Thursday, February 27, 2014

I've Been Published!

The thing that I thought would never happen has happened. I am a published writer! I was contacted last April to see if my blog post "Where Did Our Clothes Come From?" could be included into a college textbook called Sustainability: a Reader for Writers. Obviously I jumped at the opportunity. I was a couple months away from graduating with a degree in English with intentions of pursuing writing when they emailed me, and it could not have come at a more perfect time. It seemed the closer I got to getting out of college, the more self-doubt crept into my head telling me that I wasn't a good enough writer to pursue it seriously. So to have a college professor (of English, no less) find something I wrote and want to include it into his book, was such validation that I wasn't as bad as the voice in my head was telling me I was. The downside, though, is that I never wrote the post with the intentions of it being published anywhere other than my own blog and therefore wrote it very casually like I do most of my posts. After I gave permission for them to use the article I quickly went back and read it over trying to find and fix all the grammatical mistakes that were sprinkled throughout the article, in vain I'm sure, since they probably had the post already included 'as is' in the book before emailing me. Even since getting a copy of the book, I've never been able to actually read the article myself for fear that I'm going to be overly critical about something I wrote 4 years ago and then obsess about how differently I would have written it now, or how there is a comma where there should have been a semi-colon.

This is where I wish I had known about Grammarly, a website that's like spell check for grammar, sooner. I'm now going to use Grammarly to correct grammar in all my blog posts from here on out since having grammatical errors in your writing is like having food stuck in your teeth: everyone sees it, but nobody wants to be the one to point it out to you. Grammarly is like that friend who not only tells you it's there, but helps you get rid of it so people won't laugh at you behind your back.

The point is, is that I'm over-the-moon that something I wrote was deemed good enough to be in print, even if I am still a bit self-conscious about my writing abilities. The best part about being published in a textbook though, has to be the questions at the end where students have to discuss what I wrote (and even having to do an exercise of going to the mall!).

Sure, I've been self-publishing stuff I've written on this blog for years, but there really is an unexplainable feeling of seeing your name in print and the words you've written in ink on paper. I hope it's a feeling I'll have many more times.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Diluted Experiences

The other night on my way home from work I hit a dog. I was driving through my neighborhood like every other night when out of nowhere I see a ball of fur dart out in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and felt a thud under my right front tire followed by a blood-curdling cry. Oh my gosh, I killed it I thought to myself, frozen in shock. Immediately I looked out my passenger side window realizing the crying was moving away from my car, and I see the poor thing running back up its owner's driveway holding up its left front paw. Holy crap, it's still alive! I couldn't believe it. I thought for sure I had just killed it. I fumbled to get my car in park and get the keys out of the ignition before I was walking up the driveway to where the owner was now holding the dog in the garage. "I am so sorry, is she okay? Is it her paw? I didn't even see her; I am so sorry. I feel so bad." I kept saying over and over. The owner was extremely nice, telling me not to feel bad, that it wasn't my fault, that she ran out in front of me. Still, my heart felt heavy in my chest. Losing two of my own dogs last year, and knowing how awful it is, I did not want to be the reason for someone else losing theirs. The dog was no longer crying, but the owner was saying how he was going to take her in just in case. I kept apologizing until I felt like I may be annoying him, and when I felt like there was nothing more I could do, I got back in my car and went home.

I sat at the kitchen table in a daze, thinking about it, replaying it over and over in my head. I thought about it in the shower, while brushing my teeth, while laying in bed. I kept thinking of the dog's face in my headlights and the sound of the thud. And even though I knew I hadn't killed the dog, that I hadn't been speeding, that I didn't do anything wrong, and even the owner himself told me not, I still felt bad. I felt awful.

Suddenly, my thoughts turned to one of my old co-workers. A woman in her forties who was so nice and so pleasant and whom I liked so much; and how a few years ago she had struck and killed a twenty-year-old guy after he drunkenly ran into the street in front of her car.  Like me, she hadn't been speeding or drinking or doing anything wrong, but unlike me, it wasn't just an animal, it was a person. I had a whole new level of sympathy for her. Here I was beside myself because I accidentally ran over a dog's paw, and the level of guilt I felt must have been a mere fraction of what she went through.

I'm a strong believer in things happening for a reason. Sometimes that reason may just be that you were at the wrong place at the wrong time, but I believe that God will use these misfortunes for good. Whether they teach us lessons or better our character, I do not think he ever wastes our pain or experiences. I could drive myself crazy thinking how maybe if something were different I would have missed hitting that dog. If I had driven faster or slower, if I had lingered at a stop sign longer. But what if lingering at the stop sign meant that the dog would have been further out into the street and instead of just its paw, I ran over its whole body? The what-ifs are not only endless; they're worthless. It happened how it happened. And that's when I had the thought that maybe God gives me these serious, yet diluted experiences to teach me empathy towards others. That he wants to grow my ability to feel others' pain, even if only in little pieces. He knows that if that had been a person instead of a dog, it would have sent me to a mental hospital. So He handled me with kid gloves because I am a fragile person, but he also knows my ability to feel things deeply is also a gift. So he lets me feel the pain and guilt of hurting a dog so, not only am I more cautious, now I have a memory that I can draw from and tap into when I come across someone dealing with something similar. Because sometimes hearing someone else's story of how they went through what you're going through makes you feel a little less alone. And even more importantly, it makes you look at them differently, now understanding the pain they, too, hold inside.

photo via lomography

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Are Terms of Endearment Actually Endearing?

I asked some of my male co-workers the other day whether or not they use terms of endearment to people they don't know. You know, words like: sweetie, babe, hon, sweetheart. They seem nice enough, they mean nice things, so why do they bug me so much? They answered, "yeah, sometimes." Like it was no big deal and perfectly normal. Really? I asked in disbelief. Why?!

I have never in my life called someone "sweetheart" or "hon" that wasn't meant to be blatantly ridiculous. It feels weird and unnatural coming out of my mouth. Sure, I'll send my best friend an occasional "Hey, sugartits" text but that's besides the point. One of my biggest pet peeves is when anyone under 70, from either gender, refers to me as "sweetie" or "babe". I take it as extremely condescending, even though I know that they probably aren't trying to be. I see these words as something you call a child; so in my book, if you're not an elderly person, knock it off.

My hangup about this may have started when I was 14, and I was an office TA at my school. During my 3rd period, I would answer phones, deliver call slips and do other tasks for the school staff. There was one lady in particular that worked in the front office who I always hated being around because she was mean and acted very entitled. In the adult world, I would describe her as a customer who always complains about something and is never happy with anything. Every time she needed me to do something for her she would address me, "Hey, mija..." which I knew was a term of endearment but it always seemed so fake and condescending coming from her. From then on I always saw these types of words as something people used to sweet-talk you into doing something for them.

My co-workers, all males in their 20s, admitted that they usually say it in a flirtatious, yet harmless, way and are more likely to use it to a person they know they will never see again. Then what's the point? You're never going to see her again, therefore, butter her up nice and douchey? Do you wink at her after you say it, too? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the majority of people who use these words to perfect strangers do it to be nice, but I can't help but get the willies every time they're said to me. I can't be alone in this. Right, babe?

Here is an entertaining list of terms of endearment that people should start using. My favorites are big-daddy-yum-yum, honey-toast, and shabookadook.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Things From Around The Web

 Here are a few links to start off the week:

How to pass time on the train.

What your dog's really thinking.

For all of you who work in retail.

Zoo lets you have a tug-a-war with tigers.

Made me laugh.

What security cameras also catch (try not to tear up).

Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron was a topic of discussion among my co-workers and I this weekend. The story takes about 15 minutes to read, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

                                                       Have a wonderful week!

Photo via alkeemi
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