And then everything changed

Sonntag, 12. März 2017

Links I Love 3

I am leaving on vacation in a couple of days, so I will probably not be able to put up any posts during the next weeks. In the meantime I leave you with some interesting, inspiring and eye opening things I've read and watched online recently. (If you want to check out my previous Links I Love posts you can find them here and here.)

The Cunning "American Bitch" Episode of "Girls" by Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker

This week I rediscovered "Girls". I have watched it before but then somehow forgot about it, so I picked it up again in the last days. At first it was tough getting back into the show because man, the characters are all flawed on so so many levels to the point where I don't want to be friends with any of them. But I do appreciate just this about the show. It's real and it's ugly because this is what life is about. Also the sex scenes are on point.

Last night I finally watched the "American Bitch" episode which I already knew was talked about a lot. And it deserves all the attention it gets. The episode shows Hannah who has written a rant about an author who may or may not have nonconsensual sexual encounters with fans. The author then invites her to his apartment to convince her of what a decent guy he is before basically proving the exact oposite in the last 10 minutes of the episode.

And I can tell you, it was upsetting. It was upsetting because you don't know what is true. On one hand you want to defend the girls which came forward with accusations but on the other hand he is really convincing. I even found myself taking his side throughout the first half of the episode which made it that much more disturbing. This is an important episode in the light of several celebrities being accused of something similar at the moment.

Emily Nussbaum gives a detailed and correct analysis of the episode. I like how she points out that the Hannah we see in it is very out of character which she explains with pointing out that here we don't meet Hannah, the character, but the actual Lena Dunham, creator of "Girls". Go and watch this episode (it has nothing to do with the rest of the show, so don't mind about that) and then read Nussbaum's review.

The Importance of Having Hobbies You're Bad At by Molly Longest, The Lala

This was a fun article which truly resonated with me. Basically Longest's message is that we should have hobbies we're bad at because it is refreshing to do something where we're not striving for perfection, not looking to become great at, but rather do it just for fun.

And this is so true! I have been dancing since I was 6 years old and to be honest, I was never very good at it. I don't suck, but I'm not great at it either. I always thought that this is the one thing I will never succeed at: be a professional dancer. Which is 100% true. But you know what? That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy doing it.

Why Happily Ever After Isn't Cool Anymore by Danielle Friedman, The Cut

If you watched any of the recent "love movies" like Damien Chazelle's "Lalaland" or Woody Allen's "Café Society" you might have noticed a trend in todays movies that the main couple doesn't end up with each other. Which seems to go against everything we know about love movies and also upsets some disappointed viewers.

But I think that those movies are doing it right. Like Friedman argues they are just mirroring a trend in today's dating society. With being flexible for your career and taking care of your personal needs it seems like Happily Ever Afters become more and more rare and also it seems like they are noone's priority anymore. Don't get me wrong. I do believe in love and I believe that if it's right it will last. But I also think that you have to make sacrifices for it to work and that not everyone is willing to do this. You can't have it all. Pick your battle.

27 Songs From 2007 You Definitely Had on Your Ipod by Tahlia Pritchard, Buzzfeed

This post made my night. Seriously I went into a deep nostalgia mode when I went through these songs because many of these were and sometimes still are my favorites. Nevertheless I had never seen some of the music videos, so this was fun!

Draco Malfoy And The Fight Against Racism by Monique Jones, Tor

So every Harry Potter fan knows that Malfoy is not evil. He turned out (especially in the 7th book as well as in Cursed Child) to be a decent guy who just didn't have the balls to stand up against his family. Also everyone knows that the Deatheaters who only tolerate pure-blood wizards and want to wipe out all half-bloods and muggle-borns are J. K. Rowlings version of racism. Monique Jones brings these two aspects masterfully together.

She argues that we can learn a lot about racism by analysing the character Draco Malfoy. He grew up with people constantly telling him that he is better because he is born into a wizard family. Every member of his family (well except Sirius Black obviously) was a racist. So he became one, too. I'm always amazed by how much Rowling put into her books. If you are a Harry Potter fan or interested in racism, this article is a must read.

Madonnas Full Acceptance Speech At Billboard Women In Music 2016

I'm no big Madonna fan but this speech brought me to tears. She talks about how she was always judged for her choice to express her feminity, to dress sexy even now that she is older. She was labeled not a real feminist because she chose to express her sexuality. But she makes a clear point that your clothing doesn't decide over wether you're a feminist or not. What decides about this are the causes you stand up for.

All I could think while watching her speech was: If a woman like Madonna has to take all this shit, what the hell are we regular ladies gonna do?

La La Land (2016 Movie) - City of Stars

I already mentioned that I fell deeply in love with this movie and its feeling and message. I have shared the "Audition" song before but "City of Stars" was also fantastic. It didn't win the Oscar for best song for nothing. I listed to it pretty much daily during the last weeks.

The Story Behind Che's Iconic Photo by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Smithsonian

We tend to think that great photos are planned to the last detail and distributed carefully and for many pictures this is probably true but for others - like this iconic photo of Che Guevara - the story is a lot more chaotic. This is an interesting read not only for people interested in photography but also for those loving a good success story which had to surpass several challenges and detours on its journey.

Why We Write About Witches by Sarah Gailey, Tor

To be honest I only signed up for the Tor newsletter to get a free ebook but I'm so glad I did. I get news and insight analysis about fantasy and sci fi on a regular basis. This article analysed the different kinds of witches we can find in fantasy stories and it is so on point! It also makes a case for a new potrayal of the witch which has a lot more to do with the women movement than fantasy literature.

All Your Characters Talk The Same - And They're Not A Hivemind! by Chalie Jane Anders, io9

I have to admit that this is a huge problem for me. I tend to let all my characters talk the same which isn't only pretty unrealistic but also kind of boring. But I have been trying to get better and this article by the wonderful io9 writer Charlie Jane Anders helped me. It has a deep anaysis which will make you feel guilty more than once but also some helpful tips.

Mittwoch, 8. März 2017

A Step for Step Guide: How to write a paper for university

I have just finished and handed in two papers for university, one on horror movies, the second one on a book about a war photographer. Both were truly interesting but also a lot of work but still I managed to finish them in one month, while working on them daily. Why? Believe it or not, though I love some chaos every now and then and highly depend on my friends when planning anything, in a weird way I am also extremely organized. I love scheduling my tasks, I even love to do lists, and I couldn't survive without my planner!

Along the way I picked up a few things about writing and finishing a paper for school successfully which I like to share with you today. Of course there are differences in the process of writing a paper depending on your major and also every one has to find what works best for them in the end, but I hope this will inspire and motivate you nevertheless.

1. Research, research, research

The first thing to do is to read a massive amount of primary and secondary literature. For a literature student like me this includes fiction but most of it is theoretical non-fiction. The best to do is to decide about what you want to write about as early as possible in the semester. Ideal is when you start reading during the semester, so that you have more time during the break.

The important thing here is this: Don't just read. Underline and comment what you read. You will read hundreds of pages and if you don't add markings, your work will be worth nothing because you will basically have to re-read the whole thing once you start writing in order to plan and pick out the important points. So underline everything which seems important to you and put comments next to the texts with your thoughts, ideas and two word summaries of the line you just underlined. Believe me this will make it so much easier for you! I do this all throughout the semester with everything I read. It might take me a bit longer to read like this but it enables me to find important passages and lines so much quicker.

2. Find your question/thesis

Before starting to write you have to know what you are trying to say in the end. Know where you want to land before starting your journey. I usually have a question about my topic which is also the title of my paper. The question combines theory and method with the thing you are analysing. So it could be something like: How can I apply this theory and this method to this thing? Or: Does this thing proove or disprove the theory and the effectiveness of this method?

Also for me it's important to already know the answer to the question. Usually while you read you already get a strong idea of your opinion of this topic. So please, have an opinion. Know what you are trying to say. Know if the theory and method works for this thing or not. Once you know where you want to go, you can figure out how to get there.

3. Create an outline

How you will get there, is exactly what you will put to paper while making an outline. Plan your chapters from the introcution to the conclusion. Use as many sub-chapters as you like, you can always delete some later. Here's how an outline might look:

Introduction: what are you analysing and what are you trying to find out
Theory: summarize important theoretical concepts and explain notions you are going to use
Method: explain what method you are going to use and why
Analysis: this should be the biggest part of your paper, here are all your arguments, all your quotes and all your main points. it should have several sub-points.
Conclusion: what do you conlude from your analysis?
Bibliography: list all the texts you are referring to and quoting

4. Use symbols and abbrevations to sort your material

Once you have an outline, the most difficult part is over. Now all you have to do is follow this outline and turn it into a paper. I use abbrevations to mark all the important points in the literature I read, symbols might work as well. Here's how I do it: I assign one letter to each point of my outline. (Make sure to not assign the same letter to several points. I have done this repeatedly and it's confusing as hell!) Then I go though every single page I've read again and mark everything I underlined and commented with the correct letter according to the chapter this fits in the best.

5. Start writing

5.1. Put post-its on the pages with the letter of the chapter you are currently working on

By doing this, you will only have to go through all your literature once and then you can just skip to the post-it. Use actual sticky post-its. I tried to do this with non sticky bookmarks and they kept falling out which doubled and tripled my work. While putting in the post-its, read the lines you underlined and the comments you inserted again to see which info you have to work with in this chapter.

5.2. Make a plan for this chapter

Yes, I love plans and I would never ever start writing anything without a plan first. So while I put in the post-its I already got an overview of the content I am trying to include into this chapter. Now I write a little note for every argument and info I am including on a blank piece of paper. Then I am giving the notes numbers according to the order in which I will mention them.

5.3. Finally actually start writing

Now lay out your plan for your chapter as well as your literature next to you and start writing. Just start with the first note from your plan, open the pages with the post-its which fit to this point, put in the quote or reference, then continue with the next note. And so one. Do this until you have finished the chapter. It's all already there in your plan. All you have to do is to connect the points with some "furthermore"s and "in consequences"s. Make sure to cross out the letter/abbrevation/symbol of a line/info you have already used and to check the notes on your plan you have written about.

5.4. Read through what you have just written

When you've finished writing this chapter, read through it again. Correct all grammatical and spelling errors you notice. Make sure that what you have written is comprehensive and makes sense. Look up all words, dates, facts, etc. you are not absolutely sure about. I also highlight the citations which belong to the quotes and references I used, so that it's easier to spot them later, when I turn them into footnotes.

5.5. Repeat this process with every chapter of your paper

6. Write the introduction

I always write the introduction after I have written the actual paper, just to make sure that I don't announce something in the introduction which I don't follow through later.

7. Read through the whole thing, take notes and write the conclusion

Now read everything you have written so far and write down notes of everything which is important to mention in the conclusion. Connect the notes in a way which enables you to come to the conclusion you had in mind all the time right from the beginning. Put the notes in order and you have your plan for the conlusion. Now write the conclusion and read through it afterwards.

8. Insert the title page, the index and the bibliography

9. Insert the footnotes

So this is the most annoying and time consuming step. For every single reference and qupte you used, and you should have used a ton of them!, you have to insert a footnote. Which quoting system you use, depends on the country you live in, the standards of your university and the preferences of your teacher. But make sure to follow this system exactly - I mean down to every point and comma. Grind your teeth, insert your hundreds of footnotes, read through them again to make sure you really got every comma right and then pour yourself a glass of wine because this step is really exhausting.

10. Proofread the entire thing once more

Pay attention one last time while you proofread your paper once more, preferably after having let it sit for a day or two. Correct all grammar and spelling mistakes and look everything up you're not sure about. Also double-check all technical terms and names. There's nothing more embarrasing than writing the name of someone you refer to wrong.

11. Insert the date when you will hand it in on your title page, as well as the page numbers into the content and into the index, and check with your professor in which form (printed or digital) he wants to receive the paper.

12. Hand it in and then go get yourself some icecream!

Mittwoch, 1. März 2017

Why music is essential to life

I'm a sucker for all sorts of entertainment from books, over podcasts and movies, to tv show. But one of my first passions was music. When I was a teenager music was what I defined myself by. I chose my friends and my clothes according to my taste in music. In some ways it's definitely good that it doesn't work that way anymore as an adult (because yes, people can be amazing even if they love electro). But also I miss that music was such a central part of my life.

Music is still really important to me, I just don't scream about it at the top of my lungs anymore - except now. Here's me screaming for my love of music. Honestly I don't think I could survive without music - well, maybe I could but it would be a much sader and boring life. I listen to music everyday in the bus, when I do the dishes or when I'm reading stuff on the internet. Sometimes I turn it up real loud, dance to it and sing along (though I sound terrible).

The thing about music is that it helps me breath. It helps me express my feelings and put things into perspective. When I'm in a bad mood I listen to breakup songs which channel my aggression. When I'm a in a good mood - well, I also listen to breakup songs then, because they're great whenever - but also to upbeat, powerful tracks which make me feel so much more alive. And when I'm feeling sentimental there's nothing better than looking out of the window into the night while listening to ballads, stadium rock, accoustic, things like that.

I still listen to many bands I have loved for years like Billy Talent or All American Rejects and they give me a sense of steadiness. I might not know what I'm going to do with my life, but at least my taste in music is steady. But there's nothing more amazing than discovering a new band I instantly fall in love with. At the moment 5 Seconds To Summer are my go to band for a positive outlook on life, while Shawn James and Iwan Rheon speak to the deeper and darker parts of my soul.

No matter what kind of music you like, isn't it amazing that all it takes is some tunes and some lyrics to turn your day aorund? I'm not talented in making music at all, I can't sing or play an instrument. But I do appreciate the work of musicians so much. They give us the greatest gift there is: a moment of freedom and clarity in an otherwise controlling and confusing world.

All I want to say is: Thanks so much for that!

PS: Here's another band I'm currently obsessed with, The Wombats: