ThoughtsOfAnEnglishMajor

My thoughts on life.

Do I Mean Something to the World?

“I have learned that you can go anywhere you want to go and do anything you want to do and buy all the things that you want to buy and meet all the people that you want to meet and learn all the things that you desire to learn and if you do all these things but are not madly in love: you have still not begun to live.” 

-C. JoyBell C.

I mean something to the world.This sentence is what we all long to say one day. It is the thing we search and long for in our lives. We go looking for this sentence in colleges, our jobs, our families, our travels. We always are wanting to know whether or not we will even matter 20 years from our death. We try, even in our passing, to be remembered, to be known.

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”-Albert Camus

I was thinking about this concept last night when a friend was trying to figure out what she will do in her future. Should she stay in this major? Should she switch? Should we all just become homeless people in California?( I personally would like that.) So after a conversation, tears, and just a time out from life, we were able to at least calm her down and help her realize that it was going to be ok. But then that statement popped into my head, I mean something to the world.

Here is my dream; it may sound silly or ridiculous to some, but here it goes: I want to live in San Francisco, Chicago, or New York. Really, as long as it’s a big city, I’ll be fine. Although, I like San Fran because its warmer. I want to work in the writing world. What facet of that world? I don’t know. I would really like to work in publishing, teaching, public relations, maybe marketing, or some other job I’ve probably yet to discover. I want to write a book. Quite honestly, I would like to make enough money from that to where that’s all I did, but I have to be a little realistic.

“Because children grow up, we think a child’s purpose is to grow up. But a child’s purpose is to be a child. Nature doesn’t disdain what lives only for a day. It pours the whole of itself into the each moment. We don’t value the lily less for not being made of flint and built to last. Life’s bounty is in its flow, later is too late. Where is the song when it’s been sung? The dance when it’s been danced? It’s only we humans who want to own the future, too. We persuade ourselves that the universe is modestly employed in unfolding our destination. We note the haphazard chaos of history by the day, by the hour, but there is something wrong with the picture. Where is the unity, the meaning, of nature’s highest creation? Surely those millions of little streams of accident and wilfulness have their correction in the vast underground river which, without a doubt, is carrying us to the place where we’re expected! But there is no such place, that’s why it’s called utopia. The death of a child has no more meaning than the death of armies, of nations. Was the child happy while he lived? That is a proper question, the only question. If we can’t arrange our own happiness, it’s a conceit beyond vulgarity to arrange the happiness of those who come after us.”-Tom Stoppard, The Coast of Utopia

I was asked last week by a family member why I liked English, why I liked writing, why I wanted to create novels. I couldn’t answer them until after my conversation last night with my friend. I realized that, for me at least, writing is how I am searching to mean something, to be remembered, to have an influence on others lives. For me, it is how I am happy. My career will be a major portion of my adult life. I have to be happy with what I am doing. I have to accept I am who I am. I like what I like, and that I will mean something to world even if it’s not in the capacity I originally thought.

Poetry: Friend or Foe?

Language is power.

This semester I am taking a creative writing course that is divided into two sections: fiction and poetry. In the beginning of the year, the class had to write short stories, develop characters, create tone through adjectives. In this second half we are writing in stanzas, keeping rhythm, and focusing on the ambiguity behind the idea. In a week from now I have to turn in a poem that will be critiqued by the class in front of me. Oh, did I mention that I am not allowed to speak during the critique?

My relationship with poetry could be compared to the relationship between a cat and a dog. Poetry always barks at me, threatening me with its rhyme scheme, feet, stanzas; it scares me. It is a world full of ambiguity, raw ideas, and great analogies that can sometimes span half of a page. Meanwhile, I am the cowering cat, stuck in the corner, with its back arched and hairs on edge. I hiss at its presence. In short, it’s not for me.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  ~Ray Bradbury

I am a guy who likes making ideas come to life in the reader’s mind. I am a guy who likes facts, occasionally mystery, but mostly the broad range of reactions a person can have to a single event, to a fact. I love constructing places with their grand arches or luminous ceilings. I enjoy creating full, round characters who have personalities so their own that even as I write I don’t know what they will do.  I like being able to envision an entire world based on a single character and how they react to that world.

Poetry is not exactly my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, I believe poetry can have all those things listed in the above paragraph. However, I find that I cannot be as open in my creativity when I am thinking about if this word stays within the pentameter or whether my stanzas have a visual flow.  If I am being really honest, it’s simply because I am too lazy. If a story pops into my mind, the world seems to create itself. I just happen to be the first witness. I really cannot take credit because for me it comes natural.

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  ~Sharon O’Brien

As a youth, I would spend hours in my room playing by myself. I do have siblings: a sister eight years older and two brothers about ten years younger. Due to that gap in ages, I was raised as an only child. Meaning all those things you did with your sibling I did by myself like riding a bike, playing in the sandbox, going to the playground, messing around in mud, but most importantly, playing pretend. That ability to foster an entire world just to entertain yourself comes in handy when you have to choose hair color, height, or building size.

I will end this post with my pathetic attempt at poetry:

Tossed like the ocean, battered and broken.

My thoughts only matter when they are spoken.

I’m not a lyricist or a great poet,

but I will admit it; I will own it.

Wish me luck next week!!

Forgive and Never Forget

As the end of my freshman year of college comes to a close in these last 4-5 weeks, I have been looking back on the year a lot. I am astounded by how fast this school year has gone and by how much I have changed in these nine months. I entered school as an annoying, loud-mouth kid who was so sure of himself and where he was going. The person writing this blog for you today is not that same boy. I am not sure of where I am going, who I will be with, what adventures I will go on. I am not sure that I will even be feeling the way I feel now in five months from now, but I am sure of one lesson that recently smacked me in the face. Forgive and forget. (However, I edited it.)

Sure, we all say this to someone who has been hurt, trampled on, tossed to the side of the road only to be eaten by ravenous vultures. However, do we ever really mean it? Do we ever apply this concept to our own life? Yes, I’ve been hurting lately. Actually, it’s really been more of mourning, and I kept telling myself to just move on, let it go, to get over it. But, I couldn’t. It wasn’t until the other night that I was having a conversation with a friend, we’ll call her Jill, and that she told me it was normal. That the feeling of loss over someone, who isn’t dead by the way, is exactly what I should be feeling. Then it hit me. I was so caught up in “moving on” that I never properly grieved the loss of someone out of my life that was such a huge influence. By not grieving, I couldn’t forgive this person, but ultimately, myself.

So as I went to bed the other night, I finally accepted the fact that my life has chapters, chapters come to a close, and new ones begin. I finally accepted forgiveness for myself, and right when I was about to push that chapter out of my life I realized I couldn’t forget, that I shouldn’t forget. I realized that the greatest novels of all time have moments of extreme emotion within every range of the spectrum. That chapter was one of the best chapters of my novel so far. However, that chapter does not define the novel.

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A Child Is Listening

Jeesh, I bet he does nothing with his life. Gosh, she sure is a “lady of the night”. Oh man, he is probably shooting up right now. There is no way she has any friends. Man, they’re fat. Oh yeah, he’s gay. She is definitely anorexic. I just know he cheats on his girlfriend.

Judgments are made throughout the whole day. As humans, it is innate to be reading every surface, person, and place with our eyes and pass a judgment on it. I understand this because I am equally guilty of it. Even when I am not vocal about my verdict, I am filtering through the images to make a quick decision about someone at a much deeper level than my eyes could possibly read.

Stereotypes. This is what the pompous, high horse, mentality is based on. If a woman is slightly masculine, then she has to be a lesbian. If a person dresses in all black, then he/she is probably casting a voodoo spell on us as we speak. If a person comes from a Hispanic background then they obviously are good at manual labor. These moronic ideas help fuel the hate, discord, and lack of effort from opposing views that has influenced the deconstruction of the American promise; all men are created equal.

After being the victim of bullying at a young age, I have a very good understanding of the impact that a single voice can have on the emotional development of a child. It is actually quite amazing to me that hundreds of praises, pats on the back, and standing ovations can all be erased by a single negative comment of a pimply faced 7th grader. These impacts last a lifetime.

It has come to my attention that a movie, “Bully” is going to be released on Friday. This documentary film follows the paths of many young students who fall victim to malicious bullying. The film has amazing potential to reach out, touch, and change young people who do not realize the impact of their words and actions. The cycle of bullying, like so many other problems, can only be stopped through education of the young. It is the teaching of our youth today that influences the adults of tomorrow. My hope is that this film can be the much needed wake-up call to a society full of people obsessed with placing their moral, spiritual, economical, and political views on each other, and that a respectful communication can be established that allows freedom with disagreement.

I believe Mary Griffith said it best, “So, before you echo “amen” in your home and place of worship. Think. Think and remember a child is listening.”

The Morning Run

Today I decided I would post a short story I wrote in the beginning of the semester for my creative writing class. It’s only a page and half in length and the requirements were that two or more characters had to find something. Hope you enjoy!

The Morning Run

As the morning fog was lifting from the tree littered hilltop, the rhythmic beat of footsteps gained momentum as the popular running trail had a brief moment of decline. Between the panting of breaths a Yellow Warbler could be heard as he sung his refreshing song. The hues of purple perpetuating from the lilacs on the forest floor gave warmth to the cold, sometimes unforgiving, ground. The sunlight hitting their foreheads made the beads of sweat glisten and twinkle. The beating hearts soothed their souls; it gave them an escape. It was the perfect day for running.

“Stop,” yelled the lanky girl with thick curly brown haired pulled into a tight ponytail. Her demand was successful as the drumming of sneakers against the dirt came to a sudden halt. Standing only a few yards in front of her was her partner, a boy, whose physique resembled that of a professional athlete. He did his best to hide his longing for oxygen. Sweeping his sweat drenched hair to the side of his face, he blurted mockingly, “You tired already?”

“Not as tired as you are,” she snapped back with a smile.

The boy started in, “Well, aren’t you something special.” His tone oozed sarcasm. “Just because you have an award…”

The boy was interrupted. He glanced at the girl as she let out a gasp that laid a blanket of silence over the woods. The girl was peering into a thistle bush as the boy approached her to investigate.

“Look here,” she grimaced as her hand immerged from the gnarly branches. She was holding a running watch. It was all black with great design and light as to not be bothersome for the longer distances.

Before the boy could mutter a response, still holding the watch, the girl began to cry and those few droplets transformed into a surge. She fell to her knees as the salty tears flowed from her grieving eyes. She was struck with guilt.

In that moment, the boy out of insecurity snatched the watched from her hands. As he examined the watch, he knew why the girl was crying. He had seen a watch like this before. He remembers how its twin sits on the girl’s dresser, memorialized by the picture of her deceased father. Her father taught her the secrets of distance running. Her father wore that watch with its eerie similarities to the one found.

“Give it back! Give it back to me,” she pleaded. “Give me the damn watch!”

As the boy, struck with anguish and helplessness, reached out with watch in hand, he couldn’t help, but begin to grieve with her. The girl whose sadness overwhelmed her now grits her teeth in anger. She seizes the watch and with all of the strength in her feeble arms pitches it into the air. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she does her best to repel the memories, the sorrow, but mostly, to repel the guilt.

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Spring Break

There is a girl in a bikini passed out in the sand. The sun is beating down on hundreds of drunk faces. Two guys with beer bellies, the size of the kegs they are drinking out of, are screaming at the top of their lungs yelling, “2012 BABY!!”. There is a couple separated from the group due to the fact that their tongues are half way down the throats of the other. The cool water is providing a release from the sun’s intensity. There is that one girl with sunglasses that could be used as an umbrella dancing in a circle by herself. And lastly, there is the juice-head guy that wants to pick up anything that he thinks could demonstrate his sheer, mindless, power. This is Spring Break.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”- Anne Bradstreet

Spring Break, for many, is a time of wild parties, flowing alcohol, random hook-ups, and many lies to parents. It is, arguably, the biggest cathartic release of the year excluding New Years Eve and President’s Day. I know that in my circle of friends alone that a very large percentage are currently sitting on a beach, walk the streets of New York, touring Beijing, catching lobsters in Maine, gazing at the great landscape of Montana, or catching the trolley/train thing that’s in San Francisco. Spring Break means fun. Spring Break means vacation.

I want to describe another scene now. This scene is not nearly as glamorous and may scare young children. Viewer discretion is advised…

The flash of light through a window wakes the man. A breakfast consisting of burnt toast and poorly mixed chocolate milk awaits him. His day is full of heat, sweat, lack of water. Instead of lounging in the pool with a beer, or shot of tequila, he is on top of his garage roof cutting branches of trees that endanger the power lines. He has to kill rabbits with a pencil he sharpened just to have lunch. His calloused hands aren’t soothed by lotion. He goes to bed early and wakes equally early. This is Spring Break.

The second scene presented has been an accurate, slightly stretched, retelling of my first college Spring Break. No, it hasn’t been pretty. It hasn’t been the ideal break that many students dream of as the week approaches. However, it is good. Spending time with family, getting more than 4 hours of sleep a night, lounging in my recliner, and eating home-made meals has been an oasis from the college dorm living. I cannot be more thankful for how much I have been blessed in my life. So I raise my glass (that is full of kool-aid), and take a drink for everything in my life. Cheers to freakin’ weekend.

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Wait..What?

OK, so I have completely slacked on my blogging which I vowed I wouldn’t do. Well, I actually vowed that I would post at least one blog a week, but even following this stipulation, I have failed. So, please don’t throw your computers in rage or send me an explosive device in the mail; I will do better! However in my defense, I honestly have no idea where the time went. One second I was sitting in my dorm writing a paper, and suddenly, I was sitting in my recliner at home enjoying my spring break. This incredible jump through time made me think, “Wait..What?”

However, this term that so excellently describes my life right now, was not created by me. A dear friend of mine, we’ll call her Lori to protect her identity from those creepy people on the internet that my mom always warned me about as a child, is the inventor. It has been said so much by her over the last school year that I have caught myself using it..a lot.

I mean a lot. Lori uses this expression for every story, situation, moment, study period, lunch, dinner, snack time, even in the shower. I could be in the middle of a thrilling story in which I shared my escape from a pit of poisonous snakes, or my rescue of a damsel in distress, and Lori will make eye contact, flash a smile, giving all the signs that she is attentive and present in the moment. However, just as I catch my breath from finishing the story, the words will just fall out of her mouth, “Wait..What?” She has to make sure that she gets every detail of every story. (She would make a great private investigator)

My life seems messy right now. I am in the middle of determining the rest of my life, writing papers, doing labs, going out from time to time, and making an pathetic attempt of having a romantic life. I feel like I’m in a whirl wind most days just trying to get from point A to B. I am completely consumed in the everyday simple doings of life. I am just trying to keep up with the world around me, and many days, failing. So the the phrase, seeming to come from some sort of sketch comedy show, makes perfect sense.

Lori has given me hope. For the longest time, I have tried to keep composure, stay calm, put on a poker face and always look like I know exactly what’s going on (even though I don’t). But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Lori has taught me that it is OK to just have the speedy world slow down for one second, pause, and ask it what the heck is going on. I understand now, more than ever, that if you’re lost, confused, needing to slow down, or hung-over just to ask, “Wait..What?”

 

Emotional Oreo

So, I’ve kept my first few blogs pretty fun and entertaining. Today I am going a little deeper than usual. So, if you’re looking for slapstick comedy, today probably isn’t your day, but I believe life is a balance of fun and serious moments. WARNING: Today is a serious moment about life and the person I want to become/be. Please exit site if not wanting to talk about real life.

Emotions are complex. They are raw. They aren’t meant to be completely understood. No matter how hard we, as people, try to get inside the heads of other; we fail. We trip up, step on our shoe laces, and fall flat on our faces. Guys try to decipher girls, and girls do their best to understand guys. However, even though we know the ancient truth of emotional blindness, we still push ourselves, our feelings, and our beliefs on every single person we see. We think our decisions are the most rational. We know we are right and all others are wrong. Why do we think this way?

An Oreo is probably the best creation mankind has ever put forth into the world. It is the perfect combination of sweet chocolate and the stuff in the middle that no one can give a proper name. My childhood memories often flash to me sitting at the kitchen table, dipping the cookie into the milk until it was mush, and sticking the entire cookie into my mouth at once. They are memories out of a commercial.

People and their communication is primarily based off of emotion. Ranging from things like how you may greet someone when entering the room to the amount of patience you have in dealing with someone complaining about the trivial problems in their life. Happiness. Today is a great day. I love my friends and my family; my life is on track!! Sadness. Today sucks. Nothing can go right. What is the point in all this crap? Anger. Why am I the one dealing with this? AHHHHHHHHHH! Give me a break! Triumph. I did it! I can do anything. I could handle anything the world throws at me! Bring it on!! This is the emotional roller coaster that reminds me of the beloved cookie of my childhood.

I hate the metaphor relating the way you look at the world, optimistically or pessimistically, to a glass of water half full/empty. This comparison makes people sound like robots only capable of one emotion or its polar opposite. Life is not composed of only happiness, nor sadness. It is a grand orchestra, full of flourishes and crescendos. Life has flares of bitterness and joy. Life is an Oreo; it has layers of cookie and filling.

Here is my reasoning:

  • Bad things are going to happen. People, even the best in the world, are going to have negative reactions.
  • Good things happen too. People, even the worst in the world, are going to have positive reactions.
  • If my life is layered, I can determine how many more positive reactions I have verses negative.

So, I am not always going to have a smile slapped on my face. That’s ok. In the end, I think I will look back on this Oreo. I will see the cookie. I will see the icing. Hopefully, the positives things in my life: the people in my life I’ve touched, the outcomes I’ve helped create, and the emotional growth I’ve experienced will be the cookie and the negatives will be the icing; more cookie equal more positives.

“I am not a pessimist; to perceive evil where it exists is, in my opinion, a form of optimism.” -Roberto Rossellini

This may not be the way you think; that’s OK. I do not have to think like you, but I am going to give you the respect you deserve and listen to you, and I expect the same in return. I want to be someone who influences others for the better. I want to be the change that is so desperately needed in the world today. Yes, it sounds like the nonsense dream of some no-nothing college kid, but it’s what I feel. If you disagree, please, keep drinking your half glass of water while I eat my Oreo; I am sure mine tastes better.

Sorry, My Brain Just Farted

Have you ever been sitting on a bus, next to a very attractive person, when all of a sudden you smell something awful? You try to avoid the smell, you really do. You desperately want the smell to go away because that girl/guy was perfect until you smelled them. You smile, and put on your best poker face trying not to let them know that you smell the remnants of his/her lunch. However, no matter how hard you try you have to distort your nose, hold your breath, and shift to a position with your face as far away as physically possible. Sometimes though, even with your best effort, the persons next to you realize that their secret has been discovered.

Yes, what I am describing to you is a brain fart. You know, that awful thing that happens when you’re in a conversation with someone perfect and you have something so great to say, but in the middle of thought your mind goes completely blank. It is an embarrassing thing that leaves the stench of stupidity. You want to run, but you sit there and do your best to fight through it.

Question: If you could live forever, would you and why?

Answer: “I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever,” – Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest.

Why do we call this slip-up what we do? Brain fart. I would like to know who was in conversation one day saying, “Oh, yeah I know. I can’t believe that………um….um..Sorry, my brain just farted…whoopsie.” What was the reaction of the person on the other end of that conversation? How is forgetting a memory anything like passing gas from your body? It scares me that someday archeologists will dig up some piece of our history and find out that we used the phrase “brain fart”. I can only imagine futuristic scientists huddled around their lab benches trying to figure out how this blob of tissue could have gas exchange through our skulls.

“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it” – Al Gore, Vice President

Brain farts haunt college students constantly. Their lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and high caffeine intake make college campuses reek of forgetfulness. Often, while taking a test and sitting in a crowded auditorium, the college student will have an idea of great potential. This idea would not only ensure a passing grade, but would revolutionize the entire learning process. These ideas can be understood in fractions of a second, however, they can leave the mind one hundred time faster.

The worst part of the brain fart is the bombardment of information back into your brain hours, sometimes days, after it was needed. It is a slap in the face, as if to say, “Yeah, I know the cure to this disease, but I’m not gonna tell you.” Why brain fart? Why do you pick on me so?

If I ever address a problem in theses blogs that I personally struggle with, I will always try to give the best advice I can on how I solve the issue or justify it. I don’t think that brain farts can ever be prevented; they happen. No matter how much we don’t like it, it happens. However, I think that, for the majority of the time, we can play it off as part of the conversation. Also, try Gas-X. If it helps at the bottom, it probably helps at the top.

“If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.” – Bill Clinton, President

I Deserve A Break

Um..I think I am just going to write this blog later. I can always work out tomorrow. I could probably wait a couple of days before I NEED to start studying for the exam. I deserve a break. These thoughts, or thoughts like them, run through my head all day now that I am on my own. Procrastination is something I think many people struggle with in their day-to-day lives. So much so, I am pretty sure the American Medical Association declared it a disease(Don’t quote me on that). Whether or not it is a medical issue, doesn’t seem to dampen our moans and groans when it hits us in the face; when it cause us to stop everything we’re doing.

“Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow.” ~Gerald Vaughan

So what are the symptoms of this silent killer, you ask? At first you are extremely motivated, in fact, you would never know that some evil was lurking around the corner. However, once you are content with actually doing the work it is too late for it is nothing but a lie that your body believes. Second, while starting the project, you start thinking about how long it will take to actually finish the task in its entirety. After working very hard for thirty minutes, you decide that you should reward yourself for putting your name at the top of the page and remembering the date without looking it up. So, the social networking sites grab your attention and hold it for ransom. Two and half hours later, once you’ve found out Theresa’s baby’s name, the type of tattoo Jimmy got, and the color that your aunt chose to paint her living room; you can move to picking out the “right” song to help you work faster. As if  John Legend is really going to help you solve the Calculus problems. And so, the cycle will continue and continue until there seems to be no hope.

Children, you can stop crying. Random woman in the street, you can stop screaming. Mob, holding pitch forks and fire, you can get back to other mob things because I found out the secret thing preventing the procrastination monster from making you another victim in its path to world domination. The trick is to fight fire with fire. Although, water with water would work too. We need to procrastinate procrastination.

Whether you or I like it or not, we are nothing more than our minds and our will power. So if procrastination takes our will power, our aimless minds are left there to fend for themselves. So procrastinate procrastination by allotting the same amount of time you would normally visit the social sites, watch T.V., trim your fingernails, or whatever else you would do. However, do it all at once after you’ve accomplished your task instead of taking “breaks” throughout. That way you still get want you want, and I find it relaxes you right before bed which translates to more sleep.  It also helps when you’re not stressing about all the things you failed to do because you were to busy looking at what J. Lo was doing on her Wednesday afternoon.

I am no doctor, but I believe this tip will help you; I can say this because I have applied this trick to my life. Although, I am writing this blog at 4:30 in the morning instead of doing a Biology lab due later in the day. After all, I do deserve a break.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”~C.G. Jung

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