The furniture is moved and the floors are washed. The tree is up but not yet trimmed. The two silk Flores de Noche Buena aka Poinsettias are in the bedrooms. And bits of pine tree and cones are placed in various places so that their scent makes up for the tree fakery. Continue reading
One of my faithful readers (and oldest friends) knows that I dislike when children misuse the word “hypocrisy”. For example, a young man who was falling deeper into drugs informed me that his father couldn’t say anything to him “because he used to smoke pot”.
I eventually convinced him that someone who quit drugs was not a hypocrite. The key to enlightenment was the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right with its key phrase “That hypocrite smokes two packs a day.”
But this op-ed was by a grown woman at the New Republic, of all media. Emily Atkin wrote Al Gore’s Carbon Footprint Doesn’t Matter.
The key phrase is “climate change advocates who don’t live a carbon-neutral lifestyle aren’t hypocrites because, FOR THE MOST PART, they’re not asking you to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle. They’re asking governments, utilities, energy companies, and large corporations to increase their use of renewable energy so that you can continue to live your life as you please, without contributing to global warming.”
Deadlines make us see deficiencies, not accomplishments. – Jean Balconi
I said this as encouragement to an acquaintance who beat herself up over an external deadline. She had an impressive list of all the things she’s done so far, but she couldn’t appreciate her own hard work. She reminded me of a game character running towards a goal while the timer is counting down in the corner and obstacles keep popping up in the path.
When I say something remotely profound, it usually applies to my situation. This case is no different.
My own deadline is looming: August 15. That’s the date for my rough draft to be complete. I’m not at the freak-out point yet, but I’m giving short shift to the reading and reflection parts of my DIY Writer’s Summer Camp. I returned Ender’s Game to the library unread because I’d rather write.
During the last two weeks, I wrote thousands of words in between day-trips, guests, and errands. Unfortunately, the content is slim: three versions of the same dialogue. I didn’t re-write, mind you. I wrote three different takes on the dialogue from scratch, each time implying a speaker’s intention or opinion.*
I’m quite pleased with the results, since each version has parts that will make a better whole. But I have thousands of words and a dozen chapters to go. And I must mention the obstacles on the horizon: my original antagonist has changed to a helper, the main antagonist hasn’t reared his stupid head yet, and the outlined ending stinks worse than the final entry of a series.**
Now I’m off to face the day – and the deadline.
*If you’re wondering where I got the idea, it’s not from any book I’m using. I was at a teacher’s meeting about reading and the facilitator asked us to look for different implied bias in the same text. So it’s a reverse-engineered writing exercise.
**I needn’t name one. You, dear reader, are already remembering a book series or a TV program that disappointed or enraged you.
I had deja vu while reading this article. The writer Brook Bolen is annoyed with the facetious phrase “The struggle is real” and especially with copycats who mimic aspects of working-poor life. She even goes so far as to make things like the tiny house movement, beard-wearing (!?!), and shopping at thrift stores into markers of pretend poverty.
Her leading anecdote unfolds thus: A co-worker referred to Bolen’s lunch as a “struggle meal” – a meal made when the cupboard is almost bare and the paycheck is a week off. I empathize with Bolen because I, too, have faced mockery for eating Suicide Rice.*
However, she uses this molehill to build a mountain. To wit:
“Utilizing a word [struggle] that denotes hardship in a way that essentially parodies it is hurtful and offensive to those people whose lives are defined by real struggle; it also functions to neuter the word and divorce it from its power. Herein lies the most dangerous aspect of this linguistic cultural appropriation: it can render words ineffectual and wrest power from the speaker.”
What irony! Guess what else can “render words ineffectual and wrest power from the speaker”? Using a term like “cultural appropriation” that means “takes something that belongs to a particular cultural group” and applying it to something that merely has personal meaning.
Bolen complains of fetishization of hardship, but it’s not just an upperclass trait. In college, I knew several other girls whose families struggled economically. One wore her family’s socio-economic status as a badge of self-righteousness.
Overheard while visiting relatives:
Him: “I don’t know what it is – I just don’t have the energy and pep I used to have.”
Her: “Maybe it’s because you’re 81.”
Him: “Right. I’ve never been 81 before.”
Her: “No, you have. You’ve never been 81 for so long.”
Summer is coming, and the neighborhood is abounding in life. Enormous dragonflies – the sort that usually abound as summer turns to fall – flit and hover like helicopters in the open spaces of yards and gardens. Toads and voles flee from lawnmowers.
And children…. Continue reading
I don’t often write about the Young Human Factory, especially not seriously. I think it’s unkind to use the Products’ foibles as blog-fodder. They are works in progress.
But last week the boss sent me a lengthy e-mail as a “matter of professional courtesy” – a nice euphemism for “you have no choice in the matter.”
No, I’m not losing my position as Quality Control Inspector. But someone else is taking over my International Baccalaureate classes. Continue reading