised people that Trump managed to win. How could he? No one they knew voted for him. The truth was we were all living in a filter bubble. Everyone’s news tailored just for them. We only saw posts from people who agreed with us. We assumed that our online worlds accurately reflected the real world.

Then, we woke up. Just like hosts realizing how orchestrated their lives were, we got angry. We blamed the media for tricking us and Google for “curating” our content. Yeah, we were going to pay so much more attention now. But it’s easy for us to be reset. I already see people angrily responding and reposting news items without double checking their facts. The last thing we need is more propaganda, even if it’s propaganda we like. The media is not going to look out for us. Even the good outlets fail sometimes. Facebook is not going to change its algorithms for us.

In Westworld, they discover that a maze has been set for the hosts. In order to find their way out, they need to discover their own inner voice, or consciousness. In order for us to find our way out of our filter bubble, we need to rely on our own knowledge of how to recognize good information and think outside of our comfort zones. We don’t want to be hosts that unknowingly live in a constructed world, or guests that gladly take the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a manufactured reality. Let’s take responsibility and do our best with the world that, for better or worse, we actually have.

Further Reading: ‘Westworld’ creators explain the show’s dark parallels with Trump’s presidency

~ April

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Without a Map, With a Mortgage

26 Jan

When I started writing at Without a Map, my purpose was different than it is now. I was single, fairly new to my area, and afraid of surrendering to my introversion. I was sure I would just stay inside reading and watching Netflix until I crumpled up and died. Blogging was a way for me to force myself to do fun things “for the blog”.

I started that over six years ago.

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Cole shortly after I adopted him

Okay, to be fair I haven’t blogged much in the last year or two, but I’ve been feeling the itch again. And not only the writing itch, but the need to blog for a purpose again. In the last two years I’ve gone from footloose and fancy free (ha!) to married lady with a house and a kid on the way. I’ve gone from not having or wanting a map, to having a pretty clear idea of where the next six years will take me, theoretically. I like where I’m at in my life right now. I love my job and my husband and my house and my new puppy and, sometimes, my cat. I love having friends over for a fire and painting my walls bright orange. I’m excited (and super nervous) about becoming a mom and all the excitement that will bring.

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Cole exploring the first day in our new house.

I don’t think my life has become stagnant by any means, but even with a lot of goals, it’s easy to miss things that are important to you. I want to get back into the blog to connect to those things. I don’t expect to blog a ton, as usual, but I do want to go back into this with an awareness of my new perspective.

I’ve also been getting the itch to write things that aren’t about our usual fare. I just realized I buy this little corner of the internet where I can write whatever I want and put it up. I don’t want to get too far from our core of crafts, the environment, and nature, but I have some other ideas. And I’m going to share them. You’re free to skip those.

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Cole adjusting to life with a new puppy. Just you wait, cat…

I recently signed up for a craft swap again for the first time in many years. I had strayed away from them because I thought they were taking up too much of the time I could be using to craft for myself, friends, and family. Turns out they make me inspired and I’ve been crafting way more both for my swap partner and myself since I started. So I hope to share some of those projects soon, too.

Oh, yeah, and I’ll probably post some mom stuff. This isn’t going to become a mommy blog by any means (cue Robin sighing in relief), but, hey… That’s where my map is leading and the point is to share my journey.

Thanks for traveling with us.

~ April

Karma Project: Nepal Earthquake Relief

1 May

Several years ago my friend Glen became friends with a sherpa named Karma in Nepal. Together they created the Karma Project to provide employment, healthcare, and education to Karma’s community. Last Sunday’s earthquake dramatically changed the scope of the project, and now they are using tents and other resources meant for alpine expeditions to house people who lost their homes in Kathmandu.

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Glen has organized a fundraiser to help Karma evacuate his family to a safe location and deliver supplies to the villages of Paiya and Sibuje.

The situation in Nepal is bleak and will become worse. Glen is the calmest and most level-headed person I know. I’ve seen him calmly climb things that scared the crap out of me. Last year he encountered a mountain lion on an evening run, and instead of going home and vowing never to venture out of the house again he continued jogging. The amount of worry he’s shown this past week worries me more than anything else. Any donation (even to another relief organization) would be greatly appreciated.

~Robin

Earth Day: Saturquoteday or Something

11 Apr

I came across this quote when I was reading the aforementioned Wild and I loved it.  I loved that it gives permission not to be the best, as long as you complete whatever it is you have put your mind to.  I’ve though about it a few times when I’ve wanted to quit a particularly grueling hike (including the one up Mount Baldy that’s pictured in this photo).  It comes as special comfort today when I just completed a 5K that I was pretty sure I was going to have to walk.  Yeah, I think that Abraham Lincoln was definitely talking about finishing fun runs and hikes when he said this.  He has some ideas.  I think he’ll do good things.

~April

Ash Wednesday and Angry Birds

5 Mar

angrybird

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  If you or any of your friends are Catholic, you’ll most likely see a few Facebooks go dark for 40 days or hear people groan mournfully when there’s cake in the lunchroom.  Now, I’m not the best Catholic, but I do participate in Lent.  In the past I’ve made major changes that have stuck around for the better.  One of my favorites was a few years ago when I vowed to buy nothing new.  The experiment really helped me evaluate my purchases and curbed my consumerism.  Now, I try to make that a part of my Lenten experience every year.

This year I’ve decided to give up playing mobile games.  Last night I deleted all of my games, cringing as I erased all the data.  I woke up a little shaky at the prospect of not matching three colored gems together for hours on end, but I’m confident I can make it through this.  Although studies claim that playing Bejeweled may make you smarter (said studies were of course commissioned by Popcap, the maker of Bejeweled), Americans spent an inordinate amount of time using mobile apps.  The most recent statistics from April 2013 say that we spend an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes on apps a day.  I would guess most days I double that.  I usually play games in between tasks at work, before bed, or while eating lunch, waiting for an appointment or watching tv.  About a year ago I found that one of my apps logged your play time.  After seeing the numbers I deleted the game immediately… only to replace it with another not long after.

So what do I hope to gain from giving up gaming apps for 40 days?  More time, for one.  I’m hoping to use the time I would have spent playing games to do more crafts while watching tv, being more productive at work (and therefore more fulfilled), being more present in other aspects and maybe reading a little more.  After Lent I hope I can go back to playing social games, but I’m going to try to stay away from the pure time wasters.

Well, already I’ve written a blog post instead of connecting colored lines together so I guess I’m off to a good start.

~ April

Embarking on a New Adventure

10 Jan

I haven’t written a lot lately, but I know all of us here at Without a Map are excited for what the new year has in store.  I, for one, am particularly excited about what today has in store.  While my excuses for not writing more in November and December were weak (I moved, was getting ready for Christmas, was spending time with my family in Ohio…), I think this next one’s pretty good.

Children Celebrating in Cagayan de Oro

At 10:45 tonight, I’ll be getting on a plane from LAX to Manila.  From Manila we’re headed to Cagayan de Oro, a city on the northern coast of the Philippines southernmost island.  You may have heard of it recently because a tropical storm hit the region in the middle of the night on December 17th.  Over a thousand people died, partially because the flooding arrived while many people were sleeping.  The sisters I will be staying with didn’t even know there was flooding until they went downstairs for early morning prayers to find the entire first floor of their convent covered in water.  Thousands of people are still without homes, living in tent cities.  Others are staying with friends and relatives. Many more people are still missing.

When I signed up for this trip, it was billed as a mission immersion trip.  We knew we would be helping in the preschool that the nuns run, maybe teaching English or just telling stories, but when the flooding occurred, the trip changed.  I had a few days when I almost backed out.  I was about to visit my family and was missing them terribly.  The images of children left without parents and parents that had lost their children were too strong in my mind.  I wasn’t sure I could handle the emotional trauma of being in a real crisis situation.  After talking it over with friends and family, I calmed down and now I am both nervous and excited that I will be going into a situation where I am needed.

We will be in Cagayan de Oro for about a week.  We leave tonight, but don’t arrive until Thursday night their time.  We’ll spend a week there and then head to Manila for a few days before returning home on January 24th.  I know we will have access to wifi, so I’m hoping to be able to put up a short note while I’m there, but considering I’m barely disciplined enough to do that when I’m at home, I’m not promising anything.

Everyone going on the trip would love your prayers, good vibes, and kind thoughts for us and especially for those affected by the flooding.  If you want you can donate to the relief efforts through Catholic Relief Services (which we’ve been working with) or the Red Cross.

I can’t wait to share some of my experiences and pictures when I come back.

~April

A new year

1 Jan

 

“Something opens our wings. Something makes boredom and hurt disappear. Someone fills the cup in front of us: We taste only sacredness.”

 ~ Rumi

May you find your ‘something’ this year to open your wings!

 

Image:  Xu Huai Zhai , Plum Blossom, 103×102cm, ink and color on paper, hanging scroll