Saturday, May 17, 2008

Live in the Now

It seems that there is a trend of human fascination in the future. I think that goes along with being intrigued by the unknown, or really the unknowable. In elementary school there always seems to be some assignment where you have to complete the thought of "In the future ___." It wasn't necessarily a test of your knowledge of the state of the world but usually a test of your imagination. The future is an outlet for the creative mind. The future is a dream world, with world peace, tube portals that suck you up & transport you from Chicago to Amsterdam in 1 minute with no delays, humans talk to their animal co-workers, and the earth is a desolate ghost town in the universe.

Perhaps the fact that the future is so malleable is the reason why creative institutions obsess over the concept and exaggerate its existence. "The Jetsons," "Back to the Future," and other movies, books, and tv shows all seem to envision the future in very similar ways. Food magically appears, cars & other forms of transportation fly, float, or hover, space travel is easily accessible, robots & button pushing does everything for you, and everyday attire involves overwhelming amounts of metallic textiles, crazy geometric formations, and seem highly impracticable for the work place.

I think it's interesting that this portrayal of the future seems to cross generational lines. I mean, "The Jetsons" was created in the 1960's, "Back to the Future" was in the 1980's, and even though about 20 years elapsed between the 2, there's a common thread in the object of the future. I don't know if these depictions were meant to be a parody or and exaggeration of the future, or if these people really imagined that these elements would manifest themselves in the coming years. But I have to say that when I think about the future, I think of it as a highly metropolitan space life with lasers and robots and lots of gadgets that save me from doing any manual labor ever as I lounge around in my crazy metallic jumpsuit, since jeans no longer exist, much like the creators of these shows and movies thought of the future. Regardless of what year it is, this future is timeless & will always exist just out of our reach. "Oh, I bet in the year 3000 they'll be a water park on Venus that knocks Indiana Beach of the map." These kind of things.

But here's the thing: We're living in the future. I said this one time and the people I was with just laughed at me as though they were expecting me to say something completely ridiculous for the sake of their enjoyment. But seriously, these things that generations have always thought would have in that unreachable future are happening in our lifetime & our generation. Within my life, we have reached the unattainable and fantastically impractical future that we have always dreamed up. This thought dawned on me one day when I went to Target & I saw that they now have these picture frames where you don't even put a picture in them. You just put this chip in them & then pictures just appear & they change out like a slide show. Now that is the future. It scared me a bit. It made me realize that the future of Doc Brown, Martie McFly, and Astro was a-knockin'. Then, when I was in Ft. Wayne this past week I saw on the news that a robot conducted the Detroit Symphony. Not a person, a robot. A real-live robot. And he said things that a person would say. An eloquent, educated person. And he did a really good job. That's the future, and it just happened 5 days ago. And you can't tell me that segways aren't crazy futuristic transportation instruments that you colored in on your "this is what the future will look like" project. Oh! And let's not forget about Deep Blue, the computer that beat a Russian at chess. It beat a Russian...at chess! Americans can't even beat Russians at chess. And it's been over a decade since that happened. So really, we've sort of past the commencement of the future. Now we're in the thick of it.

I guess I'm kind of disappointed in the future. I had such high expectations for it, and now that it's here it's kind of a bummer. I expected so much more, as my 2nd grade project revealed. Plus, I always thought that the reason we had the future was to create a life that we believed could never be. And since society is disproving that thought by proclaiming that it can be, what are our little imaginations supposed to do? I guess a positive is that those hovering skateboards from "Back to the Future: II" are just around the corner. I will anxiously be awaiting their arrival at Target.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A time to be studying, a time to spend your day answering absurd questions in order to find out if you are a drunk diva or a crunk chick

My summer break has officially started. As much as I yearned for this time since September when it last concluded, I wish that it weren't here. I'm afraid I got my Grandpa's disease where I feel like I have to constantly be doing something. I guess I don't know how to relax, or how to function as a relaxed human being. I mean, I'm pretty laid back in personality, but when it comes to activity & function, I need to be doing something constantly. Tuesday night after we played a show I realized that I had nothing to do the next day, since I had spent all of monday cleaning my apartment from base board to ceiling trim. I mapped out a master plan for wednesday, involving a day spent reading, at the park, possibly exercising, baking, lots of stuff. When I woke up the next morning the sky was almost the same hue as it was when I went to bed, but now it was shedding its spring coat all over the earth. No park. I had no idea what to do with myself. I decided that since I had all of this time inside, I should use it by doing something productive like spending time with myself and really focusing on me & trying to find the answer to the question, "who is Maggie Paino?" What would the answer be to that question on jeopardy? I wanted to know. So, I dedicated the next 4 hours of my life to self-reflection...via online quizzes. You know the ones; they clutter up myspace & facebook pages with their philosophies on how that individual portrays a caramel apple strudel because he/she is such a sweet person that people, but people can only handle in certain types of situations but when others do get a little taste of him/her, they're addicted for life. I started goofing around on this website during my finals because I just wanted to do anything but study, obviously. I took a quiz called "how much do you weigh?" Now, to me this just seemed like such a ridiculous quiz to take. How on earth can they tell me how much I weigh without either being an analog or digital scale, or a carny? I answered questions regarding how much fast food I eat & how often I exercise. My result--I weigh 160 pounds. 160 POUNDS. Then I took a quiz of equitable absurdity called "are you pregnant?" Is your period more than 3 weeks late? Are you a woman? Are you bloated? (I got kind of nervous when I had to answer yes to that one) Have you taken more than 2 pregnancy tests that all resulted in "positive"? Luckily, I'm not pregant. Phew.

So, in my 4 hours of blog quizzes, here's what I learned about myself:

I have good spelling
My eyes should be brown (luckily, they are)
I have quite good cell phone etiquette
If I were a sandwich I would be a grilled cheese (but I think I would go by the name "cheese toastie)
I'm 76% Good
My life is rated PG
People definitely like me
If I were a cheesecake, I would be a key lime cheesecake
The animal that I was in a past life was an otter
If I were a shade of green, I would be apple green
I'm from the plant Neptume
My 1996 themesong is "Ironic" by Alanis Morisette
If I were a punctuation mark I would be a Question Mark (and I get along best with the Comma)
I will keep my New Year's Resolution
My scent is "pumpkin pie"
I really know my state capitals (I think the quiz was a little disturbed by how good I was)
I'm not ruined by American Culture
I'm a bad date
Out of the most recent former presidents, I am most like George H.W. Bush
My celebrity boob twin is Paris Hilton

As I continued down my path of self-evaluation and enlightenment, I found that not only were there quizzes telling me who I am, but there were also quizzes that would tell me how to live my life, & answered all of the tough questions that I've been facing as I begin to "grow up." This was great! All I had to do was answer a few questions, and then they would tell me what I should do! Where should I live? What kind of car should I drive? What kind of dog should I get? What should I be when I grow up? What higher educational degree should I get? (it said I should get a j.d., so it looks like I'm on the right track) What shade of lipstick should I wear? What April Fool's prank should I play? What color should my blog background be? This was great!

Then, as I got about 3 hours 45 minutes into these quizzes, I started to wonder about their results. Like the quiz "how happy are you?" Was that honestly how happy I was? Or the fact that I should have brown eyes. Could they have made a mistake? I started to doubt everything I had learned about myself that afternoon. But then, in a glistening moment of serendipity, I stumbled upon another section of quizzes that I could take. "How happy are you, really?" "What color eyes should you have, really?" It's like they knew that I was questioning their authority on these topics! So, I'm really supposed to have blue eyes? I knew it! It's a good thing I took this second quiz to make sure!

One thing that I was thoroughly impressed with is the quiz creator's ability to come up with ways to make someone feel like they really were a powdered devil's food donut with star-shaped sprinkles. Not only that, but the fact that they can pull so many things out of an inanimate object & personify it to the point that an individual feels so empowered by the fact that they represent a certain type of shoe. Seriously, think about it. It's just a very admirable skill in my book.

There was one question I came across that I had quite a bit of trouble answering. I believe it was a part of the quiz "what is your theme song for 1996?" The question asked:
Which artists do you like the best?

A. Michelle Branch, Fefe Dobson, Kelly Clarkson
B. Counting Crows, Sarah McLachlan, Sting
C. Maroon 5, Good Charlotte, Alanis Morissette
D. Fountains Of Wayne, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jewel
E. Tori Amos, Norah Jones, Indigo Girls
F. Nickelback, Dido, Coldplay
G. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blink 182, Garbage
H. Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Nelly Furtado

What kind of groupings are those? Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Jewel? Nickelback & Coldplay? I would be quite perturbed if I were Coldplay & I was included in a group with Nickelback. Or Garbage & Blink 182?

So anyways, all in all, my summer break has started out successful. I've learned so much about who I am & what I should do with my life from here on out. I'm glad I got all that serious stuff out of the way so that I have plenty of time to have fun this summer.