WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
Perfection is a topic upon which I have voiced my opinion on this column before. Let’s venture into that realm again. My only problem with it is that the state of something being ‘perfect’ just seems so improbable to me. Not unattainable, mind you, just improbable (there’s still a sliver of sunshine for all you perfectionists out there). But I’d like to talk about one essential factor that is required to change that improbable to attainable - luck.
I’m sure all of you have been acquainted with Murphy’s law. If not, let me just tell you that it has been the root cause of all your problems without you even being aware of it. The law states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, with a recently added clause of “usually at the worst time”. Take a drama production, for example. Things that can go wrong include actors coming after the show started, the makeup and costume guy falling sick, one of the kids in the front row venturing onto stage to eat a prop - I think it’s safe to say that the things that can go wrong are practically infinite in number. According to Murphy’s Law, all these things can and will go wrong. It is luck that is required to reduce that figure from order of hundreds to an order of tens.
I personally hate the concept of probability and chance. When we were taught this in school, I audibly groaned. I need to know if something is going to happen or not going to happen; anything in between is so frustrating. But when I started to study quantum mechanics (oh who am I kidding, you probably know all about the quantum world from Avengers Endgame), I realised that everything can be expressed in terms of probability. While the probability of me sitting on my sofa writing this at 5 am could be close to 100%, there is a miniscule probability of me being on Mars jamming to Lungi Dance right now. This world is governed by probability and chance, and luck is the sole factor that can tip the scale in favour of one side.
Let me tell you a story. It’s about an incident I can now joke about, so brace yourselves. I liked this girl (and that’s how most disasters occur isn’t it). At least I thought I liked her. And just for context, I’d had minimal interaction with her before coming to this revelation. So instead of telling her directly, instead of building a meaningful relationship before telling her, I built my own little fantasy of how I wanted things to be. In my head. And in this fantasy, she liked me back, obviously. In the midst of switching between reality and fantasy, I actually began to think that the fantasy would come true. So when I finally told her, she said no, obviously.
Since the time I realised (or I thought) I liked her and the time I told her, nothing had changed, not even in the slightest. I had created this fantasy in my head that I hoped would come true. I hoped I would get lucky.
See, but that’s the thing, right? Despite the several (failed) attempts numerology and sun signs have had to convince me that the two of us were meant to be, ‘getting lucky’ is not about the perfect alignment of constellations at birth. It’s so much more about conscious hard work and effort put into achieving a goal you have set your eyes upon. Don’t hope to “get lucky”; go about your life in such a way that luck has no other choice but to turn in your favour. Don’t hope to “get lucky”; make your luck yourself.
Felix Felicis sounds like the most useless potion in the world.
Alrighty Aphrodite: Love Languages, Literally
Firstly, I would like to dispel any notion of me being a Laurie and Jo shipper.
Now that we’ve established that, I believe we can start.
To you, this piece of information may be surprising, and, quite frankly, rather useless. However, as an avid reader and professional fangirl, I have watched the movie Little Women more times than I can count. From reading the book as a child, and then continuing to immerse myself in that universe by discovering all its different renditions, it has been a known fact to all around me that, if you mention their names to me, I will go on a spiel of some sort and not stop (is it called ‘inertia of motion’? I’m not sure, physics has never really been my thing). The same goes for a ton of other ‘ships’ (and for anyone above 25 reading this, I am not talking about the ones like Titanic, but more about Jack and Rose), and, from the various number of times I have been called by my friends at unholy hours to discuss some very specific fictional relationships, I know for a fact I do not happen to be the only one.
The thing is, the media we consume plays a big role in how we see the world. And this could be in a lot of ways - if it is projecting onto a certain character, picking up traits and mannerisms from the celebrities we see around us, and more. Furthermore, it builds on our ideals and sometimes, in the most unnoticeable ways, also shows us what our ideal life would look like.
Therefore, when it comes to love, it is quite inevitable that what we look at, what we read about, and what we listen to affects how we emulate it in our own lives. And every so often, I stumble upon a love that isn’t particularly describable - if you ask me to delineate it, chances are you won’t be getting an answer any time soon.
It’s almost as if there aren’t any words.
Although the above sentence may have been a very poor attempt at me trying to tie my article together, it is also a way of telling you that the ancient Greeks knew what was, metaphorically, ‘up’. According to some of the classical works of Plato and Aristotle, there were about seven types of love that existed - and each had a different word dedicated entirely to it. It also just so happens that a majority of the content we consume fits into these 7 types of love, and while I don’t think these old Greek philosophers would appreciate me correlating what must have taken them years to think about to Percabeth, it had to be done.
As I said before, the likes of Grecian philosophers believed that love mainly came in seven forms - Eros, Ludus, Philia, Storge, Philautia, Pragma, and finally, Agápe. While to us, these words may sound as if they were from another language (spoiler alert, they are), our minds come across these types of love more often than we realise.
For instance: Usually described as a passionate love, Eros is the connection between amorous partners, an appreciation for one’s physical beauty (while Shravan and Brishti argue that a perfect example would be Paxton and Devi, I’d argue otherwise- Ben and Devi fit the description better). And then there’s Storge, a strong familial love, present in all the sitcoms we see of storybook families persevering through thick and thin.
The point I’m trying to make here is this: love and ardency are messy and complicated, both on and offscreen. Sometimes, these words intersect and overlap, the letters constantly rearranging among themselves. Often, over time, one of them morphs into another, and sparks love that we never thought we were capable of - and, occasionally, you can’t put it in words.
But when you can, why not? When in Greece, right? :D
In my opinion, ribbons are one of the few truly excellent things that human beings have created.
For my fourth birthday party, my mother stuck long strands of blue ribbon to the ceiling of my room to replicate the rippling waves under the sea, which was the theme of my party. The shades of shifting blue filled me with a sense of peace and tranquility for about four minutes. That feeling was soon replaced by anger and frustration because of the fact that people were trying to climb these ribbons. Yes, human children who were four years old were trying to climb ribbons stuck to my ceiling with cello tape. At the end of the party, there was a knot of tangled ribbons on the floor and an angry four year old who had learnt that beautiful things can’t exist for long in a world of idiots.
In spite of this delightful experience, my love for ribbons has only grown stronger by the year. Almost every activity book, diary, or scrapbook I used to own had some sort of ribbon decoration or bookmark attached to it. I used to obsessively watch ribbon craft tutorials for a while. After many (failed) attempts at recreating those crafts, I settled for using ribbons to just tie the pages of my school projects and scrapbook sheets.
Now, as many of you might know, I have a special relationship with fire. So imagine my delight upon learning that one way to prevent ribbons from unfurling and trailing thread was to simply burn their edges. I managed to fit ribbon-burning in my daily schedule and I looked forward to every new day as it meant that I would have more ribbons to burn. This was around the time when my mother became seriously concerned about me and encouraged me to use washi tape instead.
Washi tape might be gorgeous, but its beauty pales in comparison to the thrill that accompanies working with ribbons. However, I will acknowledge the fact that this change might be one of the main reasons as to why my house is still intact.
While we’re on the topic of potential disasters, two years ago, we were asked to make a scrapbook for each subject in school where we had to “creatively” display all the concepts that we had learnt in each chapter. Flipping through these pages now, all I see is a lot of love, care and pretty lettering. The irony of me not loving or caring as much about those subjects whose textbooks had tiny and almost unreadable fonts is not lost on me (French is an obvious exception). I find it so weird that doing things I love can change my perception of other things that I may not love as much, simply because I’m doing them around the same time.
Everyone has certain tiny things that fill their hearts with glimmers of hope. One of my best friends used to love Russian nesting dolls, dreamcatchers and sand art. Another friend of mine loves felt-tip markers, glitter and wooden beads. Soap bubbles, huge posters, tiny umbrellas, lip balm, pop-up cards - they’re all small (and legal) things that can bring a huge smile on people’s faces.
A nice patterned ribbon still brings me a tremendous amount of joy. Every time we get a gift box, I immediately use the ribbon for a ridiculous hairstyle. Studying organic chemistry with a glittery ribbon tied in a bow may not make the subject any easier, but it does make looking in the mirror a lot more fun.
So I’ve filled my life with these seemingly insignificant things that just mean the entire world to me and they may or may not have taken over my life. While you guess whether I’m talking about collages, my friends or arson, I’m going to spend the next few hours getting this ribbon out of my curly and (now) tangled hair.
So, it’s been a month. And I am, well… surviving!
IB is unlike most other boards. The courses are designed in such a way that learning is impactful as we are encouraged to discover our own opinions on topics and motivated to research a lot across all subjects. You aren’t always fed information directly and are taught how to study information and analyze it. It even has an amazing subject, Theory Of Knowledge, which aims to question everything you know to be factual. The vast amount of assignments along with several other tasks and material to study, means that the workload in IB is extremely high and you most definitely have at least three deadlines every single day. Three is an important number we like to use here.
I make great decisions in life, and it so happens that I picked this curriculum for my 11th and 12th education. It also so happens that I am naturally lazy and find it a burden to get work done on time. For example this article was supposed to be ready 3 days ago, yet here I am angering the poor editors (sorry), and also myself by writing this at 12:45 am.
I have nothing against the IB, I believe it is an amazing method of education. I would, however, like to have a word with the person who decided to strip me of my sleep by giving me so much work. And that person is (drumroll please) me! Surprise twist, right? The work is not the actual problem. It’s the approach I have to it.
Anxiety hits you hard when you’ve had 4 months of vacation and then BABAM - back to school in one of the hardest curriculums. It’s not rare for me to go to sleep thinking about how much work I have left to do and getting stressed and starting to regret ever choosing to go to an IB school.
Over the past month of IB, I have spent more time worrying about the work I have to do rather than actually doing said work. Which is simply brilliant. Who decided it was a good idea to overwhelm me with this workload. So much so that I end up saying “Oh no I have so much work!” for a good few hours everyday, which is time I could have spent actually doing the work.
I need to get a bit more organised as we finish with the first assessments of the year. They didn’t go as great as I would have liked, but I now know what to work on. Better planning will yield the best of my productive capacity and I am in the process of doing just that.
The IB is hard and all, but with proper division of workload and submission of work on time, I think I should be good. Just need to work on the different portfolios, the subjects themselves, the assignments for each subject, the submissions, reflections, CAS, TOK exhibition, and of course, college planning. So, that's fun, huh?
I love rambling about my workload. It is now 1:30 am actually, and news flash, I need to physically go to school tomorrow, so writing this article is not great for me to be doing. But who needs healthy sleep schedules when you could be writing an article for your best friend’s magazine, am I right? I mean it’s not like I get to sleep anymore anyways. I have developed, as the kids say these days, a caFfeIne aDdicTioN. (it's not as bad as it sounds don't worry)
There have been some amazing times in the past month, however. I have had a newfound love for English, which is just brilliant. I actually enjoy doing my work whenever I do it because I picked only the subjects I like and that I enjoy, so that makes it a bit easy. Moreover, the content can be genuinely interesting and enriching, making all the hard work worth it. But still, by all means, if the IB was a person, it would be a piece of work. I really need to learn to organise my workload, and make to-do lists everyday to get everything back on track, because those really work well for me.
Okay let’s sum up my experience so far now. The gist of it is that IB is hard and it is a lot of work and my sleep has definitely been compromised. I need to start organising work better and get better at submitting things by their deadlines such that shit does not hit the roof (as my dearest mother likes to say). And I should probably tone down on that coffee. It is a very unsustainable lifestyle right now. IB has been a pain, but that is no one’s fault but mine. The curriculum doesn’t allow you to be lazy and I need to get accustomed with that as I have to eventually become “mature” and “independent” and “organised” or whatever. I definitely enjoy the IB though, nothing against it, like I said. I hate getting older. So with that I think I will end this article and go to bed so that when I see 3 of my editors in the car tomorrow, I will not be yelled at :).
The Pain that is IB
THE AZURE OCEAN
The azure ocean,
The one in my dreams,
A creation of god,
Gift for all.
The sapphire waves,
Dance on the surface,
To the music of the elegant current,
Controlling the water.
The majestic animals,
Swim over the iris reef,
They are in for a treat.
The aristocrat blue whale,
VIP of the ocean,
Feeds on the green algae.
The water whispers to me,
Calling me to the golden sand,
The water sweeps over my feet,
Surrounding where I stand.
The canary sun,
Rises in the east,
Meaning dawn is here, Time to say goodbye to sleep.
HARRY STYLES REVOLUTION
MISOGYNY AND (TOXIC) MASCULINITY
A week or so ago; as I was loitering around on the internet in the depths of my chronic procrastination, I stumbled upon this pixelated clip presumably from a reality show from around the 2010s:
“Volleyball is a very masculine sport. Modeling is a very feminine thing. And that means sometimes we have to give up things that we love to do”, Yolanda went on, “You eat like a man. I thought you were lesbian.”
Her daughter; Gigi, listened. I didn't think much of it at first; in fact, I let out a weak chuckle. These words echoed in my head by some uncanny fluke. The video came to a resolution yet I was left in thought. How could someone possibly make so many inferences about another's temperament based on a hobby - and to go as far as to assume sexuality? What even makes volleyball masculine? Why is anything even gendered? And no, this isn't the exposition of some downward spiral but (ironically) a product of my lackadaisical ceremony. How did I manage to have a string of coherent thoughts? I was impressed.
Harry Styles had caused “controversy” (because this is obviously one of the biggest issues of the 21st century this last December over sporting a flowy periwinkle dress on the cover of Vogue). When I say Candace Owens rained on this parade , I'm not suggesting a light drizzle - not even a heavy downpour. I mean a flood. “Bring back manly men”, she said in response to Harry's cover. This was my last straw. This ideology that dominated people - subconsciously - was getting out of hand.
What defines masculinity and femininity? Why are clothes assigned gender? These societal constructs govern our daily lives. Why did I have to wear a skirt to school and the boys a pair of pants? What did the length of my hair have to do with gender? These scrutinies flashed across my conscience in an unexplainable rage and I needed to hold someone accountable. Where did it all go wrong and how have we reached this state of mind as a society? Who decided to gender clothes?
The sad truth is that men have looked “feminine” for the majority of history. As early as 400 BC, Spartan warriors, who are “manly” and “tough”, wore miniskirts made of leather and embellishment . Shortly after, in Ancient Greece, men wore a Chiton which is that loose flowy garment that is very popularly depicted in Greek statues that today would be considered a dress. There was a strong anti-pant sentiment because of the long standing cultural belief that pants were effeminate. Yes, the Greeks thought pants were feminine. The Greeks were disturbed by the fact that in many of these pant-wearing cultures (like the Persians) both men and women were wearing them which implied that men and women had the same roles in society, which was considered horrific.
Eventually the Roman empire took over the Greeks and they were just another component to the anti-pants movement. Roman Emperors went as far to enforce a trousers ban, where anyone caught wearing pants would be exiled. It's also significant to note how common pederasty was in this era and that it was considered hyper masculine and a rite of passage for young men. Achilles and Hercules himself, the peak of manhood, engaged in this. Obviously, twice the man, more the manliness!
In my opinion, men looked the best between the late 1400s to the early eighteenth century. For instance, in the early 1500s, Henry VIII , who was the monarch of England (certainly a very manly man isn't he?) wore exquisite silk stockings adorned with embroidery under his skirt. He fashioned well crafted jewelry in his royal portraits as well. The 17th century saw the invention of high heels as mens footwear. As a matter of fact, men of that period ostracized women that wore high heels as “stealing their ultimate attribute to manliness.” Men styled their hair in voluminous locks, neat rolls, ponytails and wigs. Men's interest in fashion and their own appearance wasn't considered effeminate but as a sign of wealth of power. As far as western human history goes, manly men wore dresses, makeup, they did ballet, wore corsets, lace, silk frilly nightgowns, tasty pastels and a lot of pink. The general notion of this time was to dress in a way that pertained to an individuals class and not sex or gender (although the bipartite did exist, social class and obligation overruled it), which in contemporary standards is would be considered tragically effiminate.
Indian maharajas wore such extravagant, colorful clothes in loud patterns lined with gold piping and embedded with pearls. They adorned themselves with many diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and whatnot. In East Asian cultures, nobility and aristocrats were quite elegant and possessed a variety of “feminine” traits.
This brings me to a seminal theme - the racial component of this issue. When Harry Styles wears something society deems feminine, it's viewed as a progressive move; he's dismantling toxic masculinity. It's nice to see Harry Styles incite a conversation within mainstream media. But when Billy Porter wears a dress, there's more negativity and backlash; he is discredited and it gets pushed under the carpet entirely. This is just one such example. There are numerous male (or even male presenting) A-listers that have been wearing dresses to red carpets that just happen to be BIPOC.
I want to stress that the way we've gendered clothing has shifted throughout history to reflect current values of the times. For example, pants are essentially free of any binary because we've moved closer to gender equality (there’s still a long way to go). Due to the spike of women who have joined the workforce, I think that dresses and skirts should also be unshackled from the girls-only connotation; because we have simply surpassed that point. People who hide behind tradition are unreasonable because traditions constantly change as I've written. It isn't erroneous to dress “masculine” or “feminine” - the problem arises when people gatekeep it. People may wear dresses to look more “feminine” while others may view them as simply fabric - that is, with no binary confinements.
One day, we are going to look back and be astounded at how in 2021 men were criticised for wearing dresses in the same manner we look back now in the 1930s when women were vilified for wearing pants (obviously, women have always been more oppressed than men, hence, it being socially acceptable for women to wear pants has completely different implications than men being “allowed” to wear skirts and dresses); but what we can today is to not ruin the fun by dictating what people and should and shouldn't wear, according to a construct that literally changes every 50 years. Take notes, Candace Owens.
ON THE WAY TO HELL
- IVAN DE MONBRISON
The words remained on the sheet of paper like ink marks
But the book is white.
Your eyes are white too.
The horizon is red and blue.
There is a madman, he screams alone in a closed room.
He knocks on the walls.
Tomorrow I will collect severed heads in the garden of pain
to make a bouquet of thoughts out of them.
(ORIGINAL VERSION IN RUSSIAN)
По дороге в ад
Слова остались на листе бумаги,
как следы чернил,
Но книга белая.
Твои глаза тоже белые.
Горизонт красный и синий.
Есть безумный , он кричит один в закрытой комнате.
Он стучит по стенам.
Завтра буду собирать отрубленных голов в сад боли,
чтобы сделать из них букет мыслей.