Monday, March 30, 2009

Emoticon: Smiley

There is a certain thing I am involved in.

For this thing, there was a certain thing I needed to write.

For the thing I needed to write, I made about five drafts.

The last version, the one I mostly liked, has been shredded.

The final version is the product of something that seems like I was never a part of. I'm too sick of it to care, but I hate how the guidelines for what was needed for the thing I wrote were never clarified for me, the "creative" approach is null and void by the content, and it's not engaging.

Touchy, touchy people.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rated M for Mature

Oh, Lord.

I've signed up for match.com.

I've got an email from some 44 year old man who thinks he's Indiana Jones, an Asian accountant who wants to talk about karma, and a Latino who works at Knott's Berry Farm. I'm being nice, and I replied to their less-than-interesting messages.

Now, the accountant is rambling about treating people with respect and wants to know why I judge people, the guy from Knott's is telling me about his weight loss capabilities despite being surrounded by fried chicken, and the old man wants "my cell, baby." Right, Austin Powers.

Oh, Lord. Have mercy.

On the bright side, I messaged people I am interested in. I even sent winks to people. I don't care if they respond or not.

My friend signed up on the site before me. We also email. I prefer her emails.

Friday, March 13, 2009

ACK--

Stop Teaching Handwriting

* Posted by: Anne Trubek
* on February 11, 2008 at 9:23 pm

My son, who is in third grade, spends much of his school day struggling to learn how to form the letter “G.” Sometimes he writes it backwards. Sometimes the tail on his lowercase “T” goes the wrong way. His teachers keep telling him he may fail the state assessment standards. We have had several “interventions.” Simon now fears taking up a pencil. Repeatedly being told his handwriting is bad (a fine-motor-skill issue) has become, in his mind, proof that he is a bad writer (an expression issue). He now hates writing, period.

This is absurd: I am a college professor and a freelance writer, and the only time I pick up a pen is to sign a credit-card receipt. Let’s stop brutalizing our kids with years of drills on the proper formation of a cursive capital “S”—handwriting is a historical blip in the long history of writing technologies, and it’s time to consign to the trash heap this artificial way of making letters, along with clay tablets, smoke signals, and other arcane technologies.

Many will find this argument hard to swallow because we cling to handwriting out of a romantic sense that script expresses identity. But only since the invention of the printing press has handwriting been considered a mark of self expression. Medieval monks first worried that the invention of printing would be the ruin of books, as presses were more idiosyncratic and prone to human error than manuscripts produced in scriptoriums. And the monks never conceived of handwriting as a sign of identity: For them, script was formulaic, not self-expressive. That concept did not appear until the early 18th century. Still later came the notion that personality and individuality could be deduced by analyzing handwriting. All the while, print became widely available, and handwriting lost its primacy as a vehicle of mass communication.
Quote:
We cling to handwriting out of a romantic sense that script expresses identity.

The typewriter took handwriting down another notch. Henry James took up the then-new writing machine in the 1880s, most likely because he, like my son, had poor handwriting. By the 1890’s, James was dictating all his novels to a secretary. And as novelists and businesses were putting down their pens, others started to valorize handwriting as somehow more pure and more authentic, infusing script with nostalgic romanticism. The philosopher Martin Heidegger was particularly guilty of this, writing in 1940 of the losses wrought by typewriters: “In handwriting the relation of Being to man, namely the word, is inscribed in beings themselves. …When writing was withdrawn from the origin of its essence, i.e. from the hand, and was transferred to the machine, a transformation occurred in the relation of Being to man.”

Meanwhile, back in school, teachers were trying to get student papers to look like typewritten documents: letter characters, the students were told, should look like fonts.

The pattern doesn’t change: As writing technologies evolve, we romanticize the old and adapt to the new. This will happen with keyboards, too—some contemporary novelists have ceased using them already. Richard Powers uses voice-recognition software to compose everything, including his novels. “Except for brief moments of duress, I haven’t touched a keyboard for years,” he says. “No fingers were tortured in producing these words—or the last half a million words of my published fiction.” Powers is wonderfully free of technological nostalgia: “Writing is the act of accepting the huge shortfall between the story in the mind and what hits the page. …For that, no interface will ever be clean or invisible enough for us to get the passage right,” he says to his computer.

That shortfall is exactly how my son describes his writing troubles: “I have it all in my memory bank and then I stop and my memory bank gets wiped out,” he explains. Voice-recognition software—judging from the rapid-fire monologues he delivers at dinner about Pok√©mon and Yu-Gi-Oh!—would help.

No matter what we use to write something will be lost between conception and execution. I have yet to be convinced that making a graphite stick go in certain directions enhances intellectual development. Let us teach our kids to use the best tools at our disposal: There are plenty of cool toys out there. Boys and girls, it is time to put down your pencils.

Article can be found at: http://www.good.is/?p=8133

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cling on...Something Else.

Dear friend,

You updated your Facebook status to "Feels like she is being avoided." That was two minutes after I ignored your phone call. I'll be honest behind your back--I am avoiding you. You're clingy, needy, desperate, and I don't have the time to deal with your insecurities, issues, and wanton lust for my attention. Can you please understand what I am busy taking 18 units, publishing a book, writing 50 pages of a shit manuscript (which really means I'm taking 21 units), and dealing with my life? I know I've been there for you in your need for the past three and a half years. Can't you stop being in my face for a while?

Irritated to be sucked in,
Stephanie

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

People in my Pocket

My freshman year, I took a creative writing class. In case it's not common knowledge, I am an English major with an emphasis in creative writing so I could better understand the writing process, which would make me an even better editor--my ultimate dream job (I mean really, what's better than being critical of creative people to make their stuff better?). The class was focused on poetry, which I wasn't aware of when I signed up, otherwise I would've bolted. I'm not a big poetry buff, fan, enthusiast, or anything else. However, to my great annoyance, my prof at the time was very energetic about it.

She is a small, adorable, formidable, brilliant Asian woman who loves Jesus with the entirety of her 5'1 body. Not only is she so encouraging and bubbly, but she never has a bad thing to say about anyone. This isn't the best thing, considering that some creative people need less encouragement and more criticism (see Lori Wick, who proliferates the Christian book shelves with her predictable, super-structured mess of PG-rated romance). That being said, when it was my turn to workshop some poetry I had worked on for about three weeks, she was tickled.

"It reminds me of Emily Dickinson--do you read her much?" she wrote on my stack of paper. When she compared me to an author I wasn't altogether familiar with, I knew Dr. Lee was giving me a great, unfiltered compliment. I also knew it was spectacular because she wrote it down and didn't mention it in class--and she always went over the notes she had in class.

Today in my American Diversity class, we were talking about this book Like Never Before and there is a poem by Emily Dickinson at the beginning:

Those--dying then,
Knew where they went--
They went to God's Right Hand--
That Hand is amputated now
And God cannot be found--

The abdication of Belief
Makes the Behavior small--
Better an ignus fatuus
Than no illume at all--


I don't know if this is the whole thing or what, but the discussion about the poem as a precursor to the novel ignited in me a desire to continue reading this collection of Dickinson poetry I bought a year ago that was on sale for $5 and work on some poetry myself.

To be honest, I want to write more. Not to say I think I could make a living on it, but I want to write things that I am uncomfortable writing--plays, poems, screenplays.

A few entries ago, I mentioned how I was revising some pages I had written for a manuscript I have to finish by the end of the semester. I've got two chapters, at 10 pages total. I need 40 more.

That has no connection with this post. I'm going to work more on appreciating poetry. Here is one that was submitted for Synecdoche and it was accepted, but all the same, I love poetry by Aaron Abubo:

Thoughts on Marriage

I am proved by sacrifice.
I am proved by action
by the sutures plunged
into your side as into mine.
If there was any question
it’s been squelched by the
contents
of this room: On the table,
scraps of flesh. On the floor,
pools of blood
skin, stitches, proof that
love not only lives, but
thrives here, as if here
it took that first wet breath
learned firsthand what
love can be. As if it
could see intestines
intertwined, our systems
combined, the stuff of
two bodies stretched
to fill just one. As if it
were enough to simply
see. As if it were enough
to simply be.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Toy Guns

My brother is the most socially inept person I know, and for that, I love him the most. He called me today to tell me he got approved for a full scholarship to three universities of his choosing--Citadel, Norwich, and Cal Baptist--and we started talking about how is senior year of high school is going.

"I get to give a presentation on Hannibal tomorrow," he said. Hannibal is, to my brother, a militaristic genius. In fact, he said that on a scale of awesome, he is a 1st-tier awesome level.

"Gandhi and Mother Theresa and people like them are like, third-tier." Thankfully, he thinks I qualify to be on this tier too, but he also thinks that the order of 1st tier goes God, Jesus, and then Hannibal ("he's like, .01 points away from Jesus") so I'm not sure how I feel about being third-tier.

He was saying that he was reading a book about Hannibal for the presentation and someone asked to see it. Thus, he also knew he was required to defend such a name as Hannibal, since everyone (including me) says "wasn't he a cannibal?"

After the kid asked him that, my brother said a simple "no," to which the kid asked "Then who is he?"

"I told him that he's going to have to wait until I do my presentation. Then I took my book back."

Boys are so simple.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Junction Path Rd.

I am reading a book right now called Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. I am really enjoying it because of the author's voice, the stories she weaves, and the short-story feel each chapter possesses. However, the current chapter titled "It's all Relatives" was particularly influential on me.

It's about her big Persian family and how closely-knit they are. Here is an excerpt:
My father and his sibilings drivee one another to doctor appointments and pick one another up from the airport. If one goes for a checup, they all call for the results. They know which one of them has high blood pressure and which one is allergic to dairy products. They know one another's favorite foods and often use the knowledge to lure one another for visits. "Kazem, I just made rice pudding" is my aunt Sedigh's way of inviting my father over. His other sister, Fatimeh, has her own ewually effective siren song: "Kazem, the mulberries are ripe."
Together, my relatives form an alliance that represents a genuine and enduring love of family, one that sustains them through difficulties and give them reasons to celebrate during good times. My father and his sibilings have even purchased burial plots together because, as my father tole me, "we never want to be separated."
...
Before I married Francois, I told him that I came with a tribe--a free set of Ginsu knives with every purchase, so to speak. Francois said he loved tribes, especially mine. Now, whenever we visit my relatives, all of whom dote on my husband, I realize that he didn't marry me despite my tribe, he married me because if them.


That's from page 102-103.

When I was 16 or 17, I spent a lot of my time online chatting with people. I was a recluse, and it wasn't until my Sophomore year in college that I said to myself, enough. But, during that time, I used to chat with this guy who is Persian. His name is very similar to the aunt's name--hers is Sedigh and his is Sadegh. I keep thinking of him while I read this book and I haven't thought of him for about a year and a half. Call me cold-hearted, whatever. It's true.

Anyway, I have this issue with family. Mine is impossible. I have no idea who my father's real father is because his mother, my late grandmother, was a promiscuous, neurotic basket case who thought everyone was out to get her. My last name is courtesy of my uncle's biological father.

My mother's side, on the other hand, has about 10 different stories about where we all come from. Some say that we had a scandalous affair a few generations ago in Poland where our ancestor, a Duchess, rebelled against her family's wishes and married the love of her life and moved to Florida after a time. Another story is that my ancestors were farmers in Germany and we came over to Ellis Island. Another story that I have come up with is that my family signed up for scientific and political testing eons ago and, therefore, we are forbidden from unearthing our beginning because CIA, FBI, and other governmental agencies with acronyms refuse to share that secret with us. I like thinking I am highly classified.

My mom's sister tried to have a professional map out our family tree. This professional had no trouble getting my uncle's side of the family back to like, the 1800's or something, but she (or he?) came to a dead end after my grandpa.

I don't know anything about my family members. We are all experts in keeping to ourselves.