Blog

Posted in Uncategorized

Charlottesville, VA and the National and Local Responses

I was going to spend this evening blogging about my recent job offer and doing some research for my latest writing project, but today is not that day. Instead, I’m sifting through news articles trying to understand everything that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday.

Here’s everything I understand so far:

A protest was scheduled for noon on Saturday, August 12th, 2017, in response to the removal of a Confederate statue depicting General Robert E. Lee. The organizer was Jason Kessler, a resident and white nationalist (read: Nazi) of Charlottesville.

However, protesters marched at the University of Virginia on Friday night, carrying Confederate and Nazi flags as well as torches, chanting “Jews will not replace us” as they gathered around a statue depicting Thomas Jefferson. That protest ended in a brawl between protesters and counter-protesters, with at least one person being led away in handcuffs.

The evening protest drew national attention and caused the Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, to declare a state of emergency before the Saturday protest was even scheduled to start, and the (Saturday) protest was declared an unlawful assembly, though people continued to protest and counter-protest during the day. According to some of the sources I’ve read (here and here), the police did not attempt to form a barrier between the opposing sides, and did nothing to shut down violence.

Finally, the protest turned deadly when James Alex Fields, Jr., a white nationalist (read: Nazi), plowed a car into a group of counter-protesters (peaceful civilians). 19 people were injured and Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, died.

Two police officers also died, though their deaths were due to a helicopter crash en route to the protests, and no foul play is suspected in their deaths.

David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, has been quoted multiple times in his crediting the rally to Donald Trump. He said “This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we’re going to do.”

While Trump has yet to respond to Duke’s words, he did Tweet early Saturday afternoon, saying “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” After the vehicular attack on counter-protesters, Trump gave a press conference, saying “We condemn in the strongest most possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

Meanwhile…

I live in South Haven, Michigan, a little tourist town on the coast of Lake Michigan, just a few hours north of Chicago. This weekend was our busiest weekend as we celebrated the National Blueberry Festival. Looking at my little town, you would never guess all that was going on in the world. The residents and tourists of South Haven are mainly middle-class white people, and we like to pretend that South Haven is protected by an invisible bubble. As long as the sun is out, everything is fine, right?

Just 45 minutes southeast of us, in Kalamazoo, a protest in response to the Charlottesville violence has already come and gone. And in hundreds of other cities across the country, other protests and vigils have also occurred.

I’m disturbed by our lack of response to what has been international news. And this is not the only time we have dropped the ball. South Haven failed to make any sort or response to the Flint, Michigan crisis, and that was considerably closer to home. And a few years ago, buildings within a Jewish camp just outside of town were spray painted with swastikas.  But as long as the business owners of South Haven can still rake in money, everything is fine.

It’s not just true of South Haven, just as nothing is ever true of one person or group. In this country, we like to ignore our fellow Americans unless we either share in their plight or our daily lives are disrupted by protests We think that it’s not our responsibility, that it isn’t our business, or that someone else will take the steps to do the things that we ought to do. And the result is a country that has never been and will never be equal or “great.”

For the first time ever, I find myself Googling “how to protest” and “how to get protest permits.” I’m not a confrontational person, I don’t like speaking in front of others, and yet, no one wants to address the reality outside of our pretend bubble. Small, white American towns like South Haven just aren’t sending enough of a message to our government.

It’s time to talk about the things that “aren’t our problem.”

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized

The List

As I said in my last post, I was going to finish the list of things that I would like to accomplish by May 20, 2018–the anniversary of my graduation from college. I want it to be a productive year, so here is my to-do list (you all will help keep me accountable for this, right?):

  • Get an actual Adult Job
  • Begin paying back student loans and saving up to move out
    • Create a budget to help do those things
  • Write 60 pages of memoirs
  • Read 10 books (preferably books by writers of color such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, as my education sorely lacked in this area)
  • Learn to cook by cooking dinner for the family at least once a week
  • Do laundry at least once a week–stop procrastinating and letting it build up!
  • Keep bedroom clean–dust more than once a year, stop using the floor as a storage space, and throw out/donate/recycle the things I don’t use
  • Help out in the garden and with the lawn
  • Send writing submissions to at least 5 publications
    • Print rejection letters and post them on the wall
  • Practice other creative endeavors such as:
    • Embroidery
    • Knitting
    • Drawing
  • Make one article of clothing by hand
  • Spend more time outside, being active
  • Go out with friends once in a while
  • Go on a date at least once a month with the boyfriend

Many of these goals are creative endeavors, but some of them are general lifestyle habits that I should be improving. I’m 22 years old and although I am capable of cooking when I set my mind to it, it takes me several hours to prepare a meal because I have so little practice; it’s been so long since I mowed the lawn that I think I forgot how to run the lawn-mower (and I’ve never even touched a weed-wacker because those things are terrifying); and don’t ask me how many times I’ve reworn my jeans unless you want to be disturbed.

And although the creative endeavors that I have on my list aren’t going to help in the process of becoming a functional adult, they are no less important. These are the things that give me a reason to get up in the morning. They are also the things that will inspire me to keep moving forward with my dream of becoming a professional author. I don’t know if my name will ever be known to anyone outside of my hometown and college, but I do know that these are the things that will, in different ways, help me get my work out in the world.

So here begins Productive Year #1. Let’s hope I survive it.

Posted in Life Improvement

On goal-writing and to-do lists

At the end of my first year of college, I wrote a summer to-do list. I had written out my goals for my life before–go to college, get a good job, get married, get a dog–but never had I written something that laid out my goals for a long-and-yet-brief period of 3 months. I didn’t even think of those things as “goals,” either. I wrote out a list of things I wanted to accomplish. They didn’t have to be in order, but they were important to me in some small way. One of them was “Fly a kite,” while another was “Learn to skateboard.” But there were more serious ones as well, such as “Read 5 books” (which I technically accomplished by rereading the Harry Potter series…again) and “Earn enough money to live off of for the year.”

I didn’t accomplish everything on my list. But I did a great deal more than I would have without it, and I felt good about it at the end of the summer. I think what was most important to me was that, even though there were some big, important things on that list, I did not view them as “goals.” Maybe it’s because we overuse the term, especially in the world of education, but I associate the word “goal” with a hard-to-achieve task that betters someone’s life in a significant way. Things like graduating from college, moving out of one’s parents’ house, buying a house, getting married…those are significant life goals. And while the individual has some level of control over these things, they are still impacted by the world–GPA requirements, student loans, the housing market–and that sometimes makes them feel even harder than they really are.

On the other hand, a to-do list is a set of smaller steps that will eventually help someone achieve their goals. These items are not large scale. They are specific and timely achievements like writing in a blog a certain number of times, cooking dinner once a week, or donating old clothes before purchasing new ones. They don’t take up too much time, and the individual has direct control over all of them. Thus, they are more achievable.

When I started to face the reality of my impending graduation, I worried about the lists that had made me so productive during the past few summers. It hit me that, although my summer will start out much the same way that all of my summers had (moving back home, applying for jobs while working at the department store that I’d worked at for 6 summers), I would not be returning to school in the fall, so I really didn’t have an end-date for my usual to-do list.

I have my entire life to follow through with any goals or to-do lists I set. And while in some ways that’s exciting, in other ways it’s overwhelming.

So here’s the thing. I’m writing another to-do list. And I want to accomplish everything on it by May 20th of next year–which will be exactly 1 year from my college graduation. The things on my list will be specific things that can reasonably be accomplished within a year, such as finishing the David Sedaris collections that I’ve started, learning to cook more, and writing in this blog at least once a week.

And I intend to tell family members and friends about this list, so they can help keep me accountable. If you’re reading this, you can also help with that! By next week, I’ll post the entire list here on this blog, and I hope you’ll comment on it and tell me what you think.

Thanks for reading. If you have a similar list, please let me know!

Posted in Uncategorized

To the interviewer that just wasn’t impressed with me

First of all, congratulations on finding my blog. I know you think it was really crafty of you to ask for my middle name so casually as you walked me out the door, but rest assured I knew exactly what you were saying: that you couldn’t find me under any Google searches of my full name. That’s not an accident, of course, but you know that.

I have to admit that I can’t blame you for not being impressed. It wasn’t my best interview. I suppose I owe you an apology for that.

On top of that apology, though, I feel I should say that you were right about a number of things. For example, you were right that I should have brought up my blog, or that I should have focused it on the RPGs that I am passionate about. Perhaps then I would have felt more inclined to write in it every week after I had started it, though I cannot express enough that I had no time to do so while in college.

You think that’s an excuse. “It takes only 15 minutes to write one of my posts,” you say in regards to your own blog, one that you claim has over 1 million followers.

Maybe you’re right. Maybe I should have brought up the fact that I have two Tumblr blogs, each with more than 100 followers. And that I post to them several times a day. But I don’t include those things on my resume and I don’t mention them to professionals because running a blog full of other people’s work does not improve my writing skills. It doesn’t make me a better professional. If you want content, I’ll write real, original content. And that’s going to take longer than the supposed 15 minutes it takes you to repost an already overshared video about a college football team’s quarterback.

Don’t get me wrong; posting diligently is certain an aspect of being a writer. It shows that you care about deadlines and that you understand the world of social media, yada yada yada. But it’s not the be-all, end-all of writing. And 1.25 or however many million followers you have would be much more impressive to me if the majority of it were original content–or even if it had commentary on the content that you’re sharing. I mean come on, anyone can read the title of a video; do you really need to rewrite it as if it were a caption?

So I guess what I’m saying is: I’m sorry for not bringing you the very top of my game. I truly am. I definitely should have done my research before going into that interview, and I realize that I shot my chances of getting the position by failing to do so. I could come up with a number of excuses for that, and those excuses would be true, but they don’t fix the error, so I won’t bother you by writing about them.

As you can see, I’m taking some of your advice to heart. I like to think I’ll be more active on this blog now. Hey, maybe I’ll even get a follower out of you? (Yeah, I didn’t think so). But don’t mistake my taking your good advice for having been terribly impressed with you. The interview was mutually disappointing, actually. Congratulations on your follower count, thank you for your time, and have a great life.

(For the record, this post took approximately 45 minutes to write)

Posted in Uncategorized

An Introduction and a First Attempt at Blogging

You came here seeking some sort of spiritual guide; I see some sort of dark mystery in your past…No, I’m not going to do the whole fortune-telling “let’s guess what you’re looking for” thing. I mean, I could, and chances are you’re like the other people who have read this (assuming there are any other readers), and you’re all looking for something specific that I can somehow offer. But right now, at this very moment, as I write this, I have no idea what that is. I don’t know why you’re here, and I can’t begin to guess why you’re reading these very words. And that’s because I don’t really know what I’m here for. I don’t know if this is going to be a blog of writing tips, or a day-to-day blog in which I ponder the meaning of life, reaching some sort of dramatic enlightenment as I reheat day-old chicken nuggets in the microwave at work. I can’t promise that I’ll be writing every week and I don’t know what my first post will be. I’m simply here to introduce myself.

If you haven’t read the About Me—and really, why would you?—you may not know that I’m a writer, although my having a blog might be a teensy clue in that direction. What do I write? A number of things. That’s not a very helpful answer. Allow me to elaborate: Although I’ve dabbled in poetry and novel-writing, I have focused primarily on short stories, the most successful of which are non-fiction (yeah, it surprises me, too) and concentrated primarily on my family and the general shit-show that is my life. When everything is going wrong, I’ll probably have some sort of commentary on it that doesn’t help except to bring a smile to my mother’s face.

So what’s the plan? What will I write about? What do I hope to accomplish with this blog? I was being honest when I said that I didn’t know. Perhaps I’ll write about my experiences as a writer, how people seem to think that means I have it easier in college than the rest of people, or how this skill of writing is underappreciated in most businesses. Perhaps I’ll post writing tips and prompts, intended to encourage you to improve. Maybe I’ll talk about my feminist ideologies and how I think being a woman writer gives me a very specific voice with which to observe a world that devalues women and constantly says “it’s better than it used to be, isn’t that enough?” There’s a good chance I’ll talk about my family and how they both infuriate and inspire me. All in all, I suspect it will be a combination of these ideas, and hopefully even more that I haven’t come up with yet.

I started this blog, I suppose, in an attempt to understand blogging. I’m new to it, as you can tell, yet I’m expected to blog for the company I work for, and I have no idea how to do that. So here I am, getting my hands dirty and trying to figure out what makes a popular blog, what it takes to get to readers, and what my own skill-set as a writer is. If you have any advice or suggestions for what I should write about next, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’ll be editing my page. What exactly is WordPress, anyway…?