Monthly Archives: March 2016

That Great and Powerful Beast

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Senioritis. It is real. In high school, I didn’t believe it existed, and then about halfway through my senior year in high school I felt something like nothing I had never experienced before. Boredom in its rawest form. I had already decided that I was done with school. I love school and learning, but after senioritis kicked in, everything felt monotonous. I think it was the promise of adventure in the future. In high school, I had college to look forward to.

Now, I have the real world to look forward to. That is equally exciting and terrifying. In a few short days, I’ll know if I’ll be teaching in Japan this fall.

But until then, I have more than enough homework to keep me occupied. Actually, I have a big presentation at an academic conference coming up. So I’m going to keep this post short and sweet so I can focus on other items of importance. (Or procrastinate my way through Easter Break by playing video games to ease the pain of my senioritis.) Don’t think this is a goodbye post.

I’m a little late on the draw, but I would like to officially announce my theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I missed the official theme reveal because of a particularly rough week at school, but better late than never, right?

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A big part of my life was and always has been my online life. I’ve decided to talk a little bit about my personal writing. In this 26 day challenge, I plan to introduce 26 of my retired roleplaying characters; maybe I’ll even make an effort to revamp them after this. I really like the idea of revisiting characters from my past.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Spring Break/Easter Break. For all my fellow students, power through until the end.

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“Before you judge…

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…make sure you’re perfect.”

I get lost in YouTube and Facebook comments all the time. I don’t know how it happens, but I find myself reading through trails of comments under political posts written by people I’ll likely never meet over issues I don’t even care about. But I read them anyway, sometimes for hours. I think I do it for the same reason I watch Toddlers and Tiaras on occasion: it’s to assure myself that I can be a better person than other people; there’s still hope for me. I refuse to become the spray tanned mother screaming at her daughter for only winning mini-supreme instead of grand supreme. Likewise, I can be a better person than the troll who states an unpopular opinion for the sake of starting fires, or the person who takes the bait and ends up looking just as bad as the troll.

I fell into one of these traps last week as I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. It was the picture of a normal woman in a swimsuit that caught my eye. Everyone gets something different out of those Facebook stories. I saw a story about the effects of domestic violence; I know she was talking more about body image, but secondary themes seem to stick out at me.

Naturally, I had to see what the comments were saying. Most of them were overwhelmingly positive, praising the woman for seeing the beauty in herself and others despite being over the average weight. The first negative comment I saw was from some kid calling the woman out for “justifying obesity,” and of course, underneath his comment was a string of keyboard warriors who had fallen victim to this troll. The first few corrections were harmless. And then everything went to hell in a handbasket.

These noble bystanders found out every single thing about this kid that they possibly could and threw it against him. They criticized his age (I believe they said he was 12). They called the girl he embraced in his profile picture a bunch of nasty words. They questioned his parents’ ability to raise him. They called him dozens of things far more vulgar than “obese.” Finally, one girl who had seemed to be the voice of reason said, “Before you judge, make sure you’re perfect.”

For some reason, that’s bothered me for days now. I wrote it down and told myself it would be the subject of my next blog post. I’ve had days to think about it, and it still hasn’t left my mind. Finally, I decided the best way to confront this problem was to make a list. (I read somewhere that lists are good for blogs, so here I go jumping onto the bandwagon.)

  1. Absolutely no one is perfect, so by this logic, no one has a right to judge. But we do anyway. Why? Judgment is necessary in many, many forms. We have judges and juries and courts for a reason: to judge others’ and deem them guilty or innocent. Are these people? Not by any means. Sometimes guilty people walk free or innocent people go to prison. We’re human beings that struggle with the same human tendencies.
  2. People who judge people for judging are also judging. I think there’s a way to judge correctly and incorrectly. Judging with the intention of correcting is a positive means of helping someone become a better human being. Judging to make oneself feel more superior or “better” doesn’t help humanity. It only boosts your ego. (There’s a cruel irony in this and my watching Toddlers and Tiaras…)
  3. If we showed each other enough respect in every aspect of our lives, then even if our opinions clash, maybe we could start fixing these “troll” problems. Trolls will probably exist as long as the internet exists, so this last point feels like wishful thinking, but in one of my classes today, we read an article about how violence is not a single, isolated event. There’s always a precursor that acts as a catalyst. This sort of intense negativity and verbal violence on either side has some sort of precursor in the life of the troll and more verbal violence will not fix it; it will only spread it.

Now, I don’t want to seem as if I’m defending a twelve year old boy who thinks that “not skinny” is automatically obese. I’m not. What he said and how he acted was extremely bratty, but the way the keyboard warriors handled the situation was equally as bratty if not worse. Never feed the trolls. It always makes them stronger. And while we should always strive for perfection, if we need to be perfect ourselves to see others’ faults–we’re doomed.

My advice readers? Recognize your own flaws first. Constantly work with them. Keep them at the forefront of your mind, especially if you’re judging the flaws of someone else, intending to help them grow.

Home Sweet H-…where am I again?

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We’ve established that I have a terrible sense of direction, right? Right. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have this blog. Well…I might, but it would probably be named something entirely different, and I’m sure I would have run out of stories to talk about a long time ago. But for the first time in a long time, I’ve decided to talk about an actual “lost” story. Sit back and relax. Feel free to skim over the angsty quote from my poetry, but it seemed appropriate.

“I am terror, the dripping cold sweat down the back of your neck;
you imagine the worst, and you should. Can’t turn back. Not now. Ring
the doom-ridden device once more. I’m there. Still waiting for you
and your cumbersome smile that hides that unspeakable thing.”
-from “Home(less)” an original poem

A little known fact about myself: I didn’t get my driver’s license until the day I left for college. I had planned to get it earlier that week, but I erm…well failed that test which was deceptively easy. The driving instructor pitied my existence after I failed it the first time, so she let me retake it after a few days (even though I think I was supposed to wait a month), and I passed it the morning I left for college. My first road trip involved weaving through the construction outside of Little Rock and my father yelling at me, saying that driving under the speed limit was not acceptable. I lasted about an hour before I lost all feeling in my hands from gripping the steering wheel.

That was part of the reason I traveled home infrequently. I. Hated. Driving. My first semester away at college, I think I visited home a handful of times. I returned for holidays, of course, but I never wanted to drive back for the weekends. I wanted to hide in my room, sleep for 16 hours straight, and “catch up on homework.” (Note: I’m fairly certain I never caught up. I might still be behind.) But I remember traveling home for the first time, not very well, but the memory’s up there in my noggin. I wanted to go see my friends at a football game at my old high school.

My old high school terrified me at the time; actually, it still terrifies me. I returned there recently, and I was too scared to go to the bathroom because the little high school Kat in my head was saying, “Just hold it. You don’t wanna’ sign for detention. It’s not worth it.” (Note: If we wanted to use the restroom at my high school, we had to sign for detention.) But it was just a football game. My father drove me to that school five days a week for two years. I figured I could get there without much trouble. Eight minutes of driving. Right?

Wrong. I left with thirty “just in case” minutes to spare, and I was still half an hour late. I must have taken a wrong turn in Albuquerque or something, but I ended up in quite possibly the scariest neighborhood I had ever seen. As my car slid past a few beat up houses, people came out to stare at me. I finally turned into a gas station, activated my GPS, and let it do the navigating for me, but I’m still ashamed of that moment. How in the world could I get lost in my hometown, a place I had lived for a few years?

Maybe I’m unobservant (or selectively observant). Maybe I could blame my bad sense of direction. Maybe it’s because I was seeing my hometown through the eyes of a driver for the first time. Or maybe it’s not home.

My family doesn’t live there anymore, and I doubt we’ll ever return. I left behind a few good friends, but after I graduate from college, part of me doubts I’ll ever live in Arkansas again. (I’ll probably regret writing this statement sooner or later.) It’s weird how a home can feel as though it isn’t one. My dorm room (even though it changes every year) has almost always felt like a home to me.

It’s weird thinking that in a few months, I’ll technically be homeless. But here’s to hoping that I’ll find a new one, a better one.

Anyone else ever feel lost when you’re at home?

“Write Every Day.”

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This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. You can join HERE if you’d like. It’s a good way to connect with struggling writers.

Write every day?

But I’m a student.

Time is not my friend. As a (wannabe) writer, it’s the thing that makes me the most insecure. I see posts all the time about how to get better at writing. As my theatre professor says, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” If I’m not practicing, I can’t possibly hope to improve. I was actually thinking about this last night. I’ve had a month to work on submissions for my school’s literary magazine. A full month. I drafted a piece here and edited a piece there, but in the end, I just had a lot of mediocre prose drafts that I maybe worked on for 4 hours in total. Maybe.

Where did all my time go?

I spend my life reading and writing for school. Right now, I should be working on my American literature thematic analysis paper for Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River,” but I’m taking thirty minutes to write for myself instead, not to please an impossible-to-please professor. If it isn’t American literature, it’s my poetry class. I can communicate with everyone through my writing it seems, except for my professor. I’ve had to twist my writing style into something so mundane and despicable, that I’m beginning to hate it. And I’m hating my professor for what he’s done to my writing. He’s sucked out my voice and inserted his own.

One of his comments on one of my poems (which admittedly I didn’t like because I drafted it at 3AM) said, “You sounded like yourself rather than the angry presence of the poem. Don’t apply yourself to the text.” It’s a trivial comment, and he subtracted only one point from my overall score; however, this poem was about myself. I’m not an angry person. The poem wasn’t meant to be angry. I still don’t think it sounds angry. The voice is meant to be mine and people like me: lost, sad, confused, unwilling. I never read a poem like myself unless it’s supposed to be about myself, and it’s discouraging. I’ve gotten to the point where I never want to show people my stuff ever again. I just want to hide.

So if school isn’t making me MORE insecure and work isn’t sucking away my time, when do I get to write? Not breaks. I’m preparing a big presentation for a huge national convention and catching up on the homework I’m behind on. I have to start applying for summer jobs soon. And then I’ll be perpetually tired again. I’ll want to sleep or play video games or watch TV, something (anything) mindless to keep from thinking as much as I have to during the school year.

School has made me a better writer; I’m not going to lie about that. I’ve found my literary voice. I’ve discovered new writers. I’ve gotten to experiment with form. But at the same time, school has killed my muse. I’m obsessed with my grades. I’ve got a great GPA, and it probably won’t amount to much in the future, but I’m proud of my 3.96. But I wish I had more time for myself and my writing.

I barely find time to blog once a week let alone write every day. I had the time yesterday evening, but I was so tired, I sat in my bed, watched YouTube videos, and passed out for 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep. It was wonderful. I had a lot of plans for this year. I was going to hammer out a draft for my first novel, but right now, I’m struggling to hammer out three short papers and one poem a week.

Please tell me there’s a light at the end of this tunnel?