Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happenings e Coisas Interessantes

Well, June has flown by and July is steadily approaching. It's been a pretty hectic last couple of days as I finally had my wisdom teeth removed Thursday. Honestly, I was in and out of the operating station in about 10 minutes. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, given my first experience. Without a transatlantic flight to catch, there really isn't any pressure or stress this time for me. Poor Cesca isn't having an easy time, but I think she will bounce back in a few days.

In other news, the trip to Vegas has been booked!  Just gotta book my Phantom Las Vegas tickets and we'll be all set! We're heading there in the middle of August, just a week or so before I head back to IC for the Fall semester. I think it will be interesting restarting my schooling in America again, because this time I'll be readjusting from having all Italian teachers. I'm grateful I'll still have lots of Italian practice, what with tutoring, TAing and having a conversation class.

In the vein of languages, I've decided to take on a new challenge. When Cesca told Ted what I was doing, he responded "So our weird sister is doing something to make her even more weird?" What am I doing that is so weird? Learning Portuguese of course!

Now, why learn Portuguese? It's not a widely spoken language in the US, nor really in Europe, two of the places I see myself living in the future, nor it is particularly easy. And considering that out of the millions of people who speak it, many  speak the Brazilian counterpart to the European one that I am learning.

There are a few reasons. One, because on my trip to Portugal this past Spring Break, I fell in love. Fell in love with the country, the people and the language. It's strange, Russian-esque sound intrigued me, and much like the first time I seriously listened to Italian (which, coincidentally was when I listened to the Italian version of Phantom), I thought to myself 'I have to learn this language.' Second, I think it's a very interesting language. It's closer to Spanish than Italian in the Romance family, and since I'm having Liz review Spanish with me when we get back to school, I figure my Spanish will help my Portuguese and vice versa.  And third, I'm already planning on learning some basic French second semester senior year (I chose to avoid another 18 credit semester) I might as well have the basics (or slightly more advanced) covered of 4 of the mainstream Romance Languages- Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese. That gives me a pretty good European language basis, I think. Don't get me started on regional differences and dialects. That's a fight for another lifetime.

I'm finding learning the basics of a new language thrilling. Maybe I should have been a linguist! Portuguese is more difficult to me than either Spanish or Italian were, simply because it's pronunciation is actually quite bizarre. Spanish and Italian have basic rules and they keep to them most of the time. Portuguese also has basic rules but they're so different and contrary to the other two.The basic rules just don't seem that basic to me! My mind is stuck in the sounds that Spanish and Italian make- though there are minor differences, they tend to sound much more similar.

Here are some strange rules that European Portuguese has:

s- often pronounced as a 'sh' if in the middle or end of the word.
           Examples- tres (traysh)-3, estou (eshtoo)- I, estrelas (esh-treh-lash)-stars

vowels elongated at the ends of words
          Examples- gato (gah-too)- cat, estado (esh-tad-doo)-state,
                           oito (oy-too)-8

te- pronounced chee
      Example- noite (noy-chee)- night, sete (say-chee)- seven

No il/la/lo/i/le/gli or el/la/los/las. The articles in Portuguese are o, a, os and as.

There are plenty others too, but I won't get into those
To see the similiarities between Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, I've made this chart to show the numbers 1-10. Can you tell which language is which??

See? They're pretty similar albeit with minor spelling and pronunciaitoin nuances.

Hope you've enjoyed a spontaneous Portuguese lesson! 

Anyway, so far I've learned the basics, numbers, days of the week, that kind of stuff. But I'm having lots of fun and looking forward to the next time I go to Portugal so I can use my Portuguese! Because really, there probably won't be many opportunities to use it here haha!  I'm thinking after French I want to branch out into a new language tree and maybe start picking up some Russian. But I guess we will have to see. Who knows where life will take me!

Tudo bem! Adeus!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fifty Shades of Stupid

Seriously stupid. All I have been hearing about since I returned home from Italy was that this new book series was talking America by storm, and that it was a must read. Yes. I succumbed to the hype and picked up the Fifty Shades trilogy, hoping that it would live up to they hype. I mean, the movie rights have already been sold and apparently it's overtaken Harry Potter as the fastest selling paperback of the century- that has to count for something, right? Wrong...

I mean, if you're planning on reading the trilogy, you might want to skip this post and make your own opinion... or you can read on and decide whether it's worth it to pick up. Anyway, SPOILERS AHEAD. Sorry it's super long, I had a lot of problems with this series.

Oh Fifty Shades, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways...

1.) It is painfully obvious that this started out as an Alternate Universe Twilight Fanfiction- Christian Grey is unbelievably gorgeous and handsome man to ever walk the planet, with women swooning over him literally everywhere he goes. This 'mercurial' man (I'll get to that later) is sexy as hell, and he becomes attracted to Anastasia Steele the minute she falls into his office. Yes, falls. Because she's incredibly clumsy and unsure of herself. She's not confident in her beauty and, though enraptured, thinks there is no way this Adonis (yep- both Meyer and EL James seem to love this comparison) could be interested. He gives her warnings not to trust him and to stay away (sound familiar?) and yet they are undeniably drawn to each other and can't stay away. YAWN

2.) Christian is a bajillionaire. He admits in the 2nd book that he makes $100,000 an hour. And he's only 27ish. Despite his rough and troubled childhood (honestly he probably should have gone to jail for some of the crap he pulled, despite being adopted by apparently the most loving family ever) he rose above it, dropped out of Harvard and started his own business at 21 and became wildly successful. He even owns his own helicopter, which he can pilot. It's not that I hate that he's rich, but it's so highly unlikely that it's ridiculous.

3.) You think Edward Cullen was a creeper and had control issues? Magnify Edward by 10,000 times and you might come close to Christian Grey. Christian refuses to stop talking to the woman who started him on his life of 'kinky fuckery' as the author eloquently puts it and is even business partners with the woman who was his dominant when he was 15. Yep. Child molester. Christian finds this a blessing, as it introduced him to a life where he could have total control over women, which he finds therapeutic (if you ever read you'll understand why). Anastasia finds this abhorrent, and is also justifiably angry when Christian basically refuses to let her see any of her male friends because, guess what, EVERY SINGLE MAN SHE KNOWS IS HOT FOR HER- Her friend from school, her boss, her college boss's kid, her roommates brother, etc, etc. He only lets her see them if he's around and even then drags her away after like 30 minutes so he could have her for himself. At one point, he flies home from a business meeting in New York (they live in Oregon, huh, surprise) because she stayed out with a friend at a bar even though she said she was going home. Which leads me to...

4.) The kinky fuckery. As an erotic novel, obviously there's some crazy stuff. Or so you would think. The only thing super crazy is when Christian shows her his playroom and his contract, which is like 10 pages in the book of ridiculous rules his submissives have to follow, like addressing him as 'sir' and running the risk of being whipped, flogged or caned if they do not oblige to his demands or requests. Yes, there are limits that they can discuss and blah blah, but really, it's all quite tame in the novel- Anastasia doesn't feel ready to do some of the extreme stuff and eventually in the second novel he's so smitten that he settles for barely using any of this crazy controlling tools. Buuuut it doesn't stop him from either effing her into submission when she doesn't agree with him or using sex to emotionally torture her when he's mad at her or she's done something to 'displease' him. And, since apparently all they want to do is have sex, that's pretty much all they do. Unless you think bondage is super crazy. There are a couple of things that pushed the 'holy crap' envelope, but not much, in my opinion

5.) The unrealistic nature of their relationship is unnerving- she's a virgin who has basically done nothing with boys and he's the world's most eligible bachelor. He's so domineering and controlling that I would have been out of there in a second, and he doesn't listen. He showers her with ridiculous gifts after like a day, including a car, a Blackberry (so he can reach her 24/7), a laptop (because she doesn't have one or a computer- what century is this girl living in??) and a bunch of 1st edition novels including Tess of the d'Ubervilles. Again with the Twilight similarities, having a classic lit loving heroine (though Tess is not a nice story to parallel). But she's not bought over by his lavish gifts. By the end of like 3 weeks together she already loves him, and by the second book he's admitted it as well. They're married after 3 months together, but everyone is sooooo happy for them. But they DON'T HAVE A REAL RELATIONSHIP. Their relationship is based on mind-blowing sex because that's all they end up doing. They have an argument. They fight. Christian uses sex to get Anastasia to agree to what he wants. They have an argument and one (or both) cries about how unworthy they are of each other (Ana cause she's too average and Christian cause he's too many shades of fucked up) and they moan about how they love each other and won't leave, then have sex. Something good happens. They have sex. I know it's an erotic novel, but the scenes aren't varied enough (some downright gross) to make you really believe that their problems are solved.  He's this effed up dom addicted man and all the sudden she turns his world upside down and makes him want normal things he's never dreamed of. Okay.  They have nothing in common, they can't have a normal conversation and the only thing they know about each other is that they are perfectly sexually compatible. Obviously the foundations for a lasting relationship.

6.) The writing sucks. The sex scenes get repetitive because there are so many (and my many years of Cosmo reading tell me that they're incredibly unrealistic- Ana is basically ready for it ALL THE TIME, even if she is seething at Christian cause he's been an incredibly d-bag). The descriptions get boring. She describes Christian as 'mercurial' about 37 times. When the hell have you described anyone as MERCURIAL? The writers seems to have opened the thesaurus to random pages and picked words to throw into her writing, or picked the most obscure and ridiculous synonyms ever.

7.) NOBODY BITES THEIR LIP EVERY 5 MINUTES. Dear god. Please stop, It's not sexy and your lip would be massively swollen if you bit your lip as many times as Ana does. And seriously, stop talking about your 'inner goddess.' She's freaking weird and should be advising you to get the hell out of this relationship. But she doesn't. She cartwheels every time Christian Grey shoots a smoldering look in your direction- which is every other paragraph.

8.) The message- that it's ok for your BF to be controlling, to do a background check, track your cell phone and car, to forbid you from leaving your work building during the day, to tell you who you can and can't see, cause he will just buy you things or give you a good orgasm to make you forget how mad you were at him.

The other message I HATED was the idea of virginity. Christian is shocked and dare I say nearly appalled that Anastasia is still a virgin after he starts showing her is dark world of BDSM (which is actually not so dark in these novels). How could she be when she's so smart, amazing, gorgeous, enigmatic? She's like 21 years old. I can't shake the idea that someone around my age or younger may read these books and think that being a virgin at that age is wrong somehow. It makes virginity seem... almost wrong... Maybe I'm reading into it too much, but the complete shock he has upon hearing this is a testament to how sex focused our society is and how young people are when they start.

9.) He practically insists that Ana gets a birth control shot (something she previously ruled out when she started the pill after starting their affair) because he hates wearing condoms and Ana can't remember to take a simple pill. Yeah, cause she's so amazing and perfect but she can't set an alarm on her phone to remind her to take it? Again, it's more about what he prefers and wants.

Honestly there's about a dozen red flags that this is an abusive relationship and I hope young people don't start idolizing this couple. I know a big demo for these is older moms (it's been referred to as "mommy porn") but I can't get over the awful writing and unrealistic, horrible relationship that forms in this book.

If you've dared to pick up the Fifty Shades trilogy, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If you're interested at all

This is a not important post, nor is it about my life particularly, but my aunt posted my cousin's engagement photos and they're beautiful!!!

If you wanna see them, you can look at them here:

My cousin Katya (her real name is Katherine, but our family calls her by the Ukrainian version of her name) lives in DC is just a year younger than Ted. Our families see each other relatively often despite the distance, and I'm so, so happy for her!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Life is strange sometimes

I should be sitting around, miserably wishing for some solid food right about now. But I'm not. I was supposed to get my wisdom teeth out yesterday, but a technical malfunction at the dentist office meant that my x-rays could not be pulled up. Meaning the surgeon couldn't do my surgery.

Now, despite the fact that I wasn't looking forward to a weekend of jello, applesauce and pain, I was pissed, not relieved, that the surgery had to be postponed. You see, I took off 4 days of work for recovery (because sometimes work involves heavy lifting that you're supposed to avoid, and because last recovery wasn't wonderful) and that means I lost 4 days worth of pay. If I don't work, I don't get paid. I'm already not getting enough hours as it is (I used to get almost 40 last year, this year maybe 25) so I'm already taking a pay hit. I had to drop my hours to like 10 this week to take time off for the surgery. I'm not going to make that money back.

My parents were pissed as well, as my mother had taken time off and this isn't the first time the machinery at this office has failed us. Plus, the surgeon travels around (hence last time I had to travel an hour and a half to Rochester to get my bottom ones removed- an experience I would not like to repeat) and he's only in Lockport 2 times a month. So now I have to request work off again, losing 4 more days of potential pay, all because the constantly malfunctioning machine hasn't been fixed yet.

Annoyed and frustrated, we decided to go to Petsmart to look at the kitties to calm ourselves down and maybe buy a new toy for our cats. We didn't have a new kitten in mind, but then we saw her. She was wild and crazy, full of energy and life, and she pounced into our hearts right away. An hour later, she was ours. Yes, we impulse bought a cat. Meh, it happens.

holding her for the first time

Dying cause she's so cute

meeting Bootsie

sleepy baby

Her name is Nymeria- if you don't watch Game of Thrones I'm sure this is a strange name to you, but Cesca called her it in the pet store and it stuck. What can I say? My family is obsessed with GoT and cats.

So instead of wallowing in pain and icing my face all day and into the weekend, I am now sitting here watching our new, adorable baby run, jump, play and explore (Bootsie likes to follow her around, it's adorable!)

My daddy didn't want another cat, because he thinks we are crazy. And yet he's been watching out for her and playing with her all day. He's in love, just like the rest of us, haha.

Isn't life funny sometimes?